In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah, the LORD moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and to put it in writing:
"This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: "`The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah.
Anyone of his people among you--may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the LORD, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem.
And the people of any place where survivors may now be living are to provide him with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with freewill offerings for the temple of God in Jerusalem.'"
Then the family heads of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and Levites--everyone whose heart God had moved--prepared to go up and build the house of the LORD in Jerusalem.
All their neighbors assisted them with articles of silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with valuable gifts, in addition to all the freewill offerings.
Moreover, King Cyrus brought out the articles belonging to the temple of the LORD, which Nebuchadnezzar had carried away from Jerusalem and had placed in the temple of his god.
Cyrus king of Persia had them brought by Mithredath the treasurer, who counted them out to Sheshbazzar the prince of Judah.
This was the inventory: gold dishes 30 silver dishes 1,000 silver pans 29
gold bowls 30 matching silver bowls 410 other articles 1,000
In all, there were 5,400 articles of gold and of silver. Sheshbazzar brought all these along when the exiles came up from Babylon to Jerusalem.
Now these are the people of the province who came up from the captivity of the exiles, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had taken captive to Babylon (they returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to his own town,
in company with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispar, Bigvai, Rehum and Baanah): The list of the men of the people of Israel:
the descendants of Parosh 2,172
of Shephatiah 372
of Arah 775
of Pahath-Moab (through the line of Jeshua and Joab) 2,812
of Elam 1,254
of Zattu 945
of Zaccai 760
of Bani 642
of Bebai 623
of Azgad 1,222
of Adonikam 666
of Bigvai 2,056
of Adin 454
of Ater (through Hezekiah) 98
of Bezai 323
of Jorah 112
of Hashum 223
of Gibbar 95
the men of Bethlehem 123
of Netophah 56
of Anathoth 128
of Azmaveth 42
of Kiriath Jearim, Kephirah and Beeroth 743
of Ramah and Geba 621
of Micmash 122
of Bethel and Ai 223
of Nebo 52
of Magbish 156
of the other Elam 1,254
of Harim 320
of Lod, Hadid and Ono 725
of Jericho 345
of Senaah 3,630
The priests: the descendants of Jedaiah (through the family of Jeshua) 973
of Immer 1,052
of Pashhur 1,247
of Harim 1,017
The Levites: the descendants of Jeshua and Kadmiel (through the line of Hodaviah) 74
The singers: the descendants of Asaph 128
The gatekeepers of the temple: the descendants of Shallum, Ater, Talmon, Akkub, Hatita and Shobai 139
The temple servants: the descendants of Ziha, Hasupha, Tabbaoth,
Keros, Siaha, Padon,
Lebanah, Hagabah, Akkub,
Hagab, Shalmai, Hanan,
Giddel, Gahar, Reaiah,
Rezin, Nekoda, Gazzam,
Uzza, Paseah, Besai,
Asnah, Meunim, Nephussim,
Bakbuk, Hakupha, Harhur,
Bazluth, Mehida, Harsha,
Barkos, Sisera, Temah,
Neziah and Hatipha
The descendants of the servants of Solomon: the descendants of Sotai, Hassophereth, Peruda,
Jaala, Darkon, Giddel,
Shephatiah, Hattil, Pokereth-Hazzebaim and Ami
The temple servants and the descendants of the servants of Solomon 392
The following came up from the towns of Tel Melah, Tel Harsha, Kerub, Addon and Immer, but they could not show that their families were descended from Israel:
The descendants of Delaiah, Tobiah and Nekoda 652
And from among the priests: The descendants of Hobaiah, Hakkoz and Barzillai (a man who had married a daughter of Barzillai the Gileadite and was called by that name).
These searched for their family records, but they could not find them and so were excluded from the priesthood as unclean.
The governor ordered them not to eat any of the most sacred food until there was a priest ministering with the Urim and Thummim.
The whole company numbered 42,360,
besides their 7,337 menservants and maidservants; and they also had 200 men and women singers.
They had 736 horses, 245 mules,
435 camels and 6,720 donkeys.
When they arrived at the house of the LORD in Jerusalem, some of the heads of the families gave freewill offerings toward the rebuilding of the house of God on its site.
According to their ability they gave to the treasury for this work 61,000 drachmas of gold, 5,000 minas of silver and 100 priestly garments.
The priests, the Levites, the singers, the gatekeepers and the temple servants settled in their own towns, along with some of the other people, and the rest of the Israelites settled in their towns.
When the seventh month came and the Israelites had settled in their towns, the people assembled as one man in Jerusalem.
Then Jeshua son of Jozadak and his fellow priests and Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and his associates began to build the altar of the God of Israel to sacrifice burnt offerings on it, in accordance with what is written in the Law of Moses the man of God.
Despite their fear of the peoples around them, they built the altar on its foundation and sacrificed burnt offerings on it to the LORD, both the morning and evening sacrifices.
Then in accordance with what is written, they celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles with the required number of burnt offerings prescribed for each day.
After that, they presented the regular burnt offerings, the New Moon sacrifices and the sacrifices for all the appointed sacred feasts of the LORD, as well as those brought as freewill offerings to the LORD.
On the first day of the seventh month they began to offer burnt offerings to the LORD, though the foundation of the LORD's temple had not yet been laid.
Then they gave money to the masons and carpenters, and gave food and drink and oil to the people of Sidon and Tyre, so that they would bring cedar logs by sea from Lebanon to Joppa, as authorized by Cyrus king of Persia.
In the second month of the second year after their arrival at the house of God in Jerusalem, Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, Jeshua son of Jozadak and the rest of their brothers (the priests and the Levites and all who had returned from the captivity to Jerusalem) began the work, appointing Levites twenty years of age and older to supervise the building of the house of the LORD.
Jeshua and his sons and brothers and Kadmiel and his sons (descendants of Hodaviah ) and the sons of Henadad and their sons and brothers--all Levites--joined together in supervising those working on the house of God.
When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, the priests in their vestments and with trumpets, and the Levites (the sons of Asaph) with cymbals, took their places to praise the LORD, as prescribed by David king of Israel.
With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the LORD: "He is good; his love to Israel endures forever." And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid.
But many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy.
No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping, because the people made so much noise. And the sound was heard far away.
When the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the exiles were building a temple for the LORD, the God of Israel,
they came to Zerubbabel and to the heads of the families and said, "Let us help you build because, like you, we seek your God and have been sacrificing to him since the time of Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us here."
But Zerubbabel, Jeshua and the rest of the heads of the families of Israel answered, "You have no part with us in building a temple to our God. We alone will build it for the LORD, the God of Israel, as King Cyrus, the king of Persia, commanded us."
Then the peoples around them set out to discourage the people of Judah and make them afraid to go on building.
They hired counselors to work against them and frustrate their plans during the entire reign of Cyrus king of Persia and down to the reign of Darius king of Persia.
At the beginning of the reign of Xerxes, they lodged an accusation against the people of Judah and Jerusalem.
And in the days of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel and the rest of his associates wrote a letter to Artaxerxes. The letter was written in Aramaic script and in the Aramaic language.
Rehum the commanding officer and Shimshai the secretary wrote a letter against Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king as follows:
Rehum the commanding officer and Shimshai the secretary, together with the rest of their associates--the judges and officials over the men from Tripolis, Persia, Erech and Babylon, the Elamites of Susa,
and the other people whom the great and honorable Ashurbanipal deported and settled in the city of Samaria and elsewhere in Trans-Euphrates.
(This is a copy of the letter they sent him.) To King Artaxerxes, From your servants, the men of Trans-Euphrates:
The king should know that the Jews who came up to us from you have gone to Jerusalem and are rebuilding that rebellious and wicked city. They are restoring the walls and repairing the foundations.
Furthermore, the king should know that if this city is built and its walls are restored, no more taxes, tribute or duty will be paid, and the royal revenues will suffer.
Now since we are under obligation to the palace and it is not proper for us to see the king dishonored, we are sending this message to inform the king,
so that a search may be made in the archives of your predecessors. In these records you will find that this city is a rebellious city, troublesome to kings and provinces, a place of rebellion from ancient times. That is why this city was destroyed.
We inform the king that if this city is built and its walls are restored, you will be left with nothing in Trans-Euphrates.
The king sent this reply: To Rehum the commanding officer, Shimshai the secretary and the rest of their associates living in Samaria and elsewhere in Trans-Euphrates: Greetings.
The letter you sent us has been read and translated in my presence.
I issued an order and a search was made, and it was found that this city has a long history of revolt against kings and has been a place of rebellion and sedition.
Jerusalem has had powerful kings ruling over the whole of Trans-Euphrates, and taxes, tribute and duty were paid to them.
Now issue an order to these men to stop work, so that this city will not be rebuilt until I so order.
Be careful not to neglect this matter. Why let this threat grow, to the detriment of the royal interests?
As soon as the copy of the letter of King Artaxerxes was read to Rehum and Shimshai the secretary and their associates, they went immediately to the Jews in Jerusalem and compelled them by force to stop.
Thus the work on the house of God in Jerusalem came to a standstill until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.
Now Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the prophet, a descendant of Iddo, prophesied to the Jews in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, who was over them.
Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and Jeshua son of Jozadak set to work to rebuild the house of God in Jerusalem. And the prophets of God were with them, helping them.
At that time Tattenai, governor of Trans-Euphrates, and Shethar-Bozenai and their associates went to them and asked, "Who authorized you to rebuild this temple and restore this structure?"
They also asked, "What are the names of the men constructing this building?"
But the eye of their God was watching over the elders of the Jews, and they were not stopped until a report could go to Darius and his written reply be received.
This is a copy of the letter that Tattenai, governor of Trans-Euphrates, and Shethar-Bozenai and their associates, the officials of Trans-Euphrates, sent to King Darius.
The report they sent him read as follows: To King Darius: Cordial greetings.
The king should know that we went to the district of Judah, to the temple of the great God. The people are building it with large stones and placing the timbers in the walls. The work is being carried on with diligence and is making rapid progress under their direction.
We questioned the elders and asked them, "Who authorized you to rebuild this temple and restore this structure?"
We also asked them their names, so that we could write down the names of their leaders for your information.
This is the answer they gave us: "We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and we are rebuilding the temple that was built many years ago, one that a great king of Israel built and finished.
But because our fathers angered the God of heaven, he handed them over to Nebuchadnezzar the Chaldean, king of Babylon, who destroyed this temple and deported the people to Babylon.
"However, in the first year of Cyrus king of Babylon, King Cyrus issued a decree to rebuild this house of God.
He even removed from the temple of Babylon the gold and silver articles of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple in Jerusalem and brought to the temple in Babylon. "Then King Cyrus gave them to a man named Sheshbazzar, whom he had appointed governor,
and he told him, `Take these articles and go and deposit them in the temple in Jerusalem. And rebuild the house of God on its site.'
So this Sheshbazzar came and laid the foundations of the house of God in Jerusalem. From that day to the present it has been under construction but is not yet finished."
Now if it pleases the king, let a search be made in the royal archives of Babylon to see if King Cyrus did in fact issue a decree to rebuild this house of God in Jerusalem. Then let the king send us his decision in this matter.
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. NIV. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.