0 I plucked out my beard and sat down astonished (Ezra 1-10)

Episode 159: I plucked out my beard and sat down astonished

Ezra 1-10

The people return to Jerusalem

1 1 God inspired King Cyrus of Persia to make a proclamation of his word by the mouth of Jeremiah, saying,

2 I'm king Cyrus of Persia. God has given me everything on earth.

He told me to build a house for him in Jerusalem.

3 Any of you who’d like to return to Jerusalem to help build God's house may do so.

Take all your silver, gold, goods, and beasts with you.

9-11 So the people returned to Jerusalem with 30 gold dishes, 1000 silver dishes, 29 knives, 30 gold bowls, 410 silver bowls, and 1000 other vessels.

2 1-70 A list of people returning from Babylon

3 1-13 An altar is built and work on the temple begins

Israel's enemies offer to help build the temple

4 1 When Israel's enemies heard that the Israelites were rebuilding the temple, they said to them,

2 Let us help you because we worship your god, too.

3 But the Israelites said to them,

No thanks. We'll build it ourselves, as King Cyrus commanded us.

A letter to King Artaxerxes

6 King Ahasuerus sent a letter to King Artaxerxes, saying,

12 Don't let the Jews rebuild Jerusalem. They won't pay any taxes.

15 According to our records, Jerusalem was a rebellious city and deserved to be destroyed.

The king's response

17-21 King Artaxerxes wrote them back, saying,

Yeah, you're right. I've checked the records, and the Jews are rebellious.

Tell them not to rebuild Jerusalem.

23 So the Jews stopped rebuilding Jerusalem.

A letter to King Darius

5 7 But God's eye was on the Jewish elders. And they kept working on his house. So the governor of the province and his assistants wrote a letter to King Darius, saying,

The Jews say they are building a house for their god.

We asked them who told them to build it and who was working on it.

13 They say that King Cyrus told them to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the house.

17 So we'd like you to check your records and see if their story is true.

Did King Cyrus tell them to build the house?

Darius finds Cyrus's order

6 1 King Darius searched his records and found this command from King Cyrus:

3 Build a house for God in Jerusalem.

Make it 60 cubits high and 60 cubits wide.

5 Restore everything that Nebuchadnezzar took from God's house.

The decree of King Darius

6 So King Darius sent an order to his governors, saying,

Let the Jews build God's house in Jerusalem.

9 Give them all the building materials that they need, so they can offer God sweet savors from their animal sacrifices.

11 Hang anyone who tries to stop them and make their house a dunghill.

12 God will destroy all kings and people who try to destroy his house in Jerusalem.

The Jews finish building God's house

13 So the Jews built God's house and prospered, with Haggai and Zechariah prophesying. 16 When God's house was finished, the people rejoiced and sacrificed 100 bullocks, 200 rams, 400 lambs, and 12 goats. 21 And everyone who had separated themselves from the filthiness of the heathen feasted for seven days with great joy.

7 1-4 Ezra's genealogy

Ezra comes to Jerusalem

6 Ezra came to Jerusalem from Babylon. He was a scribe in the law of Moses. 9 The good hand of God was upon him.

Artaxerxes's letter to Ezra

11-12 This is a copy of the letter that the king of kings, Artaxerxes, gave to Ezra:

13 Any and all Israelites in my kingdom may return to Jerusalem.

18 Take as much of my silver and gold as you like. Use it however your god wants.

21 I, Artaxerxes, decree that whatever Ezra wants, Ezra gets.

25 And you, Ezra, teach everyone God's law.

26 Punish those who disobey with death, exile, or imprisonment.

27 So with God's hand upon me, I (Ezra) led the people back to Jerusalem.

8 1-14 A list of families returning to Jerusalem

Ezra finds some Levites 15-20

Gold and silver are weighed, and animals are sacrificed

24 I (Ezra) asked the priests to weigh all the silver and gold that king Artaxerxes had given us. 26 I weighed 650 talents of silver and 100 talents of gold. 33 When we arrived in Jerusalem, we weighed the gold and silver in God's house.35 The people killed 12 bullocks, 96 rams, 77 lambs, and 12 goats as burnt offerings for God.

Ezra plucks out his hair and sits down astonished

9 1 The princes came to me (Ezra) saying, "The men of Israel are offending God by taking foreign wives and corrupting the holy seed."

3 When I heard this, I tore my garment and my mantle, plucked off the hair on my head and beard, and sat down astonished.

5 That evening, I fell on my knees, spread out my hands, and said to God,

11 You said to your prophets,

12 Don't give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons. And don't seek peace with them or try to help them in any way.

13 And now we've offended you again by making friends with our neighbors.

We can't stand in front of you because of this.

Ezra forces the men to abandon their strange wives and children

10 1 When Ezra finished praying, weeping, confessing, and casting himself down in front of God's house, the people assembled, and wept. 2 Shechaniah said to Ezra,

We have trespassed against God by taking strange wives.

3 So let's divorce them and send their children away.

5 Then Ezra forced all the men of Israel to swear that they would abandon their foreign wives and children. And they all swore.

10 Ezra stood up and said,

You are guilty of taking strange wives.

11 Now you must separate yourselves from them.

12 So all the men said in a loud voice, “Okay, we'll do that.”

A list of men who had taken strange wives and children 18-44

A few more words about this episode

Ezra begins where Second Chronicles ends. In fact the last two verses of the 2 Chronicles are nearly identical to the first two verses of the the book of Ezra. The similarity between these two books has led some scholars to believe that they were written by the same author.

A list of people returning from Babylon (2:1-70)
The second chapter of Ezra provides a list of the Jewish people returning to Judah after their captivity in Babylon. It makes for rather dull reading: just a list of men's names and the number of offspring that accompanied each of them. The same list is given in the seventh chapter of Nehemiah (as though once were not enough), but the two lists contradict each other in 19 places.
A letter was sent to King Artaxerxes (4:6)
The letters in chapters 4-6 were written in Aramaic - one of the few texts in the Hebrew Bible that were not written in Hebrew.
The king of kings, Artaxerxes (7:11-12)
Who is the king of kings?
No comments yet

Copyright © 1999-2024
The Skeptic's Annotated Bible

Send comments to Steve Wells
at swwells(at)gmail.com