Ezra 3

They build the altar

1 When all the people were now living in their towns, they went to meet together in Jerusalem. It was the seventh month of the year. 2 Jozadak's son, Jeshua, and some of the other priests in his family began to build the altar of Israel's God. Shealtiel's son, Zerubbabel, and some of his family also began to build it. They wanted to make burnt offerings on it. God's servant, Moses, had written about this in the law. 3 The people who already lived near there made them afraid. But they built the altar on its foundation. Then they made burnt offerings to the Lord on the altar. They offered sacrifices on it every day, in the morning and in the evening. 4 Then they had the Feast of Huts, as the law said they should do. On each day of the feast they made the right number of burnt offerings. 5 After that, they made burnt offerings every day, and also at the time of each new moon. They made the right sacrifices for the special festivals, when people met together to worship the Lord. They also offered special gifts that people had chosen to give to the Lord. 6 They began to offer those burnt offerings on the first day of the seventh month. That was before they had started to build the temple.

They prepare to build the temple

7 The leaders gave money to men who could work with stone and wood. They sent food, drink and olive oil to the people in Tyre and Sidon. This was to pay for beams of wood from cedar trees. They would bring the wood from Lebanon on ships that came to Joppa. Cyrus, king of Persia, had commanded them to do this.

8 The Israelites began to build the Lord's temple two years after they arrived in Jerusalem. In the second month of the year, Shealtiel's son, Zerubbabel, and Jozadak's son, Jeshua, began the work. All the priests and the Levites who worked with them in Jerusalem joined them. All the people who had returned to Jerusalem from Babylon helped in the work. The leaders chose Levites who were 20 years old, or older, to have authority over the work.

9 These are their names:

  • Jeshua, his sons and his brothers.
  • Kadmiel and his sons. (They were descendants of Hodaviah.)
  • Henadad's sons, with their sons and brothers, who were Levites.
  • 10 The men who were building the Lord's temple finished the foundations. Then the priests put on their special clothes. They made a noise with their trumpets. The Levites (sons of Asaph) made a noise with their cymbals. They all stood to praise the Lord, in the way that Israel's King David had told them many years before. 11 They sang together to praise the Lord. Group by group, they sang these words:

    3:10Cymbals and trumpets are musical instruments.

    ‘He is good.

    His love for Israel will continue for ever.’

    Then all the people shouted loudly to praise the Lord. They praised him because they had finished work on the temple's foundation.

    12 But many of the older priests, Levites and leaders wept aloud. They were sad because they had seen the temple as it had been before. They remembered how beautiful it had been. At the same time, many other people shouted because they were happy. 13 The happy shouts and the noise of people who were weeping were both very loud. People far away could hear the noise. The different sounds mixed together, so nobody could say which was which.