Darius asks the Jews to go on building the temple
1 King Darius asked his servants to look in his Babylon store. That was where he kept all his valuable things. 2 They found a scroll in a strong building in Ecbatana. This was in Media, a part of Babylon. The words on the scroll were about the temple of God in Jerusalem. This is a copy of those words.
3 King Cyrus told the Jews how to build their temple in Jerusalem. It was the first year that he ruled in Babylon. He said:
“They must build their temple as a place to sacrifice to their God. They must make it 30 metres (90 feet) wide and 30 metres high. They must build it on a foundation. 4 On this they must build a wall from big stones, 3 stones high. On this they must build a wall made out of wood. Money from my store will pay for it. 5 And we will give their silver and gold things back to them. Nebuchadnezzar had taken them from the old temple in Jerusalem. And he brought them to Babylon. They must return them to their places. They must put them in the new temple in Jerusalem. They must put them in their God's house.”
6 So you, Tattenai, ruler of the land across the Euphrates, and Shethar-Bozenai and your officers must stay away from them. 7 You must not stop them from building God's temple. The leaders and those Jews with authority must continue to build this house of God. They must build it in its proper place.
8 Now I will tell you what you must do for these leaders. You must pay for everything that they need with the king's money. This money is from the people who live across the Euphrates. Then the work will not stop. 9 Be sure to give each day to the priests the things that they need for sacrifices to the God of heaven. Give them young male cows and young and old male sheep. Give them grain, salt, wine and oil when the priests ask for them. 10 Then their sacrifices will give pleasure to the God of heaven. They can then pray for good things for the king and his sons.
11 Nobody can change any of these rules that I have given to you. If anyone does not obey, men must pull a beam out of his house. They must lift him and push the beam through his body. They must destroy his house because he has not obeyed me. 12 God, has caused his name to live in his temple. He will cause enemies to kill any king or people who change my words. He will be very much against any king or people who try to destroy this temple in Jerusalem. I, Darius, have made this law. You must be sure to obey it.’
They finish the temple
13 Tattenai, ruler of the land across the Euphrates, Shethar-Bozenai and their friends heard this law. Then they were all very careful to obey King Darius. 14 So the leaders of the Jews continued to build the temple. They listened to what Haggai the prophet and Zechariah, Iddo's descendant were teaching them. They finished building the temple. They built it as the God of Israel had told them. They obeyed the rules of Cyrus, Darius and Artaxerxes, the kings of Persia. 15 They finished building it on the 3rd day of the month Adar. King Darius had then been king for 6 years.
16 Then the Israelites had a feast. That included the priests, Levites and the other people. Everyone who had come from Babylon dedicated the temple to God. They were very happy. 17 At this time they offered 100 male cows, 200 male sheep and 400 young male sheep. Then they sacrificed 12 male goats because of the sin of all Israel. Each of the 12 large families of Israel gave a goat. 18 They caused the groups of priests and Levites to do their work in the proper way. They did it for God in Jerusalem. Moses had written in his book how to do this.
19 On the 14th day of the first month, the people had another party. This was the Passover feast. 20 The priests and Levites made themselves clean for their special work. The Levites killed the Passover lambs (young sheep) for the people, the priests and for themselves. 21 So all the people who had returned from Babylon ate the feast. Other Israelites there had stopped doing the bad things that nations round them did. They made themselves clean. That was because they wanted to worship the LORD, the God of Israel. So they ate the feast. 22 And they all remembered the Feast of Unleavened Bread. This feast was 7 days long. The LORD had made them very happy because the king of Assyria had changed his ideas. Now he was helping them to build their God's house.
6:22The Passover feast was to help the Israelites. They needed to remember God. He had saved them from being slaves in Egypt. God had sent an angel to kill all the oldest sons of the people in Egypt. But he told the Israelites to put the blood of a young sheep round their doors. They had to stay inside their houses. The angel passed over the blood and did not kill their sons. Then the people in Egypt sent the Israelites out of Egypt. (See Numbers 28:16-25; Exodus 12:14-20.)
6:22The Feast of Unleavened Bread began the day after the Passover Feast. Unleavened bread is special bread that people make in a special way.