Ezra 6

King Darius replies

1 King Darius told his officers to look in the books in the royal library. That was in Babylon, in the place where they stored important things. 2 But it was in the region of Media that they found a scroll about the temple in Jerusalem. It was stored in a strong building in Ecbatana. This is what the scroll said:

‘This is an important note.

3 King Cyrus gave a command about God's temple in Jerusalem, in the first year that he ruled in Babylon. He said:

“The Jews must build their temple as a place where they can offer sacrifices to their God. They must build it on its foundations. They must make it 30 metres wide and 30 metres high. 4 They must build the walls with three rows of big stones, and then a row of wooden beams. They should take money from the king's palace to pay for the work. 5 We will give back to them the silver and gold things that belong in their God's temple. King Nebuchadnezzar took them from the temple in Jerusalem and he brought them here to Babylon. Now they must return to the place where they belong, in God's house in Jerusalem.”

6 So listen to me, Tattenai, my ruler of the region on the west side of the Euphrates river. You, Shethar-Bozenai and your other officers in that region must all stay away from the temple! 7 You must not do anything to stop the work on God's temple. The Jewish ruler and their leaders must continue to build this house of God. They must build it in its proper place.

8 So I will now tell you what you must do for the Jewish leaders. You must help them to build this temple again. Use the king's money to pay for everything that they need to continue the work. Use the taxes that we receive from people in the region west of the Euphrates river. The work on the building must not stop. 9 Also give to the priests the things that they need each day for their sacrifices to the God of heaven. Give them young bulls, male sheep and lambs to use as burnt offerings. Give them grain, salt, wine and olive oil. Whenever the priests in Jerusalem ask for something, you must be sure to give it to them. 10 Then their offerings will make the God of heaven happy. They will pray for God to bless the king and his family.

11 Nobody may change what I have commanded in this letter. If anyone does not obey this command, men must remove a beam from the roof of his house. They must push the point of the beam through his body and lift him up on it. Then they must destroy his house so that it becomes a heap of stones. That is what he deserves.

12 No king or nation should try to change my command. They must never destroy God's temple in Jerusalem. That is the place that he has chosen for people to worship him. I pray that he will remove anyone who tries to attack that place.

I, Darius, have made this command. Everyone must obey it completely.’

They finish the temple

13 Tattenai, ruler of the region west of the Euphrates river, Shethar-Bozenai and their friends carefully obeyed King Darius's command. 14 So the leaders of the Jews continued to build the temple. The work went very well. They listened to the messages from God that the prophet Haggai and Iddo's grandson, Zechariah, were teaching them. They finished building the temple. Israel's God had commanded them to do that. Cyrus, Darius and Artaxerxes, the kings of Persia, had also commanded them to do it. 15 They finished building the temple on the third day of Adar month. King Darius had then been king for six years.

16 Then the Israelite people offered the temple to God, so that he would bless it. The priests, the Levites and the other people who had returned from Babylon were all very happy. 17 They offered 100 bulls, 200 male sheep and 400 lambs. Then they sacrificed 12 male goats as a sin offering for all Israel. There was one goat for each of the 12 tribes of Israel. 18 They decided how each group of priests and Levites should work in God's temple in Jerusalem. Moses had written in his book how they should do this.

The Passover feast

19 On the 14th day of the first month, the people ate the Passover feast. 20 The priests and Levites had all made themselves clean for their special work. The Levites killed the lambs for the Passover sacrifice. They did that on behalf of all the people, the priests and themselves. 21 So all the people who had returned from Babylon ate the feast. Other Israelites in Jerusalem had turned away from the bad things that other nations who lived there did. They had decided to worship the Lord, Israel's God. So they also ate the feast. 22 Then they ate the Feast of Flat Bread for seven days. The Lord had caused them to be very happy, because the king of Assyria had helped them. The Lord had made the king think in a different way about the Jews in Jerusalem. He had decided to help them to build the God of Israel's temple.

6:19The Passover feast was to help the Israelites. They needed to remember how God 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 lamb round their doors. They had to stay inside their houses. Then the angel passed over their houses and he did not kill their sons. Then the Egyptians sent the Israelites out of Egypt. See Numbers 28:16-25; Exodus 12:14-20.
6:22The Feast of Flat Bread began the day after the Passover Feast. Flat bread is bread that has no yeast in it.