The reply of the elders at Jerusalem (Ezra 5:11-5:16)

“This was their reply to us. ‘We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth. We are rebuilding the house that was built many years ago, which a great king of Israel built and finished. But because our ancestors had angered the God of heaven, he gave them into the hand of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this house and carried away the people to Babylonia. However, King Cyrus of Babylon, in the first year of his reign, made a decree that this house of God should be rebuilt. Moreover, the gold and silver vessels of the house of God, which King Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple in Jerusalem and had brought into the temple of Babylon, these King Cyrus took out of the temple of Babylon. They were delivered to a man named Sheshbazzar, whom he had made governor. He said to him. ‘Take these vessels! Go and put them in the temple in Jerusalem! Let the house of God be rebuilt on its site!’ Then this Sheshbazzar came and laid the foundations of the house of God in Jerusalem. From that time until now it has been under construction. It is not yet finished.’”

Governor Tattenai gave the Jewish side of the story, explaining why they were doing such a thing as building a house of God. They were rebuilding the house of God on the same spot where the Temple used to be. Their ancestors had angered God, so that the Chaldeans with King Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the Temple and took the people into captivity. Then King Cyrus issued a decree that the Temple be built again. In fact, he gave the gold and silver vessels that originally came from Jerusalem that were in the Babylonian temple to Sheshbazzar, who was the governor in Jerusalem. Thus for the last few years, they have been building this unfinished Temple.

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