The original decree of King Cyrus (Ezra 6:3-6:5)

“This is a record. In the first year of his reign, King Cyrus issued a decree. Concerning the house of God at Jerusalem, let the house be rebuilt, the place where sacrifices are offered and burnt offerings are brought. Its height shall be sixty cubits and its breadth sixty cubits, with three courses of hewn stones and one course of timber. Let the cost be paid from the royal treasury. Moreover, let the gold and silver vessels of the house of God, which King Nebuchadnezzar took out of the temple in Jerusalem and brought to Babylon, be restored and brought back to the temple which is in Jerusalem, each to its place. You shall put them in the house of God.”

However, the scroll is very specific as to the size, length, and materials to be used in the building of this Temple in Jerusalem. It is different from the edict of King Cyrus in chapter 1 of this book. This new Temple In Jerusalem was to be 90 feet by 90 feet or 30 square yards, a third the size of an American football size, quite small. The cost of this rebuilding project should come from the royal treasury. Thus Persia was paying for the rebuilding of the Temple. There would be no need for free will offerings. This may have been the kicker causing the dispute between Samaria and Jerusalem. King Cyrus clearly stated that the golden vessels taken by King Nebuchadnezzar should be returned to the Temple of God in Jerusalem. There is no ambiguity here.

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.