The fast (Joel 1:14-1:14)

“Sanctify a fast!

Call a solemn assembly!

Gather the elders!

Gather all the inhabitants

Of the land

To the house of Yahweh,

Your God!

Cry out to Yahweh!”

Joel’s response is to gather the elders and all the people of the land for a solemn assembly and fast in the house of Yahweh, in the Temple. There, they would cry out to Yahweh, their God. Joel sought a cultic worship response to this locust crisis.

The confession of sins (Dan 9:4-9:6)

“I prayed

To the Lord!

My God!

I made a confession.

I said.

‘O Lord!

Great God!

Awesome God!

You keep the covenant!

You have a steadfast love

With those

Who love you,

With those

Who keep your commandments!

We have sinned!

We have done wrong!

We have acted wickedly!

We have rebelled!

We have turned away

From your commandments,

From your ordinances!

We have not listened

To your servants,

The prophets,

Who spoke

In your name,

To our kings,

To our princes,

To our ancestors,

To all the people

Of the land.’”

Daniel personally prayed to God with this first-person singular confession of sins. However, he quickly reverted to the first-person plural “we” from the singular “I.” God was great and awesome. He had kept his covenant with a steadfast love to those who loved him and kept his commandments. However, they had sinned and done wrong. They had acted wickedly. They had rebelled and turned away from his commandments and ordinances. They had not listened to their prophets, kings, princes, ancestors, or even the people of the land.

The free will offerings (Ezek 46:12-46:12)

“When the prince provides

A freewill offering,

Either a burnt offering

Or a peace offering,

As a freewill offering

To Yahweh,

The gate facing east

Shall be opened

For him.

He shall offer

His burnt offering

Or his peace offering

As he does

On the Sabbath day.

Then he shall go out.

After he has gone out

The gate

Shall be closed.”

The prince could make a free will offering at any time, whether it was a burnt offering or a peace offering. The eastern gate would be opened for him. He would make the offerings the same as if it was the Sabbath. He would go in and come out the same gate, unlike the straight-ahead procedure for the people of the land. However, after he left, the east gate was to be closed.

The feast of Passover (Ezek 45:21-45:22)

“In the first month,

On the fourteenth day

Of the month,

You shall celebrate

The festival

Of the Passover.

For seven days

Unleavened bread

Shall be eaten.

On that day

The prince shall provide

For himself,

As well as for all the people

Of the land,

A young bull

For a sin offering.”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel, reiterated the time of Passover celebration, the 14th day of the 1st month. During 7 days, they would eat only unleavened bread, the traditional Passover celebration food. On the day of Passover itself, the prince would offer a young bull for a sin offering for himself and all the people of the land.

An accusation of the Samaritans under King Xerxes I (Ezra 4:6-4:6)

“In the reign of King Ahasuerus, in his accession year, the people of the land wrote an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem.”

These people of the land, the Samaritans, continued to appeal to the Persian king. This time it is King Ahasuerus. This is also the name of the king in the Book of Esther. Apparently this is King Xerxes I who ruled form 485-464 BCE. So now, we are have nearly a century in the new land without a temple.

The obstruction of the Samaritans under King Cyrus (Ezra 4:4-4:5)

“Then the people of the land discouraged the people of Judah. They made them afraid to build. They bribed officials to frustrate their plans throughout the reign of King Cyrus of Persia, even until the reign of King Darius of Persia.”

The ‘people of the land’ was the derogatory phrase often used to describe the Samaritans. These were part of the poor landless people who were not taken into captivity. Somehow they made the returning Israelites afraid. They discouraged them. It is not clear what they did. They, however, did hire or bribe officials to present their cause to King Cyrus of Persia. See, those city planning boards are over 2,500 years old. Bribery is as old as anything. Apparently, they were successful as long as King Cyrus and King Darius were alive. This would bring us to about 485 BCE. Somehow they were able to frustrate this project of the Jerusalem temple for over 50 years. Clearly this area was still under Persian rule with the local Persian seat of power in Samaria, not Jerusalem.