The plunder of the city of Tyre (Ezek 26:12-26:14)

“They will plunder

Your riches.

They will loot

Your merchandise.

They will break down

Your walls.

They will destroy

Your fine houses.

They will cast

Into the water

Your stones,

Your timber,

Your soil.

I will silence

The music

Of your songs.

The sound

Of your lyres

Will be heard

No more.

I will make you

A bare rock.

You shall be a place

For spreading nets.

You shall never

Be rebuilt.

I!

Yahweh!

Have spoken!’

Says Yahweh God.”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel, said that he was going to have the Babylonians plunder their riches and loot the merchandise of the city of Tyre. These Babylonian invaders were going to break down their walls and destroy the fine houses of Tyre. These invaders were going to throw the local stones, timber, and soil of Tyre into the water. There would be no more music or songs. Yahweh would silence the sounds of the lyres or harps. Tyre would become a bare rock or a place for spreading fishing nets. It would never be rebuilt again. Yahweh, God, had spoken.  Actually, the siege of Tyre lasted 12 years and then they settled things. Alexander the Great in 332 BCE also captured Tyre. This ancient Phoenician island city still exists in southern Lebanon today with about 100,000 people.

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Nehemiah and King Artaxerxes (Neh 2:1-2:8)

“At that time, I was the cupbearer to the king. In the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was served him, I carried the wine. I gave it to the king. I had never been sad in his presence before. So the king said to me. ‘Why is your face sad, since you are not sick? This can only be sadness of the heart.’ Then I was very much afraid. I said to the king. ‘May the king live forever! Why should my face not be sad, when the city, the place of my ancestors’ graves, lies waste? Its gates have been destroyed by fire.’ Then the king said to me. ‘What do you request?’ So I prayed to the God of heaven. Then I said to the king. ‘If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor with you, I ask that you send me to Judah, to the city of my ancestors’ graves, so that I may rebuild it.’ The king said to me, with the queen sitting beside him. ‘How long will you be gone? When will you return?’ So it pleased the king to send me. I set him a date. Then I said to the king. ‘If it pleases the king, let letters be given to me for the governors of the province Beyond the River, that they may grant me passage until I arrive in Judah. Grant me a letter to Asaph, the keeper of the king’s forest, directing him to give me timber. Then I can make beams for the gates of the temple fortress, for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall occupy.’ The king granted me what I asked. The gracious hand of my God was upon me.”

The cupbearer to the king was an important position with royal power. This is a firsthand account of his conversation with the king, which he seems to know quite well. It does not say how long he had been the cup bearer. Anyway, Nehemiah had a sad face and seemed troubled. The king asked him what was wrong since he had never seemed troubled before this. King Artaxerxes wanted to help him. Then Nehemiah gave him his request. He wanted to go to Judah to repair the graves of his ancestors. The graves were not his main motive. Then the king immediately wanted to know how long he would be gone, as if to say I need you here. Nehemiah gave an unspecified date. He also wanted letters of passage to the Province Beyond the River. On top of that, he wanted the guy in charge of the forests to let him have some wood to build the gates of the temple, the city, and his own home. Notice that someone was in charge of the forests and the wood. They were worried about the environment. The king said fine, because the gracious hand of God was with Nehemiah.

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.