A very brief synopsis from the account in the book of Ezra….
By the edict of Cyrus, who became ruler of the Persian empire, the Lord let all the exiles go free–to return to their own land in Jerusalem, where Solomon’s Temple had once stood grandly for all to see.
“Building a house for God in Jerusalem,” Cyrus said, was his task, which he passed on to them that day. He also gave back to the people the Temple treasures that King Nebuchadnezzar had taken away.
Led by Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, and by Jeshua, the priest, they enthusiastically set out. Upon arrival in Jerusalem, they located the Temple’s original site, where nothing but some rubble was scattered about.
When the Assyrians had captured the Israelites in the north, they had then settled some newcomers in the land. These were Samaritans, who hadn’t wanted the Jews to come back there again, or ever see them take command.
But Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and others built an altar and offered sacrifices to the God of Israel, as the law of Moses said that they should. This was of greatest importance before the Temple would ultimately be rebuilt with stone and cedar wood.
The cedar would be shipped from Lebanon, as it had been done for King Solomon many years before. Then, according to their ability, the people gave gold, silver, priestly garments, and other offerings to this project to restore.
The Levites were appointed to oversee the work; but everyone, even the priests, helped to lay the foundation. They then sang, “The Lord is good and His love for Israel is eternal”–a song of God’s love for their nation.
Problems developed in dealing with the Samaritans, who, at first, offered to help with all they had to do. They claimed to worship the same God; but Zerubbabel refused their help, for he knew that simply wasn’t true.
The people of Judah had been exiled to Babylon as God’s punishment for their waywardness previously this way–when they’d mixed with others who worshiped false “gods”–so they weren’t about again to go astray.
At Zerubbabel’s refusal, the Samaritans became angry, stirred up trouble, and work on the Temple ceased. This lasted fifteen years, until prophecies and encouragement from God’s prophets, Zechariah and Haggai, were at that time released.
Zerubbabel and Jeshua knew this was their approval to begin again, as far as they could see. When challenged again by those who opposed it, King Darius researched the edict of Cyrus–then also gave his generous endorsement decree.
So Solomon’s Temple was finally resurrected. Though not as magnificent, it was welcomed after so many years. The people came to it for Passover, and the priests and Levites resumed duties, after it was dedicated to God with joyful cheers.
If you’ve a project for God that’s somehow stalled, be strong, and remember this story to help keep things going. Not all may support or understand what God has put in your heart, but it’s God’s vision that needs to keep growing.
P. A. Oltrogge
Gentile neighbors were to help the Jewish people through their donations before they left (Ezra 1:4-6) Two groups of the people went. The first group returned with Zerubbabel and restored the Temple. The second group returned with Ezra, who instructed the people in godliness. Fifteen years is an approximate number of years the work ceased after it was started. Jeshua is also written as Joshua, son of Jozadak.
In ventures in your own life, it’s best to be sure that any potential partners who say that your God and theirs are the same–actually do know the one true God and Messiah–Jesus Christ being His Name.
Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to the Temple for dedication to the Lord. (Luke 2:22) Later, He was found in the Temple (Luke 2:46) and He taught in its courts. (Matthew 21:14-15; Matthew 21:23; Matthew 26:55; Mark 11:11; Mark 12:35; Luke 2:46; Luke 19:47; Luke 21:37-38; John 7:14,28; John 8:2,20) His presence was its glory. Jesus also ministered to the descendants of the early Samaritans spoken of in the poem, and gave us the beloved story of “the good Samaritan.” The apostles also preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Samaritans. (Acts 8:25)