Tuesday, October 1. Ezra 6. Esther 1 – 2

Chapter six of Ezra can be a bit confusing. Remember that even though Haggai and Zechariah have been urging the rebuilding of the temple, those efforts have been frustrated by the surrounding nations, as well as the governor of the district, Tattenai. The governor, having been assured that Cyrus himself gave the Israelites permission to rebuild the temple, was unbelieving and sent to Darius for confirmation.

This is where the confusion comes in.

The records are searched and the document of Cyrus is found authorizing the temple (6:3-5).

The problem is, in our Bibles, verses 3-5 are set off as a quote from the document, but verses 6-12 are likewise set off as a quote, leading the unsuspecting reader to conclude that verses 6-12 are a part of the Cyrus memorandum – which doesn’t make historical sense.

The resolution is suggested by the translation. There is a little more space between verses five and six than in other paragraphs, but that is easily missed. The chapter actually cites two documents: the Cyrus document (verses 3-5), and Darius’ reply document (verses 6-12).

There are two important points in the chapter. First, that the rebuilding is not only sanctioned by the Persian government, but opposing politicians in the Persian realm are commanded to help with the financing of the rebuilding of the temple. Thus even the Lord’s enemies are forced to give Him honor. God always gets His way. Second, the temple is built and the Passover observed, but not only by Israelites. Even the gentiles who have purified themselves are able to join in because they “seek the Lord, the God of Israel.”

This reminds us that the eternal dream of God is that all people seek Him and worship Him.