Day 252 (Sept. 9): Exiles who returned to Israel with Zerubbabel, altar is rebuilt, people begin to rebuild temple but face opposition, Zerubbabel’s descendants

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

New Living Translation,

Ezra 2-4:5

Exiles Who Returned with Zerubbabel / 538 BC

2 Here is the list of the Jewish exiles of the provinces who returned from their captivity. King Nebuchadnezzar had deported them to Babylon, but now they returned to Jerusalem and the other towns in Judah where they originally lived. 2 Their leaders were Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispar, Bigvai, Rehum, and Baanah.

This is the number of the men of Israel who returned from exile:

3 The family of Parosh  2,172

4 The family of Shephatiah  372

5 The family of Arah  775

6 The family of Pahath-moab (descendants of Jeshua and Joab)  2,812

7 The family of Elam  1,254

8 The family of Zattu  945

9 The family of Zaccai  760

10 The family of Bani  642

11 The family of Bebai  623

12 The family of Azgad  1,222

13 The family of Adonikam  666

14 The family of Bigvai  2,056

15 The family of Adin  454

16 The family of Ater (descendants of Hezekiah)  98

17 The family of Bezai  323

18 The family of Jorah  112

19 The family of Hashum  223

20 The family of Gibbar  95

21 The people of Bethlehem  123

22 The people of Netophah  56

23 The people of Anathoth  128

24 The people of Beth-azmaveth[a]  42

25 The people of Kiriath-jearim,[b] Kephirah, and Beeroth  743

26 The people of Ramah and Geba  621

27 The people of Micmash  122

28 The people of Bethel and Ai  223

29 The citizens of Nebo  52

30 The citizens of Magbish  156

31 The citizens of West Elam[c]  1,254

32 The citizens of Harim  320

33 The citizens of Lod, Hadid, and Ono  725

34 The citizens of Jericho  345

35 The citizens of Senaah  3,630

36 These are the priests who returned from exile:

The family of Jedaiah (through the line of Jeshua)  973

37 The family of Immer  1,052

38 The family of Pashhur  1,247

39 The family of Harim  1,017

40 These are the Levites who returned from exile:

The families of Jeshua and Kadmiel (descendants of Hodaviah)  74

41 The singers of the family of Asaph  128

42 The gatekeepers of the families of Shallum, Ater, Talmon, Akkub, Hatita, and Shobai  139

43 The descendants of the following Temple servants returned from exile:

Ziha, Hasupha, Tabbaoth,
44 Keros, Siaha, Padon,
45 Lebanah, Hagabah, Akkub,
46 Hagab, Shalmai,[d] Hanan,
47 Giddel, Gahar, Reaiah,
48 Rezin, Nekoda, Gazzam,
49 Uzza, Paseah, Besai,
50 Asnah, Meunim, Nephusim,
51 Bakbuk, Hakupha, Harhur,
52 Bazluth, Mehida, Harsha,
53 Barkos, Sisera, Temah,
54 Neziah, and Hatipha.

55 The descendants of these servants of King Solomon returned from exile:

Sotai, Hassophereth, Peruda,
56 Jaalah, Darkon, Giddel,
57 Shephatiah, Hattil, Pokereth-hazzebaim, and Ami.

58 In all, the Temple servants and the descendants of Solomon’s servants numbered 392.

59 Another group returned at this time from the towns of Tel-melah, Tel-harsha, Kerub, Addan, and Immer. However, they could not prove that they or their families were descendants of Israel. 60 This group included the families of Delaiah, Tobiah, and Nekoda—a total of 652 people.

61 Three families of priests—Hobaiah, Hakkoz, and Barzillai—also returned. (This Barzillai had married a woman who was a descendant of Barzillai of Gilead, and he had taken her family name.) 62 They searched for their names in the genealogical records, but they were not found, so they were disqualified from serving as priests. 63 The governor told them not to eat the priests’ share of food from the sacrifices until a priest could consult the Lord about the matter by using the Urim and Thummim—the sacred lots.

64 So a total of 42,360 people returned to Judah, 65 in addition to 7,337 servants and 200 singers, both men and women. 66 They took with them 736 horses, 245 mules, 67 435 camels, and 6,720 donkeys.

68 When they arrived at the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem, some of the family leaders made voluntary offerings toward the rebuilding of God’s Temple on its original site, 69 and each leader gave as much as he could. The total of their gifts came to 61,000 gold coins,[e] 6,250 pounds[f] of silver, and 100 robes for the priests.

70 So the priests, the Levites, the singers, the gatekeepers, the Temple servants, and some of the common people settled in villages near Jerusalem. The rest of the people returned to their own towns throughout Israel.

The Altar Is Rebuilt / 538 BC

3 In early autumn,[g] when the Israelites had settled in their towns, all the people assembled in Jerusalem with a unified purpose. 2 Then Jeshua son of Jehozadak[h] joined his fellow priests and Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel with his family in rebuilding the altar of the God of Israel. They wanted to sacrifice burnt offerings on it, as instructed in the Law of Moses, the man of God. 3 Even though the people were afraid of the local residents, they rebuilt the altar at its old site. Then they began to sacrifice burnt offerings on the altar to the Lord each morning and evening.

4 They celebrated the Festival of Shelters as prescribed in the Law, sacrificing the number of burnt offerings specified for each day of the festival. 5 They also offered the regular burnt offerings and the offerings required for the new moon celebrations and the annual festivals as prescribed by the Lord. The people also gave voluntary offerings to the Lord. 6 Fifteen days before the Festival of Shelters began,[i] the priests had begun to sacrifice burnt offerings to the Lord. This was even before they had started to lay the foundation of the Lord’s Temple.

The People Begin to Rebuild the Temple / 537 BC

7 Then the people hired masons and carpenters and bought cedar logs from the people of Tyre and Sidon, paying them with food, wine, and olive oil. The logs were brought down from the Lebanon mountains and floated along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea[j] to Joppa, for King Cyrus had given permission for this.

8 The construction of the Temple of God began in midspring,[k] during the second year after they arrived in Jerusalem. The work force was made up of everyone who had returned from exile, including Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, Jeshua son of Jehozadak and his fellow priests, and all the Levites. The Levites who were twenty years old or older were put in charge of rebuilding the Lord’s Temple. 9 The workers at the Temple of God were supervised by Jeshua with his sons and relatives, and Kadmiel and his sons, all descendants of Hodaviah.[l] They were helped in this task by the Levites of the family of Henadad.

10 When the builders completed the foundation of the Lord’s Temple, the priests put on their robes and took their places to blow their trumpets. And the Levites, descendants of Asaph, clashed their cymbals to praise the Lord, just as King David had prescribed. 11 With praise and thanks, they sang this song to the Lord:

“He is so good!
His faithful love for Israel endures forever!”

Then all the people gave a great shout, praising the Lord because the foundation of the Lord’s Temple had been laid.

12 But many of the older priests, Levites, and other leaders who had seen the first Temple wept aloud when they saw the new Temple’s foundation. The others, however, were shouting for joy. 13 The joyful shouting and weeping mingled together in a loud noise that could be heard far in the distance.

Enemies Oppose the Rebuilding

4 The enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the exiles were rebuilding a Temple to the Lord, the God of Israel. 2 So they approached Zerubbabel and the other leaders and said, “Let us build with you, for we worship your God just as you do. We have sacrificed to him ever since King Esarhaddon of Assyria brought us here.”

3 But Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the other leaders of Israel replied, “You may have no part in this work. We alone will build the Temple for the Lord, the God of Israel, just as King Cyrus of Persia commanded us.”

4 Then the local residents tried to discourage and frighten the people of Judah to keep them from their work. 5 They bribed agents to work against them and to frustrate their plans. This went on during the entire reign of King Cyrus of Persia and lasted until King Darius of Persia took the throne.[m]

1 Chronicles 3:19-24

19 The sons of Pedaiah were Zerubbabel and Shimei.

The sons of Zerubbabel were Meshullam and Hananiah. (Their sister was Shelomith.) 20 His five other sons were Hashubah, Ohel, Berekiah, Hasadiah, and Jushab-hesed.

21 The sons of Hananiah were Pelatiah and Jeshaiah. Jeshaiah’s son was Rephaiah. Rephaiah’s son was Arnan. Arnan’s son was Obadiah. Obadiah’s son was Shecaniah.

22 The descendants of Shecaniah were Shemaiah and his sons, Hattush, Igal, Bariah, Neariah, and Shaphat—six in all.

23 The sons of Neariah were Elioenai, Hizkiah, and Azrikam—three in all.

24 The sons of Elioenai were Hodaviah, Eliashib, Pelaiah, Akkub, Johanan, Delaiah, and Anani—seven in all.


Questions & Observations

O. If you are curious about who Ezra is, go to:

Q. (Ezra 2:1-70): How did all of these exiles know to return?

A. As the first chapter of Ezra noted, the decree from Cyrus went out among his entire empire, so the Jews likely received notice either by messenger or by public posting of the decree.  It appears that the Jews in the story were quite prepared for this event, as they appear to have kept land records and family genealogies that helped them settle claims and redistribute the recovered land.

Q. (3:12): The ones who had seen the old Temple wept when they saw the new Temple because they were reminded of it’s grandeur and felt ashamed for not upholding the law to honor God?

A. Yes, and for all of the anguish the people had been through.  No doubt they were grateful for God’s provision and restoration, but they could not hold back the tears in crying aloud for their former glory.

Q. (4:4-5): Why did the local residents discourage the Judeans from building the Temple?

A. The area that had been the Jewish Promised Land was now controlled by a number of outside forces that centered in the region of Samaria (part of the Northern Kingdom that was destroyed by the Assyrians).  Having a Jewish state with any sort of clout (which the Temple would certainly provide) would be a threat to their rule, so they were opposed to this move.  We will see more about this in Nehemiah, which these same forces would oppose his efforts to rebuild the wall around the city.

Q. (1 Chronicles 3:19b-24): Is there anything in these family lines we need to make note of?

A. Other than them being lines of David’s distant descendants (via Jehoiachin), not really.


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