The Home-Coming of the Jews
Ezra 1:1 to Ezra 3:7
The Jews begin their journey back to Judah.
of people were gathering in the valley along the Euphrates River, preparing to start on a long journey. There were old people, and young people, and even little boys and girls.
These people were the Jews, and they were arranging soon to start back to the land of their fathers--Judah. For Cyrus, the new king, had sent this message to the Jews scattered everywhere throughout his kingdom:
"The Lord God of heaven was given me all the kingdoms of earth; and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Now who is there among his people--the Jews--who will go up to Jerusalem and build this house for God?"
Daniel was too old to return on this long journey to Jerusalem. And perhaps the King would have been unwilling to spare this great man from his work. But there were others, many others, who were just as eager as Daniel to see the temple of the Lord rebuilt.
And one of these persons was Zerubbabel, a brave young man who belonged to the family of David. He became the leader of the people who returned to Jerusalem, but he ruled as a prince under the command of King Cyrus; for the throne of David was not restored in Jerusalem again.
When the long journey began, the people moved slowly up the highway that led northward from Babylon, the same highway over which some of them had traveled seventy years before.
Many of them walked, but some rode on horses, others on camels or donkeys. Now they were singing songs of joy, and they were carrying their beautiful harps back to their own land. There they would be glad and there they would play sweet music in the new house of the Lord which Cyrus had commanded them to build.
Cyrus had given them the vessels of gold and of silver which Nebuchadnezzar had stolen from the temple before he set it on fire, and they were taking those vessels back to be used in the new temple.
And Cyrus had commanded their neighbors and friends to give them rich gifts of gold and of silver. So they were well laden for their journey.
Not all the Jews returned to Jerusalem; for many were becoming rich in their new homes, and they did not care to go back to Judah. But they sent precious gifts to help in the building of the new temple. And they were glad because some of their own people were returning to build up the altar of the Lord, which had been torn down.
When at last the long journey was nearing its end, the people came in sight of the crumbled walls of Jerusalem. Some of them remembered how the city looked before it had been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, and their hearts where filled with sadness.
But many of them had never seen Jerusalem, for they had been born in the land of captivity. They had heard their parents tell about the land which God had given to them long ago, and which he had allowed King Nebuchadnezzar to take away from them because they had worshiped idols. And they were glad to come back and build homes in that land which Nebuchadnezzar had taken away from them.
In the ruins of Jerusalem the people found the place where the temple of the Lord used to stand. They found the rock where the altar of the Lord had been built. And here the priests and the Levites cleared away the rubbish and gathered stones to build a new altar.
Then they began to offer sacrifices to God each morning and each evening, just as the law of Moses commanded them to do.
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