How the New Temple was Built in Jerusalem
Ezra 3:7 to 6:22; Haggai 1,2
The prophet Haggai urges for work to begin on the new temple.
HEN ZERUBBABEL AND
his company came to Jerusalem they did not begin at once to rebuild the temple of the Lord. Winter was coming on, and first they built houses for themselves. But at the return of springtime they set to work at the great task that had brought them back to Judah.
Zerubbabel and Jeshua, the high priest, hired carpenters and masons for the new building, and put to work every man among their number who was twenty years old or more. Again they sent to the Lebanon Mountains for wood to use in the building, for Cyrus the king had given them permission to do this.
When everything was ready, the workers laid the foundation of the new temple. And the priests and Levites and singers stood ready with their trumpets and musical instruments to worship the Lord. They sang together, giving praise to God. And all the people stood near by, rejoicing because the great work was so well begun. They shouted with a loud noise.
But some among them had seen the temple which Solomon had built, and when they saw the foundation of this new building they remembered how beautiful the first temple had been. Instead of shouting with joy they wept for sorrow.
There were strangers living in the country places near Jerusalem who were not Jews. When they saw the work that the Jews had commenced at Jerusalem, they asked permission to help in the building of the temple; they said, "We seek your God, as you do."
But Zerubbabel and Jeshua, the high priest, knew these men did not worship God in the right way, and they would not accept help form them.
These strangers were Samaritans, the people who came to live in Israel after the northern tribes were carried away into captivity. These were the people who had mixed religion--a mixture of the true religion and idol-worship. When Zerubbabel and Jeshua refused to let them help build the temple they grew angry and tried to hinder the work.
They sent letters back to the king of Persia, accusing the Jews of falsehoods, and they continued to do this for a long time. Finally they caused the building of the temple to come to a standstill.
Several years passed by, and the Jews were not allowed to finish the temple. So they build comfortable homes for themselves and began to work in the fields near Jerusalem.
Finally God caused the new king of Persia, another king named Darius, to be friendly toward the Jews. But the Jews did not ask him to help them. They did not try to finish the work which they had begun on the temple. So God sent a prophet, named Haggai, to urge them to get at work again on the temple. This prophet said that Zerubbabel had begun the new temple, and he should finish the building of it.
So Zerubbabel and Jeshua took courage and began once more on the temple-building. When they commenced work the Samaritans came down to see what they were doing.
They asked, "Who had given you orders to do this?"
And they answered, "Cyrus, the king of Persia, commanded us to build this house of God."
The Samaritans did not believe their words, and they wrote a letter to King Darius, telling what the Jews had said. But when Darius looked in the records that had been kept during the rule of Cyrus he found that Cyrus had indeed commanded the Jews to rebuild the temple. So he sent word back to the Samaritans, telling them not to hinder the Jews, but rather to give them money to help hurry on the great work which Cyrus had commanded them to do.
And he said that if they refused to obey his words their own houses should be torn down and they should be killed. This message caused the Samaritans to become afraid, and they ceased to hinder the Jews.
When the temple was finally completed, the Jews had a great feast, and they offered many sacrifices to the Lord. They rejoiced very much because God had given them a friend in the new king of Persia, and had helped them to overcome the wicked plans of their neighbors, the Samaritans.
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