2 Ezra 4:1-6:14
1 Now when those oppressing Judah and Benjamin heard that the sons of the captivity were building a house to the Lord God of Israel, 2 they approached Zerubbabel and the heads of the father’s houses and said to them, “We will rebuild with you, for we seek as you do, and we have sacrificed to Him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us here.” 3 But Zerubbabel and Jeshua and the rest of the heads of the father’s houses of Israel said to them, “It is not for us and you to rebuild a house to our God, for we ourselves will rebuild it to the Lord our God, as King Cyrus the king of the Persians commanded us.” 4 But the people of the land were weakening the hands of the people of Judah, and were hindering them from building, 5 and hiring people to work against them to frustrate their purpose all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.
Resistance to Rebuilding Jerusalem
6 In the reign of Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, they wrote a letter against the inhabitants of Judea and Jerusalem. 7 And in the days of Artaxerxes, Mithradites, and Tabeel, along with their fellow servants, they wrote in peace to Artaxerxes the king of Persia. The one levying tribute wrote a letter, one having been translated from the Syrian language. 8 Rehum the chancellor and Shimshai the scribe wrote one letter against Jerusalem to the king, Artaxerxes:
9 Thus has judged Rehum the chancellor and Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of our fellow servants the Dinaites, the Apharsathchites, the Tarphalaeans, Apharsaeans, the Archuaeans, the Babylonians, the people of Susa—who are Elamites, 10 and the rest of the nations whom the great and noble Osnapper sent out to colonize the land, and he resettled them in the cities of Samaria, and the rest of them on the other side of the River.
11 This is the substance of the letter they sent him:
To Artaxerxes the king, from your servants the men beyond the River Jordan. 12 Let it be known to the king that the Jews coming up from you to us came to Jerusalem, and they are rebuilding this rebellious and wicked city, and repairing its walls and raising up its foundations. 13 Now let it be known to the king that if that city is rebuilt and if its walls are restored, you will not collect any taxes, nor will they pay anything, and this wrongs the king. 14 And because of this dishonor of the king, one not fitting for us to witness, we send this letter to inform the king, 15 that a search may be made in the book of the records of your fathers. There you will discover and know that this city is a rebellious city, one that is harmful to kings and provinces, and one having a longstanding history of harboring runaway slaves in the midst of her. It is for this reason the city was destroyed. 16 We therefore point out to the king that if this city is rebuilt and its walls restored, there will not be peace.
17 The king sent an answer:
To Rehum the chancellor, to Shimshai the scribe, to the rest of their companions who dwelt in Samaria, and to the remainder beyond the River:
Peace. 18 The tax assessor you sent to us was summoned before me, 19 and a command was given by me, and we examined for ourselves and found that this city in previous days raised up in opposition to kings, and that rebellions and desertions take place in it. 20 There have also been mighty kings over Jerusalem who have ruled over all the region beyond the River; and tax, tribute, and custom were paid to them. 21 Now give the command to make these men cease, that this city may not be built until the command is given by me. 22 Take heed now that you do not fail to do this. Why should damage increase to the hurt of the kings?
23 Then the tax assessor for King Artaxerxes read the letter before Rehum the chancellor, Shimshai the scribe, and their companions. And they went up in haste to Jerusalem against the Jews, and by force of arms made them cease.
24 Thus the work of the house of God which is at Jerusalem ceased, and it was discontinued until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.
Reconstruction of the Temple Resumes
1 Then Haggai the prophet and the prophet Zechariah the son of Iddo prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem, in the name of the God of Israel over them. 2 At that time, Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak rose up and began to build the house of God which is in Jerusalem, and the prophets of God were with them, helping them.
3 At the same time, Tattenai the governor of the region beyond the River and Shethar-Boznai and their companions came there and spoke thus to them: “Who commanded you to build this house and repair this wall?” 4 Then they said this to them, “What are the names of the men, the ones building this city?” 5 But the eyes of God were upon the exiles of Judah, and they were unable to stop them till a report was taken to Darius. Then a written answer was returned concerning this matter.
6 This is a copy of the letter which Tattenai the governor of the province beyond the River, and Shethar-Boznai, and their fellow servants the Apharsachites, the ones in the province beyond the River Jordan, sent to King Darius. 7 They sent a letter to him in which was written thus:
To Darius the king:
8 Let it be known to the king that we went into the province of Judea, to the temple of the great God, which is being built with heavy stones, and timber is being laid in the walls; and this work goes on diligently and prospers in their hands. 9 Then we asked those elders and spoke thus to them: “Who commanded you to build this temple and to finish these walls?” 10 We also asked them their names to inform you, that we might write the names of the men who were chief among them. 11 And thus they returned us an answer, saying, “We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and we are rebuilding the temple that was built many years ago, which a great king of Israel built and completed. 12 But because our fathers provoked the God of heaven to wrath, He gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this temple and carried the people away to Babylon. 13 However, in the first year of Cyrus king of Babylon, King Cyrus issued a decree to build this house of God. 14 Also, the gold and silver articles of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple that was in Jerusalem and carried into the temple of Babylon—those King Cyrus took from the temple of Babylon, and they were given to one named Sheshbazzar, whom he had made governor. 15 And he said to him, ‘Take these articles; go, carry them to the temple site that is in Jerusalem, and let the house of God be rebuilt on its former site.’ 16 Then the same Sheshbazzar came and laid the foundation of the house of God which is in Jerusalem; but from that time even until now it has been under construction, and it is not finished.” 17 Now therefore, if it seems good to the king, let a search be made in the king’s treasure house, which is there in Babylon, whether it is so that a decree was issued by King Cyrus to build this house of God at Jerusalem, and let the king send us his pleasure concerning this matter.
King Cyrus’ Order Is Rediscovered
1 Then King Darius issued a decree, and a search was made in the archives, where the treasures were stored in Babylon. 2 And at Achmetha, in the palace that is in the province of Media, a scroll was found, and in it a record was written thus:
3 In the first year of King Cyrus, King Cyrus issued a decree concerning the house of God at Jerusalem: “Let the house be rebuilt, the place where they offered sacrifices; and let the foundations of it be firmly laid, its height sixty cubits and its width sixty cubits, 4 with three rows of heavy stones and one row of new timber. Let the expenses be paid from the king’s treasury. 5 Also let the gold and silver articles of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took from the temple which is in Jerusalem and brought to Babylon, be restored and taken back to the temple which is in Jerusalem, each to its place; and deposit them in the house of God”—
6 Now therefore, Tattenai, governor of the region beyond the River, and Shethar-Boznai, and your companions the Persians who are beyond the River, keep yourselves far from there. 7 Let the work of this house of God alone; let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews build this house of God on its site. 8 Moreover I issue a decree as to what you shall do for the elders of these Jews, for the building of this house of God: Let the cost be paid at the king’s expense from taxes on the region beyond the River; this is to be given immediately to these men, so that they are not hindered. 9 And whatever they need—young bulls, rams, and lambs for the burnt offerings of the God of heaven, wheat, salt, wine, and oil, according to the request of the priests who are in Jerusalem—let it be given them day by day without fail, 10 that they may offer sacrifices of sweet aroma to the God of heaven, and pray for the life of the king and his sons. 11 Also I issue a decree that whoever alters this edict, let a timber be pulled from his house and erected, and let him be hanged on it; and let his house be made a refuse heap because of this. 12 And may the God who causes His name to dwell there destroy any king or people who put their hand to alter it, or to destroy this house of God which is in Jerusalem. I Darius issue a decree; let it be done diligently.
13 Then Tattenai, governor of the region beyond the River, Shethar-Boznai, and their companions diligently did according to what King Darius had sent. 14 So the elders of the Jews built, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they built and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the command of Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes, kings of Persia.
1 For the End; a psalm by David.
O Lord, You test me and know me;
2 You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thoughts from afar;
3 You search out my path and my portion,
And You foresee all my ways.
4 For there is not a word on my tongue,
5 But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether,
The last things and the first things;
You fashioned me, and placed Your hands on me.
6 Your knowledge has become too wondrous for me;
It has become too overwhelming; I am unable to grasp it.
7 Where could I go from Your Spirit,
Or flee from Your face?
8 If I should ascend into heaven, You would be there;
If I should descend into Hades, You would be there;
9 If I should take up my wings at dawn
And pitch camp at the furthest part of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand would lead me,
And Your right hand would hold me.
11 And I said, “Perhaps darkness shall cover me,”
But the night shall be light to my delight;
12 For darkness shall not be dark because of You,
And the night shall be bright as day;
As its darkness, so also shall be its light.
24 He who takes part with a thief hates his own soul,
And if, when an oath is set forth, those who hear it do not report it,
25 They are tripped up, because they fear and stand in awe of men;
But he who trusts in the Lord will rejoice.
26 Ungodliness causes a man to stumble,
But he who trusts in the Master shall be saved.
27 Many serve in the presence of leaders,
But righteousness comes to a man from the Lord.
28 An abomination to the righteous is an unrighteous man,
And the upright way is an abomination to the lawless.
1 Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour.
2 And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple;
3 who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms.
4 And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, “Look at us.”
5 So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them.
6 Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”
7 And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.
8 So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God.
9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God.
10 Then they knew that it was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
Preaching in Solomon’s Portico
11 Now as the lame man who was healed held on to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the porch which is called Solomon’s, greatly amazed.
12 So when Peter saw it, he responded to the people: “Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?
13 “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go.
14 “But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you,
15 “and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses.
16 “And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.
17 “Yet now, brethren, I know that you did it in ignorance, as did also your rulers.
18 “But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled.
19 “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,
20 “and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before,
21 “whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.
22 “For Moses truly said to the fathers, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you.
23 ‘And it shall be that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’
24 “Yes, and all the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days.
25 “You are sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’
26 “To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities.”