Ezra – Chapter 5

Fast Forward

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

Fast forward to the reign of Darius, as mentioned at the end of the previous chapter. The prophets at the time were Zechariah and Chagai. They received word from G-d that construction should continue, even without the support of the king. (See the first chapter of Chagai’s Book, which is called Haggai in English.) When they got the message, Zerubavel, Yeshua and the others rushed to resume. A local politician named Tatenai and others asked who authorized this and they demanded the names of the workers that “crossed the line.” G-d was looking out for the Jews, however, and the opponents were unsuccessful in their attempts to impede construction until the matter could be brought to Darius.

Tatenai and his colleagues wrote a letter to Darius to the effect that the Temple project had resumed and was proceeding rapidly. When asked on whose authority and who the workmen were, the Jews merely replied that they were servants of G-d restoring His former Temple, which had been destroyed because their ancestors angered G-d. The letter reminded Darius how Cyrus had initiated the building and even given the Jews the vessels of the original Temple. Sheshbazzar (possibly referring to Zerubavel) began construction, which was then halted and has been on hold for 18 years. The letter advised Darius to consult his royal records on the matter and reply as to whether he favored or opposed the work continuing.

The king’s reply appears in the next chapter…

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