Daily Devotion Text

June 4, 2020

Ezra6- 2020-06-04

By carmenhsu In Devotion Text, Ezra with Comments Off on Ezra6- 2020-06-04


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Ezra 6

6:6–12 Having supplied the requested confirmation of the edict from Cyrus’s time, the reply of Darius now further obliges by providing the current king’s directives to the governors: “keep away” (6:6) being practically explained in terms of noninterference with the building activities of the Jewish leadership (6:7). Darius’s confirmation of the crown’s renewed or continuing financial support for the rebuilding (6:8) is specified in terms that must have satisfied the returnees and frustrated the governor of “Beyond the River” in equal measure (i.e., “in full,” “without delay” from “Beyond the River’s” provincial funds). […] The challenges of interpreting 6:11 make the precise nature of the punishment for altering the decree difficult to determine. While the measures seem draconian by modern standards, they are broadly characteristic of the Persians’ approach as it appears in their own documents (Behistun Inscription §67) and Jewish literature (e.g., Dan 2:5; 3:29). […]

Darius’s invocation of the returnees’ God and his official recognition of and tangible support for his worship in the final form of the correspondence serve to reaffirm that the divine superintending of Persian power that had begun with Cyrus (1:1) continues under the current regime.

6:13–15 The due execution of Darius’s orders (“with all diligence”) by Tattenai and his associates leads to a notice of the successful completion of the building (6:14). In the preface to the resumption of the building (5:1–2), the focus is solely on the initiative of the returnees’ God and his prophets (Haggai and Zechariah). Here, at its conclusion, pride of place is still given to these same prophets (6:14a) and to the decree of the God of Israel, but now alongside the decree of the Persian kings, including Artaxerxes, whose later involvement (7:15–24, 27) is here likely anticipated. […]

6:16–18 […] Now with the temple completed, it is not surprising that the dedication includes both celebration and sacrifice, just as Solomon’s dedication of its predecessor did. The emphasis at this point is clear: the priests, Levites, and the rest of the returnees are, as in both Solomon’s day and Zerubbabel’s (3:1), nothing less than a reconstituted “people of Israel” (6:16) experiencing something of the same joy (6:16; 3:12–13; 1 Kgs 8:66) and offering the requisite sacrifices (Ezra 6:17; 3:3–6; 1 Kgs 8:63; 2 Chr 7:5). While the returning community’s “twelve tribes” may be implied in Ezra 2:2, they are fully visible here in the twelve goats offered for the sins of “all Israel” (6:17)—a pattern paralleled precisely by the tribal leaders’ dedication of the altar of the tabernacle in the days of Moses (Num 7). […]

6:19–22 […] The insistence too in Ezra that the Passover was celebrated only by those outsiders who had separated themselves from uncleanness (6:21; in keeping with Num 9:14) stands at odds with Hezekiah’s practice of relaxing the pertinent regulations (2 Chr 30:17–20). Finally, the specific sequence of the (re)dedication by the tribal leaders (Ezra 6:17; Num 7), purification of the Levites (Ezra 6:20a; Num 8), and celebration of the Passover (Ezra 6:20b–21; Num 9) that appears in both Ezra and Numbers seems unlikely to be accidental.

As in the Passovers of Hezekiah (2 Chr 30:13) and Josiah (35:17), here the Feast of Unleavened Bread follows (see Num 28:17), and as in Hezekiah’s time, the emphasis of the report falls on the emotion of the celebration (cf. 2 Chr 30:21). Here, however, alongside the narration of emotion there is explanation: they celebrate “with joy, for YHWH had made them joyful.” That this joy is related to what has been accomplished is not syntactically explicit in Ezra 6:22, but is suggested by the reminder in this verse that YHWH had enlisted the royal might of Mesopotamia (lit., a turning of the king’s “heart”) in completing the restoration of his “house”—a fitting recapitulation of the theme introduced at the outset of the book and visible at various points in the chapters that have followed. [1]

[1] Sherpherd, David J. and Christopher J.H. Wright, Ezra and Nehemiah, The Two Horizons Old Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2018) 20-21.

Bible Text:

Ezra 6:1-12

1 Then Darius the king made a decree, and search was made in Babylonia, in the house of the archives where the documents were stored. 2 And in Ecbatana, the citadel that is in the province of Media, a scroll was found on which this was written: “A record. 3 In the first year of Cyrus the king, Cyrus the king issued a decree: Concerning the house of God at Jerusalem, let the house be rebuilt, the place where sacrifices were offered, and let its foundations be retained. Its height shall be sixty cubits and its breadth sixty cubits, 4 with three layers of great stones and one layer of timber. Let the cost be paid from the royal treasury. 5 And also let the gold and silver vessels of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took out of the temple that is in Jerusalem and brought to Babylon, be restored and brought back to the temple that is in Jerusalem, each to its place. You shall put them in the house of God.”

6 “Now therefore, Tattenai, governor of the province Beyond the River, Shethar-bozenai, and your associates the governors who are in the province Beyond the River, keep away.        7 Let the work on this house of God alone. Let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews rebuild this house of God on its site. 8 Moreover, I make a decree regarding what you shall do for these elders of the Jews for the rebuilding of this house of God. The cost is to be paid to these men in full and without delay from the royal revenue, the tribute of the province from Beyond the River. 9 And whatever is needed—bulls, rams, or sheep for burnt offerings to the God of heaven, wheat, salt, wine, or oil, as the priests at Jerusalem require—let that be given to them day by day without fail, 10 that they may offer pleasing sacrifices to the God of heaven and pray for the life of the king and his sons. 11 Also I make a decree that if anyone alters this edict, a beam shall be pulled out of his house, and he shall be impaled on it, and his house shall be made a dunghill. 12 May the God who has caused his name to dwell there overthrow any king or people who shall put out a hand to alter this, or to destroy this house of God that is in Jerusalem. I Darius make a decree; let it be done with all diligence.”

Go Deeper

Questions to help us go deeper

Ezra 6:6-12

  • Given the fact that Tattenai and Shethar-bozenai’s letter to Darius was full of concern for the king’s interests, what is surprising about Darius’s response to them?
  • What can I learn from this passage about how God can work?
  • What has been my response to obstacles in doing God’s work?

Ezra 6:1-12

  • What is King Darius like?
  • What can I learn from him?


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