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Ezra 5:1-17

Context
Tattenai Appeals to Darius

5:1 Then the prophets Haggai and Zechariah son 1  of Iddo 2  prophesied concerning the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem 3  in the name of the God of Israel who was over them. 5:2 Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak began 4  to rebuild the temple of God in Jerusalem. The prophets of God were with them, supporting them.

5:3 At that time Tattenai governor of Trans-Euphrates, Shethar-Bozenai, and their colleagues came to them and asked, “Who gave you authority 5  to rebuild this temple and to complete this structure?” 6  5:4 They 7  also asked them, “What are the names of the men who are building this edifice?” 5:5 But God was watching over 8  the elders of Judah, and they were not stopped 9  until a report could be dispatched 10  to Darius and a letter could be sent back concerning this.

5:6 This is a copy of the letter that Tattenai governor of Trans-Euphrates, Shethar-Bozenai, and his colleagues who were the officials of Trans-Euphrates sent to King Darius. 5:7 The report they sent to him was written as follows: 11 

“To King Darius: All greetings! 12  5:8 Let it be known to the king that we have gone to the province of Judah, to the temple of the great God. It is being built with large stones, 13  and timbers are being placed in the walls. This work is being done with all diligence and is prospering in their hands. 5:9 We inquired of those elders, asking them, ‘Who gave you the authority to rebuild this temple and to complete this structure?’ 5:10 We also inquired of their names in order to inform you, so that we might write the names of the men who were their leaders. 5:11 They responded to us in the following way: ‘We are servants of the God of heaven and earth. We are rebuilding the temple which was previously built many years ago. A great king 14  of Israel built it and completed it. 5:12 But after our ancestors 15  angered the God of heaven, he delivered them into the hands 16  of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this temple and exiled the people to Babylon. 17  5:13 But in the first year of King Cyrus of Babylon, 18  King Cyrus enacted a decree to rebuild this temple of God. 5:14 Even the gold and silver vessels of the temple of God that Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple in Jerusalem and had brought to the palace 19  of Babylon – even those things King Cyrus brought from the palace of Babylon and presented 20  to a man by the name of Sheshbazzar whom he had appointed as governor. 5:15 He said to him, “Take these vessels and go deposit them in the temple in Jerusalem, and let the house of God be rebuilt in its proper location.” 21  5:16 Then this Sheshbazzar went and laid the foundations of the temple of God in Jerusalem. From that time to the present moment 22  it has been in the process of being rebuilt, although it is not yet finished.’

5:17 “Now if the king is so inclined, 23  let a search be conducted in the royal archives 24  there in Babylon in order to determine whether King Cyrus did in fact issue orders for this temple of God to be rebuilt in Jerusalem. Then let the king send us a decision concerning this matter.”

1 tn Aram “son.” According to Zech 1:1 he was actually the grandson of Iddo.

2 tn Aram “and Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo the prophet.”

3 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

4 tn Aram “arose and began.” For stylistic reasons this has been translated as a single concept.

5 tn Aram “who placed to you a command?” So also v. 9.

6 tn The exact meaning of the Aramaic word אֻשַּׁרְנָא (’ussarna’) here and in v. 9 is uncertain (BDB 1083 s.v.). The LXX and Vulgate understand it to mean “wall.” Here it is used in collocation with בַּיְתָא (bayta’, “house” as the temple of God), while in 5:3, 9 it is used in parallelism with this term. It might be related to the Assyrian noun ashurru (“wall”) or ashru (“sanctuary”; so BDB). F. Rosenthal, who translates the word “furnishings,” thinks that it probably enters Aramaic from Persian (Grammar, 62-63, §189).

7 tc The translation reads with one medieval Hebrew MS, the LXX, and the Syriac Peshitta אֲמַרוּ (’amaru, “they said”) rather than the reading אֲמַרְנָא (’amarna’, “we said”) of the MT.

8 tn Aram “the eye of their God was on.” The idiom describes the attentive care that one exercises in behalf of the object of his concern.

9 tn Aram “they did not stop them.”

10 tn Aram “[could] go.” On this form see F. Rosenthal, Grammar, 58, §169.

11 tn Aram “and it was written in its midst.”

12 tn Aram “all peace.”

13 tn Aram “stones of rolling.” The reference is apparently to stones too large to carry.

14 sn This great king of Israel would, of course, be Solomon.

15 tn Aram “fathers.”

16 tn Aram “hand” (singular).

17 sn A reference to the catastrophic events of 586 b.c.

18 sn Cyrus was actually a Persian king, but when he conquered Babylon in 539 b.c. he apparently appropriated to himself the additional title “king of Babylon.” The Syriac Peshitta substitutes “Persia” for “Babylon” here, but this is probably a hyper-correction.

19 tn Or “temple.”

20 tn Aram “they were given.”

21 tn Aram “upon its place.”

22 tn Aram “from then and until now.”

23 tn Aram “if upon the king it is good.”

24 tn Aram “the house of the treasures of the king.”



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