Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” Saul replied, “I am terribly troubled! The Philistines are fighting against me and God has turned away from me. He does not answer me – not by the prophets nor by dreams. So I have called on you to tell me what I should do.”
Gad went to David and told him, “Shall seven 1 years of famine come upon your land? Or shall you flee for three months from your enemy with him in hot pursuit? Or shall there be three days of plague in your land? Now decide 2 what I should tell the one who sent me.”
It read: “This is what King Cyrus of Persia says: ‘The Lord God of the heavens has given to me all the kingdoms of the earth. He has appointed me to build for him a temple in Jerusalem 1 in Judah. May the Lord your God energize you who belong to his people, so you may be able to go back there!” 2
In the second year after they had come to the temple of God in Jerusalem, 1 in the second month, Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak initiated the work, 2 along with the rest of their associates, 3 the priests and the Levites, and all those who were coming to Jerusalem from the exile. They appointed 4 the Levites who were at least twenty years old 5 to take charge of the work on the Lord’s temple.
You must 1 observe the Sabbath 2 rather than doing anything you please on my holy day. 3 You must look forward to the Sabbath 4 and treat the Lord’s holy day with respect. 5 You must treat it with respect by refraining from your normal activities, and by refraining from your selfish pursuits and from making business deals. 6
Once again there will be sounds 1 of joy and gladness and the glad celebrations of brides and grooms. 2 Once again people will bring their thank offerings to the temple of the Lord and will say, “Give thanks to the Lord who rules over all. For the Lord is good and his unfailing love lasts forever.” 3 For I, the Lord, affirm 4 that I will restore the land to what it was 5 in days of old.’ 6
I sent all my servants the prophets to warn you over and over again. They said, “Every one of you, stop doing the evil things you have been doing and do what is right. 1 Do not pay allegiance to other gods 2 and worship them. Then you can continue to live in this land that I gave to you and your ancestors.” But you did not pay any attention or listen to me.
“When a righteous person turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I set an obstacle 1 before him, he will die. If you have not warned him, he will die for his sin. The righteous deeds he performed will not be considered, but I will hold you accountable for his death.
“‘When the people of the land come before the Lord at the appointed feasts, whoever enters by way of the north gate to worship will go out by way of the south gate; whoever enters by way of the south gate will go out by way of the north gate. No one will return by way of the gate they entered but will go out straight ahead.
So they approached the king and said to him, 1 “Did you not issue an edict to the effect that for the next thirty days anyone who prays to any god or human other than to you, O king, would be thrown into a den of lions?” The king replied, “That is correct, 2 according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be changed.”