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Ezra 5-6: Darius’ Decree

Original Publication Date
April 1, 2017
Updated
Dec 22, 2022 7:20 AM
Tags
EzraChapter StudyPassoverTemplePersia
Bible References
Ezra 5-6
Status
Done
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Table of Contents
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This page was originally posted on my Blogger version of the blog on April 1, 2017 The content below has a few minor tweaks for clarity, and additional references, and some updated information.

Introduction

During the reconstruction of the Temple, the Israelites face adversity but they don't give up. The Israelites don't immediately stop building the Temple. Instead they continued their work such that the king has to send people to investigate. This is a classic case of the question is your duty to your country or to God. Our duty is first to God. If was the king or president mandates goes against what God has said, we are to follow God. The Jews were fully aware of why they had been taken into captivity so they understood the importance of rebuilding the Temple and sticking to God's plan.

Darius

When Darius takes over the Persian throne, he discovers the decree Cyrus had given the Jews. This decree not only gave them permission to build the Temple, but called for the king's treasury to fund it. The idea the a Persian king would command the Jews to rebuild the Temple, let alone fund it, used to be doubted by scholars. However evidence has since proven this to be a historical possibility, as the Persians funded many extra-religious buildings.[1]

This proclamation moves Darius to reissue this decree and made it so that the Israelites could rebuild their Temple. From Ezra 4 we see that construction restarted on the Temple during Darius' second year, and in Ezra 6 we are told they completed the Temple in his sixth year. However, since they actually began reconstruction during Cyrus' reign, we can't estimate the length of time they actually spent working the Temple.

Once the Temple was complete, the Israelites had great sacrifices for the dedication and hosted Passover. Now that they had experienced punishment for disobeying God, they were committed to following His law.

How Big Was It?

The dimensions given of the Temple in Cyrus' decree do not match those of Solomon's Temple. Some people cite this as a contradiction, however, we aren't being told about the old Temple, we're being told about the new Temple. Perhaps they wanted to upgrade the original Temple. It is possible that where they may not have been able to add gold and silver, they could add space. Although we don't think about it much today, land is a vary valuable commodity. It could also be a copyist error. Another important thing to remember is that since one king halted the construction and Darius took over the decree, Darius could have changed these Dimensions based on how much he was willing to provide financially.

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While I know that the measurements of the first Temple are recorded, I don’t remember if that was an explicit command from YHWH or simply the size they built. I intend to go back and read for clarity, because if YHWH did not order a specific size for the Temple, the difference in dimensions does not matter.

References and Footnotes

  1. Holman Bible Publishers. Holman KJV Study Bible, pg. 803-806. 2014

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