Ezra 3


‘When the seventh month came and the Israelites had settled in their towns, the people assembled together as one in Jerusalem. Then Joshua son of Jozadak and his fellow priests and Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and his associates began to build the altar of the God of Israel to sacrifice burnt offerings on it, in accordance with what is written in the Law of Moses the man of God. Despite their fear of the peoples around them, they built the altar on its foundation and sacrificed burnt offerings on it to the LORD, both the morning and evening sacrifices. Then in accordance with what is written, they celebrated the Festival of Tabernacles with the required number of burnt offerings prescribed for each day. After that, they presented the regular burnt offerings, the New Moon sacrifices and the sacrifices for all the appointed sacred festivals of the LORD, as well as those brought as freewill offerings to the LORD. On the first day of the seventh month they began to offer burnt offerings to the LORD, though the foundation of the LORD’s temple had not yet been laid.’ Ezra 3:1-6

Rebuilding The Altar

The seventh month was an important month for the Jews, because of the feast of trumpets, Numbers 29:1, the day of atonement, Numbers 29:7 / Leviticus 16:29, and the feast of tabernacles, Leviticus 23:34-36 / Leviticus 23:39-44 / Numbers 29:12-38 all fell within this month.

The building of the altar was the main reason why they returned to their homeland in the first place. This was a real effort to turn back to God and live and worship according to God’s laws, Deuteronomy 6:4.

The Jews still feared those around them, this is a natural feeling, especially since they have been in captivity for seventy years. But the fear they felt wasn’t because of any foreign nations around them but from the locals.

Remember Jerusalem was taken over by the Babylonians, so, understandably, the Jews would feel like strangers in a strange land seventy years later.

After the building of the altar, they then made their offerings, Leviticus 23:34-42, this would have created a real sense of belonging, community and fellowship.

They haven’t worshipped together for years in Jerusalem, but now that the altar has been built, people can make their journeys from different parts of the world to Jerusalem to make their offerings, animal sacrifices and worship God, Acts 2:9-11.

Rebuilding The Temple

‘Then they gave money to the masons and carpenters and gave food and drink and olive oil to the people of Sidon and Tyre, so that they would bring cedar logs by sea from Lebanon to Joppa, as authorized by Cyrus king of Persia. In the second month of the second year after their arrival at the house of God in Jerusalem, Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, Joshua son of Jozadak and the rest of the people (the priests and the Levites and all who had returned from the captivity to Jerusalem) began the work. They appointed Levites twenty years old and older to supervise the building of the house of the LORD. Joshua and his sons and brothers and Kadmiel and his sons (descendants of Hodaviah) and the sons of Henadad and their sons and brothers—all Levites—joined together in supervising those working on the house of God. When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, the priests in their vestments and with trumpets, and the Levites (the sons of Asaph) with cymbals, took their places to praise the LORD, as prescribed by David king of Israel. With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the LORD: ‘He is good; his love toward Israel endures forever.’ And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid. But many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy. No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping, because the people made so much noise. And the sound was heard far away.’ Ezra 3:7-13

Work began on the temple in the spring of the second year after the Jews returned from captivity. Workers were hired, materials were sought and cedar was brought from Lebanon, 2 Chronicles 2:8-9.

It appears that Cyrus also donated some funding from his country’s own treasury, Ezra 6:3-5, and the Jews were happy to accept this, even though he was a Gentile king.

They appointed Levites twenty years old and older to supervise the building work. There appear to be different ages given throughout the Scriptures concerning when a Levite was old enough to work in the temple. Those ages vary from the age of 20, as here, up to 25, 30, or 35.

Simmons, in his commentary, gives the following reason for the varied ages.

‘There were 24,000 Levites to see after the work of Solomon’s temple, 1 Chronicles 29:4, and only 341 Levites returned from Babylon. It hardly takes a genius to figure out why they lowered the required age, they needed more men!’

Notice they praise God and with thanksgiving, they sang to the Lord, ‘He is good; his love toward Israel endures forever.’ The Psalm they sang together here is Psalm 136, which tells us they were thinking of Jeremiah’s great prophecy, Jeremiah 33:11.

While some shouted for joy when the foundation of the temple was being laid, many of the older priests, Levites and family heads began to weep loudly.

These were the men who had seen Solomon’s temple in all its glory, they wept because this new temple as grand as it will be, will never be as magnificent as Solomon’s original temple.

Go To Ezra 4


"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God."