New International Reader's Version

Ezra 6

King Darius’s Reply to Tattenai

1King Darius gave an order. He had a search made in the official records stored among the treasures at Babylon. A book was found in a safe storeroom at Ecbatana in the land of Media. Here is what was written on it.

This is my official reply to your letter.

In the first year that Cyrus was king, he gave an order. It concerned God’s temple in Jerusalem. King Cyrus said,

Rebuild the temple. Then the Jews can offer sacrifices there. Lay its foundations. The temple must be 90 feet high and 90 feet wide. Its walls must have three layers of large stones. They must also have a layer of beautiful wood. Use money from the royal treasures to pay for everything. The gold and silver objects from the house of God must be returned. Nebuchadnezzar had taken them from the first temple in Jerusalem. And he had brought them to Babylon. Now they must be returned to their places in the temple at Jerusalem. They must be put in the house of God there.

Tattenai, you are governor of the land west of the Euphrates River. I want you to stay away from the temple in Jerusalem. I also want you, Shethar-Bozenai, and you other officials of that area to stay away from it. Don’t try to stop the work on the temple of God. Let the governor of the Jews and their elders rebuild the house of their God. Let them build it in the same place where it stood before.

Here is what I want you to do for the elders of the Jews. Here is how you must help them to build the house of their God.

Pay all their expenses from the royal treasures. Use the money you collect from the people who live west of the Euphrates. Don’t let the work on the temple stop. Don’t fail to give the priests in Jerusalem what they ask for each day. Give them what they need. Give them young bulls, rams and male lambs. The priests can use them to sacrifice burnt offerings to the God of heaven. Also give them wheat, salt, wine and olive oil. 10 Give them those things so they can offer sacrifices that please the God of heaven. And I want them to pray that things will go well for me and my sons.

11 Don’t change this order. If anyone tries to change it, they must be put to death. A pole must be pulled from their house. The pole must be stuck through their body. Because that person tried to change my royal order, their house must be broken to pieces. 12 God has chosen to put his Name in the temple at Jerusalem. May he wipe out any king or nation that lifts a hand to change this order. May he also wipe out anyone who tries to destroy the temple in Jerusalem.

That’s what I have ordered. I am King Darius. Make sure you carry out my order.

The Temple Is Completed and Set Apart to God

13 The governor Tattenai and Shethar-Bozenai carried out King Darius’s order. And so did their friends. 14 The elders of the Jews continued to build the temple. They enjoyed great success because of the preaching of Haggai and Zechariah, the prophets. Zechariah belonged to the family line of Iddo. The people finished building the temple. That’s what the God of Israel had commanded them to do. Cyrus and Darius had given orders allowing them to do it. Later, Artaxerxes supplied many things that were needed in the temple. Those three men were kings of Persia. 15 So the temple was completed on the third day of the month of Adar. It was in the sixth year that Darius was king.

16 When the house of God was set apart, the people of Israel celebrated with joy. The priests and Levites joined them. So did the rest of those who had returned from the land of Babylon. 17 When the house of God was set apart to him, the people sacrificed 100 bulls. They also sacrificed 200 rams and 400 male lambs. As a sin offering for the whole nation of Israel, the people sacrificed 12 male goats. One goat was sacrificed for each tribe in Israel. 18 The priests were appointed to their groups. And the Levites were appointed to their groups. All of them served God at Jerusalem. They served him in keeping with what is written in the Book of Moses.

The People Celebrate the Passover Feast

19 The people who had returned from the land of Babylon celebrated the Passover Feast. It was on the 14th day of the first month. 20 The priests and Levites had made themselves pure and “clean.” The Levites killed Passover lambs for the people who had returned from Babylon. They also did it for themselves and their relatives, the priests. 21 So the Israelites who had returned ate the Passover lamb. They ate it together with all those who had separated themselves from the practices of their Gentile neighbors. Those practices were “unclean.” The people worshiped the Lord. He is the God of Israel. 22 For seven days they celebrated the Feast of Unleavened Bread with joy. That’s because the Lord had filled them with joy. They were glad because he had changed the mind of the king of Persia. So the king had helped them with the work on the house of the God of Israel.