On this day of Thanksgiving, imagine the sounds of loud thanksgiving, singing of praise, and of gratitude filling hearts that would have been exclaimed by this crowd of Jewish people as they dedicated the newly built temple and entered to worship and to praise the Lord.

The rebuilding of the Jewish community in Jerusalem had begun under Cyrus the Great, who had permitted the Jews who were held captive in Babylon to return to Jerusalem to rebuild their Temple. Cyrus even financed the venture, signing an edict that required Babylonian residents to give money and goods to the Jewish people to help them along their way back home.

A number of Jews returned to Jerusalem in 538 B.C., and the foundation of the “Second Temple,” which was built by Zerubbabel, was laid in 536 B.C., the second year of their return (Ezra 3:8). After a period of strife with the Assyrians/Samaritans, the temple was finally completed twenty years later in the sixth year of Darius, 516 B.C. (Ezra 6:15). And now, they could worship in this sacred space.

Doubtless Ezra and the priests and Levites walked fast and with determination, for they wanted to arrive in time for the dedication of the temple. Their trip on foot to Jerusalem spanned five months.

Ezra’s count of the people revealed that many of the Jewish people had fallen away, lost because of unfaithfulness. BUT a faithful number had been preserved and brought back to the land God had given them. However, the exiles brought many pagan habits with them that would soon be addressed by Ezra the priest, one being the marrying of foreign wives who were not Jewish.

Ezra recorded the celebration (click the link) that occurred upon completion of the temple.

After all of the persecution, we see, at last, the obedience of the Assyrian/Samaritan agitators to the instructions of the Persian kings Artaxerxes, Darius, and Cyrus that they help the Jews financially, respect their religion, and don’t interfere with the building of the temple.

13 …According to the word sent by Darius the kingTattenai, the governor of the province Beyond the River, Shethar-bozenai, and their associates did with all diligence what Darius the king had ordered. 14 And the elders of the Jews built and prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. They finished their building by decree of the God of Israel and by decree of Cyrus and Darius and Artaxerxes king of Persia15 and this house was finished on the third day of the month of Adar (March), in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king.

16 And the people of Israel, the priests and the Levites, and the rest of the returned exiles, celebrated the dedication of this house of God with joy17 They offered at the dedication of this house of God 100 bulls, 200 rams, 400 lambs, and as a sin offering for all Israel 12 male goats, according to the number of the tribes of Israel. 18 And they set the priests in their divisions and the Levites in their divisions, for the service of God at Jerusalem, as it is written in the Book of Moses (Ezra 6:13-18 ESV).

A time of great celebration, indeed, for they were home at last, able to worship Yahweh again in His temple, after seventy years of captivity in a pagan land.


Nehemiah was the cupbearer to King Artaxerxes, the king who ruled over Israel. These three, Ezra, Nehemiah, and King Artaxerxes had significant roles in bringing the Jewish people not only home, but to safety behind strong walls, with the temple complete, and with all of the vessels and tools of gold restored to the temple.

The temple built by Solomon was the temple that had been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar. All of its gold had been stolen by the Babylonians. All of these gold vessels and tools of gold were then recorded in a ledger by Nebuchadnezzar’s scribe, every single one, and then these were all stored away. These items were then returned to the Jewish people by Cyrus, for the temple they were building in Jerusalem.

Source: Crossway Bibles, ESV Study Bible

In addition to this, “Hebrew University researchers announced the discovery of a rare trove of Byzantine-era gold and silver artifacts at the base of the temple mount, the most impressive of which is a 10-centimeter solid gold medallion emblazoned with a menorah and other Jewish iconography. The find, unearthed in the area adjacent to the Southern Wall of the Temple Mount known as the Ophel, was dated to the early 7th century B.C., likely the time of the brief Persian conquest of Jerusalem.

“Professor Eilat Mazar described the discovery as a unique find with ‘very clear Jewish symbols.’ She posited that the hoard of gold and silver objects, found beneath the floor of a Byzantine-era house meters from the massive walls of the Temple Mount, was brought by Jews who returned to the city after the Persians conquered it from the Byzantines in 614 B.C.” (Source includes pictures)

Clearly there was gold brought back to their homeland, and this would have prompted Nehemiah, Ezra, Zerubbabel, and King Artaxerxes to seek to protect the city of Jerusalem as it was being rebuilt.

Read Artaxerxes’ Decree here: Ezra 7:11-16 NIV.

Nehemiah was determined to finish the wall, so that the newly constructed temple and the Jewish citizens and their goods, their gold, and their possessions would be safe from the Assyrians and any other hostile people. Nehemiah’s record was probably written with Ezra involved.

There will be more on this next week: Nehemiah’s record is recorded here.

Nehemiah wanted to do everything possible to preserve the safety of Jerusalem by building a wall around the city, since they were still surrounded by Assyrian/Samaritan marauders on all sides.

As the taster of Artaxerxes’ food and drink to protect the king, and the king’s confidante as a result, Nehemiah was able to ask for all he needed. Each request was made prayerfully by Nehemiah.


Ezra went up from Babylonia. He was a scribe skilled in the Law of Moses that the Lord, the God of Israel, had given, and the king granted him all that he asked, for the hand of the Lord his God was on him” (Ezra 7:6 ESV).

Ezra thereby left Babylon in the first month of the seventh year of Artaxerxes’ reign, at the head of a company of Jews that included priests and Levites. They arrived in Jerusalem on the first day of the fifth month of the seventh year according to the Hebrew calendar. The text does not specify whether the king in the passage refers to Artaxerxes I (465–424 BC) or to Artaxerxes II (404–359 BC).

Which group would you like to have traveled with when heading back toward Jerusalem?

How would you feel when you could finally confess your sins and find forgiveness from God as you worshipped in the temple?

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I am a Bible Gateway Partner and Affiliate, one of many bloggers on the Blogger Grid, #bgbg2.

My blog is also available on the BG² portfolio at:  https://www.biblegateway.com/blog/bloggergrid/. 

My Twitter account @MelindaVInman is on the Bible Gateway Twitter List:  http://bg4.me/1DNKdv2.