This doesn’t seem like it has anything to do with Messiah, but it does. Every action taken here will impact Messiah Jesus’ coming and going, His life, His lineage, and His place in society. All of this was setting the stage, readying the environment and the culture for the arrival of Messiah.
“Most scholars hold that Ezra lived during the rule of Artaxerxes I, though some have difficulties with this assumption: Nehemiah and Ezra “seem to have no knowledge of each other; their missions do not overlap.” And yet, they are in the same location at the same time.
In Nehemiah 12, both were leading processions on the wall as part of the wall dedication ceremony. This seems like an “overlapping” of their locations. They clearly were contemporaries working together in Jerusalem at the time when both the wall and the city of Jerusalem were rebuilt.
In Artaxerxes’ twentieth year, Nehemiah, the king’s cup-bearer, had a position with the king that showed kindly feeling and sincere interest one toward the other, while yet reserved according to each one’s station.
Nehemiah grieved over the fact that Jerusalem was unprotected, and he prayed that he could go and undertake the building of the wall around the holy city.
In that year Artaxerxes inquired after Nehemiah’s sadness. Nehemiah related to him the plight of the Jewish people and that the city of Jerusalem was undefended.Nehemiah grieved over the fact that Jerusalem was unprotected, and he prayed that he could go and undertake the building of the wall around the holy city. God answered that prayer, thus guarding and protecting not only the city, but… Click To Tweet
The king then sent Nehemiah to Jerusalem with letters of safe passage to the governors in Trans-Euphrates, and to Asaph, keeper of the royal forests, to make beams for the citadel by the Temple and to rebuild the city walls.
“And in the days of Artaxerxes, Bishlam and Mithredath and Tabeel and the rest of their associates wrote to King Artaxerxes of Persia; the letter was written in Aramaic and translated (Ezra 4:7).
11 “(this is a copy of the letter that they sent): ‘To King Artaxerxes: “Your servants, the men of the province Beyond the River, send greeting. And now … 12 be it known to the king that the Jews who came up from you to us have gone to Jerusalem. They are rebuilding that rebellious and wicked city. They are finishing the walls and repairing the foundations. 13 Now be it known to the king that if this city is rebuilt and the walls finished, they will not pay tribute, custom, or toll, and the royal revenue will be impaired. 14 Now because we eat the salt of the palace and it is not fitting for us to witness the king’s dishonor, therefore we send and inform the king, 15 in order that search may be made in the book of the records of your fathers. You will find in the book of the records and learn that this city is a rebellious city, hurtful to kings and provinces, and that sedition was stirred up in it from of old. That was why this city was laid waste. 16 We make known to the king that if this city is rebuilt and its walls finished, you will then have no possession in the province Beyond the River‘” (Ezra 4:11-16 ESV).
This involves either two separate attempts to stop the work on the temple, or it is repetitious of the entire process that first occurred as a literary way to emphasize the difficulty of the challenge to build with constant Assyrian harassment, now that it is both the temple being built, and also the wall.
Ezra 4:23 Then when the copy of King Artaxerxes’s letter was read before Rehum and the scribe Shimshai and their associates, they hurried to the Jews in Jerusalem and by force and power made them cease.
Here then occurred the back and forth of accusations and rebuttals examined over the past few weeks. And then the speaking of the prophet Haggai and the result of ongoing effort at building.
Ezra 6:14 So the elders of the Jews built and prospered, through the prophesying of the prophet Haggai and Zechariah son of Iddo. They finished their building by command of the God of Israel and by decree of Cyrus, Darius, and King Artaxerxes, all kings of Persia.
From Persia came the wisemen when baby Jesus was laid in a manger near Bethlehem. The wisemen aimed them away from Herod and toward Egypt.
Ezra 7:1 After this, in the reign of King Artaxerxes of Persia, Ezra son of Seraiah, son of Azariah, son of Hilkiah moves into view as we examine Judah’s return to Jerusalem. In Context | Full Chapter.
Ezra 7:7 Some of the people of Israel and some of the priests and Levites, the singers and gatekeepers, and the temple servants also went up to Jerusalem in the seventh year of King Artaxerxes. In Context | Full Chapter |
Ezra 7:11 The Letter of Artaxerxes to Ezra. This is a copy of the letter that King Artaxerxes gave to Ezra the priest and scribe, a scholar of the words of the commandments of the Lord and his statutes for Israel: In Context | Full Chapter
Notice that this is referred to in the opening sentence of this passage in parentheses, as recorded by Ezra or his scribe.
Ezra 7:21“I, King Artaxerxes, decree to all the treasurers in the province Beyond the River: Whatever the priest Ezra, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, requires of you, let it be done with all diligence,” In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations
Clearly the rulers of the region supported Judah’s claims to Jerusalem and their rebuilding of it, including the temple. The local Assyrians/Samaritans now needed to be addressed.
Ezra 8:1 Heads of Families Who Returned with Ezra: These are their family heads, and here is listed the genealogy of those who went up with Ezra from Babylonia, in the reign of King Artaxerxes. Because of Messiah’s anticipated arrival, genealogies are/were important. In Context | Full Chapter . It’s fascinating to read the detailed notes Ezra kept, which are now part of the Scriptures.
Nehemiah 2:1 Nehemiah was sent to Judah in the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was served him, I carried the wine and gave it to the king. Now, I had never been sad in his presence before. It was this sadness that sparked the conversation between king and cupbearer, resulting in Nehemiah’s commission to finish the building of the wall around Jerusalem.
Nehemiah 5:14 The Generosity of Nehemiah. Moreover, from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year to the thirty-second year of King Artaxerxes, twelve years, neither I nor my brothers ate the food allowance of the governor. In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations
Nehemiah 13:6 While this was taking place, I (Nehemiah) was not in Jerusalem, for in the thirty-second year of King Artaxerxes of Babylon I went to the king. After some time I asked leave of the king. And in that period of leave from the king, Nehemiah completed the walls against all the opposition of the Assyrians and the peasants who had been placed in Jerusalem during the Jews’ absence. In Context | Full Chapter
All of these preparations were necessary for Messiah to come. The people who performed these acts had no idea, but I wonder how often we do know the import of the actions we pursue.All of these preparations by Nehemiah, Artaxerxes, and Cyrus were necessary for Messiah to come. The people who performed these acts had no idea, but I wonder how often we do know the import of the actions we pursue. #Messiah… Click To Tweet
If you lived at that time and saw the need to help rebuild the walls of your city, Jerusalem, so that it would not be attacked by enemies who surrounded the city, would you ask to be given leave from your work so that you might help to protect your city? What might inhibit you from asking?
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