God told Ezra to set the people apart from the filthiness of the inhabitants of the land they were returning to. Don't intermarry or enter into business with them. Set yourself apart and build up your people. It got us talking about lost traditions and what that means to a people. Does it result in mongrelization or a lessoning of values? Does it mean a loss of faith? Or does loss of tradition for the old ways just mean a new tradition that could be better than the old one. Is it better to have homosexuality public or premarital sex an expected happening? Does it mean we have no principles or does it mean we have new better principles? Pastor Mark said that after this, there is virtually no record of the people until John the Baptist.
This chapter details the return of the people of Judah from Babylon to Jerusalem. This group included more than 1,000 men as well as women and children. It took about 4 months to travel the 900 miles of the trip. They were carrying the gold, silver, and bronze of the original temple. This included about 26 tons of silver and lots of gold and bronze. They had convinced King Artaxerxes that their king was so strong they didn't need an armed guard to protect them. That made Eza nervous. We got into a discussion of what it means to be sacred. No really good answer except something. Set apart for the worship of God. We also talked about the meaning of the chapter four us today and thought it represented our coming to God.
Ezra sent to Jerusalem They were just gone 70-80 years but many generations, and they must have had conflicting feelings about going back to Jerusalem. What prompted Cyrus to send them back and King Ataxerxes to write the letter to the people of Jerusalem giving them all the resources they needed to rebuild the temple? Was he just covering his bases or were the Jewish people just a pain in the butt so he wanted to get rid of them? Mark suggested that this is like us being in the captivity of sin and breaking out of it into freedom. Good thought because otherwise it is just a historical image.
This was the story of how the building of the temple was being delayed by local authorities. They had to write to King Darius who relayed the original memo writ5en by King Cyrus about sending the Jews back to Jerusalem. It also included the help that should be provided from local taxes to help rebuild the temple. It appears that Cyrus was trying to appease and get rid of a troublesome people. The demonstrated a very high loyalty to their God. There was a significant offering when the temple was completed. It was however a tenth of the offering when Solomon completed the temple. This temple was 60 cubits square whereas the temple of Solomon was thought to be 40 cubits long by 20 cubits wide by 30 cubits high. There was a high wall around a courtyard that included the temple. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Close-Up-Without-Ceiling.jpg Www.time maps.com Www.scaruffi.com
The Jews returned from captivity in Babylon and under the authority of Cyrus, king of Persia set about to rebuild the temple. This account tells how some people tried to join the group building the temple and they were rebuffed by the people returning from Babylon, principally the leaders Zerubbabel and Jeshua. Then Bishlam and his colleagues wrote to king Artaxerxes to. Stop the rebuilding because it was being done by insurrectionists. The king stopped the rebuilding for about 15 years, until king Darius I. This was all being done while the people who inhabited the area the Jews moved back to were operating under the philosophy of Zoeoasterism which essentially was trying to contrast truth vs lies. I think they would accept the concept of any god as long as the people were searching for truth. This contrasted with the returning Jews who believed in one God, namely Jehovah. The returning Jews may have believed that the people who had stayed had collaborated with the Babalons in the original captivity of the Jews and thus the people were distrustful about their sincerity.