Ezra 3–6: The Building of the Temple

Old Testament Seminary Student Study Guide, (2002), 122

In Ezra 3 we read how the returned Jews, under the direction of Zerubbabel and Jeshua (the leader of the priests), began rebuilding the temple. They began with the altar so they could perform the sacrifices commanded in the law of Moses. Then they began the foundation. When the foundation was complete, they had a celebration. Those who could remember the temple of Solomon wept when they saw this temple because they knew it would not be nearly as beautiful as the one they remembered.President Brigham Young said: “We completed a temple in Kirtland and in Nauvoo; and did not the bells of hell toll all the time we were building them? They did, every week and every day” (in Journal of Discourses, 8:356). Ezra 4 shows the truth of that statement. A group of people called Samaritans wanted to help the Jews rebuild the temple. The Jews would not allow their help, which angered the Samaritans. From that time the Samaritans tried everything they could to stop the building of the temple.Ezra 5–6 tells the story of how the Jews regained permission to continue rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem after the Samaritans successfully stopped the building project. The prophets Haggai and Zechariah encouraged the people to keep building, even though they had been asked to stop (see Ezra 5:1–2). Non-Jews in the land questioned whether the Jews had permission to build, and when the Jews quoted King Cyrus’s decree as their permission for building, the non-Jews wrote to king Darius and asked him to see if the decree of Cyrus was true. Ezra 6 records that the decree was found and Darius permitted the building to continue.At the end of Ezra 6 we read that the temple was finished and dedicated. The temple dedication brought joy to the people because they were strengthened to continue the work of the house of God (see v. 2). Note that the happy events of these two chapters were the result of the people’s willingness to obey the counsel of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah.

A Samaritan was a descendant of Assyrian settlers and Israelites. The Jews considered Samaritans unclean because of intermarriage.

temple with brazen sea and altar