New European Version: Old Testament

Deeper commentary on this chapter

Audio talks on this chapter:


Video presentations on this chapter:


Other material relevant to this chapter:


Hear this chapter read:



About | PDFs | Mobile formats | Word formats | Other languages | Contact Us | What is the Gospel? | Support the work | Carelinks Ministries | | The Real Christ | The Real Devil | "Bible Companion" Daily Bible reading plan

CHAPTER 5 Nov.10 
Rebuilding the Temple Starts Again
Now the prophets, Haggai the prophet, and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem; in the name of the God of Israel they prophesied to them. 2Then rose up Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and began to build God’s house which is at Jerusalem; and with them were the prophets of God, helping them. 3At the same time came to them Tattenai, the governor beyond the River, and Shetharbozenai, and their companions, and said thus to them, Who gave you a decree to build this house, and to finish this wall? 4Then we told them in this way, what the names of the men were who were making this building. 5But the eye of their God was on the elders of the Jews, and they did not make them cease, until the matter should come to Darius, and then answer should be returned by letter concerning it. 6This is the copy of the letter that Tattenai, the governor beyond the River, and Shetharbozenai, and his companions the Apharsachites, who were beyond the River, sent to Darius the king.
A Letter Sent to Darius
7They sent a letter to him, in which was written thus: To Darius the king, all peace. 8Be it known to the king, that we went into the province of Judah, to the house of the great God, which is built with great stones, and timber is laid in the walls; and this work goes on with diligence and prospers in their hands. 9Then we asked those elders, and said to them thus, Who gave you a decree to build this house, and to finish this wall? 10We asked them their names also, to inform you that we might write the names of the men who were at their head. 11Thus they returned us answer saying, We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and are building the house that was built these many years ago, which a great king of Israel built and finished. 12But after that our fathers had provoked the God of heaven to wrath, He gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this house, and carried the people away into Babylon. 13But in the first year of Cyrus king of Babylon, Cyrus the king made a decree to build this house of God. 14The gold and silver vessels also of God’s house, which Nebuchadnezzar took out of the temple that was in Jerusalem, and brought into the temple of Babylon, those Cyrus the king took out of the temple of Babylon, and they were delivered to one whose name was Sheshbazzar, whom he had made governor; 15and he said to him, ‘Take these vessels, go, put them in the temple that is in Jerusalem, and let God’s house be built in its place’. 16Then the same Sheshbazzar came, and laid the foundations of God’s house which is in Jerusalem: and since that time even until now has it been in building, and yet it is not completed. 17Now therefore, if it seem good to the king, let a search be made in the king’s treasure house, which is there at Babylon, whether it be so, that a decree was made of Cyrus the king to build this house of God at Jerusalem; and let the king send his pleasure to us concerning this matter.       


5:1 Ezra 4 says that the reason the temple was not further rebuilt was because of the decree of Artaxerxes suspending the building programme; then Haggai came and told Israel that the temple wasn’t built because they had preferred to build their own ceiled houses (Hag. 1:4). So God had confirmed the people in the way they chose. They preferred to build their houses rather than His, so He stopped them from building His house altogether until they wholeheartedly recommitted themselves to Him. God arranges circumstances in our lives to try to bring us toward total commitment rather than a surface level devotion which is made out of social necessity.
5:2 With them were the prophets of God, helping them- The prophets didn’t merely speak God’s word and think they had done their job by relaying it; they proactively worked to as it were bring about the fulfilment of the things they predicted. We should have the same spirit, living according to the good news of the Kingdom which we preach.
5:3,4 This is a situation very similar to that in Acts 4:18-21, where the early Christians were ordered not to preach about Christ and likewise threatened, but they felt they must do God’s will above the will of man. And true believers often have this choice; we are to seek to live obediently in the societies within which we live, but we cannot obey any command (especially relating to military service) which causes us to disobey God’s principles. God’s word must come before the word of men.