Ezra 5

Tattenai Appeals to Darius

1Then the prophets Haggai and Zechariah son
Aram “son.” According to Zech 1:1 he was actually the grandson of Iddo.
of Iddo
Aram “and Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo the prophet.”
prophesied concerning the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel who was over them.
2Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak began
Aram “arose and began.” For stylistic reasons this has been translated as a single concept.
to rebuild the temple of God in Jerusalem. The prophets of God were with them, supporting them.

3 At that time Tattenai governor of Trans-Euphrates, Shethar-Bozenai, and their colleagues came to them and asked, “Who gave you authority
Aram “who placed to you a command?” So also v. 9.
to rebuild this temple and to complete this structure?”
The exact meaning of the Aramaic word אֻשַּׁרְנָא (’ussarna’) here and in v. 9 is uncertain (BDB 1083 s.v.). The LXX and Vulgate understand it to mean “wall.” Here it is used in collocation with בַּיְתָא (bayta’, “house” as the temple of God), while in 5:3, 9 it is used in parallelism with this term. It might be related to the Assyrian noun ashurru (“wall”) or ashru (“sanctuary”; so BDB). F. Rosenthal, who translates the word “furnishings,” thinks that it probably enters Aramaic from Persian (Grammar, 62–63, #189).
The translation reads with one medieval Hebrew MS, the LXX, and the Syriac Peshitta אֲמַרוּ (’amaru, “they said”) rather than the reading אֲמַרְנָא (’amarna’, “we said”) of the MT.
also asked them, “What are the names of the men who are building this edifice?”
5But God was watching over
Aram “the eye of their God was on.” The idiom describes the attentive care that one exercises in behalf of the object of his concern.
the elders of Judah, and they were not stopped
Aram “they did not stop them.”
until a report could be dispatched
Aram “[could] go.” On this form see F. Rosenthal, Grammar, 58, #169.
to Darius and a letter could be sent back concerning this.

6 This is a copy of the letter that Tattenai governor of Trans-Euphrates, Shethar-Bozenai, and his colleagues who were the officials of Trans-Euphrates sent to King Darius. 7The report they sent to him was written as follows:
Aram “and it was written in its midst.”

“To King Darius: All greetings!
Aram “all peace.”
8Let it be known to the king that we have gone to the province of Judah, to the temple of the great God. It is being built with large stones,
Aram “stones of rolling.” The reference is apparently to stones too large to carry.
and timbers are being placed in the walls. This work is being done with all diligence and is prospering in their hands.
9We inquired of those elders, asking them, ‘Who gave you the authority to rebuild this temple and to complete this structure?’ 10We also inquired of their names in order to inform you, so that we might write the names of the men who were their leaders. 11They responded to us in the following way: ‘We are servants of the God of heaven and earth. We are rebuilding the temple which was previously built many years ago. A great king
This great king of Israel would, of course, be Solomon.
of Israel built it and completed it.
12But after our ancestors
Aram “fathers.”
angered the God of heaven, he delivered them into the hands
Aram “hand” (singular).
of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this temple and exiled the people to Babylon.
A reference to the catastrophic events of 586 b.c.
13But in the first year of King Cyrus of Babylon,
Cyrus was actually a Persian king, but when he conquered Babylon in 539 b.c. he apparently appropriated to himself the additional title “king of Babylon.” The Syriac Peshitta substitutes “Persia” for “Babylon” here, but this is probably a hyper-correction.
King Cyrus enacted a decree to rebuild this temple of God.
14Even the gold and silver vessels of the temple of God that Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple in Jerusalem and had brought to the palace
Or “temple.”
of Babylon – even those things King Cyrus brought from the palace of Babylon and presented
Aram “they were given.”
to a man by the name of Sheshbazzar whom he had appointed as governor.
15He said to him, “Take these vessels and go deposit them in the temple in Jerusalem, and let the house of God be rebuilt in its proper location.”
Aram “upon its place.”
16Then this Sheshbazzar went and laid the foundations of the temple of God in Jerusalem. From that time to the present moment
Aram “from then and until now.”
it has been in the process of being rebuilt, although it is not yet finished.’

17 “Now if the king is so inclined,
Aram “if upon the king it is good.”
let a search be conducted in the royal archives
Aram “the house of the treasures of the king.”
there in Babylon in order to determine whether King Cyrus did in fact issue orders for this temple of God to be rebuilt in Jerusalem. Then let the king send us a decision concerning this matter.”

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