Ezra 3-4

Ezra 3-4

Chapter 3: Altar of the Temple is rebuilt

When the seventh month came, and the children of Israel were in the cities, the people gathered together as one man to Jerusalem.

Israel returns to its good ways before the Lord….

Jeshua the son of Jozadak and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and his brethren, arose and built the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings on it, as it is written in the Law of Moses the man of God. Though fear had come upon them because of the people of those countries, they set the altar on its bases; and they offered burnt offerings on it to the Lord, both the morning and evening burnt offerings.

They also kept the Feast of Tabernacles, as it is written, and offered the daily burnt offerings in the number required by ordinance for each day. Afterwards they offered the regular burnt offering, and those for New Moons and for all the appointed feasts of the Lord that were consecrated, and those of everyone who willingly offered a freewill offering to the Lord. From the first day of the seventh month they began to offer burnt offerings to the Lord, although the foundation of the temple of the Lord had not been laid.

They gave money to the masons and the carpenters, and food, drink, and oil to the people of Sidon and Tyre to bring cedar logs from Lebanon to the sea, to Joppa.

In the second month of the second year of their coming to the house of God at Jerusalem, Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and the rest of their brethren the priests and the Levites, and all those who had come out of the captivity to Jerusalem, began work and appointed the Levites from twenty years old and above to oversee the work of the house of the Lord. Then Jeshua with his sons and brothers, Kadmiel with his sons, and the sons of Judah, arose as one to oversee those working on the house of God: the sons of Henadad with their sons and their brethren the Levites. When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests stood in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise the Lord, according to the ordinance of David king of Israel. And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord and giving great shouts to praise the Lord.

As the foundation of this temple was laid before their eyes, many priests cried. Yet many shouted aloud for joy, so that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people, for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the sound was heard afar off.

 

Chapter 4: Samaritans Hinder the Work of the Temple

When the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the descendants of the captivity were building the temple of the Lord God of Israel, they came to Zerubbabel and the heads of the fathers’ houses, and said to them, “…Let us build with you: for we seek your God, as ye do; and we do sacrifice unto him since the days of Esar-haddon king of Assur, which brought us up hither.” (Ezra 4:2)

But Zerubbabel and Jeshua and the rest of the heads of the fathers’ houses of Israel said to them, “…Ye have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our God; but we ourselves together will build unto the Lord God of Israel, as king Cyrus the king of Persia hath commanded us.” (Ezra 4:3)

Then the people of the land tried to discourage the people of Judah. They troubled them in building, and hired counselors against them to frustrate their purpose all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.

In the reign of Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, they wrote an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem.

In the days of Artaxerxes also, Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabel, and the rest of their companions wrote to Artaxerxes king of Persia; and the letter was written in Aramaic script, and translated into the Aramaic language. Rehum the commander and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to King Artaxerxes in this fashion: From Rehum the commander, Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their companions; representatives of the Dinaites, the Apharsathchites, the Tarpelites, the people of Persia and Erech and Babylon and Shushan, the Dehavites, the Elamites, and the rest of the nations whom the great and noble Osnapper took captive and settled in the cities of Samaria and the remainder beyond the River; and so forth. (This is a copy of the letter that they sent him) To King Artaxerxes from your servants, the men of the region beyond the River, and so forth: “Be it known now unto the king, that, if this city be builded, and the walls set up again, then will they not pay toll, tribute, and custom, and so thou shalt endamage the revenue of the kings. Now because we have maintenance from the king’s palace, and it was not meet for us to see the king’s dishonour, therefore have we sent and certified the king; That search may be made in the book of the records of thy fathers: so shalt thou find in the book of the records, and know that this city is a rebellious city, and hurtful unto kings and provinces, and that they have moved sedition within the same of old time: for which cause was this city destroyed. We certify the king that, if this city be builded again, and the walls thereof set up, by this means thou shalt have no portion on this side the river.” (Ezra 4:13-16)

The king sent an answer: To Rehum the commander, to Shimshai the scribe, to the rest of their companions who dwell in Samaria, and to the remainder beyond the River: “…Peace, and at such a time. The letter which ye sent unto us hath been plainly read before mean I commanded, and search hath been made, and it is found that this city of old time hath made insurrection against kings, and that rebellion and sedition have been made therein. There have been mighty kings also over Jerusalem, which have ruled over all countries beyond the river; and toll, tribute, and custom, was paid unto them. Give ye now commandment to cause these men to cease, and that this city be not builded, until another commandment shall be given from me. Take heed now that ye fail not to do this: why should damage grow to the hurt of the kings? Now when the copy of king Artaxerxes’ letter was read before Rehum, and Shimshai the scribe, and their companions, they went up in haste to Jerusalem unto the Jews, and made them to cease by force and power.” (Ezra 4:17-23)

Thus the work of the house of God which is at Jerusalem ceased, and it was discontinued until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.

Judges 5-6

Judges 5-6

Chapter 5: Song of Praise

Deborah and Barak sing a song of Praise because of the deliverance of Israel from the Canaanite bondage.

This chapter is all poetry. I highly recommend anyone reading this to read the passages for yourself. It essentially summarizes what happens in the previous chapters and talks about how God should be praised and the Israelites should follow the commandments. Because of Deborah and Sisera they were freed from the bondage of the Canaanites. (of course because of the hand of God in using Deborah and Sisera the Israelites are free).

Chapter 6: Overthrowing the Altar of Baal

Again the Israelites do evil in the sight of the Lord and they are placed into bondage for under the Midianites for seven years.

The Lord hears the cries of the Israelites and sends a prophet. An angel of the Lord appears under an oak tree in Ophrah. The son of Joash, Gideon was busy thrashing wheat by a winepress to avoid the Midianites. The angel appears t Gideon and tells him that the Lord is with him, and that he is a “…mighty man of valour.” (Judges 6:12). Gideon asks how the Lord is with him, when Israel is suffering and they are in bondage to the Midianites. He also asks the angel about the lack of miracles that their ancestors had spoken of when they were freed from bondage from the Egyptians. The Angel responds with something to the effect of, God has come to ask you for help, right? Kind of like saying, hey he is here now… so let’s just do it.

The Angel commands Gideon to take down the altars of Baal and grove. Gideon agrees and does it by night. After tarrying down the altars he makes a sacrifice with a young bullock on the newly erected altar to the Lord God.

The next morning everyone is wondering who took the altar down, they find out it is Gideon and go to Joash (his father) and demand that he come out of the house, because he must die. Joash however talks the people out of killing his son, by saying that if Baal really is a god, then let him fight his own battle. If he really is a god, he will kill Gideon himself.

The Midianites and a bunch of other groups gather together and come to the children of Israel (most likely to make war with them). Gideon is warned by God about this and he calls the Israelites together by blowing a trumpet. Gideon, however is a little confused and is not sure it is God that is really talking to him. So he devises a test to prove that it is God speaking with him.

Test #1:

Gideon takes wool fleece and places it on the floor. The next morning if the fleece is wet with dew, but the rest of the ground is dry he will trust God and do as he has asked in saving Israel. The next morning he finds that the ground is dry and the fleece is wet with dew as he wrings out the fleece making a bowl of water.

Test #2:

Gideon however is still unsure, so he makes up a second test. He does however ask God to not be upset with him for his constant asking for signs. Gideon performs the same test, but this time he wants the fleece to be dry and the ground to be wet. The next morning the ground is wet and the fleece is dry. This seems enough to convince Gideon and he agrees to do what God has asked him to do.

Joshua 21-22

Joshua 21-22

Chapter 21: 48 Cities & Suburbs

The Levites receive 48 cities with the suburbs of each city. The Lord fulfills all of the promises that he made with Israel and he gives them rest.

Chapter 22: Altar to the Lord God

The Israelites are now at peace and Joshua calls the tribes who live on the other side of the river Jordan to go home, because the fighting is over. He thanks them for their work and for following the commandments of God.

Joshua sends them home with a warning to “…love the Lord your God, and… walk in his ways… keep his commandments, and… cleave unto him, and… serve him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Joshua 22:5) Almost immediately after crossing over the river to go home, they start to build an altar. When the other Israelites here about this they get upset, because the Israelites are to be worshipping at one altar at the tabernacle and are not to be building their own altars. They even start to prepare to go to war against the tribes who are building this altar. However, Phinehas, the priest decides to call them all down and goes to reason with the tribes who are building this altar.

Phinehas explains that they are breaking the faith from God, by building this altar. Essentially building it without permission. They were thinking that they were building it to another god. But the other tribes explain that they are building it as witness and a way to remember to keep the commandments. It is not an altar to burn incense, but an altar to witness unto the Lord, that he is God and that all men should follow his commandments. When the rest of the tribes hear about this, they are pleased and take it as sign from God, that they are all united.

Exodus 29-30

Exodus 29-30

Chapter 29: Washing and Anointing

Aaron and his sons are to be washed, anointed and consecrated. Sacrificial rites are performed in the temple.

They are to bring a basket of unleavened bread tempered with oil and wafers anointed with oil, made of wheaten flour. Bringing with them a bullock and 2 rams. The bullock and the 2 rams are to be killed and burnt as offerings. One of them rams will be eaten with the bread in the basket.

All of this being done as a atonement for the sins of the people.

Chapter 30: Altar of Incense

In the temple there is an Altar of Incense, where the priests can burn incense. This altar is built of shittim wood. This Altar is to be placed before the veil, which is by the Ark of Testimony.

Upon the altar of incense, a ritual of atonement is to be performed only once per year. The Lord speaks to Moses and tells him that everyone that is numbered in Israel needs to pay a half a shekel upon entering the temple. The money is to be used for the service of the tabernacle.

The Lord speaks to Moses again and tells him to make a “laver” of brass. Laver meaning wash, a wash basin made of brass. This is to be used by Aaron and his sons to wash their hands and feet. The priests are commanded to wash their hands and feet before entering the temple, and to be anointed with oil.

Exodus 27-28

Exodus 27-28

Chapter 27: Altar of Burnt Offerings

The tabernacle of the Lord (the Temple) contains an altar for burnt offerings. The Temple also has a court, surrounded by pillars, which has a light to burn always.

Chapter 28: Garments/Urim and Thummim

Aaron and his sons are consecrated and anointed to be ministers in the priest’s office. The garments that Aaron wears includes; a breastplate, an ephod, a robe, a coat, a mitre and a girdle. The Breastplate contains twelve precious stones, with the names of the tribes of Israel on them. The Urim and Thummim is to be carried in the breastplate.