Ezra 3:1-13

EZRA 3:1

And when the seventh month was come, and the children of Israel were in the cities, the people gathered themselves together as one man to Jerusalem.


The seventh month was Tishri which corresponds to our September/October.  The returnees were now settled in their cities of ancestry.  This was an important month because the first day was the Feast of Trumpets.  The tenth day was the Day of Atonement.  The fifteenth day was the Feast of Tabernacles during which the Law was read to every man, woman, and child.  The first day of the seventh month was the feast of Trumpets.  It was a biblical festival which involved a holy convocation or assembly of the people.  Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation. (Leviticus 23:24) 


EZRA 3:2

Then stood up Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and his brethren, and builded the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings thereon, as it is written in the law of Moses the man of God.


Jeshua was the son of Jozadak who was carried away into Babylon.  And Jehozadak went into captivity, when the LORD carried away Judah and Jerusalem by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar. (1 Chronicles 6:15)  At this time Jeshua was the High Priest and together with the other priests they constructed an altar to God in the very place where the altar stood in the temple of Solomon.  At this time Zerubbabel’s temple had not yet been built but they saw the necessity of offering a burnt offering to the LORD as a sign of their obedience to God and his law.  They were making atonement for their sins and seeking the blessing of the LORD for the purpose of constructing the temple.


EZRA 3:3

And they set the altar upon his bases; for fear was upon them because of the people of those countries: and they offered burnt offerings thereon unto the LORD, even burnt offerings morning and evening.


They had set the altar upon the bases where it stood before.  They still had fear of the surrounding nations that they were still vulnerable to attack since they were recently settled in the land.  They had begun to offer burnt offerings in the morning and evening which was according to the law of God.  38 Now this is that which thou shalt offer upon the altar; two lambs of the first year day by day continually. 39 The one lamb thou shalt offer in the morning; and the other lamb thou shalt offer at even: (Exodus 29:38-39)  They immediately began to offer these sacrifices in hopes that God would protect them from potential enemies who may want to invade their land. 


EZRA 3:4

They kept also the feast of tabernacles, as it is written, and offered the daily burnt offerings by number, according to the custom, as the duty of every day required;


They also kept the Feast of Tabernacles which commenced on the fifteenth day of Tishri.  They offered burnt offerings according to what the law prescribed for each day.  And on the fifteenth day of the seventh month ye shall have an holy convocation; ye shall do no servile work, and ye shall keep a feast unto the LORD seven days: (Numbers 29:12)  Numbers 29 gives the prescribed amount of burnt offerings and the type for each of the Eight days of the Feast.


EZRA 3:5

And afterward offered the continual burnt offering, both of the new moons, and of all the set feasts of the LORD that were consecrated, and of every one that willingly offered a freewill offering unto the LORD.


Then after they made offerings according to the feasts, they continued with the burnt offerings morning and evening which was a continual or perpetual daily offering.  This was after the feast of tabernacles that they were to keep all the other feasts which the LORD gave them in the law. The new moons were celebrated the first day of each month.  Then those who desired to make a free will offering may do so at the appropriate time.


EZRA 3:6

From the first day of the seventh month began they to offer burnt offerings unto the LORD. But the foundation of the temple of the LORD was not yet laid.


The first day of the seventh month was the commencement of the feast of trumpets.  Then the first day of the month was considered a sabbath and a memorial of the blowing of trumpets.  Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation. (Leviticus 23:24)  This was to be done even before the foundation of the temple was laid.  They had begun with sacrifices thanking God for him bringing them back to the land from captivity.  Then as they continued to obey God and sacrifice to him, it would bring them into a more spiritual mindset readying themselves for the building of the temple.  This verse is also a principle for today’s Christian.  Just because you do not belong to a church whether it be by situation or choice, it does not mean that you cannot continue in your Christian walk and be involved in some manner in the Great Commission.


EZRA 3:7

They gave money also unto the masons, and to the carpenters; and meat, and drink, and oil, unto them of Zidon, and to them of Tyre, to bring cedar trees from Lebanon to the sea of Joppa, according to the grant that they had of Cyrus king of Persia.


The money they gave to the masons and carpenters may have been gold and silver but also something called money tablets which were tablets of clay that served as something akin to a bank note or a promissory note.  These funds were given to the skilled workers so they would be able to start ordering building materials for the temple.  This transaction was to Tyre and Sidon to purchase cedar trees from Lebanon.  These cedars were also used in the temple built by Solomon when Hiram sent them to Solomon.  After they were cut down, they were sent to the port of Joppa which was the closest seaport to Jerusalem.  Cyrus also ruled Tyre and Sidon so he gave commandment to them to give whatever was needed for the building of the temple.  Remember Cyrus was commissioned by the LORD to build the temple so he wanted to make sure everything was done right because his reputation was on the line.


EZRA 3:8

Now in the second year of their coming unto the house of God at Jerusalem, in the second month, began Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and the remnant of their brethren the priests and the Levites, and all they that were come out of the captivity unto Jerusalem; and appointed the Levites, from twenty years old and upward, to set forward the work of the house of the LORD.


The trek from Babylon to Jerusalem was about a four month length.  For upon the first day of the first month began he to go up from Babylon, and on the first day of the fifth month came he to Jerusalem, according to the good hand of his God upon him. (Ezra 7:9)  So when the second year came, they were all settled in the land and they had received the materials they needed they all began to start the construction of the temple.  All of them took part and no one was to excluded.  The High Priest, the priests and Levites, twenty years and up plus all the other citizens of Judah who came out of Babylon.  Every person had their part in the construction of the temple.  The born again Christian is also a priest and every time they witness to someone and they become saved, they are having a part in building the final temple which is the body of believers.  Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16)


EZRA 3:9

Then stood Jeshua with his sons and his brethren, Kadmiel and his sons, the sons of Judah, together, to set forward the workmen in the house of God: the sons of Henadad, with their sons and their brethren the Levites.


Then Jeshua (not the High Priest) and Kadmiel who were Levites.  The Levites: the children of Jeshua and Kadmiel, of the children of Hodaviah, seventy and four. (Ezra 2:40)  These were the legitimate sons of Judah who were probably good in their mechanical and building skills.  They were the ones in charge of overseeing the work force which would commence the building of the temple.  The sons of Henadad also partook in the repair of the walls under Nehemiah.  And the Levites: both Jeshua the son of Azaniah, Binnui of the sons of Henadad, Kadmiel; (Nehemiah 10:9)  These Levites were not above taking up instruments to do the work.


EZRA 3:10

And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, they set the priests in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites the sons of Asaph with cymbals, to praise the LORD, after the ordinance of David king of Israel.


Then when they had laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, there was a celebration.  The priests had dressed in their priestly apparel with trumpets to blow when the foundation was completed.  The cymbals were instruments of brass which made a tinkling sound.  Then the Levites were to utilize the cymbals in the same manner which David used them.  And David spake to the chief of the Levites to appoint their brethren to be the singers with instruments of musick, psalteries and harps and cymbals, sounding, by lifting up the voice with joy. (1 Chronicles 15:16)  This was a time of great joy since Judah did not have a temple for seventy years and were unable to sacrifice unto the LORD but now once this temple is done, they will be able to return to an obedient life under the law.  The children of Asaph were singers and musicians.  The singers: the children of Asaph, an hundred twenty and eight. (Ezra 2:41)  Asaph was an appointed singer by David. The sons of Asaph were the descendants.  16 And David spake to the chief of the Levites to appoint their brethren to be the singers with instruments of musick, psalteries and harps and cymbals, sounding, by lifting up the voice with joy. 17 So the Levites appointed Heman the son of Joel; and of his brethren, Asaph the son of Berechiah; and of the sons of Merari their brethren, Ethan the son of Kushaiah; (1 Chronicles 15:16-17) The true Christian also has something to be joyous about because our foundation was given to us in Christ.  For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 3:11) 


EZRA 3:11

And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the LORD; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid.


They had all sung together the praises of God and giving him thanks for the fact that the foundation of the temple was laid.  They were probably singing some of the Psalms and especially Psalm 136 where it states that LORD’s mercy endures forever.  O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. (Psalm 136:1)  Then all the people shouted with a great shout that the foundation of the temple was now laid.  The word “great” in the Hebrew also carries with it the meaning of “loud, mighty and long.” 

EZRA 3:12

But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy:


Then there were many among them who saw the first temple which was the temple of Solomon and these men were really in their age.  When they had seen the foundation of the temple, they had wept in joy and many of them shouted aloud in joy.  They remembered the temple of Solomon and all its beauty and here they were part of the building of the second temple.  Perhaps some of them thought it was going to be as big and beautiful as Solomon’s temple but there would be a disappointment because it was not going to be like Solomon’s.  For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth. (Zechariah 4:10)  It seems no matter what God did for them, they were never satisfied.


EZRA 3:13

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 noise was heard afar off.


The rejoicing was so great that there was such an admixture of weeping and shouting that neither could be distinguished from the other.  The voices of the younger ones probably outshouted the older men who were weeping in joy because the younger voices would be stronger.  The sound of the shouting was heard quite far, maybe by some of the villages close by Jerusalem.  It is not stated how far but it was definitely a shout which was heard outside the walls.