EZRA CHAPTER 3.
The Restoration of the Jewish Church.
THE WORSHIP RESUMED. — V. 1. And when the seventh month was come, namely, that of the church-year, in which the new year of the civil year, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles were celebrated, and the children of Israel were in the cities, when they had just about gotten settled in the homes assigned to them, the people, filled with zeal for the ancient worship, gathered themselves together as one man to Jerusalem, all inspired with the same idea and purpose. V. 2. Then stood up Jeshua (or Joshua), the son of Jozadak, and his brethren, the priests, and Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the governor of the province, and his brethren, and builded the altar of the God of Israel, the immediate and most urgent necessity in the restoration of the ancient worship, to offer burnt offerings thereon, as it is written in the Law of Moses, the man of God, Dent. 12, 5. 6. V. 3. And they set the altar upon his bases, erecting it upon its old foundations as quickly as possible; for fear was upon them because of the people of those countries, those of the neighboring countries, especially also in what was known as Samaria, where the heathen element was strong, who might even now venture a hostile interruption. And they offered burnt offerings thereon unto the Lord, even burnt offerings morning and evening, Num. 28, 3. 4. V. 4. They kept also the Feast of Tabernacles, whose celebration began on the fifteenth of the month, as it is written, Ex. 23, 16, and offered the daily burnt offerings by number, according to the custom, Num. 29, 12-40, as the duty of every day required, for the number of sacrifices prescribed for the various days of the festival was not the same; v.5. and afterward offered the continual burnt offering, Ex. 29, 38-42, the one lamb of the morning and of the evening worship, both of the new moons and of all the set feasts of the Lord that were consecrated, Num. 28 and 29, and of every one that willingly offered a free-will offering unto the Lord, these words including all other sacrifices, also those of vows. V. 6. From the first day of the seventh month began they to offer burnt offerings unto the Lord, with the new moon of the civil year. But the foundation of the Temple of the Lord was not yet laid, the courts may have been free of the débris and ruins, but the Sanctuary had not yet been begun. V. 7. They gave money also unto the masons and to the carpenters, the workmen who prepared the hewed stones and the timber for the building; 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, floating down the logs from some Phenician port to Joppa, whence they could be hauled to Jerusalem, according to the grant that they had of Cyrus, king of Persia, with whose special permission they were rebuilding the Temple, chap. 1, 3. That is the greatest necessity of any congregation, also in the New Testament, to assemble for the worship of the Lord, to hear and learn His Word.
THE FOUNDATION OF THE TEMPLE LAID. — V. 8. Now, in the second year of their coming unto the house of God at Jerusalem, in the second month, about in April or the beginning of May, began Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, by whom he had been brought up, cp. 1 Chron. 3, 17-19, and Jeshua, the son of Jozadak, and the remnant of their brethren, the priests and the Levites, as many as lived in or near Jerusalem, 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, to act as overseers and to expedite the work. V. 9. Then stood Jeshua with his sons and his brethren, Kadmiel and his sons, the sons of Judah (or Hodaviah), together, all agreed on a plan of action, working in perfect harmony, to set forward the workmen in the house of God: the Sons of Henadad with their sons and their brethren, the Levites. So the work, under the joint superintendence of all the Levites, moved forward systematically and efficiently. V. 10. And when the builders laid the foundation of the Temple of the Lord, when the formal celebration of the laying of the corner-stone or of the completion of the foundation was held, they set the priests in their apparel, in the garments of their office, with trumpets, the musical instruments used by the priests exclusively, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, 1 Chron. 13, 8; 15, 16. 19, to praise the Lord, after the ordinance of David, king of Israel. V. 11. And they sang together by course, in antiphonal chorus chanting, in praising and giving thanks unto the Lord, because He is good, for His mercy endureth forever toward Israel, a section taken from one of the psalms of praise, as Ps. 106, 107, 118, or 136. And all the people, carried away with enthusiastic joy, shouted with a great shout when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid, so much at least was accomplished toward the erection of this new Temple. V. 12. But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, of very great age, that had seen the first house, even if only in their early youth, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, when they estimated its dimensions and the size of the new Temple from the work done so far, wept with a loud voice, because it was evident to them that the size and the beauty of the new building would not reach that of Solomon’s Temple, not to speak of the loss of the ark and of many other costly treasures which could not be replaced; and many shouted aloud for joy, v. 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 wailing howls of those carried away with grief was not easily distinguishable from the joyful acclamations of those who were filled with joy, so that only a great clamor was heard. Such was the celebration at the completion of the foundation of the second Temple. The little flock of believers certainly had reason for praising the Lord for all His goodness as they had experienced it.