The temple of Solomon had been destroyed when the Judeans were placed under the dominance of Babylon during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. God’s people were ruled by foreign monarchs for 70 years until he decided to return them back to the Promise Land. But it was rebuilt around 519 BC which is where this event occurs on the Biblical Timeline.
King Cyrus of Persia controlled Babylon when the people of Judah were allowed to return back home. During the first year of his reign God came to him and gave him a message. The king held a public announcement about this message. He told the people of Persia and Babylon that the Lord had authorized him to rebuild Solomon’s Temple and that he must release many of the Judeans back to their homeland in order to complete this task. He also told the people that no one should interfere with this process and that the people surrounding the territories of Judah should lend financial and material support to the Judeans cause. After this proclamation many of the people of Judah were excited about returning home. God had chosen the people that he wanted to return by letting them know they should be a part of the rebuilding process.
The people began to give all that they could to the returning exiles so that they could have money for supplies and food. The heads of Jewish families of the tribes of Judah, Benjamin and the Levites also selected who were going to return back home. King Cyrus decided to give back the treasures that King Nebuchadnezzar took from Solomon’s Temple after he conquered Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar had these supplies loaded up in the temple of his god. There were gold and silver bowls, dishes, pans and other items. Cyrus returned 5,400 items back to the people of Israel so that they could place the items back into the Temple. These items were given to Sheshbazzar the prince of Judah who was in charge of taking the Judeans back to their homeland. Ezra was a priest and scribe who were authorized to return back to Jerusalem during the reign of another Persian king named Artaxerxes. He wasn’t among the first exiles to return home and joined them at a later date.
- Ezra 1: 1 – 4 God informs Cyrus the Great that he should rebuild the Temple and release the Jewish captives back to their land.
- Ezra 1: 5, 6 The people help to support the return to Jerusalem with the use of freewill offerings and donated gifts. Gods stirs up the hearts of priests, Levites and tribal leaders to go back to Judah to rebuild his Temple.
- Ezra 1: 7 – 11 King Cyrus gives back the treasures of Solomon’s Temple that was taken by Nebuchadnezzar. Sheshbazaar carries them back to Judah.
- Ezra 7: Ezra the priest is stirred up by God to go back to Judah.