Ezra 3

1 When the seventh month had come, and the children of Israel were in the cities, the people gathered themselves together as one man to Jerusalem. 2 Then Jeshua the son of Jozadak stood up with his brothers the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and his brothers, 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. 3 In spite of their fear because of the peoples of the surrounding lands, they set the altar on its base; and they offered burnt offerings on it to the LORD, even burnt offerings morning and evening. 4 They kept the feast of tents, as it is written, and offered the daily burnt offerings by number, according to the ordinance, as the duty of every day required; 5 and afterward the continual burnt offering, the offerings of the new moons, of all the set feasts of the LORD that were consecrated, and of everyone who willingly offered a freewill offering to the LORD. 6 From the first day of the seventh month, they began to offer burnt offerings to the LORD; but the foundation of the LORD’s temple was not yet laid. 7 They also gave money to the masons, and to the carpenters. They also gave food, drink, and oil to the people of Sidon and Tyre, to bring cedar trees from Lebanon to the sea, to Joppa, according to the grant that they had from Cyrus King of Persia. 8 Now in the second year of their coming to God’s house at Jerusalem, in the second month, Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and the rest of their brothers the priests and the Levites, and all those who had come out of the captivity to Jerusalem, began the work and appointed the Levites, from twenty years old and upward, to have the oversight of the work of the LORD’s house. 9 Then Jeshua stood with his sons and his brothers, Kadmiel and his sons, the sons of Judah, together, to have the oversight of the workmen in God’s house: the sons of Henadad, with their sons and their brothers the Levites. 10 When the builders laid the foundation of the LORD’s temple, they set the priests in their clothing with trumpets, with the Levites the sons of Asaph with cymbals, to praise the LORD, according to the directions of David king of Israel. 11 They sang to one another in praising and giving thanks to the LORD, “For he is good, for his loving kindness endures forever towards Israel.” All the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the LORD’s house had been laid. 12 But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ households, the old men who had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice. Many also shouted aloud for joy, 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 far away.

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Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

Verses 1–7

From the proceedings of the Jews on their arrival, let us learn to begin with God, and to do what we can in the worship of God, when we cannot do what we would. They could not at once have a temple, but they would not be without an altar. Fear of danger should stir us to our duty. Have we many enemies? Then it is good to have God our Friend, and to keep up communion with him. Our fears should drive us to our knees. The sacrifices for all these solemnities were a heavy expense for so poor a company; yet besides those expressly appointed, many brought free-will offerings to the Lord. And they made preparation for the building of the temple without delay: whatever God calls us to do, we may depend upon his providence to furnish us with the needful means.

Verses 8–13

There was a remarkable mixture of affections upon laying the foundation of the temple. Those that only knew the misery of having no temple at all, praised the Lord with shouts of joy. To them, even this foundation seemed great. We ought to be thankful for the beginnings of mercy, though it be not yet perfect. But those who remembered the glory of the first temple, and considered how far inferior this was likely to be, wept with a loud voice. There was reason for it, and if they bewailed the sin that was the cause of this melancholy change, they did well. Yet it was wrong to cast a damp upon the common joys. They despised the day of small things, and were unthankful for the good they enjoyed. Let not the remembrance of former afflictions drown the sense of present mercies.

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