Early in King Darius’s reign, the people of Bethel sent representatives to the Temple to find out, now that the exile was ending, if the mournful fasts they periodically held were still necessary. God’s response was, Uh, yeah! Then It told Zechariah to remind everyone why they had been sent into exile in the first place. So Zechariah said, Hey, don’t you remember that God got pissed and let Its people be defeated and scattered because we didn’t obey It? And all It wanted was for us to treat each other with justice and fairness; to be merciful and forgiving; and to not oppress needy people, like single women and their children, immigrants, or poor people. But we didn’t, and we were punished.
Zechariah dreamed of four chariots, one drawn by red horses, one drawn by black horses, one drawn by dappled horses. His angel told him they represented the four winds patrolling the earth.
When some exiles returned from Babylon, God told Zechariah to take three of them–Heldai, Tobijah, and Jedaiah–to Zephaniah’s house and there to take their gold and silver to make a crown for the high priest Joshua because God loved him so much because he was making sure the Temple got rebuilt.
Zechariah had another vision. He saw a giant, super elaborate, golden floor lamp standing between two olive trees. An angel was there beside him, and was all, Do you know what this lamp means?
And Zechariah was all, No.
And the angel was all, It symbolizes Zerubbabel, with whom God is super pleased because he finally started rebuilding the Temple.
Zechariah nodded sagely, and the angel went on, Do you know what the trees stand for?
The trees stand for the two guardians of the earth, the once and future kings, who will be back when needed!
Haggai wrote other letters to Governor Zerubbabel ben Shealtiel and High Priest Joshua ben Jehozadak about to give them God’s messages. In one of these letters, Haggai wrote, So God wants to know if any of y’all ever saw the Temple before it was destroyed? Or even read a description of it? Because It’s not, how shall I put this? impressed with the results so far. But no matter. It’s going to shake up the nations and make it rain on Judah so y’all can bling it up.
And another time, Haggai wrote to them to ask, Do y’all understand the difference between clean and unclean things? Like, have you even cracked open Leviticus? Because y’all keep offering some things the Lord don’t like. But, here’s what God’s willing to do. If you only offer the right sort of things in the right sort of ways, God will make sure that the crops stop suffering from blight and drought and that the next harvest will be huge.
In a third letter, Haggai wrote to Zerubbabel to tell him that God had chosen him as Its signet ring, and to remember that he was blessed and loved by God during the coming wars.
The end! More about the Second Temple in Zechariah next time!
Efforts were made during the tumultuous time of the returning exiles described in Ezra to rebuild the Temple. The prophet Haggai wrote to the governor of Judah, Zerubbabel ben Shealtiel, and the high priest, Joshua ben Jehozadek, that God wanted Its house rebuilt and ASAP. Haggai wrote, God wants to know if y’all think it’s ok that y’all are living in houses and It’s still homeless? God also wants you to know that the reason nothing y’all do down in Judah ever prospers is because y’all have left It homeless. Until you rebuild God’s house, you will never be able to turn a profit or grow enough crops!
So Zerubbabel and Joshuah organized the people to get the materials and crews to rebuild the Temple.
Years after Nebuchadnezzar had died, and Babylon had gone through several kings in quick succession, the last king of Babylon, King Belshazzar, was having a party. He thought that the party was lacking something, though, something special. But then he hit on the idea of having cool dishes, so he ordered that the Temple vessels be cleaned up and used to serve his guests.
The party was hoppin’. The music was rockin’. The concubines were laughing and tugging on the beards of officials. The queen was looking tipsy. But everything screeched to a halt when a giant disembodied hand manifested and wrote MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARIAN. No one knew what it meant. The mood was killed. Unimportant guests quietly slinked out. The concubines buzzed back to the harem. Continue reading “Daniel 5: The writing on the wall”
In 597 BCE, Nebuchadnezzar deposed Jehoiakim, took the Jewish nobility hostage, and looted the Temple.
But Nebuchadnezzar was a generous man and believed that the barbarian Jews might be civilized, so he ordered his chief of staff to select all the likely Jewish lads for a three-year education program in which they would be taught the language and literature of Babylon. He even condescended that these Jewish scholars should be fed with the leftovers from his own royal table.
Among those chose were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, who were renamed Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, respectively. These boys were particularly devout and were revolted at the thought of not keeping kosher meals. So they begged the chief of staff to allow them eat vegetarian. Continue reading “Daniel 1: About those Jewish boys”
There should be a river flowing from the Temple area to the sea abounding in fish.
Also make sure to divide the new Israel up fairly among the tribes!
Make sure offerings are always sacrificed and cooked right.
So gates. People shouldn’t ever, and I mean EVER, leave by the same gate they entered. They should, however, worship before my East Gate, and to keep the hinges from getting rusty, open up my gate on Sabbaths and new moons. Just don’t let anyone ever cross the threshold!
The entire Temple complex will be nearly an acre with the Temple buildings in the center. The land surrounding the Temple complex will, of course, belong to the king. And I promise, the rulers from now on will be good, ok? No more despots. Probably.
So everyone will owe taxes to keep the Temple going and provide sacrifices. For every 6 bushels of wheat or barley is owed 3 quarts of wheat or barley. For every 220 liters of oil is owed 2 liters of oil. For every 200 sheep or other livestock is owed 1 animal.
The king will be required to provide the sacrificial bulls during Passover.