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A Simple Overview Of Zerubbabel and Jeshua

by Rik Charbonneaux  
2/07/2018 / Christian Living


If you have heard of, and have wondered about the God of the Jews and Christians, you might really enjoy hearing about the work of Zerubbabel and Jeshua to rebuild the temple of Jerusalem and of all the trouble and opposition that they had to surmount to complete the task.  If you might be interested in reading more about these two men of God, then read of them further in the Book of Ezra of the Holy Bible, chapters 1 thru 6.

Zerubbabel and Jeshua, the men led by the Lord to build a Second Temple

"Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The Lord God of heaven hath given to me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah." Ezra 1:2 KJV

To better understand the role that Zerubbabel had in rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem, one needs to know that earlier the Judeans had almost forgotten their God and all of the great things that He had accomplished for them. Their lack of love and respect for the Lord had come to the point that they made a disgrace out of the Temple and themselves, and the Lord then allowed the armies of the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar to defeat all of Judah. This action resulted in the Israelites being taken captive in three stages to Babylon, along with all of their wealth and all of the Temple's sacred vessels.

Following his defeat of the Babylonians, Persian king Cyrus spoke by inspiration of the Lord to issue a decree in 538 B.C. that allowed Israel to freely return from exile. As the decree also provided for the funding and necessary authority to rebuild the Temple, only those exiles who truly loved the Lord enough to rebuild the Temple would return to their land. Life in Babylon under Cyrus was much less tiring than it would be in Judah and many exiles did not want to return to a harder way of life, let alone provide the labor to rebuild the Temple.

Inspired by the Spirit of the Lord, the heads [the Princes] of the tribes of Judea and Benjamin, and their priests eagerly wanted to return to Judah and Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. Chief of the tribe of Judea was a man named Zerubbabel and he took command of this first stage of the return of the exiles to Jerusalem. He was the grandson of Jehoiachin, former king of Judah and was therefore in the line of kings that descended from king David and had plenty of drive and desire to accomplish the task. His fellow leader who would assist him was a priest named Jeshua, who was a descendant of Aaron, the brother of Moses. These two men would lead over forty two thousand exiles, plus servants and supplies, on a journey of over nine hundred miles from Babylon to Jerusalem in 536 B.C. Addition gifts were also taken that had been given for support of the project by their fellow exiles who choose to remain in Babylon.

"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. 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." Ezra 3:1&2 KJV

Zerubbabel and Jeshua knew in their hearts that the Lord was their power to accomplish the building of the second temple and one of the first things they did upon getting things in order was to build an altar upon the base of the old altar that had destroyed fifty years earlier. The remnant of Israel with them were of one heart and moved as one man with them to begin the work for the Lord they loved and wanted to properly worship. Being surrounded by foreign people who knew of the past strength of the old united tribes of Israel and they did not want to see them become powerful again, unless they could be a part of things, which will be explained later. That having been said, Jeshua sacrificed to the Lord who protected them, just as soon as the altar was built and dedicated. Again, they knew their blessing and protection truly came from the Lord, and Jeshua began trying to observe and consecrate all of the sacrifices and feasts.

"Then stood Jeshua with his sons, Kadmiel and his sons, the sons of Judah together , to set forth the workmen in the house of God:" Ezra 3:9 KJV

Further invigorated by the daily sacrifices and free will offerings at the alter to the Lord, the men released money from the grant of Cyrus to bring in the cedar lumber to be used in the construction of the second temple. Everyone of Zerubbabel's men over twenty years of age were chosen to do the work, and when the foundation had been laid, there was great celebration and the priests in their full apparel offered music and praise to the Lord for the completion of this first stage of construction. Except for the old men who could remember the beauty of the former temple that was destroyed by the Babylonians, all others were elated with the laying of the great foundation stones and their noise was great enough to be heard by foreigners, who immediately sought to come unto Zerubbabel and to speak with him.

"Then they came to Zerubbabel, and to the chief of the fathers, and said unto them, Let us build with you: for we do seek your God, as ye do, and we do sacrifice unto him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assur, which brought us up hither." Ezra 4:2 KJV

When the foreigners came to speak with Zerubbabel about how they were of the same ancestry as the old northern tribes that been conquered by the Assyrians 65 years earlier. At that time, Esarhaddon had transplanted many foreigners into the lands of Samaria with intent of putting out the flame of national spirit within those of the former 10 tribes, and to mix their religion with that of the Assyrians and keep things in hand under his rule. This action resulted in a diluted and twisted version of Judaism and the Spirit of the Lord prompted Zerubbabel to refuse their request and to clearly state that the foreigners were to have no part in the building of the temple nor to worship there. The foreigners were irate and sought to undermine and frustrate the efforts of Zerubbabel's forces at every turn, until the reign of Darius king of Persia.

"Be it known unto the king, that, if this city be builded, and the walls set up again, then will they [the Jews] not pay toll, tribute and custom, and so thou shalt endanger the revenue of the kings." Ezra 4:13 KJV

The memories of the seat of the power and strength of the Judah of old must have been well taught to these people of the land with their mixed cultures because they were going to stop at nothing to derail the plans to raise the temple for worship and to rebuild the city as a strong fortress. So much so that the foreigners wrote a letter to king Ahasuerus asking him to have the old records reviewed see just how dangerous and rebellious these Jews had been prior to their defeat by the Babylonians. The records did indeed show that the Jews had historically been great warriors and the king issued a decree for the building of the temple to stop. The work remained unfinished for 18 years.

"Let the work of this house of God alone; let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews build this house of God in his place." 6:7 KJV

Led by the Spirit of God, the Jews were successful much later in bringing the matter before king Darius by letter. Darius determined the truth of the claim of the Jews that Cyrus had authorized the rebuilding of the temple and for the return to Jerusalem of all the holy vessels upon completion. Darius then ordered that the work of building the temple be completed and that all of the commitments made by Cyrus be carried out. Darius then ordered a review of the records of the treasury in order to find all of the former treasures and vessels of the temple, and ordered their return to the temple at the appropriate time. The temple was finished during the sixth year in the reign of Darius and was dedicated with a great celebration. There was great joy when the feast of Passover was re-instituted and the people felt that that they had some separation between themselves and the heathen foreigners. For their part, Zerubbabel and Jeshua had served the Lord well in the return of their people to Jerusalem, both physically and spiritually.

Rik Charbonneaux is a retired NE Iowan who loves all of God's creatures.

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