This is a simplified version of the Bible story found in Ezra 3-4, written for children to understand. For the original version, please refer to the Bible passage.
Once upon a time, the children of Israel were living in different towns. They all gathered in Jerusalem during the seventh month to do something special for God. Two important men, Jeshua and Zerubbabel, led the people in building an altar for God. The altar was a special place where people could offer burnt offerings to God every day.
The people celebrated the Feast of Booths and offered many burnt offerings as God had commanded. They also started getting ready to build a new temple for God, but they had to wait a while. They gave money and supplies to people who could get cedar trees to build the temple.
When the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the Israelites were rebuilding the temple, they became angry and decided to try to stop them. They approached Zerubbabel and the heads of the families of Israel and said to them, “Let us build with you, for we worship your God as you do, and we have been sacrificing to Him ever since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assyria who brought us here.” But Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the rest of the leaders said to them, “You have nothing to do with us in building a house to our God; but we alone will build to the Lord, the God of Israel, as King Cyrus the king of Persia has commanded us.”
The adversaries did not give up. They wanted to stop the Israelites from building the temple, so they wrote a letter to King Artaxerxes, asking him to stop the Israelites from building the temple. The letter was written in Aramaic and translated, and it said:
“To Artaxerxes the king: Your servants, the men of the province Beyond the River, send greeting. And now be it known to the king that the Jews who came up from you to us have gone to Jerusalem. They are rebuilding that rebellious and wicked city. They are finishing the walls and repairing the foundations. Now be it known to the king that if this city is rebuilt and the walls finished, they will not pay tribute, custom, or toll, and the royal revenue will be impaired. Now because we eat the salt of the palace and it is not fitting for us to witness the king’s dishonor, therefore we send and inform the king, in order that search may be made in the book of the records of your fathers. You will find in the book of the records and learn that this city is a rebellious city, hurtful to kings and provinces, and that sedition was stirred up in it from of old. That was why this city was laid waste. We make known to the king that if this city is rebuilt and its walls finished, you will then have no possession in the province Beyond the River.”
When King Artaxerxes received the letter, he was upset. He ordered that the Israelites should stop building the temple. He said, “Why should damage grow to the hurt of the king?” Then, when the copy of King Artaxerxes’ letter was read before the adversaries, they went in haste to the Jews at Jerusalem and by force and power made them stop building the temple.
For a while, the Israelites were not able to finish building the temple. However, they did not give up. They continued to pray to God and ask Him for help. Finally, in the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia, they were able to start building the temple again.
- Sometimes, people who don’t believe in God will try to stop us from worshipping Him. We should always stand firm in our faith and trust in God to help us.
- It’s important to respect other people’s beliefs, but we should never compromise our own faith in God in order to please others.
- Obeying God’s commands is not always easy, but it’s always worth it in the end.
- Even when it seems like our plans are not working out, we should trust that God has a plan for us and that everything will work out for our good in the end.
- We should never give up on doing what is right, even if it seems like the odds are against us.
The Continuing Conquest of Canaan
The Lord’s Covenant with David