Ezra 3

Feasting in Jerusalem


The people gathered together as one man to Jerusalem (Ezra 3:1)

In David’s day, the city of Jerusalem was located on a ridge to the south of where the temple would later be built. The size of the city swelled considerably when the Assyrians conquered Judah’s northern neighbor, Israel (723 BC), and Hezekiah built a new city wall to encompass the Western Hill, where most of the refugees seem to have settled.

Feast of Booths

And they kept the Feast of Tabernacles, as it is written (Ezra 3:4).

The Hebrew name for “Tabernacles” or “Booths” is “Sukkot.” Celebrants traditionally carry a citron and branches of a palm, myrtle, and willow tree, a custom derived from Leviticus 23:40. This photo, taken at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, illustrates one of the ceremonies during the modern Jewish celebration of this feast.


And they offered the daily burnt offerings as was required each day, according to the ordinance (Ezra 3:4).

The detailed series of offerings that were to be offered during the week of the Feast of Booths is found in Numbers 29:12-38. Each day had its specific set of sacrifices of bulls, rams, and lambs, along with grain and drink offerings. In addition to the trussed cattle, this relief includes depictions of wine, oil, breads, and cakes. The relief comes from Heliopolis in Egypt.

A Temple in Ruins

But the foundation of the temple of Yahweh was not yet laid (Ezra 3:6).

Although the altar had been rebuilt, the temple still lay in ruins. The site was probably little more than a jumble of stones, similar to the ruins in this photo. About thirty different Roman temples are scattered across the summit and sides of Mount Hermon. Qasr Antar, pictured here, was the highest temple of the ancient world, situated at 9,232 feet (2,814 m) above sea level. This American Colony photograph was taken between 1900 and 1920.

Ancient Payday

Then they gave money to the masons and the carpenters (Ezra 3:7).

The word “money” (Heb. keseph) is often rendered “silver” (e.g., Ezra 2:69). Hacksilver, randomly sized pieces of silver that would be weighed to determine a specified amount, was still the most common form of money at this time. Such pieces could easily be weighed out, or even cut up if the right weights were not at hand. The beads that appear with this silver hoard, made of semi-precious stones, also had monetary value.

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