Ezra 6

Finishing the Temple

King Darius

Then Darius the king made a decree (Ezra 6:1)

This statue depicted Darius I in Persian dress and was originally located in the gate of Susa. Various inscriptions on the statue are written in Old Persian, Elamite, Babylonian, and Egyptian hieroglyphs. The base of the statue lists numerous areas and people groups over which Darius ruled. This statue is displayed in the National Museum of Iran.

Records from Babylon

And a search was made in the house of the archives (Ezra 6:1).

The clay tablets shown here are not from a royal archive, but they record civilian transactions that took place around this same time and in the same area. They illustrate a common way in which records were kept during this period, as clay tablets that were probably organized on shelves. The tablets in this display are part of the so-called “Al-Yahudu” collection. A large proportion of them were written in al-Yahudu, or “Judahtown,” a Jewish town in the region of Babylon.

Tell Hamadan

In Ecbatana, the citadel that is in the province of Media (Ezra 6:2).

Ecbatana (Tell Hamadan, located in Iran between Tehran and Baghdad) is mentioned only here in the Hebrew Bible. It was a city and stronghold of the ancient kingdom of Media. Situated at the foot of Mount Alvand, it became a summer residence for the Persian kings, which explains why royal archives would be located there. The snow on the mountains in this photo, taken in mid-May, reflects the colder climate of this mountain area and why Ecbatana was desirable as a summer residence for the Persian kings.

Cyrus the Great

So they finished building according to the command of the God of Israel and according to the decree of Cyrus (Ezra 6:14).

This monumental structure is commonly believed to be the tomb of Cyrus the Great, though it does lack an accompanying inscription naming the Persian king. The identification is based on similarities to the description of Cyrus’s tomb given in classical accounts, most notably that of the 2nd century AD author Arrian, based on a lost account of Aristobulus of the 4th century BC.

A Joyful Celebration

Then they celebrated the dedication of this house of God with joy (Ezra 6:16).

This limestone Etruscan tomb-marker includes a relief of a celebrants. The boy in the center is playing a double pipe (aulos); he is flanked by a man and woman who are dancing. This relief dates to within a few decades of the celebration described here in Ezra. This relief was photographed at the British Museum.

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