Ezra Three: Temple

In this chapter, the Temple begins to take shape once again. “And Jeshua the son of Jehozadak arose, and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and his brethren, and they built the altar of the God of Israel, upon which to offer up burnt offerings, as it is written in the Torah of Moses, the man of God (Ezra 3:2).” The altar is complete and the sacrifices return to Jerusalem. We hear about their observation of Sukkot, and of Rosh Chodesh, the new moon. But while the altar is complete and the sacrifices back in action, the Temple still isn’t rebuilt. It takes over two years to get to that stage, and we hear about the celebration that it brings about. “And the people did not recognize the voice of the shout of joy because of the voice of the people’s weeping, for the people were shouting a great shout, and the voice was heard from afar (Ezra 3:13).” This is both a beautiful and a sad concept. It’s amazing that there’s such a manifestation of abject joy like this, but it’s also sad that it’s something so unfamiliar to the people that they don’t recognize it. I can’t imagine being in such a dark place that I forget what joy sounds like and how it manifests, and hope that I never have to know that kind of isolation from my own happiness.

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