In Susa the capital there was a Jewish man from the tribe of Benjamin, Jair's son Mordecai, who was a descendant of Kish's son Shimei the descendant of Benjamin. He had been taken into captivity from Jerusalem along with the exiles who had been deported with Jeconiah, king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon had taken into exile.
PERES: Your kingdom has been divided and will be given to the Medes and Persians."
A message concerning the pasture by the Sea. "Like whirlwinds in the Negev sweep on, it comes from the desert, from a distant land. A dire vision has been announced to me: the traitor betrays, and the plunderer takes loot. Get up, Elam! Attack, Media! I am putting a stop to all the groaning she has caused. Therefore my body is racked with pain; pangs have seized me, like the pangs of a woman in labor; I am so upset that I cannot hear; I am so frightened that I cannot see while I'm reeling around. read more.
And as for my heart, horror has terrified me; the twilight I longed for has started to make me tremble. They set the tables; they spread the carpets; they eat, they drink! Get up, you officers! Oil the shields!" For this is what the LORD told me: "Go post a lookout. Have him report what he sees. When he sees chariots, each man with a pair of horses, riders on donkeys or riders on camels, let him pay attention, full attention." Then the lookout shouted: "Upon a watchtower I stand, O Lord, continually by day, and I am stationed at my post throughout the night. Look! Here come riders, each man with a pair of horses!" They're shouting out the answer: "Babylon has fallen, has fallen, and they have shattered all the images of her gods on the ground! O my downtrodden people, my wall! I'll tell you what I have heard from the LORD of the Heavenly Armies, the God of Israel."
""Now I'll tell you the truth: Pay attention! Three more kings will arise in Persia. Then a fourth will gain more than them all. As soon as he gains power by means of his wealth, he'll stir up everyone against the Grecian kingdoms. ""A mighty king will come to power, and he'll rule with awesome energy, doing whatever he pleases. However, after he has come to power, his kingdom will be broken and parceled out in all directions. It won't go to his succeeding descendants, nor will its power match how he ruled, because his sovereignty will be uprooted and given to successors besides them.
"Your majesty, while you were watching, you observed an enormous statue. This magnificent statue stood before you with extraordinary brilliance. Its appearance was terrifying. That statue had a head made of pure gold, with its chest and arms made of silver, its abdomen and thighs made of bronze, its legs made of iron, and its feet made partly of iron and partly of clay. read more.
"As you were watching, a rock was quarried but not with human hands and it struck the iron and clay feet of the statue, breaking them to pieces. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were broken in pieces together and became like chaff from a summer threshing floor that the breeze carries away without leaving a trace. Then the rock that struck the statue grew into a huge mountain and filled the entire earth. "This was the dream, and we'll now relate its meaning to the king. You, your majesty, king of kings to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, the strength, and the glory, so that wherever people, wild animals, or birds of the sky live, he has placed them under your control, giving you dominion over them all you're that head of gold. "After you, another kingdom will arise that is inferior to yours, and then a third kingdom of bronze will arise to rule all the earth. Then there will be a fourth kingdom, as strong as iron. Just as all things are broken to pieces and shattered by iron, so it will shatter and crush everything. "The feet and toes that you saw, made partly of potter's clay and partly of iron, represent a divided kingdom. It will still have the strength of iron, in that you saw iron mixed with clay. Just as their toes and feet are part iron and part clay, so will the kingdom be both strong and brittle. Just as you saw iron mixed with clay, so they will mix themselves with human offspring. Furthermore, they won't remain together, just as iron doesn't mix with clay. "During the reigns of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor its sovereignty left in the hands of another people. It will shatter and crush all of these kingdoms, and it will stand forever. Now, just as you saw that the stone was cut out of the mountain without human hands and that it crushed the iron, bronze, clay, silver, and gold to pieces so also the great God has revealed to the king what will take place after this. Your dream will come true, and its meaning will prove trustworthy."
Persia, Cush, and Libya will be accompanying them, all of them equipped with shields and helmets.
Watch out! I'm stirring up the Medes against them, who care nothing for silver and take no delight in gold.
This is what came as a message from the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet about Elam at the beginning of the reign of King Zedekiah of Judah: This is what the LORD of the Heavenly Armies says: "Look, I'm going to break the bow of Elam, the finest of their troops. I'll bring the four winds against Elam from the four corners of the heavens, and I'll scatter them to all these winds. There will be no nation to which the exiles from Elam won't go. read more.
I'll terrify Elam before their enemies and before those who seek to kill them. I'll bring on them disaster and become fiercely angry at them," declares the LORD. "I'll send the sword after them, until I've made an end of them. I'll put my throne in Elam, and destroy the king and the officials there," declares the LORD. "But in the latter days I'll restore the fortunes of Elam," declares the LORD.
Sharpen the arrows, fill the quivers! The LORD has stirred up the spirit of the kings of the Medes he has decided to destroy Babylon. Indeed, it's the LORD's vengeance, vengeance for his Temple. Lift up the battle standard against Babylon's walls. Strengthen the guard; post watchmen. Set men in position for an ambush. For the LORD will both plan and carry out what he has declared against the inhabitants of Babylon. You who live beside many waters, rich in treasures, your end has come, your life thread is cut. read more.
The LORD of the Heavenly Armies has sworn by himself: "I'll surely fill you with soldiers like a swarm of locusts, and they'll sing songs of victory over you." He made the earth by his power. He established the world by his wisdom, and by his understanding he spread out the heavens. When his voice sounds, there is thunder from the waters of heaven, and he makes clouds rise up from the ends of the earth. He makes lightning for the rain and brings wind out of his storehouses. Everyone is stupid and without knowledge. Every goldsmith is put to shame by his own idols, for his images are false, and there is no life in them. They're worthless, a work of mockery, and when the time of punishment comes, they'll perish. The Portion of Jacob is not like these. He made everything, including the tribe of his inheritance. The LORD of the Heavenly Armies is his name. "You are my war-club and weapons of war. I'll smash nations with you and destroy kingdoms with you. I'll smash the horse and its rider with you. I'll smash the chariot and its rider with you. I'll smash man and woman with you. I'll smash old man and young boy with you. I'll smash young man and young woman with you. I'll smash the shepherd and his flock with you. I'll smash the farmer and his team of oxen with you. I'll smash governors and officials with you. "Before your eyes I'll repay Babylon and all the inhabitants of Chaldea for all the evil that they did in Zion," declares the LORD. "Look, I'm against you, destroying mountain, who destroys the whole earth," declares the LORD. "I'll stretch out my hand against you and roll you down from the crags. And I'll make you a burned-out mountain. They won't get a cornerstone or a foundation stone from you, because you will be a wasteland forever," declares the LORD. Lift up a battle standard in the land. Blow a trumpet among the nations. Consecrate the nations against her. Summon the kingdoms of Ararat, Minni, and Ashkenaz against her. Appoint a commander against her, bring up horses like bristling locusts. Consecrate the nations against her, the kings of the Medes, their governors, their prefects, and every land under their domination. The land quakes and writhes because the LORD's purposes against Babylon stand firm, to make the land of Babylon a waste without inhabitants. The warriors of Babylon have stopped fighting. They stay in their strongholds; their strength is dried up; they have become like women. Her buildings are set on fire; the bars of her gates are broken. One runner runs to meet another runner, and one messenger to meet another messenger, to tell the king of Babylon that his city has been seized from one end to the other. The fords have been captured, and the marshes burned with fire. The soldiers are terrified. For this is what the LORD of the Heavenly Armies, the God of Israel, says: "The daughter of Babylon is like a threshing floor at the time when it's pounded down. In just a little while, the time of her harvest will come." "King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon has devoured me and crushed me. He set me down like an empty vessel. He swallowed me like a monster, and filled his belly with my delicacies. Then he washed me away. May the violence done to me and my flesh be on Babylon," says the inhabitant of Zion. "May my blood be on the inhabitants of Chaldea," says Jerusalem. Therefore this is what the LORD says: "Look, I'm going to argue your case and take vengeance for you. I'll dry up her sea and make her fountain dry. Babylon will become a heap of ruins, a refuge for jackals, a desolate place and an object of scorn. They'll roar together like young lions; they'll growl like lion cubs. When they're excited I'll serve them their banquet, and make them drunk until they're merry. They'll sleep forever and won't wake up," declares the LORD. "I'll bring them down like lambs for the slaughter, like rams with male goats. "How Sheshak will be captured, and the prince of all the earth seized! How Babylon will become an object of horror among the nations! The sea will come up against Babylon, and she will be covered by wave upon wave. Her cities will become an object of horror, a dry land and a desert, a land in which no one lives, and through which no human being passes. I'll punish Bel in Babylon, and I'll make what he has swallowed come out of his mouth. The nations will no longer stream to him. Even the wall of Babylon will fall. "Come out of her, my people, flee for your lives from the LORD's anger! Do this now, so your heart does not grow faint, and so you don't become frightened because of the rumors that are heard in the land a rumor comes one year and then after it another rumor comes the next year about violence in the land and one ruler against another ruler. Therefore, look, days are coming when I'll punish the idols of Babylon. Her entire land will be put to shame, and all her slain will fall in her midst. Then the heavens and the earth and all that are in them will shout for joy about Babylon because the destroyers will come out of the north against her," declares the LORD. "So Babylon will fall because of the slain of Israel, even as the slain of all the earth have fallen because of Babylon. Go, you who escaped the sword! Don't stand around! Remember the LORD from far away, and let Jerusalem come to your mind. We have been put to shame because we have heard insults. Disgrace has covered our faces because foreigners have come into the Holy Places of the LORD's house. "Therefore, look, days are coming," declares the LORD, "when I'll punish her idols, and throughout her land the wounded will groan. Though Babylon should reach up to the heavens and fortify her high fortresses, from me destroyers will come to her," declares the LORD. "The sound of a cry is coming from Babylon, great destruction from the land of the Chaldeans. For the LORD is destroying Babylon, and he will make the loud sounds from her disappear. Their waves will roar like many waters, the noise of their voices will sound forth. Indeed, the destroyer is coming against her, against Babylon. Her warriors are captured, and her bows are broken. For the LORD is a God of recompense, and he will repay in full. I'll make their leaders, their wise men, their governors, their deputies, and their warriors drunk so that they sleep forever and don't wake up," declares the King whose name is the LORD of the Heavenly Armies. This is what the LORD of the Heavenly Armies says: "The broad wall of Babylon will be completely leveled, and its high gate set on fire. and so the nations toil for nothing, and the nations weary themselves only for fire." This is the message that Jeremiah the prophet delivered to Neriah's son Seraiah, the grandson of Mahseiah, when he went with King Zedekiah of Judah to Babylon in the fourth year of his reign. Seraiah was the quartermaster. Jeremiah wrote on a single scroll all the disasters that would come on Babylon, all these things that were written about Babylon. Jeremiah told Seraiah, "When you come to Babylon, see that you read all these words, and say, "LORD, you have declared about this place that you would destroy it so that there wouldn't be an inhabitant in it, neither human nor animal, because it will be a wasteland forever.' When you finish reading this scroll, tie a rock around it and throw it into the middle of the Euphrates. Then say, "Babylon will sink like this and won't rise from the disaster that I'm bringing on her. Her people will be exhausted.'" This concludes the writings of Jeremiah.
"Elam will be there. Its hordes will surround Elam's grave. All of them have been killed. They died violently, and they have descended uncircumcised into the world below after having spread terror throughout the land of the living. They will bear the shame of those who descend to the Pit. They have prepared a bed for her and for her hordes that surround her graves. All of them are uncircumcised, having been killed violently, because they had spread terror throughout the land of the living. They will bear the shame of those who descend to the Pit and will take their place among the dead.
They paid masons and carpenters in cash. They paid the residents of Sidon and Tyre with food, drink, and oil, for them to bring cedar trees by sea from Lebanon to Joppa in accordance with the order they had obtained from Cyrus, king of Persia.
who says about Cyrus, "He's my shepherd, and he'll carry out everything that I please: He'll say of Jerusalem, "Let it be rebuilt,' and of my Temple, "Let its foundations be laid again.'"'"
I am calling a bird of prey from the east, and from a far country a man with his purpose. Indeed, I've spoken; I will certainly make it happen; I've planned it; and I will certainly carry it out.
This is what the LORD says to his anointed, Cyrus, whose right hand I have grasped to subdue nations before him, as I strip kings of their armor, to open doors before him and gates that cannot keep closed: "I myself will go before you, and he will make the mountains level; I'll shatter bronze doors and cut through iron bars. I'll give you concealed treasures and riches hidden in secret places, so that you'll know that it is I, the LORD, the God of Israel, who calls you by name. read more.
For the sake of Jacob my servant, Israel my chosen, I've called you, and he has established you with a name, although you have not acknowledged me.
During the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia, in fulfillment of the message from the LORD spoken by Jeremiah, the LORD prompted Cyrus, king of Persia, to make this proclamation throughout his entire kingdom, which was also released in written form: AN OFFICIAL STATEMENT FROM CYRUS, KING OF PERSIA All of the kingdoms of the earth have been given to me by the LORD God of Heaven, and he specifically charged me to build a temple for him in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Therefore, who among the LORD's people trusts in his God? Whoever among this group wishes to do so may travel to Jerusalem.
DATE: First year of Cyrus the King FROM: King Cyrus SUBJECT: The Temple of God in Jerusalem
"I have aroused him in righteousness, and I'll make all his pathways smooth. It is he who will rebuild my city and set my exiles free, but not for a price nor reward, " says the LORD of the Heavenly Armies.
Let all of them come together and listen: Who is there among them that could declare these things? "The LORD loves me, and he will accomplish my purpose against Babylon; his arm will be against the Chaldeans. I Yes, I! have spoken; indeed, I've called and I've brought him, and he will make his path successful.
But Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the rest of the heads of the families of Israel replied, "You have no part in our plans for building a temple to our God, because we alone will build to the LORD, the God of Israel, in accordance with the decree issued by King Cyrus, king of Persia."
"However, during King Cyrus' first year that same King Cyrus of Babylon issued a decree to reconstruct this Temple of God. He delivered into the care of Sheshbazzar (whom he appointed governor) the gold and silver utensils that Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the Jerusalem Temple and brought into the Babylonian temple.
Accordingly, with your approval we suggest that a search be conducted within the king's treasury at Babylon to verify whether or not King Cyrus ever issued such a decree to reconstruct this Temple of God in Jerusalem. Then please notify us concerning the king's pleasure in this matter.
Who has aroused victory from the east, and has summoned it to his service, and has handed over nations to him? Who brings down kings, and turns them into dust with his sword, into windblown stubble with his bow? And who pursues them and moves on unscathed by a path that his feet don't know?
Now, in the name of the king, you write what seems good to you concerning the Jewish people, and seal it with the king's signet ring, for a document written in the king's name and sealed with the king's signet ring cannot be revoked."
Therefore, your majesty, establish the decree and sign the written document so it can't be changed, in accordance with the laws of the Medes and Persians that can't be repealed." So King Darius signed the edict contained in the written document. When Daniel learned that the written document had been signed, he went to an upstairs room in his house that had windows opened facing Jerusalem. Three times a day he would kneel down, pray, and give thanks to his God, just as he had previously done. read more.
The conspirators then went as a group and found Daniel praying and seeking help before his God. So they approached the king and asked, "Didn't you sign an edict that for the next 30 days if anyone prays to any god or man, except to you, your majesty, he would be thrown into the lions' pit?" The king responded, "The decree has been established, in accordance with the laws of the Medes and Persians that can't be repealed."
In addition, from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah (that is, during the twelve years from the twentieth to the thirty-second year of King Artaxerxes), neither I nor my relatives relied on the provisions allotted to the governor.
A week later, when the king was under the influence of all that wine, he ordered Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas, the seven eunuchs who served King Ahasuerus, to bring Queen Vashti to the king, wearing the royal crown to display her beauty to the people and the officials, since she was lovely to look at. Queen Vashti refused to come at the king's order that was brought by the eunuchs. read more.
Then the king flew into a rage. The king spoke to the wise men who understood the times, for it was the king's custom to consult all those who understood law and justice. (His closest advisors were: Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan, the seven officials of Persia and Media who had direct access to the king and who held the highest rank in the kingdom.) The king inquired, "According to law, what should be done to Queen Vashti because she did not obey the order of King Ahasuerus that was delivered by the eunuchs?" Then Memucan replied in the presence of the king and his officials, "It is not the king alone whom Vashti has wronged, but rather all of the officials and all of the people who are in the provinces of King Ahasuerus. When the report about the queen goes out to all the women, it will cause them to despise their husbands. They'll say, "King Ahasuerus ordered Queen Vashti to be brought before him, but she wouldn't come.' This very day the wives of the officials of Persia and Media who hear the report about the queen will speak in the same way to all the officials of the king, and there will be more than enough contempt and anger. If it seems good to the king, let a royal decree go out from him and let it be written in the laws of Persia and Media, which cannot be repealed, that Vashti is never again to enter the presence of King Ahasuerus. Let the king give her royal position to another woman who is better than she. When the edict of the king that he issues is heard throughout his kingdom for it's vast then all the women will give honor to their husbands, from the greatest to the least important." This seemed like a good idea to the king and his officials, so the king did what Memucan suggested. He sent letters to all the provinces of the king, written in the script of that province, and to each people in their own language, ordering that every man should be the master in his house and speak the language of his own people.
Then let the young woman who pleases the king rule in place of Vashti." This advice pleased the king, and he did this.
Next to him, Hur's son Rephaiah, ruling official for half of the Jerusalem district, did repairs.
and next to him Hallohesh's son Shallum, ruling official for the other half of the Jerusalem district, did repairs, as did his daughters.
Next to him Azbuk's son Nehemiah, ruling official of half of the Beth-zur district, carried on repairs as far as the tombs of David, then to the artificial pool that had been installed there, and then as far as the military barracks. Next to him the descendants of Levi, led by Bani's son Rehum, carried on repairs. Next to him Hashabiah, ruling official for half of the Keilah district, did repairs for his district. Next to him their brothers, led by Henadad's son Bavvai, ruling official for the other half of the Keilah district, carried on repairs.
"In the first year of the reign of Darius son of Ahasuerus, a descendant of the Medes, who was made king over the kingdom of the Chaldeans
and Darius the Mede took over the kingdom at the age of 62.
While Artaxerxes was king of Persia, Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and the rest of their co-conspirators wrote in the Aramaic language and script to King Artaxerxes of Persia. Aramaic: Governor Rehum and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter concerning Jerusalem to King Artaxerxes as follows: From Governor Rehum Shimshai the scribe The rest of their colleagues read more.
Judges, envoys, officials, Persians, the people of Erech, the Babylonians, the people of Susa (that is, the Elamites) and many other nations whom the great and honorable Osnappar deported and resettled in Samaria and in the rest of the province beyond the Euphrates River. This is the text of the letter they sent. To: King Artaxerxes From: Your servants, the men of the province beyond the Euphrates River. May the king be advised that the Jews who came from you to us have reached Jerusalem and are rebuilding a rebellious and wicked city, having completed its walls and repaired its foundations. May the king be further advised that if this city is rebuilt and its walls erected, its citizens will refuse to pay tributes, taxes, and tariffs, thereby restricting royal revenues. Now, because we are royal employees and are committed to preserving the reputation of the king, we have written to the king and have declared its contents to be true, urging that a search may be made in the official registers of your predecessors. You will discover in the registers that this city is a rebellious city, that it is damaging to both kings and provinces, that it has been moved to sedition from time immemorial, and that because of this it was destroyed. We certify to the king that if this city is rebuilt and its walls completed, you will lose your land holdings in the province beyond the Euphrates River. The king replied: To: Governor Rehum, Shimshai the scribe, and their colleagues living in Samaria, and the remainder living beyond the Euphrates River. Greetings: The memorandum you sent to us has been read and carefully considered. Pursuant to my edict, an investigation has been undertaken. It is noted that this city has fomented rebellion against kings from time immemorial, and that rebellion and sedition has occurred in it. Powerful kings have reigned over Jerusalem, including ruling over all lands beyond the Euphrates River. Furthermore, taxes, tribute, and tolls have been paid to them. Accordingly, issue an order to force these men to cease their work so that this city is not rebuilt until you receive further notice from me. Be diligent and take precautions so that you do not neglect your responsibility in this matter. Why should the kingdom sustain any more damage? As soon as a copy of the letter from King Artaxerxes was read to Rehum, to Shimshai the scribe, and to their colleagues, they traveled quickly to Jerusalem and compelled the Jews to cease by force of arms. As a result, work on the Temple of God in Jerusalem ceased and did not begin again until the second year of the reign of King Darius of Persia.
"Soldiers from Persia, Lud, and Libya, served in your army. They were your mighty soldiers. Their helmets and shields adorned your barracks walls, and they won battle decorations for you.
Nebuchadnezzar carried off to Babylon those who survived the executions, and they served him and his descendants until the kingdom of Persia came to power.
It pleased Darius to appoint 120 regional authorities over the kingdom throughout the realm, along with three chief administrators from them, one of which was Daniel. The regional authorities reported to these three administrators, so that the king would experience no losses. Daniel distinguished himself among all the administrators and regional authorities, because he was of an extraordinary spirit. Therefore the king planned to appoint him over the whole kingdom. read more.
Because of this, the administrators and regional authorities tried to bring allegations of dereliction of duty in government affairs against Daniel, but they were unable to find any charges of corruption. Daniel was trustworthy, and no evidence of negligence or corruption could be found against him. So these men said, "We'll never find any basis for complaint against Daniel unless we build it on the requirements of his God." Then these administrators and regional authorities went as a group to the king and said this, "Your majesty, live forever! All of the royal administrators, prefects, regional authorities, scribes, and governors have concluded that the king should establish and enforce an edict that anyone who prays to any god or man for the next 30 days (except to you, your majesty) is to be thrown into the lions' pit.
Samaria will be held guilty, because she has rebelled against her God. By the sword they will fall with their infants dashed to pieces, and their pregnant women torn open."
And you, Ezra, in accordance with the wisdom given to you by your God, are to appoint magistrates and judges to administer justice to all the people beyond the Euphrates River. All of them are to know the laws of your God, and you are to instruct those who do not know them.
(His closest advisors were: Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan, the seven officials of Persia and Media who had direct access to the king and who held the highest rank in the kingdom.)
In the third year of his reign, he gave a banquet for all his officials and ministers, and the military leaders of Persia and Media, the nobles, and the provincial officials were present.
With his queen seated beside him, the king asked me, "How long will your journey take, and when will you return?" The king thought it was a good idea to send me, so I presented him with a prepared plan.