Judah's return to Jerusalem

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Judah's return to Jerusalem

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"Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: All the kingdoms of the earth the LORD God of heaven has given me. And He has commanded me to build Him a house [temple] at Jerusalem which is in Judah. Who is among you of all His people? May his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel (He is God), which is in Jerusalem. And whoever is left in any place where he dwells, let the men of his place help him with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, besides the freewill offerings for the house of God which is in Jerusalem" (Ezra 1:2-4 Ezra 1:2-4 [2] Thus said Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven has given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he has charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. [3] Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem. [4] And whoever remains in any place where he sojournes, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, beside the freewill offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.
American King James Version×
).

The Jews could return to their homeland, their beloved city, Jerusalem, and again honor and worship God there. The temple reconstruction began in 536, exactly 70 years after their first captivity (in 606), as God had promised through Jeremiah (Jeremiah 29:10 Jeremiah 29:10For thus said the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.
American King James Version×
; 2 Chronicles 36:21 2 Chronicles 36:21To fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfill three score and ten years.
American King James Version×
).

Zerubbabel led the first return to Jerusalem, of 49,897 people (Ezra 1:1 Ezra 1:1Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying,
American King James Version×
through 2:70). At least 70 years had elapsed since King Nebuchadnezzar first carried their descendants away. Not all chose to return. Many had put down roots in Babylon and didn't want the hardships involved in a long journey and being faced with starting over somewhere else. Nearly 50,000 did choose to return to their homeland, and that was enough to reconstruct a temple.

Jealousy reared its head, and Zerubbabel faced threatening opposition. This delayed the temple's completion for a few years. In the meanwhile, Zerubbabel and others began building their own homes. The prophets Haggai and Zechariah exhorted Zerubbabel and the other builders to complete their work on God's house, the temple.

It was finally completed some 20 years after it was begun. Although the temple was restored, it would be nearly another 60 years before the Jews would find spiritual restoration under Ezra's leadership.