The Jewish Eye
Sefer Ezra: Part 12 - A Letter To The King
Tatnai and his friends wrote to Daryavash as follows: “To King Daryavesh, all peace. Let the king be informed that we have visited the region of Yehudah, at the House of the Great God; it is being constructed of marble, the walls strengthened with wood. This work had advanced quickly and successfully. Then we inquired of the elders, “Who sent forth a decree to build this House and found these walls? We also asked for their names in order to inform you and document the names of their leaders.”
They informed Daryavesh that Bnei Yisrael were not building a fortress by mentioning that the walls were strengthened with wood, since wood is flammable and would not be added to a fortress. They also informed Daryavesh that the nations surrounding Bnei Yisrael were not deterring them from their construction because they had no suspicion of rebellion or evil intentions. This was hinted at by, “the work had advanced quickly and successfully.”
“They (the elders of Bnei Yisrael) replied to us, “We are the servants of the G-d of heaven and earth, and we are rebuilding a House built many years ago – a great king of Yisrael built and established it. But now, because our forefathers caused the anger of the G-d of Heaven, He gave them over to Nevuchadnetzer, the king of Bavel, the Chaldean, who destroyed the House and exiled the people to Bavel. In the first year of Coresh, king of Bavel, Coresh decreed that the House of Hashem be rebuilt.”
The Beis Hamikdash had been destroyed only because of the sins of their forefathers. Now that their sins had been atoned through exile, the time has arrived to rebuild the Beis Hamikdash.
Additionally, the gold and silver vessels of the House of Hashem, which Nevuchadnetzer had taken from the Heichal in Yerushalayim and brought with him to the temple in Bavel, King Coresh removed them from the temple in Bavel and gave them to Sheshbatzar, who was appointed satrap. And he said to him, “Take these vessels and place them in the Heichel in Yerushalayim, and let the House of Hashem be built in its place. Sheshbatzar then established the walls of Hashem’s Temple in Yerushalayim, but since then it had been built without being completed.
According to Rashi, Sheshbatzar was Daniel; other commentators maintain that it was Zerubavel. The fact that Zerubavel now held these vessels in his possession proved the veracity of his words. They also emphasized that Zerubavel had been appointed satrap by the king, since an official of the king would not act without the king’s permission.
“Now if it finds favor with the King, an investigation should be made of the royal archives in Bavel to clarify if King Coresh decreed that this House of G-d in Yerushalayim be built, and the King should let his will known about the matter.”
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