Today's reading describes the efforts that returning exiles made to reestablish faithful practice in and around Jerusalem. First, they began keeping the sacred days and festivals and burnt offerings resumed on an altar where the Temple would be rebuilt. Then, they began building a new Temple, laying the foundation stones, but other people in the area sent a formal letter of protest to the Persian king who succeeded Cyrus, Atarxerxes.
The motivations of those opposed to the rebuilding of the Temple are a little unclear. It could simply be that others were worried about the Jews becoming too powerful, and they saw this as a good opportunity to create an obstacle. In their letter, they reminded the new king that the Jews had a history of rebelling, and the new king accepted this argument and ordered work on the Temple to be halted.
[links to Bible Gateway open in a new window]
Reading the Bible in Its Entirety
If you are planning to read the Bible in its entirety, you should read Ezra 3-4 today.