Good News Translation (GNB)

Cyrus Commands the Jews to Return


Jer 25.11
In the first year that Cyrus of Persia was emperor,1.1 emperor: King Cyrus of Persia occupied the city of Babylon in 539 bc and began to reign as the emperor of Babylonia. the LORD made what he had said through the prophet Jeremiah come true. He prompted Cyrus to issue the following command and send it out in writing to be read aloud everywhere in his empire:


Is 44.28
“This is the command of Cyrus, Emperor of Persia. The LORD, the God of Heaven, has made me ruler over the whole world and has given me the responsibility of building a temple for him in Jerusalem in Judah. 3May God be with all of you who are his people. You are to go to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple of the LORD, the God of Israel, the God who is worshipped in Jerusalem. 4If any of his people in exile need help to return, their neighbours are to give them this help. They are to provide them with silver and gold, supplies and pack animals, as well as offerings to present in the Temple of God in Jerusalem.”

5Then the heads of the clans of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, the priests and Levites, and everyone else whose heart God had moved got ready to go and rebuild the LORD's Temple in Jerusalem. 6All their neighbours helped them by giving them many things: silver utensils, gold, supplies, pack animals, other valuables, and offerings for the Temple.

7Cyrus gave them back the bowls and cups that King Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the Temple in Jerusalem and had put in the temple of his gods. 8He handed them over to Mithredath, chief of the royal treasury, who made an inventory of them for Sheshbazzar, the governor of Judah, 9-10as follows:

gold bowls for offerings 30
silver bowls for offerings 1,000
other bowls 29
small gold bowls 30
small silver bowls 410
other utensils 1,000

11In all there were 5,400 gold and silver bowls and other articles which Sheshbazzar took with him when he and the other exiles went from Babylon to Jerusalem.


The List of Those who Returned from Exile

(Neh 7.4–73)

21Many of the exiles left the province of Babylon and returned to Jerusalem and Judah, all to their own cities. Their families had been living in exile in Babylonia ever since King Nebuchadnezzar had taken them there as prisoners. 2Their leaders were Zerubbabel, Joshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispar, Bigvai, Rehum, and Baanah.

This is the list of the clans of Israel, with the number of those from each clan who returned from exile:

3-20Parosh — 2,172

Shephatiah — 372

Arah — 775

Pahath Moab (descendants of Jeshua and Joab) — 2,812

Elam — 1,254

Zattu — 945

Zaccai — 760

Bani — 642

Bebai — 623

Azgad — 1,222

Adonikam — 666

Bigvai — 2,056

Adin — 454

Ater (also called Hezekiah) — 98

Bezai — 323

Jorah — 112

Hashum — 223

Gibbar — 95

21-35People whose ancestors had lived in the following towns also returned:

Bethlehem — 123

Netophah — 56

Anathoth — 128

Azmaveth — 42

Kiriath Jearim, Chephirah, and Beeroth — 743

Ramah and Geba — 621

Michmash — 122

Bethel and Ai — 223

Nebo — 52

Magbish — 156

The other Elam — 1,254

Harim — 320

Lod, Hadid, and Ono — 725

Jericho — 345

Senaah — 3,630

36-39This is the list of the priestly clans that returned from exile:

Jedaiah (descendants of Jeshua) — 973

Immer — 1,052

Pashhur — 1,247

Harim — 1,017

40-42Clans of Levites who returned from exile:

Jeshua and Kadmiel (descendants of Hodaviah) — 74

Temple musicians (descendants of Asaph) — 128

Temple guards (descendants of Shallum, Ater, Talmon, Akkub, Hatita, and Shobai) — 139

43-54Clans of temple workmen who returned from exile:

Ziha, Hasupha, Tabbaoth,

Keros, Siaha, Padon,

Lebanah, Hagabah, Akkub,

Hagab, Shamlai, Hanan,

Giddel, Gahar, Reaiah,

Rezin, Nekoda, Gazzam,

Uzza, Paseah, Besai,

Asnah, Meunim, Nephisim,

Bakbuk, Hakupha, Harhur,

Bazluth, Mehida, Harsha,

Barkos, Sisera, Temah,

Neziah, and Hatipha.

55-57Clans of Solomon's servants who returned from exile:

Sotai, Hassophereth, Peruda,

Jaalah, Darkon, Giddel,

Shephatiah, Hattil, Pochereth Hazzebaim, and Ami.

58The total number of descendants of the temple workmen and of Solomon's servants who returned from exile was 392.

59-60There were 652 belonging to the clans of Delaiah, Tobiah, and Nekoda who returned from the towns of Tel Melah, Tel Harsha, Cherub, Addan, and Immer; but they could not prove that they were descendants of Israelites.

61-62The following priestly clans could find no record to prove their ancestry: Habaiah, Hakkoz, and Barzillai. (The ancestor of the priestly clan of Barzillai had married a woman from the clan of Barzillai of Gilead and had taken the name of his father-in-law's clan.) Since they were unable to prove who their ancestors were, they were not accepted as priests. 63

Num 27.21
The Jewish governor told them that they could not eat the food offered to God until there was a priest who could use the Urim and Thummim.2.63 Urim and Thummim: Two objects used by the priest to determine God's will; it is not known precisely how they were used.

64-67Total number of exiles who returned — 42,360

Their male and female servants — 7,337

Male and female musicians — 200

Horses — 736

Mules — 245

Camels — 435

Donkeys — 6,720

68When the exiles arrived at the LORD's Temple in Jerusalem, some of the leaders of the clans gave freewill offerings to help rebuild the Temple on its old site. 69They gave as much as they could for this work, and the total came to 500 kilogrammes of gold, 2.8 tonnes of silver, and 100 robes for priests.


1 Chr 9.2
Neh 11.3
The priests, the Levites, and some of the people settled in or near Jerusalem;2.70 One ancient translation in or near Jerusalem; Hebrew does not have these words. the musicians, the temple guards, and the temple workmen settled in nearby towns; and the rest of the Israelites settled in the towns where their ancestors had lived.


Worship Begins Again

31By the seventh month the people of Israel were all settled in their towns. Then they all assembled in Jerusalem, 2

Ex 27.1
and Joshua son of Jehozadak, his fellow-priests, and Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, together with his relatives, rebuilt the altar of the God of Israel, so that they could burn sacrifices on it according to the instructions written in the Law of Moses, the man of God. 3
Num 28.1–8
Even though3.3 Even though; or Because. the returning exiles were afraid of the people who were living in the land, they rebuilt the altar where it had stood before. Then they began once again to burn on it the regular morning and evening sacrifices. 4
Num 29.12–38
They celebrated the Festival of Shelters according to the regulations; each day they offered the sacrifices required for that day; 5
Num 28.11—29.39
and in addition they offered the regular sacrifices to be burnt whole and those to be offered at the New Moon Festival and at all the other regular assemblies at which the LORD is worshipped, as well as all the offerings that were given to the LORD voluntarily. 6Although the people had not yet started to rebuild the Temple, they began on the first day of the seventh month to burn sacrifices to the LORD.

The Rebuilding of the Temple Begins

7The people gave money to pay the stonemasons and the carpenters and gave food, drink, and olive oil to be sent to the cities of Tyre and Sidon in exchange for cedar trees from Lebanon, which were to be brought by sea to Joppa. All this was done with the permission of Cyrus, emperor of Persia. 8So in the second month of the year after they came back to the site of the Temple in Jerusalem, they began work. Zerubbabel, Joshua, and the rest of their fellow-countrymen, the priests, and the Levites, in fact all the exiles who had come back to Jerusalem, joined in the work. All the Levites twenty years of age or older were put in charge of the work of rebuilding the Temple. 9The Levite Jeshua and his sons and relatives, and Kadmiel and his sons (the clan of Hodaviah)3.9 Probable text (see 2.40) Hodaviah; Hebrew Judah. joined together in taking charge of the rebuilding of the Temple. (They were helped by the Levites of the clan of Henadad.)


1 Chr 25.1
When the builders started to lay the foundation of the Temple, the priests in their robes took their places with trumpets in their hands, and the Levites of the clan of Asaph stood there with cymbals. They praised the LORD according to the instructions handed down from the time of King David. 11
1 Chr 16.34
2 Chr 5.13
Ps 100.5
Jer 33.11
They sang the LORD's praises, repeating the refrain:

“The LORD is good, and his love for Israel is eternal.”

Everyone shouted with all his might, praising the LORD, because the work on the foundation of the Temple had been started. 12Many of the older priests, Levites, and heads of clans had seen the first Temple, and as they watched the foundation of this Temple being laid, they cried and wailed. But the others who were there shouted for joy. 13No one could distinguish between the joyful shouts and the crying, because the noise they made was so loud that it could be heard far and wide.