Building the temple walls. Zerubabbel was a descendent of David and the only one of the royal line to return at this time. He was the political leader of the remnant, and Joshua, the high priest, was the religious leader. Cyrus gave to this returning remnant the vast treasures looted from the temple in Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar. The return journey was slow and perilous and, once the land was reached, the remnant had to face opposition from the mixed races that had settled there. The first act was to build the altar. Then the foundation of the temple was laid. Due to the hostilities from the Samaritans, who had been refused permission to help in the work, it was 15 years later before the temple was completed. (During this period the prophets Haggai and Zechariah were raised up to urge forward the completion of the task.) The temple was finished 20 years after the return.
Between the first and second returns nearly eighty years had elapsed. Sixty years after the temple had been completed Ezra comes upon the scene. No biblical record concerns this 60-year span. The leader of the second remnant was a priest from the tribe of Levi, of the house of Aaron. (Zerubabbel from Judah, Ezra from Levi.) He called himself a scribe and made it his task to teach the people thoroughly the word of God and to bring about important reforms. Ezra especially insisted that the remnant separate themselves from all alliances with the surrounding peoples.
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