1 Then Darius the king made a decree, and search was made in the house of the archives, where the treasures were laid up, in Babylon.
2 And there was found at Ahmetha, in the palace that is in the province of Media, a roll, and therein was thus written: 'A record.
3 In the first year of Cyrus the king, Cyrus the king made a decree: Concerning the house of G-d at Jerusalem, let the house be builded, the place where they offer sacrifices, and let the foundations thereof be strongly laid; the height thereof threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof threescore cubits;
4 with three rows of great stones, and a row of new timber, and let the expenses be given out of the king's house;
5 and also let the gold and silver vessels of the house of G-d, which Nebuchadnezzar took forth out of the temple which is at Jerusalem, and brought unto Babylon, be restored, and brought back unto the temple which is at Jerusalem, every one to its place, and thou shalt put them in the house of G-d.'
6 'Now therefore, Tattenai, governor beyond the River, Shethar-bozenai, and your companions the Apharesachites, who are beyond the River, be ye far from thence;
7 let the work of this house of G-d alone; let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews build this house of G-d in its place.
8 Moreover I make a decree concerning what ye shall do to these elders of the Jews for the building of this house of G-d; that of the king's goods, even of the tribute beyond the River, expenses be given with all diligence unto these men, that they be not hindered.
9 And that which they have need of, both young bullocks, and rams, and lambs, for burnt-offerings to the G-d of heaven, wheat, salt, wine, and oil, according to the word of the priests that are at Jerusalem, let it be given them day by day without fail;
10 that they may offer sacrifices of sweet savour unto the G-d of heaven, and pray for the life of the king, and of his sons.
11 Also I have made a decree, that whosoever shall alter this word, let a beam be pulled out from his house, and let him be lifted up and fastened thereon; and let his house be made a dunghill for this;
12 and may the G-d that hath caused His name to dwell there overthrow all kings and peoples, that shall put forth their hand to alter the same, to destroy this house of G-d which is at Jerusalem. I Darius have made a decree; let it be done with all diligence.'
13 Then Tattenai, the governor beyond the River, Shethar-bozenai, and their companions, because that Darius the king had thus sent, acted with all diligence.
14 And the elders of the Jews builded and prospered, through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they builded and finished it, according to the commandment of the G-d of Israel, and according to the decree of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia.
15 And this house was finished on the third day of the month Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king.
16 And the children of Israel, the priests and the Levites, and the rest of the children of the captivity, kept the dedication of this house of G-d with joy.
17 And they offered at the dedication of this house of G-d a hundred bullocks, two hundred rams, four hundred lambs; and for a sin-offering for all Israel, twelve he-goats, according to the number of the tribes of Israel.
18 And they set the priests in their divisions, and the Levites in their courses, for the service of G-d, which is at Jerusalem; as it is written in the book of Moses.
19 And the children of the captivity kept the passover upon the fourteenth day of the first month.
20 For the priests and the Levites had purified themselves together; all of them were pure; and they killed the passover lamb for all the children of the captivity, and for their brethren the priests, and for themselves.
21 And the children of Israel, that were come back out of the captivity, and all such as had separated themselves unto them from the filthiness of the nations of the land, to seek HaShem, the G-d of Israel, did eat,
22 and kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with joy; for HaShem had made them joyful, and had turned the heart of the king of Assyria unto them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of G-d, the G-d of Israel.
Sources: Portions copyright © 1997 by Benyamin Pilant, All Rights Reserved