In Matthew 19, verses 11 and 12, Christ addresses this subject. “But He said to them, ‘All cannot accept this saying, but only those to whom it has been given: For there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven‘s sake.’”
THE EUNUCHS OF ESTHER, NEHEMIAH AND DANIEL
The important part of verse 11 is easy to miss: “to whom it has been given.” These words point to a calling God gives to certain eunuchs because of the unique positions they held in the kingdoms of this world, and their faith in the God of Israel. Those who were made eunuchs were given special positions in the kingdoms of this world because they were castrated for a purpose. In present day thinking there is little thought given to how and why these men were used, or the fact that they were eunuchs. Many of them served in more important positions than just protecting the king’s harem. Most people read through the books of Esther, Nehemiah and Daniel, without realizing the important status of these men; that Mordecai, Nehemiah, Daniel and his three friends were eunuchs. During the period of these men’s lives there were protocols designed to protect the kings’ lives as well as their harems, and these men played an important part in these kingdoms, being responsible for moving history to fulfill the word of God and laying the prophetic foundation for the end of man’s walk on this earth. To God it made no difference that they were made eunuchs. They were faithful to God, and He used them in unique and important ways.
To better understand the positions of these men in the kingdoms in which they lived it is necessary to know when and why they were made eunuchs. Because they had no sexual drive they were guards of the king’s harem, and also guards of the palaces. Because of their condition, and at the point they were made eunuchs, they were looked upon as less of a threat to the king. Two important points to consider were that they were not able to have offspring to carry on a family line. Also, they were made eunuchs and trained at a very young and pliable age when their loyalty to the king could be imparted and cultivated. These men were not slaves as slavery is thought of today. They were trusted confidents to the king they served. In part their loyalty was maintained by being rewarded and provided a living standard appropriate to residences of the palace.
A final point is that no uncastrated males were allowed to live within the bounds of the palace. Individuals had to be invited by a direct invitation from the king; and only then for the time of the audience with the king. All of the males who staffed the palaces were eunuchs and they controlled the day to day operation, with the protection of the king being the most important of their duties. With this in mind it can be seen why Mordecai, Daniel and his friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and Nehemiah were made eunuchs at a young age; and despite being put in important positions where they served the king they did not break their faithfulness to the God of Israel.
CIRCUMSTANCES THAT MADE SIX EUNUCHS
Beginning with the Book of Esther it is seen that Mordecai was a guard within the gate of the palace, and had direct contact with the other eunuchs, plainly pointing to the fact that Mordecai was a eunuch. Esther 2, verse 21 it says; “In those days, while Mordecai sat within the king’s gate, two of the kings’ eunuchs, Bigthan and Teresh, door keepers, became furious and sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus.” The term “sat within” means that he lived within the palace, being a guard at its entrance, which was a responsible position only given to those who were eunuchs.
In the case of Daniel and his friends they were put under the control of the chief eunuch to teach them. Dan. 1:3, 4 and 6. “Then the king instructed Ashpenaz, the master of his eunuchs to bring some of the children of Israel and some of the kings descendants and some of the nobles, young men in whom there was no blemish, but good looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve in the kings palace and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans.” Verse 6: “Now from among those of the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.” These men were of the tribe of Judah.
It should be clear that they lived and ate in the palace, meaning that they were made eunuchs shortly after they were taken as prisoners at the end of the reign of King Jehoiakim, when Jehoiachin surrendered to Nebuchadnezzar. The year was 534 BC or AM 3513.
In Esther 2, verses 5-6 it is seen that Mordecai was taken prisoner at the same time as Daniel and his friends. “In Shushan the citadel there was a certain Jew whose name was Mordecai the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite who had been carried away from Jerusalem with the captives who had been captured with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away.”
Jeconiah was another name for Jehoiachin, who was king of Judah for only three months before Nebuchadnezzar took the king and others as prisoners to Babylon. At this time the Meado-Persian Empire was an ally of Nebuchadnezzar and shared in the spoils of war as well as sharing the slaves taken from Jerusalem at that time. This shows that Mordecai was taken at the same time as Daniel and his friends, and all were made eunuchs.
It would be another ten and one half years before the city of Jerusalem and the temple was destroyed in 523 BC. This is how it is understood that Mordecai was not only taken prisoner but also made a eunuch. Est. 2:11, “And every day Mordecai paced in front of the court of the women’s quarters, to learn of Esther’s welfare and what was happening to her.” As already pointed out it should be clear that only a eunuch would be allowed in the court that fronted the woman’s quarters which was a part of the palace.
The sixth and last of the men to be looked at in this special position, which singled them out as eunuchs, would be Nehemiah. As the cup bearer, he would have been responsible for testing the king’s wine before serving it to him, ensuring that it was free of poison. Because of the close relationship to the king he would have resided in the palace, requiring him to be a eunuch. An important date is revealed in Nehemiah 2:8, being the declaration to rebuild Jerusalem in 454 BC, 69 years after its destruction. “And a letter to Asaph the keeper of the kings forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the palace which appertained to the house, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall enter into. And the king granted them to me according to the good hand of my God upon me. “(KJV)
Another important aspect of a eunuch’s personality which showed their compliance to the king was the early age in their lives that these men were castrated, before the age of twelve, or before the onset of puberty. It should be noted that because of their full-time responsibility for running the everyday operation of the palace they exerted a great deal of influence on what took place within the palace and the realm. Many men, such as Nehemiah, were singled out because of their talents, and used in important positions of trust, which is also extent in New Testament times. Acts 8:27 shows this. “So he arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship.”
NINETY YEARS OF BIBLICAL HISTORY
The period of history that will be covered regarding these men is about ninety years, beginning with the reign of Nebuchadnezzar to the declaration to rebuild Jerusalem, and the year that the restoration work started on the city, and was completed. At the death of his father in 542 BC Nebuchadnezzar was crowned king. Jehoiachim died in 534 BC and Jehoiachin was made king of Judah and surrendered to Nebuchadnezzar shortly after he was made king.
During the third year of King Jehoiachim’s reign the father of Nebuchadnezzar died, causing him to leave the siege of Jerusalem and return to Babylon to be made king. When he returned he made Jehoiachim his vassal. This lasted three years. At the end of three years Jehoiachim rebelled. Nebuchadnezzar returns to Jerusalem and puts it under siege again, at which time Jehoiachin surrenders near the end of 534 BC.
At this time Nebuchadnezzar took the wealth of Jerusalem and a large number of prisoners. II Kings 24:13-14. “And he carried out from there all the treasures of the house of the Lord and the treasures of the kings’ house, and he cut in pieces all the articles of gold which Solomon king of Israel had made in the temple of the Lord, as the Lord had said. Also he carried into captivity all Jerusalem: all the captains and all the mighty men of valor, ten thousand captives and all the craftsmen and smiths. None remained except the poorest people of the land.”
As already shown Mordecai, Daniel and his three friends were all taken as prisoners at the same time and made eunuchs. The Bible does not reveal when or how Nehemiah was made a eunuch, but his position in the kingdom required that he be one. Beginning with Mordecai it is seen that he is among those returning to Jerusalem under the leadership of Nehemiah and Ezra. Neh 7:7. “Those who came with Zerubbabel were Jeshua, Nehemiah, Azariah, Raamiah, Nahamani, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispereth, Bigbia, Nehum, and Baanah.”
It is again seen in Ezra, chapter 2, verse 2 where the same men are listed.
HISTORY OF THE TIME SETTING
Starting with Mordecai being taken prisoner at about age 10, and then being castrated, plus the ten and one half years of the reign of Zedekiah, plus the seventy years that Jerusalem lay in desolation places his age at the time of his return at ninety and one half years, when he was about to travel to Jerusalem. It is obvious that if Mordecai was a fully grown man when taken prisoner his age would have been over 100, making him too old for him to travel the long overland distance from Sushan to Jerusalem. Esther 2:5 states that Mordecai is of the tribe of Benjamin but is called a Jew because he was from the nation of Judah, much like being called an American, which does not reflect our individual ethnicity.
Reading II Kings 24 it is seen that Nebuchadnezzar took to Babylon all of those of the ruling class, including the religious leaders and the skilled men with trades. This left the Meads with what would be called “the working class,” who were settled into their land. Those who ruled the nation of Judah were from two tribes; the tribe of Judah, the king and his nobles, and the tribe of Levi, the religious leaders. It is why God makes a point of saying that Mordecai was of the tribe of Benjamin, along with some captives who may have been of the tribe of Simeon. These men played no part in the rule of the country of Judea.
ESTHER BECOMES QUEEN
Using this background it can now be brought into focus the events that brought Esther to be Queen, allowing her to save her fellow Jews of the realm. Est. 2:7. “And Mordecai had brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther, his Uncle’s daughter, for she had neither father or mother. The young woman was lovely and beautiful. When her father and mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter.” This tells us that Esther was also a Benjamite.
For Mordecai to take on the responsibility of raising Esther he would have attained a somewhat important position in the palace as a eunuch, giving him the freedom of movement and the financial ability to raise a child, meaning that Esther would have been born after her parents were taken captive. The least amount of time necessary for Mordecai to achieve a status which would allow him to support Esther would be about 15 years, and more likely 20 years, setting his approximate age at 30 when he took on the responsibility of raising Esther.
The Daniel 9 prophecy timeline (attached at the end of this article) shows 534 BC as the date when Mordecai and his uncle were taken prisoners. 514 BC is an approximation of when Mordecai begins to raise Esther. The word “daughter” is Number 1323 in Strong’s, which is defined as “a female child in a household.”
Esther 2, verse 8 tells us: “So it was, when the king’s command and decree were heard, and when many young women were gathered at Shushan the citadel, under the custody of Hegai, that Esther also was taken to the king’s palace, into the care of Hegai, the custodian of the women.” It was about 501 BC.
WHY A NEW QUEEN?
The first chapter of Esther tells why the king was searching for a new queen to replace Vashti who refused the order of the king to come to his feast to show off her beauty. Est. 1:16-18. “And Memucan answered before the king and the princes: ‘Queen Vashti has not only wronged the king, but also all the princes, and all the people who are in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus. For the Queen’s behavior will become known to all women, so that they will despise their husbands in their eyes, when they report, king Ahasuerus commanded Queen Vashti to be brought in before him, but she did not come. This very day the noble ladies of Persia and Media will say to all the king’s officials that they had heard of the behavior of the queen. Thus there will be excessive contempt and wrath.’” Placing Persia first shows that the Meads Empire had already undergone the change with the Persian rule under Cyrus, meaning that the young king Ahasuerus was serving at the pleasure of Cyrus, making him an ally. As the ruler of 127 provinces he would be an important and powerful ally.
ESTHER AS A PERSON
As Esther grew up she would have been a familiar visitor to the palace, therefore already being recognized as beautiful she was taken under the control of Hegai, a eunuch. Est. 2:9. “Now the young woman pleased him, and she obtained his favor, so he readily gave beauty preparations to her besides her allowance. Then seven choice maid servants were provided for her from the king’s palace, and he moved her and her maid servants to the best place in the house of the women.“
It shows that not only because of Esther’s beauty, but as an adopted daughter of one of their own, Hegai, the eunuch in charge of the women gave her preferential treatment. In addition, Esther’s pleasing personality became obvious by her compliant actions which are shown in Est. 2:15. “Now when the turn came for Esther, the daughter of Abihail, the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her as his daughter, to go into the king, she requested nothing but what Hegai, the king’s eunuch, the custodian of the women, advised. And Esther obtained favor in the sight of all who saw her.”
Her beauty was not more outstanding then that of the other young women, but the difference was one of modesty, cooperation and the knowledge of knowing when others had more understanding of how things were done in the palace. That was the defining difference between Esther and Queen Vashti which the king recognized, causing his attitude toward Esther to be one of admiration and love. Est. 2:16-17. “So Esther was taken to the King Ahasurus, into his royal palace in the tenth month, which is the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign. The king loved Esther more than all the other women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins; so he set the royal crown upon her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.” This was approximately 500 BC.
THE NEED FOR A QUEEN
Note that the main reason a woman would be made queen was not to satisfy the king’s desires, but to provide the king with a male offspring to continue his line, and this is why a new queen was absolutely necessary. In this case that offspring came from Esther, found in the Book of Nehemiah, chapter 2, verse 6, which is explained under the heading ESTHER’S SON.
The chapter concludes with Mordecai’s discovery of a plot to kill the king, which he tells to Esther, who in turn tells the king, saving his life. Chapter three opens with Mordecai refusing to bow to Haman, the Agagite, the king’s right hand man. Est. 3:1-2. “After these things King Ahasuerus promoted Haman, the son of Hammedapha the Agagite, and advanced him and set his seat above all the princes who were with him. And all the kings servants who were within the kings gate bowed and paid homage to Haman, for so the king commanded concerning him. But Mordecai would not bow or pay homage.”
In Brown – Driver – Briggs, under Strong’s #91, the word “Agagite” is equal to “Amalekite.” In Exodus 17, verse 16 we read, “For he said ‘Because the Lord has sworn the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.” This is about what is going to take place in the later chapters of the book of Esther. It was not because of pride that Mordecai refused to bow to Haman, but because of his belief in God’s Word.
To understand how this came about, it was Haman’s expectation of homage from the population, it is necessary to know that Mordecai would not bow down to Haman, giving him homage. This was a bow of worship, and was the reason Mordecai would not comply. The word is used in II Chron. 29:29. “And when they had finished offering, the king and all who were present with him bowed, (Number 3766,) and worshipped.” Strong’s number for this word is 3766, and is the same word that is used to define the bow Mordecai was to make to Haman. THE THEOLOGICAL WORDBOOK OF THE OLD TESTAMENT, on page 456 gives the following: “This apparently is the connotation of the word as used for the posture of worship. It does not mean to fall prostrate on the ground; it means to fall on the knees and bow in worship.”
The type of bowing Haman was requiring explains why Mordecai was not going to comply and break the second commandment. Ex. 20:5. “You shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate me.”
HAMAN PLANS REVENGE
In Esther 3, verses 5 through 6 it is seen that Haman plans to take revenge. Not just on Mordecai for not bowing to him, but on all Jews of the nation, showing his Amalekite origin and his desire to destroy Israel. “When Haman saw that Mordecai did not bow to pay him homage, Haman was filled with wrath. But he disdained to lay hands on Mordecai alone, for they had told him of the people of Mordecai. Instead Haman sought to destroy all the Jews who were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus – the people of Mordecai.” Haman’s plan would be carried out by having the king make a decree, for which he paid ten thousand talents of silver into the king’s treasury as shown in Esther 3, verse 9.
The time of this event is set in Est. 3:7 – “the twelfth year of King Ahasuerus.” He made Esther his queen in the fifth year of their marriage in 494 BC.
REASON FOR THE FAST
In chapter 4 Mordecai reveals Haman’s plan to Esther, making it plain to her that she and the other Jews will suffer the death penalty. In Est. 4:15-17 she shows her strength of character and her belief that through fasting and prayer God hears and will intercede and save her and the Jews of the nation. Not eating or drinking for three nights and days would do nothing but weaken an individual’s strength, unless the fasting was to move God to save the Jews of the land. That is why she called for the fast. Her faith in God is made plain by the fact that she is willing to fast to obtain the salvation of the Jews.
On the concluding day of the fast Esther went into the inner court of the palace to await the call from the king, where she places her life in the hands of God. He will move the king to call her or she will die. The king is happy to call Esther, and as she touches the top of his scepter it shows her submission to the king. He is so moved by this that he offers her any gift she desires, up to one half of the kingdom. The king has every reason to be happy with Esther as she is a submissive partner, fulfilling the most important role of a queen. She has given him a son – the first requirement of a queen, and is shown in Nehemiah 2:6.
From this point on God’s hand is made plain. In the 6th chapter of Esther it says that the king spends a restless night in which God causes him to recognize Mordecai’s service, and Haman, the enemy of Mordecai is called on to determine what honor would be bestowed on Mordecai. Haman, thinking the honor was his, set high terms of the reward. However the honor was to Mordecai, not to Haman, which is explained in Est. 6:7-10. “And Haman answered the king, ‘For the man whom the king delights to honor, let a royal robe be brought which the king has worn, and a horse on which the king has ridden, which has a royal crest placed on its head. Then let this robe and horse be delivered to the hand of one of the king’s most noble princes that he may array the man whom the king delights to honor. Then parade him on horseback through the city square, and proclaim before him: ‘Thus it shall be done to the man whom the king delights to honor!’” The honor that Haman secretly desired was given to his enemy, with the added humiliation of having Haman carry out his own instructions to honor Mordecai.
WHY GOD SAVED SOME
Continuing with the story of Esther, it is seen that God uses two God-fearing individuals to save the Jews who lived in that kingdom. Ezekiel 9 shows that God explains to Ezekiel that he will save some of the people of Jerusalem. It is those “who sigh and cry for all the abominations that are done within it.” How would God save them? It was by taking them out of Jerusalem as prisoners by Nebuchadnezzar and his allies. The people of the Book of Esther were just some of those God had marked to be saved because they were God fearing people. In Est. 3:8 Haman tells what kind of people they were. “Then Haman said to King Ahasuerus, ‘there is a certain people scattered and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of your kingdom; their laws are different from all other peoples and they do not keep the king’s laws. Therefore it is not fitting for the king to let them remain.’”
In Esther chapter 8 and verse 8 the tables are reversed. Mordechai is advanced to take on the power and authority that was once Haman’s. “You yourselves write a decree concerning the Jews, as you please, in the king’s name and seal it with the king’s signet ring, for whatever is written in the king’s name and sealed with the king’s signet ring no one can revoke.” This is how God instituted war on the Amorites.
Rom. 8:31-33. “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.”
BABYLONIAN EMPIRE ENDS - THE PERSIAN EMPIRE BEGINS
In Daniel 5, verse 30 the city of Babylon falls, bringing that empire to an end. In Dan. 5:31 another fact is seen that appears to have no immediate relevance to what has happened. “And Darius the Mead received the kingdom being about 62 years old.” It is interesting, that by itself this would be useless information. It is up to the reader to bring to light the reason for the above statement.
To understand the importance of this scripture it must be known that a change in the Medio-Persian Empire took place when the Persian king, Cyrus secured the leadership of the Meads, making the empire into what is now called The Persian Empire. Quoting from the Encyclopedia Britannica – 13th edition: “It was the sixth year of Nabonidus (540 BC) – or perhaps in 553 – that Cyrus ‘king of Anshan’ in Elam, revolted against his suzerain Astyages, king of the ‘the Manda’ or Scythians, at Ecbatana. The army of Astyages betrayed him to his enemy, and Cyrus established himself at Ecbatana, thus putting an end to the empire of the Scythians.” As already noted, in the first chapter of the Book of Esther, this change had already taken place with the installation of Ahasuerus as king of the southern portion of the kingdom.
Later Cyrus goes on to attack the Babylonian empire. A major battle occurs as shown in the 13th edition of Encyclopedia Britannica. “Three years later it is found that Cyrus is king of Persia and is engaged in a campaign in the north of Mesopotamia. In 530 BC Cyrus invaded Babylonia. A battle was fought at Opis in the month of June, in which the Babylonians were defeated.” Note: These dates are from secular history, not Biblical. For the Biblical dates see the attached Timeline.
At the end of the time of the Babylonian Empire the order of power in the empire is made clear in Dan. 5:7, stating that Belshazzar can only give a reward to the one who reveals the writing on the wall to rule as the third man of power. This makes it plain that Nabonidus is still alive and battling Cyrus at this time.
Dan. 5:30-31. “That very night Belshazzar, king of the Chaldeans was slain. And Darius the Mead received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old.” This brings to a close the Babylonian Empire, and the point at which the Persian’s take on the biblical understanding of the world ruling empire, bringing about the building of the second temple and the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem.
The Bible does not address this piece of history, but does address the fall of the city of Babylon, which ends the empire. Cyrus sent his ally Darius, the Mead, against the city of Babylon to prevent any aid to reinforce Nabonidus at Sippara. Does the bible point to a strong ally of Cyrus? This ally is the Midian king, Ahasuerus, who also carries the title of Darius; they are one and the same. Another point is that Ahasuerus of the Book of Esther has 127 provinces under his control: the southern part of the Persian Empire. As Darius he has 120 provinces. Where are the seven missing provinces? They are now under the control of his son, Artaxerxes who controls the area from Shushan to Jerusalem. This is made clear by the letters given to Nehemiah for his safe passage through these areas on his way to restore the wall of Jerusalem. Neh. 2:7. “Furthermore I said to the king, ‘If it please the king, let letters be given to me for the governors of the region beyond the river, that they must permit me to pass through till I come to Judah…..”
To bring clarity to what appears as an indiscernible combination of names and years of kings, a point that needs explaining would be the names, or what is commonly thought of as names, being applied to these kings.
Beginning with the name Ahasuerus, which carries the meaning “the venerable king,” shows that this is a title.
God names three Gentile rulers who He used to accomplish this end. However, the three names represent just two men as already pointed out. The names used here are not sur names, but are appellative, meaning they are titles such as Pharaoh, Czar, etc. In the Books of Daniel and Ezra, there is Darius – the Maintainer. Ahasuerus – the Venerable King of the Book of Esther, and Artaxerxes – the Great King of the Book of Nehemiah. At this point Artaxerxes in the Book of Nehemiah has not been addressed.
Artaxerxes identity is made clear in Neh. 2:6. “Then the king said to me (the queen also sitting beside him), ‘How long will your journey be? And when will you return?’ So it pleased the king to send me and I set him a time.” Again God makes a parenthetical statement noting that the queen is present and He is pointing out an important fact which needs to be investigated.
Doctor Bullinger, in The Companion Bible, makes sense of verse 6 with this comment. “The queen equals wife, and occurs only here and in Psalm 45:9, Daniel 5:2, 3, 23. Not a Hebrew word, but borrowed from the Akkavian sha equals a bride, and gal equals great: used as a foreign queen. Here it would exactly suit ‘the great bride’ or ‘foreign (Jewish) queen,’ Esther. Esther is introduced here (parenthetically) because of her sympathy and interest, which Nehemiah so greatly needed at this juncture, as Mordechai had needed it before (Esther 4:14).” Jamison, Fausset and Brown make a similar statement about this queen. By this it is seen that Artaxerxes is the son and heir of Ahasuerus.
DEFINING DATES AND THE DANIEL 9 PROPHECY
There is a group of dates that are biblically confirmed which cover the time of destruction of the third temple in 70 AD, the one that Herod built to replace the second temple. It is important to understand that John 2:20 is saying that the crucifixion year is established as 30 AD. The article JOHN 2:20 – A PROOF SCRIPTURE explains this. Adding the 40 years to 30 AD that God gave the nation of Judah to repent gives the number 70 AD for its destruction. God gave them 40 years to repent. They did not.
By determining the 69 weeks of the 70 week prophecy of Daniel 9, using 30 AD as the starting point, it gives 69 x 7, equaling 483 years. In the 70 week prophecy of Daniel 9, the first 69 weeks of years makes it to the death of the Messiah, which is shown to be 30 AD. The correct BC year is figured by subtracting the 29 AD years, resulting in the BC year of 454 – the year that Artaxerxes in Nehemiah 2 made the declaration to rebuild Jerusalem. Read the article THE DESTRUCTION OF SOLOMON’S TEMPLE DATED.
The impetus for the work to begin on the restoration of Jerusalem came from Nehemiah, setting in motion the answer to two prophecies. One was the declaration to rebuild Jerusalem; the other in II Chron. 36:21. “…….to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths. As long as she lay desolate she kept Sabbaths to fulfill seventy years.” The city of Jerusalem shall lie in ruins – resting for seventy years.
In the year of the declaration to rebuild Jerusalem, Nehemiah laid the groundwork for the safe passage of those returning to Jerusalem. His time was spent gathering and preparing for the transport of the materials needed for the restoration of a functioning city. This is seen by reading Neh. 2:7-9. The work on the wall was the first thing to be accomplished as shown in Neh. 2:11-18. Without the safe travel of the expedition being assured the departure would not go forward.
In addition to the gathering of material for the building he prepared the way for their safe travel by sending letters to the governors of the areas they would be passing through.
In Neh. 6:15 it is seen that the work on the wall was completed. “So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of Elul, in fifth-two days.” This work had begun on Sunday, the third of Ab, which was the first work day of the week. It was finished on the 25th day of Elul, the sixth month; a Wednesday.
The year that followed the declaration is when the gaps in the Jerusalem wall were closed – 453 BC - bringing to an end the 70 year prophecy of Jeremiah that Jerusalem would lay waste for 70 years. The year that Jerusalem and the first temple were destroyed is 453 BC plus 70 years, equaling 523 BC, the year of Jerusalem’s destruction.
Added to this date is the eleven year reign of Zedekiah, plus the eleven year reign of Johaichim, which is the beginning point of this timeline. Twenty-two years added to 523 equals 545 BC, the starting point. It is the basic timeframe as shown in the attached timeline. Dates have been added to this timeline as each piece of historic information is explained. Thus the timeline grows as each biblical date is added giving the reader a clearer picture of the history of that period.
THE IMPORTANCE OF 70 YEARS
For some unexplained reason Bible Chronologists and Commentaries ignore the prophecies of Jeremiah, which state that Jerusalem would lay in waste for seventy years. II Chron. 36:21. “To fulfill the words of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths. As long as she lay desolate she kept the Sabbath to fulfill seventy years.” Dan. 9:2. “In the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of years specified by the word of the Lord through Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.”
In II Kings 25, verse 8 the date is found when Jerusalem becomes desolate. “And in the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month (which was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon.) Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, a servant of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem.” This would have been in the eleventh year of the reign of King Zedekiah, the last king of the nation of Judah as this article and the accompanying timeline make clear by using the seventy year prophecy.
Beginning with the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, which lasted 44 years, and ending with his death in II Kings 25:27. “Now it came to pass in the thirty-seventh year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the 27th day of the month that evil Merodach king of Babylon, in the year that he began to reign, released Jehoiachin, king of Judah from prison.” In “the thirty-seventh year” means that he spent 36 years as a prisoner. Jehoiachin was taken prisoner at the end of the last year of Jehoiachim’s reign of eleven years. Nebuchadnezzar began to reign in Jehoiachim’s fourth year. The last year of Jehoiachim’s reign plus the 36 years of captivity equals forty-four years.
The seventy years of Babylonian rule began with the servitude of Judah. The dates are determined from the time that Nebuchadnezzar took prisoners from Jerusalem who became permanent slaves; not to be confused with Jehoiachim’s servitude he was put under in the fourth year of his reign. The servitude was broken when he rebelled. This period that Jeremiah speaks of began at the end of Jehoiachim’s reign when it became an unbroken line of slavery lasting 70 years.
The seventy years of Babylonian power stated in Jeremiah 25:11 began at the same time that Nebuchadnezzar took the slaves, along with Jehoiachin as prisoner: 534 BC plus 70 equals 464 BC. The power of the Babylonian empire came to an end in 464 BC per Daniel 5, verse 30.
Now it is time to look at the dates for the rebuilding of Jerusalem, typified by the finishing of the wall, and the laying of the foundation for the second temple and its completion. The correct date of 454 BC for the declaration to rebuild has been given under the heading DEFINING DATES on page 8.
THE ROLES OF NEHEMIAH AND EZRA
It is important to understand that the books of Ezra and Nehemiah cover two events happening over the same period of time. First are the physical restoration of Jerusalem and the political administration under Nehemiah which was at the same time of the restoration of the religious life of those returning to Jerusalem under Ezra. Some think these were two separate groups that came to Jerusalem; one under Ezra and one under Nehemiah. By carefully checking both registers of the families who came to Jerusalem it shows that they are one and the same. There is an additional proof of two scriptures. Nehemiah 7:66 points to the exact same total of immigrants as Ezra 2:64 – 42,360 people.
Nehemiah, who was a eunuch, was responsible for the governmental aspect, separating him from the religious administration of Ezra. As a eunuch he could not serve in any religious function. Lev. 21:20. “……Or is a hunchback or is a dwarf, or a man who has a defect in his eye or eczema or scab, or is a eunuch.” Deut. 23:1. “He who is emasculated by crushing or mutilation shall not enter the assembly of the Lord.”
Ezra was responsible for the restoration of the religious life of the people. In Ezra 7, verse 1 it is found that it was Artaxerxes who also sent Ezra with Nehemiah to Jerusalem. Artaxerxes was called the King of Persia when this happened. Ezra 7:1,6. “Now after these things in the reign of Artaxerxes, King of Persia, Ezra the son of Seraiah, the son of Azariah, the son of Hilkiah, the son of Shallum, the son of Zadok, the son of Ahitub…………”
Verse 6: “This Ezra came up from Babylon; and he was a skilled scribe in the Law of Moses, which the Lord God of Israel had given. The king granted him all his requests, according to the hand of the Lord his God upon him.”
As already noted the Nehemiah and Ezra groups were one group, sent to Jerusalem at the same time. They were sent under the authorization of Artaxerxes which assured their safe passage. At this time Artaxerxes was called the King of Persia because of the change from the Medo-Persian to the Persian Empire under the rule of Cyrus. This group was for the purpose of accomplishing two things; restoring the city of Jerusalem by completing the protective wall and building the temple that Cyrus had authorized.
As noted in Nehemiah, the king Artaxerxes arranged for the safe passage to Jerusalem. It was through Ezra that this safe passage was put into God’s hands; the only one who could guarantee a safe passage. Ezra held a three day fast before leaving for Jerusalem. Why would he call for a three day fast?
Esther had also held a three day fast before going before the king. Ez. 8:21, 23. Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river of Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from Him the right way for us and our little ones and our possessions. So we fasted and entreated our God for this, and He answered our prayer.” These are the only places in the Bible where a three day fast is mentioned.
It cannot be denied that Ezra would have known of the great salvation of the Jews because of Esther’s three day fast when Mordecai was part of those going to Jerusalem with Ezra. The three day fast relationship plainly shows that the Book of Esther is an integral part of the Bible. Reference Ezra 2:2. “Those who came with Zerubbabel were Jeshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai, Belshan, Mispar, Bigvai, Rehum, and Baanah. This same listing is found in Neh. 7:7.
Ezra 3:1. “And when the seventh month had come the children of Israel were in the cities, the people gathered together as one man to Jerusalem.” This is the beginning of the religious restoration in the first year, the seventh month – the Feast of Trumpets. Remember that the work of closing the gaps in the wall was completed in the sixth month of the same year.
It is seen in Ezra 3, verse 8 that the work on the temple is started in the second month of the second year of them coming to Jerusalem. However, the work was stopped after the foundation was completed. Ez. 3:10-11, 13. “When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests stood in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph with symbols, to praise the Lord, according to the ordinance of David King of Israel. And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord: ‘For He is good, for His mercy endures forever toward Israel.’ Then all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. Verse 13 – “So that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people, for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the sound was heard afar off.”
It was after this occasion that the opposition sent a letter to king Artaxerxes, pointing out the rebellious nature of the kings of Judah and their actions against Nebuchadnezzar. This caused the king to have second thoughts about the reconstruction and stopped the work. Speaking of the letter Ezra 4:8 says “Rehum the commander and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to King Artaxerxes in this fashion:”
The work of rebuilding did not begin again until Haggai urged the people to start the work in about the year 410 to 409 BC. Haggai 1:1 -2. “In the second year of King Darius, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, thus speaks the Lord of Hosts, saying: ‘This people says, the time has not come, the time that the Lord’s house should be built.’”
WORK ON TEMPLE AND WALL RESTARTED
Ezra 5:1-3. “Then the prophets Haggai and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophets, prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of God of Israel, who was over them. So Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak rose up and began to build the house of God which is in Jerusalem; and the prophets of God were with them, helping them.” At this time the opposition attempted again to stop the building of the temple. Verse 3 – “At the same time that Tattenai the governor of the region beyond the river and Shethar-Boznai and their companions came to them and spoke thus to them; 'who has commanded you to build this temple and finish this wall?’” The temple and the wall were worked on at the same time: the wall under the direction of Nehemiah – the temple under the direction Zerubbabel.
Ez. 5:5. “But the eye of their God was upon the elders of the Jews, so that they could not make them cease till a report could go to Darius. Then a written answer was returned concerning this matter.” This threat did not stop the builders: they forged ahead.
The Jews then sent a letter to Darius the King as shown in Ezra 5, verse 7. Darius was the king who replaced Artaxerxes. This Darius should not be confused with the Darius of Daniel 5:31 as this occurred about forty years later.
After the search of the records by the second Darius the truth was determined. Ez. 6:1-2. “Then King Darius issued a decree, and a search was made in the archives, where the treasures were stored in Babylon. And at Achmetha in the palace that is in the province Media, a scroll was found and in it a record was written thus: In the first year of King Cyrus, King Cyrus issued a decree concerning the House of God at Jerusalem: ‘Let the house be rebuilt, the place where they offered sacrifices, and let the foundations of it be firmly laid, its height 60 cubits and its width 60 cubits.’”
Achmetha was about 200 miles north of Shushan and Babylon, and its location is found under the name Ecleatana in the Atlas of Bible Lands by Barry J. Beitzel. This atlas points to the area that Cyrus ruled from. Dan. 6:28 reads: “So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius and in the reign of Cyrus, the Persian.” This proves that Daniel prospered during this simultaneous reign.
When the chosen of God act to do His will He will bring about an astonishing reversal of what was planned by those working against His people. There were two ultimate reversals that took place – one in the Book of Esther, where the planning by Haman to have Mordechai put to death along with his fellow Jews. When God saw the faith of Esther and Mordechai He turned the intended action of Haman to have Mordechai and his fellow Jews killed to the death of Haman and his clan.
Not only did God preserve Mordechai’s life, but promoted him to take the second in command of the kingdom, replacing Haman.
This can again be seen with the building of the temple, where the builders refused to stop when the opposition demanded it. This opposition sent a letter to King Darius to try to force them to stop building, but God caused their plan to be reversed. Instead of stopping the work the opposition was forced to supply money and more. Ezra 6:6-10. “Now therefore, Tattenai, governor of the region beyond the river, and Shethar-Boznai, and your companions the Persians who are beyond the river, keep yourselves far from there. Let the work of this house of God alone; let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews build this house of God on its site. Moreover I issue a decree as to what you shall do for the elders of these Jews, for the building of this house of God: Let the cost be paid at the king’s expense from taxes on the region beyond the river, this is to be given immediately to these men, so that they are not hindered. And whatever they need – young bulls, rams, and lambs for the burnt offerings of the God of Heaven, wheat, salt, wine, and oil, according to the request of the priests who are in Jerusalem. Let it be given them day by day without fail, that they may offer sacrifices of sweet aroma to the God of Heaven, and pray for the life of the king and his son.”
Ezra 6:15 shows the temple was completed. “Now the temple was finished on the third day of the month of Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius.”
Ps. 33:10 shows that stopping the work of rebuilding was not an option. “The Lord brings the counsel of nations to nothing; He makes the plan of the people of no effect.”
EFFORT BRINGS BLESSINGS
There is an important lesson to be learned here that applies without any exception. God will not prosper a person or group without first seeing an effort put forth by them. This does not apply to just large projects but to individuals in their everyday life. The project begins and God blesses it and the person. It is also true about the study of scripture – it is not opened to understanding without putting forth effort.
It has been pointed out on page 9 how the first sixty-nine weeks of the Daniel 9 prophecy is figured in the passage of years, but to what do those years apply? The first seven weeks of years is about the city of Jerusalem and its restoration. It is not about the timing to build the second temple, although it takes place during this same time period. It is clear that the temple could not stand without the protection provided by the restored city of Jerusalem and the wall protecting it and the temple.
Dan. 9:25 reads, “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until the Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; the street (designating an open area before the temple where people could be instructed.) shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times.” Reference II Kings 23:2 as an example.
What was Nehemiah’s charter? What did he request of the king? It was to restore the city of Jerusalem by the construction of the protective wall. Neh. 2:8. “And a letter unto Asaph the keeper of the king’s forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gate of the palace which appertained to the house and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall enter into. And the king granted me, according to the good hand of my God upon me.” (NKV)
It is seen that Nehemiah completes the job he set out to do in Chapter 12 and verse 27. “Now at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought out the Levites in their place, to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with gladness, both with thanksgiving and singing, with cymbals and stringed instruments with harps.” Then verse 30 says: “Then the priests and Levites purified themselves, and purified the people, the gates and the wall.” This was a great celebration.
With this celebration the work of the eunuchs was completed, bringing it to the year 405 BC which was the year prophesied in Daniel 9, verse 25.
March 7, 2023