If Zerubbabel was his Hebrew name, he was “the One Sown of Babylon”; if a Babylonian name, “Seed of Babylon”. He is mentioned in 5 books of the Bible; his story is told in 3…
See Hag. 2:23; Zech. 4:8-10.
When the Persians conquered the Babylonians in 539BC (the Babyloniaans took Jerusalem in 586BC), the Persian king, Cyrus, gave the Jews exiled in Babylon permission to go back home… under his authority… and rebuild their temple.
I. The Decree (Ezra 1:1-4)
70 years after Judean captivity.
II. The Donations (Ezra 1:6-11; 2:68-70)
Many of the Jews who decided to stay in Babylon… but gave gold, silver and supplies for the journey.
King Cyrus gave back the valuable temple items Nebuchadnezzar had taken.
When the exiles finally get to Jerusalem, some people there will also give gold, silver, and robes for the priests.
III. The Dedicated (Ezra 1:5; 2:1-67)
Nearly 50,000 Jews went back, led by Zerubbabel… along with 736 horses, 245 mules, 435 camels, and 6,270 donkeys.
Sheshbazzar is mentioned as the one to whom all items and responsibility were entrusted… then he seems to disappear, and Zerubbabel is the prominent one. So, what happened to Sheshbazzar?
1) Are they the same person? or
2) Is Sheshbazzar actually Shenazzar, Zerubbabel’s uncle, mentioned in Chronicles… and probably died? or
3) Did Sheshbazzar begin the work and Zerubbabel finish it… possibly upon Sheshbazzar’s death?
Zerubbabel, who was the grandson of Jehoiachin and a descendant of King David, was the man chosen to lead the exiles back to the Promised Land. His name implied he belonged to Babylon, but he never did; he was always God’s man. In all the accounts of Zerubbabel, a high priest named Joshua/Jeshua is always mentioned with him… a sidekick.
It must have been a bittersweet journey; what would they find back at Jerusalem? It would not be as it was before. They would still be under Persian authority.
IV. The Determination (Ezra 3:1-9)
Zerubbabel could not restore Judah’s sovereignty, but he would try to restore their relationship with God.
– The altar was rebuilt (Ezra 3:1-3)
– The Feast of the Tabernacles was observed (Ezra 3:4-6)
– The Temple Construction began (Ezra 3:7-9)
V. The Dedication (Ezra 3:10-13)
Upon seeing the foundation of the new temple, there was singing by the young ones and sorrow by the old ones…
Rebuilding the Temple
I. Hindrances to the Project (Ezra 4:1-24)
– Tempted to Compromise (Ezra 4:1-3)
– Attempted Coercion (Ezra 4:4,5)
Zerubbabel bravely stood firm against a sham offer of help by their enemies, and discouragement by their enemies. When that failed, his enemies lobbied Cyrus’ successor, King Artaxerxes… who forced a halt on building.
II. Headway on the Project (Ezra 5:1–6:22)
For 12 years, those in Jerusalem, including Zerubbabel & Joshua, stared at the abandoned foundation… everyday… a constant reminder of their failure to finish what God had given them to do.
– The Prophets in Judah (Ezra 5:1,2)
It took the prophets Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi (especially the 1st two) to come alongside and challenge them to finish the work (Hag. 1:1-3).
– The Potentate in Persia (Ezra 5:3–6:22)
Darius was now king (Ezra 5:17; 6:3-5,8,11,12,15,16)
In just 4 years, the temple was finished!
So, who gets the credit for the rebuilt temple? King Cyrus of Persia? Zerubbabel? Joshua the priest? Haggai? Zechariah? Malachi? King Darius?
“‘This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.”‘ – Zech. 4:6
God gets the credit! God should ALWAYS get the credit!!
You can read Zerubbabel’s story in 1Chronicles 3:19; Ezra 1:1–6:22; Nehemiah 12:1; Haggai 1:1–2:23; Zechariah 1:1–8:23.