King Darius ordered a search for the original decree from Cyrus to rebuild the temple. It was located in the area where the Jews were exiled. In Ecbatana in the fortress, in the province of Media.
The original decree specified that the foundation of the temple was to be rebuilt as it had been before and it was to be paid for by the royal treasury.
All the utensils were to be returned.
Darius then instructs Tattenai and Shethar-Bozenai and their colleagues to keep away. He specifies that the taxes of the province beyond the River, the Euphrates, (Tattenai’s own province) were to used to fund the rebuilding.
But Darius wasn’t done. He also ordered them to provide daily offerings of animals, wheat, salt and wine, oil, all that was to be given to the Priests without fail, so that they may pray for the life of the King and his sons.
Darius was not Jewish, but he certainly held the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in high regard. This was, after all, the same King Darius that Daniel served. The same Darius that saw Daniel put in the lion’s den and come out unscathed. King Darius, along with Cyrus the Great before him, and Artaxerxes I after him, all believed in great tolerance when it came to other religions.
Verse 11 relates the extreme consequences that King Darius laid out for anyone who failed to uphold his decree. A timber from their own house was to be extracted and used to impale the person who violated the decree and his house was to be made a refuse heap. This would have not only cost the man his life but his family honor as well. The entire household would be shamed.
Tattenai was a fair governor as shown by his letter. He neither lied or embellished the facts when writing to King Darius.
They obeyed the decree and the temple was finished on the 3rd day of the month of Adar (the 12th month Feb/Mar) in the 6th year of King Darius.
Celebrations followed with a dedication of the house of God.
Verse 19 The Passover was observed on the 14th of the 1st month (Nisan Mar/Apr).
Those who ate the Passover:
- All exiles present
- All those who separated themselves from the impurity of the nations of the land, to see the Lord God of Israel
Then they celebrated the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
The Israelites weren’t hateful to outsiders who chose to learn about and accept their ways. They were a welcoming people, remembering how they were also strangers in the land. But they would not abide twisting the laws of God or evil practices.