Ezra 3:10—How could the rebuilding have begun during the reign of Cyrus when Ezra 4:24 says it was in the reign of Darius I?
Problem: According to Ezra 3:8–13, the rebuilding of the temple began under the reign of Cyrus the Great (cf. Ezra 5:16), who reigned in Persia from about 559 to 530 b.c. However, Ezra 4:24 says the rebuilding of the temple took place during the reign of Darius, King of Persia, about 520 b.c. Also, Haggai 1:15 implies that the building of the temple did not begin until 520 b.c. How can these statements be reconciled?
Solution: The statements in Ezra 3:10 and 5:16 are references to laying the foundation, while Ezra 4:24 and Haggai 1:15 concern the resuming the rebuilding project after a long period of delay. Ezra 4:4 points out that as soon as the people of the land heard about the rebuilding project, they discouraged the people and frustrated their efforts throughout the reign of Cyrus. The project was abandoned for 16 years. At this point, God directed Haggai to prophesy to the people of Jerusalem to motivate them to begin the project again. This is referred to in Ezra 4:24. The rebuilding of the temple was resumed about 520 b.c. during the time of Darius and was completed in 516 b.c.
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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.