ESL Lesson 23 – Rebuilding Jerusalem

Lesson 23

Rebuilding Jerusalem

Nehemiah 1, 2, 8 and 10


Daniel lived in Babylon for about seventy years.  Then one day he read the part of the Bible written by a prophet seventy years before.  In this part God said to the Jews, “I warned you not to worship other gods.  But you would not listen to Me.  So I will let the king of Babylon come and destroy your country.  He will take many of your people away from your land.  You will have to serve the king of Babylon for seventy years.” 


Then Daniel understood that God would soon bring the Jews back to their land and rebuild it.  So he prayed and asked God to forgive the Jews.  He asked God to help them rebuild the land God had given them. 


Daniel lived in a kingdom controlled by Medes and Persians.  He lived in the part that was ruled by Darius who was a Mede.  In another part of the kingdom, the Persian king Cyrus ruled.  Cyrus was an even greater king than Darius.  About two hundred years before, God had told a prophet that a man named Cyrus would help the Jews.  Cyrus would tell the Jews to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. 


The Jews had been away from their land for seventy years.  So God made King Cyrus want to let the Jews rebuild the temple.  Cyrus told the Jews that they could go back to Jerusalem to do this.   He also told his people to give the Jews silver and gold and other things.  The Jews would use the things to rebuild the temple.


Many of the Jews went back to the land.  The temple that Solomon built was destroyed.  The wall around the city was broken down.  There was a lot of work to do.  The work was hard.      


The Jews needed the wall to protect their city.  Enemies tried to stop them from rebuilding it.  But half of the Jewish workmen worked on the wall while the other half watched for enemies.  The Jews finished rebuilding the wall in fifty two days.


The temple was harder to rebuild.  Again, the Jews’ enemies tried to stop them.  For a while the Jews did stop building.  But after twenty years the people finally finished building the temple.  







half (n)



1.  After Daniel had lived in the land about 70 years, how did he know God would soon bring the Jews back to their land?

2.  Who was the Persian king?

3.  What did Cyrus want to do?

4.  What did he tell people to give to the Jews?

5.  When the Jews went back to the land, what did they see?

6.  What did the Jews do when the enemies tried to stop them from building the wall?

7.  How long did it take them to rebuild the wall?

8.  How long did it take them to rebuild the temple?


At that time only part of the Bible had been written.  The Jews called this part the Law.  In those days the Law had to be copied by hand.  It took many, many hours to make one copy of the Law.  So very few people had a copy of the law to read.  They had to come together in a large group to hear someone read the Law.  Jerusalem had been destroyed and many of the people had left the land for seventy years.  So many of the Jews had not heard the law for many years.


When the temple was finished, all the Jews came to listen to God’s Law.  Ezra read it to them.  Ezra was a priest.  He was also one of the people who copied the Law.


Ezra read God’s Law to the people from dawn until noon.  They listened very carefully.  Other men also read the law and explained it to the people. 


As the people listened to God’s word, they wept.  It had been so long since they had heard these words.  They had forgotten to do many things God had told them to do.  Ezra told the people, “Do not weep.  This is a time to celebrate.”


The people celebrated.  They had feasts and were very happy for seven days.  Every day they listened to Ezra read God’s law.


After that the Jews gathered together to tell God how sorry they were for their sins.  They did not eat.  They wore a poor quality clothing that showed they were very sorrowful.  They asked God to forgive their sins.  Then they wrote down an agreement that said they promised to follow God’s Law always.  All of the leaders signed the agreement.  


Since the time of the first Jew, Abraham, God had told His people to follow Him only.  He told them not to worship other gods.  Over the years the Jews disobeyed many times.  God had to punish them.  But after the Jews were forced to leave their land for seventy years, they learned their lesson.  They never worshipped other gods again. 


The Jews were sorry for turning away from God.  When God saw how sorry they were, He was very happy to forgive them.  He loved His people, the Jews, very much.  They loved Him, too.  That made God very happy. 







copy (v,n)

sorrowful (adj)

dawn (n)

sign (v)

celebrate (v)




 9.  Why didn’t most of the people own a copy of God’s Law?

10.  How long did Ezra read the Law to the people?

11.  Why did Ezra tell the people not to weep when they heard God’s words?

12.  What did all of the Jews agree to do?

13.  After the Jews returned to the land this time, did they ever worship other gods again?


To Think About

Long ago God promised Abraham that he would give Abraham many offspring.  He promised to give them a land to live in.  When the Jews disobeyed God and worshipped other gods, God had to punish them.  He made them leave their land.  But before they left it, God promised to bring them back to their land after seventy years.  He promised that a man named Cyrus would help the Jews rebuild the temple.


God kept his promises to the Jews.  He made Abraham a father when he was one hundred years old.  He gave him many offspring and a land to live in.  After the Jews lived in Babylon for seventy years, God made Cyrus let them go back to their land.  Cyrus told his people to give the Jews many things to build the temple.  (See Jeremiah 25:4-11 and Daniel 9:1,2.  Also see Isaiah 44:28 and Ezra 1:1-4)


God always keeps his promises.  He promises to forgive our sins when we are sorry and believe on Jesus.  The Jews were sorry for their sins.  God forgave them.  God wants to forgive us, too.