Wesley's Notes on the Bible
And when the seventh month was come, and the children of Israel were in the cities, the people gathered themselves together as one man to Jerusalem.
3:1 Seventh month - This was a sacred kind of month wherein there were divers festivals, for which the people had been preparing themselves, and now came to Jerusalem to the celebration of them.
Then stood up Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and his brethren, and builded the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings thereon, as it is written in the law of Moses the man of God.
3:2 Altar - Which was of more present necessity than the temple, both to make atonement to God for all their sins, and to obtain God's assistance for the building of the temple, and to strengthen their own hearts and hands in that great work.
And they set the altar upon his bases; for fear was upon them because of the people of those countries: and they offered burnt offerings thereon unto the LORD, even burnt offerings morning and evening.
3:3 For fear - So they made the more haste, lest they should be hindered. Apprehension of dangers should quicken us in our duty. Have we many enemies? We have the more need to have God for our friend and to keep up our correspondence with him.
They kept also the feast of tabernacles, as it is written, and offered the daily burnt offerings by number, according to the custom, as the duty of every day required;
3:4 Tabernacles - This seems to be mentioned for all the solemnities of this month, whereof this was the most eminent, otherwise it is not probable, that they would neglect the day of atonement which was so severely enjoined, Lev 23:27 - 29, and was so exceeding suitable to their present condition.
And afterward offered the continual burnt offering, both of the new moons, and of all the set feasts of the LORD that were consecrated, and of every one that willingly offered a freewill offering unto the LORD.
3:5 Offering - The morning and evening, sacrifice. The law required much; but they offered more; for tho' thy had little wealth, they had much zeal. Happy they that bring with them out of the furnace of affliction, such a holy heat as this!
From the first day of the seventh month began they to offer burnt offerings unto the LORD. But the foundation of the temple of the LORD was not yet laid.
3:6 Burnt - offerings - And the other sacrifices which were to be offered with them upon that day, being the feast of trumpets. Burnt - offerings are often put for all sacrifices.
They gave money also unto the masons, and to the carpenters; and meat, and drink, and oil, unto them of Zidon, and to them of Tyre, to bring cedar trees from Lebanon to the sea of Joppa, according to the grant that they had of Cyrus king of Persia.
Now in the second year of their coming unto the house of God at Jerusalem, in the second month, began Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and the remnant of their brethren the priests and the Levites, and all they that were come out of the captivity unto Jerusalem; and appointed the Levites, from twenty years old and upward, to set forward the work of the house of the LORD.
Then stood Jeshua with his sons and his brethren, Kadmiel and his sons, the sons of Judah, together, to set forward the workmen in the house of God: the sons of Henadad, with their sons and their brethren the Levites.
3:9 Joshua - Not the high - priest so called, but a Levite, of whom see chap.2:40. To set forward - To encourage them to a vigorous prosecution of the work.
And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, they set the priests in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites the sons of Asaph with cymbals, to praise the LORD, after the ordinance of David king of Israel.
And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the LORD; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid.
3:11 Sung - That everlasting hymn, which will never be out of date, and to which our tongue should never be out of tune, the burden of Psalm 136:1 - 26. Whatever our condition is, let it be owned, that God is good, and whatever fails, that his mercy fails not.
But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy:
3:12 Had seen - Which divers of them might well do; because it was destroyed not sixty years ago. Wept - Because of the poor preparations made for this, in comparison of what was made for the other temple: because this was destitute of those things which were the principal glory of the former temple, namely, the ark, and the Urim and Thummim; because these foundation - stones were far inferior to the former, both for quantity and price, 1Kings 7:9,10, and because these foundations were of a far narrower compass than the former: for although the foundations of this house of the Lord, strictly so called, were of equal largeness with those of the former, yet the foundations of the whole building belonging to the first temple, were far larger than these.
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 noise was heard afar off.
3:13 Could not discern - The mixture of sorrow and joy here, is a representation of this world. In heaven all are singing and none sighing; in hell all are wailing, and none rejoicing: but here on earth we can scarce discern the shouts of joy from the noise of the weeping, let us learn to rejoice with them that rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Meantime let us ourselves rejoice as though we rejoiced not, and weep as though we wept not.