Ezra 6:11-12 provides terms of punishment for anyone who attempts to tear down the 2nd Temple :

[Ezra 6:11] "I also issue an order that whoever alters this decree shall have a beam removed from his house, and he shall be impaled on it and his house confiscated." (וּמִנִּי֮ שִׂ֣ים טְעֵם֒ דִּ֣י כׇל־אֱנָ֗שׁ דִּ֤י יְהַשְׁנֵא֙ פִּתְגָמָ֣א דְנָ֔ה יִתְנְסַ֥ח אָע֙ מִן־בַּיְתֵ֔הּ וּזְקִ֖יף יִתְמְחֵ֣א עֲלֹ֑הִי וּבַיְתֵ֛הּ נְוָל֥וּ יִתְעֲבֵ֖ד עַל־דְּנָֽה)
[Ezra 6:12] "And may the God who established His name there cause the downfall [of any king] or nation that undertakes to alter or damage that House of God in Jerusalem. I, Darius, have issued the decree; let it be carried out with dispatch." ( וֵֽאלָהָ֞א דִּ֣י שַׁכִּ֧ן שְׁמֵ֣הּ תַּמָּ֗ה יְמַגַּ֞ר כׇּל־מֶ֤לֶךְ וְעַם֙ דִּ֣י ׀ יִשְׁלַ֣ח יְדֵ֗הּ לְהַשְׁנָיָ֛ה לְחַבָּלָ֛ה בֵּית־אֱלָהָ֥א דֵ֖ךְ דִּ֣י בִירוּשְׁלֶ֑ם אֲנָ֤ה דָרְיָ֙וֶשׁ֙ שָׂ֣מֶת טְעֵ֔ם אׇסְפַּ֖רְנָא יִתְעֲבִֽד )

Were the orders of Ezra 6:11-12 regarding the protection of the 2nd Temple used against Jesus in Mark 14:58 (after Jesus declared the temple's destruction in Mark 13:2/John 2:19) ?

[Mark 14:58] “We heard Him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands.’ ”

2 Answers 2


Aramaic Bible in Plain English Ezra 6:11

And the law is set before me, that every man who will change this word, wood shall be torn out from his house and they shall make for him a cross and they shall crucify him upon it, and his house will be given for plunder because of this.

Barnes agrees with the above translation:

Being set up, let him be hanged thereon - Rather, "let him be lifted up and crucified upon it." Crucifixion was the most common form of capital punishment among the Persians.

Pulpit concurs:

The punishment has been explained as crucifixion, impalement, and "whipping at a post;" but there seems to be no real doubt that crucifixion is intended. Great criminals were almost always crucified by the Persians

This interpretation was likely known to the Pharisees. But did the Pharisees actually use Ezra 6:11-12 as support to crucify Jesus?

They had a few occasions to sound that support explicitly but they didn't. At least, it was not recorded in the gospels. Instead, we had a former Pharisee, Paul. He wrote in Galatians 3:13

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.”

Instead of alluding to Ezra, he cited Deuteronomy 21:23

you must not leave the body on the tree overnight, but you must be sure to bury him that day, because anyone who is hung on a tree is under God's curse.

Paul could have pointed out Ezra 6:11 but he didn't.


The decrees of Ezra were made by the Persian King Cyrus, not by God, nor even by the jews.

"In the first year of King Cyrus, the king issued a decree... " (Ezra 6.3)

Not even the Pharisees were foolish enough to interpret diplomatic threats made by a defeated heathen king of a destroyed gentile empire as somehow binding Law in the era of the Roman Empire. I mean, they weren't going around trying to enforce the other laws of the Persian empire during the time of the Romans.

  • Have you read Isaiah 45:1? " So said the Lord to His anointed one, to Cyrus (כֹּֽה־אָמַ֣ר יְהֹוָה֘ לִמְשִׁיחוֹ֘ לְכ֣וֹרֶשׁ)" - Cyrus' decrees were regarded as God-given. Commented Jul 19, 2021 at 19:06
  • Yes, he promises victory to Cyrus so that Cyrus may know that he is God. That does not make his decrees God given, as the same promises are given to many rulers. But you are not going to be able transmogrify that into a divine law that temples can't be destroyed, because God destroyed Solomon's Temple just as surely as he destroyed Herod's, and this destruction was planned from the beginning. The Temple was always a type and shadow of the true Temple, which is within man.
    – Robert
    Commented Jul 19, 2021 at 19:16
  • So Ezra 6:13 means the God of Israel only ordained the 2nd temple would be built, but not kept protected? - "they brought the building to completion under the aegis of the God of Israel and by the order of Cyrus and Darius and King Artaxerxes of Persia." Commented Jul 19, 2021 at 19:21
  • 1
    Correct, just as Solomon's Temple was built with God's help but not kept up forever. Just as Moses' physical body was protected, but not preserved forever. Just as the physical tabernacle was erected by God in the desert but not preserved forever. All things in the physical have a purpose to fulfill, and when it is fulfilled, they are destroyed. There is no difference between the human body or the tabernacle or Solomon's Temple or any other sensual thing in this regard. Something greater than the temple has come.
    – Robert
    Commented Jul 19, 2021 at 19:25

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