Jerusalem Bound! continues the story of the wise man Daniel’s household journeying from Babylon to restore the Temple of Yahweh, prompted by the prophets Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. Ezra the priest leads a group of exiles to Judah, and then instructs the people how to live. Later King Artaxerxes allows his cupbearer, Nehemiah, to restore the Jerusalem wall to the consternation of his enemies. More
The historical fiction trilogy Grace in Exile features the biblical characters Esther, Daniel, Ezra, and Nehemiah, who rise to prominence during the rule of the Persian kings Cyrus, Xerxes, and Artaxerxes. The protagonists learn to trust in Yahweh’s loving-kindness while staying true to the God of Israel during harrowing times in Esther’s Song, Babylon: Center of the World, and Jerusalem Bound!
A messenger warns Seth that King Darius is headed toward Babylon to exterminate a usurper and his collaborators. Seth was already agitated over an offer from his employers at the banking house to join a trading caravan headed toward the Beyond the River province ahead of the Persians to try to salvage some profit before he arrived. During lunch his friend Gimillu and housekeeper Deborah inform him that he will not go alone. They and five other household members had determined to go up to Jerusalem to rebuild Yahweh’s temple given the chance. The scribe informs Egbi and Sons he will be accompanied by four men and three women, whose transport he will of course pay for. They agree if the caravan chief allows it. Soon the arrangements are made, and Seth’s group and the merchandize are loaded onto the camels for a hasty southwesterly trek off the highway into the relative safety of the wilderness. After selling all their goods, Seth’s group breaks off from the caravan to take the shorter but perilous route from Jericho up to the city of their God. The housemaid Abigail tearfully reveals to her husband that she is with child. His joy mitigates the desolate, broken-down condition of the city lying before them.
Seth becomes Governor Zerubbabel’s assistant and eventually marries his granddaughter. The prophet Haggai delivers a call to build God’s house and return of his glory, which stirs the governor and high priest to direct the restoration work. The prophet Zechariah also calls for a return to Yahweh. The people have begun work on the temple in earnest, when the governor of Beyond the River, arrives. He questions their loyalty and authorization to rebuild it. King Darius confirms their right to restore God’s house, whose dedication is celebrated with great joy by the people of Israel including a recently circumcised Gimillu.
Many years later, Artaxerxes commissions Ezra to instruct the Jews in the law of Moses. The scribe-priest leads a large group of exiles from Babylon to Jerusalem carrying treasure for Yahweh temple without royal protection due to his trust in God and the people’s prayers. Ezra builds up the scroll and tablets brought by the wise man Daniel’s library by his adopted son Seth. Over a decade later Nehemiah, cupbearer to Artaxerxes, learns of the distressing condition of the remnant that survived the exile and the broken down wall of Jerusalem with its burnt out gates from his brother Hanani. For some time he mourned, fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven, before he wears a sad face before the king. When he gives his explanation, the king sends Nehemiah to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall and makes his governor of Judah. Defying his enemies, Nehemiah oversees the rebuilding of the city wall in an amazingly short time. The dedication is a festive occasion witnessed by his brother Hanani, his wife, and two sons, with Ezra going before the leaders of Judah up onto the top of the wall followed by two great choirs that proceeded in opposite directions giving thanks to God. The sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem reverberated across the surrounding countryside.
Over a decade later Nehemiah goes back to Susa, but soon leaves to implement new reforms. The prophet Malachi gives a series of sermons about Yahweh’s love, and corrects misunderstandings about his character and nature. Afterwards, Nehemiah recalls God’s loving-kindness to Queen Esther when she risked death to save the Jews from annihilation, and Daniel’s undying faith that the exiles would be restored to the land of their forefathers.
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