Esther 4; Ezra 8

Esther Agrees to Help the Jews

When Mordecai learned all that had been done, Mordecai tore his clothes oand put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and he cried out with a loud and bitter cry. He went up to the entrance of the king's gate, for no one was allowed to enter the king's gate clothed in sackcloth. And in every province, wherever the king's command and his decree reached, there was great mourning among the Jews, pwith fasting and weeping and lamenting, and many of them qlay in sackcloth and ashes.

When Esther's young women and her eunuchs came and told her, the queen was deeply distressed. She sent garments to clothe Mordecai, so that he might take off his sackcloth, but he would not accept them. Then Esther called for Hathach, one of the king's eunuchs, who had been appointed to attend her, and ordered him to go to Mordecai to learn what this was and why it was. Hathach went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king's gate, and Mordecai told him all that had happened to him, rand the exact sum of money that Haman had promised to pay into the king's treasuries for the destruction of the Jews. Mordecai also gave him sa copy of the written decree issued in Susa for their destruction,1 that he might show it to Esther and explain it to her and command her to go to the king to beg his favor and plead with him2 on behalf of her people. And Hathach went and told Esther what Mordecai had said. 10 Then Esther spoke to Hathach and commanded him to go to Mordecai and say, 11 All the king's servants and the people of the king's provinces know that if any man or woman goes to the king inside tthe inner court without being called, uthere is but one lawto be put to death, except the one vto whom the king holds out the golden scepter so that he may live. But as for me, I have not been called to come in to the king these thirty days.

12 And they told Mordecai what Esther had said. 13 Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, Do not think to yourself that in the king's palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. 14 For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this? 15 Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, 16 Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for wthree days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, xand if I perish, I perish.3 17 Mordecai then went away and did everything as Esther had ordered him.


Genealogy of Those Who Returned with Ezra

These are the heads of their fathers' houses, and this is the genealogy of those who went up with me from Babylonia, in the reign of Artaxerxes the king: Of the sons of Phinehas, Gershom. Of the sons of uIthamar, Daniel. Of the sons of David, vHattush. Of the sons of Shecaniah, who was of the sons of wParosh, Zechariah, with whom were registered 150 men. xOf the sons of Pahath-moab, Eliehoenai the son of Zerahiah, and with him 200 men. Of the sons of Zattu,1 Shecaniah the son of Jahaziel, and with him 300 men. Of the sons of Adin, Ebed the son of Jonathan, and with him 50 men. Of the sons of Elam, Jeshaiah the son of Athaliah, and with him 70 men. Of the sons of Shephatiah, Zebadiah the son of Michael, and with him 80 men. Of the sons of Joab, Obadiah the son of Jehiel, and with him 218 men. 10 Of the sons of Bani,2 Shelomith the son of Josiphiah, and with him 160 men. 11 yOf the sons of Bebai, Zechariah, the son of Bebai, and with him 28 men. 12 Of the sons of Azgad, Johanan the son of Hakkatan, and with him 110 men. 13 Of the sons of Adonikam, those who came later, their names being Eliphelet, Jeuel, and Shemaiah, and with them 60 men. 14 Of the sons of Bigvai, Uthai and Zaccur, and with them 70 men.

Ezra Sends for Levites

15 I gathered them to the river that runs to zAhava, and there we camped three days. As I reviewed the people and the priests, I found there anone of the sons of Levi. 16 Then I sent for Eliezer, Ariel, Shemaiah, Elnathan, Jarib, Elnathan, Nathan, Zechariah, and bMeshullam, leading men, and for Joiarib and Elnathan, who were men of insight, 17 and sent them to Iddo, the leading man at the place Casiphia, telling them what to say to Iddo and his brothers and3 the temple servants at the place Casiphia, namely, to send us ministers for the house of our God. 18 And cby the good hand of our God on us, they brought us a man of discretion, of the sons of dMahli the son of Levi, son of Israel, namely Sherebiah with his sons and kinsmen, 18; 19 also eHashabiah, and with him Jeshaiah of fthe sons of Merari, with his kinsmen and their sons, 20; 20 gbesides 220 of the temple servants, whom David and his officials had set apart to attend the Levites. These were all hmentioned by name.

Fasting and Prayer for Protection

21 iThen I proclaimed a fast there, at the river jAhava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, kto seek from him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our goods. 22 For I was ashamed to ask the king for a band of soldiers and horsemen to protect us against the enemy on our way, since we had told the king, lThe hand of our God is for good on mall who seek him, and the power of his wrath is against all who forsake him. 23 So we fasted and implored our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty.

Priests to Guard Offerings

24 Then I set apart twelve of the leading priests: eSherebiah, eHashabiah, and ten of their kinsmen with them. 25 And I weighed out to them the nsilver and the gold and the vessels, the offering for the house of our God that the king and his ocounselors and his lords and all Israel there present had offered. 26 pI weighed out into their hand 650 talents4 of silver, and silver vessels worth 200 talents,5 and 100 talents of gold, 27 20 bowls of gold worth 1,000 darics,6 and two vessels of fine bright bronze as precious as gold. 28 And I said to them, qYou are holy to the Lord, and rthe vessels are holy, and the silver and the gold are a freewill offering to the Lord, the God of your fathers. 29 Guard them and keep them until you weigh them before the chief priests and the Levites and the heads of fathers' houses in Israel at Jerusalem, swithin the chambers of the house of the Lord. 30 So the priests and the Levites ptook over the weight of the silver and the gold and the vessels, to bring them to Jerusalem, to the house of our God.

31 Then we departed from the river Ahava ton the twelfth day of the first month, to go to Jerusalem. uThe hand of our God was on us, and he delivered us from the hand of the enemy and from ambushes by the way. 32 vWe came to Jerusalem, and there we remained three days. 33 On the fourth day, within the house of our God, the silver and the gold and the vessels were wweighed into the hands of xMeremoth the priest, son of Uriah, and with him was Eleazar the son of Phinehas, and with them were the Levites, yJozabad the son of Jeshua and Noadiah the son of zBinnui. 34 The whole was counted and weighed, and the weight of everything was recorded.

35 At that time athose who had come from captivity, the returned exiles, offered burnt offerings to the God of Israel, btwelve bulls for all Israel, ninety-six rams, seventy-seven lambs, and as a sin offering twelve male goats. All this was a burnt offering to the Lord. 36 cThey also delivered the king's commissions to the king's dsatraps7 and to the governors of the province Beyond the River, and they aided the people and the house of God.