Ezra 4:7–23; Ezra 7–8

The Letter to King Artaxerxes

In the days of Artaxerxes, Bishlam and oMithredath and Tabeel and the rest of their associates wrote to Artaxerxes king of Persia. The letter was written pin Aramaic and translated.1 Rehum the commander and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king as follows: Rehum the commander, Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their associates, the qjudges, the rgovernors, the officials, the Persians, the men of Erech, the Babylonians, the men of Susa, that is, the sElamites, 10 and the rest of the nations whom the great and noble tOsnappar deported and settled in the cities of Samaria and in the rest of the province Beyond the River. 11 (This is a copy of the letter that they sent.) To Artaxerxes the king: Your servants, the men of the province Beyond the River, send greeting. And now 12 be it known to the king that the Jews who came up from you to us have gone to Jerusalem. They are rebuilding that rebellious and wicked city. They are vfinishing the walls and repairing the foundations. 13 Now be it known to the king that if this city is rebuilt and the walls finished, they will not pay wtribute, custom, or toll, and the royal revenue will be impaired. 14 Now because we eat the salt of the palace2 and it is not fitting for us to witness the king's dishonor, therefore we send and inform the king, 15 in order that search may be made in the book of the records of your fathers. You will find in the book of the records and learn that this city is a rebellious city, hurtful to kings and provinces, and that sedition was stirred up in it from of old. That was why this city was laid waste. 16 We make known to the king that if this city is rebuilt and its walls finished, you will then have no possession in the province Beyond the River.

The King Orders the Work to Cease

17 The king sent an answer: To Rehum the commander and Shimshai the scribe and the rest of their associates who live in Samaria and in the rest of the province Beyond the River, greeting. And now 18 the letter that you sent to us has been xplainly read before me. 19 And I made a decree, and search has been made, and it has been found that this city from of old has risen against kings, and that rebellion and sedition have been made in it. 20 And mighty kings have been over Jerusalem, ywho ruled over the whole province Beyond the River, to whom ztribute, custom, and toll were paid. 21 Therefore make a decree that these men be made to cease, and that this city be not rebuilt, until a decree is made by me. 22 And take care not to be slack in this matter. Why should damage grow to the hurt of the king?

23 Then, when the copy of King Artaxerxes' letter was read before Rehum and Shimshai the scribe and their associates, they went in haste to the Jews at Jerusalem and by force and power made them cease.


Ezra Sent to Teach the People

Now after this, vin the reign of vArtaxerxes king of Persia, wEzra the son of Seraiah, son of Azariah, son of Hilkiah, son of Shallum, son of Zadok, son of Ahitub, son of Amariah, son of Azariah, son of Meraioth, son of Zerahiah, son of Uzzi, son of Bukki, son of Abishua, son of Phinehas, son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the chief priest this Ezra went up from Babylonia. He was a scribe xskilled in the Law of Moses that the Lord, the God of Israel, had given, and the king granted him all that he asked, yfor the hand of the Lord his God was on him.

And there went up also to Jerusalem, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king, some of the people of Israel, and zsome of the priests and aLevites, the singers and gatekeepers, and the temple bservants. And Ezra1 came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which was in the seventh year of the king. For on the first day of the first month he began to go up from Babylonia, and on the first day of the fifth month he came to Jerusalem, cfor the good hand of his God was on him. 10 For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it dand to eteach his statutes and rules in Israel.

11 This is a copy of the letter that King Artaxerxes gave to Ezra the priest, the scribe, a man learned in matters of the commandments of the Lord and his statutes for Israel: 12 Artaxerxes, fking of kings, to Ezra the priest, the gscribe of the Law of the God of heaven. Peace.2 hAnd now 13 iI make a decree that anyone of the people of Israel or their priests or Levites in my kingdom, who freely offers to go to Jerusalem, may go with you. 14 For you are sent by the king jand his seven counselors to make inquiries about Judah and Jerusalem according to the Law of your God, which is in your hand, 15 and also to carry the silver and gold that the king jand his counselors have freely offered to the God of Israel, kwhose dwelling is in Jerusalem, 16 lwith all the silver and gold that you shall find in the whole province of Babylonia, and mwith the freewill offerings of the people and the priests, vowed willingly for the house of their God that is in Jerusalem. 17 With this money, then, you shall with all diligence buy bulls, rams, and lambs, with their grain offerings and their drink offerings, and nyou shall offer them on the altar of the house of your God that is in Jerusalem. 18 Whatever seems good to you and your brothers to do with the rest of the silver and gold, you may do, according to the will of your God. 19 The vessels that have been given you for the service of the house of your God, you shall deliver before the God of Jerusalem. 20 And whatever else is required for the house of your God, which it falls to you to provide, you may provide it out of the king's treasury.

21 And I, Artaxerxes the king, make a decree to all the treasurers in the province Beyond the River: Whatever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the Law of the God of heaven, requires of you, let it be done with all diligence, 22 up to 100 talents3 of silver, 100 cors4 of wheat, 100 baths5 of wine, 100 baths of oil, and salt without prescribing how much. 23 Whatever is decreed by the God of heaven, let it be done in full for the house of the God of heaven, lest his wrath be against the realm of the king and his sons. 24 We also notify you that it shall not be lawful to impose otribute, custom, or toll on anyone of the priests, the Levites, the singers, the doorkeepers, the temple servants, or other servants of this house of God.

25 And you, Ezra, according to the wisdom of your God that is in your hand, pappoint magistrates and judges who may judge all the people in the province Beyond the River, all such as know the laws of your God. qAnd those who do not know them, you shall teach. 26 Whoever will not obey the law of your God and the law of the king, let judgment be strictly executed on him, whether for death or for banishment or for confiscation of his goods or for imprisonment.

27 rBlessed be the Lord, the God of our fathers, swho put such a thing as this into the heart of the king, to beautify the house of the Lord that is in Jerusalem, 28 tand who extended to me his steadfast love before the king and his counselors, and before all the king's mighty officers. I took courage, for the hand of the Lord my God was on me, and I gathered leading men from Israel to go up with me.

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,6 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,7 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 and8 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 talents9 of silver, and silver vessels worth 200 talents,10 and 100 talents of gold, 27 20 bowls of gold worth 1,000 darics,11 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 dsatraps12 and to the governors of the province Beyond the River, and they aided the people and the house of God.