Ezra 6

Adversaries Oppose the Rebuilding

Now when gthe adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the returned exiles were building a temple to the Lord, the God of Israel, they approached Zerubbabel and the heads of fathers' houses and said to them, Let us build with you, for we worship your God as you do, and we have been sacrificing to him ever hsince the days of iEsarhaddon king of Assyria jwho brought us here. But Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the rest of the heads of fathers' houses in Israel said to them, kYou have nothing to do with us in building a house to our God; but we alone will build to the Lord, the God of Israel, las King Cyrus the king of Persia has commanded us.

Then mthe people of the land discouraged the people of Judah and made them afraid to build and bribed counselors against them to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.

And in the reign of nAhasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, they wrote an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem.

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. 24 Then the work on the house of God that is in Jerusalem stopped, and it ceased until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.

Rebuilding Begins Anew

Now the prophets, aHaggai and bZechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem, in the name of the God of Israel who was over them. cThen Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and dJeshua the son of Jozadak arose and began to rebuild the house of God that is in Jerusalem, and the prophets of God were ewith them, supporting them.

At the same time fTattenai the governor of the province Beyond the River and Shethar-bozenai and their associates came to them and spoke to them thus: gWho gave you a decree to build this house and to finish this structure? They also asked them this:1 What are the names of the men who are building this building? But hthe eye of their God was on the elders of the Jews, and they did not stop them until the report should reach Darius and then an answer be returned by letter concerning it.

Tattenai's Letter to King Darius

This is a copy of the letter that fTattenai the governor of the province Beyond the River and Shethar-bozenai and his associates, the igovernors who were in the province Beyond the River, sent to Darius the king. They sent him a report, in which was written as follows: To Darius the king, all peace. Be it known to the king that we went to the province of Judah, to the house of the great God. It is being built with huge stones, and timber is laid in the walls. This work goes on diligently and prospers in their hands. Then we asked those elders and spoke to them thus: gWho gave you a decree to build this house and to finish this structure? 10 We also asked them their names, for your information, that we might write down the names of their leaders.2 11 And this was their reply to us: We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and we are rebuilding the house that was built many years ago, jwhich a great king of Israel built and kfinished. 12 lBut because our fathers had angered the God of heaven, he mgave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this house and carried away the people to Babylonia. 13 nHowever, in the first year of Cyrus king of Babylon, Cyrus the king made a decree that this house of God should be rebuilt. 14 oAnd the gold and silver vessels of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple that was in Jerusalem and brought into the temple of Babylon, these Cyrus the king took out of the temple of Babylon, and they were delivered to one whose name was pSheshbazzar, whom he had made governor; 15 and he said to him, Take these vessels, go and put them in the temple that is in Jerusalem, and let the house of God be rebuilt on its site. 16 Then this pSheshbazzar came and qlaid the foundations of the house of God that is in Jerusalem, and from that time until now it has been in building, and it is rnot yet finished. 17 Therefore, if it seems good to the king, slet search be made in the royal archives there in Babylon, to see whether a decree was issued by Cyrus the king for the rebuilding of this house of God in Jerusalem. And let the king send us his pleasure in this matter.

The Decree of Darius

Then Darius the king made a decree, and tsearch was made in Babylonia, in the house of the archives where the documents were stored. And in Ecbatana, the citadel that is uin the province of Media, a scroll was found on which this was written: A record. In the first year of Cyrus the king, Cyrus the king issued a decree: Concerning the house of God at Jerusalem, let the house be rebuilt, the place where sacrifices were offered, and let its foundations be retained. Its height shall be sixty cubits1 and its breadth sixty cubits, vwith three layers of great stones and one layer of timber. Let the cost be paid from the royal treasury. And also wlet the gold and silver vessels of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took out of the temple that is in Jerusalem and brought to Babylon, be restored and brought back to the temple that is in Jerusalem, each to its place. You shall put them in the house of God.

Now therefore, xTattenai, governor of the province Beyond the River, Shethar-bozenai, yand your2 associates the governors who are in the province Beyond the River, keep away. Let the work on this house of God alone. Let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews rebuild this house of God on its site. Moreover, zI make a decree regarding what you shall do for these elders of the Jews for the rebuilding of this house of God. The cost is to be paid to these men in full and without delay from the royal revenue, the tribute of the province from Beyond the River. And whatever is neededbulls, rams, or sheep for burnt offerings to the God of heaven, wheat, salt, wine, or oil, as the priests at Jerusalem requirelet that be given to them day by day without fail, 10 that they may offer pleasing sacrifices to the God of heaven aand pray for the life of the king and his sons. 11 Also I make a decree that if anyone alters this edict, a beam shall be pulled out of his house, and he shall be impaled on it, and bhis house shall be made a dunghill. 12 May the God cwho has caused his name to dwell there overthrow any king or people who shall put out a hand to alter this, or to destroy this house of God that is in Jerusalem. I Darius make a decree; let it be done with all diligence.

The Temple Finished and Dedicated

13 Then, according to the word sent by Darius the king, xTattenai, the governor of the province Beyond the River, Shethar-bozenai, and their associates did with all diligence what Darius the king had ordered. 14 dAnd the elders of the Jews built and prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. They finished their building by decree of the God of Israel and eby decree of Cyrus and fDarius and gArtaxerxes king of Persia; 15 and this house was finished on the third day of the hmonth of Adar, in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king.

16 And the people of Israel, the priests and the Levites, and the rest of the returned exiles, celebrated the idedication of this house of God with joy. 17 They offered at the dedication of this house of God 100 bulls, 200 rams, 400 lambs, and as a sin offering for all Israel j12 male goats, according to the number of the tribes of Israel. 18 And they set the priests kin their divisions and the Levites lin their divisions, for the service of God at Jerusalem, mas it is written in the Book of Moses.

Passover Celebrated

19 nOn the fourteenth day of the first month, the returned exiles kept the Passover. 20 oFor the priests and the Levites had purified themselves together; all of them were clean. pSo they slaughtered the Passover lamb for all the returned exiles, for their fellow priests, and for themselves. 21 It was eaten by the people of Israel who had returned from exile, and qalso by every one who had joined them and separated himself rfrom the uncleanness of the peoples of the land to worship the Lord, the God of Israel. 22 And they kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread sseven days with joy, for the Lord had made them joyful tand had turned the heart of uthe king of Assyria to them, so that he aided them in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.

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,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.