1After these events, during the reign of Artach’shashta king of Persia, ‘Ezra the son of S’rayah, the son of ‘Azaryah, the son of Hilkiyah, 2the son of Shalum, the son of Tzadok, the son of Achituv, 3the son of Amaryah, the son of ‘Azaryah, the son of M’rayot, 4the son of Z’rachyah, the son of ‘Uzi, the son of Buki, 5the son of Avishua, the son of Pinchas, the son of Eli‘ezer, the son of Aharon the cohen hagadol — 6this ‘Ezra went up from Bavel. He was a scribe, expert in the Torah of Moshe, which Adonai the God of Isra’el had given; and the king granted him everything he asked for, since the hand of Adonai his God was on him.
7In the seventh year of Artach’shashta the king, some of the people of Isra’el, and some of the cohanim, L’vi’im, singers, gatekeepers and temple servants went up to Yerushalayim. 8[‘Ezra] arrived at Yerushalayim in the fifth month of the seventh year of the king. 9He began going up to Yerushalayim from Bavel on the first day of the first month and arrived on the first day of the fifth month, since the good hand of his God was on him. 10For ‘Ezra had set his heart on studying and practicing the Torah of Adonai and teaching Isra’el the laws and rulings.
11Here is the letter that King Artach’shashta gave ‘Ezra the cohen and Torah-teacher, the student of matters relating to Adonai’s mitzvot and his laws for Isra’el:
12“From: Artach’shashta, king of kings
“To: ‘Ezra the cohen, scribe of the law of the God of heaven, etc.:
“Herewith 13I decree that everyone in my realm who belongs to the people of Isra’el, including their cohanim and L’vi’im, who, of his own free will, chooses to go with you to Yerushalayim, should go. 14You are being sent by the king and his seven counselors to inquire how the law of your God, of which you have expert knowledge, is being applied in Y’hudah and Yerushalayim. 15You are also to bring with you the silver and gold which the king and his counselors have voluntarily offered to the God of Isra’el, whose dwelling is in Yerushalayim; 16together with all the silver and gold you receive throughout the province of Bavel and the voluntary offerings of the people and the cohanim that have been offered willingly for the house of their God in Yerushalayim.
17“You are to spend this money carefully on young bulls, rams, and lambs, with their grain offerings and drink offerings; and offer them on the altar of the house of your God in Yerushalayim. 18Whatever seems good to you and your kinsmen to do with the rest of the silver and gold, do it according to the will of your God.
19“The articles given to you for the service of the house of your God, deliver to the God of Yerushalayim.
20“Whatever else may be needed for the house of your God that you have to supply, you may supply from the royal treasury.
21“I, Artach’shashta the king, herewith order all the treasurers in the territory beyond the [Euphrates] River to do carefully anything ‘Ezra the cohen, scribe of the law of the God of heaven, requires of you, 22up to three-and-a-third tons of silver, 500 bushels of wheat, 500 gallons of wine, 500 gallons of olive oil and unlimited amounts of salt. 23Whatever is ordered by the God of heaven is to be performed exactly for the house of the God of heaven; for why should wrath come against the realm of the king and his sons? 24Moreover, we herewith proclaim to you that it will be illegal to impose tribute, taxes or tolls on any of the cohanim, L’vi’im, singers, gatekeepers, servants or laborers in this house of God.
25“And you, ‘Ezra, making use of the wisdom you have from your God, are to appoint magistrates and judges to judge all the people in the territory beyond the River, that is, all who know the laws of your God; and you are to teach those who don’t know them. 26Whoever refuses to obey the law of your God and the law of the king, let judgment be executed on him swiftly, whether it be death, banishment, confiscation of goods or imprisonment.”
27Blessed be Adonai, the God of our ancestors, who has put such a thing as this in the heart of the king, to restore the beauty of the house of Adonai in Yerushalayim, 28and has extended mercy to me before the king and his counselors, and before all the king’s most powerful officials.
So I took courage, since the hand of Adonai my God was on me, and I gathered together out of Isra’el key men to go up with me.