Ezra leads many Jews back to Jerusalem
Ezra comes to Jerusalem
1-6Much later, when Artaxerxes#7.1–6 Artaxerxes: Either Artaxerxes I (ruled from 465 to 425 bc) or Artaxerxes II (ruled from 405–358 bc). was king of Persia, Ezra came to Jerusalem from Babylonia. Ezra was the son of Seraiah and the grandson of Azariah. His other ancestors were Hilkiah, Shallum, Zadok, Ahitub, Amariah, Azariah, Meraioth, Zerahiah, Uzzi, Bukki, Abishua, Phinehas, Eleazar, and Aaron, the high priest.
Ezra was an expert in the Law that the LORD God of Israel had given to Moses, and the LORD made sure that the king gave Ezra everything he asked for.
7Other Jews, including priests, Levites, musicians, the temple guards, and servants, came to Jerusalem with Ezra. This happened during the seventh year that Artaxerxes#7.7 seventh year … Artaxerxes: 458 bc if this is Artaxerxes I; 398 bc, if this is Artaxerxes II (see the note at 7.1–6). was king.
8-9God helped Ezra, and he arrived in Jerusalem on the first day of the fifth month#7.8,9 fifth month: Ab, the fifth month of the Hebrew calendar, from about mid-July to mid-August. of that seventh year, after leaving Babylonia on the first day of the first month.#7.8,9 first month: See the note at 6.19. 10Ezra had spent his entire life studying and obeying the Law of the LORD and teaching it to others.
Artaxerxes gives a letter to Ezra
11Ezra was a priest and an expert in the laws and commands that the LORD had given to Israel. One day King Artaxerxes gave Ezra a letter which said:
12Greetings from the great King Artaxerxes to Ezra the priest and expert in the teachings of the God of heaven.
13-14Any of the people of Israel or their priests or Levites in my kingdom may go with you to Jerusalem if they want to. My seven advisers and I agree that you may go to Jerusalem and Judah to find out if#7.13,14 find out if: Or “make sure that”. the laws of your God are being obeyed.
15When you go, take the silver and gold that I and my advisers are freely giving to the God of Israel, whose temple is in Jerusalem. 16Take the silver and gold that you collect from everywhere in Babylonia. Also take the gifts that your own people and priests have so willingly contributed for the temple of your God in Jerusalem.
17Use the money carefully to buy the best bulls, rams, lambs, grain, and wine. Then sacrifice them on the altar at God's temple in Jerusalem. 18If any silver or gold is left, you and your people may use it for whatever pleases your God. 19Give your God the other articles that have been contributed for use in his temple. 20If you need to get anything else for the temple, you may have the money you need from the royal treasury.
21Ezra, you are a priest and an expert in the laws of the God of heaven, and I order all treasurers in Western Province to do their very best to help you. 22They will be allowed to give as much as 3,400 kilogrammes of silver,10,000 kilogrammes of wheat,2,000 litres of wine,2,000 litres of olive oil, and all the salt you need.
23They must provide whatever the God of heaven demands for his temple, so that he won't be angry with me and with the kings who rule after me. 24We want you to know that no priests, Levites, musicians, guards, temple servants, or any other temple workers will have to pay any kind of taxes.
25Ezra, use the wisdom God has given you and choose officials and leaders to govern the people of Western Province. These leaders should know God's laws and have them taught to anyone who doesn't know them. 26Everyone who fails to obey God's Law or the king's law will be punished without pity. They will be executed or put in prison or forced to leave their country, or have all they own taken away.
Ezra praises God
27Because King Artaxerxes was so kind, Ezra said:
Praise the LORD God of our ancestors! He made sure that the king honoured the LORD's temple in Jerusalem. 28God has told the king, his advisers, and his powerful officials to treat me with kindness. The LORD God has helped me, and I have been able to bring many Jewish leaders back to Jerusalem.