Ezra Comes to Jerusalem
1After all these things had happened, Ezra came up to Jerusalem from Babylon. It was during the rule of Artaxerxes. He was king of Persia. Ezra was the son of Seraiah. Seraiah was the son of Azariah. Azariah was the son of Hilkiah. 2Hilkiah was the son of Shallum. Shallum was the son of Zadok. Zadok was the son of Ahitub. 3Ahitub was the son of Amariah. Amariah was the son of Azariah. Azariah was the son of Meraioth. 4Meraioth was the son of Zerahiah. Zerahiah was the son of Uzzi. Uzzi was the son of Bukki. 5Bukki was the son of Abishua. Abishua was the son of Phinehas. Phinehas was the son of Eleazar. And Eleazar was the son of Aaron the chief priest. 6So Ezra came up from Babylon. He was a teacher who knew the Law of Moses very well. The Lord, the God of Israel, had given Israel that law. The king had given Ezra everything he asked for. That’s because the Lord his God helped him. 7Some of the Israelites came up to Jerusalem too. They included priests, Levites and musicians. They also included the temple servants and those who guarded the temple gates. It was in the seventh year that Artaxerxes was king.
8Ezra arrived in Jerusalem in the fifth month of the seventh year of the king’s rule. 9Ezra had begun his journey from Babylon on the first day of the first month. He arrived in Jerusalem on the first day of the fifth month. That’s because God was gracious to him and helped him. 10Ezra had committed himself to study and obey the Law of the Lord. He also wanted to teach the Lord’s rules and laws in Israel.
King Artaxerxes’s Letter to Ezra
11Ezra was a priest and teacher of the Law. He was an educated man. He knew the Lord’s commands and rules for Israel very well. Here is a copy of a letter King Artaxerxes had given to Ezra. It said,
12I, Artaxerxes, am writing this letter. I am the greatest king of all.
I have given it to Ezra the priest. He is the teacher of the Law of the God of heaven.
I give you my greetings.
13Ezra, I am giving an order about the Israelites in my kingdom. Any of them who want to go to Jerusalem with you may go. The order also allows priests and Levites to go with you. 14I and my seven advisers are sending you to see how things are going in Judah and Jerusalem. Find out whether the people there are obeying the Law of your God. You have a copy of that law with you. 15I and my advisers have freely given some silver and gold to the God of Israel. He is the God who lives in Jerusalem. Take that silver and gold with you. 16Also take any other silver and gold you can get from the land of Babylon. And take the offerings the people and priests choose to give for the temple of their God in Jerusalem. 17Make sure you use the money to buy bulls, rams and male lambs. Also buy their grain offerings and drink offerings. Then sacrifice them on the altar of the temple of your God in Jerusalem.
18You and the other Jews can do what you think is best with the rest of the silver and gold. Do what your God wants you to do. 19Give to the God of Jerusalem all the things you are responsible for. Use them for worshiping your God in his temple. 20You might need to supply some other things for the temple of your God. If you do, take them from among the royal treasures.
21I, King Artaxerxes, also give this order. It applies to all those who are in charge of the treasures west of the Euphrates River. Make sure you provide anything Ezra the priest might ask you to give. He is the teacher of the Law of the God of heaven. 22Give Ezra up to three and three-fourths tons of silver. Give him up to 18 tons of wheat. Give him up to 600 gallons of wine and up to 600 gallons of olive oil. And give him as much salt as he needs. 23Work hard for the temple of the God of heaven. Do everything he has required. I don’t want him to be angry with my kingdom and the kingdom of my sons. 24Here is something else I want you to know. You have no authority to collect taxes, gifts or fees from these people. You may not collect them from the priests, Levites or musicians. You may not collect them from those who guard the temple gates. You may not collect them from the temple servants. And you may not collect them from other workers at the house of God in Jerusalem.
25Ezra, appoint judges and other court officials. When you do it, use the wisdom your God gives you. Those you appoint should do what is right and fair when they judge people. They should do it for everyone who lives west of the Euphrates River. They should do it for everyone who knows the laws of your God. And I want you to teach the people who don’t know those laws. 26Anyone who doesn’t obey the law of your God must be punished. The same thing applies to anyone who doesn’t obey my law. The people must be punished in keeping with the laws they have broken. Some of them must be put to death. Others must be forced to leave the places where they live. Others must have their property taken away from them. Still others must be put in prison.
27So here is what I, Ezra, say to you people of Israel. “Give praise to the Lord. He is the God of our people who lived long ago. He has put it in the king’s heart to bring honor to the Lord’s temple in Jerusalem. The king has honored the Lord in his letter. 28The Lord has been kind to me. He has caused the king and his advisers to be kind to me. In fact, all the king’s powerful officials have been kind to me. The strong hand of the Lord my God helped me. That gave me new strength. So I gathered together leaders from Israel to go up to Jerusalem with me.”