Ezra arrived in Jerusalem to furnish the Temple, gather the Levites to minister there, and allow the returning exiles to sacrifice for the first time in the Temple.
7-1 After these events, 53 during the reign of King Artaxerxes of Persia, Ezra son of Seraiah son of Azariah son of Hilkiah… 6 that Ezra came up from Babylon, a scribe expert in the Teaching of Moses which the Lord God of Israel had given, whose request the king had granted in its entirety, thanks to the benevolence of the Lord toward him.
(7 Some of the Israelites, the priests and Levites, the singers, the gatekeepers, and the temple servants set out for Jerusalem in the seventh year of King Artaxerxes, 8 arriving in Jerusalem in the fifth month in the seventh year of the king.) 9 On the first day of the first month the journey up from Babylon was started, and on the first day of the fifth month he arrived in Jerusalem, thanks to the benevolent care of his God for him. 10 For Ezra had dedicated himself to study the Teaching of the Lord so as to observe it, and to teach laws and rules to Israel.
11 The following is the text of the letter which King Artaxerxes gave Ezra the priest-scribe, a scholar in matters concerning the commandments of the Lord and His laws to Israel-
12 “Artaxerxes king of kings, to Ezra the priest, scholar in the law of the God of heaven, and so forth. And now, 13 I hereby issue an order that anyone in my kingdom who is of the people of Israel and its priests and Levites who feels impelled to go to Jerusalem may go with you.
14 For you are commissioned by the king and his seven advisers to regulate Judah and Jerusalem according to the law of your God, which is in your care, 15 and to bring the freewill offering of silver and gold, which the king and his advisers made to the God of Israel, whose dwelling is in Jerusalem, 16 and whatever silver and gold that you find throughout the province of Babylon, together with the freewill offerings that the people and the priests will give for the House of their God, which is in Jerusalem. 17 You shall, therefore, with dispatch acquire with this money bulls, rams, and lambs, with their meal offerings and libations, and offer them on the altar of the House of your God in Jerusalem. 18 And whatever you wish to do with the leftover silver and gold, you and your kinsmen may do, in accord with the will of your God. 19 The vessels for the service of the House of your God that are given to you, deliver to God in Jerusalem, 20 and any other needs of the House of your God that it falls to you to supply, do so from the royal treasury. 21 I, King Artaxerxes, for my part, hereby issue an order to all the treasurers in the province of Beyond the River that whatever request Ezra the priest, scholar in the law of the God of Heaven, makes of you is to be fulfilled with dispatch 22 up to the sum of one hundred talents of silver, one hundred kor of wheat, one hundred bath of oil, and salt without limit. 23 Whatever is by order of the God of Heaven must be carried out diligently for the House of the God of Heaven, else wrath will come upon the king and his sons. 24 We further advise you that it is not permissible to impose tribute, poll tax, or land tax on any priest, Levite, singer, gatekeeper, temple servant, or other servant of this House of God. 25 And you, Ezra, by the divine wisdom you possess, appoint magistrates and judges to judge all the people in the province of Beyond the River who know the laws of your God, and to teach those who do not know them. 26 Let anyone who does not obey the law of your God and the law of the king be punished with dispatch, whether by death, corporal punishment, confiscation of possessions, or imprisonment.”
27 Blessed is the Lord God of our fathers, who put it into the mind of the king to glorify the House of the Lord in Jerusalem, 28 and who inclined the king and his counselors and the king’s military officers to be favorably disposed toward me. For my part, thanks to the care of the Lord for me, I summoned up courage and assembled leading men in Israel to go with me.
8-1 These—the chiefs of the clans and the register of the genealogy of those who came up with me from Babylon in the reign of King Artaxerxes… 15 These I assembled by the river that enters Ahava, and we encamped there for three days. I reviewed the people and the priests, but I did not find any Levites there. 16 I sent for Eliezer, Ariel, Shemaiah, Elnathan, Jarib, Elnathan, Nathan, Zechariah, and Meshullam, the leading men, and also for Joiarib and Elnathan, the instructors, 17 and I gave them an order for Iddo, the leader at the place [called] Casiphia. I gave them a message to convey to Iddo [and] his brother, temple-servants at the place [called] Casiphia, that they should bring us attendants for the House of our God. 18 Thanks to the benevolent care of our God for us, they brought us a capable man of the family of Mahli son of Levi son of Israel, and Sherebiah and his sons and brothers, eighteen in all, 19 and Hashabiah, and with him Jeshaiah of the family of Merari, his brothers and their sons, twenty in all; 20 and of the temple servants whom David and the officers had appointed for the service of the Levites—220 temple servants,
all of them listed by name.
21 I proclaimed a fast there by the Ahava River to afflict ourselves before our God to beseech Him for a smooth journey for us and for our children and for all our possessions; 22 for I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us against any enemy on the way, since we had told the king, “The benevolent care of our God is for all who seek Him, while His fierce anger is against all who forsake Him.” 23 So we fasted and besought our God for this, and He responded to our plea. 24 Then I selected twelve of the chiefs of the priests, namely Sherebiah and Hashabiah with ten of their brothers, 25 and I weighed out to them the silver, the gold, and the vessels, the contribution to the House of our God which the king, his counselors and officers, and all Israel who were present had made. 26 I entrusted to their safekeeping the weight of six hundred and fifty talents of silver, one hundred silver vessels of one talent each, one hundred talents of gold; 27 also, twenty gold bowls worth one thousand darics and two vessels of good, shining bronze, as precious as gold. 28 I said to them, “You are consecrated to the Lord, and the vessels are consecrated, and the silver and gold are a freewill offering to the Lord God of your fathers. 29 Guard them diligently until such time as you weigh them out in the presence of the officers of the priests and the Levites and the officers of the clans of Israel in Jerusalem in the chambers of the House of the Lord.”
30 So the priests and the Levites received the cargo of silver and gold and vessels by weight, to bring them to Jerusalem to the House of our God. 31 We set out for Jerusalem from the Ahava River on the twelfth of the first month. We enjoyed the care of our God, who saved us from enemy ambush on the journey.
32 We arrived in Jerusalem and stayed there three days. 33 On the fourth day the silver, gold, and vessels were weighed out in the House of our God… 34 Everything accorded as to number and weight, the entire cargo being recorded at that time.
35 The returning exiles who arrived from captivity made burnt offerings to the God of Israel- twelve bulls for all Israel, ninety-six rams, seventy-seven lambs and twelve he- goats as a purification offering, all this a burnt offering to the Lord. 36 They handed the royal orders to the king’s satraps and the governors of the province of Beyond the River who gave support to the people and the House of God.
53. The dedication of the House of God and the celebration of the Passover by the returned exiles in the Land of Israel.