The Book of Ezra

UASV 2005

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The Book of Ezra

  • Author: Ezra
  • Place Written: Jerusalem
  • When Written: c. after 433 B.C.E.

The Proclamation of Cyrus to Rebuild the Temple

1 In the first year of Cyrus[1] king of Persia, that the word of Jehovah by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, Jehovah stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing:

“Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: Jehovah, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all his people, may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and rebuild the house of Jehovah, the God of Israel; he is the God who is in Jerusalem. And let each survivor, in whatever place he may live, let the men of that place support him with silver and gold, with goods and with beasts, besides freewill offerings for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.”

Preparations for Exiles to Return from Babylon

Then rose up the heads of the fathers’ houses of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and the Levites, everyone whose spirit God had stirred to go up to rebuild the house of Jehovah that is in Jerusalem. And all who were about them supported them with vessels of silver, with gold, with goods, with beasts, and with valuable things, besides all that was freely offered. Cyrus the king also brought out the vessels of the house of Jehovah that Nebuchadnezzar had carried away from Jerusalem and placed in the house of his gods. Cyrus king of Persia brought them out under the hand of Mithredath the treasurer, who counted them out to Sheshbazzar the prince of Judah. And this was the number of them: thirty basins of gold, one thousand basins of silver, twenty-nine replacement vessels, 10 thirty bowls of gold, four hundred and ten bowls of silver, and one thousand other vessels; 11 all the vessels of gold and of silver were five thousand four hundred. All these did Sheshbazzar bring up when the exiles were brought up from Babylon[2] to Jerusalem.

The Exiles Who Returned

2 Now these were the sons of the province who came up out of the captivity of those exiles whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried captive to Babylon. They returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to his own town. They came with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispar, Bigvai, Rehum, and Baanah. The number of the men of the people of Israel:

The number of the men of the people of Israel: the sons of Parosh, two thousand one hundred and seventy-two; the sons of Shephatiah, three hundred and seventy-two; the sons of Arah, seven hundred and seventy-five; the sons of Pahath-moab, namely the sons of Jeshua and Joab, two thousand eight hundred and twelve; the sons of Elam, one thousand two hundred and fifty-four; the sons of Zattu, nine hundred and forty-five; the sons of Zaccai, seven hundred and sixty; 10 the sons of Bani, six hundred and forty-two; 11 the sons of Bebai, six hundred and twenty-three; 12 the sons of Azgad, one thousand two hundred and twenty-two; 13 the sons of Adonikam, six hundred and sixty-six; 14 the sons of Bigvai, two thousand fifty-six; 15 the sons of Adin, four hundred and fifty-four; 16 the sons of Ater, namely of Hezekiah, ninety-eight; 17 the sons of Bezai, three hundred and twenty-three; 18 the sons of Jorah, one hundred and twelve; 19 the sons of Hashum, two hundred and twenty-three; 20 the sons of Gibbar, ninety-five; 21 the sons of Bethlehem, one hundred and twenty-three; 22 the men of Netophah, fifty-six; 23 the men of Anathoth, one hundred and twenty-eight; 24 the sons of Azmaveth, forty-two; 25 the sons of Kiriath-Jearim,[3] Chephirah, and Beeroth, seven hundred and forty-three; 26 the sons of Ramah and Geba, six hundred and twenty-one; 27 the men of Michmas, one hundred and twenty-two; 28 the men of Bethel and Ai, two hundred and twenty-three; 29 the sons of Nebo, fifty-two; 30 the sons of Magbish, one hundred and fifty-six; 31 the sons of the other Elam, one thousand two hundred and fifty-four; 32 the sons of Harim, three hundred and twenty; 33 the sons of Lod, Hadid, and Ono, seven hundred and twenty-five; 34 the sons of Jericho, three hundred and forty-five; 35 the sons of Senaah, three thousand six hundred and thirty.

36 The priests: the sons of Jedaiah, of the house of Jeshua, nine hundred and seventy-three; 37 the sons of Immer, one thousand fifty-two; 38 the sons of Pashhur, one thousand two hundred and forty-seven; 39 the sons of Harim, one thousand seventeen.

40 The Levites: the sons of Jeshua and Kadmiel, of the sons of Hodaviah, seventy-four.

41 The singers: the sons of Asaph, one hundred and twenty-eight.

42 The sons of the gatekeepers: the sons of Shallum, the sons of Ater, the sons of Talmon, the sons of Akkub, the sons of Hatita, and the sons of Shobai; in total one hundred and thirty-nine.

Temple Servants

43 The Nethinim:[4] the sons of Ziha, the sons of Hasupha, the sons of Tabbaoth, 44 the sons of Keros, the sons of Siaha, the sons of Padon, 45 the sons of Lebanah, the sons of Hagabah, the sons of Akkub, 46 the sons of Hagab, the sons of Shamlai, the sons of Hanan, 47 the sons of Giddel, the sons of Gahar, the sons of Reaiah, 48 the sons of Rezin, the sons of Nekoda, the sons of Gazzam, 49 the sons of Uzza, the sons of Paseah, the sons of Besai, 50 the sons of Asnah, the sons of Meunim, the sons of Nephisim, 51 the sons of Bakbuk, the sons of Hakupha, the sons of Harhur, 52 the sons of Bazluth, the sons of Mehida, the sons of Harsha, 53 the sons of Barkos, the sons of Sisera, the sons of Temah, 54 the sons of Neziah, and the sons of Hatipha.

Sons of the Servants of Solomon

55 The sons of Solomon’s servants: the sons of Sotai, the sons of Hassophereth, the sons of Peruda, 56 the sons of Jaalah, the sons of Darkon, the sons of Giddel, 57 the sons of Shephatiah, the sons of Hattil, the sons of Pochereth-hazzebaim, and the sons of Ami.

58 All the Nethinim[5] and the sons of Solomon’s servants were three hundred and ninety-two.

59 Now these were the ones who came up from Tel-melah, Tel-harsha, Cherub, Addan, and Immer, but they were not able to prove their fathers’ household and their descent, whether they were of Israel: 60 the sons of Delaiah, the sons of Tobiah, and the sons of Nekoda, six hundred and fifty-two. 61 And from the sons of the priests: the sons of Habaiah, the sons of Hakkoz, and the sons of Barzillai (who took a wife of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite and was called by their name). 62 These sought their record in the genealogy records, but they were not found, and were excluded from the priesthood as unclean. 63 The governor said to them that they were not to eat from the most holy things until a priest stood up with Urim and Thummim.

64 The whole assembly together was forty-two thousand three hundred and sixty, 65 apart from their male and female servants, of whom were seven thousand three hundred and thirty-seven; and they had two hundred male and female singers. 66 Their horses numbered seven hundred and thirty-six, their mules numbered two hundred and forty-five, 67 their camels numbered four hundred and thirty-five, their donkeys numbered six thousand seven hundred and twenty.

Voluntary Offerings for Temple Work

68 Some of the heads of fathers’ households, when they arrived at the house of Jehovah which is in Jerusalem, offered willingly for the house of God to erect it on its site. 69 According to their ability they gave to the treasury of the work sixty-one thousand darics of gold, five thousand minas of silver, and one hundred priestly garments.

70 Now the priests and the Levites, some of the people, the singers, the gatekeepers, and the Nethinim[6] lived in their cities, and all Israel in their cities.

Rebuilding the Altar and Offering Sacrifices

3 When the seventh month came, and the sons of Israel were in the cities, the people gathered as one man to Jerusalem. Then arose Jeshua the son of Jozadak and his brothers the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel with his kinsmen, and they built the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings on it, as it is written in the Law of Moses the man of God. They set the altar in its place, for fear was on them because of the peoples of the lands, and they offered burnt offerings on it to Jehovah, burnt offerings morning and evening. And they kept the Feast of Booths, as it is written, and offered the daily burnt offerings by number according to the ordinance, as each day required, and after that the regular burnt offerings, the offerings at the new moon and at all the appointed feasts of Jehovah, and the offerings of everyone who made a freewill offering to Jehovah. From the first day of the seventh month they began to offer burnt offerings to Jehovah, but the foundation of the temple of Jehovah was not yet laid. So they gave money to the masons and the carpenters, and food, drink, and oil to the Sidonians and the Tyrians to bring cedar trees from Lebanon to the sea, to Joppa, according to the grant that they had from Cyrus king of Persia.

Rebuilding of the Temple Begins

Now in the second year of their coming to the house of God at Jerusalem, in the second month, Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and the rest of their brothers the priests and the Levites, and all who came from the captivity to Jerusalem, began the work and appointed the Levites who were twenty years old and upward to oversee the work of the house of Jehovah. Then stood Jeshua with his sons and his brethren, Kadmiel and his sons, the sons of Judah, together, to oversee the workmen in the house of God, the sons of Henadad, with their sons and their brethren the Levites.

10 And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of Jehovah, they set the priests in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph with cymbals, to praise Jehovah, according to the direction of King David of Israel. 11 And they sang one to another in praising and giving thanks to Jehovah, saying,

“For he is good,
    for his steadfast love endures forever toward Israel.”

And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised Jehovah, because the foundation of the house of Jehovah was laid. 12 But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ houses, the old men who had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy, 13 so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the shout of joy from the sound of the weeping of the people, for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the sound was heard far away.

Adversaries Oppose the Rebuilding the Temple

4 Now when the adversaries[7] of Judah and Benjamin heard that the sons of the Exile were building a temple to Jehovah, 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 since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assyria who brought us here.” But Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the rest of the heads of fathers’ houses in Israel said to them, “You have nothing to do with us in building a house to our God; but we alone will build to Jehovah, the God of Israel, as King Cyrus the king of Persia has commanded us.”

Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and frightened them from building, and hired 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 Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, they wrote an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem.

The Enemies Send Letter to King Artaxerxes

And in the days of Artaxerxes, Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and the rest of their colleagues wrote to Artaxerxes king of Persia. The letter was written in Aramaic[8] and translated from Aramaic. [9]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 colleagues, the judges and the lesser governors, the officials, the secretaries, the men of Erech, the Babylonians, the men of Susa, that is, the Elamites, 10 and the rest of the nations which the great and honorable Osnappar deported and settled in the city of Samaria, and in the rest of the region Beyond the River.[10] And now 11 this is the copy of the letter which they sent to him: “To King Artaxerxes: Your servants, the men in the region Beyond the River, and now 12 let it be known to the king that the Jews who came up from you have come to us at Jerusalem; they are rebuilding the rebellious and evil city and are finishing the walls and repairing 13 Now be it known to the king that if this city is rebuilt and the walls finished, they will not pay tribute, custom, or toll, and the royal revenue will be reduced. 14 Now because we eat the salt of the palace 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 ancient times. That is 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 have no share of the region Beyond the River.”

Artaxerxes’ Orders the Work to Cease

17 Then the king sent an answer to Rehum the commander, to Shimshai the scribe, and to the rest of their colleagues who live in Samaria and in the rest of the region beyond the River: “Peace. And now, 18 the letter that you sent to us has been plainly read before me. 19 And I issued 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, who ruled over the whole region Beyond the River, to whom tribute, 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?”

Temple Construction Stopped

23 Then, when the copy of King Artaxerxes’ letter was read before Rehum and Shimshai the scribe and their colleagues, they went in haste to Jerusalem to the Jews, and made them cease by force and power. 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.

Jews Return To Temple Building

5 Now the prophets, Haggai and Zechariah 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. Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak set out and began to build the house of God that is in Jerusalem. And with them the prophets of God were helping them.

At the same time Tattenai the governor of the region Beyond the River and Shethar-bozenai and their colleagues came to them and spoke to them thus: “Who gave you a decree to build this house and to finish this structure?”[11] Then they[12] asked them: “What are the names of the men who are working on this building?” But the eye of their God was on the elders of the Jews, and they did not stop them until the report could come to Darius and then an answer be returned by letter concerning it.

Tattenai’s Letter to King Darius

This is the copy of the letter that Tattenai, the governor of the province Beyond the Euphrates River, and Shethar-bozenai and his colleagues the officials, who were Beyond the River, sent to Darius the king. They sent the report to him, and this is what they wrote: “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 large stones, and timber is laid in the walls. This work goes on diligently and prospers in their hands. Then we asked those elders and said to them thus: ‘Who gave you a decree to build this house and to finish this structure?’ 10 We asked them their names also, to inform you so that we might write down the names of the men who were taking the lead. 11 So they answered us as follows, saying, ‘We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and are rebuilding the house that was built many years ago, which a great king of Israel built and finished. 12 But because our fathers had provoked the God of heaven, he gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this house and carried away the people to Babylon. 13 However, in the first year of Cyrus king of Babylon,[13] King Cyrus issued a decree to rebuild this house of God. 14 And 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 Sheshbazzar, 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 in its place.” 16 Then this Sheshbazzar came and laid 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 not yet  completed.’ 17 Now if it seems good to the king, let a search be conducted in the king’s treasure house, which is there in Babylon, if it be that a decree was issued by King Cyrus to rebuild this house of God at Jerusalem; and let the king send to us his decision concerning this matter.”

The Investigation and Decree of Darius

6 Then Darius the king made a decree, and search was made in the house of the archives, where the treasures were stored in Babylon. And there was found in Ecbatana, in the palace that is in 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 cubits[14] and its breadth sixty cubits, with three layers of large stones and one layer of timber. And let the expense be paid from the king’s house. And also let the gold and silver vessels of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took forth out of the temple, which is in Jerusalem, and brought to Babylon, be restored, and brought again to the temple, which is in Jerusalem, each to its place. You shall put them in the house of God.”

“Now therefore, Tattenai, governor of the region Beyond the River, Shethar-bozenai, and your colleagues the governors who are in the region Beyond the River, stay away from there. 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, I am making a decree as to what you shall do to these elders of the Jews for the building of this house of God: From the royal treasury, from the tax of the region Beyond the River, the expenses are to be promptly given to these men to continue without interruption. And whatever is needed, young bulls as well as rams and lambs for the burnt offerings to the God of heaven, wheat, salt, wine, and oil, just as the priests who are in Jerusalem say, is to be given them continually day by day without fail, 10 that they may offer pleasing sacrifices to the God of heaven and pray for the life of the king and his sons. 11 Also, I have made a decree, that whosoever shall alter this word, let a beam be pulled out from his house, and he shall be impaled on it; and let his house be made a dunghill[15] for this. 12 May the God who 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 have made a decree; let it be done with all diligence.”

The Temple Completed and Dedicated

13 Then Tattenai the governor of the region Beyond the River, Shethar-bozenai, and their colleagues carried out the decree with all diligence, just as King Darius had ordered. 14 And the elders of the Jews built and prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. They finished building according to the command of the God of Israel and by decree of Cyrus and Darius and Artaxerxes king of Persia. 15 And this house was finished on the third day of the month of Adar, in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king.

16 And the sons of Israel, the priests and the Levites, and the rest of the sons of the exiles, celebrated the dedication of this house of God with joy. 17 And they offered during the dedication of this house of God one hundred young bulls, two hundred young rams, four hundred lambs, and twelve male goats as a sin offering for Israel according to the number of the tribes of Israel. 18 And they set the priests in their divisions and the Levites in their divisions, for the service of God at Jerusalem, as it is written in the Book of Moses.[16]

Passover Celebrated

19 On the fourteenth day of the first month the returned exiles observed the Passover. 20 For the priests and the Levites had purified themselves together; all of them were clean. So they slaughtered the Passover lamb for all the returned exiles, for their brothers the priests, and for themselves. 21 And the sons of Israel who returned from exile and all those who had separated themselves from the impurity of the nations of the land to join them, to search for Jehovah God of Israel, ate of it. 22 And they kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with joy, for Jehovah had made them joyful and had turned the heart of the king of Assyria to them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.

Ezra Sent to Jerusalem to Teach the People

7 Now after this, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra the son of Seraiah, son of Azariah, son of Hilkiah, the son of Shallum, the son of Zadok, the son of Ahitub, the son of Amariah, the son of Azariah, the son of Meraioth, the son of Zerahiah, the son of Uzzi, the son of Bukki, the son of Abishua, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the chief priest. So this Ezra went up from Babylon. He was a scribe skilled in the law of Moses, which Jehovah, the God of Israel, had given. The king granted him all his requests, for the hand of Jehovah his God was upon him.

And there went up also to Jerusalem some of the sons of Israel, and some of the priests and Levites, the singers and gatekeepers, and the Nethinim,[17] in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king. And he[18] 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 Babylon; and on the first of the fifth month he came to Jerusalem, because the good hand of his God was upon him. 10 For Ezra had prepared his heart to study the Law of Jehovah, and to do it and to teach its regulations and judgments in Israel.

Artaxerxes’ Letter to Ezra

11 Now this is the copy of the letter which King Artaxerxes gave to Ezra the priest, the scribe, learned in the words of the commandments of Jehovah and his statutes to Israel: 12 [19]“Artaxerxes, king of kings, to Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, perfect peace. And now 13 I have issued a decree that any of the people of Israel and their priests and the Levites in my kingdom who are willing to go to Jerusalem should go. 14 Forasmuch as you are sent by the king and his seven counselors to inquire concerning Judah and Jerusalem according to the law of your God which is in your hand, 15 and to carry the silver and gold, which the king and his counselors have freely offered to the God of Israel, whose dwelling is in Jerusalem, 16 with all the silver and gold which you find in the whole province of Babylon, along with the voluntary offering of the people and of the priests, who offered willingly for the house of their God which is in Jerusalem; 17 with this money, therefore, you shall diligently buy bulls, rams, and lambs, with their grain offerings and their drink offerings, and offer them on the altar of the house of your God which is in Jerusalem. 18 And 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 And 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 the rest of the needs of the house of your God that you are required to provide, you shall give out of the royal 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 one hundred talents[20] of silver, one hundred cor measures[21] of wheat, one hundred baths[22] of wine, one hundred baths of oil, and salt without limit. 23 Whatever is commanded by the God of heaven, let it be done with zeal for the house of the God of the heavens, so that there will not be wrath against the kingdom of the king and his sons. 24 And you are further advised that it is not permitted to impose any tax, tribute, or toll on anyone of the priests, the Levites, the singers, the doorkeepers, the Nethinim,[23] or other servants of this house of God.

25 “And you, Ezra, according to the wisdom of your God that is in your hand, appoint magistrates and judges who may judge all the people in the province Beyond the River, all such as know the laws of your God; and you should instruct anyone who does not know them. 26 Whoever will not observe the law of your God and the law of the king, let judgment be executed upon him strictly, whether for death or for banishment or for confiscation of goods or for imprisonment.”

Ezra Praises Jehovah

27 Blessed be Jehovah, the God of our fathers, who has put such a thing as this in the king’s heart, to beautify the house of Jehovah, which is in Jerusalem, 28 and has extended loyal love to me before the king and his counselors and before all the king’s mighty princes. Thus, I was strengthened according to the hand of Jehovah my God upon me, and I gathered leading men from Israel to go up with me.

Genealogy of Those Who Returned with Ezra

8 These are the heads of their fathers’ houses, and this is the genealogy of those who went up with me from Babylon, in the reign of Artaxerxes the king: Of the sons of Phinehas, Gershom. Of the sons of Ithamar, Daniel. Of the sons of David, Hattush. Of the sons of Shecaniah, of the sons of Parosh, Zechariah; and with him were reckoned by genealogy of the males a hundred and fifty. Of the sons of Pahath-moab, Eliehoenai the son of Zerahiah; and with him two hundred males. Of the sons of Zattu,[24] Shecaniah the son of Jahaziel, and with him three hundred males. Of the sons of Adin, Ebed the son of Jonathan; and with him fifty males. Of the sons of Elam, Jeshaiah the son of Athaliah, and with him seventy males. Of the sons of Shephatiah, Zebadiah the son of Michael, and with him eighty males. Of the sons of Joab, Obadiah the son of Jehiel, and with him two hundred and eighteen males. 10 Of the sons of Bani,[25] Shelomith the son of Josiphiah, and with him one hundred and sixty males. 11 Of the sons of Bebai, Zechariah, the son of Bebai, and with him twenty-eight males. 12 Of the sons of Azgad, Johanan the son of Hakkatan, and with him one hundred and ten males. 13 Of the sons of Adonikam, those who came last, these were their names: Eliphelet, Jeiel, Shemaiah, and with them sixty males. 14 Of the sons of Bigvai, Uthai and Zabbud,[26] and with them seventy males.

Ezra Sends for Levites – Get Ready for the Journey

15 I gathered them to the river that runs to Ahava, and there we camped three days. As I examined the people and the priests, I found there none of the sons of Levi. 16 Then I sent for Eliezer, Ariel, Shemaiah, Elnathan, Jarib, Elnathan, Nathan, Zechariah, and Meshullam, leading men, and for Joiarib and Elnathan, who were instructors,[27] 17 and sent them to Iddo, the leading man at the place Casiphia, telling them what to say to Iddo and his brothers[28] and the Nethinim[29] at the place Casiphia, namely, to send us ministers for the house of our God. 18 And by the good hand of our God on us, they brought us a man of discretion, of the sons of Mahli the son of Levi, son of Israel, namely Sherebiah with his sons and kinsmen, eighteen; 19 also Hashabiah, and with him Jeshaiah of the sons of Merari, with his kinsmen and their sons, twenty; 20 besides two hundred and twenty of the Nethinim,[30] whom David and his officials had set apart to attend the Levites. These were all mentioned by name.

Fasting and Prayer for Protection

21 Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to 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, “The good hand of our God is over all those seeking him, but his strength and his wrath is against all who forsake him.” 23 So we fasted and made request of our God concerning this, and he listened to our entreaty.

Priests to Guard Offerings

24 Then I set apart twelve of the leading priests: Sherebiah, Hashabiah, and ten of their kinsmen with them. 25 And I weighed out to them the silver and the gold and the vessels, the offering for the house of our God that the king and his counselors and his lords and all of Israel who was present had offered. 26 I weighed into their hand six hundred and fifty talents of silver, and silver vessels a hundred talents; of gold a hundred talents, 27 and twenty bowls of gold, of a thousand darics;[31] and two vessels of fine bright copper, precious as gold. 28 And I said to them, “You are holy to Jehovah, and the vessels are holy, and the silver and the gold are a freewill offering to Jehovah, the God of your fathers. 29 Watch and keep them until you weigh them before the leading priests, the Levites and the heads of the fathers’ houses of Israel at Jerusalem, in the chambers of the house of Jehovah.” 30 So the priests and the Levites took 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 on the twelfth day of the first month, to go to Jerusalem. The hand of our God was on us, and he delivered us from the hand of the enemy and from ambushes by the way. 32 We came to Jerusalem, and there we remained three days. 33 On the fourth day the silver and the gold and the utensils were weighed out in the house of our God into the hand of Meremoth the son of Uriah the priest, and with him was Eleazar the son of Phinehas; and with them were the Levites, Jozabad the son of Jeshua and Noadiah the son of Binnui. 34 Everything was numbered and weighed, and all the weight was recorded.

35 The exiles who had come from the captivity, the sons of the exile, offered burnt offerings to the God of Israel: twelve bulls for all Israel, ninety-six rams, seventy-seven lambs, twelve male goats for a sin offering, all as a burnt offering to Jehovah. 36 They also delivered the king’s commissions to the king’s satraps[32] and to the governors of the province Beyond the River, and they supported the people and the house of God.

Ezra Prays About Intermarriage In Israel

9 After these things had been done, the officials approached me and said, “The people of Israel and the priests and the Levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands with their abominations, from the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. For they have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and for their sons, so that the holy race has mixed with the peoples of the lands; indeed, the hands of the princes and the rulers have been foremost in this unfaithfulness.” And when I heard this thing, I ripped apart my garment and my robe, and pulled out the hair of my head and of my beard, and I sat down in shock. Then all who trembled at the words of the God of Israel, because of the faithlessness of the returned exiles, gathered around me while I sat appalled until the evening grain offering. But at the evening grain offering I arose from my humiliation, even with my garment and my robe torn apart, and I fell on my knees and stretched out my hands to Jehovah my God, saying:

“O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift my face to you, my God, for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has mounted up to the heavens. From the days of our forefathers to this day we have been in great guilt. And for our errors we, our kings, and our priests have been given into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, to plundering, and to utter shame, as it is today. But now for a brief moment favor has been shown by Jehovah our God, to leave us a remnant and to give us a secure hold[33] within his holy place, to make our eyes shine, O our God, and to revive us a little in our slavery. For we are slaves; yet our God has not forsaken us in our slavery but has extended loyal love to us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to give us reviving to raise up the house of our God, to restore its ruins and to give us a wall in Judah and Jerusalem.

10 “And now, O our God, what shall we say after this? For we have forsaken your commandments, 11 which you have commanded by your servants the prophets, saying, ‘The land which you are entering to possess is an impure land with the impurity of the peoples of the lands, with their abominations which have filled it from end to end and with their uncleanness. 12 Therefore do not give your daughters to their sons, neither take their daughters for your sons, and never seek their peace or prosperity, that you may be strong and eat the good of the land and leave it for an inheritance to your sons forever.’ 13 And after all that has come upon us for our evil deeds and for our great guilt, seeing that you, our God, have punished us less than our iniquities deserved and have given us such a remnant as this, 14 shall we break your commandments again and intermarry with the peoples who practice these abominations? Would you not be angry with us until you consumed us, so that there should be no remnant, nor any to escape? 15 O Jehovah, the God of Israel, you are just, for we are left a remnant that has escaped, as it is today. Look, we are before you in our guilt, for none can stand before you because of this.”

The People Confess Their Sin and Send Away Their Foreign Wives

10 Now while Ezra prayed and made confession, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, a very great assembly of men, women, and children, gathered to him out of Israel, for the people wept bitterly. Shecaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, said to Ezra, “We have been unfaithful to our God and have married foreign women from the peoples of the land; yet now there is hope for Israel in spite of this. So now let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives and their children, according to the counsel of my lord and of those who tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law. Arise; for the matter belongs to you, and we are with you: be of good courage and do it.” Then Ezra rose and made the leading priests, the Levites and all Israel, take oath that they would do according to his word; so they took the oath.

Then Ezra rose from before the house of God and went into the chamber of Jehohanan the son of Eliashib. Although he went there, he ate no food and drank no water, for he was in mourning because of the unfaithfulness of the exiled people. And they made a proclamation throughout Judah and Jerusalem to all the exiles, that they should assemble at Jerusalem, and that whoever would not come within three days, according to the counsel of the leaders and the elders, all his goods should be forfeited and he himself excluded from the assembly of the exiles.

So all the men of Judah and Benjamin assembled at Jerusalem within the three days. It was the ninth month on the twentieth of the month, and all the people sat in the open square before the house of God, trembling because of this matter and because of the heavy rain. 10 And Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, “You have acted unfaithfully by marrying foreign women, and so increased the guilt of Israel. 11 Now therefore, make confession to Jehovah God of your forefathers and do his will; and separate yourselves from the peoples of the land and from the foreign wives.” 12 Then all the assembly answered and said with a loud voice, “As you have said concerning us, so must we do. 13 But the people are many, and it is a time of much rain, and we are not able to stand outside: neither is this a work of one day or two; for we have greatly transgressed in this matter. 14 Let our leaders stand for the whole assembly. Let all in our cities who have taken foreign wives come at appointed times, and with them the elders and judges of every city, until the fierce wrath of our God over this matter is turned away from us.” 15 Only Jonathan the son of Asahel and Jahzeiah the son of Tikvah opposed this, and Meshullam and Shabbethai the Levite supported them.

16 Then the returned exiles did so. Ezra the priest selected men, heads of fathers’ houses, according to their fathers’ houses, and all of them by their names were set apart. On the first day of the tenth month, they sat down to examine the matter. 17 And they finished investigating all the men who had married foreign wives by the first day of the first month.

Those Guilty of Intermarriage

18 Now among the sons of the priests who had married foreign wives were found of the sons of Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and his brothers: Maaseiah, Eliezer, Jarib, and Gedaliah. 19 And they gave their hand[34] that they would put away their wives; and being guilty, they offered a ram of the flock for their guilt. 20 Of the sons of Immer: Hanani and Zebadiah. 21 And of the sons of Harim: Maaseiah, Elijah, Shemaiah, Jehiel, and Uzziah. 22 And of the sons of Pashhur: Elioenai, Maaseiah, Ishmael, Nethanel, Jozabad, and Elasah.

23 And of the Levites: Jozabad, Shimei, Kelaiah (that is, Kelita), Pethahiah, Judah, and Eliezer. 24 And of the singers: Eliashib. Of the gatekeepers: Shallum, Telem, and Uri.

25 And of Israel: of the sons of Parosh: Ramiah, Izziah, Malchijah, Mijamin, Eleazar, Malchijah,[35] and Benaiah. 26 And of the sons of Elam: Mattaniah, Zechariah, Jehiel, Abdi, Jeremoth, and Elijah. 27 And of the sons of Zattu: Elioenai, Eliashib, Mattaniah, Jeremoth, Zabad, and Aziza.28 And of the sons of Bebai were Jehohanan, Hananiah, Zabbai, and Athlai.29 And of the sons of Bani were Meshullam, Malluch, Adaiah, Jashub, Sheal, and Jeremoth. 30 And of the sons of Pahath-moab: Adna, Chelal, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattaniah, Bezalel, Binnui, and Manasseh. 31 And of the sons of Harim: Eliezer, Isshijah, Malchijah, Shemaiah, Shimeon, 32 Benjamin, Malluch, and Shemariah. 33 And of the sons of Hashum: Mattenai, Mattattah, Zabad, Eliphelet, Jeremai, Manasseh, and Shimei. 34 And of the sons of Bani: Maasai, Amram, Uel, 35 Benaiah, Bedeiah, Cheluhi,36 Vaniah, Meremoth, Eliashib, 37 Mattaniah, Mattenai, Jaasu. 38 And of the sons of Binnui:[36] Shimei, 39 Shelemiah, Nathan, Adaiah, 40 Machnadebai, Shashai, Sharai, 41 Azarel, Shelemiah, Shemariah,42 Shallum, Amariah, and Joseph. 43 Of the sons of Nebo: Jeiel, Mattithiah, Zabad, Zebina, Jaddai, Joel, and Benaiah. 44 All these had taken foreign wives; and some of them had wives by whom they had sons.

[1] MT SYR “Ezra” LXX VGc “Esdras”

[2] LXX VG “Babylon”  MT SYR “Babel”

[3] LXX and Heb. MSS “Kiriath-Jearim” MT “Kiriath Arim”

[4] That is (נְּתִינִים), temple servants, literally meaning “the given ones.” These were non-Israelite temple slaves or ministers, who carried out menial tasks in the temple. (1Ch 9:2; Ezra 8:17) Representatives of 35 Nethinim families returned from exile with Zerubbabel in 538 B.C. (Ezra 2:43–54; Neh. 7:46–56).

[5] That is (נְּתִינִים), temple servants, literally meaning “the given ones.” These were non-Israelite temple slaves or ministers, who carried out menial tasks in the temple. (1Ch 9:2; Ezra 8:17) Representatives of 35 Nethinim families returned from exile with Zerubbabel in 538 B.C. (Ezra 2:43–54; Neh. 7:46–56).

[6] That is (נְּתִינִים), temple servants, literally meaning “the given ones.” These were non-Israelite temple slaves or ministers, who carried out menial tasks in the temple. (1Ch 9:2; Ezra 8:17) Representatives of 35 Nethinim families returned from exile with Zerubbabel in 538 B.C. (Ezra 2:43–54; Neh. 7:46–56).

[7] Adversaries: (Heb. tsarim) An enemy, foe, adversary, opponent or oppressor, i.e., a personal enemy, who is in a state of open hostility or conflict.–Gen. 14:20; Num. 10:9; Ezra 4:1; Ps 44:5, 7.

[8] Aramaic: (Heb. aramî) It is a Semitic language similar to Phoenician and Hebrew, using the same alphabet. It was the language of the Arameans, who were present in northwestern Mesopotamia, with their kingdoms being mentioned in the Bible account at same time as the development of the nation of Israel. Aramaic would become the international language of trade and communication in the Assyrian and Babylonian empires, as well as the official administrative language of the Persian Empire. (Ezra 4:7) Parts of the OT were written in Aramaic: Ezra 4:8-6:18; 7:12-26; Dan. 2:4b-7:28; Jer. 10:11.

[9] Ezra 4:8 through 6:18 was originally written in Aramaic.

[10] The Euphrates River

[11] LXX “this preparation” VG “these walls”

[12] LXX SYR “they” MT VG “we”

[13] VG “Babylon” MT “Babel” SYR “Persia.”

[14] SYR “width twenty cubits” See 1 Kings 6:2

[15] Or a garbage dump

[16] The first section of Ezra, written in Aramaic, began in 4:8 and ended here.

[17] That is (נְּתִינִים), temple servants, literally meaning “the given ones.” These were non-Israelite temple slaves or ministers, who carried out menial tasks in the temple. (1Ch 9:2; Ezra 8:17) Representatives of 35 Nethinim families returned from exile with Zerubbabel in 538 B.C. (Ezra 2:43–54; Neh. 7:46–56).

[18] That is, Ezra

[19] The second section of Ezra written in Aramaic begins here and ends with vs 26.

[20] A talent equaled 34.2 kg (1,101 oz t).

[21] A cor equaled 220 L (200 dry qt).

[22] A bath equaled 22 L (5.81 gal).

[23] That is (נְּתִינִים), temple servants, literally meaning “the given ones.” These were non-Israelite temple slaves or ministers, who carried out menial tasks in the temple. (1Ch 9:2; Ezra 8:17) Representatives of 35 Nethinim families returned from exile with Zerubbabel in 538 B.C. (Ezra 2:43–54; Neh. 7:46–56).

[24] LXX “of the sons of Zattu”

[25] LXX “Bani” See 2:10.

[26] MTmargin SYR VG some LXX “Zaccur”

[27] These were insightful, intelligent, understanding men

[28] VGc “Iddo and his brothers” MT “Iddo his brother”

[29] That is (נְּתִינִים), temple servants, literally meaning “the given ones.” These were non-Israelite temple slaves or ministers, who carried out menial tasks in the temple. (1Ch 9:2; Ezra 8:17) Representatives of 35 Nethinim families returned from exile with Zerubbabel in 538 B.C. (Ezra 2:43–54; Neh. 7:46–56).

[30] That is (נְּתִינִים), temple servants, literally meaning “the given ones.” These were non-Israelite temple slaves or ministers, who carried out menial tasks in the temple. (1Ch 9:2; Ezra 8:17) Representatives of 35 Nethinim families returned from exile with Zerubbabel in 538 B.C. (Ezra 2:43–54; Neh. 7:46–56).

[31] A Persian gold coin that weighed 8.4 g (0.27 oz t).

[32] Satrap means “protectors of the realm,” a title that applied to Persian officials of jurisdictional districts.

[33] Lit a peg

[34] That is, they pledged to put away their wives

[35] LXX “Hashabiah”

[36] MTemendation by a small alteration of the Masoretic Text “And of the sons of Binnui” LXX “and the sons of Binnui” MT VG “and Bani and Binnui.”

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