Ezra comes to Jerusalem
1 After these things, Ezra came up from Babylon while Artaxerxes was king of Persia. This is the list of Ezra's ancestors. He was the son of Seraiah, the son of Azariah, the son of Hilkiah. 2 Hilkiah was the son of Shallum, the son of Zadok, the son of Ahitub. 3 Ahitub was the son of Amariah, the son of Azariah, the son of Meraioth. 4 Meraioth was the son of Zerahiah, the son of Uzzi, the son of Bukki. 5 Bukki was the son of Abishua, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eleazar. And Eleazar was a son of Aaron, the most important priest. 6 This Ezra came up from Babylon. He was a teacher who knew the law of Moses. The Lord, the God of Israel had given that law to Moses. The king had given to Ezra everything that he asked for. That happened because the Lord God had caused the king to do this. 7 Some other Israelites also came up to Jerusalem. They came in the seventh year that Artaxerxes was king. They included priests, Levites, singers, temple servants and men who watched the gates.
8 Ezra came to Jerusalem in the fifth month of Artaxerxes' seventh year. 9 He left Babylon on the first day of the first month. And he came to Jerusalem on the first day of the fifth month. God had made his journey easy. 10 He did this because Ezra had studied God's law carefully. Ezra always obeyed its rules and he taught them to the Israelites.
Artaxerxes' letter to Ezra
11 This is a copy of the letter that Artaxerxes had given to Ezra, the priest and teacher. Ezra knew well all the Lord's rules and laws for Israel.
12 ‘From Artaxerxes, king of kings,
to Ezra the priest, a teacher of the God of heaven's law. I hope that you are well.
13 Many Israelites live in my kingdom. Some may want to go with you to Jerusalem. I have decided that they can go. That rule includes priests and Levites with any who want to go. 14 The king and his 7 important officers are sending you there. You must ask whether the people in Judah and Jerusalem are obeying their God's law. You have this law in your hands. 15 And I and my officers have given gold and silver as a free gift to you. You must take them with you. They are for the God of Israel, whose house is in Jerusalem. 16 And take the gold and silver that other people in Babylon give to you. And take too, the gifts that the people and priests have given for their God's temple in Jerusalem. 17 You must buy bulls and old and young male sheep with this money. Also buy drink and grain to offer to your God. Sacrifice them on the altar of Jerusalem's temple.
18 You and your friends may then use the rest of the silver and gold as you want to. You can do anything that your God wants you to do. 19 You must take all the things that you use for worship with you. Give them to Jerusalem's God. 20 Perhaps you may need other things for worship in your God's temple. You can take these from my rich stores.
21 This is what I, King Artaxerxes, will do. I will speak to the rulers of the countries across the River Euphrates. They must help you. Their men keep my money. They must give Ezra anything that he asks for. He is a priest who teaches the law of the God of heaven. They must do that very carefully. 22 You should not give more than this to him:
3,400 kilos (3.3 tons) of silver
22,000 litres (5,800 US gallons) of grain
2,200 litres (580 US gallons) of wine
2,200 litres of oil
all the salt that he wants.
23 Be careful to give to Ezra everything that the God of heaven wants for his temple. I do not want the God of heaven to be angry with me or with my sons. 24 You must not take money for any purpose from men who work in this house of God. You have no authority to do this. These men include priests, Levites, singers, servants and those who watch the gate.
25 Your God has helped you to understand things, Ezra. He will show to you which men to choose. They will judge the people. You must choose men to judge small problems in the land across the Euphrates. And other men must judge the bigger problems. All the people must obey the laws of your God. If the people do not know these laws, you must teach them. 26 You must punish the people who do not obey the laws of your God and the king's laws. You may send them away or you may kill them. You may send them out of the country or put them in a prison. Or you may take away some of their things.’
Ezra praises God
27 We praise the Lord, the God that our ancestors have always worshipped. The king has done this to show that the Lord's house in Jerusalem is very great. 28 God has been kind to me, so that the king and his powerful friends and officers want to help me. Because the Lord my God helped me so much, I became brave. I have been able to make many of the leaders of Israel return to Jerusalem with me.