King Artaxerxes' letter to Ezra
11 This is a copy of the letter that King Artaxerxes had given to Ezra, the priest and teacher. Ezra had studied the Lord's commands and laws for Israel.
12 ‘From Artaxerxes, king of all kings.
To Ezra the priest, who has studied very well the law of the God of heaven. I hope that you are well.
13 I have given this command: When you travel to Jerusalem, any other Israelites who live in my kingdom may go with you. Anyone who wants to go may go. That includes priests and Levites. 14 The king and his seven officers are sending you with their authority. You have the law of your God that he has given to you. Go and see if your people in Judah and Jerusalem are obeying his law. 15 Take with you the gold and silver that I and my officers have sent. They are a free gift for Israel's God, whose house is in Jerusalem. 16 Also take the gold and silver that other people in Babylonia give to you. And take the gifts that the people and the priests have given for their God's temple in Jerusalem. 17 You must use the money to buy bulls, male sheep and lambs. You must also buy grain and wine to offer to your God. Sacrifice them on the altar of your God's temple in Jerusalem.
18 You and your friends may then use the rest of the silver and gold in the way that you choose. Decide what your God wants you to do. 19 Also take the valuable things that you use to worship your God in his temple. Take them safely to him in Jerusalem. 20 You may need other things to worship your God in his temple. You may take what you need from the royal store rooms.
21 I, King Artaxerxes, give this command to all my officers in the region on the west side of the Euphrates river: You must give Ezra anything that he asks for. He is a priest who studies the law of the God of heaven. 22 This is how much you may give 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,and all the salt that he wants.
23 Be careful to give Ezra everything that the God of heaven wants for his temple. I do not want the God of heaven to be angry with the kingdom that I and my sons rule. 24 You must not take any kinds of taxes from the men who serve this God in his house. You have no authority to do this. Take no taxes from the priests, the Levites, or the singers, guards, and servants who work in the temple.
25 Ezra, your God has helped you to be wise. So you must choose judges and officers who know the laws of your God. Then they will decide things for all the people who live in the region on the west side of the Euphrates river. If the people do not know the laws of your God, you must teach them. 26 Everyone must obey the laws of your God and also the laws of the king. If they do not obey, they deserve the right punishment. They may have to die. They may have to leave the country. They may have to lose their valuable things. They may have to go to prison.’