The journey to Jerusalem
15 I told all the people to come together at the river that runs towards Ahava. We stayed there for three days. I saw that there were Jewish people and priests, but I did not see any Levites. 16 So I asked them to send some of their leaders: Eliezer, Ariel, Shemaiah, Elnathan, Jarib, Elnathan, Nathan, Zechariah and Meshullam. I also asked for Joiarib and Elnathan, who were wise teachers. 17 I sent them all to Iddo, the leader in Casiphia. Iddo and his family were servants in the temple who were living in Casiphia. I told them what to say to Iddo. I wanted them to bring people who would serve God in his house.
18 God was kind to us and he helped us. So they brought Sherebiah to us. He was a worker who had special skills to make things. He was a descendant of Israel's son Levi. He belonged to the clan of Levi's son, Mahli. Sherebiah came with his sons and brothers. Together they were 18 men. 19 Hashabiah and Jeshaiah also came. They belonged to the clan of Levi's son, Merari. 20 men from their family came with them. 20 220 temple servants also came. King David had first chosen this group to help the Levites with their work. We made a list of all their names.
21 We were all waiting by the Ahava river. I told the people not to eat any food, so that we could pray to God for help. We asked him to keep us safe on the journey, with our children and all our things. 22 I was ashamed to ask the king to send his soldiers with us to keep us safe. He could have sent soldiers who rode on horses with us, or other soldiers. But we had said to the king, ‘Our God helps people who trust him and he keeps them safe. But he is very angry with people who turn away from him and he punishes them.’
23 So we ate no food and we prayed to our God about this. He answered our prayers.
24 I chose 12 of the most important priests to do an important job, as well as Sherebiah, Hashabiah and ten of their brothers. 25 I told them to take care of the valuable things that we had received for the temple of our God. These were silver and gold things and other special things that the king, his helpers and his officers had given to us. Israelite people who were living in Babylonia had also given us valuable things for the temple. I weighed all these things. 26 I weighed 20,000 kilograms of silver and 3,500 kilograms of things made from silver. I weighed 3,500 kilograms of gold 27 and 20 gold bowls that weighed 8.5 kilograms. I also gave to them two beautiful bowls made from bronze. They shone brightly and they were as valuable as gold.
28 I said to the men, ‘Like these special things, you people are also special. You all belong to the Lord. People have chosen to give the silver and gold to the Lord, the God that your ancestors served. 29 So you must be careful to keep them safe until you reach Jerusalem. When you get there, you must weigh them again. Do that in front of the leaders of the priests, the Levites and the leaders of Israelite families. Then they should store them in the rooms of the temple.’
30 Then they gave the silver, the gold and the other valuable things to the priests and the Levites. They would take them to the temple of our God in Jerusalem.
31 We began our journey from the Ahava river on the 12th day of the first month. We left there to go to Jerusalem. Our God kept us safe on the journey. No enemies attacked us and nobody robbed us on the way. 32 So we arrived safely in Jerusalem. We rested there for three days.
33 On the fourth day, we went to the house of our God. Then we weighed the silver, the gold and the other valuable things there. We gave them to Meremoth, the son of Uriah the priest. Phinehas's son, Eleazar was with him. Jeshua's son, Jozabad, and Binnui's son, Noadiah, were also there. They were Levites. 34 They weighed and counted everything carefully. They wrote everything in a list as they weighed it.
35 All the people who had returned from Babylon made burnt offerings as sacrifices to Israel's God. They offered to the Lord 12 bulls on behalf of all Israel. They also offered 96 male sheep and 77 lambs. They killed 12 male goats as a sin offering. They gave all these to the Lord as burnt offerings. 36 They also gave the king's letter with its commands to his officers and rulers in the region west of the Euphrates river. The king's officers helped the Israelite people and the work of God's temple.