13Then Tattenai the governor, Shethar Bozenai, and their fellow-officials did exactly as the emperor had commanded. 14The Jewish leaders made good progress with the building of the Temple, encouraged by the prophets Haggai and Zechariah. They completed the Temple as they had been commanded by the God of Israel and by Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes, emperors of Persia. 15They finished the Temple on the third day of the month Adar in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the emperor. 16Then the people of Israel — the priests, the Levites, and all the others who had returned from exile — joyfully dedicated the Temple. 17For the dedication they offered 100 bulls, 200 sheep, and 400 lambs as sacrifices, and twelve goats as offerings for sin, one for each tribe of Israel. 18They also organized the priests and the Levites for the temple services in Jerusalem, according to the instructions contained in the book of Moses.
19The people who had returned from exile celebrated Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month of the following year. 20All the priests and the Levites had purified themselves and were ritually clean. The Levites killed the animals for the Passover sacrifices for all the people who had returned, for the priests, and for themselves. 21The sacrifices were eaten by all the Israelites who had returned from exile and by all those who had given up the pagan ways of the other people who were living in the land and who had come to worship the LORD God of Israel. 22For seven days they joyfully celebrated the Festival of Unleavened Bread. They were full of joy because the LORD had made the emperor of Assyria favourable to them, so that he supported them in their work of rebuilding the Temple of the God of Israel.
Ezra Arrives in Jerusalem
1Many years later, when Artaxerxes was emperor of Persia, there was a man named Ezra. He traced his ancestors back to Aaron, the High Priest, as follows: Ezra was the son of Seraiah, son of Azariah, son of Hilkiah, 2son of Shallum, son of Zadok, son of Ahitub, 3son of Amariah, son of Azariah, son of Meraioth, 4son of Zerahiah, son of Uzzi, son of Bukki, 5son of Abishua, son of Phinehas, son of Eleazar, son of Aaron.
6-7Ezra was a scholar with a thorough knowledge of the Law which the LORD, the God of Israel, had given to Moses. Because Ezra had the blessing of the LORD his God, the emperor gave him everything he asked for. In the seventh year of the reign of Artaxerxes, Ezra set out from Babylonia for Jerusalem with a group of Israelites which included priests, Levites, temple musicians, temple guards, and workmen. 8-9They left Babylonia on the first day of the first month, and with God's help they arrived in Jerusalem on the first day of the fifth month. 10Ezra had devoted his life to studying the Law of the LORD, to practising it, and to teaching all its laws and regulations to the people of Israel.
The Document which Artaxerxes Gave to Ezra
11Artaxerxes gave the following document to Ezra, the priest and scholar, who had a thorough knowledge of the laws and commands which the LORD had given to Israel:
12“From Artaxerxes the emperor to Ezra the priest, scholar in the Law of the God of Heaven.
13“I command that throughout my empire all the Israelite people, priests, and Levites that so desire be permitted to go with you to Jerusalem. 14I, together with my seven counsellors, send you to investigate the conditions in Jerusalem and Judah in order to see how well the Law of your God, which has been entrusted to you, is being obeyed. 15You are to take with you the gold and silver offerings which I and my counsellors desire to give to the God of Israel, whose Temple is in Jerusalem. 16You are also to take all the silver and gold which you collect throughout the province of Babylon and the offerings which the Israelite people and their priests give for the Temple of their God in Jerusalem.
17“You are to spend this money carefully and buy bulls, rams, lambs, corn, and wine and offer them on the altar of the Temple in Jerusalem. 18You may use the silver and gold that is left over for whatever you and your people desire, in accordance with the will of your God. 19You are to present to God in Jerusalem all the utensils that have been given to you for use in the temple services. 20And anything else which you need for the Temple, you may get from the royal treasury.
21“I command all the treasury officials in the province of West Euphrates to provide promptly for Ezra, the priest and scholar in the Law of the God of Heaven, everything he asks you for, 22up to a limit of 3.4 tonnes of silver, ten tonnes of wheat, 2,000 litres of wine, 2,000 litres of olive oil, and as much salt as necessary. 23You must be careful to provide everything which the God of Heaven requires for his Temple, and so make sure that he is never angry with me or with those who reign after me. 24You are forbidden to collect any taxes from the priests, Levites, musicians, guards, workmen, or anyone else connected with this Temple.
25“You, Ezra, using the wisdom which your God has given you, are to appoint administrators and judges to govern all the people in West Euphrates who live by the Law of your God. You must teach that Law to anyone who does not know it. 26If anyone disobeys the laws of your God or the laws of the empire, he is to be punished promptly: by death or by exile or by confiscation of his property or by imprisonment.”
Ezra Praises God
27Ezra said, “Praise the LORD, the God of our ancestors! He has made the emperor willing to honour in this way the Temple of the LORD in Jerusalem. 28By God's grace I have won the favour of the emperor, of his counsellors, and of all his powerful officials; the LORD my God has given me courage, and I have been able to persuade many of the heads of the clans of Israel to return with me.”
The People who Returned from Exile
1This is the list of the heads of the clans who had been in exile in Babylonia and who returned with Ezra to Jerusalem when Artaxerxes was emperor:
Ezra Finds Levites for the Temple
15I assembled the entire group by the canal that runs to the town of Ahava, and we camped there three days. I found that there were priests in the group, but no Levites. 16I sent for nine of the leaders: Eliezer, Ariel, Shemaiah, Elnathan, Jarib, Elnathan, Nathan, Zechariah, and Meshullam, and for two teachers, Joiarib and Elnathan. 17I sent them to Iddo, head of the community at Casiphia, to ask him and his associates, the temple workmen, to send us people to serve God in the Temple. 18Through God's grace they sent us Sherebiah, an able man, a Levite from the clan of Mahli, and eighteen of his sons and brothers came with him. 19They also sent Hashabiah and Jeshaiah of the clan of Merari, with twenty of their relatives. 20In addition there were 220 temple workmen whose ancestors had been designated by King David and his officials to assist the Levites. They were all listed by name.