71Then Sisinnes, the governor, Shethar Bozenai, and their fellow-officials did exactly as the emperor had commanded 2and gave careful supervision to the work of the Temple, helping the Jewish leaders and Temple officials. 3
The workers made good progress with the building of the Temple, encouraged by the prophets Haggai and Zechariah. 4The Jews completed the building according to the command of the Lord, the God of Israel, and with the permission of Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes, emperors of Persia. 5The Temple was completed on the 23rd day of the month of Adar in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the emperor. 6Then the people of Israel — the priests, the Levites, and all the others who had returned from exile and joined them — carried out all the commands in the Law of Moses. 7For the dedication they offered 100 bulls, 200 rams, and 400 lambs as sacrifices, 8and twelve goats as offerings for sin, one goat for the leader of each tribe of Israel. 9The priests in their robes and the Levites took their positions, family by family, for the Temple services for the Lord, the God of Israel, according to the instructions contained in the book of Moses. The Temple guards stood at each gate.
The people of Israel who had returned from exile celebrated the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month of the following year. The priests and Levites had purified themselves at the same time. 11Not all the Jews who had returned purified themselves at that time, but the Levites did.7.11 Verse 11 in Greek is unclear. 12The Levites killed the animals for the Passover sacrifices for all the people who had returned, for the priests, and for themselves. 13The sacrifices were eaten by all the Israelites who had returned from exile; they worshipped the Lord and rejected the pagan ways of the other people who were living in the land. 14For seven days they celebrated the Festival of Unleavened Bread. They rejoiced in the presence of the Lord, 15the God of Israel, because he had made the plans of the emperor of Assyria7.15 emperor of assyria: Apparently a reference to the Persian emperor who then ruled the territory once occupied by Assyria, Israel's enemy. favourable to them and had supported them in their work.
81Many years later, when Artaxerxes was emperor of Persia, a man named Ezra came from Babylon. He traced his ancestry back to Aaron, the High Priest, as follows: Ezra was the son of Seraiah, son of Azariah, son of Hilkiah, son of Shallum, 2son of Zadok, son of Ahitub, son of Amariah, son of Azariah, son of Bukki, son of Abishua, son of Phinehas, son of Eleazar, son of Aaron.
3-4Ezra was a scholar with a thorough knowledge of the Law which the God of Israel had given to Moses. The emperor had a high regard for him and approved all the requests he made. Ezra set out from Babylonia 5for Jerusalem with a group of Israelites which included priests, Levites, Temple musicians, Temple guards, and workmen. 6They left Babylonia on the first day of the first month in the seventh year of the reign of Artaxerxes. God gave them a safe journey, and they arrived in Jerusalem on the first day of the fifth month. 7Ezra had a thorough knowledge of the Law of the Lord and neglected none of its details. As a result he could teach all its laws and regulations to all the people of Israel.
8The following is a copy of the decree that Artaxerxes gave to Ezra, the priest and scholar of the Law of the Lord:
9“From Artaxerxes the emperor to Ezra the priest, scholar of the Law of the Lord, greetings.
10“In my generosity I have decided to decree that throughout my empire any of the Jews who so desire, including priests and Levites, may go with you to Jerusalem. 11I and the seven counsellors who hold the title ‘Friends of the Emperor’ have decided that all who wish to do so may go with you. 12Let them investigate the conditions in Jerusalem and Judah to see how well the Law of the Lord is being obeyed. 13Let them also take with them to Jerusalem the gifts which I and my counsellors have vowed to give to the Lord of Israel, including all the silver and gold belonging to the Lord which may be found in Babylonia, 14and all that is given by the people of Israel for the temple of their Lord. The silver and gold are to be collected to buy bulls, rams, lambs, and everything else that is necessary, 15so that sacrifices may be offered on the altar of the Lord in Jerusalem.
16“You may use the silver and gold for whatever you and your fellow-Israelites desire, in accordance with the will of God. 17-18You may obtain from the royal treasury the sacred vessels of the Lord that are being entrusted to you for use in the Temple of your God in Jerusalem, as well as anything else you may need for the Temple service.
19“I command all the treasury officials in Greater Syria and Phoenicia to provide promptly for Ezra, the priest and scholar of the Law of God Most High, everything he asks for, 20up to a limit of 3.4 tonnes of silver, ten tonnes of wheat, 2,000 litres of wine, and as much salt as may be needed. 21You must be careful to do everything that the Law requires in order to honour God Most High and so make sure that he is never angry with me or with those who reign after me. 22You are forbidden to collect any taxes from the priests, Levites, musicians, guards, workmen, or anyone else connected with this temple. No one has the right to impose any burden on them.
23“You, Ezra, using the wisdom that comes from God, shall appoint administrators and judges to govern all the people in Greater Syria and Phoenicia who live by the Law of your God. You must teach that Law to anyone who does not know it. 24If anyone disobeys the laws of your God or the laws of the empire, he is to be punished promptly: by death, by fine, by exile, or by some other punishment.”
25Ezra said, “Praise the Lord, the Lord alone! He has made the emperor willing to restore the glory of the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem. 26By God's grace, I have won the respect of the emperor, his counsellors, all his Friends, and all his powerful officials. 27The Lord my God has given me courage, and I have been able to persuade many men to return with me.”
28This is the list of the leaders of the clans and families who had been in exile in Babylonia and returned with Ezra to Jerusalem when Artaxerxes was emperor:
29-40Gershom, of the clan of Phinehas
Gamael, of the clan of Ithamar
Hattush son of Shecaniah, of the clan of David
Zechariah of the clan of Parosh, with 150 men of his clan (there were records of their family line)
Eliehoenai son of Zechariah, of the clan of Pahath Moab, with 200 men
Shecaniah son of Jehaziel, of the clan of Zattu, with 300 men
Ebed son of Jonathan, of the clan of Adin, with 250 men
Jeshaiah son of Gotholiah, of the clan of Elam, with seventy men
Zeraiah son of Michael, of the clan of Shephatiah, with seventy men
Obadiah son of Jehiel, of the clan of Joab, with 212 men
Shelomith son of Josiphiah, of the clan of Bani, with 160 men
Zechariah son of Bebai, of the clan of Bebai, with 28 men
Johanan son of Hakkatan, of the clan of Azgad, with 110 men
Eliphelet, Jeuel, and Shemaiah, of the clan of Adonikam, with seventy men (they returned at a later date)
Uthai son of Istalcurus, of the clan of Bigvai, with seventy men.
41I assembled the entire group at the River Theras, and we camped there for three days. I inspected them 42and found that there were no priests or Levites in the group, 43-44so I sent a message to ten of the leaders who were competent men: Eliezer, Iduel, Maasmas, Elnathan, Shemaiah, Jarib, Nathan, Elnathan, Zechariah, and Meshullam. 45I told them to go to Iddo, the chief official at the treasury, 46and ask him, his associates, and the treasury officials to send us priests to serve in the Temple of our Lord. 47With God's help they sent us some able men: Sherebiah, a Levite from the clan of Mahli, with eighteen of his sons and relatives, 48and Hashabiah, Annunus, and his brother Jeshaiah of the clan of Hananiah, with twenty of their sons. 49There were also 220 Temple workmen whose ancestors had been designated by King David and his officials to assist the Levites. They were all listed in the register by name.
50There by the River Theras I made a vow that the young men should fast in the presence of our Lord and ask him for a safe journey for us, our children, and our animals. 51I would have been ashamed to ask the emperor for infantry and cavalry to accompany us and protect us from our enemies, 52because I had told him that our Lord by his strength blesses and protects those who trust him. 53So once again we prayed for our Lord to protect us, and he answered our prayers.
54From among the leading priests I chose Sherebiah, Hashabiah, and ten others. 55Then I weighed out the silver, the gold, and the sacred utensils which the emperor, his advisers and officials, and the people of Israel had given to be used in the Temple, and I gave it to the priests. 56-57This is what I gave them:
|silver utensils||3.4 tonnes|
|fine bronze bowls that looked like gold||12|
58I said to the priests, “You are sacred to the Lord, the Lord of our ancestors, and so are the utensils and the silver and gold brought to him in fulfilment of a vow. 59Guard them carefully until you reach the Temple. There in the priests' rooms, hand them over to the leaders of the priests and the Levites and to the leaders of the people of Israel in Jerusalem.” 60So the priests and the Levites took charge of the silver, the gold, and the utensils for Jerusalem and brought them to the Temple.
61It was on the twelfth day of the first month that we left the River Theras, and with the Lord's presence and protection we reached Jerusalem. He protected us from all our enemies on our journey, and we arrived safely. 62After we had been there three days, we went to the Temple, weighed the silver and gold and handed it all over to Meremoth the priest, son of Uriah. 63With him were Eleazar son of Phinehas and two Levites, Jozabad son of Jeshua and Moeth son of Sabannus. 64Everything was counted and weighed, and a complete record was made at the same time.
65All those who had returned from exile then offered sacrifices to the Lord, the God of Israel. They offered twelve bulls for all Israel, 96 rams, 66and 72 lambs; they also offered twelve goats as a fellowship offering. They sacrificed all these animals to the Lord. 67Then they took the decree the emperor had given them and gave it to the governors and officials of Greater Syria and Phoenicia, who then honoured the Jewish people and the Temple of the Lord.
68After all this had been done, some of the leaders of the people of Israel came and told me that 69the people, the leaders, the priests, and the Levites had not kept themselves separate from the people in the neighbouring countries of Edom, Moab, and Egypt, or from the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, and Jebusites. They were doing the same disgusting things that those people did. 70God's holy people had become contaminated because Jewish men were marrying foreign women. Even the leaders and the officials had taken part in this breaking of the Law from the very beginning. 71As soon as I heard this, I tore my clothes and my sacred robe in despair. I also tore my hair and my beard, and sat down crushed with anxiety and grief. 72I sat there grieving about this sin until it was time for the evening sacrifice to be offered, when people began to gather round me — all those who were disturbed by what the Lord of Israel had said.
73Then I got up from where I had been fasting, and still wearing my torn clothes, I knelt in prayer and stretched out my hands to the Lord. 74I said, “O Lord, I am ashamed and confused in your presence. 75Our sins tower over our heads; they reach as high as the heavens. 76This has been true from the days of our ancestors until now; we, your people, have sinned greatly. 77Because of our sins and the sins of our ancestors, we and our relatives, our kings, and our priests have fallen into the hands of foreign kings, and we have been slaughtered, robbed, and carried away as prisoners. We have been totally disgraced, as we still are today. 78Now, Lord, for a short time you have shown us great mercy. You have allowed just a few of us to survive in order to carry on the name of Israel here in your holy Temple. 79You have let the light of our nation shine again, after feeding us and taking care of us during the time of our slavery. 80Even when we were slaves you did not abandon us; you made the emperors of Persia favour us, so that they gave us food, 81restored the glory of your Temple, rebuilt the city of Jerusalem out of its ruins, and gave us a place of security here in Judah and Jerusalem.
82“But now, Lord, what can we say, after you have done all this for us? We have again disobeyed the commands that you gave us through your servants, the prophets. They told us that 83the land we were to occupy was an impure land because the heathen people who lived in it filled it with their disgusting deeds. 84
They told us that we should never intermarry with those people 85and never seek peaceful relations with them if we wanted to be strong and enjoy the land and pass it on to our descendants for ever. 86Even after everything that has happened to us in punishment for our sins, we know that you, Lord, have punished us less than we deserve 87and have allowed us to survive. But we have rebelled again, broken your Law, and intermarried with these wicked people. 88Yet you were not angry enough to destroy us completely and leave none of us alive, with no descendants and without our name. 89Lord of Israel, you are faithful; you have allowed us to survive. 90We confess our guilt to you; we have no right to come into your presence.”
91While Ezra was bowing in prayer in front of the Temple, weeping and confessing these sins, a large group of people from Jerusalem — men, women, and children — gathered round him, all of them weeping bitterly. 92Then Shecaniah son of Jehiel, one of the Israelites, said to Ezra, “We have sinned against the Lord by marrying foreign women, but even so, there is still hope for Israel. 93Now we must make a solemn promise to the Lord that we will send all these foreign women and their children away. 94We will do what you and the others who obey the Law of the Lord advise us to do. 95It is your responsibility to act. We are behind you, so go ahead and get it done.”
96So Ezra began by making the leaders of the priests, of the Levites, and of the rest of the people take an oath that they would divorce their foreign wives.
91Then Ezra went from the court of the Temple into the living quarters of Jehohanan son of Eliashib 2and spent the night there grieving over the people's terrible violation of the Law. He did not eat or drink anything.
3A message was sent throughout Jerusalem and Judah, calling all those who had returned from exile to meet in Jerusalem, 4by order of the leaders of the people. If anyone failed to come within two or three days, his cattle would be confiscated, and he would lose his right to be a member of the community.
5Within the three days, on the twentieth day of the ninth month, all the men of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin came to Jerusalem 6and assembled in the Temple square. Everyone was shivering with the cold because it was wintertime.
7Then Ezra stood up and spoke to them, “You have broken the Law and brought guilt on Israel by marrying foreign women. 8Now then, tell the truth and confess your sins to the Lord, the God of our ancestors, 9and do what he requires. Separate yourselves from the foreigners living in our land and get rid of your foreign wives.”
10The people shouted in reply, “We will do whatever you say.” 11But they added, “The crowd is too big, and it's wintertime. We can't stand here in the open like this. This isn't something that can be settled in one or two days, since so many of us are involved in this sin. 12Let our officials stay in Jerusalem and take charge of the matter. Then let anyone who has a foreign wife come at an appointed time, 13together with the leaders and the judges of his city. In this way God's anger over this situation will be turned away.” 14Jonathan son of Asahel and Jahzeiah son of Tikvah assumed responsibility for the plan; and Meshullam, Levi, and Shabbethai served with them as judges.
15The returned exiles carried out the investigation in full. 16Ezra the priest appointed men from among the heads of the clans and recorded their names. On the first day of the tenth month they began their investigation, 17and within the next three months they investigated all the cases of men with foreign wives.
18The following is a list of the men who had foreign wives:
Priests, listed by clans:
19Clan of Joshua and his brothers, sons of Jozadak: Maaseiah, Eliezer, Jarib, and Jodan. 20They promised to divorce their wives, and they offered rams as a sacrifice for their sins.
21Clan of Immer: Hanani, Zebadiah, Manes, Shemaiah, Jehiel, and Azariah
22Clan of Pashhur: Elioenai, Maaseiah, Ishmael, Nathanael, Okidelus, and Elasah
Jozabad, Shimei, Kelaiah (also called Kelita), Pethahiah, Judah, and Jonah
Eliashib and Bacchurus
Shallum and Telem
Clan of Parosh: Ramiah, Izziah, Malchijah, Milelos, Eleazar, Asebiah, and Benaiah
27Clan of Elam: Mattaniah, Zechariah, Jezriel, Abdi, Jeremoth, and Elijah
28Clan of Zattu: Elioenai, Eliashib, Othoniah, Jeremoth, Zabad, and Zerdaiah
29Clan of Bebai: Jehohanan, Hananiah, Zabbai, and Emathis
30Clan of Bani: Meshullam, Malluch, Adaiah, Jashub, Sheal, and Jeremoth
31Clan of Addi: Naathus, Moossias, Laccunus, Naidus, Bescaspasmys, Sesthel, Belnuus, and Manasseas
32Clan of Annan: Elionas, Asiah, Melchiah, Sabbaiah, and Simon Chosamaeus
33Clan of Hashum: Mattenai, Mattattah, Zabad, Eliphelet, Manasseh, and Shimei
34Clan of Bani: Jeremai, Maadai, Amram, Joel, Mamdai, Bedeiah, Vaniah, Carabasion, Eliashib, Machnadebai, Eliasis, Binnui, Elialis, Shimei, Shelemiah, and Nathaniah
Clan of Ezora: Shashai, Azarel, Azael, Shemaiah, Amariah, and Joseph
35Clan of Nebo: Mattithiah, Zabad, Iddo, Joel, and Benaiah.
36All these men had foreign wives. They divorced them and sent them and their children away.
The priests, the Levites, and many of the ordinary people of Israel settled in Jerusalem and its vicinity. By the seventh month the other Israelites were all settled in their towns. On the first day of that month 38they all assembled in Jerusalem in the square just inside the east gate of the Temple. 39They asked Ezra, the High Priest and scholar of the Law which the Lord had given Israel through Moses, to bring the book of the Law. 40So Ezra brought it to the place where all the people — men, women, and all the priests — had gathered to hear it. 41There in the square by the gate he read the Law to them from dawn until noon, and they all listened attentively.
42Ezra was standing on a wooden platform that had been built for the occasion. 43The following men stood at his right: Mattathiah, Shema, Ananiah, Azariah, Uriah, Hezekiah, and Baalsamos; 44and the following stood at his left: Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Lothasubus, Nabariah, and Zechariah.
45Ezra took his seat on the platform in a prominent place where everyone could see him. As soon as he took the book of the Law 46and opened it, all the people stood up. Ezra said, “Praise the Lord, God Most High, God Almighty, Ruler of all.”
47All the people raised their arms in the air and answered, “Amen!” They knelt down in worship, with their faces to the ground.
48The following Levites taught the Law of the Lord to the people: Jeshua, Anniuth, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maiannas, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, and Peliah. They read the Law to the people and explained what was read.
49-50When the people heard what the Law required, they were so moved that they began to weep. The governor9.49–50 Probable meaning The governor; Greek Attharates. said to Ezra, the priest and scholar of the Law, and to all the Levites who were teaching the people, “This day is holy to the Lord; 51go home and have a feast. Share your food and wine with those who have none. 52Today is holy to the Lord, so don't be sad. He will restore your former glory.”
53The Levites gave the command to all the people: “This day is holy; do not be sad.” 54So all the people went home and ate and drank joyfully and shared what they had with those who had nothing. They celebrated 55because they understood what had been read to them.
Then they assembled…9.55 Originally the Greek text must have continued (see Neh 8.13).