Scripture quotations are from the Lexham English Bible. Copyright 2012 Logos Bible Software. Lexham is a registered trademark of Logos Bible Software.
After these things during the reign of King Artaxerxes of Persia, Ezra the son of Seraiah, son of Azariah, son of Hilkiah, son of Shallum, son of Zadok, son of Ahitub, son of Amariah, son of Azariah, son of Meraioth, , son of Zerahiah, son of Uzzi, son of Bukki, son of Abishua, son of Phinehas, son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the chief priest— this Ezra went up from Babylonia. He was a scribe skilled in the law of Moses, which Yahweh the God of Israel gave. The king granted him all his requests, for the hand of Yahweh was upon him.
Some of the Israelites, some priests and Levites, the singers, the gatekeepers, and the temple servants went up to Jerusalem in the seventh year of King Artaxerxes. He came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which was in the seventh year of the king. For on the first day of the first month he began the journey from Babylonia; and on the first day of the fifth month he came to Jerusalem, for the good hand of his God was on him. For Ezra had set his heart to seek the law of Yahweh, to do it, and to teach the regulations and judgments in Israel.
This is the copy of the letter that King Artaxerxes gave to Ezra the priest, the scribe of the scroll of the words of the commands of Yahweh and his statutes for Israel: "Artaxerxes, the king of kings, to Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of the heavens. Peace. And now I issue forth a decree that any of the people of Israel, their priests, or their Levites in my kingdom who are willing to go to Jerusalem may go with you. For you are sent from the king and his seven counselors to enquire about Judah and Jerusalem concerning the law of your God, which is in your hand. Also, bring the silver and gold that the king and his advisors have freely offered to the God of Israel whose dwelling is in Jerusalem, and all of the silver and gold that you will find in the whole province of Babylonia, with the freewill offerings of the people and the priests giving willingly for the house of their God in Jerusalem. With this money, then, with diligence you must buy young bulls, young rams, lambs, and their offerings and libations. You must offer them on the altar that is in the house of your God in Jerusalem. You may do whatever seems best to you and your brothers to do with the remainder of the silver and gold according to the desire of your God. And the vessels that were given to you for the service of the house of your God you shall deliver before the God of Jerusalem. And the remainder of the needs for the house of your God that falls to you to provide, you may provide from the house of the king’s treasury."
"I, even I, King Artaxerxes, issue forth a decree to all the treasurers who are in the province Beyond the River. Whatever the priest Ezra, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, may ask of you, let it be done with diligence, up to one hundred talents of silver, one hundred measures of wheat, one hundred baths of wine, one hundred baths of oil, and unlimited salt. All that is commanded by the God of heaven, let it be done with diligence for the house of the God of heaven, otherwise wrath will come on the kingdom of the king and his sons. You also should be aware that it is not permitted to place tax, tribute, or duty upon all of the priests, the Levites, the singers, the doorkeepers, the temple servants, and other servants of the house of God.
"You, Ezra, according to the wisdom of your God that you possess, appoint magistrates and judges who can judge all of the people in the province Beyond the River who know the laws of your God. And you will teach those who do not know. All who do not obey the law of your God and the law of the king, let judgment be executed on him with diligence, whether for death or for banishment or for confiscation of goods and for imprisonment."
Blessed be Yahweh the God of our ancestors, who put this in the heart of the king to glorify the house of Yahweh in Jerusalem and who extended to me loyal love before the king and his counselors, and before all of the mighty officials of the king. I took courage, for the hand of Yahweh my God was upon me, and I gathered leaders from Israel to go up with me.
These were the heads of their families and the register of those returnees from Babylonia who came up with me in the reign of King Artaxerxes: From the descendants of Phinehas: Gershom. From the descendants of Ithamar: Daniel. From the descendants of David: Hattush. From the descendants of Shecaniah, from the descendants of Parosh: Zechariah and with him one hundred and fifty registered males. From the descendants of Pahath-Moab: Eliehoenai son of Zerahiah and with him two hundred males. From the descendants of Zattu: Shecaniah son of Jahaziel, and with him three hundred males. From the descendants of Adin: Ebed son of Jehonathan, and with him fifty males. From the descendants of Elam: Jeshaiah son of Athaliah, and with him seventy males. From the descendants of Shephatiah: Zebadiah son of Michael, and with him eighty males. From the descendants of Joab: Obadiah son of Jehiel, and with him two hundred and eighteen males. From the descendants of Bani: Shelomith son of Josiphiah, and with him one hundred and sixty males. From the descendants of Bebai: Zechariah son of Bebai, and with him twenty-eight males. From the descendants of Azgad: Jehohanan son of Haqqatan, and with him one hundred and ten males. From the descendants of Adonikam, those who came last, these were their names: Eliphelet, Jeiel, Shemaiah, and with them sixty males. From the descendants of Bigvai: Uthai son of Zabud, and with him seventy males.
I gathered them by the river that goes to Ahava and we camped there for three days. And I looked at the people and the priests, I found no one there from the sons of Levi. And I sent for Eliezer, Ariel, Shemaiah, Elnathan, Jarib, Elnathan, Nathan, Zechariah, and Meshullam, who were family heads, and for Jehoiarib and Elnathan who were wise. I sent them to Iddo, the head of the place called Casiphia, and I placed in their mouths what words to say to Iddo and his brothers the temple servants in Casiphia, to send to us ministers for the house of our God. With the good hand of our God before us, they brought us a man of understanding from the sons of Mahli, son of Levi, son of Israel—Sherebiah and his sons and brothers, eighteen in total. Also Hashabiah and with him Jeshaiah, the sons of Merari, with his brothers and their sons, twenty in total. And from the temple servants, whom David and his officials had set up to serve the Levites, two hundred and twenty in total. All of them were registered by name.
I proclaimed a fast there at the river Ahava to humble ourselves before our God in order to seek from him a safe journey for us, our children, and our possessions. For I was ashamed to ask the king for troops and horses to protect us from enemies on the way because we said to the king, "the hand of our God is favorable to all who seek him, but his strength and anger are against all who forsake them." So we fasted and sought our God for this and he responded to our prayer.
I set apart twelve of the official priests: Sherebiah, Hashabiah, and ten of their brothers with them. Then I weighed out to them silver and gold and the vessels, the offering of the house of our God that the king, his counselors, his commanders, and all of Israel who was present offered. I weighed out into their hand six hundred and fifty talents of silver, one hundred vessels of silver, one hundred talents of gold, twenty gold bowls worth one thousand darics, and two vessels of good polished bronze as precious as gold. And I said to them, "You are holy to Yahweh and the vessels are holy. The silver and gold are a freewill offering to Yahweh, God of your ancestors. Guard and look after them until you weigh them before the chief priests, the Levites, and the heads of the families of Israel in Jerusalem, in the chamber of the house of Yahweh." So the priests and Levites took over the weighed silver, gold, and the vessels to bring to Jerusalem for the house of our God.
On the twelfth day of the first month we set out from the river of Ahava to go to Jerusalem. The hand of our God was on us and he delivered us from the hand of the enemy and from ambushing on the way. We came to Jerusalem and remained there three days. On the fourth day, the silver, gold, and vessels were weighed in the house of our God into the hand of priest Meremoth, the son of Uriah, and with him Eleazar son of Phinehas. With them were the Levites, Jehozabad son of Jeshua and Noadiah son of Binnui. The amount and weight of all the weighed items was recorded at that time.
The exiles that returned from captivity offered burnt offerings to the God of Israel; twelve bulls for all Israel, ninety-six rams, seventy-seven lambs, and twelve goats as a sin offering. All was a burnt offering to Yahweh. They delivered the customs of the king to the king’s satraps and to the governor of the province Beyond the River. And they supported the people of the house of God.
After finishing these things the officials approached me saying, "The people of Israel, the priests, and the Levites have not separated from the people of the lands with their detestable things, and from the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians, and Amorites. For they have taken from their daughters for themselves and their sons. So the holy seed has mixed itself with the peoples of the lands, and the hand of the officials and prefects were foremost in this sin. When I heard this I tore my garment and my robe, and I pulled the hair out from my head and beard, and I sat appalled. Then all who trembled at the words of the God of Israel because of the sin of the returned exiles were gathered around me and I sat appalled until the evening offering.
At the evening offering I got up from my mourning posture and, with my garment and robe torn, I fell down on my knees and I spread out my palms to Yahweh my God and said, "My God, I am ashamed and embarrassed to lift my face to you, my God. For our sins have risen above our heads and our guilt has grown up to the heavens. From the days of our ancestors until this day we have been in great guilt, and because of our sins we ourselves, our kings, and our priests have been handed into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, to plunder, and to utter shame, as it is this day. But now for a brief moment mercy has been shown by Yahweh our God, who left behind for us a remnant, and given us security in his holy place—for our God to brighten our eyes and to give us brief relief in our bondage. For we are slaves and in our bondage our God did not forsake us, and he has extended to us loyal love in the presence of the kings of Persia, to give to us deliverance and to set up the house of our God, to repair its ruins, and to give us a wall in Judea and Jerusalem.
"And now our God what shall we say after this? For we have forsaken your commandments, which you commanded by the hand of your servants the prophets saying, ‘The land that you are entering to possess is a land of impurity with the impurity of the peoples of the lands, with their detestable things which they have filled from end to end with their uncleanness. Therefore, do not give your daughters to their sons, and do not take their daughters for your sons. Do not seek their peace and prosperity so that forever you may be strong and eat the good of the land and may give it as an inheritance to your sons.’ After all that has come upon us for our evil practices and for our great guilt—you, our God, have held back less than our guilt deserved and you have given us a remainder such as this. Shall we again break your commandments and intermarry with the peoples who practice these detestable things? Would you not be angry with us until you destroy us with no remnant or remainder? Yahweh, God of Israel, you are righteous, for we have been left this day as a remnant. Here we are before you in our guilt, for none can stand before you because of this."
While Ezra was praying and confessing, weeping and throwing himself down before the house of God, a very great assembly of men, women, and children from Israel gathered to him. And the people wept bitterly. Shecaniah son of Jehiel, of the sons of Elam, answered and said to Ezra, "We ourselves have broken faith with our God and have married foreign women from the peoples of the land, and even now there is hope for Israel in spite of this. So now let us make a covenant with our God to send away all of these women and their offspring, according to the advice of my lord and those who tremble at the commandment of our God. Let it be done according to the law. Arise, for it is your task and we are with you. Be strong and do it." Then Ezra stood up and made the chief priests, Levites, and all of Israel swear to do according to what was said. So they swore this oath.
Ezra rose from before the house of God and went to the chamber of Jehohanan son of Eliashib. He did not eat food nor drink water because he was mourning over the sin of the exiles. And they sent a proclamation through Judah and Jerusalem to all the returned exiles to assemble in Jerusalem. Anyone who did not come within three days, by decision of the officials and elders, all of his possessions would be devoted to God, and he himself would be excluded from the assembly of exiles.
Then all the men of Judah and Benjamin assembled in Jerusalem within the three days. It was the ninth month on the twentieth day of the month. All the people sat in the public square of the house of God trembling because of this matter and from the rains. Then Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, "You have broke faith and married foreign women, increasing the guilt of Israel. Now make a confession to Yahweh the God of your ancestors and do his will. Separate yourselves from the peoples of the land and from the foreign women."
Then all the assembly answered with a great voice and said, "It is so. We must do according to your words. But the people are many, and it is the time of rain; we are unable to stand outside. The task is not for one day or two, for we greatly rebelled in this matter. Please let our leaders stand for the whole assembly, and let all that are in our cities who have married foreign women come at set times, and with them the elders of and judges of each city, until the fierce wrath of our God because of this matter is averted from us." Only Jehonathan son of Asahel and Jahzeiah son of Tikvah stood against this, and the Levites Meshullam and Shabbethai supported them.
The returned exiles did so. Ezra the priest selected men, the heads of the families according to the house of their fathers, all of them by name. They sat down to examine the matter on the first day of the tenth month. They finished investigating all the men who married foreign women by the first day of the first month.
There was found from the sons of the priests those who had married foreign women, from the sons of Jeshua son of Jehozadak and his brothers: Maaseiah, Eliezer, Jarib, and Gedaliah. They pledged themselves to put away their wives, and their guilt offering was a ram of the flock for their guilt. From the sons of Immer: Hanani and Zebadiah. From the sons of Harim: Maaseiah, Elijah, Shemaiah, Jehiel, and Uzziah. From the sons of Pashhur: Elioenai, Maaseiah, Ishmael, Nethanel, Jozabad, and Eleasah.
From the Levites: Jozabad, Shimei, Kelaiah (that is, Kelita), Pethahiah, Judah, and Eliezer. From the singers: Eliashib. From the gatekeepers: Shallum, Telem, and Uri.
And from Israel, the sons of Parosh: Ramiah, Izziah, Malkijah, Mijamin, Eleazar, Malkijah, and Benaiah. From the sons of Elam: Mattaniah, Zechariah, Jehiel, Abdi, Jeremoth, and Elijah. From the sons of Zattu: Elioenai, Eliashib, Mattaniah, Jeremoth, Zabad, and Aziza. From the sons of Bebai: Jehohanan, Hananiah, Zabbai, and Athlai. From the sons of Bani: Meshullam, Malluch, Adaiah, Jashub, Sheal, and Jeremoth. From the sons of Pahath-Moab: Adna, Kelal, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattaniah, Bezalel, Binnui, and Manasseh. From the sons of Harim: Eliezer, Isshiah, Malkijah, Shemaiah, Simeon, Benjamin, Malluch, and Shemariah. From the sons of Hashum: Mattenai, Mattattah, Zabad, Eliphelet, Jeremai, Manasseh, and Shimei. From the sons of Bani: Maadai, Amram, Uel, Benaiah, Bedeiah, Keluhi, Vaniah, Meremoth, Eliashib, Mattaniah, Mattenai, Jaasu, Bani, Binnui, Shimei, Shelemiah, Nathan, Adaiah, Macnadebai, Shashai, Sharai, Azarel, Shelemiah, Shemariah, Shallum, Amariah, and Joseph. From the sons of Nebo: Jeiel, Mattithiah, Zabad, Zebina, Iddo, Joel, and Benaiah. All of these had married foreign wives, and some from among the wives bore children.
Yahweh is king! Let the earth rejoice;
let many coastlands be glad.
Cloud and thick darkness are surrounding him;
righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
Fire goes before him,
and devours his enemies round about.
His lightnings light the world;
the earth sees and trembles.
The mountains melt like wax at the presence of Yahweh,
at the presence of the Lord of all the earth.
The heavens declare his righteousness,
and all the peoples see his glory.
Let all who serve an image be ashamed,
those who boast about idols.
Worship him, all you gods.
Zion hears and is glad,
and the daughters of Judah rejoice
because of your judgments, O Yahweh.
For you, O Yahweh, are most high over all the earth.
You are highly exalted above all gods.
You who love Yahweh, hate evil.
He protects the lives of his faithful;
he delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
Light is sown for the righteous,
and joy for the upright in heart.
Be glad in Yahweh, you righteous,
and give thanks to his holy name.
After these things I looked, and behold, an open door in heaven, and the former voice that I had heard like a trumpet speaking with me was saying, "Come up here and I will show you the things which must take place after these things." Immediately I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one was seated on the throne. And the one seated was similar in appearance to jasper and carnelian stone, and a rainbow was around the throne similar in appearance to emerald. And around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders dressed in white clothing, and on their heads were gold crowns. And from the throne came out lightnings and sounds and thunders, and seven torches of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven spirits of God. And before the throne was something like a sea of glass, like crystal, and in the midst of the throne and around the throne were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back. And the first living creature was similar to a lion, and the second living creature was similar to an ox, and the third living creature had a face like a man’s, and the fourth living creature was similar to an eagle flying. And the four living creatures, each one of them, had six wings apiece, full of eyes around and inside, and they do not have rest day and night, saying,
"Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God All-Powerful,
the one who was and the one who is and the one who is coming!"
And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to the one who is seated on the throne, the one who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before the one who is seated on the throne and worship the one who lives forever and ever, and put down their crowns before the throne, saying,
"You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
because you have created all things,
and because of your will they existed and were created."