Reading 129/341, Ezra 5-8

...Ezra...

Now the prophets, Haggai the prophet, and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem; in the name of the God of Israel prophesied they to them. Then rose up Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and began to build the house of God which is at Jerusalem, and with them were the prophets of God, helping them. At the same time came to them Tattenai, the governor beyond the River, and Shetharbozenai, and their companions, and said thus to them, Who gave you a decree to build this house, and to finish this wall? Then we told them after this manner, what the names of the men were who were making this building. But the eye of their God was on the elders of the Jews, and they did not make them cease, until the matter should come to Darius, and then answer should be returned by letter concerning it. The copy of the letter that Tattenai, the governor beyond the River, and Shetharbozenai, and his companions the Apharsachites, who were beyond the River, sent to Darius the king; they sent a letter to him, in which was written thus, To Darius the king, all peace. Be it known to the king, that we went into the province of Judah, to the house of the great God, which is built with great stones, and timber is laid in the walls, and this work goes on with diligence and prospers in their hands. Then asked we those elders, and said to them thus, Who gave you a decree to build this house, and to finish this wall? We asked them their names also, to inform you that we might write the names of the men who were at the head of them. Thus they returned us answer, saying, We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and are building the house that was built these many years ago, which a great king of Israel built and finished. But after that our fathers had provoked the God of heaven to wrath, he gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this house, and carried the people away into Babylon. But in the first year of Cyrus king of Babylon, Cyrus the king made a decree to build this house of God. The gold and silver vessels also of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took out of the temple that was in Jerusalem, and brought into the temple of Babylon, those did Cyrus the king take out of the temple of Babylon, and they were delivered to one whose name was Sheshbazzar, whom he had made governor, and he said to him, Take these vessels, go, put them in the temple that is in Jerusalem, and let the house of God be built in its place. Then came the same Sheshbazzar, and laid the foundations of the house of God which is in Jerusalem, and since that time until now has it been in building, and yet it is not completed. Now therefore, if it seem good to the king, let there be search made in the king's treasure house, which is there at Babylon, whether it be so, that a decree was made of Cyrus the king to build this house of God at Jerusalem, and let the king send his pleasure to us concerning this matter. Then Darius the king made a decree, and search was made in the house of the archives, where the treasures were laid up in Babylon. There was found at Achmetha, in the palace that is in the province of Media, a scroll, and therein was thus written for a record, In the first year of Cyrus the king, Cyrus the king made a decree, Concerning the house of God at Jerusalem, let the house be built, the place where they offer sacrifices, and let the foundations of it be strongly laid; the height of it sixty cubits, and the width of it sixty cubits; with three courses of great stones, and a course of new timber, and let the expenses be given out of the king's house. Also let the gold and silver vessels of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took forth out of the temple which is at Jerusalem, and brought to Babylon, be restored, and brought again to the temple which is at Jerusalem, everyone to its place, and you shall put them in the house of God. Now therefore, Tattenai, governor beyond the River, Shetharbozenai, and your companions the Apharsachites, who are beyond the River, be you far from there, let the work of this house of God alone; let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews build this house of God in its place. Moreover I make a decree what you shall do to these elders of the Jews for the building of this house of God, that of the king's goods, of the tribute beyond the River, expenses be given with all diligence to these men, that they be not hindered. What they have need of, both young bulls, and rams, and lambs, for burnt offerings to the God of heaven; also wheat, salt, wine, and oil, according to the word of the priests who are at Jerusalem, let it be given them day by day without fail; that they may offer sacrifices of sweet savor to the God of heaven, and pray for the life of the king, and of his sons. Also I have made a decree, that whoever shall alter this word, let a beam be pulled out from his house, and let him be lifted up and fastened thereon, and let his house be made a dunghill for this, and the God who has caused his name to dwell there overthrow all kings and peoples who shall put forth their hand to alter the same, to destroy this house of God which is at Jerusalem. I Darius have made a decree; let it be done with all diligence. Then Tattenai, the governor beyond the River, Shetharbozenai, and their companions, because that Darius the king had sent, did accordingly with all diligence. The elders of the Jews built and prospered, through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. They built and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the decree of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia. This house was finished on the third day of the month Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king. The children of Israel, the priests, and the Levites, and the rest of the children of the captivity, kept the dedication of this house of God with joy. They offered at the dedication of this house of God one hundred bulls, two hundred rams, four hundred lambs, and for a sin offering for all Israel, twelve male goats, according to the number of the tribes of Israel. They set the priests in their divisions, and the Levites in their courses, for the service of God, which is at Jerusalem; as it is written in the book of Moses. The children of the captivity kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month. For the priests and the Levites had purified themselves together; all of them were pure, and they killed the Passover for all the children of the captivity, and for their brothers the priests, and for themselves. The children of Israel who had come again out of the captivity, and all such as had separated themselves to them from the filthiness of the nations of the land, to seek the Lord, the God of Israel, ate, and kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with joy, for the Lord had made them joyful, and had turned the heart of the king of Assyria to them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel. Now after these things, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra the son of Seraiah, the son of Azariah, the son of Hilkiah, the son of Shallum, the son of Zadok, the son of Ahitub, the son of Amariah, the son of Azariah, the son of Meraioth, the son of Zerahiah, the son of Uzzi, the son of Bukki, the son of Abishua, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the chief priest; this Ezra went up from Babylon, and he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which the Lord, the God of Israel, had given, and the king granted him all his request, according to the hand of the Lord his God on him. There went up some of the children of Israel, and of the priests, and the Levites, and the singers, and the porters, and the Nethinim, to Jerusalem, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king. 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 began he to go up from Babylon, and on the first day of the fifth month came he to Jerusalem, according to the good hand of his God on him. For Ezra had set his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and ordinances. Now this is the copy of the letter that the king Artaxerxes gave to Ezra the priest, the scribe, the scribe of the words of the commandments of the Lord, and of his statutes to Israel, Artaxerxes, king of kings, to Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, perfect and so forth. I make a decree, that all those of the people of Israel, and their priests and the Levites, in my realm, who are minded of their own free will to go to Jerusalem, go with you. Because you are sent of the king and his seven counselors, to inquire concerning Judah and Jerusalem, according to the law of your God which is in your hand, and to carry the silver and gold, which the king and his counselors have freely offered to the God of Israel, whose habitation is in Jerusalem, and all the silver and gold that you shall find in all the province of Babylon, with the freewill offering of the people, and of the priests, offering willingly for the house of their God which is in Jerusalem; therefore you shall with all diligence buy with this money bulls, rams, lambs, with their grain offerings and their drink offerings, and shall offer them on the altar of the house of your God which is in Jerusalem. Whatever shall seem good to you and to your brothers to do with the rest of the silver and the gold, that do you after the will of your God. The vessels that are given you for the service of the house of your God, deliver you before the God of Jerusalem. Whatever more shall be needful for the house of your God, which you shall have occasion to bestow, bestow it out of the king's treasure house. I, I Artaxerxes the king, do make a decree to all the treasurers who are beyond the River, that whatever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, shall require of you, it be done with all diligence, to one hundred talents of silver, and to one hundred measures of wheat, and to one hundred baths of wine, and to one hundred baths of oil, and salt without prescribing how much. Whatever is commanded by the God of heaven, let it be done exactly for the house of the God of heaven; for why should there be wrath against the realm of the king and his sons? Also we inform you, that touching any of the priests and Levites, the singers, porters, Nethinim, or servants of this house of God, it shall not be lawful to impose tribute, custom, or toll, on them. You, Ezra, after the wisdom of your God who is in your hand, appoint magistrates and judges, who may judge all the people who are beyond the River, all such as know the laws of your God, and teach you him who does not know them. Whoever will not do the law of your God, and the law of the king, let judgment be executed on him with all diligence, whether it be to death, or to banishment, or to confiscation of goods, or to imprisonment. Blessed be the Lord, the God of our fathers, who has put such a thing as this in the king's heart, to beautify the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem, and has extended loving kindness to me before the king, and his counselors, and before all the king's mighty princes. I was strengthened according to the hand of the Lord my God on me, and I gathered together out of Israel chief men to go up with me. Now these are the heads of their fathers' houses, and this is the genealogy of those who went up with me from Babylon, in the reign of Artaxerxes the king, Of the sons of Phinehas, Gershom. Of the sons of Ithamar, Daniel. Of the sons of David, Hattush. Of the sons of Shecaniah, of the sons of Parosh, Zechariah, and with him were reckoned by genealogy of the males one hundred fifty. Of the sons of Pahathmoab, Eliehoenai the son of Zerahiah, and with him two hundred males. Of the sons of Shecaniah, the son of Jahaziel, and with him three hundred males. Of the sons of Adin, Ebed the son of Jonathan, and with him fifty males. Of the sons of Elam, Jeshaiah the son of Athaliah, and with him seventy males. Of the sons of Shephatiah, Zebadiah the son of Michael, and with him eighty males. Of the sons of Joab, Obadiah the son of Jehiel, and with him two hundred and eighteen males. Of the sons of Shelomith, the son of Josiphiah, and with him one hundred sixty males. Of the sons of Bebai, Zechariah the son of Bebai, and with him twenty-eight males. Of the sons of Azgad, Johanan the son of Hakkatan, and with him one hundred ten males. Of the sons of Adonikam, who were the last, and these are their names, Eliphelet, Jeuel, and Shemaiah, and with them sixty males. Of the sons of Bigvai, Uthai and Zabbud, and with them seventy males. I gathered them together to the river that runs to Ahava, and there we encamped three days, and I viewed the people, and the priests, and found there none of the sons of Levi. Then sent I for Eliezer, for Ariel, for Shemaiah, and for Elnathan, and for Jarib, and for Elnathan, and for Nathan, and for Zechariah, and for Meshullam, chief men; also for Joiarib, and for Elnathan, who were teachers. I sent them forth to Iddo the chief at the place Casiphia, and I told them what they should tell Iddo, and his brothers the Nethinim, at the place Casiphia, that they should bring to us ministers for the house of our God. According to the good hand of our God on us they brought us a man of discretion, of the sons of Mahli, the son of Levi, the son of Israel, and Sherebiah, with his sons and his brothers, eighteen, and Hashabiah, and with him Jeshaiah of the sons of Merari, his brothers and their sons, twenty, and of the Nethinim, whom David and the princes had given for the service of the Levites, two hundred and twenty Nethinim, all of them were mentioned by name. Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek of him a straight way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance. For I was ashamed to ask of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way, because we had spoken to the king, saying, The hand of our God is on all those who seek him, for good; but his power and his wrath is against all those who forsake him. So we fasted and begged our God for this, and he was entreated of us. Then I set apart twelve of the chiefs of the priests, Sherebiah, Hashabiah, and ten of their brothers with them, and weighed to them the silver, and the gold, and the vessels, the offering for the house of our God, which the king, and his counselors, and his princes, and all Israel there present, had offered, I weighed into their hand six hundred fifty talents of silver, and silver vessels one hundred talents; of gold one hundred talents, and twenty bowls of gold, of one thousand darics, and two vessels of fine bright bronze, precious as gold. I said to them, You are holy to the Lord, and the vessels are holy, and the silver and the gold are a freewill offering to the Lord, the God of your fathers. Watch you, and keep them, until you weigh them before the chiefs of the priests and the Levites, and the princes of the fathers' houses of Israel, at Jerusalem, in the chambers of the house of the Lord. So the priests and the Levites received the weight of the silver and the gold, and the vessels, to bring them to Jerusalem to the house of our God. Then we departed from the river Ahava on the twelfth day of the first month, to go to Jerusalem, and the hand of our God was on us, and he delivered us from the hand of the enemy and the bandit by the way. We came to Jerusalem, and abode there three days. On the fourth day the silver and the gold and the vessels were weighed in the house of our God into the hand of Meremoth the son of Uriah the priest, and with him was Eleazar the son of Phinehas, and with them was Jozabad the son of Jeshua, and Noadiah the son of Binnui, the Levite; the whole by number and by weight, and all the weight was written at that time. The children of the captivity, who had come out of exile, offered burnt offerings to the God of Israel, twelve bulls for all Israel, ninety-six rams, seventy-seven lambs, and twelve male goats for a sin offering, all this was a burnt offering to the Lord. They delivered the king's commissions to the king's satraps, and to the governors beyond the River, and they furthered the people and the house of God.

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