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Ezra 4-6 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 4

Outside Interference. When the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the exiles were building a temple for the Lord, the God of Israel, they approached Zerubbabel and the heads of ancestral houses and said to them, “Let us build with you, for we seek your God just as you do, and we have sacrificed to him since the days of Esarhaddon, king of Assyria,[a] who brought us here.” But Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the rest of the heads of ancestral houses of Israel answered them, “It is not your responsibility to build with us a house for our God, but we alone must build it for the Lord, the God of Israel, as Cyrus king of Persia has commanded us.” Thereupon the local inhabitants[b] discouraged the people of Judah and frightened them off from building. They also bribed counselors to work against them and to frustrate their plans during all the years of Cyrus, king of Persia, and even into the reign of Darius,[c] king of Persia.

Later Hostility. In the reign of Ahasuerus,[d] at the beginning of his reign, they prepared a written accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem.

[e]Again, in the time of Artaxerxes, Tabeel and the rest of his fellow officials, in concert with Mithredath, wrote to Artaxerxes, king of Persia. The document was written in Aramaic and was accompanied by a translation.

[f]Then Rehum, the governor, and Shimshai, the scribe, wrote the following letter against Jerusalem to King Artaxerxes: “Rehum, the governor, Shimshai, the scribe, and their fellow officials, judges, legates, and agents from among the Persians, Urukians, Babylonians, Susians (that is, Elamites), 10 and the other peoples whom the great and illustrious Osnappar[g] transported and settled in the city of Samaria and elsewhere in the province West-of-Euphrates, as follows….” 11 This is a copy of the letter that they sent to him:

“To King Artaxerxes, your servants, the men of West-of-Euphrates, as follows: 12 Let it be known to the king that the Jews who came up from you to us have arrived at Jerusalem and are now rebuilding this rebellious and evil city. They are completing its walls, and the foundations have already been laid. 13 Now let it be known to the king that if this city is rebuilt and its walls completed, they will no longer pay taxes, tributes, or tolls; eventually the throne will be harmed. 14 Now, since we eat the salt of the palace[h] and it is not fitting for us to look on while the king is being dishonored, we have sent this message to inform the king, 15 so that inquiry may be made in the historical records of your fathers. In the historical records you will discover and verify that this is a rebellious city, harmful to kings and provinces; its people have been acting seditiously there since ancient times. That is why this city was destroyed. 16 We therefore inform the king, that if this city is rebuilt and its walls completed again, you will thereupon not have a portion in the province West-of-Euphrates.”

17 The king sent this answer: “To Rehum, the governor, Shimshai, the scribe, and their fellow officials living in Samaria and elsewhere in the province West-of-Euphrates, greetings: 18 The communication which you sent us has been read in translation in my presence. 19 When at my command inquiry was made, it was verified that from ancient times this city has risen up against kings and that rebellion and sedition have been fostered there. 20 Powerful kings once ruled in Jerusalem who controlled all West-of-Euphrates, and taxes, tributes, and tolls were paid to them. 21 Give orders, therefore, to stop these men. This city may not be rebuilt until a further decree has been issued by me. 22 Take care that you do not neglect this matter. Why should evil increase to harm the throne?”

23 As soon as a copy of King Artaxerxes’ letter had been read before Rehum, the governor, Shimshai, the scribe, and their fellow officials, they immediately went to the Jews in Jerusalem and stopped their work by force of arms. 24 As a result, work on the house of God in Jerusalem ceased. This interruption lasted until the second year of the reign of Darius,[i] king of Persia.

Chapter 5

The Work Resumed Under Darius; Further Problems. Then the prophets Haggai and Zechariah,[j] son of Iddo, began to prophesy to the Jews in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel. Thereupon Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua, son of Jozadak, began again to build the house of God in Jerusalem, with the prophets of God giving them support. At that time Tattenai, governor of West-of-Euphrates, came to them, along with Shethar-bozenai, and their fellow officials, and asked of them: “Who issued the decree for you to build this house and complete this edifice? What are the names of the men who are building this structure?” But the eye of their God was upon the elders of the Jews, and they were not delayed during the time a report went to Darius and a written order came back concerning this matter.

A copy of the letter which Tattenai, governor of West-of-Euphrates, along with Shethar-bozenai and their fellow officials from West-of-Euphrates, sent to King Darius; they sent him a report in which was written the following:

“To King Darius, all good wishes! Let it be known to the king that we have visited the province of Judah and the house of the great God: it is being rebuilt of cut stone and the walls are being reinforced with timber; the work is being carried out diligently, prospering under their hands. We then questioned the elders, addressing to them the following words: ‘Who issued the decree for you to build this house and complete this edifice?’ 10 We also asked them their names, in order to give you a list of the men who are their leaders. 11 This was their answer to us: ‘We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and we are rebuilding the house built here many years ago, which a great king of Israel built and completed. 12 But because our ancestors provoked the wrath of the God of heaven, he delivered them into the power of the Chaldean, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, who destroyed this house and exiled the people to Babylon. 13 However, in the first year of Cyrus, king of Babylon, King Cyrus issued a decree for the rebuilding of this house of God. 14 Moreover, the gold and silver vessels of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple in Jerusalem and carried off to the temple in Babylon, King Cyrus ordered to be removed from the temple in Babylon, and they were given to a certain Sheshbazzar, whom he named governor. 15 He commanded him: Take these vessels and deposit them in the temple of Jerusalem, and let the house of God be rebuilt on its former site. 16 Then this same Sheshbazzar came and laid the foundations of the house of God in Jerusalem. Since that time to the present the building has been going on, and is not yet completed.’ 17 Now, if it please the king, let a search be made in the royal archives of Babylon to discover whether a decree really was issued by King Cyrus for the rebuilding of this house of God in Jerusalem. And may the king’s decision in this matter be communicated to us.”

Chapter 6

The Decree of Darius. [k]Thereupon King Darius issued an order to search the archives in which the treasures were stored in Babylon. However, a scroll was found in Ecbatana, the stronghold in the province of Media, containing the following text: “Memorandum. In the first year of his reign, King Cyrus issued a decree: With regard to the house of God in Jerusalem: the house is to be rebuilt as a place for offering sacrifices and bringing burnt offerings. Its height is to be sixty cubits and its width sixty cubits. It shall have three courses of cut stone for each one of timber. The costs are to be borne by the royal house. Also, let the gold and silver vessels of the house of God which Nebuchadnezzar took from the temple of Jerusalem and brought to Babylon be sent back; let them be returned to their place in the temple of Jerusalem and deposited in the house of God.”

“Now, therefore, Tattenai, governor of West-of-Euphrates, and Shethar-bozenai, and you, their fellow officials in West-of-Euphrates, stay away from there. Let the governor and the elders of the Jews continue the work on that house of God; they are to rebuild it on its former site. I also issue this decree concerning your dealing with these elders of the Jews in the rebuilding of that house of God: Let these men be repaid for their expenses, in full and without delay from the royal revenue, deriving from the taxes of West-of-Euphrates, so that the work not be interrupted. Whatever else is required—young bulls, rams, and lambs for burnt offerings to the God of heaven, wheat, salt, wine, and oil, according to the requirements of the priests who are in Jerusalem—let that be delivered to them day by day without fail, 10 that they may continue to offer sacrifices of pleasing odor to the God of heaven and pray for the life of the king and his sons. 11 I also issue this decree: if any man alters this edict, a beam is to be taken from his house, and he is to be lifted up and impaled on it; and his house is to be reduced to rubble for this offense. 12 And may the God who causes his name to dwell there overthrow every king or people who may undertake to alter this decree or to destroy this house of God in Jerusalem. I, Darius, have issued this decree; let it be diligently executed.”

The Task Finally Completed. 13 Then Tattenai, the governor of West-of-Euphrates, and Shethar-bozenai, and their fellow officials carried out with all diligence the instructions King Darius had sent them. 14 The elders of the Jews continued to make progress in the building, supported by the message of the prophets, Haggai and Zechariah, son of Iddo. They finished the building according to the command of the God of Israel and the decrees of Cyrus and Darius, and of Artaxerxes, king of Persia. 15 They completed this house on the third day of the month Adar, in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius. 16 The Israelites—priests, Levites, and the other returned exiles—celebrated the dedication of this house of God with joy. 17 For the dedication of this house of God, they offered one hundred bulls, two hundred rams, and four hundred lambs, together with twelve he-goats as a sin offering for all Israel, in keeping with the number of the tribes of Israel. 18 Finally, they set up the priests in their classes and the Levites in their divisions for the service of God in Jerusalem, as is prescribed in the book of Moses.

The Passover. 19 The returned exiles kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month. 20 The Levites, every one of whom had purified himself for the occasion, sacrificed the Passover for all the exiles, for their colleagues the priests, and for themselves. 21 The Israelites who had returned from the exile and all those who had separated themselves from the uncleanness of the Gentiles in the land shared in it, seeking the Lord, the God of Israel. 22 They joyfully kept the feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days, for the Lord had filled them with joy by making the king of Assyria[l] favorable to them, so that he gave them help in their work on the house of God, the God of Israel.


  1. 4:2 Esarhaddon, king of Assyria: the enemies represent themselves as descendants of foreigners forcibly resettled in the Samaria region after the incorporation of the Northern Kingdom into the Assyrian empire (722 B.C.; cf. 2 Kgs 17:24). We have no record of a settlement under Esarhaddon (681–669 B.C.); the Aramaic source (Ezr 4:10) refers to a different resettlement under Osnappar/Ashurbanipal (668–627 B.C.).
  2. 4:4 Local inhabitants: lit., “the people of the land.”
  3. 4:5 Darius: Darius I (522–486 B.C.). The Temple-building narrative continues in v. 24. In between (vv. 6–23) is a series of notices about opposition to the returned exiles voiced at the Persian court in the early fifth century B.C., after the Temple had been built.
  4. 4:6 Ahasuerus: Xerxes (486–465 B.C.); the early years of his reign were occupied with revolts in several parts of the empire.
  5. 4:7 There is a note placed in the original text to indicate a change from Hebrew to Aramaic. The Aramaic section beginning here ends with 6:18; in 7:12–26 a royal letter is cited in Aramaic.
  6. 4:8–23 The letter to Artaxerxes I (465–424 B.C.) deals with the building of the fortification walls of Jerusalem, not the building of the Temple. The interruption of the work on the city wall some time before 445 B.C. was the occasion for the arrival of Nehemiah in the province (Neh 1:1–4; 2:1–5).
  7. 4:10 Osnappar: probably Ashurbanipal; see note on 4:2.
  8. 4:14 Eat the salt of the palace: the idiom signifies sharing in the benefits of the palace.
  9. 4:24 The second year…of Darius: that is, 520 B.C.; it marks the beginning of the successful restoration of the Temple, completed within the five years following (5:1–6:18).
  10. 5:1 The prophets Haggai and Zechariah: Haggai and Zechariah were active during the early years of Darius I. They document the rebuilding of the Temple and the messianic expectations associated with the Davidic descendant Zerubbabel.
  11. 6:1–2 Babylon was the capital city of the satrapy to which Judah belonged; it was therefore the natural place to look. The decree was discovered eventually, however, in Ecbatana (Hamadan), the former capital of the Medes and summer residence of the Persian kings. Cf. the Hebrew version of the decree (1:2–4).
  12. 6:22 The king of Assyria: “Assyria” is perhaps used in a broad sense for the Persian empire; or the editor may have in mind the account of Hezekiah’s Passover which refers to those who had escaped the hand of the king of Assyria (2 Chr 30:6).
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Proverbs 24:17-34 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

17 [a]Do not rejoice when your enemies fall,
    and when they stumble, do not let your heart exult,
18 Lest the Lord see it, be displeased with you,
    and withdraw his wrath from your enemies.
19 Do not be provoked at evildoers,
    do not envy the wicked;
20 For the evil have no future,
    the lamp of the wicked will be put out.
21 My son, fear the Lord and the king;
    have nothing to do with those who hate them;
22 For disaster will issue suddenly,
    and calamity from them both, who knows when?

V. Further Sayings of the Wise[b]

23 These also are Words of the Wise:
To show partiality in judgment is not good.
24 Whoever says to the guilty party, “You are innocent,”
    will be cursed by nations, scorned by peoples;
25 But those who render just verdicts will fare well,
    and on them will come the blessing of prosperity.
26 An honest reply—
    a kiss on the lips.[c]
27 Complete your outdoor tasks,
    and arrange your work in the field;
    afterward you can build your house.[d]
28 Do not testify falsely against your neighbor
    and so deceive with your lips.
29 Do not say, “As they did to me, so will I do to them;
    I will repay them according to their deeds.”[e]
30 [f]I passed by the field of a sluggard,
    by the vineyard of one with no sense;
31 It was all overgrown with thistles;
    its surface was covered with nettles,
    and its stone wall broken down.
32 As I gazed at it, I reflected;
    I saw and learned a lesson:
33 A little sleep, a little slumber,
    a little folding of the arms to rest—
34 Then poverty will come upon you like a robber,
    and want like a brigand.


  1. 24:17–18 The admonition is linked to the previous by the words “fall” and “stumble.” Premature public celebration of the downfall of enemies equivalently preempts the retribution that belongs to God.
  2. 24:23–34

    A little collection between the thirty sayings of 22:17–24:22 and the Hezekiah collection in chaps. 25–29. Its title (v. 23) suggests that editors took it as an appendix. At this point, the Greek edition of Proverbs begins to arrange the later sections of the book in a different order than the Hebrew edition.

    An editor has arranged originally separate sayings into two parallel groups.

    Conduct in court:Judges (vv. 24–25)Witnesses (v. 28)
    Speaking, thinking:Good speech (v. 26)Bad speech (v. 29)
    Wisdom in work:Positive (v. 27)Negative (vv. 30–34)
  3. 24:26 The kiss is a gesture of respect and affection. The greatest sign of affection and respect for another is to tell that person the truth.
  4. 24:27 House: can refer to both the building and the family (cf. 2 Sm 7). In the context established by the placement noted above under 24:23, the saying means that neglect of one’s field is a sign that one is not building the house properly. In an agricultural society especially, the concept of household includes fields for animals and crops. On the metaphorical level, one must lay a careful preparation before embarking on a great project. This verse is sometimes interpreted as advocating careful and practical preparation for marriage.
  5. 24:29 Retribution is a long and complex process that belongs to the Lord, not to individuals. Cf. vv. 12d, 17–18.
  6. 24:30–34 Neglect of one’s fields through laziness ruins all plans to build a house (v. 27). This vignette is a teaching story, like those in 7:1–27; Ps 37:35–36.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Ephesians 4 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 4

Unity in the Body. [a]I, then, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace: [b]one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Diversity of Gifts. But grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore, it says:

“He ascended[c] on high and took prisoners captive;
    he gave gifts to men.”

What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended into the lower [regions] of the earth? 10 The one who descended is also the one who ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.

11 [d]And he gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers, 12 to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry,[e] for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood,[f] to the extent of the full stature of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be infants, tossed by waves and swept along by every wind of teaching arising from human trickery, from their cunning in the interests of deceitful scheming. 15 Rather, living the truth in love, we should grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ,[g] 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, with the proper functioning of each part, brings about the body’s growth and builds itself up in love.

Renewal in Christ.[h] 17 So I declare and testify in the Lord that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds; 18 darkened in understanding, alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance, because of their hardness of heart, 19 they have become callous and have handed themselves over to licentiousness for the practice of every kind of impurity to excess. 20 That is not how you learned Christ, 21 assuming that you have heard of him and were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus, 22 that you should put away the old self of your former way of life, corrupted through deceitful desires, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and put on[i] the new self, created in God’s way in righteousness and holiness of truth.

IV. Daily Conduct, an Expression of Unity[j]

Rules for the New Life. 25 Therefore, putting away falsehood, speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun set on your anger,[k] 27 and do not leave room for the devil. 28 The thief must no longer steal, but rather labor, doing honest work[l] with his [own] hands, so that he may have something to share with one in need. 29 No foul language should come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for needed edification, that it may impart grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the holy Spirit of God, with which you were sealed for the day of redemption.[m] 31 All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling must be removed from you, along with all malice. 32 [And] be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.


  1. 4:1–16 A general plea for unity in the church. Christians have been fashioned through the Spirit into a single harmonious religious community (one body, Eph 4:4, 12; cf. Eph 4:16), belonging to a single Lord (in contrast to the many gods of the pagan world), and by one way of salvation through faith, brought out especially by the significance of baptism (Eph 4:1–6; cf. Rom 6:1–11). But Christian unity is more than adherence to a common belief. It is manifested in the exalted Christ’s gifts to individuals to serve so as to make the community more Christlike (Eph 4:11–16). This teaching on Christ as the source of the gifts is introduced in Eph 4:8 by a citation of Ps 68:18, which depicts Yahweh triumphantly leading Israel to salvation in Jerusalem. It is here understood of Christ, ascending above all the heavens, the head of the church; through his redemptive death, resurrection, and ascension he has become the source of the church’s spiritual gifts. The “descent” of Christ (Eph 4:9–10) refers more probably to the incarnation (cf. Phil 2:6–8) than to Christ’s presence after his death in the world of the dead (cf. 1 Pt 3:19).
  2. 4:4–6 The “seven unities” (church, Spirit, hope; Lord, faith in Christ [Eph 1:13], baptism; one God) reflect the triune structure of later creeds in reverse.
  3. 4:8–10 While the emphasis is on an ascension and gift-giving by Christ, there is also a reference in taking prisoners captive to the aeons and powers mentioned at Eph 1:21; 2:2; 3:10; 6:12.
  4. 4:11 Concerning this list of ministers, cf. 1 Cor 12:28 and Rom 12:6–8. Evangelists: missionary preachers (cf. Acts 21:8; 2 Tm 4:5), not those who wrote gospels. Pastors and teachers: a single group in the Greek, shepherding congregations.
  5. 4:12 The ministerial leaders in Eph 4:11 are to equip the whole people of God for their work of ministry.
  6. 4:13 Mature manhood: literally, “a perfect man” (cf. Col 1:28), possibly the “one new person” of Eph 2:15, though there anthrōpos suggests humanity, while here anēr is the term for male. This personage becomes visible in the church’s growing to its fullness in the unity of those who believe in Christ.
  7. 4:15–16 The head, Christ: cf. Col 1:18 and contrast 1 Cor 12:12–27 and Rom 12:4–5 where Christ is identified with the whole body, including the head. The imagery may derive from ancient views in medicine, the head coordinating and caring for the body, each ligament (perhaps the ministers of Eph 4:11) supporting the whole. But as at Eph 2:19–22, where the temple is depicted as a growing organism, there may also be the idea here of growing toward the capstone, Christ.
  8. 4:17–24 Paul begins to indicate how the new life in Christ contrasts with the Gentiles’ old way of existence. Literally, the old self (Eph 4:22) and the new self (Eph 4:24) are “the old man” and “the new man” (anthrōpos, person), as at Eph 2:15; cf. note on Eph 4:13.
  9. 4:24 Put on: in baptism. See note on Gal 3:27.
  10. 4:25–6:20 For similar exhortations to a morally good life in response to God’s gift of faith, see notes on Rom 12:1–13:14 and Gal 5:13–26.
  11. 4:26 If angry, seek reconciliation that day, not giving the devil (Eph 6:11) opportunity to lead into sin.
  12. 4:28 Honest work: literally, “the good.” His [own] hands: some manuscripts have the full phrase as in 1 Cor 4:12.
  13. 4:30 See note on Eph 1:13.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.


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