Ezra 6-8 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
King Cyrus' Order Is Rediscovered
6 King Darius ordered someone to go through the old records kept in Babylonia. 2 Finally, a scroll[a] was found in Ecbatana, the capital of Media Province, and it said:
This official record will show 3 that in the first year Cyrus was king, he gave orders to rebuild God’s temple in Jerusalem, so that sacrifices and offerings could be presented there.[b] It is to be built ninety feet high and ninety feet wide, 4 with one[c] row of wooden beams for each three rows of large stones. The royal treasury will pay for everything. 5 Then return to their proper places the gold and silver things that Nebuchadnezzar took from the temple and brought to Babylonia.
King Darius Orders the Work To Continue
6 King Darius sent this message:
Governor Tattenai of Western Province and Shethar Bozenai, you and your advisors must stay away from the temple. 7 Let the Jewish governor and leaders rebuild it where it stood before. And stop slowing them down!
8 Starting right now, I am ordering you to help the leaders by paying their expenses from the tax money collected in Western Province. 9 And don’t fail to let the priests in Jerusalem have whatever they need each day so they can offer sacrifices to the God of heaven. Give them young bulls, rams, sheep, as well as wheat, salt, wine, and olive oil. 10 I want them to be able to offer pleasing sacrifices to God and to pray for me and my family.
11 If any of you don’t obey this order, a wooden beam will be taken from your house and sharpened on one end. Then it will be driven through your body,[d] and your house will be torn down and turned into a garbage dump. 12 I ask the God who is worshiped in Jerusalem to destroy any king or nation who tries either to change what I have said or to tear down his temple. I, Darius, give these orders, and I expect them to be followed carefully.
The Temple Is Dedicated
13 Governor Tattenai, Shethar Bozenai, and their advisors carefully obeyed King Darius. 14 With great success the Jewish leaders continued working on the temple, while Haggai and Zechariah encouraged them by their preaching. And so, the temple was completed at the command of the God of Israel and by the orders of kings Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes of Persia.[e] 15 On the third day of the month of Adar[f] in the sixth year of the rule of Darius,[g] the temple was finished.
16 The people of Israel, the priests, the Levites, and everyone else who had returned from exile were happy and celebrated as they dedicated God’s temple. 17 One hundred bulls, two hundred rams, and four hundred lambs were offered as sacrifices at the dedication. Also twelve goats were sacrificed as sin offerings for the twelve tribes of Israel. 18 Then the priests and Levites were assigned their duties in God’s temple in Jerusalem, according to the instructions Moses had written.
19 Everyone who had returned from exile celebrated Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month.[h] 20 The priests and Levites had gone through a ceremony to make themselves acceptable to lead in worship. Then some of them killed Passover lambs for those who had returned, including the other priests and themselves.
21 The sacrifices were eaten by the Israelites who had returned and by the neighboring people who had given up the sinful customs of other nations in order to worship the Lord God of Israel. 22 For seven days they celebrated the Festival of Thin Bread. Everyone was happy because the Lord God of Israel had made sure that the king of Assyria[i] would be kind to them and help them build the temple.
Ezra Comes to Jerusalem
7 1-6 Much later, when Artaxerxes[j] was king of Persia, Ezra came to Jerusalem from Babylonia. Ezra was the son of Seraiah and the grandson of Azariah. His other ancestors were Hilkiah, Shallum, Zadok, Ahitub, Amariah, Azariah, Meraioth, Zerahiah, Uzzi, Bukki, Abishua, Phinehas, Eleazar, and Aaron, the high priest.
Ezra was an expert in the Law that the Lord God of Israel had given to Moses, and the Lord made sure that the king gave Ezra everything he asked for.
7 Other Jews, including priests, Levites, musicians, the temple guards, and servants, came to Jerusalem with Ezra. This happened during the seventh year that Artaxerxes[k] was king.
8-9 God helped Ezra, and he arrived in Jerusalem on the first day of the fifth month[l] of that seventh year, after leaving Babylonia on the first day of the first month.[m] 10 Ezra had spent his entire life studying and obeying the Law of the Lord and teaching it to others.
Artaxerxes Gives a Letter to Ezra
11 Ezra was a priest and an expert in the laws and commands that the Lord had given to Israel. One day King Artaxerxes gave Ezra a letter which said:
12 Greetings from the great King Artaxerxes to Ezra the priest and expert in the teachings of the God of heaven.
13-14 Any of the people of Israel or their priests or Levites in my kingdom may go with you to Jerusalem if they want to. My seven advisors and I agree that you may go to Jerusalem and Judah to find out if[n] the laws of your God are being obeyed.
15 When you go, take the silver and gold that I and my advisors are freely giving to the God of Israel, whose temple is in Jerusalem. 16 Take the silver and gold that you collect from everywhere in Babylonia. Also take the gifts that your own people and priests have so willingly contributed for the temple of your God in Jerusalem.
17 Use the money carefully to buy the best bulls, rams, lambs, grain, and wine. Then sacrifice them on the altar at God’s temple in Jerusalem. 18 If any silver or gold is left, you and your people may use it for whatever pleases your God. 19 Give your God the other articles that have been contributed for use in his temple. 20 If you need to get anything else for the temple, you may have the money you need from the royal treasury.
21 Ezra, you are a priest and an expert in the laws of the God of heaven, and I order all treasurers in Western Province to do their very best to help you. 22 They will be allowed to give as much as 7,500 pounds of silver, 500 bushels of wheat, 550 gallons of wine, 550 gallons of olive oil, and all the salt you need.
23 They must provide whatever the God of heaven demands for his temple, so that he won’t be angry with me and with the kings who rule after me. 24 We want you to know that no priests, Levites, musicians, guards, temple servants, or any other temple workers will have to pay any kind of taxes.
25 Ezra, use the wisdom God has given you and choose officials and leaders to govern the people of Western Province. These leaders should know God’s laws and have them taught to anyone who doesn’t know them. 26 Everyone who fails to obey God’s Law or the king’s law will be punished without pity. They will either be executed or put in prison or forced to leave their country, or have all they own taken away.
Ezra Praises God
27 Because King Artaxerxes was so kind, Ezra said:
Praise the Lord God of our ancestors! He made sure that the king honored the Lord’s temple in Jerusalem. 28 God has told the king, his advisors, and his powerful officials to treat me with kindness. The Lord God has helped me, and I have been able to bring many Jewish leaders back to Jerusalem.
The Families Who Came Back with Ezra
8 Artaxerxes was king of Persia when I[o] led the following chiefs of the family groups from Babylonia to Jerusalem:
2-14 Gershom of the Phinehas family;
Ezra Finds Levites for the Temple
15 I[r] brought everyone together by the river[s] that flows to the town of Ahava[t] where we camped for three days. Not one Levite could be found among the people and priests. 16 So I sent for the leaders Eliezer, Ariel, Shemaiah, Elnathan, Jarib, Elnathan, Nathan, Zechariah, and Meshullam. I also sent for Joiarib and Elnathan, who were very wise. 17 Then I sent them to Iddo, the leader at Casiphia,[u] and I told them to ask him and his temple workers to send people to serve in God’s temple.
18 God was kind to us and had them send a skillful man named Sherebiah, who was a Levite from the family of Mahli. Eighteen of his relatives came with him. 19 We were also sent Hashabiah and Jeshaiah from the family of Merari along with twenty of their relatives. 20 In addition, 220 others came to help the Levites in the temple. The ancestors of these workers had been chosen years ago by King David[v] and his officials, and they were all listed by name.
Ezra Asks the People To Go without Eating and To Pray
21 Beside the Ahava River,[w] I[x] asked the people to go without eating[y] and to pray. We humbled ourselves and asked God to bring us and our children safely to Jerusalem with all of our possessions. 22 I was ashamed to ask the king to send soldiers and cavalry to protect us against enemies along the way. After all, we had told the king that our God takes care of everyone who truly worships him, but that he gets very angry and punishes anyone who refuses to obey. 23 So we went without food and asked God himself to protect us, and he answered our prayers.
The Gifts for the Temple
24 I[z] chose twelve of the leading priests—Sherebiah, Hashabiah and ten of their relatives. 25-27 Then I weighed the gifts that had been given for God’s temple, and I divided them among the twelve priests I had chosen. There were gifts of silver and gold, as well as the articles that the king, his advisors and officials, and the people of Israel had contributed. In all there were: 25 tons of silver; 100 silver articles weighing 150 pounds; 7,500 pounds of gold; 20 gold bowls weighing 270 ounces; and 2 polished bronze articles as valuable as gold.
28 I said to the priests:
You belong to the Lord, the God of your ancestors, and these things also belong to him. The silver and gold were willingly given as gifts to the Lord. 29 Be sure to guard them and keep them safe until you reach Jerusalem. Then weigh them inside God’s temple in the presence of the chief priests, the Levites, and the heads of the Israelite families.
30 The priests and Levites then took charge of the gifts that had been weighed, so they could take them to the temple of our God in Jerusalem.
The Return to Jerusalem
32 After arriving in Jerusalem, we rested for three days. 33 Then on the fourth day we went to God’s temple, where the silver, the gold, and the other things were weighed and given to the priest Meremoth son of Uriah. With him were Eleazar son of Phinehas and the two Levites, Jozabad son of Jeshua and Noadiah son of Binnui. 34 Everything was counted, weighed, and recorded.
35 Those who had returned from exile offered sacrifices on the altar to the God of Israel. Twelve bulls were offered for all Israel. Ninety-six rams and seventy-seven[ac] lambs were offered on the altar. And twelve goats were sacrificed for the sins of the people. 36 Some of those who had returned took the king’s orders to the governors and officials in Western Province. Then the officials did what they could for the people and for the temple of God.
John 21 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
Jesus Appears to Seven Disciples
21 Jesus later appeared to his disciples along the shore of Lake Tiberias. 2 Simon Peter, Thomas the Twin, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, and the brothers James and John,[a] were there, together with two other disciples. 3 Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing!”
The others said, “We will go with you.” They went out in their boat. But they didn’t catch a thing that night.
4 Early the next morning Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize who he was. 5 Jesus shouted, “Friends, have you caught anything?”
“No!” they answered.
6 So he told them, “Let your net down on the right side of your boat, and you will catch some fish.”
They did, and the net was so full of fish that they could not drag it up into the boat.
7 Jesus' favorite disciple told Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon heard that it was the Lord, he put on the clothes that he had taken off while he was working. Then he jumped into the water. 8 The boat was only about a hundred yards from shore. So the other disciples stayed in the boat and dragged in the net full of fish.
9 When the disciples got out of the boat, they saw some bread and a charcoal fire with fish on it. 10 Jesus told his disciples, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.” 11 Simon Peter got back into the boat and dragged the net to shore. In it were one hundred fifty-three large fish, but still the net did not rip.
12 Jesus said, “Come and eat!” But none of the disciples dared ask who he was. They knew he was the Lord. 13 Jesus took the bread in his hands and gave some of it to his disciples. He did the same with the fish. 14 This was the third time that Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from death.
Jesus and Peter
15 When Jesus and his disciples had finished eating, he asked, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than the others do?”[b]
Simon Peter answered, “Yes, Lord, you know I do!”
“Then feed my lambs,” Jesus said.
16 Jesus asked a second time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter answered, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you!”
“Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus told him.
17 Jesus asked a third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus had asked him three times if he loved him. So he told Jesus, “Lord, you know everything. You know I love you.”
Jesus replied, “Feed my sheep. 18 I tell you for certain that when you were a young man, you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will hold out your hands. Then others will wrap your belt around you and lead you where you don’t want to go.”
19 Jesus said this to tell how Peter would die and bring honor to God. Then he said to Peter, “Follow me!”
Jesus and His Favorite Disciple
20 Peter turned and saw Jesus' favorite disciple following them. He was the same one who had sat next to Jesus at the meal and had asked, “Lord, who is going to betray you?” 21 When Peter saw that disciple, he asked Jesus, “Lord, what about him?”
22 Jesus answered, “What is it to you, if I want him to live until I return? You must follow me.” 23 So the rumor spread among the other disciples that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say he would not die. He simply said, “What is it to you, if I want him to live until I return?”
24 This disciple is the one who told all of this. He wrote it, and we know he is telling the truth.
25 Jesus did many other things. If they were all written in books, I don’t suppose there would be room enough in the whole world for all the books.
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