Ezra 7:1-8:20Contemporary English Version (CEV)
Ezra Comes to Jerusalem
7 1-6 Much later, when Artaxerxes[a] 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[b] was king.
8-9 God helped Ezra, and he arrived in Jerusalem on the first day of the fifth month[c] of that seventh year, after leaving Babylonia on the first day of the first month.[d] 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[e] 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[f] 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[i] brought everyone together by the river[j] that flows to the town of Ahava[k] 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,[l] 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[m] and his officials, and they were all listed by name.
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