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Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

Ezra 1-5

Chapter 1

In the first year of King Cyrus of Persia, in order to fulfill the Lord’s message spoken through Jeremiah, the Lord stirred the mind of King Cyrus of Persia. He disseminated a proclamation throughout his entire kingdom, announcing in a written edict the following:

2 “Thus says King Cyrus of Persia:

“‘The Lord God of heaven has given me all the kingdoms of the earth. He has instructed me to build a temple for him in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. 3 Anyone from his people among you (may his God be with him!) may go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and may build the temple of the Lord God of Israel – he is the God who is in Jerusalem. 4 Anyone who survives in any of those places where he is a resident foreigner must be helped by his neighbors with silver, gold, equipment, and animals, along with voluntary offerings for the temple of God which is in Jerusalem.’”

5 Then the leaders of Judah and Benjamin, along with the priests and the Levites – all those whose mind God had stirred – got ready to go up in order to build the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem. 6 All their neighbors assisted them with silver utensils, gold, equipment, animals, and expensive gifts, not to mention all the voluntary offerings.

7 Then King Cyrus brought out the vessels of the Lord’s temple which Nebuchadnezzar had brought from Jerusalem and had displayed in the temple of his gods. 8 King Cyrus of Persia entrusted them to Mithredath the treasurer, who counted them out to Sheshbazzar the leader of the Judahite exiles.

9 The inventory of these items was as follows:
30 gold basins,
1,000 silver basins,
29 silver utensils,

10 30 gold bowls,
410 other silver bowls,
and 1,000 other vessels.

11 All these gold and silver vessels totaled 5,400. Sheshbazzar brought them all along when the captives were brought up from Babylon to Jerusalem.

Chapter 2

These are the people of the province who were going up, from the captives of the exile whom King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had forced into exile in Babylon. They returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to his own city. 2 They came with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispar, Bigvai, Rehum, and Baanah.

The number of Israelites was as follows:

3 the descendants of Parosh: 2,172;

4 the descendants of Shephatiah: 372;

5 the descendants of Arah: 775;

6 the descendants of Pahath-Moab (from the line of Jeshua and Joab): 2,812;

7 the descendants of Elam: 1,254;

8 the descendants of Zattu: 945;

9 the descendants of Zaccai: 760;

10 the descendants of Bani: 642;

11 the descendants of Bebai: 623;

12 the descendants of Azgad: 1,222;

13 the descendants of Adonikam: 666;

14 the descendants of Bigvai: 2,056;

15 the descendants of Adin: 454;

16 the descendants of Ater (through Hezekiah): 98;

17 the descendants of Bezai: 323;

18 the descendants of Jorah: 112;

19 the descendants of Hashum: 223;

20 the descendants of Gibbar: 95.

21 The men of Bethlehem: 123;

22 the men of Netophah: 56;

23 the men of Anathoth: 128;

24 the men of the family of Azmaveth: 42;

25 the men of Kiriath Jearim, Kephirah and Beeroth: 743;

26 the men of Ramah and Geba: 621;

27 the men of Micmash: 122;

28 the men of Bethel and Ai: 223;

29 the descendants of Nebo: 52;

30 the descendants of Magbish: 156;

31 the descendants of the other Elam: 1,254;

32 the descendants of Harim: 320;

33 the men of Lod, Hadid, and Ono: 725;

34 the men of Jericho: 345;

35 the descendants of Senaah: 3,630.

36 The priests: the descendants of Jedaiah (through the family of Jeshua): 973;

37 the descendants of Immer: 1,052;

38 the descendants of Pashhur: 1,247;

39 the descendants of Harim: 1,017.

40 The Levites: the descendants of Jeshua and Kadmiel (through the line of Hodaviah): 74.

41 The singers: the descendants of Asaph: 128.

42 The gatekeepers: the descendants of Shallum, the descendants of Ater, the descendants of Talmon, the descendants of Akkub, the descendants of Hatita, and the descendants of Shobai: 139.

43 The temple servants: the descendants of Ziha, the descendants of Hasupha, the descendants of Tabbaoth, 44 the descendants of Keros, the descendants of Siaha, the descendants of Padon, 45 the descendants of Lebanah, the descendants of Hagabah, the descendants of Akkub, 46 the descendants of Hagab, the descendants of Shalmai, the descendants of Hanan, 47 the descendants of Giddel, the descendants of Gahar, the descendants of Reaiah, 48 the descendants of Rezin, the descendants of Nekoda, the descendants of Gazzam, 49 the descendants of Uzzah, the descendants of Paseah, the descendants of Besai, 50 the descendants of Asnah, the descendants of Meunim, the descendants of Nephussim, 51 the descendants of Bakbuk, the descendants of Hakupha, the descendants of Harhur, 52 the descendants of Bazluth, the descendants of Mehida, the descendants of Harsha, 53 the descendants of Barkos, the descendants of Sisera, the descendants of Temah, 54 the descendants of Neziah, and the descendants of Hatipha.

55 The descendants of the servants of Solomon: the descendants of Sotai, the descendants of Hassophereth, the descendants of Peruda, 56 the descendants of Jaala, the descendants of Darkon, the descendants of Giddel, 57 the descendants of Shephatiah, the descendants of Hattil, the descendants of Pokereth-Hazzebaim, and the descendants of Ami.

58 All the temple servants and the descendants of the servants of Solomon: 392.

59 These are the ones that came up from Tel Melah, Tel Harsha, Kerub, Addon, and Immer (although they were unable to certify their family connection or their ancestry, as to whether they really were from Israel):

60 the descendants of Delaiah, the descendants of Tobiah, and the descendants of Nekoda: 652.

61 And from among the priests: the descendants of Hobaiah, the descendants of Hakkoz, and the descendants of Barzillai (who had taken a wife from the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite and was called by that name). 62 They searched for their records in the genealogical materials, but did not find them. They were therefore excluded from the priesthood. 63 The governor instructed them not to eat any of the sacred food until there was a priest who could consult the Urim and Thummim.

64 The entire group numbered 42,360, 65 not counting their male and female servants, who numbered 7,337. They also had 200 male and female singers 66 and 736 horses, 245 mules, 67 435 camels, and 6,720 donkeys. 68 When they came to the Lord’s temple in Jerusalem, some of the family leaders offered voluntary offerings for the temple of God in order to rebuild it on its site. 69 As they were able, they gave to the treasury for this work 61,000 drachmas of gold, 5,000 minas of silver, and 100 priestly robes.

70 The priests, the Levites, some of the people, the singers, the gatekeepers, and the temple servants lived in their towns, and all the rest of Israel lived in their towns.

Chapter 3

When the seventh month arrived and the Israelites were living in their towns, the people assembled in Jerusalem. 2 Then Jeshua the son of Jozadak and his priestly colleagues and Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and his colleagues started to build the altar of the God of Israel so they could offer burnt offerings on it as required by the law of Moses the man of God. 3 They established the altar on its foundations, even though they were in terror of the local peoples, and they offered burnt offerings on it to the Lord, both the morning and the evening offerings. 4 They observed the Festival of Temporary Shelters as required and offered the proper number of daily burnt offerings according to the requirement for each day. 5 Afterward they offered the continual burnt offerings and those for the new moons and those for all the holy assemblies of the Lord and all those that were being voluntarily offered to the Lord. 6 From the first day of the seventh month they began to offer burnt offerings to the Lord. However, the Lord’s temple was not at that time established.

7 So they provided money for the masons and carpenters, and food, beverages, and olive oil for the people of Sidon and Tyre, so that they would bring cedar timber from Lebanon to the seaport at Joppa, in accord with the edict of King Cyrus of Persia. 8 In the second year after they had come to the temple of God in Jerusalem, in the second month, Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak initiated the work, along with the rest of their associates, the priests and the Levites, and all those who were coming to Jerusalem from the exile. They appointed the Levites who were at least twenty years old to take charge of the work on the Lord’s temple. 9 So Jeshua appointed both his sons and his relatives, Kadmiel and his sons (the sons of Yehudah), to take charge of the workers in the temple of God, along with the sons of Henadad, their sons, and their relatives the Levites. 10 When the builders established the Lord’s temple, the priests, ceremonially attired and with their clarions, and the Levites (the sons of Asaph) with their cymbals, stood to praise the Lord according to the instructions left by King David of Israel. 11 With antiphonal response they sang, praising and glorifying the Lord:
“For he is good;
his loyal love toward Israel is forever.”

All the people gave a loud shout as they praised the Lord when the temple of the Lord was established. 12 Many of the priests, the Levites, and the leaders – older people who had seen with their own eyes the former temple while it was still established – were weeping loudly, and many others raised their voice in a joyous shout. 13 People were unable to tell the difference between the sound of joyous shouting and the sound of the people’s weeping, for the people were shouting so loudly that the sound was heard a long way off.

Chapter 4

When the enemies of Judah and Benjamin learned that the former exiles were building a temple for the Lord God of Israel, 2 they came to Zerubbabel and the leaders and said to them, “Let us help you build, for like you we seek your God and we have been sacrificing to him from the time of King Esarhaddon of Assyria, who brought us here.” 3 But Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the rest of the leaders of Israel said to them, “You have no right to help us build the temple of our God. We will build it by ourselves for the Lord God of Israel, just as King Cyrus, the king of Persia, has commanded us.” 4 Then the local people began to discourage the people of Judah and to dishearten them from building. 5 They were hiring advisers to oppose them, so as to frustrate their plans, throughout the time of King Cyrus of Persia until the reign of King Darius of Persia.

6 At the beginning of the reign of Ahasuerus they filed an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem. 7 And during the reign of Artaxerxes, Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and the rest of their colleagues wrote to King Artaxerxes of Persia. This letter was first written in Aramaic but then translated.

[Aramaic:]

8 Rehum the commander and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter concerning Jerusalem to King Artaxerxes as follows: 9 From Rehum the commander, Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their colleagues – the judges, the rulers, the officials, the secretaries, the Erechites, the Babylonians, the people of Susa (that is, the Elamites), 10 and the rest of nations whom the great and noble Ashurbanipal deported and settled in the cities of Samaria and other places in Trans-Euphrates. 11 (This is a copy of the letter they sent to him:)

“To King Artaxerxes, from your servants in Trans-Euphrates: 12 Now let the king be aware that the Jews who came up to us from you have gone to Jerusalem. They are rebuilding that rebellious and odious city. They are completing its walls and repairing its foundations. 13 Let the king also be aware that if this city is built and its walls are completed, no more tax, custom, or toll will be paid, and the royal treasury will suffer loss. 14 In light of the fact that we are loyal to the king, and since it does not seem appropriate to us that the king should sustain damage, we are sending the king this information 15 so that he may initiate a search of the records of his predecessors and discover in those records that this city is rebellious and injurious to both kings and provinces, producing internal revolts from long ago. It is for this very reason that this city was destroyed. 16 We therefore are informing the king that if this city is rebuilt and its walls are completed, you will not retain control of this portion of Trans-Euphrates.”

17 The king sent the following response:

“To Rehum the commander, Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their colleagues who live in Samaria and other parts of Trans-Euphrates: Greetings! 18 The letter you sent to us has been translated and read in my presence. 19 So I gave orders, and it was determined that this city from long ago has been engaging in insurrection against kings. It has continually engaged in rebellion and revolt. 20 Powerful kings have been over Jerusalem who ruled throughout the entire Trans-Euphrates and who were the beneficiaries of tribute, custom, and toll. 21 Now give orders that these men cease their work and that this city not be rebuilt until such time as I so instruct. 22 Exercise appropriate caution so that there is no negligence in this matter. Why should danger increase to the point that kings sustain damage?”

23 Then, as soon as the copy of the letter from King Artaxerxes was read in the presence of Rehum, Shimshai the scribe, and their colleagues, they proceeded promptly to the Jews in Jerusalem and stopped them with threat of armed force.

24 So the work on the temple of God in Jerusalem came to a halt. It remained halted until the second year of the reign of King Darius of Persia.

Chapter 5

Then the prophets Haggai and Zechariah son of Iddo prophesied concerning the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel who was over them. 2 Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak began to rebuild the temple of God in Jerusalem. The prophets of God were with them, supporting them.

3 At that time Tattenai governor of Trans-Euphrates, Shethar-Bozenai, and their colleagues came to them and asked, “Who gave you authority to rebuild this temple and to complete this structure?” 4 They also asked them, “What are the names of the men who are building this edifice?” 5 But God was watching over the elders of Judah, and they were not stopped until a report could be dispatched to Darius and a letter could be sent back concerning this.

6 This is a copy of the letter that Tattenai governor of Trans-Euphrates, Shethar-Bozenai, and his colleagues who were the officials of Trans-Euphrates sent to King Darius. 7 The report they sent to him was written as follows:

“To King Darius: All greetings! 8 Let it be known to the king that we have gone to the province of Judah, to the temple of the great God. It is being built with large stones, and timbers are being placed in the walls. This work is being done with all diligence and is prospering in their hands. 9 We inquired of those elders, asking them, ‘Who gave you the authority to rebuild this temple and to complete this structure?’ 10 We also inquired of their names in order to inform you, so that we might write the names of the men who were their leaders. 11 They responded to us in the following way: ‘We are servants of the God of heaven and earth. We are rebuilding the temple which was previously built many years ago. A great king of Israel built it and completed it. 12 But after our ancestors angered the God of heaven, he delivered them into the hands of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this temple and exiled the people to Babylon. 13 But in the first year of King Cyrus of Babylon, King Cyrus enacted a decree to rebuild this temple of God. 14 Even the gold and silver vessels of the temple of God that Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple in Jerusalem and had brought to the palace of Babylon – even those things King Cyrus brought from the palace of Babylon and presented to a man by the name of Sheshbazzar whom he had appointed as governor. 15 He said to him, “Take these vessels and go deposit them in the temple in Jerusalem, and let the house of God be rebuilt in its proper location.” 16 Then this Sheshbazzar went and laid the foundations of the temple of God in Jerusalem. From that time to the present moment it has been in the process of being rebuilt, although it is not yet finished.’

17 “Now if the king is so inclined, let a search be conducted in the royal archives there in Babylon in order to determine whether King Cyrus did in fact issue orders for this temple of God to be rebuilt in Jerusalem. Then let the king send us a decision concerning this matter.”