Ezra

JB EZRA Chapter 1

I. THE RETURN FROM EXILE AND THE REBUILDING OF THE TEMPLE

The return of the exiles

1:1 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia [*a], to fulfil the word of Yahweh that was spoken through Jeremiah [*b], Yahweh roused the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia to issue a proclamation and to have it publicly displayed throughout his kingdom:

1:2 ‘Thus speaks Cyrus king of Persia, “Yahweh, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth; he has ordered me to build him a Temple in Jerusalem, in Judah.

1:3 Whoever there is among you of all his people, may his God be with him! Let him go up to Jerusalem in Judah to build the Temple of Yahweh, the God of Israel – he is the God who is in Jerusalem.

1:4 And let each survivor, wherever he lives, be helped by the people of that place with silver and gold, with goods and cattle, as well as voluntary offerings for the Temple of God which is in Jerusalem.” ‘

1:5 Then the heads of families of Judah and of Benjamin, the priests and the Levites, in fact all whose spirit had been roused by God, prepared to go and rebuild the Temple of Yahweh in Jerusalem;

1:6 and all their neighbours gave them every assistance with silver, gold, goods, cattle, quantities of costly gifts and with voluntary offerings of every kind.

1:7 King Cyrus took the vessels of the Temple of Yahweh which Nebuchadnezzar had carried away from Jerusalem and dedicated to the temple of his god.

1:8 Cyrus, king of Persia, handed them over to Mithredath, the treasurer, who counted them out to Sheshbazzar, the prince of Judah.

1:9 The inventory was as follows: thirty golden bowls for offerings; one thousand and twenty-nine silver bowls for offerings;

1:10 thirty golden bowls; four hundred and ten silver bowls; one thousand other vessels.

1:11 In all, five thousand four hundred vessels of gold and silver. Sheshbazzar took all these with him when the exiles travelled back from Babylon to Jerusalem.

JB EZRA Chapter 2

The list of the returning exiles

2:1 These were the people of the province who returned from captivity and exile. After being deported to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, they returned to Jerusalem and to Judah, each to his own town.

2:2 They arrived with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Nahamani, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispar, Bigvai, Rehum and Baanah. The list of the men of the people of Israel:

2:3 sons of Parosh, two thousand one hundred and seventy-two;

2:4 sons of Shephatiah, three hundred and seventy- two;

2:5 sons of Arah, seven hundred and seventy-five;

2:6 sons of Pahath-moab, that is to say the sons of Jeshua and Joab, two thousand eight hundred and twelve;

2:7 sons of Elam, one thousand two hundred and fifty-four;

2:8 sons of Zattu, nine hundred and forty-five;

2:9 sons of Zaccai, seven hundred and sixty;

2:10 sons of Bani, six hundred and forty-two;

2:11 sons of Bebai, six hundred and twenty-three;

2:12 sons of Azgad, one thousand two hundred and twenty-two;

2:13 sons of Adonikam, six hundred and sixty-six;

2:14 sons of Bigvai, two thousand and fifty-six;

2:15 sons of Adin, four hundred and fifty-four;

2:16 sons of Ater, that is to say of Hezekiah, ninety-eight;

2:17 sons of Bezai, three hundred and twenty-three;

2:18 sons of Jorah, one hundred and twelve;

2:19 sons of Hashum, two hundred and twenty-three;

2:20 sons of Gibbar, ninety-five;

2:21 men of Bethlehem, one hundred and twenty-three;

2:22 men of Netophah, fifty-six;

2:23 men of Anathoth, one hundred and twenty-eight;

2:24 men of Beth-azmaveth, forty-two;

2:25 men of Kiriath-jearim, Chephirah and Beeroth, seven hundred and forty-three;

2:26 men of Ramah and Geba, six hundred and twenty-one;

2:27 men of Michmas, one hundred and twenty-two;

2:28 men of Bethel and Ai, two hundred and twenty-three;

2:29 sons of Nebo, fifty-two;

2:30 sons of Magbish, one hundred and fifty-six;

2:31 sons of another Elam, one thousand two hundred and fifty-four;

2:32 sons of Harim, three hundred and twenty;

2:33 men of Lod, Hadid and Ono, seven hundred and twenty-five;

2:34 men of Jericho, three hundred and forty-five;

2:35 sons of Senaah, three thousand six hundred and thirty.

2:36 The priests: sons of Jedaiah, that is to say the House of Jeshua, nine hundred and seventy-three;

2:37 sons of Immer, one thousand and fifty-two;

2:38 sons of Pashhur, one thousand two hundred and forty-seven;

2:39 sons of Harim, one thousand and seventeen.

2:40 The Levites: sons of Jeshua, that is to say Kadmiel, Binnui, Hodaviah, seventy-four.

2:41 The cantors: sons of Asaph, one hundred and twenty-eight.

2:42 The gatekeepers: sons of Shallum, sons of Ater, sons of Talmon, sons of Akkub, sons of Hatita, sons of Shobai: in all, one hundred and thirty-nine.

2:43 The oblates: sons of Ziha, sons of Hasupha, sons of Tabbaoth,

2:44 sons of Keros, sons of Siaha, sons of Padon,

2:45 sons of Lebanah, sons of Hagabah, sons of Akkub,

2:46 sons of Hagab, sons of Shamlai, sons of Hanan,

2:47 sons of Giddel, sons of Gahar, sons of Reaiah,

2:48 sons of Rezin, sons of Nekoda, sons of Gazzam, sons of Uzza, sons of Paseah, sons of Besai,

2:49 sons of Asnah, sons of the Meunites,

2:50 sons of the Nephisites,

2:51 sons of Bakbuk, sons of Hakupha, sons of Harhur,

2:52 sons of Baziuth, sons of Mehida, sons of Harsha,

2:53 sons of Barkos, sons of Sisera, sons of Temah,

2:54 sons of Neziah, sons of Hatipha.

2:55 The sons of Solomon’s slaves: sons of Sotal, sons of Hassophereth, sons of Peruda,

2:56 sons of Jaalah, sons of Darkon, sons of Giddel,

2:57 sons of Shephatiah, sons of Hattil, sons of Pochereth-haz-zebaim, sons of Ami.

2:58 The total of the oblates and the sons of Solomon’s slaves: three hundred and ninety-two.

2:59 The following, who came from Tel-melah, Tel-harsha, Cherub, Addan and Immer, could not prove that their families and ancestry were of Israelite origin:

2:60 sons of Delaiah, sons of Tobiah, sons of Nekoda: six hundred and fifty-two.

2:61 And among the priests: sons of Habaiah, sons of Hakkoz, sons of Barzillai, who had married one of the daughters of Barzillai, the Gileadite, whose name he adopted.

2:62 These people searched in their ancestral registers but could not be located in them, so they were excluded from the priesthood as unclean.

2:63 and His Excellency[*a] forbade them to eat the sacred foods until a priest could be found for the Urim and Thummim[*b].

2:64 The whole assembly numbered forty-two thousand three hundred and sixty people,

2:65 not counting their slaves and maidservants to the number of seven thousand three hundred and thirty-seven. They also had two hundred male and female singers.

2:66 Their horses numbered seven hundred and thirty-six, their mules two hundred and forty-five,

2:67 their camels four hundred and thirty-five and their donkeys six thousand seven hundred and twenty.

2:68 When they arrived at the Temple of Yahweh in Jerusalem, a certain number of heads of families made voluntary offerings for the Temple of God, for its rebuilding on its site.

2:69 In accordance with their means they gave sixty-one thousand gold drachmas, five thousand silver minas and one hundred priestly robes to the sacred funds.

2:70 The priests, Levites and part of the people settled in Jerusalem; the gatekeepers, cantors, oblates and all the other Israelites, in their own towns.

JB EZRA Chapter 3

The resumption of worship

3:1 When the seventh month came and the sons of Israel were in their own towns, they all gathered as one man in Jerusalem.

3:2 Jeshua son of Jozadak, with his brother priests, and Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, with his brothers, began to rebuild the altar of the God of Israel, to offer holocausts there, as it is written in the Law of Moses the man of God.

3:3 The altar was set up on its old site, despite their fear of the surrounding peoples, and on it they offered holocausts to Yahweh, holocausts morning and evening;

3:4 they celebrated the feast of Tabernacles, according to the written Law, with as many daily holocausts as are ordained for each day;

3:5 then, in addition to the perpetual holocaust, they offered those prescribed for the sabbaths, New Moon feasts and all the solemnities sacred to Yahweh, as well as those voluntary offerings made by individuals to Yahweh.

3:6 From the first day of the seventh month they began offering holocausts to Yahweh, though the foundations of the sanctuary of Yahweh had not yet been laid.

3:7 Then they gave money to the masons and carpenters; to the Sidonians and Tyrians they gave food, drink and oil, so that they would bring cedar wood from Lebanon by sea to Jaffa, for which Cyrus king of Persia had given permission.

3:8 It was in the second month of the second year after their arrival at the Temple of God in Jerusalem that Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and Jeshua son of Jozadak, with the rest of their brothers, the priests, the Levites and all the people who had returned to Jerusalem from captivity, began the work; they appointed the Levites who were twenty years old or more to superintend the work on the Temple of Yahweh.

3:9 So Jeshua, his sons and his brothers, with Kadmiel, Binnui and Hodaviah, agreed to superintend the workmen at the Temple of God.

3:10 When the builders had laid the foundations of the sanctuary of Yahweh, the priests in fine linen came with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise Yahweh according to the ordinances of David king of Israel;

3:11 they chanted praise and thanksgiving to Yahweh, ‘For he is good, for his love for Israel is everlasting’. And all the people shouted aloud the praises of Yahweh, since the foundations of the Temple of Yahweh had now been laid.

3:12 True, many priests and Levites, many heads of families, who were then old and had seen with their own eyes the earlier Temple on its foundations, wept aloud, but many others raised their voices in shouts of joy.

3:13 And nobody could distinguish the shouts of joy from the sound of the people’s weeping; for the people shouted so loudly that the noise could be heard far away.

JB EZRA Chapter 4

An indictment of the Samaritans: their tactics under Cyrus

4:1 But when the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the exiles were building a sanctuary for Yahweh, the God of Israel,

4:2 they came to Zerubbabel and Jeshua and the heads of families and said, ‘We would like to build with you, for we seek your God as you do and we have sacrificed to him since the time of Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us here’.

4:3 Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the other heads of Israelite families replied, ‘It is not right that you should join us in building a Temple for our God; we alone may build for Yahweh, the God of Israel, as we were ordered by Cyrus king of Persia’.

4:4 Then the people of the country[*a] set out to dishearten and frighten the people of Judah from building any further;

4:5 they lured counsellors against them, to defeat their purpose. This lasted throughout the reign of Cyrus king of Persia and until the reign of Darius king of Persia.

Samaritan tactics under Xerxes and Artaxerxes

4:6 At the beginning of the reign of Xerxes[*b] they lodged a complaint against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem.

4:7 In the time of Artaxerxes[*c], Mithredath, Tabeel and the rest of their colleagues denounced Jerusalem in writing to Artaxerxes king of Persia. The text of the document was in the Aramaic script and the Aramaic language.

4:8 Then Rehum the governor and Shimshai the secretary wrote the following letter denouncing Jerusalem to King Artaxerxes –

4:9 Rehum the governor[*d] and Shimshai the secretary and the rest of their colleagues, the judges and legates, Persian officials, the people of Uruk, Babylon and Susa – that is, the Elamites –

4:10 and the other peoples whom Assurbanipal the Great deported and settled in the towns of Samaria and in the rest of Transeuphrates[*e].

4:11 This is a copy of the letter they sent: ‘To King Artaxerxes, from your servants, the people of Transeuphrates: Whereas

4:12 the king should be informed that the Jews, who have come up from your country to Jerusalem, are now rebuilding that rebellious and wicked city; they are working to restore the walls, and the foundations are already laid,

4:13 and whereas the king should be informed that if this city is rebuilt and the walls are restored, they will refuse to pay tribute, customs or tolls, and that in short this city will damage the authority of the kings,

4:14 and whereas, because we eat the salt of the palace, it does not seem proper to us to see this affront offered to the king; we therefore send this information to the king

4:15 so that a search may be made in the archives of your ancestors: in which archives you will find it proved that this city is a rebellious city, the bane of the kings and the provinces, and that sedition has been stirred up there from ancient times; which is why this city was destroyed.

4:16 We inform the king that if this city is rebuilt and its walls are restored, you will soon have no territories left in Transeuphrates.’

4:17 The king sent this reply: ‘To Rehum the governor, to Shimshai the secretary, and to the rest of their colleagues resident in Samaria and elsewhere in Transeuphrates, peace! Whereas

4:18 the document you sent to me has been translated and read before me,

4:19 and by my orders search has been made, and it has been found that from ancient times this city has risen against kings and that rebellion and sedition have been contrived in it;

4:20 and that powerful kings have reigned in Jerusalem, who dominated all Transeuphrates, exacting tribute, customs and tolls,

4:21 you must now order the work of these men to cease immediately: this city is not to be rebuilt until I give further orders.

4:22 Beware of negligence in this matter lest further harm be done to the king’s interests.’

4:23 As soon as the copy of King Artaxerxes’ document had been read before Rehum the governor, Shimshai the secretary and their colleagues, they hurried to the Jews in Jerusalem and stopped their work by force of arms.

The building of the Temple (52O-515 B.C.)

4:24 Thus the work on the Temple of God in Jerusalem was brought to a standstill; it remained interrupted until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.

JB EZRA Chapter 5

5:1 Then the prophets Haggai and Zechariah son of Iddo began to prophesy to the Jews of Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel who was with them.

5:2 At this, Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and Jeshua son of Jozadak started again to build the Temple of God in Jerusalem; the prophets of God were with the people, giving them courage.

5:3 It was then that Tattenai, satrap of Transeuphrates, Shethar-bozenai and their colleagues came to them and asked, ‘Who gave you authority to build this Temple and to do this woodwork?

5:4 What are the names of the men responsible for this building?’

5:5 But the eyes of their God were on the elders of the Jews; they were not compelled to stop while a report on the matter was sent to Darius and an official edict awaited.

5:6 Copy of the letter that Tattenai, satrap of Transeuphrates, Shethar-bozenai and his colleagues, the officials in Transeuphrates, sent to King Darius.

5:7 They sent a report to him which ran as follows: ‘To King Darius, all peace!

5:8 The king should be informed that we went to the district of Judah, to the Temple of the great God: it is being built of blocks of stone; the walls are being panelled with wood; the work is being done with great care and makes progress in their hands.

5:9 Questioning the elders, we asked, “Who gave you authority to build this Temple and to do this woodwork?”

5:10 We also asked their names so that you might be informed; hence we have been able to list the names of those who are superintending these men.

5:11 ‘They gave us this answer, “We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth; we are rebuilding a Temple which until recently had been standing for many years and which was built and finished by a great king of Israel.

5:12 But our ancestors angered the God of heaven and he delivered them into the power of Nebuchadnezzar the Chaldaean, king of Babylon, who destroyed that Temple and deported the people to Babylon.

5:13 In the first year of Cyrus king of Babylon, however, King Cyrus authorised the rebuilding of this Temple of God;

5:14 furthermore, those vessels of gold and silver belonging to the Temple of God, which Nebuchadnezzar had removed from the sanctuary in Jerusalem and taken to that of Babylon, King Cyrus in turn removed from the sanctuary in Babylon and handed back to a man called Sheshbazzar, whom he appointed high commissioner,

5:15 with the words: Take these vessels; go and return them to the sanctuary in Jerusalem and let the Temple of God be rebuilt on its original site;

5:16 the aforesaid Sheshbazzar therefore came and laid the foundations of the Temple of God in Jerusalem; they have been building it ever since, and it is still not finished.”

5:17 “Wherefore, if it please the king, let search be made in the king’s muniment rooms in Babylon, to find out if it is true that King Cyrus gave permission for the rebuilding of this Temple of God in Jerusalem. And let the king’s decision on this matter be sent to us.’

JB EZRA Chapter 6

6:1 Then, on the order of King Darius, a search was made in Babylonia in the muniment rooms where the archives were kept;

6:2 at Ecbatana, the fortress situated in the province of Media, a scroll was found which ran thus:’Memorandum.

6:3 ‘In the first year of Cyrus the king, King Cyrus decreed: “Temple of God in Jerusalem. The Temple will be rebuilt at a place at which sacrifices are offered and to which offerings are brought to be burnt. Its height is to be sixty cubits, its width sixty cubits.

6:4 There are to be three thicknesses of stone blocks and one of wood. The expense is to be met by the king’s household.

6:5 Furthermore, the vessels of gold and silver from the Temple of God which Nebuchadnezzar took from the sanctuary in Jerusalem and, brought to Babylon are to be restored so that everything may be restored to the sanctuary in Jerusalem and be put back in the Temple of God.”

6:6 ‘Wherefore, Tattenai, satrap of Transeuphrates, Shethar-bozenai and you, their colleagues, the officials of Transeuphrates, withdraw from there;

6:7 leave the high commissioner of Judah and the elders of the Jews to work on this Temple of God; they are to rebuild this Temple of God on its ancient site.

6:8 This, I decree, is how you must assist the elders of the Jews in the reconstruction of this Temple of God: the expenses of these people are to be paid, promptly and without fail, from the royal revenue-that is, from the tribute of Transeuphrates.

6:9 What they need for holocausts to the God of heaven: young bulls, rams and lambs, as also wheat, salt, wine and oil, is to be supplied to them daily, without fail, as required by the priests of Jerusalem,

6:10 so that they may offer acceptable sacrifices to the God of heaven and pray for the lives of the king and his sons.

6:11 I also decree this: If anyone disobeys this edict, a beam is to be torn from his house, he is to be pilloried upright on it and his house is to be made into a dung heap for this crime.

6:12 May the God who causes his name to live there overthrow any king or people who dares to defy this and destroy the Temple of God in Jerusalem! I, Darius, have issued this decree. Let it be obeyed to the letter!’

6:13 Then Tattenai, satrap of Transeuphrates, Shethar-bozenai and their colleagues obeyed to the letter the instructions sent by King Darius.

6:14 The elders of the Jews, for their part, prospered with their building, inspired by Haggai the prophet and Zechariah son of Iddo. They finished the building in accordance with the order of the God of Israel and the order of Cyrus and of Darius.

6:15 this Temple was finished on the twenty-third day of the month of Adar; it was the sixth year of the reign of King Darius[*a].

6:16 The Israelites-the priests, the Levites and the remainder of the exiles-joyfully dedicated this Temple of God;

6:17 for the dedication of this Temple of God they offered one hundred bulls, two hundred rams, four hundred lambs and, as a sacrifice for sin for the whole of Israel, twelve he-goats, corresponding to the number of the tribes of Israel.

6:18 Then they installed the priests according to their orders in the service of the Temple of God in Jerusalem, as is written in the Book of Moses.

The Passover of 515 B.C.

6:19 The exiles celebrated the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month.

6:20 The Levites, as one man, had purified themselves; all were pure, so they sacrificed the passover for all the exiles, for their brothers the priests and for themselves.

6:21 The following ate the passover: the Israelites who had returned from exile and all those who, having broken with the impurity of the surrounding peoples, joined them to seek Yahweh, the God of Israel.

6:22 For seven days they joyfully celebrated the feast of Unleavened Bread, for Yahweh had given them cause to rejoice, having moved the heart of the king of Assyria to encourage their work on the Temple of God, the God of Israel.

JB EZRA Chapter 7

II. THE ORGANISATION OF THE COMMUNITY BY EZRA AND NEHEMIAH

The mission and personality of Ezra

7:1 After these events, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra son of Seraiah, son of Azariah, son of Hilkiah,

7:2 son of Shallum, son of Zadok, son of Ahitub,

7:3 son of Amariah, son of Azariah, son of Meraioth,

7:4 son of Zerahiah, son of Uzzi, son of Bukki,

7:5 son of Abishua, son of Phinehas, son of Eleazar, son of the chief priest Aaron,

7:6 this man Ezra came up from Babylon. He was a scribe versed in the Law of Moses, which had been given by Yahweh, the God of Israel. As the favour of his God, Yahweh, was with him, the king gave him all he asked.

7:7 A certain number of Israelites, priests, Levites, cantors, gatekeepers and oblates went up to Jerusalem in the seventh year of the reign of King Artaxerxes.

7:8 He arrived in Jerusalem in the fifth month: it was the seventh year of the king’s reign,

7:9 for he had decided to depart from Babylon on the first day of the first month, and he arrived in Jerusalem on the first day of the fifth month; the kindly favour of his God was certainly with him.

7:10 For Ezra had devoted himself to the study of the Law of Yahweh, to practising it and to teaching Israel its laws and customs.

The edict of Artaxerxes

7:11 This is a copy of the document which King Artaxerxes handed to Ezra, the priest-scribe, the scribe who was especially learned in the text of Yahweh’s commandments and his laws relating to Israel:

7:12 ‘Artaxerxes, king of kings, to the priest Ezra, scribe of the Law of the God of heaven, perfect peace.

7:13 ‘Here then are my orders: Anyone in my kingdom who is of the people of Israel, of their priests or their Levites and who freely chooses to go to Jerusalem, may go with you.

7:14 For you are sent by the king and his seven counsellors to make an inspection of Judah and Jerusalem according to the Law of your God, which is in your possession,

7:15 and also to carry the silver and gold which the king and his counsellors have voluntarily offered to the God of Israel who dwells in Jerusalem,

7:16 as well as all the silver and gold you find in the whole province of Babylonia, together with those voluntary offerings given by the people and the priests for the Temple of their God in Jerusalem.

7:17 Further, with this money take pains to buy bulls, rams and lambs, as well as the oblations and libations which go with them; you must offer them on the altar of the Temple of your God in Jerusalem.

7:18 ‘The gold and silver left over you may spend as you and your brothers think right, according to the will of your God.

7:19 Place the vessels that have been given you for the service of the Temple of your God before your God in Jerusalem.

7:20 For anything else necessary for the Temple of your God, which you may find occasion to provide, you may draw on the royal treasury.

7:21 I, King Artaxerxes, give this command to all the treasurers of Transeuphrates: Whatever the priest Ezra, scribe of the Law of the God of heaven, may ask of you must be instantly allowed:

7:22 up to one hundred talents of silver, one hundred measures of wheat, one hundred baths of wine, one hundred baths of oil, and salt as requested.

7:23 Everything that the God of heaven commands must be carried out zealously for the Temple of the God of heaven, lest the wrath should come on the realm of the king and of his sons.

7:24 ‘You are also informed that it is forbidden to impose tribute, customs or tolls on any of the priests, Levites, cantors, gatekeepers, oblates; in short, on the servants of this Temple of God.

7:25 ‘And you, Ezra, by virtue of the wisdom of your God, which is in your possession[*a], you are to appoint scribes and judges to administer justice for the whole people of Transeuphrates, that is, for all who know the Law of your God. You must teach those who do not know it.

7:26 If anyone does not obey the Law of your God-which is the law of the king-let judgement be strictly executed on him: death, banishment, confiscation or imprisonment.’

The journey of Ezra from Babylonia to Palestine

7:27 Blessed be Yahweh, the God of our ancestors, who moved the king’s heart in this way to glorify the Temple of Yahweh in Jerusalem

7:28 and who won for me the favour of the king, his counsellors and all the most powerful of the king’s officials. For my part, I took courage, for the favour of Yahweh my God was with me, and I gathered the leading men of Israel together to set out with me.

JB EZRA Chapter 8

8:1 These, with their genealogies, are the heads of families who set out from Babylon with me in the reign of King Artaxerxes:

8:2 Of the sons of Phinehas: Gershom; of the sons of Ithamar: Daniel; of the sons of David: Hattush

8:3 son of Shecaniah; of the sons of Parosh: Zechariah, with whom one hundred and fifty males were registered;

8:4 of the sons of Pahath-moab: Eliehoenai son of Zerahiah, and with him two hundred males;

8:5 of the sons of Zattu: Shecaniah son of Jahaziel, and with him three hundred males;

8:6 of the sons of Adin: Ebed son of Jonathan, and with him fifty males;

8:7 of the sons of Elam: Jeshaiah son of Athaliah, and with him seventy males;

8:8 of the sons of Shephatiah: Zebadiah son of Michael, and with him eighty males;

8:9 of the sons of Joab: Obadiah son of Jehiel, and with him two hundred and eighteen males;

8:10 of the sons of Bani: Shelomith son of Josiphiah, and with him a hundred and sixty males;

8:11 of the sons of Bebai: Zechariah son of Bebai, and with him twenty-eight males;

8:12 of the sons of Azgad: Johanan son of Hakkatan, and with him a hundred and ten males;

8:13 of the sons of Adonikam: the younger sons, whose names are: Eliphelet, Jeiel and Shemaiah, and with them sixty males;

8:14 and of the sons of Bigvai: Uthai son of Zabud, and with him seventy males.

8:15 I assembled them near the river that runs to Ahava, where we camped for three days. Observing them I saw laymen and priests, but no Levites.

8:16 So I dispatched Eliezer, Ariel, Shemaiah, Elnathan, Jarib, Elnathan, Nathan, Zechariah and Meshullam, men of judgement,

8:17 and sent them to Iddo, the leading man in the region of Casiphia; I told them the words they were to say to Iddo and his kinsmen, living in the region of Casiphia, to provide us with servants for the Temple of our God.

8:18 Then, thanks to the kindly favour of our God which was with us, they sent us a capable man, of the sons of Mahli son of Levi son of Israel, Sherebiah with his sons and kinsmen: eighteen men;

8:19 also Hashabiah and with him his brother Jeshaiah of the sons of Merari, as well as their sons: twenty men;

8:20 and of the oblates whom David and his notables had assigned to serve the Levites: two hundred and twenty oblates. All were registered by name.

8:21 There, beside the river of Ahava, I proclaimed a fast: we were to humble ourselves before our God and pray to him for a successful journey for us, our children and our belongings;

8:22 since I should have been ashamed to ask the king for an armed guard and cavalry to protect us from an enemy on the road, for we had already told the king, ‘The hand of our God is held out in blessing over all who seek him, his power and his anger over all who turn away from him’.

8:23 So we fasted, pleading with our God for this favour, and he answered our prayers.

8:24 I chose twelve of the leading priests, and then Sherebiah and Hashabiah and with them ten of their kinsmen;

8:25 I weighed out for them the silver, the gold and the vessels, the offerings that the king, his counsellors, his nobles and all the Israelites present had presented for the Temple of our God.

8:26 So I weighed out and handed over to them six hundred and fifty talents of silver, one hundred silver vessels worth two talents, one hundred talents of gold,

8:27 twenty golden bowls worth a thousand darics and two vessels of fine gilded bronze which were as valuable as gold.

8:28 I told them, ‘You are consecrated to Yahweh; these vessels are sacred; the silver and gold are voluntary offerings to Yahweh, the God of your ancestors.

8:29 Take charge of them and guard them until you weigh them before the leading priests, the Levites and the heads of families of Israel in Jerusalem in the chambers of the Temple of Yahweh.’

8:30 The priests and Levites then took charge of the silver, the gold and the vessels thus weighed, to take them to Jerusalem to the Temple of our God.

8:31 On the twelfth day of the first month we left the river of Ahava to go to Jerusalem; the favour of our God was with us and protected us on the road from enemies and thieves.

8:32 We arrived in Jerusalem and stayed there, resting, for three days.

8:33 On the fourth day the silver, the gold and the vessels were weighed in the Temple of our God and handed over to the priest Meremoth son of Uriah and, with him, Eleazar son of Phinehas; with them were the Levites Jozabad son of Jeshua and Noadiah son of Binnui.

8:34 Number and weight, all was there. The total weight was put on record. At that time

8:35 those who came back from captivity, the exiles, offered holocausts to the God of Israel: twelve bulls for all Israel, ninety-six rams, seventy-two lambs, twelve he-goats for sin; the whole as a holocaust to Yahweh.

8:36 The king’s instructions were notified to the king’s satraps and the governors of Transeuphrates, who then assisted the people and the Temple of God.

JB EZRA Chapter 9

The marriages with foreigners dissolved

9:1 Once this was done, the leaders approached me to say, ‘The people of Israel, the priests and the Levites, have not broken with the natives of the countries who are steeped in abominations-Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians and Amorites-

9:2 but have found wives among these foreign women for themselves and for their sons; the holy race has been mingling with the natives of the countries; in this act of treachery the chief men and officials have led the way’.

9:3 At this news I tore my garment and my cloak; I tore hair from my head and beard and sat down, quite overcome.

9:4 All who trembled at the words of the God of Israel gathered round me, when faced by this treachery of the exiles. For my part, I went on sitting there, overcome, until the evening oblation.

9:5 At the evening sacrifice I came out of my stupor and falling on my knees, with my garment and cloak torn, I stretched out my hands to Yahweh my God,

9:6 and said: ‘My God, I am ashamed, I blush to lift my face to you, my God. For our crimes have increased, until they are higher than our heads, and our sin has piled up to heaven.

9:7 From the days of our ancestors until now our guilt has been great; on account of our crimes we, our kings and our priests, were given into the power of the kings of other countries, given to the sword, to captivity, to pillage and to shame, as is the case today.

9:8 But now, suddenly, Yahweh our God by his favour has left us a remnant and granted us a refuge in his holy place; this is how our God has cheered our eyes and given us a little respite in our slavery.

9:9 For we are slaves; but God has not forgotten us in our slavery; he has shown us kindness in the eyes of the kings of Persia, obtaining permission for us to rebuild the Temple of our God and restore its ruins, and he has found us safety and shelter in Judah and in Jerusalem.

9:10 But now what can we say, my God, if after this kindness we have deserted your commandments,

9:11 which, through your servants the prophets, you ordained in these words, “The land you are entering to possess is a land unclean because of the foulness of the natives of the countries and of the abominations with which their impurities have infected it from end to end.

9:12 So you must not give your daughters to their sons nor take their daughters for your sons; you must not be concerned for their peace or their prosperity, so that you yourselves may grow strong, eat the best of what the country produces and leave it as an inheritance to your sons for ever.”

9:13 ‘Now after all that has come upon us on account of our evil deeds and our great fault-although you, our God, have rated our crimes less than their wickedness and left us this remnant here-

9:14 are we to break your commandments again and intermarry with these people who practise such abominations? Would you not be provoked to the point of destroying us, so that not even the smallest remnant would survive?

9:15 ‘Yahweh, God of Israel, by your justice we survive as the remnant we are today; here we are before you with our sin. And because of it, no one can survive in your presence.’

JB EZRA Chapter 10

10:1 While Ezra, weeping and prostrate before the Temple of God, prayed and confessed, a great crowd of Israelites gathered round him, men, women and children, weeping bitterly too.

10:2 Then Shecaniah son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, spoke up and said to Ezra, ‘We have betrayed our God by marrying foreign women, taken from the natives of the countries. But, in spite of this, there is still some hope for Israel.

10:3 We will make a solemn promise before our God to put away our foreign wives and the children born to them, as my lord and those who tremble at the commandment of our God may advise. Let us act in accordance with the Law. Up!

10:4 This is for you to decide, but we will support you. Take courage; to work!

10:5 Then Ezra stood up and put the leading priests and Levites and all Israel on oath to do what had been said. They took the oath.

10:6 Ezra left his place before the Temple of God and went to the room of Jehohanan son of Eliashib, where he spent the night without eating bread or drinking water; he was in mourning for the exiles’ treachery.

10:7 A proclamation was issued in Judah and in Jerusalem to all the exiles that they were to assemble in Jerusalem:

10:8 anyone who did not come within three days-such was the warning of the leaders and elders-would have all his goods seized and would himself be excluded from the community of the exiles.

10:9 As a result, all the men of Judah and Benjamin assembled in Jerusalem within the three days; it was the ninth month, the twentieth day of the month; all the people gathered in the square before the Temple of God; the occasion itself, and the heavy rain, had them trembling.

10:10 Then Ezra the priest stood up and spoke, ‘You have committed treason by marrying foreign women; you have added to the sin of Israel.

10:11 But now give thanks to Yahweh, the God of your ancestors, and do his will, by separating from the natives of the country and from your foreign wives.’

10:12 In a loud voice the whole assembly answered, ‘Yes, our duty is to do as you say.

10:13 But there are a great many people here and it is the rainy season; we cannot stay out in the open; besides, this is not something that can be dealt with in one or two days, since many of us have sinned in this respect.

10:14 Our leaders could represent the full assembly; all those from our towns who have foreign wives could come at stated times, accompanied by elders and judges from each town, until we have turned away God’s anger which has been thus roused against us.’

10:15 Only Jonathan son of Asahel and Jahzeiah son of Tikvah, supported by Meshullam and Shabbethai the Levite, were opposed to this procedure.

10:16 The exiles acted on this suggestion. Ezra the priest chose as helpers the heads of families for each House, all designated by name. The session for investigating individual cases began on the first day of the tenth month.

10:17 And by the first day of the first month they had dealt with all the men who had married foreign women.

The list of the guilty

10:18 Among the members of the priesthood, these are the names of those who were found to have married foreign women: among the sons of Jeshua son of Jozadak and among his brothers: Maaseiah, Eliezer, Jarib and Gedaliah;

10:19 they pledged their word to put their wives away and, for their sin, offered a ram as a sacrifice of reparation;

10:20 among the sons of Immer: Hanani and Zebadiah;

10:21 among the sons of Harim: Maaseiah, Elijah, Shemaiah, Jehiel and Uzziah;

10:22 among the sons of Pashhur: Elioenai, Maaseiah, Ishmael, Nethanel, Jozabad and Elasah.

10:23 Among the Levites:

Jozabad, Shimei, Kelaiah – that is, Kelita-Pethahiah, Judah, and Eliezer.

10:24 Among the cantors:

Eliashib and Zaccur. Among the gatekeepers: Shallum, Telem and Uri.

10:25 And among the Israelites:

of the sons of Parosh: Ramiah, Izziah, Malchijah, Mijamin, Eleazar, Malchijah and Benaiah;

10:26 of the sons of Elam: Mattaniah, Zechariah, Jehiel, Abdi, Jeremoth and Elijah;

10:27 of the sons of Zattu: Elioenai, Eliashib, Mattaniah, Jeremoth, Zabad and Aziza;

10:28 of the sons of Bebai: Jehohanan, Hananiah, Zabbai, Athlai;

10:29 of the sons of Bigvai: Meshullam, Malluch, Jedaiah, Jashub, Sheal, Jeremoth;

10:30 of the sons of Pahath-moab: Adna, Chelal, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattaniah, Bezalel, Binnui and Manasseh;

10:31 of the sons of Harim: Eliezer, Isshijah, Malchijah, Shemaiah, Shimeon,

10:32 Benjamin, Malluch, Shemariah;

10:33 of the sons of Hashum: Mattenai, Mattattah, Zabad, Eliphelet, Jeremai, Manasseh, Shimei;

10:34 of the sons of Bani: Maadai, Amram, Uel,

10:35 Benaiah, Bediah, Cheluhi,

10:36 Vaniah, Meremoth, Eliashib,

10:37 Mattaniah, Mattenai and Jaasau;

10:38 of the sons of Binnui: Shimei,

10:39 Shelemiah, Nathan and Adaiah;

10:40 of the sons of Zaccai: Shashai, Sharai,

10:41 Azarel, Shelemiah, Shemariah,

10:42 Shallum, Amariah, Joseph;

10:43 of the sons of Nebo: Jeiel, Mattithiah, Zabad, Zebina, Jaddai, Joel, Benaiah.

10:44 All these had married foreign wives; they put them away, both women and children.

END OF JB EZRA [10 Chapters].

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