Passage: Ezra 7, 8 (RSV)

Ezra 7

1Now after this, in the reign of Ar-ta-xerx'es king of Persia, Ezra the son of Serai'ah, son of Azari'ah, son of Hilki'ah,
2son of Shallum, son of Zadok, son of Ahi'tub,
3son of Amari'ah, son of Azari'ah, son of Merai'oth,
4son of Zerahi'ah, son of Uzzi, son of Bukki,
5son of Abi'shu-a, son of Phin'ehas, son of Elea'zar, son of Aaron the chief priest --
6this Ezra went up from Babylonia. He was a scribe skilled in the law of Moses which the LORD the God of Israel had given; and the king granted him all that he asked, for the hand of the LORD his God was upon him.
7And there went up also to Jerusalem, in the seventh year of Ar-ta-xerx'es the king, some of the people of Israel, and some of the priests and Levites, the singers and gatekeepers, and the temple servants.
8And he came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which was in the seventh year of the king;
9for on the first day of the first month he began to go up from Babylonia, and on the first day of the fifth month he came to Jerusalem, for the good hand of his God was upon him.
10For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach his statutes and ordinances in Israel.
11This is a copy of the letter which King Ar-ta-xerx'es gave to Ezra the priest, the scribe, learned in matters of the commandments of the LORD and his statutes for Israel:
12"Ar-ta-xerx'es, king of kings, to Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven. And now
13I make a decree that any one of the people of Israel or their priests or Levites in my kingdom, who freely offers to go to Jerusalem, may go with you.
14For you are sent by the king and his seven counselors to make inquiries about Judah and Jerusalem according to the law of your God, which is in your hand,
15and also to convey the silver and gold which the king and his counselors have freely offered to the God of Israel, whose dwelling is in Jerusalem,
16with all the silver and gold which you shall find in the whole province of Babylonia, and with the freewill offerings of the people and the priests, vowed willingly for the house of their God which is in Jerusalem.
17With this money, then, you shall with all diligence buy bulls, rams, and lambs, with their cereal offerings and their drink offerings, and you shall offer them upon the altar of the house of your God which is in Jerusalem.
18Whatever seems good to you and your brethren to do with the rest of the silver and gold, you may do, according to the will of your God.
19The vessels that have been given you for the service of the house of your God, you shall deliver before the God of Jerusalem.
20And whatever else is required for the house of your God, which you have occasion to provide, you may provide it out of the king's treasury.
21"And I, Ar-ta-xerx'es the king, make a decree to all the treasurers in the province Beyond the River: Whatever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, requires of you, be it done with all diligence,
22up to a hundred talents of silver, a hundred cors of wheat, a hundred baths of wine, a hundred baths of oil, and salt without prescribing how much.
23Whatever is commanded by the God of heaven, let it be done in full for the house of the God of heaven, lest his wrath be against the realm of the king and his sons.
24We also notify you that it shall not be lawful to impose tribute, custom, or toll upon any one of the priests, the Levites, the singers, the doorkeepers, the temple servants, or other servants of this house of God.
25"And you, Ezra, according to the wisdom of your God which is in your hand, appoint magistrates and judges who may judge all the people in the province Beyond the River, all such as know the laws of your God; and those who do not know them, you shall teach.
26Whoever will not obey the law of your God and the law of the king, let judgment be strictly executed upon him, whether for death or for banishment or for confiscation of his goods or for imprisonment."
27Blessed be the LORD, the God of our fathers, who put such a thing as this into the heart of the king, to beautify the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem,
28and who extended to me his steadfast love before the king and his counselors, and before all the king's mighty officers. I took courage, for the hand of the LORD my God was upon me, and I gathered leading men from Israel to go up with me.

Ezra 8

1These are the heads of their fathers' houses, and this is the genealogy of those who went up with me from Babylonia, in the reign of Ar-ta-xerx'es the king:
2Of the sons of Phin'ehas, Gershom. Of the sons of Ith'amar, Daniel. Of the sons of David, Hattush,
3of the sons of Shecani'ah. Of the sons of Parosh, Zechari'ah, with whom were registered one hundred and fifty men.
4Of the sons of Pa'hath-mo'ab, Eli-e-ho-e'nai the son of Zerahi'ah, and with him two hundred men.
5Of the sons of Zattu, Shecani'ah the son of Jaha'ziel, and with him three hundred men.
6Of the sons of Adin, Ebed the son of Jonathan, and with him fifty men.
7Of the sons of Elam, Jeshai'ah the son of Athali'ah, and with him seventy men.
8Of the sons of Shephati'ah, Zebadi'ah the son of Michael, and with him eighty men.
9Of the sons of Jo'ab, Obadi'ah the son of Jehi'el, and with him two hundred and eighteen men.
10Of the sons of Bani, Shelo'mith the son of Josiphi'ah, and with him a hundred and sixty men.
11Of the sons of Be'bai, Zechari'ah, the son of Be'bai, and with him twenty-eight men.
12Of the sons of Azgad, Joha'nan the son of Hak'katan, and with him a hundred and ten men.
13Of the sons of Adoni'kam, those who came later, their names being Eliph'elet, Jeu'el, and Shemai'ah, and with them sixty men.
14Of the sons of Bigva'i, Uthai and Zaccur, and with them seventy men.
15I gathered them to the river that runs to Aha'va, and there we encamped three days. As I reviewed the people and the priests, I found there none of the sons of Levi.
16Then I sent for Elie'zer, Ar'i-el, Shemai'ah, Elna'than, Jarib, Elna'than, Nathan, Zechari'ah, and Meshul'lam, leading men, and for Joi'arib and Elna'than, who were men of insight,
17and sent them to Iddo, the leading man at the place Casiphi'a, telling them what to say to Iddo and his brethren the temple servants at the place Casiphi'a, namely, to send us ministers for the house of our God.
18And by the good hand of our God upon us, they brought us a man of discretion, of the sons of Mahli the son of Levi, son of Israel, namely Sherebi'ah with his sons and kinsmen, eighteen;
19also Hashabi'ah and with him Jeshai'ah of the sons of Merar'i, with his kinsmen and their sons, twenty;
20besides two hundred and twenty of the temple servants, whom David and his officials had set apart to attend the Levites. These were all mentioned by name.
21Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Aha'va, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from him a straight way for ourselves, our children, and all our goods.
22For I was ashamed to ask the king for a band of soldiers and horsemen to protect us against the enemy on our way; since we had told the king, "The hand of our God is for good upon all that seek him, and the power of his wrath is against all that forsake him."
23So we fasted and besought our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty.
24Then I set apart twelve of the leading priests: Sherebi'ah, Hashabi'ah, and ten of their kinsmen with them.
25And I weighed out to them the silver and the gold and the vessels, the offering for the house of our God which the king and his counselors and his lords and all Israel there present had offered;
26I weighed out into their hand six hundred and fifty talents of silver, and silver vessels worth a hundred talents, and a hundred talents of gold,
27twenty bowls of gold worth a thousand darics, and two vessels of fine bright bronze as precious as gold.
28And I said to them, "You are holy to the LORD, and the vessels are holy; and the silver and the gold are a freewill offering to the LORD, the God of your fathers.
29Guard them and keep them until you weigh them before the chief priests and the Levites and the heads of fathers' houses in Israel at Jerusalem, within the chambers of the house of the LORD."
30So the priests and the Levites took over the weight of the silver and the gold and the vessels, to bring them to Jerusalem, to the house of our God.
31Then we departed from the river Aha'va on the twelfth day of the first month, to go to Jerusalem; the hand of our God was upon us, and he delivered us from the hand of the enemy and from ambushes by the way.
32We came to Jerusalem, and there we remained three days.
33On the fourth day, within the house of our God, the silver and the gold and the vessels were weighed into the hands of Mer'emoth the priest, son of Uri'ah, and with him was Elea'zar the son of Phin'ehas, and with them were the Levites, Jo'zabad the son of Jeshua and No-adi'ah the son of Bin'nui.
34The whole was counted and weighed, and the weight of everything was recorded.
35At that time those who had come from captivity, the returned exiles, offered burnt offerings to the God of Israel, twelve bulls for all Israel, ninety-six rams, seventy-seven lambs, and as a sin offering twelve he-goats; all this was a burnt offering to the LORD.
36They also delivered the king's commissions to the king's satraps and to the governors of the province Beyond the River; and they aided the people and the house of God.

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