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Ezra 6 New Living Translation (NLT)
Darius Approves the Rebuilding
6 So King Darius issued orders that a search be made in the Babylonian archives, which were stored in the treasury. 2 But it was at the fortress at Ecbatana in the province of Media that a scroll was found. This is what it said:
3 “In the first year of King Cyrus’s reign, a decree was sent out concerning the Temple of God at Jerusalem.
“Let the Temple be rebuilt on the site where Jews used to offer their sacrifices, using the original foundations. Its height will be ninety feet, and its width will be ninety feet.[a] 4 Every three layers of specially prepared stones will be topped by a layer of timber. All expenses will be paid by the royal treasury. 5 Furthermore, the gold and silver cups, which were taken to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar from the Temple of God in Jerusalem, must be returned to Jerusalem and put back where they belong. Let them be taken back to the Temple of God.”
6 So King Darius sent this message:
“Now therefore, Tattenai, governor of the province west of the Euphrates River,[b] and Shethar-bozenai, and your colleagues and other officials west of the Euphrates River—stay away from there! 7 Do not disturb the construction of the Temple of God. Let it be rebuilt on its original site, and do not hinder the governor of Judah and the elders of the Jews in their work.
8 “Moreover, I hereby decree that you are to help these elders of the Jews as they rebuild this Temple of God. You must pay the full construction costs, without delay, from my taxes collected in the province west of the Euphrates River so that the work will not be interrupted.
9 “Give the priests in Jerusalem whatever is needed in the way of young bulls, rams, and male lambs for the burnt offerings presented to the God of heaven. And without fail, provide them with as much wheat, salt, wine, and olive oil as they need each day. 10 Then they will be able to offer acceptable sacrifices to the God of heaven and pray for the welfare of the king and his sons.
11 “Those who violate this decree in any way will have a beam pulled from their house. Then they will be lifted up and impaled on it, and their house will be reduced to a pile of rubble.[c] 12 May the God who has chosen the city of Jerusalem as the place to honor his name destroy any king or nation that violates this command and destroys this Temple.
“I, Darius, have issued this decree. Let it be obeyed with all diligence.”
The Temple’s Dedication
13 Tattenai, governor of the province west of the Euphrates River, and Shethar-bozenai and their colleagues complied at once with the command of King Darius. 14 So the Jewish elders continued their work, and they were greatly encouraged by the preaching of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah son of Iddo. The Temple was finally finished, as had been commanded by the God of Israel and decreed by Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes, the kings of Persia. 15 The Temple was completed on March 12,[d] during the sixth year of King Darius’s reign.
16 The Temple of God was then dedicated with great joy by the people of Israel, the priests, the Levites, and the rest of the people who had returned from exile. 17 During the dedication ceremony for the Temple of God, 100 young bulls, 200 rams, and 400 male lambs were sacrificed. And 12 male goats were presented as a sin offering for the twelve tribes of Israel. 18 Then the priests and Levites were divided into their various divisions to serve at the Temple of God in Jerusalem, as prescribed in the Book of Moses.
Celebration of Passover
19 On April 21[e] the returned exiles celebrated Passover. 20 The priests and Levites had purified themselves and were ceremonially clean. So they slaughtered the Passover lamb for all the returned exiles, for their fellow priests, and for themselves. 21 The Passover meal was eaten by the people of Israel who had returned from exile and by the others in the land who had turned from their corrupt practices to worship the Lord, the God of Israel. 22 Then they celebrated the Festival of Unleavened Bread for seven days. There was great joy throughout the land because the Lord had caused the king of Assyria[f] to be favorable to them, so that he helped them to rebuild the Temple of God, the God of Israel.
- 6:3 Aramaic Its height will be 60 cubits [27.6 meters], and its width will be 60 cubits. It is commonly held that this verse should be emended to read: “Its height will be 30 cubits [45 feet or 13.8 meters], its length will be 60 cubits [90 feet or 27.6 meters], and its width will be 20 cubits [30 feet or 9.2 meters]”; compare 1 Kgs 6:2. The emendation regarding the width is supported by the Syriac version.
- 6:6 Aramaic the province beyond the river; also in 6:6b, 8, 13.
- 6:11 Aramaic a dunghill.
- 6:15 Aramaic on the third day of the month Adar, of the ancient Hebrew lunar calendar. A number of events in Ezra can be cross-checked with dates in surviving Persian records and related accurately to our modern calendar. This day was March 12, 515 B.c.
- 6:19 Hebrew On the fourteenth day of the first month, of the ancient Hebrew lunar calendar. This day was April 21, 515 B.c.; also see note on 6:15.
- 6:22 King Darius of Persia is here identified as the king of Assyria because Persia had conquered the Babylonian Empire, which included the earlier Assyrian Empire.
Ezra 5 New Living Translation (NLT)
5 At that time the prophets Haggai and Zechariah son of Iddo prophesied to the Jews in Judah and Jerusalem. They prophesied in the name of the God of Israel who was over them. 2 Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and Jeshua son of Jehozadak[a] responded by starting again to rebuild the Temple of God in Jerusalem. And the prophets of God were with them and helped them.
3 But Tattenai, governor of the province west of the Euphrates River,[b] and Shethar-bozenai and their colleagues soon arrived in Jerusalem and asked, “Who gave you permission to rebuild this Temple and restore this structure?” 4 They also asked for[c] the names of all the men working on the Temple. 5 But because their God was watching over them, the leaders of the Jews were not prevented from building until a report was sent to Darius and he returned his decision.
Tattenai’s Letter to King Darius
6 This is a copy of the letter that Tattenai the governor, Shethar-bozenai, and the other officials of the province west of the Euphrates River sent to King Darius:
7 “To King Darius. Greetings.
8 “The king should know that we went to the construction site of the Temple of the great God in the province of Judah. It is being rebuilt with specially prepared stones, and timber is being laid in its walls. The work is going forward with great energy and success.
9 “We asked the leaders, ‘Who gave you permission to rebuild this Temple and restore this structure?’ 10 And we demanded their names so that we could tell you who the leaders were.
11 “This was their answer: ‘We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and we are rebuilding the Temple that was built here many years ago by a great king of Israel. 12 But because our ancestors angered the God of heaven, he abandoned them to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon,[d] who destroyed this Temple and exiled the people to Babylonia. 13 However, King Cyrus of Babylon,[e] during the first year of his reign, issued a decree that the Temple of God should be rebuilt. 14 King Cyrus returned the gold and silver cups that Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the Temple of God in Jerusalem and had placed in the temple of Babylon. These cups were taken from that temple and presented to a man named Sheshbazzar, whom King Cyrus appointed as governor of Judah. 15 The king instructed him to return the cups to their place in Jerusalem and to rebuild the Temple of God there on its original site. 16 So this Sheshbazzar came and laid the foundations of the Temple of God in Jerusalem. The people have been working on it ever since, though it is not yet completed.’
17 “Therefore, if it pleases the king, we request that a search be made in the royal archives of Babylon to discover whether King Cyrus ever issued a decree to rebuild God’s Temple in Jerusalem. And then let the king send us his decision in this matter.”
- 5:2 Aramaic Jozadak, a variant spelling of Jehozadak.
- 5:3 Aramaic the province beyond the river; also in 5:6.
- 5:4 As in one Hebrew manuscript and Greek and Syriac versions; Masoretic Text reads Then we told them.
- 5:12 Aramaic Nebuchadnezzar the Chaldean.
- 5:13 King Cyrus of Persia is here identified as the king of Babylon because Persia had conquered the Babylonian Empire.
Ezra 4 (NLT)
Enemies Oppose the Rebuilding
4 The enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the exiles were rebuilding a Temple to the Lord, the God of Israel. 2 So they approached Zerubbabel and the other leaders and said, “Let us build with you, for we worship your God just as you do. We have sacrificed to him ever since King Esarhaddon of Assyria brought us here.”
3 But Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the other leaders of Israel replied, “You may have no part in this work. We alone will build the Temple for the Lord, the God of Israel, just as King Cyrus of Persia commanded us.”
4 Then the local residents tried to discourage and frighten the people of Judah to keep them from their work. 5 They bribed agents to work against them and to frustrate their plans. This went on during the entire reign of King Cyrus of Persia and lasted until King Darius of Persia took the throne.[a]
Later Opposition under Xerxes and Artaxerxes
6 Years later when Xerxes[b] began his reign, the enemies of Judah wrote a letter of accusation against the people of Judah and Jerusalem.
7 Even later, during the reign of King Artaxerxes of Persia,[c] the enemies of Judah, led by Bishlam, Mithredath, and Tabeel, sent a letter to Artaxerxes in the Aramaic language, and it was translated for the king.
8 [d]Rehum the governor and Shimshai the court secretary wrote the letter, telling King Artaxerxes about the situation in Jerusalem. 9 They greeted the king for all their colleagues—the judges and local leaders, the people of Tarpel, the Persians, the Babylonians, and the people of Erech and Susa (that is, Elam). 10 They also sent greetings from the rest of the people whom the great and noble Ashurbanipal[e] had deported and relocated in Samaria and throughout the neighboring lands of the province west of the Euphrates River.[f] 11 This is a copy of their letter:
“To King Artaxerxes, from your loyal subjects in the province west of the Euphrates River.
12 “The king should know that the Jews who came here to Jerusalem from Babylon are rebuilding this rebellious and evil city. They have already laid the foundation and will soon finish its walls. 13 And the king should know that if this city is rebuilt and its walls are completed, it will be much to your disadvantage, for the Jews will then refuse to pay their tribute, customs, and tolls to you.
14 “Since we are your loyal subjects[g] and do not want to see the king dishonored in this way, we have sent the king this information. 15 We suggest that a search be made in your ancestors’ records, where you will discover what a rebellious city this has been in the past. In fact, it was destroyed because of its long and troublesome history of revolt against the kings and countries who controlled it. 16 We declare to the king that if this city is rebuilt and its walls are completed, the province west of the Euphrates River will be lost to you.”
17 Then King Artaxerxes sent this reply:
“To Rehum the governor, Shimshai the court secretary, and their colleagues living in Samaria and throughout the province west of the Euphrates River. Greetings.
18 “The letter you sent has been translated and read to me. 19 I ordered a search of the records and have found that Jerusalem has indeed been a hotbed of insurrection against many kings. In fact, rebellion and revolt are normal there! 20 Powerful kings have ruled over Jerusalem and the entire province west of the Euphrates River, receiving tribute, customs, and tolls. 21 Therefore, issue orders to have these men stop their work. That city must not be rebuilt except at my express command. 22 Be diligent, and don’t neglect this matter, for we must not permit the situation to harm the king’s interests.”
23 When this letter from King Artaxerxes was read to Rehum, Shimshai, and their colleagues, they hurried to Jerusalem. Then, with a show of strength, they forced the Jews to stop building.
The Rebuilding Resumes
24 So the work on the Temple of God in Jerusalem had stopped, and it remained at a standstill until the second year of the reign of King Darius of Persia.[h]
- 4:5 Darius reigned 521–486 B.c.
- 4:6 Hebrew Ahasuerus, another name for Xerxes. He reigned 486–465 B.c.
- 4:7 Artaxerxes reigned 465–424 B.c.
- 4:8 The original text of 4:8–6:18 is in Aramaic.
- 4:10a Aramaic Osnappar, another name for Ashurbanipal.
- 4:10b Aramaic the province beyond the river; also in 4:11, 16, 17, 20.
- 4:14 Aramaic Since we eat the salt of the palace.
- 4:24 The second year of Darius’s reign was 520 B.c. The narrative started in 4:1-5 is resumed at verse 24.
Ezra 3 New Living Translation (NLT)
The Altar Is Rebuilt
3 In early autumn,[a] when the Israelites had settled in their towns, all the people assembled in Jerusalem with a unified purpose. 2 Then Jeshua son of Jehozadak[b] joined his fellow priests and Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel with his family in rebuilding the altar of the God of Israel. They wanted to sacrifice burnt offerings on it, as instructed in the Law of Moses, the man of God. 3 Even though the people were afraid of the local residents, they rebuilt the altar at its old site. Then they began to sacrifice burnt offerings on the altar to the Lord each morning and evening.
4 They celebrated the Festival of Shelters as prescribed in the Law, sacrificing the number of burnt offerings specified for each day of the festival. 5 They also offered the regular burnt offerings and the offerings required for the new moon celebrations and the annual festivals as prescribed by the Lord. The people also gave voluntary offerings to the Lord. 6 Fifteen days before the Festival of Shelters began,[c] the priests had begun to sacrifice burnt offerings to the Lord. This was even before they had started to lay the foundation of the Lord’s Temple.
The People Begin to Rebuild the Temple
7 Then the people hired masons and carpenters and bought cedar logs from the people of Tyre and Sidon, paying them with food, wine, and olive oil. The logs were brought down from the Lebanon mountains and floated along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea[d] to Joppa, for King Cyrus had given permission for this.
8 The construction of the Temple of God began in midspring,[e] during the second year after they arrived in Jerusalem. The work force was made up of everyone who had returned from exile, including Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, Jeshua son of Jehozadak and his fellow priests, and all the Levites. The Levites who were twenty years old or older were put in charge of rebuilding the Lord’s Temple. 9 The workers at the Temple of God were supervised by Jeshua with his sons and relatives, and Kadmiel and his sons, all descendants of Hodaviah.[f] They were helped in this task by the Levites of the family of Henadad.
10 When the builders completed the foundation of the Lord’s Temple, the priests put on their robes and took their places to blow their trumpets. And the Levites, descendants of Asaph, clashed their cymbals to praise the Lord, just as King David had prescribed. 11 With praise and thanks, they sang this song to the Lord:
“He is so good!
His faithful love for Israel endures forever!”
Then all the people gave a great shout, praising the Lord because the foundation of the Lord’s Temple had been laid.
12 But many of the older priests, Levites, and other leaders who had seen the first Temple wept aloud when they saw the new Temple’s foundation. The others, however, were shouting for joy. 13 The joyful shouting and weeping mingled together in a loud noise that could be heard far in the distance.
- 3:1 Hebrew In the seventh month. The year is not specified, so it may have been during Cyrus’s first year (538 B.c.) or second year (537 B.c.). The seventh month of the ancient Hebrew lunar calendar occurred within the months of September/October 538 B.c. and October/November 537 B.c.
- 3:2 Hebrew Jozadak, a variant spelling of Jehozadak; also in 3:8.
- 3:6 Hebrew On the first day of the seventh month. This day in the ancient Hebrew lunar calendar occurred in September or October. The Festival of Shelters began on the fifteenth day of the seventh month.
- 3:7 Hebrew the sea.
- 3:8 Hebrew in the second month. This month in the ancient Hebrew lunar calendar occurred within the months of April and May 536 B.c.
- 3:9 Hebrew sons of Judah (i.e., bene Yehudah). Bene might also be read here as the proper name Binnui; Yehudah is probably another name for Hodaviah. Compare 2:40; Neh 7:43; 1 Esdras 5:58.
Ezra 2 New Living Translation (NLT)
Exiles Who Returned with Zerubbabel
2 Here is the list of the Jewish exiles of the provinces who returned from their captivity. King Nebuchadnezzar had deported them to Babylon, but now they returned to Jerusalem and the other towns in Judah where they originally lived. 2 Their leaders were Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispar, Bigvai, Rehum, and Baanah.
This is the number of the men of Israel who returned from exile:
|3 The family of Parosh||2,172|
|4 The family of Shephatiah||372|
|5 The family of Arah||775|
|6 The family of Pahath-moab (descendants of Jeshua and Joab)||2,812|
|7 The family of Elam||1,254|
|8 The family of Zattu||945|
|9 The family of Zaccai||760|
|10 The family of Bani||642|
|11 The family of Bebai||623|
|12 The family of Azgad||1,222|
|13 The family of Adonikam||666|
|14 The family of Bigvai||2,056|
|15 The family of Adin||454|
|16 The family of Ater (descendants of Hezekiah)||98|
|17 The family of Bezai||323|
|18 The family of Jorah||112|
|19 The family of Hashum||223|
|20 The family of Gibbar||95|
|21 The people of Bethlehem||123|
|22 The people of Netophah||56|
|23 The people of Anathoth||128|
|24 The people of Beth-azmaveth[a]||42|
|25 The people of Kiriath-jearim,[b] Kephirah, and Beeroth||743|
|26 The people of Ramah and Geba||621|
|27 The people of Micmash||122|
|28 The people of Bethel and Ai||223|
|29 The citizens of Nebo||52|
|30 The citizens of Magbish||156|
|31 The citizens of West Elam[c]||1,254|
|32 The citizens of Harim||320|
|33 The citizens of Lod, Hadid, and Ono||725|
|34 The citizens of Jericho||345|
|35 The citizens of Senaah||3,630|
36 These are the priests who returned from exile:
|The family of Jedaiah (through the line of Jeshua)||973|
|37 The family of Immer||1,052|
|38 The family of Pashhur||1,247|
|39 The family of Harim||1,017|
40 These are the Levites who returned from exile:
|The families of Jeshua and Kadmiel (descendants of Hodaviah)||74|
|41 The singers of the family of Asaph||128|
|42 The gatekeepers of the families of Shallum, Ater, Talmon, Akkub, Hatita, and Shobai||139|
43 The descendants of the following Temple servants returned from exile:
Ziha, Hasupha, Tabbaoth,
44 Keros, Siaha, Padon,
45 Lebanah, Hagabah, Akkub,
46 Hagab, Shalmai,[d] Hanan,
47 Giddel, Gahar, Reaiah,
48 Rezin, Nekoda, Gazzam,
49 Uzza, Paseah, Besai,
50 Asnah, Meunim, Nephusim,
51 Bakbuk, Hakupha, Harhur,
52 Bazluth, Mehida, Harsha,
53 Barkos, Sisera, Temah,
54 Neziah, and Hatipha.
55 The descendants of these servants of King Solomon returned from exile:
Sotai, Hassophereth, Peruda,
56 Jaalah, Darkon, Giddel,
57 Shephatiah, Hattil, Pokereth-hazzebaim, and Ami.
58 In all, the Temple servants and the descendants of Solomon’s servants numbered 392.
59 Another group returned at this time from the towns of Tel-melah, Tel-harsha, Kerub, Addan, and Immer. However, they could not prove that they or their families were descendants of Israel. 60 This group included the families of Delaiah, Tobiah, and Nekoda—a total of 652 people.
61 Three families of priests—Hobaiah, Hakkoz, and Barzillai—also returned. (This Barzillai had married a woman who was a descendant of Barzillai of Gilead, and he had taken her family name.) 62 They searched for their names in the genealogical records, but they were not found, so they were disqualified from serving as priests. 63 The governor told them not to eat the priests’ share of food from the sacrifices until a priest could consult the Lord about the matter by using the Urim and Thummim—the sacred lots.
64 So a total of 42,360 people returned to Judah, 65 in addition to 7,337 servants and 200 singers, both men and women. 66 They took with them 736 horses, 245 mules, 67 435 camels, and 6,720 donkeys.
68 When they arrived at the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem, some of the family leaders made voluntary offerings toward the rebuilding of God’s Temple on its original site, 69 and each leader gave as much as he could. The total of their gifts came to 61,000 gold coins,[e] 6,250 pounds[f] of silver, and 100 robes for the priests.
70 So the priests, the Levites, the singers, the gatekeepers, the Temple servants, and some of the common people settled in villages near Jerusalem. The rest of the people returned to their own towns throughout Israel.
- 2:24 As in parallel text at Neh 7:28; Hebrew reads Azmaveth.
- 2:25 As in some Hebrew manuscripts and Greek version (see also Neh 7:29); Hebrew reads Kiriath-arim.
- 2:31 Or of the other Elam.
- 2:46 As in an alternate reading of the Masoretic Text (see also Neh 7:48); the other alternate reads Shamlai.
- 2:69a Hebrew 61,000 darics of gold, about 1,100 pounds or 500 kilograms in weight.
- 2:69b Hebrew 5,000 minas [3,000 kilograms].
Ezra 1 New Living Translation (NLT)
Cyrus Allows the Exiles to Return
1 In the first year of King Cyrus of Persia,[a] the Lord fulfilled the prophecy he had given through Jeremiah.[b] He stirred the heart of Cyrus to put this proclamation in writing and to send it throughout his kingdom:
2 “This is what King Cyrus of Persia says:
“The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth. He has appointed me to build him a Temple at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. 3 Any of you who are his people may go to Jerusalem in Judah to rebuild this Temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, who lives in Jerusalem. And may your God be with you! 4 Wherever this Jewish remnant is found, let their neighbors contribute toward their expenses by giving them silver and gold, supplies for the journey, and livestock, as well as a voluntary offering for the Temple of God in Jerusalem.”
5 Then God stirred the hearts of the priests and Levites and the leaders of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple of the Lord. 6 And all their neighbors assisted by giving them articles of silver and gold, supplies for the journey, and livestock. They gave them many valuable gifts in addition to all the voluntary offerings.
7 King Cyrus himself brought out the articles that King Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the Lord’s Temple in Jerusalem and had placed in the temple of his own gods. 8 Cyrus directed Mithredath, the treasurer of Persia, to count these items and present them to Sheshbazzar, the leader of the exiles returning to Judah.[c] 9 This is a list of the items that were returned:
|silver incense burners[d]||29|
|10 gold bowls||30|
11 In all, there were 5,400 articles of gold and silver. Sheshbazzar brought all of these along when the exiles went from Babylon to Jerusalem.
Introduction to The Book of Ezra
Avoid Strife and be a peacemaker
Do not conform to the World
Esther 10 New Living Translation (NLT)
The Greatness of Xerxes and Mordecai
10 King Xerxes imposed a tribute throughout his empire, even to the distant coastlands. 2 His great achievements and the full account of the greatness of Mordecai, whom the king had promoted, are recorded in The Book of the History of the Kings of Media and Persia. 3 Mordecai the Jew became the prime minister, with authority next to that of King Xerxes himself. He was very great among the Jews, who held him in high esteem, because he continued to work for the good of his people and to speak up for the welfare of all their descendants.