King Artaxerxes’ Letter to Ezra
This is a copy of the letter King Artaxerxes had given to Ezra the priest, a teacher of the Law, a man learned in matters concerning the commands and decrees of the Lord for Israel:
Artaxerxes, king of kings,
To Ezra the priest, teacher of the Law of the God of heaven:
Now I decree that any of the Israelites in my kingdom, including priests and Levites, who volunteer to go to Jerusalem with you, may go. You are sent by the king and his seven advisers to inquire about Judah and Jerusalem with regard to the Law of your God, which is in your hand. Moreover, you are to take with you the silver and gold that the king and his advisers have freely given to the God of Israel, whose dwelling is in Jerusalem, together with all the silver and gold you may obtain from the province of Babylon, as well as the freewill offerings of the people and priests for the temple of their God in Jerusalem. With this money be sure to buy bulls, rams and male lambs, together with their grain offerings and drink offerings, and sacrifice them on the altar of the temple of your God in Jerusalem.
You and your fellow Israelites may then do whatever seems best with the rest of the silver and gold, in accordance with the will of your God. Deliver to the God of Jerusalem all the articles entrusted to you for worship in the temple of your God. And anything else needed for the temple of your God that you are responsible to supply, you may provide from the royal treasury.
Now I, King Artaxerxes, decree that all the treasurers of Trans-Euphrates are to provide with diligence whatever Ezra the priest, the teacher of the Law of the God of heaven, may ask of you— up to a hundred talents7:22 That is, about 3 3/4 tons or about 3.4 metric tons of silver, a hundred cors7:22 That is, probably about 18 tons or about 16 metric tons of wheat, a hundred baths7:22 That is, about 600 gallons or about 2,200 liters of wine, a hundred baths7:22 That is, about 600 gallons or about 2,200 liters of olive oil, and salt without limit. Whatever the God of heaven has prescribed, let it be done with diligence for the temple of the God of heaven. Why should his wrath fall on the realm of the king and of his sons? You are also to know that you have no authority to impose taxes, tribute or duty on any of the priests, Levites, musicians, gatekeepers, temple servants or other workers at this house of God.
And you, Ezra, in accordance with the wisdom of your God, which you possess, appoint magistrates and judges to administer justice to all the people of Trans-Euphrates—all who know the laws of your God. And you are to teach any who do not know them. Whoever does not obey the law of your God and the law of the king must surely be punished by death, banishment, confiscation of property, or imprisonment.7:26 The text of 7:12-26 is in Aramaic.
Praise be to the Lord, the God of our ancestors, who has put it into the king’s heart to bring honor to the house of the Lord in Jerusalem in this way and who has extended his good favor to me before the king and his advisers and all the king’s powerful officials. Because the hand of the Lord my God was on me, I took courage and gathered leaders from Israel to go up with me.
List of the Family Heads Returning With Ezra
These are the family heads and those registered with them who came up with me from Babylon during the reign of King Artaxerxes:
of the descendants of Phinehas, Gershom;
of the descendants of Ithamar, Daniel;
of the descendants of David, Hattush of the descendants of Shekaniah;
of the descendants of Parosh, Zechariah, and with him were registered 150 men;
of the descendants of Pahath-Moab, Eliehoenai son of Zerahiah, and with him 200 men;
of the descendants of Zattu,8:5 Some Septuagint manuscripts (also 1 Esdras 8:32); Hebrew does not have Zattu. Shekaniah son of Jahaziel, and with him 300 men;
of the descendants of Adin, Ebed son of Jonathan, and with him 50 men;
of the descendants of Elam, Jeshaiah son of Athaliah, and with him 70 men;
of the descendants of Shephatiah, Zebadiah son of Michael, and with him 80 men;
of the descendants of Joab, Obadiah son of Jehiel, and with him 218 men;
of the descendants of Bani,8:10 Some Septuagint manuscripts (also 1 Esdras 8:36); Hebrew does not have Bani. Shelomith son of Josiphiah, and with him 160 men;
of the descendants of Bebai, Zechariah son of Bebai, and with him 28 men;
of the descendants of Azgad, Johanan son of Hakkatan, and with him 110 men;
of the descendants of Adonikam, the last ones, whose names were Eliphelet, Jeuel and Shemaiah, and with them 60 men;
of the descendants of Bigvai, Uthai and Zakkur, and with them 70 men.