5 Then the prophets Haggai and Zechariah son 1 of Iddo 2 prophesied concerning the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem 3 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 4 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 5 to rebuild this temple and to complete this structure?” 6 4 They 7 also asked them, “What are the names of the men who are building this edifice?” 5 But God was watching over 8 the elders of Judah, and they were not stopped 9 until a report could be dispatched 10 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: 11
“To King Darius: All greetings! 12 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, 13 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 14 of Israel built it and completed it. 12 But after our ancestors 15 angered the God of heaven, he delivered them into the hands 16 of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this temple and exiled the people to Babylon. 17 13 But in the first year of King Cyrus of Babylon, 18 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 19 of Babylon – even those things King Cyrus brought from the palace of Babylon and presented 20 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.” 21 16 Then this Sheshbazzar went and laid the foundations of the temple of God in Jerusalem. From that time to the present moment 22 it has been in the process of being rebuilt, although it is not yet finished.’
17 “Now if the king is so inclined, 23 let a search be conducted in the royal archives 24 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.”
6 So Darius the king issued orders, and they searched in the archives 1 of the treasury which were deposited there in Babylon. 2 A scroll was found in the citadel 2 of Ecbatana which is in the province of Media, and it was inscribed as follows:
“Memorandum: 3 In the first year of his reign, 3 King Cyrus gave orders concerning the temple of God in Jerusalem: 4 ‘Let the temple be rebuilt as a place where sacrifices are offered. Let its foundations be set in place. 5 Its height is to be ninety feet and its width ninety 6 feet, 7 4 with three layers of large stones 8 and one 9 layer of timber. The expense is to be subsidized 10 by the royal treasury. 11 5 Furthermore let the gold and silver vessels of the temple of God, which Nebuchadnezzar brought from the temple in Jerusalem and carried to Babylon, be returned and brought to their proper place in the temple in Jerusalem. Let them be deposited in the temple of God.’
6 “Now Tattenai governor of Trans-Euphrates, Shethar Bozenai, and their colleagues, the officials of Trans-Euphrates – all of you stay far away from there! 7 Leave the work on this temple of God alone. 12 Let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews rebuild this temple of God in its proper place.
8 “I also hereby issue orders as to what you are to do with those elders of the Jews in order to rebuild this temple of God. From the royal treasury, from the taxes of Trans-Euphrates the complete costs are to be given to these men, so that there may be no interruption of the work. 13 9 Whatever is needed – whether oxen or rams or lambs or burnt offerings for the God of heaven or wheat or salt or wine or oil, as required by 14 the priests who are in Jerusalem – must be given to them daily without any neglect, 10 so that they may be offering incense to the God of heaven and may be praying for the good fortune of the king and his family. 15
11 “I hereby give orders that if anyone changes this directive a beam is to be pulled out from his house and he is to be raised up and impaled 16 on it, and his house is to be reduced 17 to a rubbish heap 18 for this indiscretion. 19 12 May God who makes his name to reside there overthrow any king or nation 20 who reaches out 21 to cause such change so as to destroy this temple of God in Jerusalem. I, Darius, have given orders. Let them be carried out with precision!”
13 Then Tattenai governor of Trans-Euphrates, Shethar-Bozenai, and their colleagues acted accordingly – with precision, just as Darius the king had given instructions. 22 14 The elders of the Jews continued building and prospering, while at the same time 23 Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo continued prophesying. They built and brought it to completion by the command of the God of Israel and by the command of Cyrus and Darius and Artaxerxes king of Persia. 15 They finished this temple on the third day of the month Adar, which is the sixth 24 year of the reign of King Darius.
16 The people 25 of Israel – the priests, the Levites, and the rest of the exiles 26 – observed the dedication of this temple of God with joy. 17 For the dedication of this temple of God they offered one hundred bulls, two hundred rams, four hundred lambs, and twelve male goats for the sin of all Israel, according to the number of the tribes of Israel. 18 They appointed the priests by their divisions and the Levites by their divisions over the worship of God at Jerusalem, 27 in accord with 28 the book of Moses. 19 29 The exiles 30 observed the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month. 20 The priests and the Levites had purified themselves, every last one, 31 and they all were ceremonially pure. They sacrificed the Passover lamb for all the exiles, for their colleagues 32 the priests, and for themselves. 21 The Israelites who were returning from the exile ate it, along with all those who had joined them 33 in separating themselves from the uncleanness of the nations of the land to seek the Lord God of Israel. 22 They observed the Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days with joy, for the Lord had given them joy and had changed the opinion 34 of the king of Assyria 35 toward them, so that he assisted 36 them in the work on the temple of God, the God of Israel.
7 Now after these things had happened, during the reign of King Artaxerxes 1 of Persia, Ezra came up from Babylon. 2 Ezra was the son of Seraiah, who was the son of Azariah, who was the son of Hilkiah, 2 who was the son of Shallum, who was the son of Zadok, who was the son of Ahitub, 3 who was the son of Amariah, who was the son of Azariah, who was the son of Meraioth, 4 who was the son of Zerahiah, who was the son of Uzzi, who was the son of Bukki, 5 who was the son of Abishua, who was the son of Phinehas, who was the son of Eleazar, who was the son of Aaron the chief priest. 6 This Ezra is the one who came up from Babylon. He was a scribe who was skilled in the law of Moses which the Lord God of Israel had given. The king supplied him with everything he requested, for the hand of the Lord his God was on him. 7 In the seventh year of King Artaxerxes, Ezra brought 3 up to Jerusalem 4 some of the Israelites and some of the priests, the Levites, the attendants, the gatekeepers, and the temple servants. 8 He entered Jerusalem in the fifth month of the seventh year of the king. 9 On the first day of the first month he had determined to make 5 the ascent from Babylon, and on the first day of the fifth month he arrived at Jerusalem, 6 for the good hand of his God was on him. 10 Now Ezra had dedicated himself 7 to the study of the law of the Lord, to its observance, and to teaching 8 its statutes and judgments in Israel.
11 What follows 9 is a copy of the letter that King Artaxerxes gave to Ezra the priestly scribe. 10 Ezra was 11 a scribe in matters pertaining to the commandments of the Lord and his statutes over Israel: 12 12
“Artaxerxes, king of kings, to Ezra the priest, a scribe of the perfect law of the God of heaven: 13 I have now issued a decree 13 that anyone in my kingdom from the people of Israel – even the priests and Levites – who wishes to do so may go up with you to Jerusalem. 14 14 You are authorized 15 by the king and his seven advisers to inquire concerning Judah and Jerusalem, according to the law of your God which is in your possession, 16 15 and to bring silver and gold which the king and his advisers have freely contributed to the God of Israel, who resides in Jerusalem, 16 along with all the silver and gold that you may collect 17 throughout all the province of Babylon and the contributions of the people and the priests for the temple of their God which is in Jerusalem. 17 With this money you should be sure to purchase bulls, rams, and lambs, along with the appropriate 18 meal offerings and libations. You should bring them to the altar of the temple of your God which is in Jerusalem. 18 You may do whatever seems appropriate to you and your colleagues 19 with the rest of the silver and the gold, in keeping with the will of your God. 19 Deliver to 20 the God of Jerusalem the vessels that are given to you for the service of the temple of your God. 20 The rest of the needs for the temple of your God that you may have to supply, 21 you may do so from the royal treasury.
21 “I, King Artaxerxes, hereby issue orders to all the treasurers of 22 Trans-Euphrates, that you precisely execute all that Ezra the priestly scribe of the law of the God of heaven may request of you – 22 up to 100 talents of silver, 100 cors of wheat, 100 baths of wine, 100 baths of olive oil, 23 and unlimited 24 salt. 23 Everything that the God of heaven has required should be precisely done for the temple of the God of heaven. Why should there be wrath 25 against the empire of the king and his sons? 24 Furthermore, be aware of the fact 26 that you have no authority to impose tax, tribute, or toll on any of the priests, the Levites, the musicians, the doorkeepers, the temple servants, or the attendants at the temple of this God.
25 “Now you, Ezra, in keeping with the wisdom of your God which you possess, 27 appoint judges 28 and court officials who can arbitrate cases on behalf of all the people who are in Trans-Euphrates who know the laws of your God. Those who do not know this law should be taught. 26 Everyone who does not observe both the law of your God and the law of the king will be completely 29 liable to the appropriate penalty, whether it is death or banishment or confiscation of property or detainment in prison.” 27 30
Blessed be the Lord God of our fathers, who so moved in the heart of the king to so honor the temple of the Lord which is in Jerusalem! 28 He has also conferred his favor on me before the king, his advisers, and all the influential leaders of the king. I gained strength as the hand of the Lord my God was on me, and I gathered leaders from Israel to go up with me.