Now in the second year of the reign of Darius, the prophets Haggai and Zechariah the son of Iddo prophesied to the Jews who were in Judea and Jerusalem, they prophesied to them in the name of the Lord God of Israel.

2 Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak arose and began to build the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem, with the help of the prophets of the Lord who were with them.

At the same time Sisinnes the governor of Syria and Phoenicia and Sathrabuzanes and their associates came to them and said,

4 "By whose order are you building this house and this roof and finishing all the other things? And who are the builders that are finishing these things?"
5 Yet the elders of the Jews were dealt with kindly, for the providence of the Lord was over the captives;
6 and they were not prevented from building until word could be sent to Darius concerning them and a report made.

A copy of the letter which Sisinnes the governor of Syria and Phoenicia, and Sathrabuzanes, and their associates the local rulers in Syria and Phoenicia, wrote and sent to Darius:


"To King Darius, greeting. Let it be fully known to our lord the king that, when we went to the country of Judea and entered the city of Jerusalem, we found the elders of the Jews, who had been in captivity,

9 building in the city of Jerusalem a great new house for the Lord, of hewn stone, with costly timber laid in the walls.
10 These operations are going on rapidly, and the work is prospering in their hands and being completed with all splendor and care.
11 Then we asked these elders, `At whose command are you building this house and laying the foundations of this structure?'
12 And in order that we might inform you in writing who the leaders are, we questioned them and asked them for a list of the names of those who are at their head.
13 They answered us, `We are the servants of the Lord who created the heaven and the earth.
14 And the house was built many years ago by a king of Israel who was great and strong, and it was finished.
15 But when our fathers sinned against the Lord of Israel who is in heaven, and provoked him, he gave them over into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, king of the Chaldeans;
16 and they pulled down the house, and burned it, and carried the people away captive to Babylon.
17 But in the first year that Cyrus reigned over the country of Babylonia, King Cyrus wrote that this house should be rebuilt.
18 And the holy vessels of gold and of silver, which Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the house in Jerusalem and stored in his own temple, these Cyrus the king took out again from the temple in Babylon, and they were delivered to Zerubbabel and Sheshbazzar the governor
19 with the command that he should take all these vessels back and put them in the temple at Jerusalem, and that this temple of the Lord should be rebuilt on its site.
20 Then this Sheshbazzar, after coming here, laid the foundations of the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem, and although it has been in process of construction from that time until now, it has not yet reached completion.'
21 Now therefore, if it seems wise, O king, let search be made in the royal archives of our lord the king that are in Babylon;
22 and if it is found that the building of the house of the Lord in Jerusalem was done with the consent of King Cyrus, and if it is approved by our lord the king, let him send us directions concerning these things."

Then Darius commanded that search be made in the royal archives that were deposited in Babylon. And in Ecbatana, the fortress which is in the country of Media, a scroll was found in which this was recorded:

24 "In the first year of the reign of Cyrus, King Cyrus ordered the building of the house of the Lord in Jerusalem, where they sacrifice with perpetual fire;
25 its height to be sixty cubits and its breadth sixty cubits, with three courses of hewn stone and one course of new native timber; the cost to be paid from the treasury of Cyrus the king;
26 and that the holy vessels of the house of the Lord, both of gold and of silver, which Nebuchadnezzar took out of the house in Jerusalem and carried away to Babylon, should be restored to the house in Jerusalem, to be placed where they had been."

So Darius commanded Sisinnes the governor of Syria and Phoenicia, and Sathrabuzanes, and their associates, and those who were appointed as local rulers in Syria and Phoenicia, to keep away from the place, and to permit Zerubbabel, the servant of the Lord and governor of Judea, and the elders of the Jews to build this house of the Lord on its site.

28 "And I command that it be built completely, and that full effort be made to help the men who have returned from the captivity of Judea, until the house of the Lord is finished;
29 and that out of the tribute of Coelesyria and Phoenicia a portion be scrupulously given to these men, that is, to Zerubbabel the governor, for sacrifices to the Lord, for bulls and rams and lambs,
30 and likewise wheat and salt and wine and oil, regularly every year, without quibbling, for daily use as the priests in Jerusalem may indicate,
31 in order that libations may be made to the Most High God for the king and his children, and prayers be offered for their life."

And he commanded that if any should transgress or nullify any of the things herein written, a beam should be taken out of his house and he should be hanged upon it, and his property should be forfeited to the king.


"Therefore may the Lord, whose name is there called upon, destroy every king and nation that shall stretch out their hands to hinder or damage that house of the Lord in Jerusalem.


"I, King Darius, have decreed that it be done with all diligence as here prescribed."



Then Sisinnes the governor of Coelesyria and Phoenicia, and Sathrabuzanes, and their associates, following the orders of King Darius,

2 supervised the holy work with very great care, assisting the elders of the Jews and the chief officers of the temple.
3 And the holy work prospered, while the prophets Haggai and Zechariah prophesied;
4 and they completed it by the command of the Lord God of Israel. So with the consent of Cyrus and Darius and Artaxerxes, kings of the Persians,
5 the holy house was finished by the twenty-third day of the month of Adar, in the sixth year of King Darius.
6 And the people of Israel, the priests, the Levites, and the rest of those from the captivity who joined them, did according to what was written in the book of Moses.
7 They offered at the dedication of the temple of the Lord one hundred bulls, two hundred rams, four hundred lambs,
8 and twelve he-goats for the sin of all Israel, according to the number of the twelve leaders of the tribes of Israel;
9 and the priests and the Levites stood arrayed in their garments, according to kindred, for the services of the Lord God of Israel in accordance with the book of Moses; and the gatekeepers were at each gate.

The people of Israel who came from the captivity kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the first month, after the priests and the Levites were purified together.

11 Not all of the returned captives were purified, but the Levites were all purified together,
12 and they sacrificed the passover lamb for all the returned captives and for their brethren the priests and for themselves.
13 And the people of Israel who came from the captivity ate it, all those who had separated themselves from the abominations of the peoples of the land and sought the Lord.
14 And they kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days, rejoicing before the Lord,
15 Because he had changed the will of the king of the Assyrians concerning them, to strengthen their hands for the service of the Lord God of Israel.



After these things, when Artaxerxes the king of the Persians was reigning, Ezra came, the son of Seraiah, son of Azariah, son of Hilkiah, son of Shallum,

2 son of Zadok, son of Ahitub, son of Amariah, son of Uzzi, son of Bukki, son of Abishua, son of Phineas, son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the chief priest.
3 This Ezra came up from Babylon as a scribe skilled in the law of Moses, which was given by the God of Israel;
4 and the king showed him honor, for he found favor before the king in all his requests.
5 There came up with him to Jerusalem some of the people of Israel and some of the priests and Levites and temple singers and gatekeepers and temple servants,
6 in the seventh year of the reign of Artaxerxes, in the fifth month (this was the king's seventh year); for they left Babylon on the new moon of the first month and arrived in Jerusalem on the new moon of the fifth month, by the prosperous journey which the Lord gave them.
7 For Ezra possessed great knowledge, so that he omitted nothing from the law of the Lord or the commandments, but taught all Israel all the ordinances and judgments.

The following is a copy of the written commission from Artaxerxes the king which was delivered to Ezra the priest and reader of the law of the Lord:


"King Artaxerxes to Ezra the priest and reader of the law of the Lord, greeting.

10 In accordance with my gracious decision, I have given orders that those of the Jewish nation and of the priests and Levites and others in our realm, who freely choose to do so, may go with you to Jerusalem.
11 Let as many as are so disposed, therefore, depart with you as I and the seven friends who are my counselors have decided,
12 in order to look into matters in Judea and Jerusalem, in accordance with what is in the law of the Lord,
13 and to carry to Jerusalem the gifts for the Lord of Israel which I and my friends have vowed, and to collect for the Lord in Jerusalem all the gold and silver that may be found in the country of Babylonia,
14 together with what is given by the nation for the temple of their Lord which is in Jerusalem, both gold and silver for bulls and rams and lambs and what goes with them,
15 so as to offer sacrifices upon the altar of their Lord which is in Jerusalem.
16 And whatever you and your brethren are minded to do with the gold and silver, perform it in accordance with the will of your God;
17 and deliver the holy vessels of the Lord which are given you for the use of the temple of your God which is in Jerusalem.
18 And whatever else occurs to you as necessary for the temple of your God, you may provide out of the royal treasury.

"And I, Artaxerxes the king, have commanded the treasurers of Syria and Phoenicia that whatever Ezra the priest and reader of the law of the Most High God sends for, they shall take care to give him,

20 up to a hundred talents of silver, and likewise up to a hundred cors of wheat, a hundred baths of wine, and salt in abundance.
21 Let all things prescribed in the law of God be scrupulously fulfilled for the Most High God, so that wrath may not come upon the kingdom of the king and his sons.
22 You are also informed that no tribute or any other tax is to be laid on any of the priests or Levites or temple singers or gatekeepers or temple servants or persons employed in this temple, and that no one has authority to impose any tax upon them.

"And you, Ezra, according to the wisdom of God, appoint judges and justices to judge all those who know the law of your God, throughout all Syria and Phoenicia; and those who do not know it you shall teach.

24 And all who transgress the law of your God or the law of the kingdom shall be strictly punished, whether by death or some other punishment, either fine or imprisonment."

Blessed be the Lord alone, who put this into the heart of the king, to glorify his house which is in Jerusalem,

26 and who honored me in the sight of the king and his counselors and all his friends and nobles.
27 I was encouraged by the help of the Lord my God, and I gathered men from Israel to go up with me.

These are the principal men, according to their fathers' houses and their groups, who went up with me from Babylon, in the reign of Artaxerxes the king:

29 Of the sons of Phineas, Gershom. Of the sons of Ithamar, Gamael. Of the sons of David, Hattush the son of Shecaniah.
30 Of the sons of Parosh, Zechariah, and with him a hundred and fifty men enrolled.
31 Of the sons of Pahathmoab, Eliehoenai the son of Zerahiah, and with him two hundred men.
32 Of the sons of Zattu, Shecaniah the son of Jahaziel, and with him three hundred men. Of the sons of Adin, Obed the son of Jonathan, and with him two hundred and fifty men.
33 Of the sons of Elam, Jeshaiah the son of Gotholiah, and with him seventy men.
34 Of the sons of Shephatiah, Zeraiah the son of Michael, and with him seventy men,
35 Of the sons of Joab, Obadiah the son of Jehiel, and with him two hundred and twelve men.
36 Of the sons of Bani, Shelomith the son of Josiphiah, and with him a hundred and sixty men.
37 Of the sons of Bebai, Zechariah the son of Bebai, and with him twenty-eight men.
38 Of the sons of Azgad, Johanan the son of Hakkatan, and with him a hundred and ten men.
39 Of the sons of Adonikam, the last ones, their names being Eliphelet, Jeuel, and Shemaiah, and with them seventy men.
40 Of the sons of Bigvai, Uthai the son of Istalcurus, and with him seventy men.

I assembled them at the river called Theras, and we encamped there three days, and I inspected them.

42 When I found there none of the sons of the priests or of the Levites,
43 I sent word to Eliezar, Iduel, Maasmas,
44 Elnathan, Shemaiah, Jarib, Nathan, Elnathan, Zechariah, and Meshullam, who were leaders and men of understanding;
45 and I told them to go to Iddo, who was the leading man at the place of the treasury,
46 and ordered them to tell Iddo and his brethren and the treasurers at that place to send us men to serve as priests in the house of our Lord.
47 And by the mighty hand of our Lord they brought us competent men of the sons of Mahli the son of Levi, son of Israel, namely Sherebiah with his sons and kinsmen, eighteen;
48 also Hashabiah and Annunus and Jeshaiah his brother, of the sons of Hananiah, and their sons, twenty men;
49 and of the temple servants, whom David and the leaders had given for the service of the Levites, two hundred and twenty temple servants; the list of all their names was reported.

There I proclaimed a fast for the young men before our Lord, to seek from him a prosperous journey for ourselves and for our children and the cattle that were with us.

51 For I was ashamed to ask the king for foot soldiers and horsemen and an escort to keep us safe from our adversaries;
52 for we had said to the king, "The power of our Lord will be with those who seek him, and will support them in every way."
53 And again we prayed to our Lord about these things, and we found him very merciful.

Then I set apart twelve of the leaders of the priests, Sherebiah and Hashabiah, and ten of their kinsmen with them;

55 and I weighed out to them the silver and the gold and the holy vessels of the house of our Lord, which the king himself and his counselors and the nobles and all Israel had given.
56 I weighed and gave to them six hundred and fifty talents of silver, and silver vessels worth a hundred talents, and a hundred talents of gold,
57 and twenty golden bowls, and twelve bronze vessels of fine bronze that glittered like gold.
58 And I said to them, "You are holy to the Lord, and the vessels are holy, and the silver and the gold are vowed to the Lord, the Lord of our fathers.
59 Be watchful and on guard until you deliver them to the leaders of the priests and the Levites, and to the heads of the fathers' houses of Israel, in Jerusalem, in the chambers of the house of our Lord."
60 So the priests and the Levites who took the silver and the gold and the vessels which had been in Jerusalem carried them to the temple of the Lord.

We departed from the river Theras on the twelfth day of the first month; and we arrived in Jerusalem by the mighty hand of our Lord which was upon us; he delivered us from every enemy on the way, and so we came to Jerusalem.

62 When we had been there three days, the silver and the gold were weighed and delivered in the house of our Lord to Meremoth the priest, son of Uriah;
63 and with him was Eleazar the son of Phinehas, and with them were Jozabad the son of Jeshua and Moeth the son of Binnui, the Levites.
64 The whole was counted and weighed, and the weight of everything was recorded at that very time.
65 And those who had come back from captivity offered sacrifices to the Lord, the God of Israel, twelve bulls for all Israel, ninety-six rams,
66 seventy-two lambs, and as a thank offering twelve he-goats -- all as a sacrifice to the Lord.
67 And they delivered the king's orders to the royal stewards and to the governors of Coelesyria and Phoenicia; and these officials honored the people and the temple of the Lord.

After these things had been done, the principal men came to me and said,

69 "The people of Israel and the leaders and the priests and the Levites have not put away from themselves the alien peoples of the land and their pollutions, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Edomites.
70 For they and their sons have married the daughters of these people, and the holy race has been mixed with the alien peoples of the land; and from the beginning of this matter the leaders and the nobles have been sharing in this iniquity."

As soon as I heard these things I rent my garments and my holy mantle, and pulled out hair from my head and beard, and sat down in anxiety and grief.

72 And all who were ever moved at the word of the Lord of Israel gathered round me, as I mourned over this iniquity, and I sat grief-stricken until the evening sacrifice.
73 Then I rose from my fast, with my garments and my holy mantle rent, and kneeling down and stretching forth my hands to the Lord
74 I said,

"O Lord, I am ashamed and confounded before thy face.

75 For our sins have risen higher than our heads, and our mistakes have mounted up to heaven
76 from the times of our fathers, and we are in great sin to this day.
77 And because of our sins and the sins of our fathers we with our brethren and our kings and our priests were given over to the kings of the earth, to the sword and captivity and plundering, in shame until this day.
78 And now in some measure mercy has come to us from thee, O Lord, to leave to us a root and a name in thy holy place,
79 and to uncover a light for us in the house of the Lord our God, and to give us food in the time of our servitude.
80 Even in our bondage we were not forsaken by our Lord, but he brought us into favor with the kings of the Persians, so that they have given us food
81 and glorified the temple of our Lord, and raised Zion from desolation, to give us a stronghold in Judea and Jerusalem.

"And now, O Lord, what shall we say, when we have these things? For we have transgressed thy commandments, which thou didst give by thy servants the prophets, saying,

83 `The land which you are entering to take possession of it is a land polluted with the pollution of the aliens of the land, and they have filled it with their uncleanness.
84 Therefore do not give your daughters in marriage to their sons, and do not take their daughters for your sons;
85 and do not seek ever to have peace with them, in order that you may be strong and eat the good things of the land and leave it for an inheritance to your children for ever.'
86 And all that has happened to us has come about because of our evil deeds and our great sins. For thou, O Lord, didst lift the burden of our sins

87 and give us such a root as this; but we turned back again to transgress thy law by mixing with the uncleanness of the peoples of the land.
88 Wast thou not angry enough with us to destroy us without leaving a root or seed or name?
89 O Lord of Israel, thou art true; for we are left as a root to this day.
90 Behold, we are now before thee in our iniquities; for we can no longer stand in thy presence because of these things."

While Ezra was praying and making his confession, weeping and lying upon the ground before the temple, there gathered about him a very great throng from Jerusalem, men and women and youths; for there was great weeping among the multitude.

92 Then Shecaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the men of Israel, called out, and said to Ezra, "We have sinned against the Lord, and have married foreign women from the peoples of the land; but even now there is hope for Israel.
93 Let us take an oath to the Lord about this, that we will put away all our foreign wives, with their children,
94 as seems good to you and to all who obey the law of the Lord.
95 Arise and take action, for it is your task, and we are with you to take strong measures."
96 Then Ezra arose and had the leaders of the priests and Levites of all Israel take oath that they would do this. And they took the oath.



Then Ezra rose and went from the court of the temple to the chamber of Jehohanan the son of Eliashib,

2 and spent the night there; and he did not eat bread or drink water, for he was mourning over the great iniquities of the multitude.
3 And a proclamation was made throughout Judea and Jerusalem to all who had returned from the captivity that they should assemble at Jerusalem,
4 and that if any did not meet there within two or three days, in accordance with the decision of the ruling elders, their cattle should be seized for sacrifice and the men themselves expelled from the multitude of those who had returned from the captivity.

Then the men of the tribe of Judah and Benjamin assembled at Jerusalem within three days; this was the ninth month, on the twentieth day of the month.

6 And all the multitude sat in the open square before the temple, shivering because of the bad weather that prevailed.
7 Then Ezra rose and said to them, "You have broken the law and married foreign women, and so have increased the sin of Israel.
8 Now then make confession and give glory to the Lord the God of our fathers,
9 and do his will; separate yourselves from the peoples of the land and from your foreign wives."
10 Then all the multitude shouted and said with a loud voice, "We will do as you have said.
11 But the multitude is great and it is winter, and we are not able to stand in the open air. This is not a work we can do in one day or two, for we have sinned too much in these things.
12 so let the leaders of the multitude stay, and let all those in our settlements who have foreign wives come at the time appointed,
13 with the elders and judges of each place, until we are freed from the wrath of the Lord over this matter."
14 Jonathan the son of Asahel and Jahzeiah the son of Tikvah undertook the matter on these terms, and Meshullam and Levi and Shabbethai served with them as judges.
15 And those who had returned from the captivity acted in accordance with all this.

Ezra the priest chose for himself the leading men of their fathers' houses, all of them by name; and on the new moon of the tenth month they began their sessions to investigate the matter.

17 And the cases of the men who had foreign wives were brought to an end by the new moon of the first month.

Of the priests those who were brought in and found to have foreign wives were:

19 of the sons of Jeshua the son of Jozadak and his brethren, Maaseiah, Eliezar, Jarib, and Jodan.
20 They pledged themselves to put away their wives, and to give rams in expiation of their error.
21 Of the sons of Immer: Hanani and Zebadiah and Maaseiah and Shemaiah and Jehiel and Azariah.
22 Of the sons of Pashhur: Elioenai, Maaseiah, Ishmael, and Nathanael, and Gedaliah, and Elasah.

And of the Levites: Jozabad and Shimei and Kelaiah, who was Kelita, and Pethahiah and Judah and Jonah.

24 Of the temple singers: Eliashib and Zaccur.
25 Of the gatekeepers: Shallum and Telem.

Of Israel: of the sons of Parosh: Ramiah, Izziah, Malchijah, Mijamin, and Eleazar, and Asibias, and Benaiah.

27 Of the sons of Elam: Mattaniah and Zechariah, Jehiel and Abdi, and Jeremoth and Elijah.
28 Of the sons of Zattu: Elioenai, Eliashib, Othoniah, Jeremoth, and Zabad and Zerdaiah.
29 Of the sons of Bebai: Jehohanan and Hananiah and Zabbai and Emathis.
30 Of the sons of Bani: Meshullam, Malluch, Adaiah, Jashub, and Sheal and Jeremoth.
31 Of the sons of Addi: Naathus and Moossias, Laccunus and Naidus, and Bescaspasmys and Sesthel, and Belnuus and Manasseas.
32 Of the sons of Annan, Elionas and Asaias and Melchias and Sabbaias and Simon Chosamaeus.
33 Of the sons of Hashum: Mattenai and Mattattah and Zabad and Eliphelet and Manasseh and Shimei.
34 Of the sons of Bani: Jeremai, Maadai, Amram, Joel, Mamdai and Bedeiah and Vaniah, Carabasion and Eliashib and Machnadebai, Eliasis, Binnui, Elialis, Shimei, Shelemiah, Nethaniah. Of the sons of Ezora: Shashai, Azarel, Azael, Shemaiah, Amariah, Joseph.
35 Of the sons of Nebo: Mattithiah, Zabad, Iddo, Joel, Benaiah.
36 All these had married foreign women, and they put them away with their children.

The priests and the Levites and the men of Israel settled in Jerusalem and in the country. On the new moon of the seventh month, when the sons of Israel were in their settlements,

38 the whole multitude gathered with one accord into the open square before the east gate of the temple;
39 and they told Ezra the chief priest and reader to bring the law of Moses which had been given by the Lord God of Israel.
40 So Ezra the chief priest brought the law, for all the multitude, men and women, and all the priests to hear the law, on the new moon of the seventh month.
41 And he read aloud in the open square before the gate of the temple from early morning until midday, in the presence of both men and women; and all the multitude gave attention to the law.
42 Ezra the priest and reader of the law stood on the wooden platform which had been prepared;
43 and beside him stood Mattathiah, Shema, Anaiah, Azariah, Uriah, Hezekiah, and Baalsamus on his right hand,
44 and on his left Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Lothasubus, Nabariah, and Zechariah.
45 Then Ezra took up the book of the law in the sight of the multitude, for he had the place of honor in the presence of all.
46 And when he opened the law, they all stood erect. And Ezra blessed the Lord God Most High, the God of hosts, the Almighty;
47 and all the multitude answered, "Amen." And they lifted up their hands, and fell to the ground and worshiped the Lord.
48 Jeshua and Anniuth and Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah and Kelita, Azariah and Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, the Levites, taught the law of the Lord, at the same time explaining what was read.

Then Attharates said to Ezra the chief priest and reader, and to the Levites who were teaching the multitude, and to all,

50 "This day is holy to the Lord" -- now they were all weeping as they heard the law --
51 "so go your way, eat the fat and drink the sweet, and send portions to those who have none;
52 for the day is holy to the Lord; and do not be sorrowful, for the Lord will exalt you."
53 And the Levites commanded all the people, saying, "This day is holy; do not be sorrowful."
54 Then they all went their way, to eat and drink and enjoy themselves, and to give portions to those who had none, and to make great rejoicing;
55 because they were inspired by the words which they had been taught. And they came together.

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.