7 Now [a]after this, in the reign of Artaxerxes [son of Xerxes, or Ahasuerus] king of Persia, Ezra son of Seraiah, the son of Azariah, the son of Hilkiah,
2 The son of Shallum, the son of Zadok, the son of Ahitub,
3 The son of Amariah, the son of Azariah, the son of Meraioth,
4 The son of Zerahiah, the son of Uzzi, the son of Bukki,
5 The son of Abishua, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the chief priest—
6 This Ezra went up from Babylon. He was a skilled scribe in the five books of Moses, which the Lord, the God of Israel, had given. And the king granted him all he asked, for the hand of the Lord his God was upon him.
7 And also some of the Israelites, with some of the priests and Levites, the singers and gatekeepers, and the temple servants, went up [from Babylon] to Jerusalem in the seventh year of King Artaxerxes.
8 Ezra came to Jerusalem in the fifth month of the seventh year of the king.
9 On the first of the first month he started out from Babylon, and on the first of the fifth month he arrived in Jerusalem, for upon him was the good hand of his God.
10 For Ezra had [b]prepared and set his heart to seek the Law of the Lord [to inquire for it and of it, to require and yearn for it], and to do and teach in Israel its statutes and its ordinances.
11 Now this is the copy of the letter that King Artaxerxes gave to Ezra the priest, the scribe, even a scribe [occupied with] the words of the commands of the Lord and of His statutes to Israel:
12 Artaxerxes, king of kings, to Ezra the priest, scribe of the instructions of the God of heaven: Greetings.
13 I make a decree that all of the people of Israel and of their priests and Levites in my realm, who offer freely to go up to Jerusalem, may go with you.
14 For you are sent by the king and his seven counselors to inquire about Judah and Jerusalem according to the instruction of your God, which is in your hand,
15 And to carry the silver and gold which the king and his counselors have freely offered to the God of Israel, Whose dwelling is in Jerusalem,
16 And all the silver and gold that you may find in all the province of Babylonia, with the freewill offerings of the people and of the priests, offered willingly for the house of their God in Jerusalem.
17 Therefore you shall with all speed and exactness buy with this money young bulls, rams, lambs, with their cereal offerings and drink offerings, and offer them on the altar of the house of your God in Jerusalem.
18 And whatever shall seem good to you and to your brethren to do with the rest of the silver and the gold, that do after the will of your God.
19 The vessels also that are given to you for the service of the house of your God, those deliver before the God of Jerusalem.
20 And whatever more shall be needful for the house of your God which you shall have occasion to provide, provide it out of the king’s treasury.
21 And I, Artaxerxes the king, make a decree to all the treasurers in the province beyond the [Euphrates] River that whatever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the instructions of the God of heaven, shall require of you, it shall be done exactly and at once—
22 Up to 100 talents of silver, 100 measures of wheat, 100 baths of wine, 100 baths of oil, and salt not specified.
23 Whatever is commanded by the God of heaven, let it be done diligently and honorably for the house of the God of heaven, lest His wrath be against the realm of the king and his sons.
24 Also we notify you that as to any of the priests and Levites, singers, gatekeepers, temple servants, or other servants of this house of God, it shall not be lawful to impose tribute, custom, or toll on them.
25 You, Ezra, after the wisdom of your God, which is [in His instructions] in your hand, set magistrates and judges who may judge all the people [west] of the River; choose those who know the instructions of your God, and teach him who does not know them.
26 And whoever will not do the law of your God and the law of the king, let judgment be executed upon him exactly and speedily, whether it be unto death or banishment or confiscation of goods or imprisonment.
27 Blessed be the Lord, the God of our fathers [said Ezra], Who put such a thing as this into the king’s heart, to beautify the house of the Lord in Jerusalem,
28 And Who has extended His mercy and steadfast love to me before the king, his counselors, and all the king’s mighty officers. I was strengthened and encouraged, for the hand of the Lord my God was upon me, and I gathered together outstanding men of Israel to go with me to Jerusalem.
- Ezra 7:1 There is about a sixty-year silence in the book of Ezra between chapters six and seven, including the years 516-458 b.c. It is during this time that events of the book of Esther took place. The Ahasuerus of the book of Esther is identified with the Xerxes who invaded Greece, was stopped at Thermopylae, defeated at the naval battle at Salamis, and nearly annihilated at Plataea (479 b.c.). The French excavations at Susa in 1880-1890 disclosed the great palace of Xerxes (Ahasuerus), where Esther would have lived. The building covered two and one-half acres. The finds at Susa from this period were so astonishing that the Louvre in Paris devoted two large rooms to the exhibition of the treasures (J. P. Free, Archaeology and Bible History).
- Ezra 7:10 God can use mightily one whose whole heart craves a knowledge of Him and His Word like that. Watch Ezra throughout the remainder of his story, as he turns the homes of his nation back from heathendom to God—in the pouring rain! He was not merely righteous, he was “[uncompromisingly] righteous” (I Kings 8:32); he worshiped God, Who is not merely just and righteous, but “rigidly just and righteous” (Ezra 9:15.)