Many years later, when Artaxerxes was emperor of Persia, there was a man named Ezra. He traced his ancestors back to Aaron, the High Priest, as follows: Ezra was the son of Seraiah, son of Azariah, son of Hilkiah,
son of Shallum, son of Zadok, son of Ahitub,
son of Amariah, son of Azariah, son of Meraioth,
son of Zerahiah, son of Uzzi, son of Bukki,
son of Abishua, son of Phinehas, son of Eleazar, son of Aaron.
Ezra was a scholar with a thorough knowledge of the Law which the Lord, the God of Israel, had given to Moses. Because Ezra had the blessing of the Lord his God, the emperor gave him everything he asked for. In the seventh year of the reign of Artaxerxes, Ezra set out from Babylonia for Jerusalem with a group of Israelites which included priests, Levites, Temple musicians, Temple guards, and workers.
They left Babylonia on the first day of the first month, and with God's help they arrived in Jerusalem on the first day of the fifth month.
Ezra had devoted his life to studying the Law of the Lord, to practicing it, and to teaching all its laws and regulations to the people of Israel.
Emperor Artaxerxes gave the following document to Ezra, the priest and scholar, who had a thorough knowledge of the laws and commands which the Lord had given to Israel:
"From Emperor Artaxerxes to the priest Ezra, scholar in the Law of the God of Heaven.
"I command that throughout my empire all the Israelite people, priests, and Levites that so desire be permitted to go with you to Jerusalem.
I, together with my seven counselors, send you to investigate the conditions in Jerusalem and Judah in order to see how well the Law of your God, which has been entrusted to you, is being obeyed.