This is a copy of the letter King Artaxerxes had given to Ezra the priest and teacher, a man learned in matters concerning the commands and decrees of the LORD for Israel:
Artaxerxes, king of kings,1 To Ezra the priest, a teacher of the Law of the God of heaven: Greetings.
Now I decree that any of the Israelites in my kingdom, including priests and Levites, who wish to go to Jerusalem with you, may go.
You are sent by the king and his seven advisers2 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 given3 to the God of Israel, whose dwelling4 is in Jerusalem,
together with all the silver and gold5 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.6
With this money be sure to buy bulls, rams and male lambs,7 together with their grain offerings and drink offerings,8 and sacrifice9 them on the altar of the temple of your God in Jerusalem.
You and your brother Jews may then do whatever seems best with the rest of the silver and gold, in accordance with the will of your God.
Deliver10 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 may have occasion to supply, you may provide from the royal treasury.11
Now I, King Artaxerxes, order all the treasurers of Trans-Euphrates to provide with diligence whatever Ezra the priest, a teacher of the Law of the God of heaven, may ask of you--
up to a hundred talents of silver, a hundred cors of wheat, a hundred baths of wine, a hundred baths 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 there be wrath against the realm of the king and of his sons?12
You are also to know that you have no authority to impose taxes, tribute or duty13 on any of the priests, Levites, singers, gatekeepers, temple servants or other workers at this house of God.14
And you, Ezra, in accordance with the wisdom of your God, which you possess, appoint15 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 teach16 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.17