There, by the Ahava Canal,1 I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask him for a safe journey2 for us and our children, with all our possessions.
I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers3 and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king, "The gracious hand of our God is on everyone4 who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him.5"
So we fasted6 and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.
Then I set apart twelve of the leading priests, together with Sherebiah,7 Hashabiah and ten of their brothers,
and I weighed out8 to them the offering of silver and gold and the articles that the king, his advisers, his officials and all Israel present there had donated for the house of our God.
I weighed out to them 650 talents of silver, silver articles weighing 100 talents, 100 talents of gold,
20 bowls of gold valued at 1,000 darics, and two fine articles of polished bronze, as precious as gold.
I said to them, "You as well as these articles are consecrated to the LORD.9 The silver and gold are a freewill offering to the LORD, the God of your fathers.
Guard them carefully until you weigh them out in the chambers of the house of the LORD in Jerusalem before the leading priests and the Levites and the family heads of Israel."
Then the priests and Levites received the silver and gold and sacred articles that had been weighed out to be taken to the house of our God in Jerusalem.
On the twelfth day of the first month we set out from the Ahava Canal10 to go to Jerusalem. The hand of our God was on us,11 and he protected us from enemies and bandits along the way.
So we arrived in Jerusalem, where we rested three days.12
On the fourth day, in the house of our God, we weighed out13 the silver and gold and the sacred articles into the hands of Meremoth14 son of Uriah, the priest. Eleazar son of Phinehas was with him, and so were the Levites Jozabad15 son of Jeshua and Noadiah son of Binnui.16
Everything was accounted for by number and weight, and the entire weight was recorded at that time.
Then the exiles who had returned from captivity sacrificed burnt offerings to the God of Israel: twelve bulls17 for all Israel,18 ninety-six rams, seventy-seven male lambs and, as a sin offering, twelve male goats.19 All this was a burnt offering to the LORD.
They also delivered the king's orders20 to the royal satraps and to the governors of Trans-Euphrates,21 who then gave assistance to the people and to the house of God.22