After these things, during the reign of King Artaxerxes of Persia, Ezra left Babylon. Ezra was the son of Seraiah, who was the son of Azariah, who was the son of Hilkiah,
who was the son of Shallum, who was the son of Zadok, who was the son of Ahitub,
who was the son of Amariah, who was the son of Azariah, who was the son of Meraioth,
who was the son of Zerahiah, who was the son of Uzzi, who was the son of Bukki,
who was the son of Abishua, who was the son of Phinehas, who was the son of Eleazer, who was the son of Aaron (the first priest).
As a scribe, Ezra was an expert in Moses' Teachings, which the LORD God of Israel had given. The king gave Ezra everything he requested because the LORD his God was guiding him.
Some Israelites (including priests, Levites, singers, gatekeepers, and temple servants) went to Jerusalem in Artaxerxes' seventh year as king.
In that same year in the fifth month, Ezra arrived in Jerusalem.
He had left Babylon on the first day of the first month, and on the first day of the fifth month, he arrived in Jerusalem, since his God was good to him.
Ezra was determined to study the LORD's Teachings, live by them, and teach their rules and regulations in Israel.
This is a copy of the letter that King Artaxerxes gave Ezra the priest and scribe, a man with a thorough knowledge of the LORD's commands and laws for Israel:
From: Artaxerxes, king of kings To: Ezra the priest, a scribe for the Teachings of the God of Heaven: I wish you peace and prosperity!
I have issued a decree that any Israelites who are in my kingdom and want to go with you to Jerusalem may go. This also includes the priests and Levites.
I, the king, and my seven advisers are sending you to evaluate the situation in Judah and Jerusalem on the basis of your God's Teachings, which you hold in your hands.
Also, you must take the silver and gold that the king and his advisers willingly contributed to the God of Israel, the God whose temple is in Jerusalem.
Take any silver and gold that you find in the whole province of Babylon when you take the gifts contributed by the people and the priests. They willingly contributed these gifts for the temple of their God in Jerusalem.
You must use this money to buy bulls, rams, lambs, grain, and wine to offer on the altar of the temple of your God in Jerusalem.
You and your relatives may do whatever you think is right with the rest of the silver and gold. However, what you do must conform to the will of your God.
The utensils that have been given to you so that they can be used in your God's temple must all be presented to the God of Jerusalem.
You may use the king's treasury to pay for anything else that you must provide for your God's temple.
I, King Artaxerxes, order all the treasurers [in the province] west of the Euphrates River to do exactly what Ezra the priest, a scribe for the Teachings of the God of Heaven, asks you to do.
[You may give him] up to 7,500 pounds of silver, 100 measures of wheat, 600 gallons of wine, 600 gallons of olive oil, and as much salt as he needs.
Whatever the God of heaven has commanded must be carried out in detail for the temple of the God of heaven. Why should God become angry with the king's empire and his sons?
Furthermore, we are notifying you that you are forbidden to make any priest, Levite, singer, gatekeeper, servant, or worker in the temple of this God pay any taxes, fees, or tolls.
You, Ezra, using your God's wisdom--the Teachings you hold in your hands--will appoint judges and administrators for all the people who know your God's Teachings and live [in the province] west of the Euphrates River. In addition, you will teach anyone who doesn't know the Teachings.
Whoever will not strictly follow your God's Teachings and the king's orders should be promptly exiled, have his goods confiscated, be imprisoned or be sentenced to die.
[I, Ezra, said:] Thanks be to the LORD God of our ancestors. He put this into the king's mind to make the LORD's temple in Jerusalem beautiful.
He made the king, his advisers, and all the king's powerful officials treat me kindly. I was encouraged because the LORD my God was guiding me. So I gathered leaders in Israel to go with me.