I gathered the people together at the waterway that flows toward Ahava. We camped there for three days. I looked for Levites among the people and priests. But I didn't find any.
So I sent for Eliezer, Ariel, Shemaiah, Elnathan and Jarib. I also sent for Elnathan, Nathan, Zechariah and Meshullam. All of them were leaders. And I sent for Joiarib and Elnathan. They were very well educated.
I sent all of those men to Iddo. He was the leader in Casiphia. He and his relatives were temple servants there. I told my men what to say to them. I wanted Iddo and his relatives to bring some attendants to us for the house of our God.
The gracious hand of our God helped us. So they brought us Sherebiah. He was a man of ability. He came from the family line of Mahli. Mahli was the son of Levi. Levi was a son of Israel. They also brought us Sherebiah's sons and brothers. The total number of men was 18.
And they brought Hashabiah and his brothers and nephews. They brought them together with Jeshaiah. He came from the family line of Merari. The total number of men was 20.
They also brought 220 of the temple servants. That was a special group David and his officials had established. They were supposed to help the Levites. All of them were listed by name.
I announced a fast by the waterway that flows toward Ahava. I told the people not to eat any food. In that way, we made ourselves low in the sight of God. We prayed that he would give us and our children a safe journey. We asked him to keep safe everything we owned.
I was ashamed to ask King Artaxerxes for soldiers and horsemen. They could have kept us safe from enemies on the road. But we had told the king that our God would keep us safe. We had said, "The gracious hand of our God helps everyone who looks to him. But he becomes very angry with anyone who deserts him."
So we didn't eat anything. We prayed to our God about all of those matters. And he answered our prayers.
Then I set 12 of the leading priests apart. I also set apart Sherebiah, Hashabiah and ten of their relatives.
I weighed out to them the offering of silver and gold and other articles. They had been given for the house of our God. The king, his advisers and officials, and all of the people of Israel who were there had given them.
I weighed out 25 tons of silver to those men. I weighed out almost four tons of silver articles. I weighed out almost four tons of gold.
I weighed out 20 gold bowls. They weighed 19 pounds. I also weighed out two fine articles. The bronze they were made out of was highly polished. They were as priceless as gold.
I said to those men, "You are set apart to the Lord. So are these articles. The silver and gold were offered to the LORD by those who chose to give them. He is the God of your people.
Guard all of those things carefully until you weigh them out. Weigh them in the special rooms of the LORD's temple in Jerusalem. Do it in front of the leading priests and the Levites. Make sure the family leaders of Israel are watching."
Then the priests and Levites received the silver and gold and sacred articles. All of them had been weighed out. They were going to take them to the house of our God in Jerusalem.
On the 12th day of the first month we started out. We left the waterway that flows toward Ahava. And we headed for Jerusalem. The powerful hand of our God helped us. He kept us safe from enemies and robbers along the way.
So we arrived in Jerusalem. There we rested for three days.
On the fourth day we weighed out the silver and gold. We also weighed out the sacred articles. We weighed everything in the house of our God. We handed all of it over to the priest Meremoth. He was the son of Uriah. Eleazar, Jozabad and Noadiah were with him. Eleazar was the son of Phinehas. Jozabad was the son of Jeshua. Noadiah was the son of Binnui. Jozabad and Noadiah were Levites.
Everything was listed by number and weight. And the total weight was recorded at that time.
Then the people sacrificed burnt offerings to the God of Israel. They had returned from Babylonia. They offered 12 bulls for the whole nation of Israel. They offered 96 rams and 77 male lambs. All of that was a burnt offering to the Lord. They sacrificed 12 male goats as a sin offering.
They also handed over the king's orders. They gave them to the royal officials and governors who ruled over the land west of the Euphrates River. Then those men helped the people. They also did many things for the house of God.