Thoughts and Reflection
Today we read Ezra is friends with Artaxerxes, the king of Persia. His blessings are not due to his own skill but because the hand of the Lord is upon him. Ezra proclaims the people should fast to humble themselves before God. He does not ask the king for protection since he professed that the Lord is on their side. Some people who are now back home in the Holy Land ask if they still need to fast. We should always fast on Friday to remember the death of Jesus.
About This Project
For the year 2022, I decided that my New Year’s Resolution was to read the whole Bible following the Bible in the Year plan presented by Fr. Mike Schmitz. It is a big and bold undertaking. You can follow along by subscribing. Feel free to look at previous day’s post and comment. It’s something we can all learn from together!
1 After these events, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra son of Seraiah, son of Azariah, son of Hilkiah,
2 son of Shallum, son of Zadok, son of Ahitub,
3 son of Amariah, son of Azariah, son of Meraioth,
4 son of Zerahiah, son of Uzzi, son of Bukki,
5 son of Abishua, son of Phinehas, son of Eleazar, son of the chief priest Aaron-
6 this Ezra came up from Babylon. He was a scribe versed in the Law of Moses, which Yahweh, God of Israel, had given. The king gave him everything that he asked for, since the hand of Yahweh his God was over him.
7 A number of Israelites, priests, Levites, singers, gatekeepers and temple slaves went up to Jerusalem in the seventh year of the reign of King Artaxerxes.
8 Ezra arrived in Jerusalem in the fifth month, in the seventh year of the king’s reign;
9 for he had ordered the departure from Babylon on the first day of the first month, and he arrived in Jerusalem on the first day of the fifth month, since the kindly hand of his God was over him.
10 For Ezra had devoted himself to studying the Law of Yahweh so as to put into practice and teach its statutes and rulings.
11 This is the text of the document which King Artaxerxes gave to Ezra, the priest-scribe, a student of matters pertaining to Yahweh’s commandments and statutes relating to Israel:
12 ‘Artaxerxes, king of kings, to the priest Ezra, Secretary of the Law of the God of heaven: greetings!
13 ‘Now here are my orders. All members of the people of Israel in my kingdom, including their priests and Levites, who freely choose to go to Jerusalem, may go with you,
14 for you are being sent by the king and his seven counsellors to investigate how the Law of your God, in which you are expert, is being applied in Judah and Jerusalem,
15 and to transport the silver and gold which the king and his counsellors have voluntarily offered to the God of Israel who resides in Jerusalem,
16 as well as all the silver and gold which you receive throughout the province of Babylon and the voluntary offerings freely contributed by the people and the priests for the Temple of their God in Jerusalem.
17 ‘This money you will punctiliously use for the purchase of bulls, rams, lambs and the materials for the oblations and libations which go with them, offering these on the altar of the Temple of your God in Jerusalem,
18 and using the remainder of the silver and gold in accordance with the will of your God as you and your brothers may think fit.
19 ‘You will deliver the articles which have been given you for the ministry of the Temple of your God, to the God of Jerusalem,
20 and whatever else is needed and you are obliged to supply for the Temple of your God, you will supply from the royal treasury.
21 ‘I, King Artaxerxes, have issued the following instruction to all the treasurers of Transeuphrates: Whatever the priest Ezra, Secretary of the Law of the God of heaven, may request of you is to be punctiliously complied with:
22 up to one hundred talents of silver, one hundred kor of wheat, one hundred bat of wine, one hundred bat of oil, and unlimited salt.
23 Whatever the God of heaven demands for the Temple of the God of heaven must be diligently provided; why should retribution come on the realm of the king and of his sons?
24 You are further informed that it is against the law to impose tribute, tax or toll on any of the priests, Levites, singers, gatekeepers, temple slaves or other servants of this temple of God.
25 ‘And you, Ezra, by virtue of the wisdom of your God, which you possess, are to appoint magistrates and scribes to administer justicefor the whole people of Transeuphrates, that is, for all who know the Law of your God; and you are to teach it to those who do not know it.
26 And on anyone who will not comply with the Law of your God and the Law of the king let sentence be swiftly executed, whether it be death, banishment, fine or imprisonment.’
27 Blessed be Yahweh, God of our ancestors, who moved the king’s heart in this way to restore the beauty of the Temple of Yahweh in Jerusalem,
28 won for me the faithful love of the king, his counsellors and all the most powerful of the king’s officials! Taking heart since the hand of Yahweh my God was over me, I assembled those Israelite heads of families who were to go with me.
1 These, with their genealogies, were the heads of families who set out from Babylon with me in the reign of King Artaxerxes:
2 Of the sons of Phinehas: Gershom; of the sons of Ithamar: Daniel; of the sons of David: Hattush
3 son of Shechaniah; of the sons of Parosh: Zechariah, and with him a hundred and fifty males officially registered;
4 of the sons of Pahath-Moab: Elioenai son of Zerahiah, and with him two hundred males;
5 of the sons of Zattu: Shechaniah son of Jahaziel, and with him three hundred males;
6 of the sons of Adin: Ebed son of Jonathan, and with him fifty males;
7 of the sons of Elam: Jeshaiah son of Athaliah, and with him seventy males;
8 of the sons of Shephatiah: Zebadiah son of Michael, and with him eighty males;
9 of the sons of Joab: Obadiah son of Jehiel, and with him two hundred and eighteen males;
10 of the sons of Bani: Shelomith son of Josiphiah, and with him a hundred and sixty males;
11 of the sons of Bebai: Zechariah son of Bebai, and with him twenty-eight males;
12 of the sons of Azgad: Johanan son of Hakkatan, and with him a hundred and ten males;
13 of the sons of Adonikam: the younger sons, whose names are: Eliphelet, Jeiel and Shemaiah, and with them sixty males;
14 and of the sons of Bigvai: Uthai son of Zabud, and with him seventy males.
15 I assembled them near the canal which runs to Ahava, where we camped for three days. I noticed laymen and priests, but I could not discover any Levites there.
16 I then sent for Eliezer, Ariel, Shemaiah, Elnathan, Jarib, Elnathan, Nathan, Zechariah and Meshullam, judicious men,
17 and sent them to Iddo, the leading man of a place called Casiphia; I told them what they were to say to Iddo and his kinsmen, living at the place called Casiphia, that is, to provide us with people to serve the Temple of our God.
18 And because the hand of God was good to us, they sent us a wise man of the sons of Mahli son of Levi, son of Israel, a certain Sherebiah with his sons and kinsmen: eighteen men;
19 also Hashabiah and with him his brother Jeshaiah of the sons of Merari with his kinsmen and sons: twenty men;
20 and two hundred and twenty temple slaves — descendants of the temple slaves whom David and the princes had assigned to serve the Levites — all of them designated by name.
21 There, beside the Ahava Canal, I then proclaimed a fast, to humble ourselves before our God and to pray to him for a successful journey for us, our dependants and all our belongings.
22 For I should have been ashamed to ask the king for a company of cavalry to protect us from hostile people on our road, as we had already said to the king, ‘The hand of our God is over all who seek him for their protection, but his mighty retribution befalls all those who forsake him.’
23 So we fasted and pleaded with our God about this, and he heard us.
24 I next chose twelve of the leading priests, and also Sherebiah and Hashabiah with ten of their kinsmen.
25 To them I weighed out the silver, the gold and the utensils, the contributions which the king, his counsellors, his notables and all the Israelites there present had made for the Temple of our God.
26 To them I weighed out and handed over six hundred and fifty talents of silver, one hundred utensils of silver valued at two talents, one hundred talents of gold,
27 twenty golden bowls valued at a thousand darics and two utensils of fine burnished copper as precious as gold.
28 I said to them, ‘You are consecrated to Yahweh; these utensils are consecrated too; the silver and gold are a voluntary offering to Yahweh, God of your ancestors.
29 Guard them carefully until you weigh them out to the leading priests, the Levites, and the heads of families of Israel in Jerusalem in the rooms of the Temple of Yahweh.’
30 The priests and Levites then took charge of the silver, the gold and the utensils thus weighed, to bring them to Jerusalem to the Temple of our God.
31 On the twelfth day of the first month we left the Ahava Canal to make our way to Jerusalem; the hand of our God was over us and protected us from enemies and surprise attacks on our way.
32 When we arrived in Jerusalem, we rested for three days.
33 On the fourth day the silver, the gold and the utensils were weighed in the Temple of our God and handed over to the priest Meremoth son of Uriah and, with him, Eleazar son of Phinehas; with them were the Levites Jozabad son of Jeshua and Noadiah son of Binnui.
34 By number and weight all was there. The total weight was recorded at the same time.
35 When the exiles arrived from their captivity, they offered burnt offerings to the God of Israel — twelve bulls on behalf of all Israel, ninety-six rams, seventy-two lambs, and as a sin offering twelve he-goats: the whole of this as a burnt offering to Yahweh.
36 They also delivered the king’s instructions to the king’s satraps and the governors of Transeuphrates, who then supported the people and the Temple of God.
1 In the fourth year of King Darius, the word of Yahweh was addressed to Zechariah on the fourth day of the ninth month, the month of Chislev.
2 Bethel sent Sharezer with a deputation to entreat Yahweh’s favour
3 and to ask the priests in the Temple of Yahweh Sabaoth and the prophets, ‘Ought I to go on mourning and fasting in the fifth month as I have been doing for so many years past?’
4 Then the word of Yahweh Sabaoth was addressed to me as follows,
5 ‘Say to all the people of the country and to the priests, “While you have been fasting and mourning in the fifth and seventh months for the past seventy years, have you really been fasting for my sake?
6 And when you were eating and drinking, were you not eating and drinking for your own sake?
7 Do you not know the words which Yahweh proclaimed through the prophets in the past, when Jerusalem was inhabited and secure, as were her surrounding towns, and when the Negeb and the lowlands were inhabited?” ‘ (
8 The word of Yahweh was addressed to Zechariah as follows,
9 ‘Yahweh Sabaoth says this.) He said, “Apply the law fairly, and show faithful love and compassion towards one another.
10 Do not oppress the widow and the orphan, the foreigner and the poor, and do not secretly plan evil against one another.”
11 But they would not listen; they turned a rebellious shoulder; they stopped their ears rather than hear;
12 they made their hearts adamant rather than listen to the teaching and the words that Yahweh Sabaoth had sent — by his spirit — through the prophets in the past; and consequently the fury of Yahweh Sabaoth overtook them.
13 And so, since when he called they would not listen, “I would not listen when they called”, says Yahweh Sabaoth,
14 “but scattered them among all the nations unknown to them. Hence, after they had gone, the country was deserted, and no one came or went. They had turned a land of delights into a desert.” ‘
1 The word of Yahweh Sabaoth came as follows:
2 Yahweh Sabaoth says this: I have been burning with jealousy for Zion, with furious jealousy for her sake.
3 Yahweh says this: I am coming back to Zion and shall live in the heart of Jerusalem. Jerusalem will be called Faithful City and the mountain of Yahweh Sabaoth, the Holy Mountain.
4 Yahweh Sabaoth says this: Aged men and women once again will sit in the squares of Jerusalem, each with a stick to lean on because of their great age.
5 And the squares of the city will be full of boys and girls playing there.
6 Yahweh Sabaoth says this: If this seems a miracle to the remnant of this people (in those days), will it seem one to me? declares Yahweh.
7 Yahweh Sabaoth says this: Look, I shall rescue my people from the countries of the east and from the countries of the west.
8 I shall bring them back to live in the heart of Jerusalem, and they will be my people and I shall be their God, faithful and just.
9 ‘Yahweh Sabaoth says this, “Take heart, you who today hear these promises uttered by the prophets since the day when the foundations of the Temple of Yahweh Sabaoth were laid, that the sanctuary would indeed be rebuilt.
10 For up to now, men were not paid their wages and nothing was paid for the animals either; and it has not been safe for anyone to come and go, because of the enemy, since I had set each one against everyone else.
11 But from now on, I shall not treat the remnant of this people as I have treated them in time past — declares Yahweh Sabaoth.
12 Now they will sow in peace; the vine will give its fruit, the soil will give its produce and heaven will give its dew. I shall bestow all these on the remnant of this people.
13 Just as once you were a curse among the nations, House of Judah and House of Israel, so now I shall save you, and you will be a blessing. Do not be afraid. Take heart!”
14 ‘For Yahweh Sabaoth says this, “Just as I resolved to ill-treat you when your ancestors provoked me to anger and did not relent — says Yahweh Sabaoth-
15 so now I have changed my mind and intend to treat Jerusalem and the House of Judah well. Do not be afraid!
16 “These are the things that you must do. Speak the truth to one another; at your gates, administer fair judgement conducive to peace;
17 do not secretly plot evil against one another; do not love perjury; since I hate all this — Yahweh declares.” ‘
18 The word of Yahweh Sabaoth was addressed to me as follows:
19 ‘Yahweh Sabaoth says this, “The fast of the fourth month, the fast of the fifth, the fast of the seventh and the fast of the tenth are to become glad, joyful, happy festivals for the House of Judah. So love truth and peace!” ‘
20 ‘Yahweh Sabaoth says this, “In the future, peoples and citizens of many cities will come;
21 and citizens of one city will go to the next and say: We must certainly go to entreat Yahweh’s favour and seek out Yahweh Sabaoth; I am going myself.
22 Yes, many peoples and great nations will seek out Yahweh Sabaoth in Jerusalem and entreat Yahweh’s favour.”
23 ‘Yahweh Sabaoth says this, “In those days, ten men from nations of every language will take a Jew by the sleeve and say: We want to go with you, since we have learnt that God is with you.” ‘
12 Ear that hears, eye that sees, Yahweh has made both of these.
13 Do not love sleep or you will know poverty; keep your eyes open and have your fill of food.
14 ‘No good, no good!’ says the buyer, but he goes off congratulating himself.
15 There are gold and jewels of every type, but a priceless ornament is speech informed by knowledge.