1Many/Fifty years later, while Artaxerxes was the king of Persia, I, Ezra came from Babylon here to Jerusalem. I am the son of Seraiah and the grandson of Azariah, and the great-grandson of Hilkiah.
2Hilkiah was the son of Shallum, who was the son of Zadok, who was the son of Ahitub,
3who was the son of Amariah, who was the son of Azariah, who was the son of Meraioth,
4who was the son of Zerahiah, who was the son of Uzzi, who was the son of Bukki,
5who was the son of Abishua, who was the son of Phinehas, who was the son of Eleazar, who was the son of Aaron, the first Supreme Priest.
6I am a man who knows very well the laws that Moses wrote. Those were the laws that Yahweh, the God whom we Israeli people ◄ worship/belong to►, had given to us Israeli people. When I arrived in Jerusalem, Yahweh my God was kind to me, and as a result the people gave me everything that I had requested the king to tell them to give to me.
7Some of the priests, some other descendants of Levi, some singers, some ◄gatekeepers/men who guarded the gates of the temple►, and some men who worked in the temple, and some other Israeli people came up with me here to Jerusalem. That was during the seventh year that Artaxerxes was the king of Persia.
8We left Babylon on April 8, which was the first day of the Jewish year. Because God was very kind to us, we arrived safely in Jerusalem on August 4 of that year.
10During my entire life, I devoted myself to studying the laws of Yahweh, and how to obey those laws. I had also taught those laws and all their regulations to the Israeli people for many years.
11King Artaxerxes knew that I am a priest who knows the Jewish laws very well. He knew that for many years I had studied those laws and had taught all the rules and regulations of those laws to the Israeli people. So before I left Babylon to come to Jerusalem, he wrote a letter, and gave a copy to me. This is what he wrote:
12This letter is from me, Artaxerxes, the greatest of the kings. I am giving it to Ezra the priest, who has studied very well all the rules and regulations that the God who is/rules in heaven gave to the Israeli people.
13Ezra, I command that when you return to Jerusalem, any of the Israeli people in my kingdom who want to are allowed to go with you. That includes any priests and other descendants of Levi who will work in the temple who want to go.
14I, along with my seven counselors/advisors, am sending you to Jerusalem, in order that you can determine what is happening there and in other towns in Judah. You are taking with you MTY a copy of God's laws; make sure that the people are doing everything that is written in those laws.
15We are also saying that you should take with you the silver and gold that I and my advisors are wanting to give to you, in order that you will present it to be an offering to the God who rules the Israeli people and who lives in Jerusalem.
16You should also take any silver and gold that the people in the entire Babylonia province give to you, and the money that the priests and other Israeli people have happily said that they would give to you to be offerings for building the temple of their God in Jerusalem.
17With this money, you should buy the bulls, rams, lambs, and the grain and wine that the priests will burn on the altar outside the temple of your God in Jerusalem.
18If there is any silver or gold that remains after you have bought all those things, you and your companions/colleagues are permitted to use it to buy whatever you desire, but buy only things that you know that God wants you to buy.
19We have given to you some valuable items to be used in the temple of your God. Take them also to Jerusalem.
20If you need any other things for the temple, you are permitted to get the money for those things from the building here where my government's money is kept/stored.
21And I, King Artaxerxes, command this to all the treasurers in the province west of the Euphrates River: Give to Ezra, the priest who has studied very well the laws of the God who is/rules in heaven, everything that he requests, and give it to him quickly.
22The most that you should give to him is ◄7,500 pounds/3,400 kg.► of silver, 500 bushels of wheat, 550 gallons of wine, and 550 gallons of olive oil, but give to him all the salt that they need.
23Be sure that you provide whatever their God requires for his temple, because we certainly do not RHQ want him to be angry with me or with my descendants who will later be kings.
24We are also commanding that none of the priests, descendants of Levi, musicians, temple guards, or other men who work in the temple, will be required to pay any kind of taxes.
25Ezra, your God has enabled you to become very wise. Using that wisdom, appoint men in the province west of the Euphrates River who will judge cases involving the people, and men who will judge cases involving the government. You must appoint men who know the laws of your God. All of you must teach God's laws to others who do not know them.
26Everyone who does not obey God's laws or the laws of my government must be punished severely. Some of them will be executed, some will be put in prison, some will be sent out of the country or have all their property taken away from them.
27Because King Artaxerxes was very kind like that, I said, “Praise Yahweh, the God whom our ancestors worshiped/belonged to! He has caused the king to want to honor the temple of Yahweh in Jerusalem.
28Because God was very kind to me, the king and all his advisors and all his powerful officials have also been kind to me. So, because God has helped me, I have become encouraged, and I have been able to persuade some of the Israeli leaders to go up to Jerusalem with me.”