Chapter 2

  1. Now after these things, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra the son of Seraiah, the son of Azariah, the son of Hilkiah, the son of Shallum, the son of Zadok, the son of Ahitub, the son of Amariah, the son of Azariah, the son of Meraioth, the son of Zerahiah, the son of Uzzi, the son of Bukki, the son of Abishua, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the chief priest — this Ezra went up from Babylon. And he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses which the Lord God of Israel had given. And the king granted him all his request, according to the hand of the Lord his God upon him. And there went up some of the children of Israel, and of the priests, and the Levites, and the singers, and the porters, and the temple servants unto Jerusalem in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king. And he came to Jerusalem in the fifth month which was in the seventh year of the king, for upon the first day of the first month began he to go up from Babylon, and on the first day of the fifth month came he to Jerusalem, according to the good hand of his God upon him; for Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments. Now this is the copy of the letter that the king Artaxerxes gave unto Ezra the priest, the scribe, even a scribe of the words of the commandments of the Lord and of his statutes to Israel:
  2. Artaxerxes, king of kings, unto Ezra the priest, a scribe of the law of the God of Heaven: Perfect peace. And at such a time, I make a decree that all they of the people of Israel and of his priests and Levites in my realm, who are determined of their own free will to go up to Jerusalem, go with you, forasmuch as you are sent of the king and of his seven counselors to inquire concerning Judah and Jerusalem according to the law of your God which is in your hand, and to carry the silver and gold which the king and his counselors have freely offered unto the God of Israel whose habitation is in Jerusalem, and all the silver and gold that you can find in all the province of Babylon with the freewill offering of the people and of the priests, offering willingly for the house of their God which is in Jerusalem, that you may buy speedily with this money bullocks, rams, lambs, with their meal offerings and their drink offerings, and offer them upon the altar of the house of your God which is in Jerusalem. And whatever shall seem good to you and to your brethren to do with the rest of the silver and the gold, that do after the will of your God. The vessels also that are given you for the service of the house of your God, those deliver before the God of Jerusalem. And whatever more shall be needful for the house of your God which you shall have occasion to bestow, bestow it out of the king’s treasure house.
  3. And I, even I, Artaxerxes the king, do make a decree to all the treasurers who are beyond the river, that whatever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of Heaven, shall require of you, it be done speedily; unto a hundred talents of silver, and to a hundred measures of wheat, and to a hundred baths of wine, and to a hundred baths of oil, and salt without prescribing how much. Whatever is commanded by the God of Heaven, let it be diligently done for the house of the God of Heaven. For why should there be wrath against the realm of the king and his sons? Also, we certify to you that, touching any of the priests and Levites, singers, porters, temple servants, or ministers of this house of God, it shall not be lawful to impose toll, tribute, or custom upon them.
  4. And you, Ezra, after the wisdom of your God that is in your hand, set magistrates and judges who may judge all the people that are beyond the river, all such as know the laws of your God, and teach them that know them not. And whoever will not do the law of your God and the law of the king, let judgment be executed speedily upon him, whether it be unto death, or to banishment, or to confiscation of goods, or to imprisonment.
  5. Blessed be the Lord God of our fathers, who has put such a thing as this in the king’s heart, to beautify the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem, and has extended mercy unto me before the king and his counselors, and before all the king’s mighty princes. And I was strengthened as the hand of the Lord my God was upon me, and I gathered together out of Israel chief men to go up with me.
  6. These are now the chief of their fathers, and this is the genealogy of them that went up with me from Babylon in the reign of Artaxerxes the king: of the sons of Phinehas: Gershom; of the sons of Ithamar: Daniel; of the sons of David: Hattush of the sons of Shecaniah; of the sons of Parosh: Zechariah, and with him were reckoned by genealogy of the males a hundred fifty; of the sons of Pahathmoab: Eliehoenai the son of Zerahiah, and with him two hundred males; of the sons of Shecaniah: the son of Jahaziel, and with him three hundred males; of the sons also of Adin: Ebed the son of Jonathan, and with him fifty males; and of the sons of Elam: Jeshaiah the son of Athaliah, and with him seventy males; and of the sons of Shephatiah: Zebadiah the son of Michael, and with him eighty males; of the sons of Joab: Obadiah the son of Jehiel, and with him two hundred eighteen males; and of the sons of Shelomith: the son of Josiphiah, and with him a hundred sixty males; and of the sons of Bebai: Zechariah the son of Bebai, and with him twenty-eight males; and of the sons of Azgad: Johanan the son of Hakkatan, and with him a hundred ten males; and of the last sons of Adonikam, whose names are these: Eliphelet, Jeuel, and Shemaiah, and with them sixty males; of the sons also of Bigvai: Uthai and Zabbud, and with them seventy males.
  7. And I gathered them together to the river that runs to Ahava and there stayed we in tents three days. And I viewed the people and the priests, and found there none of the sons of Levi. Then sent I for Eliezer, for Ariel, for Shemaiah, and for Elnathan, and for Jarib, and for Elnathan, and for Nathan, and for Zechariah, and for Meshullam — chief men; also for Joiarib and for Elnathan — men of understanding. And I sent them with commandment unto Iddo the chief at the place Casiphia, and I told them what they should say unto Iddo and to his brethren the temple servants at the place Casiphia, that they should bring unto us ministers for the house of our God. And by the good hand of our God upon us they brought us a man of understanding of the sons of Mahli, the son of Levi, the son of Israel; and Sherebiah, with his sons and his brethren, eighteen; and Hashabiah, and with him Jeshaiah of the sons of Merari, his brethren and their sons, twenty; also of the temple servants whom David and the princes had appointed for the service of the Levites, two hundred twenty temple servants. All of them were expressed by name.
  8. Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance. For I was ashamed to ask of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way, because we had spoken unto the king, saying, The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek him, but his power and his wrath is against all them that forsake him. So we fasted and implored our God for this, and he was entreated of us.
  9. Then I separated twelve of the chief of the priests — Sherebiah, Hashabiah, and ten of their brethren with them — and weighed unto them the silver, and the gold, and the vessels, even the offering of the house of our God which the king, and his counselors, and his lords, and all Israel there present had offered. I even weighed unto their hand six hundred fifty talents of silver, and silver vessels a hundred talents, and of gold a hundred talents, also twenty basins of gold of a thousand drams, and two vessels of fine copper, precious as gold. And I said unto them, You are holy unto the Lord, the vessels are holy also, and the silver and the gold are a freewill offering unto the Lord God of your fathers. Watch and keep them until you weigh them before the chief of the priests and the Levites and chief of the fathers of Israel at Jerusalem in the chambers of the house of the Lord. So took the priests and the Levites the weight of the silver, and the gold, and the vessels, to bring them to Jerusalem unto the house of our God.
  10. Then we departed from the river of Ahava on the twelfth day of the first month to go unto Jerusalem. And the hand of our God was upon us, and he delivered us from the hand of the enemy and of such as lay in wait by the way. And we came to Jerusalem and stayed there three days.
  11. Now on the fourth day was the silver and the gold and the vessels weighed in the house of our God (by the hand of Meremoth, the son of Uriah the priest, and with him was Eleazar the son of Phinehas, and with them was Jozabad the son of Jeshua, and Noadiah the son of Binnui — Levites) by number and by weight of every one. And all the weight was written at that time.
  12. Also, the children of those that had been carried away, who had come out of the captivity, offered burnt offerings unto the God of Israel: twelve bullocks for all Israel, ninety-six rams, seventy-seven lambs, twelve he-goats for a sin offering — all this was a burnt offering unto the Lord. And they delivered the king’s commissions unto the king’s lieutenants, and to the governors on this side of the river, and they furthered the people and the house of God.
  13. Now when these things were done, the princes came to me, saying, The people of Israel and the priests and the Levites have not separated themselves from the people of the lands, doing according to their abominations — even of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites; for they have taken of their daughters for themselves and for their sons, so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands — yea, the hand of the princes and rulers has been chief in this trespass. And when I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my mantle, and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down astonished. Then were assembled unto me everyone that trembled at the words of the God of Israel because of the transgression of those that had been carried away. And I sat astonished until the evening sacrifice.
  14. And at the evening sacrifice I arose up from my self-abasement, and having rent my garment and my mantle, I fell upon my knees and spread out my hands unto the Lord my God, and said, O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to you, my God, for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens. Since the days of our fathers have we been in a great trespass unto this day. And for our iniquities have we, our kings, and our priests been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, and to a spoil, and to confusion of face, as it is this day. And now for a little space, grace has been shown from the Lord our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a nail in his holy place, that our God may lighten our eyes and give us a little reviving in our bondage. For we were bondmen, yet our God has not forsaken us in our bondage, but has extended mercy unto us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to give us a reviving, to set up the house of our God and to repair the desolations thereof, and to give us a wall in Judah and in Jerusalem.
  15. And now, O our God, what shall we say after this? For we have forsaken your commandments which you have commanded by your servants the prophets, saying, The land unto which you go to possess is an unclean land with the filthiness of the people of the lands, with their abominations which have filled it from one end to another with their uncleanness. Now therefore give not your daughters unto their sons, neither take their daughters unto your sons, nor seek their peace or their wealth for ever, that you may be strong, and eat the good of the land, and leave it for an inheritance to your children for ever. And after all that has come upon us for our evil deeds and for our great trespass, seeing that you, our God, have punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and have given us such deliverance as this, should we again break your commandments and join in alliance with the people of these abominations? Would you not be angry with us until you had consumed us, so that there should be no remnant nor escaping? O Lord God of Israel, you are righteous, for we remain yet escaped, as it is this day. Behold, we are before you in our trespasses, for we cannot stand before you because of this.
  16. Now when Ezra had prayed, and when he had confessed, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, there assembled unto him out of Israel a very great congregation of men and women and children, for the people wept very bitterly. And Shecaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, answered and said unto Ezra, We have trespassed against our God and have taken strange wives of the people of the land. Yet now there is hope in Israel concerning this thing. Now therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives and such as are born of them, according to the counsel of my lord and of those that tremble at the commandment of our God, and let it be done according to the law. Arise, for this matter belongs unto you. We also will be with you. Be of good courage, and do it. Then Ezra arose and made the chief priests, the Levites, and all Israel to swear that they should do according to this word. And they swore.
  17. Then Ezra rose up from before the house of God and went into the chamber of Johanan the son of Eliashib. And when he came there, he did eat no bread, nor drink water, for he mourned because of the transgression of them that had been carried away. And they made proclamation throughout Judah and Jerusalem unto all the children of the captivity that they should gather themselves together unto Jerusalem, and that whoever would not come within three days, according to the counsel of the princes and the elders, all his substance should be forfeited, and himself separated from the congregation of those that had been carried away.
  18. Then all the men of Judah and Benjamin gathered themselves together unto Jerusalem within three days. It was the ninth month, on the twentieth day of the month, and all the people sat in the street of the house of God, trembling because of this matter and for the great rain. And Ezra the priest stood up and said unto them, You have transgressed and have taken strange wives to increase the trespass of Israel. Now therefore make confession unto the Lord God of your fathers, and do his pleasure, and separate yourselves from the people of the land and from the strange wives. Then all the congregation answered and said with a loud voice, As you have said, so must we do. But the people are many, and it is a time of much rain, and we are not able to stand outside; neither is this a work of one day or two, for we are many that have transgressed in this thing. Let now our rulers of all the congregation stand, and let all them who have taken strange wives in our cities come at appointed times, and with them the elders of every city, and the judges thereof, until the fierce wrath of our God for this matter be turned from us. Only Jonathan the son of Asahel and Jahzeiah the son of Tikvah were employed about this matter, and Meshullam and Shabbethai the Levite helped them.
  19. And the children of the captivity did so. And Ezra the priest, with certain chief of the fathers after the house of their fathers, and all of them by their names, were separated, and sat down in the first day of the tenth month to examine the matter. And they made an end with all the men that had taken strange wives by the first day of the first month.
  20. And among the sons of the priests there were found that had taken strange wives, namely, of the sons of Joshua the son of Jozadak, and his brethren: Maaseiah, and Eliezer, and Jarib, and Gedaliah (and they gave their hands that they would put away their wives, and being guilty, they offered a ram of the flock for their trespass); and of the sons of Immer: Hanani and Zebadiah; and of the sons of Harim: Maaseiah, and Elijah, and Shemaiah, and Jehiel, and Uzziah; and of the sons of Pashur: Elioenai, Maaseiah, Ishmael, Nethanel, Jozabad, and Elasah; also of the Levites: Jozabad, and Shimei, and Kelaiah (the same is Kelita), Pethahiah, Judah, and Eliezer; of the singers also: Eliashib; and of the porters: Shallum, and Telem, and Uri. Moreover, of Israel, of the sons of Parosh: Ramiah, and Izziah, and Malchiah, and Miamin, and Eleazar, and Malchijah, and Benaiah; and of the sons of Elam: Mattaniah, Zechariah, and Jehiel, and Abdi, and Jeremoth, and Elijah; and of the sons of Zattu: Elioenai, Eliashib, Mattaniah, and Jeremoth, and Zabad, and Aziza; of the sons also of Bebai: Jehohanan, Hananiah, Zabbai, and Athlai; and of the sons of Bani: Meshullam, Malluch, and Adaiah, Jashub, and Sheal, and Ramoth; and of the sons of Pahathmoab: Adna, and Chelal, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattaniah, Bezalel, and Binnui, and Manasseh; and of the sons of Harim: Eliezer, Ishijah, Malchiah, Shemaiah, Shimeon, Benjamin, Malluch, and Shemariah; of the sons of Hashum: Mattenai, Mattattah, Zabad, Eliphelet, Jeremai, Manasseh, and Shimei; of the sons of Bani: Maadai, Amram, and Uel, Benaiah, Bedeiah, Cheluhi, Vaniah, Meremoth, Eliashib, Mattaniah, Mattenai, and Jaasu, and Bani, and Binnui, Shimei, and Shelemiah, and Nathan, and Adaiah, Machnadebai, Shashai, Sharai, Azarel, and Shelemiah, Shemariah, Shallum, Amariah, and Joseph; of the sons of Nebo: Jeiel, Mattithiah, Zabad, Zebina, Jaddai, and Joel, Benaiah.
  21. All these had taken strange wives, and some of them had wives by whom they had children.