Ezra Gets a Letter From The King

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The verses in this chapter are not merely the king’s decree but they are Ezra’s comments on the king’s decree. It shows how the king bestowed upon Ezra quite a number of extraordinary powers and at the same time, specifies certain ordinances which were to extend beyond Ezra’s lifetime. Ezra was a priest and an expert in the law (v. 11). King Artaxerxes gave Ezra a letter which said: Greetings from the great King Artaxerxes to Ezra the priest and expert in the teachings of the God of heaven (v. 12). Artaxerxes also gave Ezra authority to take with him to Jerusalem all “the people of Israel” who wished to return in a second great entry to Judea (v. 13). He told Ezra to find out if the laws of his God are being obeyed (v. 14). Permission was granted for him to take three specific offerings (vv. 15-16). First there was the silver and gold given by the king and his counselors; second there were the offerings given by the non-Jewish inhabitants of Babylon and thirdly Ezra collected offerings from the Jewish population.

The funds were to be used to purchase the animals as well as other items used in sacrifices at the temple (v. 17). The number to be purchased and used in this manner was left entirely to Ezra’s discretion (vv. 18-20). The king also ordered all the treasurers to do their very best to help him (vv. 21-22). This was so the God of heaven would not be angry at them (v. 23). All of those who had anything to do with the temple ministry were to be exempted from taxation (v. 24). Ezra was encouraged to use the wisdom God had given to him to choose officials and leaders to govern the people (v. 25). Furthermore Ezra was given the authority to punish anyone who disobeyed either the law of Jehovah or the Persian law. The type of punishment could be execution, excommunication, confiscation of goods or imprisonment (v. 26). Ezra could have assumed that his own greatness had given him favor with the king but he gave all the credit to God (vv. 27-28).


I too need to be grateful to God for any accomplishments in my life and not think I can do things in our own power.

Ezra 7:11-28 (English Standard Version)

This is a copy of the letter that King Artaxerxes gave to Ezra the priest, the scribe, a man learned in matters of the commandments of the LORD and his statutes for Israel: "Artaxerxes, king of kings, to Ezra the priest, the scribe of the Law of the God of heaven. Peace. And now I make a decree that anyone of the people of Israel or their priests or Levites in my kingdom, who freely offers to go to Jerusalem, may go with you. For you are sent by the king and his seven counselors to make inquiries about Judah and Jerusalem according to the Law of your God, which is in your hand, and also to carry the silver and gold that the king and his counselors have freely offered to the God of Israel, whose dwelling is in Jerusalem, with all the silver and gold that you shall find in the whole province of Babylonia, and with the freewill offerings of the people and the priests, vowed willingly for the house of their God that is in Jerusalem. With this money, then, you shall with all diligence buy bulls, rams, and lambs, with their grain offerings and their drink offerings, and you shall offer them on the altar of the house of your God that is in Jerusalem. Whatever seems good to you and your brothers to do with the rest of the silver and gold, you may do, according to the will of your God. The vessels that have been given you for the service of the house of your God, you shall deliver before the God of Jerusalem. And whatever else is required for the house of your God, which it falls to you to provide, you may provide it out of the king's treasury. "And I, Artaxerxes the king, make a decree to all the treasurers in the province Beyond the River: Whatever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the Law of the God of heaven, requires of you, let it be done with all diligence, up to 100 talents of silver, 100 cors of wheat, 100 baths of wine, 100 baths of oil, and salt without prescribing how much. Whatever is decreed by the God of heaven, let it be done in full for the house of the God of heaven, lest his wrath be against the realm of the king and his sons. We also notify you that it shall not be lawful to impose tribute, custom, or toll on anyone of the priests, the Levites, the singers, the doorkeepers, the temple servants, or other servants of this house of God. "And you, Ezra, according to the wisdom of your God that is in your hand, appoint magistrates and judges who may judge all the people in the province Beyond the River, all such as know the laws of your God. And those who do not know them, you shall teach. Whoever will not obey the law of your God and the law of the king, let judgment be strictly executed on him, whether for death or for banishment or for confiscation of his goods or for imprisonment." Blessed be the LORD, the God of our fathers, who put such a thing as this into the heart of the king, to beautify the house of the LORD that is in Jerusalem, and who extended to me his steadfast love before the king and his counselors, and before all the king's mighty officers. I took courage, for the hand of the LORD my God was on me, and I gathered leading men from Israel to go up with me.

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