6 Nov. Ezra 7:1-6,11-23,8:31-36

6 Nov. A third group of exiles returns with Ezra

“After these things during the rule of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra came up from Babylon. Ezra was the son of Seraiah, the son of Azariah … the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the high priest. This Ezra came to Jerusalem from Babylon. He was a teacher and knew well the Teachings of Moses that had been given by the LORD, the God of Israel…”

“King Artaxerxes had given a letter to Ezra, a priest and teacher who taught about the commands and laws the LORD gave to Israel. This is a copy of the letter: From Artaxerxes, king of kings, to Ezra the priest, a teacher of the Law of the God of heaven. Greetings. Now I give this order: Any Israelite in my kingdom who wishes may go with you to Jerusalem, including priests and Levites.”

“Ezra, you are sent by the king and the seven people who advise him to ask how Judah and Jerusalem are obeying the Law of your God, which you are carrying with you. Also take the silver and gold you receive from the area of Babylon. Take the offerings the Israelites and their priests have given as gifts for the Temple of your God in Jerusalem…”

“Now I, King Artaxerxes, give this order to all the men in charge of the treasury of west of the Euphrates River: Give Ezra, a priest and teacher of the Law of the God of heaven, whatever he asks for… Carefully give him whatever the God of heaven wants for the Temple of the God of heaven. We do not want God to be angry with the king and his sons…”

“On the twelfth day of the first month we left the Ahava Canal and started towards Jerusalem. Our God helped us and protected us from enemies and robbers along the way. Finally we arrived in Jerusalem where we rested three days.”

“On the fourth day we weighed out the silver, the gold and the utensils in the Temple of our God. We handed them to the priest Meremoth son of Uriah. Eleazar son of Phinehas was with him, as were the Levites Jozabad son of Jeshua and Noadiah son of Binnui. We checked everything by number and by weight, and the total weight was written down.”

“Then the captives who returned made burnt offerings to the God of Israel. They sacrificed twelve bulls for all Israel, 96 rams and 77 lambs. For a sin offering there were twelve male goats. All this was a burnt offering to the LORD.”

“They took King Artaxerxes’ orders to the royal officers and to the governors, west of the Euphrates River. Then these men gave help to the people and the Temple of God.”

          (Ezra 7:1-6,11-15,21-23; 8:31-36)

 

 

During the reign of Artaxerxes I (465-424BC), Ezra - the Minister for Jewish Affairs in the Persian Empire (and a scholar, a Jewish priest and a descendant of Aaron) - was given royal authority by Artaxerxes to renew the religious practices in Jerusalem. This was in order to ensure that the God of the Israelites looked favourably on Artaxerxes and his sons (see Ezra 7:23).

Ezra assembled a third group of exiles beside the Ahava Canal in Babylonia and set off back to Jerusalem in the seventh year of Artaxerxes’ reign (in 458BC).

On reaching Jerusalem, Ezra called the people together and consulted the LORD about the thorny issue of marriage between Jews and non-Jews (see Ezra 9:1-15).

Prompted by Ezra, the Jews confessed that they have gone against God’s word by marrying foreign women. They agreed to purify themselves by divorcing their foreign wives. This led to open confrontation with the Samaritans who lived in the area and had mixed Jewish and Assyrian ancestry (see Ezra 10:1-44).

The photo (by James McCauley) shows the Euphrates River in Babylonia.

You can read more about Ezra @  https://www.thebiblejourney.org/biblejourney2/35-the-exiles-return-to-judah/a-third-group-of-exiles-returns-with-ezra/


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