Bible: Ezra 8:15-9:15

The Exiles Travel to Jerusalem

8:15 I had them assemble 1  at the canal 2  that flows toward Ahava, and we camped there for three days. I observed that the people and the priests were present, but I found no Levites there. 8:16 So I sent for Eliezer, Ariel, Shemaiah, Elnathan, Jarib, Elnathan, 3  Nathan, Zechariah, and Meshullam, who were leaders, and Joiarib and Elnathan, who were teachers. 8:17 I sent them to Iddo, who was the leader in the place called Casiphia. I told them 4  what to say to Iddo and his relatives, 5  who were the temple servants in 6  Casiphia, so they would bring us attendants for the temple of our God.

8:18 Due to the fact that the good hand of our God was on us, they brought us a skilled man, from the descendants of Mahli the son of Levi son of Israel. This man was Sherebiah, 7  who was accompanied by his sons and brothers, 8  18 men, 8:19 and Hashabiah, along with Jeshaiah from the descendants of Merari, with his brothers and their sons, 20 men, 8:20 and some of the temple servants that David and his officials had established for the work of the Levites – 220 of them. They were all designated by name.

8:21 I called for a fast there by the Ahava Canal, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and seek from him a safe journey 9  for us, our children, and all our property. 8:22 I was embarrassed to request soldiers and horsemen from the king to protect us from the enemy 10  along the way, because we had said to the king, “The good hand of our God is on everyone who is seeking him, but his great anger 11  is against everyone who forsakes him.” 8:23 So we fasted and prayed to our God about this, and he answered us.

8:24 Then I set apart twelve of the leading priests, together with 12  Sherebiah, Hashabiah, and ten of their brothers, 13  8:25 and I weighed out to them the silver, the gold, and the vessels intended for the temple of our God – items that the king, his advisers, his officials, and all Israel who were present had contributed. 8:26 I weighed out to them 14  650 talents of silver, silver vessels worth 100 talents, 15  100 talents of gold, 8:27 20 gold bowls worth 1,000 darics, and two exquisite vessels of gleaming bronze, as valuable as gold. 8:28 Then I said to them, “You are holy to the Lord, just as these vessels are holy. The silver and the gold are a voluntary offering to the Lord, the God of your fathers. 8:29 Be careful with them and protect them, until you weigh them out before the leading priests and the Levites and the family leaders of Israel in Jerusalem, 16  in the storerooms of the temple of the Lord.”

8:30 Then the priests and the Levites took charge of 17  the silver, the gold, and the vessels that had been weighed out, to transport them to Jerusalem to the temple of our God.

8:31 On the twelfth day of the first month we began traveling from the Ahava Canal to go to Jerusalem. The hand of our God was on us, and he delivered us from our enemy and from bandits 18  along the way. 8:32 So we came to Jerusalem, and we stayed there for three days. 8:33 On the fourth day we weighed out the silver, the gold, and the vessels in the house of our God into the care 19  of Meremoth son of Uriah, the priest, and Eleazar son of Phinehas, who were accompanied by Jozabad son of Jeshua and Noadiah son of Binnui, who were Levites. 8:34 Everything was verified 20  by number and by weight, and the total weight was written down at that time.

8:35 The exiles who were returning from the captivity offered burnt offerings to the God of Israel – twelve bulls for all Israel, ninety-six rams, seventy-seven male lambs, along with twelve male goats as a sin offering. All this was a burnt offering to the Lord. 8:36 Then they presented the decrees of the king to the king’s satraps and to the governors of Trans-Euphrates, who gave help to the people and to the temple of God.

A Prayer of Ezra

9:1 Now when these things had been completed, the leaders approached me and said, “The people of Israel, the priests, and the Levites have not separated themselves from the local residents 21  who practice detestable things similar to those of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. 9:2 Indeed, they have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and for their sons, so that the holy race 22  has become intermingled with the local residents. Worse still, the leaders and the officials have been at the forefront of all of this!

9:3 When I heard this report, I tore my tunic and my robe and ripped out some of the hair from my head and beard. Then I sat down, quite devastated. 9:4 Everyone who held the words of the God of Israel in awe 23  gathered around me because of the unfaithful acts of the people of the exile. 24  Devastated, I continued to sit there until the evening offering.

9:5 At the time of the evening offering I got up from my self-abasement, 25  with my tunic and robe torn, and then dropped to my knees and spread my hands to the Lord my God. 9:6 I prayed, 26 

“O my God, I am ashamed and embarrassed to lift my face to you, my God! For our iniquities have climbed higher than our heads, and our guilt extends to the heavens. 9:7 From the days of our fathers until this very day our guilt has been great. Because of our iniquities we, along with our kings and 27  priests, have been delivered over by the local kings 28  to sword, captivity, plunder, and embarrassment – right up to the present time.

9:8But now briefly 29  we have received mercy from the Lord our God, in that he has left us a remnant and has given us a secure position 30  in his holy place. Thus our God has enlightened our eyes 31  and has given us a little relief in our time of servitude. 9:9 Although we are slaves, our God has not abandoned us in our servitude. He has extended kindness to us in the sight of the kings of Persia, in that he has revived us 32  to restore the temple of our God and to raise 33  up its ruins and to give us a protective wall in Judah and Jerusalem. 34 

9:10And now what are we able to say after this, our God? For we have forsaken your commandments 9:11 which you commanded us through your servants the prophets with these words: 35  ‘The land that you are entering to possess is a land defiled by the impurities of the local residents! 36  With their abominations they have filled it from one end to the other with their filthiness. 9:12 Therefore do not give your daughters in marriage to their sons, and do not take their daughters in marriage for your sons. Do not ever seek their peace or welfare, so that you may be strong and may eat the good of the land and may leave it as an inheritance for your children 37  forever.’

9:13Everything that has happened to us has come about because of our wicked actions and our great guilt. Even so, our God, you have exercised restraint 38  toward our iniquities and have given us a remnant such as this. 9:14 Shall we once again break your commandments and intermarry with these abominable peoples? Would you not be so angered by us that you would wipe us out, with no survivor or remnant? 9:15 O Lord God of Israel, you are righteous, for we are left as a remnant this day. Indeed, we stand before you in our guilt. However, because of this guilt 39  no one can really stand before you.”

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