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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 Zeraihah, the son of Uzzi, the son of Buliki,

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 Nethinims, 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 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.

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, which are minded of their own freewill to go up to Jerusalem, go with thee.

Forasmuch

Forasmuch as thou art sent of the king,. and of his: seven counsellors, to enquire concerning Jiidahand Jerusalem, according to the law of thy God which is - in thine hand;'' '' .' "«'."

And to carry the silver and gold, which tfefe king ivnd> his counsellors have freely ottered unto the God ot Israe>,; whose habitation is in Jerusalem;

And all the silver and gold that thou canst find in all the province of Babylon, with-the freewill ofl'eringvof the people, and of the priests, offering willingly for the house of their God which is in Jerusalem^

That thou mayest buy speedily with-this money, bullocks, rams, lambs, with their meat-offerings, and their drink-offerings, and offer them upon the altar of the house of your God which is in Jerusalem.

And whatsoever shall seem good to thee, and to thy 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 thee for the service of the house of thy God, those deliver thou before the God of Jerusalem.

And whatsoever more shall be needful for the house of God, which thou shalt have occasion to bestow, bestow it out of the king's treasure-house.

And I, even I Artaxerxes the king, do make a decree to all the treasurers which are beyond the river, that whatsoever Ezra the. priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven shall require of you, it be done speedily;

Unto an hundred talents of silver, and to an hundred measures of wheat, and to an hundred baths of wine, and to an hundred baths of oil, and salt without prescribing how much.

Whatsoever is commanded by the God of heaven, let it be diligently done for the house of the God of heaN6 :'' vea;

f ven: for why should there be wrath against the realm of the king and his sons

Also we certify you, that touching any of the priests and Levites, singers, porters, Nethinims, or ministers of this house of God, it shall not be lawful to impose toll, tribute, or custom upon them.

And thou Ezra, after the wisdom of thy God that is in thine hand, set magistrates and Judges, which may judge all the people that are beyond the river, all such as know the laws of thy God; and teach ye them that know them not.

And whosoever will not do the law of thy 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 imprisonment.

And when Ezra had obtained this letter, he said, Blessed be the Lord God of our fathers, which hath put such a thing as this in the king's heart, to beautify the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem;

And hath extended mercy unto me before the king and his counsellors, 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.

ANNOTATIONS And REFLECTIONS.

i . It may be inferred from this section that Ezra took advantage of the favourable disposition which Artaxerxes (ox Ahasuerus) through the mediation of Esther and Mordecai, entertained for the Jews, and requested that those, who remained in subjection to him, might join their brethren in Judea, who had formerly gone by the permission of Cyrus.

One

One could scarcely have expected, that a heathen prince would have made such provision for the Temple service, or expressed himself in terms of reverence and respect to God; but this circumstance is an additional confirmation of what has been before observed, that those idolators, at least, who presided over great kingdoms, were, by some providential mean or other, made acquainted with the sovereignty of the Lord Jehovah, and so far acknowledged his power, that they were willing to be at any expence to purchase his favour. ,

In the following chapters we read, that as soon as Ezra had received the king's letter he made known its contents; and in a short time assembled together one thousand four hundred and ninety-six men, beside women and children, amongst whom were two priests, and about forty Levites. They were very likely to be attacked by enemies in the way, especially as they carried treasures with them, yet Ezra would not ask for guards; instead of that, he and the people had recourse to prayer and fasting, in order to engage the protection .of God; for Ezra had declared to the king, that the hand of the Lord mas upon all those for good that sought Mint; but His power and His ivrath against them that forsook Him. And therefore he was, as he said, ashamed to require a band of soldiers, to protect them from their enemies in the way. The measure Ezra pursued was certainly much the best. And it pleased God to reward the faith of him and his companions by the comforts of the Holy Spirit, So that they arrived in safety at Jerusalem. The whole company, which consisted of a mixture of the ten tribes, offered sacrifices; and when they had shewed their commissions, gave assistance to the work.

In the second year of Ezra's government, complaint was made that many of the people, and oven some of the priests, had married heathen wives, contrary to the UW: this filled him with grief and consternation, for he was apprehensive that they would again return to idolatry. As soon as it was' reported that Ezra was in such affliction, there assembled unto him a great congregation, who mixed their tears with his, and it was immediately determined that they should enter into a CoveNant with God, to put away these wives, which was accordingly done; but without doubt the women were properly provided fyr. About one hundred and thirty persons only had transgressed in this particular; but had not the affair been attended to in time, it would in all probability have proved the destruction of the nation; and it was better that a small number should suffer at first, than that they should have their religion" corrupted.

About the twelfth year of the reign of Artaxerxes, Joachim, the high priest of the Jews, died; he was succeeded in his office by Eliashab his son.

Before Ezra came to Jerusalem, the Scriptures were in a manner lost, the people were ignorant of the law, the worship of God was neglected, and every thing, both in church and state, in great disorder. He continued in his government some years, and wrought great reformation; and made it his particular endeavour to produce a correct copy of the Holy Scriptures ; that is to say, of all the books of which they then consisted, which he divided into three parts, the Law, the Pro-. riiETS, and the Holy Writings, viz. the Psalme,&c.; for that purpose he collected together all the copies of the sacredbookshe could meet with, that by comparing them, he might discover the mistakes of different transcribers. Originally every book of the Hebrew Bible was written without any division into chapters and verses; but it is supposed thnfrEzra divided the law

into

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