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Ezra 7

EZRA CHAPTER 7

Ezra Comes to Jerusalem

 1 After these things, during the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra son of Seraiah, the son of Azariah, the son of Hilkiah,

2 the son of Shallum, the son of Zadok, the son of Ahitub,

3 the son of Amariah, the son of Azariah, the son of Meraioth,

4 the son of Zerahiah, the son of Uzzi, the son of Bukki,

5 the son of Abishua, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the chief priest-

6 this Ezra came up from Babylon. He was a teacher well versed in the Law of Moses, which the LORD, the God of Israel, had given. The king had granted him everything he asked, for the hand of the LORD his God was on him.

7 Some of the Israelites, including priests, Levites, singers, gatekeepers and temple servants, also came up to Jerusalem in the seventh year of King Artaxerxes.

 8 Ezra arrived in Jerusalem in the fifth month of the seventh year of the king.

9 He had begun his journey from Babylon on the first day of the first month, and he arrived in Jerusalem on the first day of the fifth month, for the gracious hand of his God was on him.

10 For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the LORD, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.

King Artaxerxes’ Letter to Ezra

11 This is a copy of the letter King Artaxerxes had given to Ezra the priest and teacher, a man learned in matters concerning the commands and decrees of the LORD for Israel:

 12] Artaxerxes, king of kings,
       To Ezra the priest, a teacher of the Law of the God of heaven:
       Greetings.

 13 Now I decree that any of the Israelites in my kingdom, including priests and Levites, who wish to go to Jerusalem with you, may go.

14 You are sent by the king and his seven advisers to inquire about Judah and Jerusalem with regard to the Law of your God, which is in your hand.

15 Moreover, you are to take with you the silver and gold that the king and his advisers have freely given to the God of Israel, whose dwelling is in Jerusalem,

16 together with all the silver and gold you may obtain from the province of Babylon, as well as the freewill offerings of the people and priests for the temple of their God in Jerusalem.

17 With this money be sure to buy bulls, rams and male lambs, together with their grain offerings and drink offerings, and sacrifice them on the altar of the temple of your God in Jerusalem.

 18 You and your brother Jews may then do whatever seems best with the rest of the silver and gold, in accordance with the will of your God.

19 Deliver to the God of Jerusalem all the articles entrusted to you for worship in the temple of your God.

20 And anything else needed for the temple of your God that you may have occasion to supply, you may provide from the royal treasury.

 21 Now I, King Artaxerxes, order all the treasurers of Trans-Euphrates to provide with diligence whatever Ezra the priest, a teacher of the Law of the God of heaven, may ask of you-

22 up to a hundred talents of silver, a hundred cors  of wheat, a hundred baths  of wine, a hundred baths  of olive oil, and salt without limit.

23 Whatever the God of heaven has prescribed, let it be done with diligence for the temple of the God of heaven. Why should there be wrath against the realm of the king and of his sons?

24 You are also to know that you have no authority to impose taxes, tribute or duty on any of the priests, Levites, singers, gatekeepers, temple servants or other workers at this house of God.

 25 And you, Ezra, in accordance with the wisdom of your God, which you possess, appoint magistrates and judges to administer justice to all the people of Trans-Euphrates—all who know the laws of your God. And you are to teach any who do not know them.

26 Whoever does not obey the law of your God and the law of the king must surely be punished by death, banishment, confiscation of property, or imprisonment.

 27 Praise be to the LORD, the God of our fathers, who has put it into the king’s heart to bring honor to the house of the LORD in Jerusalem in this way

28 and who has extended his good favor to me before the king and his advisers and all the king’s powerful officials. Because the hand of the LORD my God was on me, I took courage and gathered leading men from Israel to go up with me.

INTRODUCTION TO EZRA 7

Dramatic change is about to occur—the crowd is electrified—Ezra is weeping—confessing their national sins and begging for forgiveness.  The fire of revival can be felt from priest to peasant.  They had never heard such a passionate preacher.  He loses no time in getting to the point.  He opens the old book and the sweet flow of the love of God and his word flows like a river.  There was a passion for God and a hunger for getting right with the Lord.  May God stir our hearts today for a national response to have the fervor and emotion that would transport us into a spiritual ecstasy and rapture like that of the Protestant Reformation.  May God lift us out of our apathy, indifference and coldness.  Pray for God to awake us.

 EXPOSITION TO EZRA  7

Ezra Comes to Jerusalem

1 After these things, during the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra son of Seraiah, the son of Azariah, the son of Hilkiah,

2 the son of Shallum, the son of Zadok, the son of Ahitub,

3 the son of Amariah, the son of Azariah, the son of Meraioth,

4 the son of Zerahiah, the son of Uzzi, the son of Bukki,

5 the son of Abishua, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the chief priest-

Sixty years elapsed between chapter 6 and 7.  During that time period the story of Ester unfolded.  The genealogy of Ezra is given tracing his roots back to Aaron.

6 this Ezra came up from Babylon. He was a teacher well versed in the Law of Moses, which the LORD, the God of Israel, had given. The king had granted him everything he asked, for the hand of the LORD his God was on him.

This is the second trip that he makes from Babylon.  It was a long journey of approximately 900 miles and would take 119 days to make.  In addition to being a priest he was a scribe.  He knew more than one language and could translate and copy the law or any document.  In addition to his education the hand of God was upon him.

7 Some of the Israelites, including priests, Levites, singers, gatekeepers and temple servants, also came up to Jerusalem in the seventh year of King Artaxerxes.

We place the date at BC 458.  On this journey he is accompanied by a new group of settlers and among them is Priests, Levites, singers, porters and nethinims.  He began his journey on April 8th. BC458 and arrives in Jerusalem August 4th. BC458  this trip took 119 days.  From Babylon to Jerusalem is 500 miles across the desert but the route that they travelled NW along the Euphrates river and then South from Syria to Jerusalem.

8 Ezra arrived in Jerusalem in the fifth month of the seventh year of the king.

Ezra left Babylon on the 8th of April and Arrived in Jerusalem the 4th. of August.  The seventh year of the king would make it BC 458.

9 He had begun his journey from Babylon on the first day of the first month, and he arrived in Jerusalem on the first day of the fifth month, for the gracious hand of his God was on him.

This long and dangerous journey was successful because the “good hand of his God was upon him.”

10 For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the LORD, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.

 Psalm 1

1 Blessed is the man
       who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
       or stand in the way of sinners
       or sit in the seat of mockers.

2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
       and on his law he meditates day and night.

3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
       which yields its fruit in season
       and whose leaf does not wither.
       Whatever he does prospers.

4 Not so the wicked!
       They are like chaff
       that the wind blows away.

5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
       nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

6 For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous,
       but the way of the wicked will perish.

 

  Ezra had prepared his heart—A person may be well educated and seminary trained but if his heart is not prepared he will be of no profit to the kingdom.  In addition to heart preparation he was seeking the law of God and teaching its statutes and judgments.  Some pulpit ministers are trained in the fundamentals of political science, sports physiology physical fitness and theories of various kinds.  Would to God we had a few Ezra’s with prepared hearts to teach the statutes and judgments of God.

King Artaxerxes’ Letter to Ezra

11 This is a copy of the letter King Artaxerxes had given to Ezra the priest and teacher, a man learned in matters concerning the commands and decrees of the LORD for Israel:

The king gave Ezra a letter of recommendation to carry with him so he could pass through all the provinces without any delays.  There would be many border crossings and this official letter with the king’s signature would act as an official passport.  No army or border guards dared to lay a hand on Ezra and his group.  Without such a letter it is doubtful that they could have passed through the various God hating Jew despising countries.

12 Artaxerxes, king of kings,
       To Ezra the priest, a teacher of the Law of the God of heaven:
       Greetings.

The letter states that Artaxerxes is “king of kings” because he ruled over all the other kings and they took orders from him.  This letter calls Ezra a scribe of the Law of the God of heaven.

13 Now I decree that any of the Israelites in my kingdom, including priests and Levites, who wish to go to Jerusalem with you, may go.

The king has 7 cabinet advisors and they compose this decree for the king.  He states that the Jews are leaving Persia of their own freewill and that they have not been forced to leave.

14 You are sent by the king and his seven advisers to inquire about Judah and Jerusalem with regard to the Law of your God, which is in your hand.

Ezra was to send back a report of his findings.  He was to see if they were worshiping according to the Law of Moses.  Ezra had a full copy of the law with him.

15 Moreover, you are to take with you the silver and gold that the king and his advisers have freely given to the God of Israel, whose dwelling is in Jerusalem,

The King and his cabinet make an offering to God at Jerusalem.

16 together with all the silver and gold you may obtain from the province of Babylon, as well as the freewill offerings of the people and priests for the temple of their God in Jerusalem.

The house of God is abounding with silver and gold from home and abroad, from Israelis to heathen.

17 With this money be sure to buy bulls, rams and male lambs, together with their grain offerings and drink offerings, and sacrifice them on the altar of the temple of your God in Jerusalem.

The monies were to be spent on sacrifices.

18 You and your brother Jews may then do whatever seems best with the rest of the silver and gold, in accordance with the will of your God.

The king gave Ezra liberty not only to spend money on sacrifices but to buy anything else that he desired.

19 Deliver to the God of Jerusalem all the articles entrusted to you for worship in the temple of your God.

These vessels are in addition to the vessels that were delivered upon the first expedition.  It is noteworthy to add that the vessels are provided by the king.

20 And anything else needed for the temple of your God that you may have occasion to supply, you may provide from the royal treasury.

The king’s treasure house was located in Persepolis and Ezra was given the right to requisition any needed supplies from the royal treasury.  The king has given Ezra a blank check.

21 Now I, King Artaxerxes, order all the treasurers of Trans-Euphrates to provide with diligence whatever Ezra the priest, a teacher of the Law of the God of heaven, may ask of you-

In addition to accessing the Royal treasury king Artaxerxes gives Ezra the right to access the treasury of provincial governments.

22 up to a hundred talents of silver, a hundred cors  of wheat, a hundred baths  of wine, a hundred baths of olive oil, and salt without limit.

Artaxerxes places a limit on the amount as follows:  Four tons of silver, 625 bushels of wheat and 600 gallons of wine, 600 gallons of oil and salt without limit.  However, these limits apply only to the provinces and not to the royal treasury.

23 Whatever the God of heaven has prescribed, let it be done with diligence for the temple of the God of heaven. Why should there be wrath against the realm of the king and of his sons?

The kings orders are to be expedited immediately or as we say ASAP.  The fear of God was in the heart of the king.

24 You are also to know that you have no authority to impose taxes, tribute or duty on any of the priests, Levites, singers, gatekeepers, temple servants or other workers at this house of God.

No taxes!  As they passed through the provinces they could not levy any duties, poll tax, road tax, import taxes or any other type of tax on the exiles.  Furthermore they could not be detained or held at border crossings.

25 And you, Ezra, in accordance with the wisdom of your God, which you possess, appoint magistrates and judges to administer justice to all the people of Trans-Euphrates—all who know the laws of your God. And you are to teach any who do not know them.

Ezra is granted the authority to set up a judicial system that would extend from the Euphrates to the Nile, however this judicial system would only be imposed on Jews.  This judicial system was also instructed to teach the laws of God to those who knew them not.

26 Whoever does not obey the law of your God and the law of the king must surely be punished by death, banishment, confiscation of property, or imprisonment.

These new judges were to provide swift judgment which would include the death penalty or banishment or losing title to personal property or real property or sent to prison.

27 Praise be to the LORD, the God of our fathers, who has put it into the king’s heart to bring honor to the house of the LORD in Jerusalem in this way

The king is set on reestablishing moral, spiritual and religious reforms.

28 and who has extended his good favor to me before the king and his advisers and all the king’s powerful officials. Because the hand of the LORD my God was on me, I took courage and gathered leading men from Israel to go up with me.

God had strengthened the hand of Ezra so we may say that Ezra was in full control.  The king and his staff and mighty princes and the hand of God upon Ezra led him to the selection and appointment of great men to lead the nation.  Pray that God may send us an Ezra.

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