7:11 What follows 1 is a copy of the letter that King Artaxerxes gave to Ezra the priestly scribe. 2 Ezra was 3 a scribe in matters pertaining to the commandments of the Lord and his statutes over Israel:
7:12 4 “Artaxerxes, king of kings, to Ezra the priest, a scribe of the perfect law of the God of heaven: 7:13 I have now issued a decree 5 that anyone in my kingdom from the people of Israel – even the priests and Levites – who wishes to do so may go up with you to Jerusalem. 6 7:14 You are authorized 7 by the king and his seven advisers to inquire concerning Judah and Jerusalem, according to the law of your God which is in your possession, 8 7:15 and to bring silver and gold which the king and his advisers have freely contributed to the God of Israel, who resides in Jerusalem, 7:16 along with all the silver and gold that you may collect 9 throughout all the province of Babylon and the contributions of the people and the priests for the temple of their God which is in Jerusalem. 7:17 With this money you should be sure to purchase bulls, rams, and lambs, along with the appropriate 10 meal offerings and libations. You should bring them to the altar of the temple of your God which is in Jerusalem. 7:18 You may do whatever seems appropriate to you and your colleagues 11 with the rest of the silver and the gold, in keeping with the will of your God. 7:19 Deliver to 12 the God of Jerusalem the vessels that are given to you for the service of the temple of your God. 7:20 The rest of the needs for the temple of your God that you may have to supply, 13 you may do so from the royal treasury.
7:21 “I, King Artaxerxes, hereby issue orders to all the treasurers of 14 Trans-Euphrates, that you precisely execute all that Ezra the priestly scribe of the law of the God of heaven may request of you – 7:22 up to 100 talents of silver, 100 cors of wheat, 100 baths of wine, 100 baths of olive oil, 15 and unlimited 16 salt. 7:23 Everything that the God of heaven has required should be precisely done for the temple of the God of heaven. Why should there be wrath 17 against the empire of the king and his sons? 7:24 Furthermore, be aware of the fact 18 that you have no authority to impose tax, tribute, or toll on any of the priests, the Levites, the musicians, the doorkeepers, the temple servants, or the attendants at the temple of this God.
7:25 “Now you, Ezra, in keeping with the wisdom of your God which you possess, 19 appoint judges 20 and court officials who can arbitrate cases on behalf of all the people who are in Trans-Euphrates who know the laws of your God. Those who do not know this law should be taught. 7:26 Everyone who does not observe both the law of your God and the law of the king will be completely 21 liable to the appropriate penalty, whether it is death or banishment or confiscation of property or detainment in prison.”
7:27 22 Blessed be the Lord God of our fathers, who so moved in the heart of the king to so honor the temple of the Lord which is in Jerusalem! 7:28 He has also conferred his favor on me before the king, his advisers, and all the influential leaders of the king. I gained strength as the hand of the Lord my God was on me, and I gathered leaders from Israel to go up with me.
1 tn Heb “this.”
3 tn The words “Ezra was” are not in the Hebrew text but have been added in the translation for clarity.
7 tn Aram “sent.”
8 tn Aram “in your hand.”
9 tn Aram “find.”
10 tn Aram “their meal offerings and their libations.”
11 tn Aram “brothers.”
12 tn Or “before.”
13 tn Aram “may fall to you to give.”
14 tn Aram “who are in.”
15 tc The translation reads מְשַׁח בַּתִּין (mÿshakh battin) rather than מְשַׁח בַּתִּין (battin mÿshakh) of the MT.
16 tn Aram “he did not write.”
17 tn The Aramaic word used here for “wrath” (קְצַף, qÿtsaf; cf. Heb קָצַף, qatsaf) is usually used in the Hebrew Bible for God’s anger as opposed to human anger (but contra Eccl 5:17 [MT 5:16]; Esth 1:18; 2 Kgs 3:27). The fact that this word is used in v. 23 may have theological significance, pointing to the possibility of divine judgment if the responsible parties should fail to make available these provisions for the temple.
18 tn Aram “we are making known to you.”
19 tn Aram “in your hand.”
20 tc For the MT reading שָׁפְטִין (shoftim, “judges”) the LXX uses the noun γραμματεῖς (grammatei", “scribes”).
21 tn On the meaning of this word see HALOT 1820-21 s.v. אָסְפַּרְנָא; E. Vogt, Lexicon linguae aramaicae, 14.