Olam 2

The Altar

Ezra Confession - Daniel for Jerusalem (Ezra 7:11-10:14)

11 And this is a copy of the letter that King Artaxerxes gave Ezra the priest the copyist, a copyist of the words of the commandments of Jehovah and of his regulations toward Israel:

12 “Artaxerxes, the king of kings, to Ezra the priest, the copyist of the law of the God of the heavens: [Peace] be perfected. And now 13 by me an order has been put through that everyone in my realm of the people of Israel and their priests and Levites that is willing to go to Jerusalem with you should go. 14 Inasmuch as from before the king and his seven counselors [an order] was sent to investigate concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the law of your God that is in your hand, 15 and to bring the silver and the gold that the king and his counselors have voluntarily given to the God of Israel, whose residence is in Jerusalem, 16 with all the silver and the gold that you find in all the jurisdictional district of Babylon along with the gift of the people and the priests who are voluntarily giving to the house of their God, which is in Jerusalem; 17 accordingly you will promptly buy with this money bulls, rams, lambs and their grain offerings and their drink offerings and you will

present them upon the ALTAR of the house of your God, which is in Jerusalem.

18 “And whatever it seems good to you and to your brothers to do with the rest of the silver and gold, according to the will of your God, you men will do. 19 And the vessels that are being given to you for the service of the house of your God deliver in full before God at Jerusalem. 20 And the rest of the necessities of the house of your God that it devolves upon you to give, you will give out of the king’s house of treasures.

21 “And by me myself, Artaxerxes the king, an order has been put through to all the treasurers that are beyond the River, that everything that Ezra the priest, the copyist of the law of the God of the heavens, requests of you men it will be done promptly, 22 even to a hundred talents of silver and a hundred cor measures of wheat and a hundred bath measures of wine and a hundred bath measures of oil, and salt without limit. 23 Let all that is by the order of the God of the heavens be done with zeal for the house of the God of the heavens, that there may occur no wrath against the king’s realm and his sons. 24 And to you men it is being made known that, as respects any of the priests and the Levites, the musicians, the doorkeepers, the Nethi‧nim, and the workers of this house of God, no tax, tribute or toll is allowed to be imposed upon them. 25 “And you, Ezra, according to the wisdom of your God that is in your hand appoint magistrates and judges that they may continually judge all the people that are beyond the River, even all those knowing the laws of your God; and anyone that has not known [them] you men will instruct. 26 And as for everyone that does not become a doer of the law of your God and the law of the king, let judgment be promptly executed upon him, whether for death or for banishment, or for money fine or for imprisonment.” 27 Blessed be Jehovah the God of our forefathers, who has put such a thing into the heart of the king, to beautify the house of Jehovah, which is in Jerusalem! 28 And toward me he has extended loving-kindness before the king and his counselors and as respects all the mighty princes of the king. And I, for my part, strengthened myself according to the hand of Jehovah my God upon me, and I proceeded to collect out of Israel the head ones to go up with me.

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Now these were the heads of their paternal houses and the genealogical enrollment of those going up with me during the reign of Artaxerx′es the king out of Babylon: 2 Of the sons of Phin′e‧has, Ger′shom;

of the sons of Ithamar, Daniel;

of the sons of David, Hattush; 3 of the sons of Shecaniah, of the sons of Parosh, Zechariah, and with him there was an enrollment of a hundred and fifty males; 4 of the sons of Pahathmoab, Eliehoenai the son of Zerahiah, and with him two hundred males; 5 of the sons [of Zattu], Shecaniah the son of Jahaziel, and with him three hundred males; 6 and of the sons of Adin, Ebed the son of Jonathan, and with him fifty males; 7 and of the sons of Elam, Jeshaiah the son of Athaliah, and with him seventy males; 8 and of the sons of Shephatiah, Zebadiah the son of Micha‧el, and with him eighty males; 9 of the sons of Joab, Obadiah the son of Jehiel, and with him two hundred and eighteen males; 10 and of the sons of [Bani], Shelomith the son of Josiphiah, and with him a hundred and sixty males; 11 and of the sons of Bebai, Zechariah the son of Be′bai, and with him twenty-eight males; 12 and of the sons of Azgad, Johanan the son of Hak′ka‧tan, and with him a hundred and ten males; 13 and of the sons of Adonikam, those who were the last, and these were their names: Eliphelet, Jeiel and Shemaiah, and with them sixty males; 14 and of the sons of Bigvai, Uthai and Zabbud, and with them seventy males.

15 And I proceeded to collect them at the river that comes to Ahava; and we kept encamped there three days, that I might scrutinize the people and the priests,

but none of the sons of Levi did I find there.

16 Accordingly I sent for Eliezer, Ariel, Shemaiah and Elnathan and Jarib and Elnathan and Nathan and Zechariah and Meshullam, head ones, and for Joiarib and Elnathan, instructors. 17 Then I gave them a command concerning Iddo the head one in the place Casiphia, and I put in their mouth words to speak to Iddo [and] his brothers the Nethinim in the place Casiphia, to bring to us ministers for the house of our God. 18 So they brought to us, according to the good hand of our God upon us, a man of discretion from the sons of Mahli the grandson of Levi the son of Israel, namely, Sherebiah and his sons and his brothers, eighteen;

19 and Hash‧a‧bi′ah and with him Jeshaiah from the sons of Merari, his brothers, and their sons, twenty.

20 And from the Nethi‧nim, whom David and the princes gave to the service of the Levites, two hundred and twenty Nethinim, all of whom had been designated by [their] names.

21 Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river Ahava, to humble ourselves before our God, to seek from him the right way for us and for our little ones and for all our goods. 22 For I felt ashamed to ask a military force and horsemen from the king to help us against the enemy in the way, because we had said to the king: “The hand of our God is over all those seeking him for good, but his strength and his anger are against all those leaving him.” 23 Therefore we fasted and made request of our God concerning this, so that he let himself be entreated by us.

24 I now separated from the chiefs of the priests twelve, namely, Sherebiah, Hashabiah, and with them ten of their brothers. 25 And I proceeded to weigh out to them the silver and the gold and the utensils, the contribution to the house of our God that the king and his counselors and his princes and all the Israelites who were to be found had contributed. 26 Thus I weighed out into their hand six hundred and fifty talents of silver and a hundred silver utensils worth [two] talents, [and] gold a hundred talents, 27 and twenty small gold bowls worth a thousand darics and two utensils of good copper, gleaming red, as desirable as gold.

28 Then I said to them: “You are something holy to Jehovah, and the utensils are something holy, and the silver and the gold are a voluntary offering to Jehovah the God of YOUR forefathers. 29 Keep awake and be on guard until YOU weigh [them] out before the chiefs of the priests and the Levites and the princes of the fathers of Israel in Jerusalem, in the dining halls of the house of Jehovah.” 30 And the priests and the Levites received the weight of the silver and the gold and the utensils, to bring [them] to Jerusalem to the house of our God.

31 Finally we pulled away from the river Ahava on the twelfth [day] of the first month to go to Jerusalem, and the very hand of our God proved to be over us, so that he delivered us out of the palm of the enemy and the ambush by the way.

32 So we came to Jerusalem and dwelt there three days.

33 And on the fourth day we proceeded to weigh out the silver and the gold and the utensils in the house of our God into the hand of Meremoth the son of Urijah the priest and with him Eleazar the son of Phinehas and with them Jozabad the son of Jeshua and Noadiah the son of Binnu‧i the Levites, 34 by number [and] by weight for everything, after which all the weight was written down at that time. 35 Those coming out of the captivity, the former exiles, themselves presented burnt sacrifices to the God of Israel, twelve bulls for all Israel, ninety-six rams, seventy-seven male lambs, twelve he-goats as a sin offering, everything as a burnt offering to Jehovah.

36 Then we gave the laws of the king to the satraps of the king and the governors beyond the River, and they assisted the people and the house of the [true] God.

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And as soon as these things were finished, the princes approached me, saying:

“The people of Israel and the priests and the Levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands as regards their detestable things, namely, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians and the Amorites. 2 For they have accepted some of their daughters for themselves and for their sons; and they, the holy seed, have become mingled with the peoples of the lands, and the hand of the princes and the deputy rulers has proved to be foremost in this unfaithfulness.”

3 Now as soon as I heard of this thing I ripped apart my garment and my sleeveless coat, and I began to pull out some of the hair of my head and of my beard, and I kept sitting stunned.

4 Also to me they came gathering themselves, everyone trembling because of the words of the God of Israel against the unfaithfulness of the exiled people, while I was sitting stunned until the grain offering of the evening.

5 And at the grain offering of the evening I stood up from my humiliation, with my garment and my sleeveless coat torn apart, and I proceeded to kneel upon my knees and spread out my palms to Jehovah my God. 6 And I went on to say:

“O my God, I do feel ashamed and embarrassed to raise my face to you, O my God, for our errors themselves have multiplied over our head and our guiltiness has grown great even to the heavens. 7 From the days of our forefathers we have been in great guiltiness until this day; and because of our errors we have been given, we ourselves, our kings, our priests, into the hand of the kings of the lands with the sword, with the captivity and with the plunder and with shame of face, just as this day. 8 And now for a little moment favor from Jehovah our God has come by leaving over for us those who escape and by giving us a peg in his holy place, to make our eyes shine, O our God, and to give us a little reviving in our servitude. 9 For we are servants; and in our servitude our God has not left us, but he extends toward us loving-kindness before the kings of Persia, to give us a reviving so as to raise up the house of our God and to restore its desolated places and to give us a stone wall in Judah and in Jerusalem.

10 “And now what shall we say, O our God, after this? For we have left your commandments, 11 which you commanded by means of your servants the prophets, saying, ‘The land that you people are going in to take possession of is an impure land because of the impurity of the peoples of the lands, because of their detestable things with which they have filled it from end to end by their uncleanness.

12 And now your daughters do not you people give to their sons, neither their daughters do YOU accept for your sons; and to time indefinite you must not work for their peace and their prosperity, in order that you may grow strong and certainly eat the good of the land and indeed take possession [of it] for your sons to time indefinite.’

13 And after all that has come upon us for our bad deeds and our great guiltiness—for you yourself, O our God, have underestimated our error, and you have given us those who have escaped such as these— 14 shall we go breaking your commandments again and forming marriage alliances with the peoples of these detestable things? Will you not get incensed at us to the limit so that there will be none remaining and none escaping?

15 O Jehovah the God of Israel, you are righteous, because we have been left over as an escaped people as at this day. Here we are before you in our guiltiness, for it is impossible to stand before you on account of this.”

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Now as soon as Ez′ra had prayed and he had made confession while weeping and lying prostrate before the house of the [true] God, those of Israel collected themselves together to him, a very large congregation, men and women and children, for the people had wept profusely.

2 Then Shecaniah the son of Jehiel of the sons of Elam answered and said to Ez′ra: “We—we have acted unfaithfully against our God, so that we gave a dwelling to foreign wives from the peoples of the land. Yet now there exists a hope for Israel concerning this. 3 And now let us conclude a covenant with our God to put away all the wives and those born from them according to the counsel of Jehovah and of those trembling at the commandment of our God, that it may be done according to the law. 4 Get up, for the matter devolves upon you, and we are with you. Be strong and act.”

5 At that Ezra rose and had the chiefs of the priests, the Levites and all Israel take an oath to do according to this word. Accordingly they took an oath. 6 Ezra now rose from before the house of the [true] God and went to the dining hall of Jehohanan the son of Eliashib. Although he went there, he ate no bread and drank no water, for he was mourning over the unfaithfulness of the exiled people. 7 Then they caused a call to pass throughout Judah and Jerusalem for all the former exiles to collect themselves together at Jerusalem; 8 and anyone that did not come in three days’ time according to the counsel of the princes and the older men—all his goods would be put under a ban and he himself be separated from the congregation of the exiled people.

9 So all the men of Judah and Benjamin collected themselves together at Jerusalem within three days, that is, in the ninth month on the twentieth [day] of the month, and all the people kept sitting in the open place of the house of the [true] God, shivering because of the matter and on account of the showers of rain.

10 At length Ezra the priest rose and said to them: “You yourselves have acted unfaithfully in that you gave a dwelling to foreign wives so as to add to the guiltiness of Israel. 11 And now make confession to Jehovah the God of your forefathers and do his pleasure and separate yourselves from the peoples of the land and from the foreign wives.”

12 To this all the congregation answered and said with a loud voice: “Exactly according to your word it devolves upon us to do. 13 However, the people are many, and it is the season of showers of rain, and it is not possible to stand outside; and the business will not take one day or two, for we have rebelled to a great extent in this matter.

14 So, please, let our princes act representatively for all the congregation; and, as for all in our cities who have given a dwelling to foreign wives, let them come at the times appointed and along with them the older men of each individual city and its judges, until we have turned back the burning anger of our God from us, on account of this matter.”

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