Ezra 4-7 Bible in Basic English

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The Adversaries Stop the Work

4 1  Now news came to the haters of Judah and Benjamin that the people who had come back were building a Temple to the Lord, the God of Israel; 2  Then they came to Zerubbabel and to the heads of families, and said to them, Let us take part in the building with you; for we are servants of your God, even as you are; and we have been making offerings to him from the days of Esar-haddon, king of Assyria, who put us here. 3  But Zerubbabel and Jeshua and the rest of the heads of families in Israel said to them, You have no part with us in the building of a house for our God; we ourselves will do the work together for the Lord, the God of Israel, as Cyrus, king of Persia, has given us orders. 4  Then the people of the land made the hands of the people of Judah feeble, troubling them with fear in their building; 5  And they gave payment to men who made designs against them and kept them from effecting their purpose, all through the time of Cyrus, king of Persia, till Darius became king.

6  And in the time of Ahasuerus, when he first became king, they put on record a statement against the people of Judah and Jerusalem. 7  And in the time of Artaxerxes, Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and the rest of his friends, sent a letter to Artaxerxes, king of Persia, writing it in the Aramaean writing and language. 8  Rehum, the chief ruler, and Shimshai the scribe, sent a letter against Jerusalem, to Artaxerxes the king; 9  The letter was sent by Rehum, the chief ruler, and Shimshai the scribe and their friends; the Dinaites and the Apharsathchites, the Tarpelites, the Apharsites, the Archevites, the Babylonians, the Shushanchites, the Dehaites, the Elamites, 10  And the rest of the nations which the great and noble Osnappar took over and put in Samaria and the rest of the country over the river: 11  This is a copy of the letter which they sent to Artaxerxes the king: Your servants living across the river send these words: 12  We give news to the king that the Jews who came from you have come to us at Jerusalem; they are building up again that uncontrolled and evil town; the walls are complete and they are joining up the bases. 13  The king may be certain that when the building of this town and its walls is complete, they will give no tax or payment in goods or forced payments, and in the end it will be a cause of loss to the kings. 14  Now because we are responsible to the king, and it is not right for us to see the king's honour damaged, we have sent to give the king word of these things, 15  So that search may be made in the book of the records of your fathers: and you will see in the book of the records that this town has been uncontrolled, and a cause of trouble to kings and countries, and that there were outbursts against authority there in the past: for which reason the town was made waste. 16  We give you word, that if the building of this town and its walls is made complete, there will be an end of your power in the country across the river.

17  Then the king sent an answer to Rehum, the chief ruler, and Shimshai the scribe, and their friends living in Samaria, and to the rest of those across the river, saying, Peace to you: 18  And now the sense of the letter which you sent to us has been made clear to me, 19  And I gave orders for a search to be made, and it is certain that in the past this town has made trouble for kings, and that outbursts against authority have taken place there. 20  Further, there have been great kings in Jerusalem, ruling over all the country across the river, to whom they gave taxes and payments in goods and forced payments. 21  Give an order now, that these men are to do nothing more, and that the building of the town is to be stopped, till I give an order. 22  Be certain to do this with all care: do not let trouble be increased to the king's damage. 23  Then, after reading the king's letter, Rehum and Shimshai the scribe and their friends went quickly to Jerusalem, to the Jews, and had them stopped by force. 24  So the work of the house of God at Jerusalem came to an end; so it was stopped, till the second year of the rule of Darius, king of Persia.

The Temple Rebuilt

5 1  Now the prophets Haggai and Zechariah, the son of Iddo, were preaching to the Jews in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel. 2  Then Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua, the son of Jozadak, got up and made a start at building the house of God at Jerusalem: and the prophets of God were with them, helping them.

3  At the same time, Tattenai, ruler of the land across the river, and Shethar-bozenai, and their men, came to them and said, Who gave you orders to go on building this house and this wall? 4  Then they said these words to them: What are the names of the men who are at work on this building? 5  But the eye of their God was on the chiefs of the Jews, and they did not make them give up working till the question had been put before Darius and an answer had come by letter about it. 6  This is a copy of the letter which Tattenai, the ruler of the land across the river, and Shethar-bozenai and his friends the Apharsachites, living across the river, sent to Darius the king: 7  They sent him a letter saying, To Darius the king, all peace: 8  This is to give the king word that we went into the land of Judah, to the house of the great God, which is made of great stones, and has its walls supported with wood, and the work is going on with industry, and they are doing it well. 9  Then we said to the men responsible, who gave you authority for the building of this house and these walls? 10  And we made request for their names, so that we might send you word, and give you the names of the men at the head of them. 11  And they made answer to us, saying, We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and we are building the house which was put up in times long past and was designed and made complete by a great king of Israel. 12  But when the God of heaven was moved to wrath by our fathers, he gave them up into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, the Chaldaean, who sent destruction on this house and took the people away into Babylon. 13  But in the first year of Cyrus, king of Babylon, Cyrus the king gave an order for the building of this house of God; 14  And the gold and silver vessels of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took from the Temple which was in Jerusalem, and put into the house of his god in Babylon, these Cyrus the king took from the house of his god in Babylon, and gave to one named Sheshbazzar, whom he had made ruler; 15  And he said to him, Go, take these vessels, and put them in the Temple in Jerusalem, and let the house of God be put up again in its place. 16  Then this same Sheshbazzar came and put the house of God in Jerusalem on its bases: and from that time till now the building has been going on, but it is still not complete. 17  So now, if it seems good to the king, let search be made in the king's store-house at Babylon, to see if it is true that an order was given by Cyrus the king for the building of this house of God at Jerusalem, and let the king send us word of his pleasure in connection with this business.

6 1  Then Darius the king gave an order and a search was made in the house of the records, where the things of value were stored up in Babylon. 2  And at Achmetha, in the great house of the king in the land of Media, they came across a roll, in which this statement was put on record: 3  In the first year of Cyrus the king, Cyrus the king made an order: In connection with the house of God at Jerusalem, let the house be put up, the place where they make offerings, and let the earth for the bases be put in place; let it be sixty cubits high and sixty cubits wide; 4  With three lines of great stones and one line of new wood supports; and let the necessary money be given out of the king's store-house; 5  And let the gold and silver vessels from the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took from the Temple at Jerusalem to Babylon, be given back and taken again to the Temple at Jerusalem, every one in its place, and put them in the house of God. 6  So now, Tattenai, ruler of the land across the river, and Shethar-bozenai and your people the Apharsachites across the river, keep far from that place: 7  Let the work of this house of God go on; let the ruler of the Jews and their responsible men put up this house of God in its place. 8  Further, I give orders as to what you are to do for the responsible men of the Jews in connection with the building of this house of God: that from the king's wealth, that is, from the taxes got together in the land over the river, the money needed is to be given to these men readily, so that their work may not be stopped. 9  And whatever they have need of, young oxen and sheep and lambs, for burned offerings to the God of heaven, grain, salt, wine, and oil, whatever the priests in Jerusalem say is necessary, is to be given to them day by day regularly: 10  So that they may make offerings of a sweet smell to the God of heaven, with prayers for the life of the king and of his sons. 11  And I have given orders that if anyone makes any change in this word, one of the supports is to be pulled out of his house, and he is to be lifted up and fixed to it; and his house is to be made waste for this; 12  And may the God who has made it a resting-place for his name send destruction on all kings and peoples whose hands are outstretched to make any change in this or to do damage to this house of God at Jerusalem. I, Darius, have given this order, let it be done with all care.

13  Then Tattenai, the ruler across the river, and Shethar-bozenai and their people, because of the order given by King Darius, did as he had said with all care. 14  And the responsible men of the Jews went on with their building, and did well, helped by the teaching of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah, the son of Iddo. They went on building till it was complete, in keeping with the word of the God of Israel, and the orders given by Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes, king of Persia. 15  And the building of this house was complete on the third day of the month Adar, in the sixth year of the rule of Darius the king. 16  And the children of Israel, the priests and the Levites, and the rest of those who had come back, kept the feast of the opening of this house of God with joy. 17  And they gave as offerings at the opening of this house of God a hundred oxen, two hundred sheep, four hundred lambs; and for a sin-offering for all Israel, twelve he-goats, being the number of the tribes of Israel. 18  And they put the priests in their divisions and the Levites in their order, for the worship of God at Jerusalem; as it is recorded in the book of Moses. 19  And the children of Israel who had come back kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month. 20  For the priests and the Levites had made themselves clean together; they were all clean: and they put the Passover lamb to death for all those who had come back, and for their brothers the priests and for themselves. 21  And the children of Israel, who had come back, and all those who were joined to them, after separating themselves from the evil ways of the people of the land to become the servants of the Lord, the God of Israel, took food together, 22  And kept the feast of unleavened bread for seven days with joy: for the Lord had made them full of joy, by turning the heart of the king of Assyria to them to give them help in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.

Ezra and His Company Come to Jerusalem

7 1  Now after these things, when Artaxerxes was king of Persia, Ezra, the 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 went up from Babylon; and he was a scribe, expert in the law of Moses which the Lord, the God of Israel, had given: and the king, moved by the Lord his God, gave him whatever he made request for. 7  And some of the children of Israel went up, with some of the priests and the Levites and the music-makers and the door-keepers and the Nethinim, to Jerusalem, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king. 8  And he came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, in the seventh year of the king's rule. 9  For, starting his journey from Babylon on the first day of the first month, he came to Jerusalem on the first day of the fifth month, by the good help of his God. 10  For Ezra had given his mind to learning the law of the Lord and doing it, and to teaching his rules and decisions in Israel.

11  Now this is a copy of the letter which King Artaxerxes gave to Ezra, the priest and the scribe, who put into writing the words of the orders of the Lord, and of his rules for Israel: 12  Artaxerxes, king of kings, to Ezra the priest, scribe of the law of the God of heaven, all peace; 13  And now it is my order that all those of the people of Israel, and their priests and Levites in my kingdom, who are ready and have a desire to go to Jerusalem, are to go with you. 14  Because you are sent by the king and his seven wise men, to get knowledge about Judah and Jerusalem, as you are ordered by the law of your God which is in your hand; 15  And to take with you the silver and gold freely offered by the king and his wise men to the God of Israel, whose Temple is in Jerusalem, 16  As well as all the silver and gold which you get from the land of Babylon, together with the offering of the people and of the priests, freely given for the house of their God, which is in Jerusalem: 17  So with this money get with care oxen, sheep, and lambs, with their meal offerings and their drink offerings, to be offered on the altar of the house of your God, which is in Jerusalem. 18  And whatever seems right to you and to your brothers to do with the rest of the silver and gold, that do, as may be pleasing to your God. 19  And the vessels which have been given to you for the uses of the house of your God, you are to give to the God of Jerusalem. 20  And whatever more is needed for the house of your God, and which you may have to give, take it from the king's store-house. 21  And I, even I, Artaxerxes the king, now give orders to all keepers of the king's money across the river, that whatever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, may have need of from you, is to be done with all care, 22  Up to a hundred talents of silver, a hundred measures of grain, a hundred measures of wine, and a hundred measures of oil, and salt without measure. 23  Whatever is ordered by the God of heaven, let it be done completely for the house of the God of heaven; so that there may not be wrath against the kingdom of the king and his sons. 24  In addition, we make it clear to you, that it will be against the law to put any tax or payment in goods or forced payment on any of the priests or Levites, the music-makers, door-keepers, Nethinim, or any servants of this house of God. 25  And you, Ezra, by the wisdom of your God which is in you, are to put rulers and judges to have authority over all the people across the river who have knowledge of the laws of your God; and you are to give teaching to him who has no knowledge of them. 26  And if anyone does not keep the law of your God and the law of the king, take care that punishment is given to him, by death or by driving him from his country or by taking away his goods or by putting him in prison.

27  Praise be to the Lord, the God of our fathers, who has put such a thing into the heart of the king, to make fair the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem; 28  And has given mercy to me before the king and his government and before all the king's great captains. And I was made strong by the hand of the Lord my God which was on me, and I got together out of Israel chief men to go up with me.

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