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Wednesday, September 10 2014

Ezra 7: The Letter From Artaxerxes To Ezra

"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"

Artaxerxes was one of a number of Persian kings whose reign coincided with Biblical events. The chart below provides approximate reign dates, typical renderings of their names into English and how their names were pronounced in the actual ancient Persian language.

Common Name Reign Name In Persian Name In Bible Bible References
Cyrus 539-530 BC Koorush Cyrus Isaiah 45, Daniel, Ezra 1-3
Cambysses 530-521 BC Cambujieh Ahasruerus Ezra 4-6
Pseudo Smerdis 521 BC Berooyeh Doroughi Artaxerxes Ezra 4:7-23
Darius the Great 521-486 BC Darryoosh Darius Ezra 5,6
Xerxes 486-465 BC Khashayarshah Ahasurerus Esther 1-10
Artaxerxes I 464-423 BC Ardeshier Deraz Dast Artaxerxes Nehemiah 1 - 13, Ezra 7-10

The return of the people of Judah to Jerusalem (see Israel In History and Prophecy: The Return Of Judah) was accomplished in three major divisions of effort and responsibility. The first was done by Zerubbabel who oversaw the beginning of the rebuilding of the Temple (Ezra chapters 3 to 6). Zerubbabel faced most of the obstructionism (see The Temple Obstruction and Tatnai's Appeal To History).

The groups led by Ezra the Levite priest and Nehemiah the political governor followed later with specific mandates by other Persian Emperors (see The Prophecies Of Cyrus of Persia and The Decree Of Darius).

"7:1 Now after these things, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra the son of Seraiah, the son of Azariah, the son of Hilkiah, 7:2 The son of Shallum, the son of Zadok, the son of Ahitub, 7:3 The son of Amariah, the son of Azariah, the son of Meraioth, 7:4 The son of Zerahiah, the son of Uzzi, the son of Bukki, 7:5 The son of Abishua, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the chief priest: 7:6 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. 7:7 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.

7:8 And he came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which was in the seventh year of the king. 7:9 For upon the first day of the first 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. 7:10 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." (Ezra 7:1-10 KJV)

Assyria, Babylon, Persia

It was Artaxerxes who gave Ezra his authority to complete his part of the task. The written decree from Artaxerxes guaranteed that no local political or military authority could interfere with Ezra and Nehemiah (see A History Of Jerusalem: Ezra And Nehemiah).

"7:11 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.

7:12 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. 7:13 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. 7:14 Forasmuch as thou art sent of the king, and of his seven counsellors, to enquire concerning Judah and Jerusalem, according to the law of thy God which is in thine hand; 7:15 And to carry the silver and gold, which the king and his counsellors have freely offered unto the God of Israel, whose habitation is in Jerusalem, 7:16 And all the silver and gold that thou canst find in all the province of Babylon, with the freewill offering of the people, and of the priests, offering willingly for the house of their God which is in Jerusalem: 7:17 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.

7:18 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. 7:19 The vessels also that are given thee for the service of the house of thy God, those deliver thou before the God of Jerusalem. 7:20 And whatsoever more shall be needful for the house of thy God, which thou shalt have occasion to bestow, bestow it out of the king's treasure house.

7:21 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, 7:22 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. 7:23 Whatsoever is commanded by the God of heaven, let it be diligently done for the house of the God of heaven: for why should there be wrath against the realm of the king and his sons? 7:24 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.

7:25 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. 7:26 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 to imprisonment.

7:27 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: 7:28 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." (Ezra 7:11-28 KJV)

Fact Finder: How were the Persian Emperor-Kings prophesied by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar?
See The Prophet Daniel: Nebuchadnezzar's Image


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This Day In History, September 10

210 BC: Emperor Qin Shi Huang of China died at age 49 (see also Gog and Magog).

506: The Church of Rome bishops of Visigothic Gaul met in the Council of Agde (see also Constantine's Crusades In History And Prophecy).

1419: John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy was assassinated by followers of the Dauphin, the future Charles VII of France.

Simon BolĂ­var 1224: The first Franciscan missionaries arrived in England. The Roman Catholic monks, also then known as "Grey Friars," were founded by Francis of Assisi 15 years before. England officially split with the papacy during the time of King Henry VIII (reigned 1509-1547), who established himself, and all future monarchs right to the present day, as head of the Church of England.

1419: John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy, was assassinated by followers of the Dauphin, the future Charles VII of France.

1547: The Battle of Pinkie Cleugh, the last full scale battle between England and Scotland, resulted in a decisive victory for Edward VI.

1588: Thomas Cavendish returned to England, becoming the third man to circumnavigate the earth.

1823: Simon Bolivar was declared President of Peru.

1846: Elias Howe patented his "sewing machine," a device that permitted greater industrial production of clothing at lower cost.

1897: The Lattimer Mine Massacre: At a coal mine in Pennsylvania, a sheriff's "posse" (from the ancient Latin posse comitatus, in effect meaning posing as official) killed 19 unarmed striking miners; dozens more were wounded.

1898: Empress Elizabeth of Austria was assassinated by Luigi Lucheni, an Italian anarchist.

1912: Jules Vedrines of France became the first pilot to reach 100 m.p.h. in flight.

1914: The six-day Battle of the Marne ended during the First World War, halting the German advance into France.

1918: During the Russian Civil War, the Red Army captured Kazan.

1939: At the beginning of the Second World War, Canada declared war on Nazi Germany, joining the United Kingdom and France.

1948: US-born Mildred Gillars, accused of being Nazi wartime radio broadcaster "Axis Sally," was indicted in Washington, D.C., for treason.

1952: The Treaty of Luxembourg was signed between Israel and Germany, whereby Germany agreed to make reparation payments to Israel for German crimes against the Jews in during the Second World War. Conrad Adenauer signed for Germany. Ironically (as news events in the coming years will plainly show), the ceremony was held at the Luxembourg City Hall, a site dictated by Adenauer's presence that day to initial the pact establishing the European Coal and Steel Community - one of the first steps that led to the formation of the new, but ancient, European Union.

1963: President John Kennedy federalized Alabama's National Guard to prevent Governor George Wallace from using guardsmen to stop public-school desegregation. 20 black students were enabled to enter college that year.

1967: The people of Gibraltar voted to remain a British dependency rather than becoming part of Spain.

2002: Switzerland, a traditionally a "neutral" country, became a member of the United Nations.

2003: Anna Lindh, the foreign minister of Sweden, was fatally stabbed while shopping.

2007: Former Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif returned to Pakistan after seven years in exile.

2008: The Large Hadron Collider at CERN, described as the biggest scientific experiment in history, was powered up in Geneva, Switzerland.


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