Artaxerxes, the son of Ahasuerus, is now the king of Persia and he receives a letter from some men opposing Jerusalem. The letter says the Jews “are building the rebellious and evil city, and are finishing its walls and repairing the foundations… if this city is built and the walls completed, they will not pay tax, tribute, or custom, and the king’s treasury will be diminished.” King Artaxerxes responds by telling the Jews to cease the rebuilding of Jerusalem.
In the 7th year of King Artaxerxes’s reign, Ezra, “a skilled scribe in the Law of Moses” and a descendant of Aaron (Moses’s brother), is given permission to lead a second wave of captives back to Jerusalem. “For Ezra has prepared his heart to seek the Law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel.”
Not only does King Artaxerxes allow the people to return but he also sends silver, gold, and anything else they need for the rebuilding of the house of God. In addition, he now makes a new decree that says it is unlawful to impose a tax on the servants of the house of God and “whoever will not observe the law of your God and the law of the king, let judgement be executed speedily on him.”
Ezra praises God for King Artaxerxes’s change of heart. “Blessed be the Lord God of our fathers, who has put such a thing as this in the king’s heart, to beautify the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem…”
Tomorrow Ezra addresses intermarriage between the Jews and the people of the surrounding nations. Also, the 3rd and final wave of people return to Jerusalem with Nehemiah to rebuild Jerusalem’s wall. Keep reading.
(Ezra 4:7-23, Ezra 7:1-8:36)