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Introduction to the Book
The author, Ezra, was a descendant of Aharon, El'azar, Pin'khas, and Tzadoq, though he himself was not in line to be the high priest. Y'shua the high priest, mentioned throughout the book, might have been his older brother. He was also a scribe. The book of Ezra seems to be a continuation of the chronicles, since the last two verses of 2 Chronicles are the same as Ezra 1:1-3. This is a literary device called a colophon, in which scrolls or clay tablets would repeat the end of one "page" at the beginning of the next to show which followed which.
The book recounts the events surrounding the end of Yehudah's first exile late in the 6th century B.C.E. But YHWH says in Yeshayahu 11:11, in the context of a description of the glories of the Messianic Kingdom, that He will recover His people from exile a second time. We have seen this beginning to take place since Yehudah returned again starting in 1948. But in that passage He specifies that they would return from Ashur (Assyria) and all the coastlands of the sea. This indicates that He is speaking not only of Yehudah, but of the Northern Kingdom, which was exiled by none other than Ashur. During the first year of the reign of Daryush the Mede, a relative and co-regent of the Koresh mentioned as Ezra begins, Daniel recognized that it was time for Yehudah's exile to end. (Daniel 9:1-2) His response was to fast and pray that YHWH would indeed honor His promise, despite the continued sinfulness of not only Yehudah, but all Israel. (v. 11) In Yehezq'el 4, YHWH specified specific lengths of time for the punishment of both houses of Israel. For the Northern Kingdom it was 390 years. In Lev. 26:18, YHWH says that if we were still unrepentant after His punishment, He would increase it seven times. Applied to 390, this turns out to be 2,730 years. Counting from the time Assyria exiled the Northern Kingdom of Israel, this ends precisely in our own day--sometime between 1996 and 2008, depending on whether we count from the beginning or the end of the process. Thus, Daniel's prayer in 9:4-19 is worthy of our emulation so that the events of Ezra may be repeated in our own day.
1. Now in the first year of Koresh, king of Persia, to fulfill what YHWH had said out of Yirmeyahu's mouth, YHWH caused the spirit of Koresh, king of Persia, to awaken so he caused a voice to pass through all of his kingdom, and also [put it] in writing, saying,
The reference in v. 1 is to Yirmeyahu 25:11-12; 29:10, when YHWH promised to end the desolation of the Land of Israel and return His people there. Yirmeyahu does not specify how it would be fulfilled; Yeshayahu does. Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews 11.1.2) tells us that Koresh read the prophecies of Yeshayahu (Isaiah) that he would be the one to send His people back to their Land and rebuild His Temple. (Yeshayahu 44:28; 45:1) Josephus informs us that this had been written 140 years prior to the destruction of the Temple, which places it 210 years prior to the events taking place here. One tradition says Daniel was the one who met Koresh upon his capture of Babylon and showed him this prophecy. We do know that Daniel was greatly honored by Daryush, Koresh's relative and co-regent, after being taken with them into Media after they captured Babylon immediately after the "handwriting on the wall" incident of Daniel 5. (Antiquities 10.1.5) Caused [his] spirit to awaken: or, stirred up his spirit, hinting that there may have been some old connection of some type that could be revived. Another tradition says Koresh was the son of Hadassah (Esther) and Akhashverosh. The Persians of the Aryan race, very different from the Semitic Babylonians whom they conquered after Babylon (Bavel) had dominated the civilized world for 200 years. Their empire stretched from just west of India to Turkey and up to the border of Egypt. lasted until Alexander the Great conquered it, and he was so enamored by their philosophies that he adopted many of them into Greek culture.
2. "Thus says Koresh, king of Persia: YHWH, the Elohim of Heaven, has given me all the dominions of the earth, and He has appointed me to build a house for Him in Yerushalayim, which is in Yehudah.
3. "Who among you [is] from any of His people? May his Elohim be with him, and let him go up to Yerushalayim, which is in Yehudah, and rebuild the House of YHWH, the Elohim of Israel (He is the Elohim), which is in Yerushalayim.
4. "And anyone who is left in any of the places where he is living as a foreigner, let the men of his place support him with silver, gold, provisions, and animals, along with the freewill offering for the House of the Elohim who is in Yerushalayim."
5. Then the heads of the fathers' [households] belonging to Yehudah and Binyamin, the priests and Levites, and anyone whose spirit YHWH had awakened to go up and build the House of YHWH that is in Yerushalayim, rose up
Binyamin is still distinct from Yehudah after 70 years of exile, another hint that Koresh may have indeed been HadassahÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s son, since she and Mordekhai were of the tribe of Binyamin.
6. and everyone around them made their hands strong with articles of silver, with gold, with provisions, with animals, and with valuable donations, in addition to all the freewill offerings.
7. And Koresh the king [himself] brought out the utensils of the House of YHWH that Nevukhadnetzar had brought from Yerushalayim and given to the house of his gods--
8. [these very things] Koresh, king of Persia, brought out via the hand of Mithredath the treasurer, and gave a careful inventory of them to Sheshbatzar, the governor for Yehudah,
Sheshbatzar: means "worshipper of fire". This is often considered to be the Babylonian name for Zerubavel.
9. and this is their tally: thirty golden libation bowls, a thousand silver libation bowls, twenty-nine [substitute] slaughtering-knives,
Slaughtering-knives: from the word for "pass through quickly".
10. thirty covered cups, four hundred ten covered cups of a second [type], a thousand other articles.
Second type: or, copies, duplicates, possibly kept on hand as back-ups in case of defilement or damage.
11. All the articles of gold and for silver [were] five thousand four hundred. Sheshbatzar brought it all up when the exiles were brought up from Bavel to Yerushalayim.
1. Now these are the sons of the magisterial district who went up from [among] the exiled captives who had been taken away by Nevukhadnetzar, king of Bavel, and returned to Yerushalayim and Yehudah, each to his own city--
2. [those] who came with Zerubavel: Yeshua, Nechemyah, Srayah, Re'elayah, Mordekhai, Bilshan, Mispar, Bigvai, R'hum, Be'anah. The tally of the men of Israel:
Their names mean: "He will save", "YHWH comforts", "YHWH is ruler", "Bearer of YHWH", "little man", "In slander/with a tongue", "Tally", "In my bodies", "Compassion", and "In humility". Zerubavel means "sown in Babylon", strongly reminding us of Hoshea's prophecy of Yezre'el (whose name means "Elohim will scatter" but also "Elohim will sow", and a fruitful harvest was promised despite the reason for the dispersion). Zerubavel was the grandson of Yehoyakhin, the last king of Yehudah, who was carried away captive by Nevukhadnetzar, but again treated as royalty when the Medes and Persians conquered Bavel. So he should rightfully have been the king of Yehudah, were it not for the curse in Yirmeyahu 22:30 that because of his sins no man of his seed would sit on David's throne. Instead he was the governor under the Persian emperor. Y'shua the Messiah was a physical descendant of David, but through his mother; He received the right to the throne as the eldest son of His stepfather, who was not His biological father, thus circumventing this curse and allowing David's throne to be raised up again. When the exiles began to return, the proper high priest was also in his rightful office. It was not until after the Greeks were invited in that the position began to be filled by others to whom it did not belong. Nechemyah was the cupbearer to the Persian king who also wrote an account of his involvement in rebuilding the wall of Yerushalayim. Mordekhai is probably the same man as the uncle of Queen Hadassah.
3. [The] descendants of Par'osh [flea]: 2,172.
4. [The] descendants of Sh'fatyah [YHWH has judged]: 372.
5. [The] descendants of Arakh [traveller]: 775.
6. [The] descendants of Pakhath Moav [Pit of Moav] belonging to the sons of Yeshua Yoav [He will save, YHWH is a Father]: 2,812.
Pit of Moav: or possibly, governor of Moav, with whom the descendants of DavidÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s general Yoav intermarried.
7. [The] descendants of Eylam [eternity]: 1,254.
8. [The] descendants of Zathu [his brightness]: 945.
9. [The] descendants of Zakkai [brightly clean]: 760.
10. [The] descendants of Bani [rebuilt]: 642.
11. [The] descendants of Vevay [my cavities]: 623.
12. [The] descendants of Azgad [Gad is mighty]: 1,222.
13. [The] descendants of Adoniqam: 666.
This number, of course, makes us take notice. The name Adoniqam means "My lord has risen", which can clearly relate to the counterfeit Messiah who bears this number in his name.
14. [The] descendants of Bigvai [in my bodies]: 2,056.
15. [The] descendants of Adin [luxuriant]: 454.
16. [The] descendants of Ater [one who binds] belonging to Hizqiyah [YHWH has strengthened]: 98.
17. [The] descendants of Betzai [conqueror]: 323.
18. [The] descendants of Yorah [he directs]: 112.
19. [The] descendants of Khashum [solid with capacity for resources]: 223.
20. [The] descendants of Gibbar [valiant man]: 95.
21. [The] sons of Beyth Lakhem [house of bread]: 123.
22. [The] men of N'tofah [distillation]: 56.
23. [The] men of Anathoth [answers to prayer]: 128.
24. [The] descendants of Azmaveth [fierce to the death]: 42.
25. [The] sons of Kiryath Arim [town of watchful guards], Kfirah [lioness], and Be'eroth [wells]: 743.
26. [The] sons of Ramah [height] and Gava [hill]: 621.
27. [The] men of Mikhmas [stored away]: 122.
28. [The] men of Beyth-El [house of Elohim] and Ay [heap of ruins]: 223.
29. [The] descendants of Nevo [his prophet]: 52.
30. [The] descendants of Magbish [tight gathering]: 156.
31. [The] descendants of another Eylam [eternity]: 1,254
32. [The] descendants of Kharim [dedicated]: 320.
33. [The] sons of Lod [travail], Khadid [sharp], and Ono [vigorous]: 725.
34. [The] descendants of Yericho [its moon]: 345.
35. [The] descendants of Sna'ah [prickly]: 3,630.
36. [The] officiators of the descendants of Y'dayah [recognized by YHWH], belonging to the household of Yeshua: 973.
Officiators: or, priests.
37. [The] descendants of Immer [eminent]: 1,052.
38. [The] descendants of Pashkhur [torn free]: 1,247.
39. [The] descendants of Kharim [dedicated]: 1,017
40. The Levites: sons of Yeshua and Qadmiel [Elohim is the ancient one], belonging to the sons of Hodawyah [honor YHWH]: 74.
41. The singers--the descendants of Asaf [he has gathered]: 128.
Asaf wrote many of the psalms.
42. [The] descendants of the gatekeepers--the sons of Shallum [retribution], the sons of Ater [one who binds], the sons of Talmon [oppression], the sons of Aqub [taking by the heel], the sons of Khatita [exploring], the sons of Shobai [captivating]--totaling 139.
43. The Designated Ones: the descendants of Tzikha [parched], the descendants of Hasufa [stripped bare], the descendants of Tabaoth [rings],
Designated Ones: literally, those given. They were the GivÃ¢â‚¬â„¢onites, assigned to the priests and Levites for service in the sanctuary since Yehoshua had made a treaty not to kill them before he realized that they were natives of the land of Kanaan. They came to be esteemed as highly as the Levites for whom they worked, but were not permitted to intermarry with them.
44. [The] descendants of Qeros [bent ankle], the descendants of Siaha [departing, assembly], the descendants of Fadon [great redemption],
45. the descendants of Levanah [moon], the descendants of Khagavah [at the locust], the descendants of Aqub [taking by the heel],
46. the descendants of Khagav [locust], the descendants of Shalmai [my garments],the descendants of Khanan [He has shown favor],
47. the descendants of Giddel [magnified],the descendants of Gahar [hiding place],the descendants of ReÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ayah [recognized by YHWH],
48. the descendants of Retzin [well-accepted], the descendants of N'qodah [distinguished by a mark],the descendants of Gazzam [devouring],
49. the descendants of Uzza [strength],the descendants of Paseakh [skipping],the descendants of Besai [my treading],
50. the descendants of Asnah [thorny],the sons of Meunim [places of refuge], the descendants of NÃ¢â‚¬â„¢fusim [scattered spices],
51. the descendants of Baqbuq [flask], the descendants of Khaqufah [bent], the descendants of Kharkhur [scorching heat],
52. the descendants of Batzluth [peeling back], the descendants of M'khidah [put forward openly], the descendants of Kharsha [mute],
53. the descendants of Barqos [cut-off son], the descendants of Sisra [battle array], the descendants of Thamakh [hilarity],
54. the descendants of Netziakh [pre-eminent], the descendants of Khatifah [caught],
55. the descendants of Shlomo's servants-- the descendants of Sotai [roaming],the sons of the accounting, the descendants of Pruda [kernel],
56. the descendants of Ya'alah [ascending],the descendants of Darqon [hastener], the descendants of Giddel [magnificent],
57. the descendants of Sh'fatyah [YHWH has judged], the descendants of Khatil [wavering],the descendants of Pokhereth Hatzevayim [trapper of gazelles], the descendants of Ami [master architect].
Ami: called Amon in Nechemyah 7:59.
58. All the Designated Ones and the descendants of Shlomo's servants [were] 392.
59. And these [are] the ones who [went] up from Tel-Melakh [salt mound], Tel-Kharsha [craftsman's mound], K'ruv [guardian angel], Addan [firmly based], and Immer [eminent], though they were unable to declare their ancestral house or lineage, whether they were from Israel:
Unable to declare their ancestral house: This is where many of us today fit in, but YHWH will give us an inheritance within one of His tribes. (Yehezq'El/Ezek. 47:21-23; compare Yeshayahu 66:19-21) Our goal, also, is to uphold and reestablish the throne of David, which came through Shlomo, even if we are not of the tribe of Yehudah, because the Messiah is again to reign over both houses of Israel as Shlomo did..
60. the descendants of Delayah [YHWH has drawn out], the descendants of Toviyah [YHWH is my benefit], [and] the descendants of N'qodah [distinguished by a mark]--652.
61. And from the descendants of the priests, the sons of Khavayah [YHWH has withdrawn], the sons of the Qotz [prickly thorn], the sons of Barzillai [my iron], who took a wife from among the daughters of Barzillai the Gil'adite, and was called by their name.
62. These searched for their entry among those who were enrolled in a genealogical registry, but they were not located, so they were released from the priesthood,
Released: or barred as defiled, though they had considered themselves to be priests since somehow their ancestors had become part of the priesthood.
63. and the governor told them that they should not eat of the holiest of the holy [things] until a priest with the Urim and Thummim should be established.
The governor: Zerubavel. These men could still eat of what was brought home by the priests, but not of those sacrifices delineated in Lev, 7:1-5; 10:12; 14:13. Urim and Thummim: A mechanism for determining YHWH's response to inquiries which was not reestablished after the exile. So this priest has not yet been established. But not every priest is to be of the tribe of Levi (Hebrews 5:6-10) Urim means "lights", and in Hebraic context this refers to the Torah (Ps. 119:105), and since the term is plural, it would include commands, decrees, and rulings as well. Thummim means "perfections" or "mature ones". So though the physical objects are not yet identified, we know that they symbolize mature leaders who understand the Torah and can therefore tell Israel which way to go. And YHWH is raising up such leaders now as the Time of the Restoration of All Things dawns. Thus soon the prophecy in Yeshayahu 66:19-21 that priests will be raised up from those who join themselves to other tribes of Israel. Lineage may not be as important to the position as those whose hearts and vessels are pure before YHWH.
64. The whole congregation as a unit [consisted of] 42,360,
65. apart from their servants and handmaids; these were 7,337, and among them 200 male and female singers.
66. Their horses [numbered] 736, their mules 245,
67. their camels 435, and their donkeys 6,720.
68. Now some of the heads of the fathers, at their arrival at the house of YHWH, which is at Yerushalayim, gave generously toward the House of Elohim, to bring about its setup on its established site.
Established site: i.e., where Shlomo had set it according to YHWH's instruction given to David.
69. According to their ability, they donated to the supply-treasury for the work 61,000 drakmonim of gold, 5,000 manim of silver, and 100 priestly tunics.
A drakmon was the equivalent of 128 grains, and a maneh ("numberer"), 60 sheqels and 1/50 of a talent. These were Persian systems of measure brought back with them from the exile.
70. Then the priests, Levites, and [those] of the people--the singers, the gatekeepers, and the Temple-slaves--settled in their own cities, and all [the rest] of Israel in their cities.
1. Now as the seventh month was being reached, the descendants of Israel who were in the cities assembled themselves like one man to Yerushalayim.
As one man: A counterfeit of this was attempted at the tower of Bavel, but as the returning Israelites eagerly returned to YHWH's Torah, unity was allowed to stand. In fact, it was a necessary step in order for the altar that was being built to have any reality behind it, for it is a picture of the united forerunners of Israel's return--in our day as well.
2. Then Y'shua the son of Yotzadaq and his brothers the priests and Zerubavel the son of Sh'alti'el rose up and rebuilt the altar of the Elohim of Israel in order to make ascending offerings ascend on it, as it is written in the instruction of Moshe, the man of Elohim.
Y'shua: the shortened Aramaic version of Yehoshua. Yotzadaq: the shortened Aramaic version of Yehotzadaq. Instruction: Heb., torah.
3. And they fastened the altar firmly on its fixed bases, because of the fear that was upon them due to the peoples of [those] regions. Then he made ascending offerings to YHWH ascend on top of it--ascending offerings for [the] morning and for the evening.
How quickly the "weeds" grew back after the Land was untended; now it held hostile inhabitants once again. But they were hurrying to finish the altar because when the service on the altar began the first time, YHWH's glory (weightiness or authority) appeared (Lev. 9:6). Perceiving it eradicates the fear of anything else, since He far outweighs any threat. So setting the altar in place and re-inaugurating its usage would alleviate their fears in a very particular way.
4. Then they carried out the Feast of Sukkoth in the way it is written and the counted-out ascending [offerings] day by day, according to the mandated procedure, what was appropriate for [each] day on its day,
Carried out: Nehemyah 8:1, 14 give the added detail that these returnees did not even realize that Sukkoth was coming until the first day of the month (Yom T'ruah), when they were gathered together and Ezra read the Torah, which mandated it. This tells us they commendably got everything in order to do it properly within only two weeks! Counted-out ascending offerings: 70 bulls are offered at the Temple during the feast of Sukkoth--one for each nation. (Num. 29:12-39) While the number of other animals remains the same each day, the number of bulls changes, decreasing by one each day from 13 the first day to 7 the seventh day. The total number of bulls is 70, symbolizing both the 70 people in the clan of Yaaqov upon his arrival in Egypt, as well as the 70 nations listed in the "table of nations" of Noach's sons in Genesis 10. For this reason Sukkoth, alternately called "the season of our joy" is also nicknamed "the feast of the nations". What was appropriate for each day on its day: literally, a dayâ€™s word on its day. This is the same phrase used of gathering the manna in Exodus 16:4, where YHWH said He was using this to test whether Israel would walk in His instruction. These returning exiles passed the test! (Compare Lev. 9:24.)
5. then afterward indeed the regular ascending offering, both belonging to the new moons and YHWH's intensely set apart appointed times, and for everyone who willingly offered a freewill offering to YHWH.
Regular: or every-day.
6. From day one of the seventh month they began to make ascending offerings to YHWH ascend, though the foundation of the Temple of YHWH had not been laid.
YHWH wants us to act on what we already have rather than waiting for everything to be perfectly in place before giving our all. The pattern has always been that the altar is built and in use prior to the rest of the Temple being built. This tells us that the sacrificial system, in some sense, has to be in operation before the next Temple can be built. Many in Yehudah are hesitant to do this, for fear of world opinion that such practices are inhumane or barbaric. Yehezq'el tells us that they will, however, one day take place on a regular basis. At present, we need to learn what they represent so that when we can do them literally, we will know the intent of their meaning, so we will not do them merely as rituals, but as an expression of what is in our hearts. They depict the laying down of our own lives, making restitution for the wrongs we do to others, caring for our teachers' physical needs, and acknowledging YHWH by giving Him the first and best of whatever we have. The fact that YHWH has made their deeper meanings known to us is a hopeful sign that soon we will be able to do them both physically and spiritually once again.
7. They also gave silver to those quarrying and the engravers, and food, drink, and oil to the Tzidonians and Tzorites to bring cedar trees from Levanon to the sea [port] of Yafo, in accordance with the grant they had from Koresh, king of Persia.
8. Now in the second year of their coming to the House of Elohim at Yerushalayim, in the second month, Zerubavel the son of Sh'alti'el, Y'shua the son of Yotzadaq, and the rest of their brothers the priests and Levites and all those of the captives who had come to Yerushalayim, made a breakthrough: that is, they set the Levites from twenty years old and up [in position] to oversee the work of the House of YHWH.
A breakthrough had also been made spiritually, since something definite had been done to restore the system YHWH designed for drawing near to Him.
9. Then Y'shua and his sons and his brothers [and] Qadmiel and his sons, descendants of Yehudah, took their stand as one to superintend over the work of the House of YHWH--the descendants of Khenadad, their sons, and their brothers, the Levites.
Qadmiel means "Elohim is the ancient one". Khenadad means "favor of Hadad" (an idol of the Syrians).
10. Now when the builders had laid the foundation of the Temple of YHWH, and were setting the priests in position, arrayed in their apparel, with trumpets, and [furnishing] the Levites, sons of Asaf, with pairs of cymbals to make YHWH's fame resound no the hands of David, king of Israel,
Cymbals: based on the word for vibrate or quiver.
11. and they were singing antiphonally with praise and thanksgiving to YHWH "for He is beneficent, and His lovingkindness toward Israel endures forever!" Then the whole nation shouted with a great cry of triumph when they praised YHWH about the laying of the foundation of the House of YHWH,
The Hebrew words for "shouted" and "great cry of triumph" are related to the name of one of YHWH's appointed times, Yom T'ruah (often called Rosh HaShanah), the "Day of the Awakening Blast". They were fulfilling its intent well, even into the following year!
12. though many of the elderly priests, Levites, and heads of fathers' [households] who had seen the first House [were] weeping with a loud voice when the foundation of this House was laid before their eyes, while many [proceeded] to lift up a shout of joy
13. so that for the people there was no [way to] distinguish the sound of the shout of joy from the sound of the nation's weeping, because the people applauded with a loud shout, and the sound was heard as far as those belonging to distant [places].
1. Now when those who were hostile to Yehudah and Binyamin heard that the sons of the exile had built a Temple for YHWH the Elohim of Israel,
Built a Temple: Actually, the Temple itself was not yet built, but just as one obtained the sanctity of the next level of the Temple by simply entering the gate that leads to it, even the tiny steps taken to establish the entity of the Temple made waves spiritually, and the enemies of Israel came out of the background.
2. they approached Zerubavel and to the heads of the ancestral [households], they told them, "Let us build along with you, because just like you we are following your Elohim, though we have not made a slaughter to Him since the days of Esar-Hadon, king of Ashur, who brought us up here."
3. But Zerubavel, Y'shua, and the rest of the heads of the fathers of Israel told them, "It is not for you and us to build a House to our Elohim, but we ourselves will build in unity for YHWH the Elohim of Israel, as Koresh the king of Persia has ordered us."
It is not for you an dus: i.e., you have nothing to do with us in this matter. Zerubavel saw through their ruse, which may have been intended to gain access to what they thought may have been secret treasure-chambers common to pagan temples. He emphasized the holiness of their endeavor, in which not just anyone may participate. Even if the truly wished to partake of the knowledge of YHWH that the Temple does provide, they could not be allowed to build with their own motives. These people who had been resettled into the Land--a common Assyrian practice of separating a people from their land and thus ostensibly from their gods, so they would adopt Assyrian ways--were the precursors to the Samaritans of the Renewed Covenant. They are a picture of modern Christians who want to co-opt the restoration of Israel for their own purposes. Though many more will benefit once the Temple is in place, we must guard it carefully to preserve its purity so that the benefit will not be diluted or tainted by even partial error. Thankfully the king had furnished them with an "excuse" since the enemies would be expected to demand one since they were being "unfairly" excluded.
4. So the people of the Land caused the hands of the nation of Yehudah to slacken and terrorized them during the building [process]
Terrorized them during the building: or, caused them to hurry anxiously in the building, i.e., to complete the job before the adversaries could accomplish any damage or prevent them through some legal means.
5. They even hired consultants against them to frustrate their plans all the days Koresh was king of Persia and on through the reign of Daryush, king of Persia.
Consultants: or, conspirators.
6. Then during the reign of Akhashwerosh, at the beginning of his reign, they wrote an accusation against the inhabitants of Yehudah and Yerushalayim;
This would be while Vashti was still the queen, prior to Hadassah (Esther)'s rise to the throne. This explains why Mordekhai would return to the capital after coming to help rebuild Yerushalayim--to correct the error of his own tribesman Sha'ul in failing to destroy Agag, from which Haman descended. These accusers may have been influenced by Haman, or vice versa.
7. indeed, in the days of Artkh'shashta, Bishlam, Mithr'dath, Tav'el, and the rest of his associates wrote to Artkh'shashta, king of Persia. And the characters of the letter were written in Aramaic or translated Aramaic.
Characters: prior to the exile, a different Hebrew alphabet was used, that which is commonly called Phoenician; after the exile, the modern form of the letters was used, but it derived from Babylon, and is likely what is referred to here as Aramaic script.
8. R'hum, [the] master judge, and Shimshai the scribe wrote a missive against Yerushalayim to Artkh'shashta, the king, as follows [below],
9. then R'hum the master judge, Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their associates--Dinayites, Afarsathkhites, Tarpelites, Afarsites, Erekites, the Babylonians, Shushanites (that is, Elamites),
These groups listed were among the Cuthaean colonists who were placed in the cities of Samaria after the captivity of the ten tribes. Afarsathkhites literally means "dividers of the deceivers". Afarsites means "causers of division."
10. and the rest of the ethnic groups that the great and honorable Asnapar exiled in the villages of Shomron and the rest of the [province] Across the River. Now then,
Across the River: Though the Yarden is much smaller than the Tigris or Ferath (Euphrates) with which they were familiar, these foreign empires still acknowledged its significance. The word for "Across" is also related to the word "Hebrew", so even though they had removed the Hebrews from their Land, they were still in essence calling it "the Hebrew Land".
11. this is a copy of the letter they sent to him (to Artkh'shashta the king): "Your servants, the men Across the River:
12. "Let it be known to the king that the Jews who came up from you to us have arrived in Yerushalayim, [re]building the rebellious and evil city, completing the walls, and have begun repairing the foundations.
13. "Now therefore let it be known to the king that if this city be rebuilt and the walls completed, they will not pay toll, tribute, or duty, and it will cause the king's revenue to suffer damage.
Indeed, once enough Israelites truly keep the Sabbath, we will have a major effect on the economy which thrives on big spending on Friday nights and Saturdays, and because of this, we will be seen as detrimental. We will also be perceived as evil and rebellious, as they were, when we do not go along with the politically correct emphases on peace at any price, all philosophies being held as equally acceptable, etc., which fly in the face of the Torah.
14. "Since we have eaten salt from the king's palace, it would not be fitting for us to behold the king's dishonor. That is why we have sent and let the king know,
Eaten salt: possibly an idiom for being in charge of maintenance. Or it may be another expression of Middle Eastern hospitality; since they had benefited from his table, they would be expected to feel obligated to warn him of danger. But this was merely a pretext for their own agenda. Dishonor: literally, nakedness.
15. "so that he may have an inquiry made into your ancestorsâ€™ record book, and you will find [it] in the record book and realize that this city is a rebellious city and [one that] causes damage to kings and nations; indeed, they have caused insurrection within it since ancient times, which is why [this] city was laid waste.
16. "We serve notice to the king that if this city is rebuilt and the walls completed, then you will have no possession Across the River."
Indeed, what is holy is walled off, and no other king is to have jurisdiction over Yerushalayim. Again, the walls correlate with the Sabbath, for outsiders who are not willing to bow to this first test of obedience to YHWH should indeed not receive any benefit from us on that day. The adversaries appealed to the king's own interest when tricking him into reversing the decree of Koresh, though the decrees of a Medo-Persian king were supposedly irreversible. (Dan. 6:15)
17. The decree of the king to R'hum the master judge, Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their associates settled in Shomron, and the remainder [who are] Across the River: "Peace! Now then,
18. "the letter that you sent has been read distinctly in front of me,
19. "and an order was given by me, and an inquiry was made, and it was found that since days of antiquity this city has raised itself up against kings and rebellion and insurrection had been perpetrated in it.
The "rebellion" was against rulers who would not allow Israel to obey YHWH's covenant, and we should stand against any such people as well.
20. "There have also been strong kings over Yerushalayim who have had authority over everything across the River, and toll, tribute, and duty were being paid to them.
21. "So now make a decree for these [mighty, prevailing] men to stop, and that this city may not be rebuilt until there is a decree from me.
22. "So be careful not to neglect to do this. Why should harm multiply to the detriment of the kings?"
23. Then as soon as the copy of King Artkhashashta's letter was read in front of R'hum, Shimshai the scribe, and their associates, they hurried off to Yerushalayim and by force and an army made the Jews stop [working].
24. So [the] work on the House of Elohim, which is in Yerushalayim, and it remained stopped until the second year of the reign of Daryush, king of Persia.
Extra-biblical histories tell us that this delay lasted 15 years. Daryush was the king during Daniel's well-known experience in the lions' den.
1. Then Khaggai the prophet and Zekharyah the son of Iddo, the prophets, prophesied to the Jews who [were] in Yerushalayim in the name of the Elah of Israel [who is] over them.
Elah: The Aramaic word for Elohim; Elaha in v. 2 is another form of this word. This portion of Ezra, beginning with the text of the letter in the previous chapter, is written in Aramaic rather than Hebrew (through 6:18).
2. Then Zerubavel the son of Sh'alti'el and Y'shua the son of Yotzadaq rose up and began to build the house of Elaha, which is in Yerushalayim, and the prophets of Elaha were with them, sustaining them.
Rose up: as if in haste to use the window of the king's apparent death (by virtue of the fact that Daryush was now ruling in Artakhshashta’s stead) to do what he had forbidden, since now it was impossible for him to reverse the decree as he had said. Began: The word has the connotation of loosening, opening up, or dissolving, i.e., in relation to the ban on building the remainder of Yerushalayim (4:21).
3. At that time Thathnai, governor of [the province] Across the River, came to them along with Sh'thar Boznai and their associates, and spoke to them like this: "Who gave you the order to build this house and to finish this wall?"
Why do they care? Because the "powers that be" are nervous about the things Israel establishes, and will try to show that we do not have sufficient authority to follow our calling as a people. The chief reason is that they realize it will not benefit them, being for a higher purpose.
4. Whereupon we told them such as were the names of the men [who were] building this structure.
5. But the eye of their Elohim was upon the elders of the Jews, so that they were unable to make them stop until the case came to Daryush, upon which they sent [a verdict] in reply by letter.
6. The copy of the letter which Thathnai, governor of "Across the River", Sh'thar Boznai, and his associates, the Afarsakhites who were Across the River, sent to Daryush the king:
7. They sent him a report, and this is what was written in it: "To Daryush the king: All peace!
8. "Let it be known to the king that we have gone to the district of Yehudah, to the house of the Great Elaha, and it is being built with rolling stones, and timber is being set in the walls, and this service is being carried out enthusiastically and is prospering in their hands.
Rolling stones: apparently uncut stones, as were used in constructing the altar. Enthusiastically: The Aramaic word includes the connotations of thoroughness, eagerness, speed, and diligence.
9. "Then we inquired of those elders; we said this to them: 'Who gave you an order to rebuild this house and to complete this structure?'
10. "In fact, we also asked their names in order to inform you, so that we might write the names of those who are their heads.
11. "And they gave us back a word like this, saying, 'We are servants of the Elah of heaven and earth, and we are rebuilding the house that had been built many years ago, when a great king of Israel built it and finished it.
12. "'But since our ancestors provoked the Elah of heaven to anger, He delivered them into the hand of Nevukhadnetzar the Khaldean, the king of Bavel, who destroyed this house and carried its people away to exile in Bavel.
Destroyed: or, hid from sight. The Temple in heaven still existed, but its shadow was no longer seen.
13. "'However, in the first year of Koresh, king of Bavel, King Koresh gave an order to rebuild this house of Elaha.
King of Bavel: because he conquered Bavel; he was actually Medo-Persian.
14. "'Even the articles of gold and silver that Nevukhadnetzar took out of the Temple that was in Yerushalayim and carried them into the temple of Bavel--these King Koresh took from the temple of Bavel, and they were assigned to [someone] whose name was Sheshbatzar, whom he had appointed deputy,
15. "'and he told him, "Take these articles; go deposit them in the Temple that is in Yerushalayim, and let the House of Elaha be rebuilt on its [former] site."
16. "'Then that [same] Sheshbatzar came and laid the foundation of the House of Elaha that is in Yerushalayim, and since that time until now it has been under construction, yet it is not finished.
17. "'So now, if it pleases the king, let a search be made in the king's archive house which is there in Bavel as to whether there exists a decree made by Koresh to rebuild a house of Elaha which is in Yerushalayim. Then let the king's preference concerning this matter be sent to us.'"
Whether there exists: The laws of the Medes and Persians could not be revoked, so if it existed at one time, it would still remain.
1. At that time Daryush the king gave an order, and a search was made in the library where the archives were stored in Bavel.
2. And in Akhmata, in the palace of the province of Maday, a scroll was found and this is what was indeed written in it:
Akhmata: More widely known as Ecbatana.
3. "In year one of Koresh the king, King Koresh gave an order [regarding] the house of Elaha which is in Yerushalayim: 'Let the house be rebuilt [as a] site where sacrifices are slaughtered, and let the foundations be laid to bear a load 60 cubits high and 60 cubits wide,
4. "'[with] three rows of rolling stones and a row of fresh timber, and let the expenses be paid from out of the king's house.
5. "'And, in fact, let the articles of gold and silver from the House of Elaha, which Nevukhadnetzar took from the Temple that is in Yerushalayim and carried into Bavel, be returned and brought back to their [former] place at the Temple in Yerushalayim. And put them in the House of Elaha.'"
YHWH has constituted an authority structure. That their inferiors even try to have a say in our affairs is probably a sign that they have the wrong motives to begin with, and we have no obligation to cater to them.
6. "So you, Thathnai, governor of [the province] Across the River, Sh'thar Boznai, and your associates, the Afarsakhites, stay far away from there!
Both Judaism and Christianity question our rights to rebuild what YHWH once built, but we need neither permission from them nor help from them, for we have the ancient documents necessary to prove that it is His will. Daryush appended his order with a special warning:
7. "Leave the affairs of this House of Elaha alone. Let the governor of the Jews and the Jewish elders construct the House of Elaha on its [former] site!
8. "And by myself a decree is being made as to what you must do with the elders of these Jews for the building of this House of Elaha: that from the property belonging to the king, the tribute from Across the River, a thorough outlay must be provided to these men so that they will not have to stop.
9. "And whatever they need, whether sons of bulls or rams or lambs for the ascending [offerings] for the Elah of the Heavens, wheat, salt, red wine, or anointing oil, according to what the priests in Yerushalayim tell [you], let it be provided for them day by day without neglect
10. "so that they may be able to bring near [offerings] soothing to the Elah of the Heavens as well as prayers for the life of the king and his sons.
11. "I have also made a decree that for any man who alters this decree, a beam will be pulled out from his house and he will be hung on it until he dies, and for this his house will be made into a latrine.
Alters this decree: How much more can the decree given by the King of Heaven not be altered? Yet so often we try to do so to be free to follow our own agendas. Daryush was the son of the king who had Haman hanged like this, and this allusion should be sufficient deterrent for those in whose memory this was still vivid.
12. "And may the Elaha who has caused His Name to dwell there overthrow any king or nation who may put out his hand to alter or harm the House of Elaha that is in Yerushalayim. I, Daryush, have given the order; let it be carried out thoroughly."
Thoroughly: includes the concepts of speed, precision, and diligence.
13. So Thathnai, governor Across the River, Sh'thar Boznai, and their associates, did so, exactly according to what Daryush the king had sent out.
14. Now the elders of the Jews had been intensely building and were succeeding through the prophesying of Khaggai the prophet and Zekharyah the son of Iddo. When they had constructed and completed [it] by reason of the command of the Elah of Israel and by the decree of Koresh, Daryush, and Artakhshashta, king of Persia.
If we read only the text of Ezra, it seems strange to include Artakshashta’s name in the list of those whose decree allowed the construction, since he was the very one who had it cease for 15 years! But Nehemyah chapter 2 tells us the inside story of how he was also the one who gave Nehemyah, his personal cupbearer, permission to go back and rebuild the outer wall of the city, so he did indeed have a hand in the reestablishment of the Temple.
15. And this House was brought out on the third of the month of Adar which [came] in the sixth year of the reign of Daryush the king,
Adar: the month in which Purim, the feast celebrating the events in Yehudah's life during the reign of Daryush's father, takes place.
16. and the descendants of Israel--the priests, the Levites, and the rest of the sons of the exile, performed the dedication of this House of Elaha with joy.
17. And they brought near for the dedication of this House of Elaha 100 bulls, 200 rams, 400 lambs, as well as male goats for a sin [offering] on behalf of all Israel--twelve, for the number of the tribes of Israel.
18. Then they appointed the priests by their divisions and the Levites by their courses, for the ritual service of Elaha who is in Yerushalayim, as it is written in the book of Moshe.
Now the Hebrew text resumes:
19. The sons of the exile also observed the Passover on the fourteenth of the first month,
The first month: the month following Adar.
20. because the priests and Levites as one had purified themselves; all of them were ritually clean. So they slaughtered the Passover [lamb] for all the sons of the exile, for their brothers the priests, and for themselves.
Ritually clean: Apparently no one else was, so the priests slaughtered everyone’s lamb. Normally the head of the household would do this himself. But everyone else may have also forgotten how to do it and needed to be re-taught by those whose job it was to know.
21. So the descendants of Israel who had returned out of the exile and all who had separated themselves unto them from the uncleanness of the gentiles of the Land to seek YHWH the Elohim of Israel.
Not everyone may eat of the Passover. (See also Ex. 12:48.) To join the table of the righteous, we must make a distinction between ourselves and others, even within the Holy Land!
22. Then they kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days, joyfully, because YHWH had made them joyful, and had turned the heart of the king of Ashur toward them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the House of Elohim--the Elohim of Israel.
Ashur: Assyria, also included in the lands Daryush conquered. Part of the reunification in our day also includes keeping YHWH's Festivals corporately.
1. Now after these things, during the reign of Artakhshashta, king of Persia, Ezra the son of Serayah, son of Azaryah, son of Khilqiyah,
There were two kings named Daryush, which explains why Artakhshashta seems to both precede and succeed the same king.
2. son of Shallum, son of Tzadoq, son of Akhituv,
3. son of Amaryah, son of Azaryah, son of M'rayoth,
4. son of Z'rakhyah, son of Uzzi, son of Buqi,
5. son of Avishua, son of Pin'khas, son of El’azar, son of Aharon the head priest--
6. he was the Ezra who went up from Bavel. He was also a scribe skilled in the Torah of Moshe, which YHWH the Elohim of Israel had given. And the king granted everything he requested, as the hand of YHWH his Elohim was upon him.
Scribe: the term is actually based on the word for counting, and indeed in Hebrew the letteyrs each have a numeric value, and it is a common form of study to find connections between words that have the same numeric value. Skilled: from the word for speedy.
7. (And some from among the descendants of Israel went up to Yerushalayim in the seventh year of Artakhshashta the king, along with some of the priests and Levites and singers and gatekeepers and the Designated Ones.)
8. And he came to Yerushalayim in the fifth month which was in the king's seventh year,
9. because on [day] one of the first [month], he had set out to go up from Bavel, and on [day] one of the fifth month, he arrived at Yerushalayim, as the beneficent hand of his Elohim was upon him,
Set out: Literally, laid the foundation.
10. since Ezra had directed his heart to seek the Torah of YHWH and to carry it out and to teach a prescribed boundary and justice in Israel.
This is the core responsibility of the priests.
11. Now this is the copy of the letter that the King Artakhshashta gave to Ezra the priest, the scribe who [was] writing the words of the commands of YHWH and His prescribed enactments in regard to Israel:
(The text of the letter is in Aramaic.)
12. "Artakhshashta, king of kings, to Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of YHWH, the Elah of Heaven: [May you] be completed, and right now!
13. "From myself a decree was made that anyone from among the people of Israel or its priests or Levites in my kingdom who is motivated by his own free will to go up to Yerushalayim may be brought with you,
14. "in view of the fact that you are all being sent from before the king and his seven advisors to investigate in regard to Yehudah and Yerushalayim according to the law of your Elohim that is in your hand
15. "and to carry along the silver and gold that the king and his advisors have voluntarily contributed to the Elah of Israel, whose Dwelling Place is in Yerushalayim.
16. "Moreover, any silver or gold that you can find anywhere in the jurisdiction of Bavel through the contributions of the people or the priests who give voluntarily toward the House of their Elah which is in Yerushalayim.
17. "All this being the case, you must quickly buy bulls, rams, lambs, and their grain offerings and libations, and bring them near onto the altar of the house of your Elah that is in Yerushalayim.
Quickly: or eagerly, diligently, thoroughly.
18. "And whatever seems appropriate to you and your brothers to do with the rest of the silver and gold, according to the will of your Elah, you [may] do.
19. "Also, the utensils that are provided you for the [ritual] service of the house of your Elah, furnish completely before the Elah of Yerushalayim.
20. "And whatever else may be needed [for] the house of your Elah that you have occasion to give, provide it from the king's treasure-house.
Treasure-house: literally, house of scrolls.
21. "And from myself, Artakhshashta the king, a decree has been fixed for all the treasurers who are Across the river, that anything Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the Elah of Heaven, may ask of you, it must be carried out thoroughly,
22. "up to a hundred kikkars of silver, up to a hundred kors of wheat, up to a hundred baths of wine, or up to a hundred baths of anointing oil, and salt without keeping record.
A kor is a dry measure of ten eyfoth, which corresponds to ten baths of liquid measure, each equivalent to about 40 liters. Salt: used to preserve the meat of the animals slaughtered in the Temple, and to sprinkle on the grain offerings as a symbol of YHWH’s eternal covenant with Israel.
23. "Whatever is from the command of the Elah of Heaven, let it be done correctly for the House of the Elah of Heaven, because why should there come to be wrath against the realm of the king and his sons?
24. "And as for you, we are notifying you that [for] any of the priests, Levites, singers, gatekeepers, Designated Ones, or servants of this House of Elah, no [one will have] authority to impose toll, tribute, or duty on them.
25. "And as for you, Ezra, according to the skill of your Elah that is in your hand, appoint magistrates and judges who will be able to render judgment for any of the people Across the River--all of whom know the laws of your Elohim. And any who are not familiar [with them], you make them familiar!
26. "And whomever there may be who does not carry out the law of your Elohim or the law of the king, let thorough judgment be executed on him, whether death or banishment or confiscation of property or imprisonment."
Here the text reverts to Hebrew:
27. Blessed be YHWH the Elohim of our forefathers, who has put such [things] into the king's heart to enhance the House of YHWH in Yerushalayim!
And this was without his requesting it. (8:25)
28. Moreover, to me He has extended mercy before the face of the king and his advisors, and before all the king's mighty leaders. And I was strengthened, as the hand of YHWH my Elohim was upon me. So I gathered together out of Israel chiefs to go up with me.
1. Now these are the heads of their fathers' [households] and the geneaological enrollments of those who went up with me from Bavel during the reign of Artakhshashta: the king
2. Of the descendants of Pin'khas, Gershom [an exile there].
Of the descendants of Ithamar, Daniel [Elohim is my judge].
Of the descendants of David, Khattush [assembled].
3. Of the descendants of Sh'khanyah, of the descendants of Far'osh, Z'kharyah [YHWH has remembered]. (And with him 150 of the males were genealogically enrolled.)
4. Of the descendants of Pakhat-Moav, Elihoeynai [my eyes are to YHWH] the son of Zerahyah [YHWH has risen], and with him 200 males.
5. Of the descendants of Sh'khanyah the son of Yakhaziel [beheld by Elohim], and with him 300 males.
6. And from the descendants of Adin, Eved [servant] the son of Yonathan [YHWH has given], and with him 50 males.
7. And from the descendants of Eylam, Y'sha'yah [YHWH has saved] the son of Athalyah [afflicted by YHWH], and with him 70 of the males.
8. And from the descendants of Sh'fatyah, Z'vadyah [endowment of YHWH] the son of Mikhael [Who is like Elohim?], and with him 80 of the males.
9. Of the descendants of Yoav, Ovadyah [servant of YHWH] the son of Y'khiel [Elohim lives], and with him 218 of the males.
10. And from the descendants of Shlomith, the son of Yosifyah [YHWH adds], and with him 160 of the males.
11. And from the descendants of V'vai, Z’kharyah [YHWH has remembered] the son of V'vai, and with him 28 of the males.
12. And from the descendants of Azgad, Yokhanan [YHWH has shown favor] the son of Haqatan [the small one], and with him 110 of the males.
13. And from the descendants of Adoniqam [My master has risen], the last ones, and these [were] their names: Elifelet [Elohim is deliverance], Ye'uEl [Elohim has swept away], and Sh’mayah [heard by YHWH], and with them 60 of the males.
14. And from the descendants of Bigwai, Uthai [helpful] and Zabbud [endowed], and with them 70 of the males.
Counting the leaders of each group, the total comes to over 1,500.
15. When I gathered them toward the river that runs to Ahawa [I will subsist], we camped there three days, and I divided up the people and priests, and found none of the descendants of Levi there.
Divided up: or evaluated, scrutinized, considered, analyzed, inspected. Ahawa means "I shall subsist."
16. So I sent for Eliezer [My Elohim is one who helps], Ariel [lion of Elohim], Sh'mayah [heard by YHWH], Elnathan [Elohim has given], Yariv [he contends], Elnathan, Nathan, Z'kharyah, and M’shulam [man of peace], head [men], as well as for Yoyariv [YHWH contends] and Elnathan, men of discernment.
17. Then I sent them out to Iddo [I will praise him], the head man at the place [called] Kasifya, and I put words in their mouth to speak to Iddo [and] his brothers, the Designated Ones at the place [called] Kasifya, to have attendants brought to us for the House of our Elohim.
Kasifya means "place of silver" or "place of yearning".
18. And as to the beneficent hand of our Elohim [was] upon us, they brought us a man of insight from among the sons of Makhli, the son of Levi, the son of Israel, that is, Sh'rivyah [YHWH has scorched], with his sons and his brothers--18 [in all].
19. Also Khashavyah [YHWH has considered], and with him Y'shayah of the sons of Merari, his brothers, and their sons--20 [in all].
20. Then from the Designated Ones, whom David and the princes had appointed for the service of the Levites--220 Designated Ones were specified by name.
21. Then I proclaimed a fast there by the river of Ahawa, so we might humble ourselves before our Elohim, to request from Him a level path for ourselves, our toddlers, and for all our possessions,
Level path: or, a straight way, and, figuratively, an upright manner of life. To be faithful to their calling, they had to expose their children to great risks. And was it worthy bringing their possessions along, or should they simply leave them behind and be relieved of one more responsibility?
22. because I was ashamed to ask from the king an army and horsemen to help us because of the enemy on the way, since we had [already] told the king, "The hand of our Elohim is on all those who seek Him for welfare, but His force and wrath are against all who neglect Him."
He could hardly say, "I'd trust YHWH more if I had your help"! Avraham refused to let anyone but YHWH have the credit for making him rich. (Gen. 14:23) He acted on the faith he wanted to have, and prayed for the ability to trust YHWH beyond what he felt sure about, because he knew YHWH well enough to know He deserved all the credit, and wanted Him to have it all.
23. So we fasted and pleaded with our Elohim, and He was pleased [to respond] to our [pleading].
24. Then I separated out twelve of the heads of the priests: Sh'revyah, Khashavyah, and with them ten of their brothers.
25. And I weighed out to them the silver, the gold, the utensils, and the contribution [for] the House of our Elohim that the king, his advisers, and his overseers, as well as all who were recognized as Israel.
All who were recognized: or, all who could be found.
26. I even weighed out into their hands 650 kikkarim of silver, the silver utensils [which totaled] 100 by the kikkarim, 100 kikkar of gold,
27. as well as 20 golden covered bowls to 1,000 adarknim, and articles of fine gleaming copper, as valuable as gold.
Adarknim: a unit of weight and value equal to 128 grains or 4.32 grams.
28. And I began to tell them, "You are set apart to YHWH, and the utensils are set apart, and the silver and gold are a freewill offering to YHWH, the Elohim of your ancestors.
29. "Remain watchful and guard [them] until you weigh [them out] before the overseers of the priests and Levites and the chiefs of the fathers of Israel in Yerushalayim, [in] the chambers of the House of YHWH."
30. So the priests and Levites accepted the responsibility of bringing the silver, the gold, and the utensils to House of our Elohim in Yerushalayim.
Responsibility: literally, weight or grief. The burden would be off their shoulders once these items were in the hands of those the Torah designated as their caretakers.
31. And we set out [on our journey] from the River of Ahava on the twelfth of the first month to walk to Yerushalayim, and the hand of our Elohim came over us, and He rescued us from the palm of the enemy's hand or [anyone] lying in wait to ambush [us] along the way.
Twelfth of the first month: the midway point of the four days in which YHWH commanded the Passover lamb to be inspected. Ezra had indeed just inspected the men under his charge, found them lacking, and remedied the situation. (v. 15)
32. When we arrived at Yerushalayim, we remained there three days.
Remained: or, sat still, possibly to absorb the awesomeness of being back where they were meant to be and of at last being released from YHWH's judgment, to honor the dignity of the place YHWH had chosen, and simply to rest up for the immense task ahead of them.
33. Then on the fourth day, the silver, gold, and utensils were weighed out in the House of our Elohim by the hand of M'remoth the son of Uriyah [YHWH is my light] the officiator, and with him, El’azar the son of Pin'khas, and with them Yozavad [YHWH has endowed] the son of Y'shua [he saved] and Noadyah [meeting with YHWH] the son of Binui [built up], the Levites.
34. By count, according to weight for each [article], indeed all of the weight was recorded at that time.
35. Those who came out from captivity, the sons of the exile, brought ascending [offerings] near for the Elohim of Israel--12 bulls for all Israel, 96 rams, 77 lambs, and 12 he-goats for a sin offering; it was all an ascending to YHWH.
[Still being translated.]
36. And they gave the king's edict to the king's lieutenants and [the] governors Across the River, and they supported the people and the House of Elohim.
Supported: or sustained, took up responsibility for.