Daily Word

The decree; dirty money? | Ezra 7:11-16 (ESV)

11 This is a copy of the letter that King Artaxerxes gave to Ezra the priest, the scribe, a man learned in matters of the commandments of the LORD and his statutes for Israel: 12 “Artaxerxes, king of kings, to Ezra the priest, the scribe of the Law of the God of heaven. Peace. And now 13 I make a decree that anyone of the people of Israel or their priests or Levites in my kingdom, who freely offers to go to Jerusalem, may go with you. 14 For you are sent by the king and his seven counselors to make inquiries about Judah and Jerusalem according to the Law of your God, which is in your hand, 15 and also to carry the silver and gold that the king and his counselors have freely offered to the God of Israel, whose dwelling is in Jerusalem, 16 with all the silver and gold that you shall find in the whole province of Babylonia, and with the freewill offerings of the people and the priests, vowed willingly for the house of their God that is in Jerusalem.

King Artaxerxes

He succeeded Xerxes, who was King during the time of Esther. So he undoubtedly knew the Esther story. He refers to himself quite “humbly” as “king of kings” – which is actually how Daniel, out of respect, referred to King Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 2:37. Ezra is personally known by the king who calls Ezra a priest and scribe of “the God of heaven” (which likely means he worshipped other gods).

The decree

The decree is pretty extensive. It gave the ok for any Israelites still in Babylon to return to Jerusalem; instructed Ezra to make inquiry of God (which I think means to seek God’s blessing for the King); equips Ezra with lots of money to buy the items necessary for a proper sacrifice and provides utensils for the sanctuary. It requires the province treasurers to support the worship and forbids them from taxing religious workers. Ezra is given political and teaching authority as well. And finally, it prescribes punishment for any who disobey. 

Dirty money?

The offering was not just from the king and his counselors but many in Babylon – including Jews who decided to still remain in Babylon. It’s amazing how God provided abundantly- even through gentile kings. Was it dirty money? I don’t think so.

Image by Wynn Pointaux from Pixabay

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