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Chapter 7 describes Ezra’s arrival from Babylon. It includes a letter of commission from the Persian king Artaxerxes discussing the return of the Israelites to Jerusalem and the establishment of the law among their community. Ezra expressed gratitude to God for these favorable conditions.
Ezra 7:1–10. Ezra’s lineage and righteous history
These verses outline Ezra’s arrival from Babylon and describe him as a “ready scribe in the law of Moses” (verse 6). The adjective “ready scribe” in the King James Version means “one who is expert.” This establishes Ezra’s authority and reliability in teaching the people. Ezra is portrayed in many ways like Moses in bringing the law to the people. These verses also emphasize his priestly lineage.
Ezra 7:11–26. Letter copy from Artaxerxes to Ezra; Ezra is given power
This section includes a copy of the lengthy letter from King Artaxerxes, who commissioned Ezra’s mission. The letter is written in Aramaic and reiterates the invitation for all who want to return to Jerusalem and worship there. It also allowed Ezra to apply the laws of God within their community, including any appropriate punishments for disobedience. They were also allowed to acquire offerings to support the rebuilding of the temple with the possibility of supplemental resources from the royal treasury. According to this letter, temple functionaries were exempt from taxes.
Ezra 7:27–28. Praises to God
Ezra offered a prayer thanking God for inclining the hearts of the king and his officials toward the temple and the Israelite community. Ezra also gathered some of Israel’s leaders to return to Jerusalem.
This is a rare situation when government actually supported the religious practice of a nonstate religion. The eleventh Latter-day Saint article of faith states that “we claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege.”
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