The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The First Book of Esdras
Thereupon, at king Darius’ orders, research was made in the archives laid up at Babylon;
and at last in Ecbatana, a city of the Median province, a document was found to this effect:
In the first year of king Cyrus a royal decree was made about the house of God at Jerusalem. It is to be rebuilt, for the better offering of sacrifice; foundations to be laid that will support a structure sixty cubits … high and sixty wide;
upon these three rows of rough-hewn stone, and then courses of timber. For all this, the expense to be defrayed by the royal treasury.
All the gold and silver ware from the temple at Jerusalem that was brought to Babylon by Nabuchodonosor is to be restored, and carried back to Jerusalem, to find its fitting place in the temple of God.
… It is my will✻ that Thathanai, governor of the province beyond the river, and Stharbuzanai, and the Apharsachites beyond the river, their associates, should cease interfering with the Jews;
the Jewish ruler and the Jewish elders must be allowed to go on with their temple-building, so that this house of God may be re-established on its ancient site.
And to the intent that these elders of the Jews may be able to continue the said building without intermission, my will is that moneys should be paid to them with all diligence out of the royal chest, and namely out of the tribute that is collected beyond the river;
moreover that if there is need of calves, lambs or kids for burnt-sacrifice to the God of heaven, or of corn, salt, wine and oil to perform the ceremonies practised at Jerusalem, supplies of these should be given them daily, without fail.
So let them be enabled to make their offerings to the God of heaven, and let them pray for the welfare of the king and royal princes.
My will is, further, that if any man presume to alter the tenour of this decree, a beam should be taken from his house, and himself nailed up on it; the said house to be confiscated.✻
And may the God, who has made Jerusalem the shrine of his name, destroy every kingdom and people which attempts to injure or destroy this temple of his that is built there. I, Darius, am the author of this decree, and will have it carried out with all diligence.
Carry it out they did, and diligently, both Thathanai and Stharbuzanai and all their partisans.
As for the elders of the Jews, they built on, and all went favourably; true prophets were Aggaeus and Zacharias son of Addo; higher and higher the fabric rose, with the God of Israel for its speed, with Cyrus for its speed, and Darius, (and Artaxerxes), kings of Persia.
It was on the third day of the month Adar, in the sixth year of king Darius, that they finished God’s house;
great joy had priest and Levite, great joy had all the returned exiles, as they consecrated God’s house together.
The offerings they made at the dedication were a hundred calves, two hundred rams, and four hundred lambs; besides twelve goats to atone for the faults of all Israel, one for each of Israel’s tribes.
Row upon row the priests stood, turn and turn about the Levites ministered, as the law of Moses bade them, doing the Lord’s errand there at Jerusalem.
Afterwards, on the fourteenth day of the first month, Israel’s sons, returned from captivity, kept the paschal feast.
All the priests had rid themselves of defilement, and so had the Levites to a man; cleansed they must be, to slay the paschal victim for the returned exiles, and for their brethren the priests, and for themselves besides.
So the Israelites who had come back from Babylon ate the pasch; and with them those others who had remained in the country, and been defiled by contact with its inhabitants; now they united with their brethren in having recourse to the Lord, the God of Israel.
And all through the week following they kept the feast of unleavened bread, glad at heart. Glad indeed the Lord had made them, Assyria’s king✻ no more their enemy, their task so lightened for them in building a house for the Lord God of Israel.
The Holy Bible