Permission to return to Jerusalem
1 In the first year of King Cyrus of Persia’s rule, to fulfill the Lord’s word spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Persia’s King Cyrus. The king issued a proclamation throughout his kingdom (it was also in writing) that stated:
2 Persia’s King Cyrus says: The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth. He has commanded me to build him a house at Jerusalem in Judah. 3 If there are any of you who are from his people, may their God be with them! They may go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the house of the Lord, the God of Israel—he is the God who is in Jerusalem. 4 And as for all those who remain in the various places where they are living, let the people of those places supply them with silver and gold, and with goods and livestock, together with spontaneous gifts for God’s house in Jerusalem.
Preparing to return
5 Then the heads of the families of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and the Levites—everyone whose spirit God had stirred up—got ready to go up and build God’s house in Jerusalem. 6 All their neighbors assisted them with silver equipment, with gold, with goods, livestock, and valuable gifts, in addition to all that was freely offered. 7 King Cyrus brought out the equipment of the Lord’s house—those items that Nebuchadnezzar brought from Jerusalem and placed in the house of his gods. 8 Persia’s King Cyrus handed them over to Mithredath the treasurer, who counted them out to Sheshbazzar the prince of Judah. 9 This was the count: thirty gold dishes, one thousand silver dishes, twenty-nine knives, 10 thirty gold bowls, four hundred ten larger silver bowls, and one thousand other objects. 11 The total of the gold and silver objects numbered five thousand four hundred. Sheshbazzar brought up all of these when the exiles went up from Babylonia to Jerusalem.