Decrees of Persian Kings

536 BCE

Cyrus the Great

Ezra 1:2-4

Thus says Cyrus king of Persia:
All the kingdoms of the earth Yahweh the God of the Heaven has given me. And he has appointed me to build him a House in Jerusalem which is in Judah. Who is among you of all his people? His God be with him and let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah, and build the House of Yahweh the God of Israel. He is the God which is in Jerusalem. And all who remain in any of the places where he dwells, let the men of that place assist him with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, besides the freewill offerings for the House of God which is in Jerusalem. 

519 BCE

​Darius the Great

Ezra 6:3-12

In the first year of King Cyrus, King Cyrus issued a decree concerning the House of God in Jerusalem: “Let the house be built, as a place where sacrifices are offered; and let the foundations of it be laid, its height sixty cubits, its width sixty cubits, with three layers of rolling stones, and a layer of new timber. Let the expenses be given from the King’s House. Also let the gold and silver articles of the House of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took from the temple which is in Jerusalem and brought to Babylon, let them be restored and go to the temple which is in Jerusalem, each to its place; and placed in the House of God.”

Now, Tatnai, governor of Beyond the River, and Shethar-Boznai, and your associates, the officials who are Beyond the River, keep yourselves far from there. Let the work of this House of God alone; let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews build this House of God in its place.

And by me a decree is made as to what you shall do with the elders of these Jews, for the building of the House of God that, from that from the king’s property, of the tax of Beyond the River; the exact expense be given to these men, so that they do not cease working. And what things they need, young bulls, rams, and lambs for the burnt offerings to the God of Heaven, wheat, salt, wine, and oil, as say the priests who are in Jerusalem — let it be given them day by day without fail, so that they may offer sacrifices of sweet odor to the God of Heaven, and pray for the life of the king and his sons.

Also by me was given a decree that whoever shall change this decree, let a timber be pulled from his house, and let him be impaled and be affixed on it; and let his house be made a dunghill for this. And may the God who causes his name to dwell there overthrow any king or people who put out their hand to change or to destroy that House of God which is in Jerusalem. I, Darius, have made a decree. Let it be done exactly.

457 BCE

Artaxerxes I

Ezra 7:12-26

Artaxerxes King of Kings, to Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God Heaven is finished. And now from me a decree was made that all those of the people of Israel and their priests and Levites in my realm, who volunteer to go up to Jerusalem, may go with you. And whereas you are being sent by the king and his seven advisors to inquire as to Judah and Jerusalem, with the Law of your God which is in your hand, and you are to bring silver and gold which the king and his advisors have contributed to the God of Israel, whose dwelling is in Jerusalem. And all the silver and gold which you can find in all the province of Babylon, along with the freewill offering of the people and of the priests, contributing voluntarily for the House of their God which is in Jerusalem. Therefore, you shall diligently buy with this money bulls, rams, and lambs, with their grain offerings and libations, and offer them on the altar of the House of your God which is in Jerusalem.

And whatever shall seem good to you and your brothers, do with the rest of the silver and the gold, do it according to the will of your God. Also the vessels which are given to you for the service of this House of your God, place before the God of Jerusalem. And the rest of the needs of the House of your God, which falls to you to give, give it out of the king’s treasury. And from me, I,, Artaxerxes the king, made a decree to all the treasurers who are Beyond the River, that whatever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the Law of the God of Heaven, exactly it shall be done, up to a hundred talents of silver, a hundred kors of wheat, a hundred baths of wine, one hundred baths of oil, and salt without stipulation. Whatever is commanded by the God of Heaven, let it diligently be done for the House of the God of Heaven. For why should there be wrath against the realm of the king and his sons?

 Also we inform you that it shall not be lawful to impose tax, tribute, or custom on any of the priests, Levites, singers, gatekeepers, the temple slaves or servants of this House of God. And you, Ezra, by the wisdom of your God that is in your hand, you appoint judges and magistrates who may judge all the people who are Beyond the River, all who know the laws of your God; and teach those who do not know them. Whoever will not do the law of your God, and the law of the king, let judgment diligently be executed on him, either for death, or banishment, or for confiscation of goods, or imprisonment.

444 BCE

Artaxerxes I
Nehemiah 2:5-9

Furthermore I (Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah) said to the king: “If to the king it is good, let letters be given to me for the governors Beyond the River, who may let me pass through until I come to Judah. And a letter to Asaph the keeper of the king’s forest, that he give me timber to make beams for the gates of the palace which is for the House, and for wall of the city, and for the house which I shall occupy.” And the king granted them to me according to the good hand of my God upon me. And I came to the governors Beyond the River, and gave them the king’s letters. And the king had sent captains of the army and horsemen with me.