Ezra 4:1 — 6:22
4 When the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the sons of the Exile were building a temple to Jehovah the God of Israel, 2 they immediately approached Zerubbabel and the heads of the paternal houses and said to them: “Let us build along with YOU; for, just like YOU, we search for YOUR God and to him we are sacrificing since the days of Esar-haddon the king of Assyria, who brought us up here.” 3 However, Zerubbabel and Jeshua and the rest of the heads of the paternal houses of Israel said to them: “YOU have nothing to do with us in building a house to our God, for we ourselves shall together build to Jehovah the God of Israel, just as King Cyrus the king of Persia has commanded us.”
4 At that the people of the land were continually weakening the hands of the people of Judah and disheartening them from building, 5 and hiring counselors against them to frustrate their counsel all the days of Cyrus the king of Persia down till the reign of Darius the king of Persia. 6 And in the reign of Ahasuerus, at the start of his reign, they wrote an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem. 7 Also, in the days of Artaxerxes, Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel and the rest of his colleagues wrote to Artaxerxes the king of Persia, and the writing of the letter was written in Aramaic characters and translated into the Aramaic language.
8 Rehum the chief government official and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king, as follows: 9 Then Rehum the chief government official and Shimshai the scribe and the rest of their colleagues, the judges and the lesser governors across the River, the secretaries, the people of Erech, the Babylonians, the inhabitants of Susa, that is, the Elamites, 10 and the rest of the nations whom the great and honorable Asenappar took into exile and settled in the cities of Samaria, and the rest beyond the River, ——; and now 11 this is a copy of the letter that they sent concerning it:
“To Artaxerxes the king your servants, the men beyond the River: And now 12 let it become known to the king that the Jews who came up here from you to us have come to Jerusalem. They are building the rebellious and bad city, and they proceed to finish the walls and to repair the foundations. 13 Now let it become known to the king that, if this city should be rebuilt and its walls be finished, neither tax nor tribute nor toll will they give, and it will cause loss to the treasuries of the kings. 14 Now inasmuch as we do eat the salt of the palace, and it is not proper for us to see the denuding of the king, on this account we have sent and made [it] known to the king, 15 that there may be an investigation of the book of records of your ancestors. Then you will find in the book of records and learn that that city is a city rebellious and causing loss to kings and jurisdictional districts, and within it there were movers of revolt from the days of old. For this reason that city has been laid waste. 16 We are making known to the king that, if that city should be rebuilt and its walls be finished, you also will certainly have no share beyond the River.”
17 The king sent word to Rehum the chief government official and Shimshai the scribe and the rest of their colleagues who were dwelling in Samaria and the rest beyond the River:
“Greetings! And now 18 the official document that YOU have sent us has been distinctly read before me. 19 So an order has been put through by me, and they have investigated and found that that city has from the days of old been one rising up against kings and one in which rebellion and revolt have been carried on. 20 And there proved to be strong kings over Jerusalem and governing all beyond the River, and tax, tribute and toll were being given to them. 21 Now PUT an order through for these able-bodied men to stop, that that city may not be rebuilt until the order is put through by me. 22 So be careful that there be no negligence about acting in this regard, that the harm may not increase to the injury of kings.”
after the copy of the official document of Artaxerxes the king had been read
before Rehum and Shimshai the scribe and their colleagues, they went in a hurry
to Jerusalem to the Jews and stopped them by force of arms.
was then that the work on the house of God, which was in Jerusalem, stopped; and
it continued stopped until the second year of the reign of Darius the king of
5 And Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the grandson of Iddo the prophet prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and in Jerusalem, in the name of the God of Israel [who was] over them. 2 It was then that Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jehozadak got up and started to rebuild the house of God, which was in Jerusalem; and with them there were God’s prophets giving them aid. 3 At that time Tattenai the governor beyond the River and Shethar-bozenai and their colleagues came to them, and this is what they were saying to them: “Who put an order through to YOU to build this house and to finish this beam structure?” 4 Then they said to them this: “What are the names of the able-bodied men that are building this building?” 5 And the eye of their God proved to be upon the older men of the Jews, and they did not stop them until the report could go to Darius and then an official document concerning this could be sent back.
6 [Here] is a copy of the letter that Tattenai the governor beyond the River and Shethar-bozenai and his colleagues, the lesser governors that were beyond the River, sent to Darius the king; 7 they sent the word to him, and the writing in it was in this manner:
“To Darius the king:
“All peace! 8 Let it become known to the king that we went to the jurisdictional district of Judah to the house of the great God, and it is being built with stones rolled [into place], and timbers are being laid in the walls; and that work is being eagerly done and is making progress in their hands. 9 Then we asked these older men. This is what we said to them: ‘Who put an order through to YOU to build this house and to finish this beam structure?’ 10 And we also asked them their names, so as to let you know, that we might write the names of the able-bodied men that are at their head.
11 “And this is the word that they gave back to us, saying: ‘We are the servants of the God of the heavens and the earth, and we are rebuilding the house that had been built many years before this, which a great king of Israel built and finished. 12 However, because our fathers irritated the God of the heavens, he gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, the Chaldean, and he demolished this house and took the people into exile at Babylon. 13 Nevertheless, in the first year of Cyrus the king of Babylon, Cyrus the king put an order through to rebuild this house of God. 14 And also the gold and silver vessels of the house of God that Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple, which was in Jerusalem, and brought to the temple of Babylon, these Cyrus the king took out of the temple of Babylon, and they were given to Sheshbazzar, the name of the one whom he made governor. 15 And he said to him: “Take these vessels. Go, deposit them in the temple that is in Jerusalem, and let the house of God be rebuilt upon its place.” 16 When that Sheshbazzar came he laid the foundations of the house of God, which is in Jerusalem; and from then until now it is being rebuilt but it has not been completed.’
17 “And now if to the king it seems good, let there be an investigation in the king’s house of treasures that is there in Babylon, whether it is so that from Cyrus the king an order was put through to rebuild that house of God in Jerusalem; and the decision of the king concerning this let him send to us.”
6 It was then that Darius the king put an order through, and they made an investigation in the house of the records of the treasures deposited there in Babylon. 2 And at Ecbatana, in the fortified place that was in the jurisdictional district of Media, there was found a scroll, and the memorandum to this effect was written within it:
3 “In the first year of Cyrus the king, Cyrus the king put an order through concerning the house of God in Jerusalem: Let the house be rebuilt as the place where they are to offer sacrifices, and its foundations are to be fixed, its height being sixty cubits, its width sixty cubits, 4 with three layers of stones rolled [into place] and one layer of timbers; and let the expense be given from the king’s house. 5 And also let the gold and silver vessels of the house of God that Nebuchadnezzar took out of the temple that was in Jerusalem and brought to Babylon be returned, that they may reach the temple that is in Jerusalem at its place and be deposited in the house of God.
6 “Now Tattenai the governor beyond the River, Shethar-bozenai and their colleagues, the lesser governors that are beyond the River, keep YOUR distance from there. 7 Let the work on that house of God alone. The governor of the Jews and the older men of the Jews will rebuild that house of God upon its place. 8 And by me an order has been put through as to what YOU will do with these older men of the Jews, for rebuilding that house of God; and from the royal treasury of the tax beyond the River the expense will promptly be given to these able-bodied men without cessation. 9 And what is needed, young bulls as well as rams and lambs for the burnt offerings to the God of heaven, wheat, salt, wine and oil, just as the priests that are in Jerusalem say, let there be given them continually day by day without fail; 10 that they may continually be presenting soothing offerings to the God of the heavens and praying for the life of the king and his sons. 11 And by me an order has been put through that, as for anybody that violates this decree, a timber will be pulled out of his house and he will be impaled upon it, and his house will be turned into a public privy on this account. 12 And may the God who has caused his name to reside there overthrow any king and people that thrusts his hand out to commit a violation and destroy that house of God, which is in Jerusalem. I, Darius, do put through an order. Let it be done promptly.”
13 Then Tattenai the governor beyond the River, Shethar-bozenai and their colleagues, just as Darius the king had sent [word], so they did promptly. 14 And the older men of the Jews were building and making progress under the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the grandson of Iddo, and they built and finished [it] due to the order of the God of Israel and due to the order of Cyrus and Darius and Artaxerxes the king of Persia. 15 And they completed this house by the third day of the lunar month Adar, that is, in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king.
16 And the sons of Israel, the priests and the Levites and the rest of the former exiles held the inauguration of this house of God with joy. 17 And they presented for the inauguration of this house of God a hundred bulls, two hundred rams, four hundred lambs, and as a sin offering for all Israel twelve male goats, according to the number of the tribes of Israel. 18 And they appointed the priests in their classes and the Levites in their divisions, for the service of God which is in Jerusalem, according to the prescription of the book of Moses.
19 And the former exiles proceeded to hold the passover on the fourteenth [day] of the first month. 20 As the priests and the Levites had cleansed themselves as one group, they were all of them clean, and so they slaughtered the passover victim for all the former exiles and for their brothers the priests and for themselves. 21 Then the sons of Israel that had returned from the Exile ate, and everyone that had separated himself to them from the uncleanness of the nations of the land, to search for Jehovah the God of Israel. 22 And they went on to hold the festival of unfermented cakes seven days with rejoicing; for Jehovah caused them to rejoice, and he had turned the heart of the king of Assyria around toward them to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of the [true] God, the God of Israel.