Ezra 4 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
4 When the enemies of Y’hudah and Binyamin heard that the people from the exile were building a temple to Adonai the God of Isra’el, 2 they approached Z’rubavel and the heads of fathers’ clans and said to them, “Let us build along with you; for we seek your God, just as you do; and we have been sacrificing to him since the time of Esar-Hadon king of Ashur, who brought us here.” 3 But Z’rubavel, Yeshua and the rest of the heads of fathers’ clans in Isra’el answered them, “You and we have nothing in common that you should join us in building a house for our God. We will build by ourselves for Adonai the God of Isra’el, as Koresh king of Persia ordered us to do.”
4 Then the people of the land began discouraging the people of Y’hudah, in order to make them afraid to build. 5 They also bribed officials to frustrate their plan throughout the lifetime of Koresh king of Persia and on into the reign of Daryavesh king of Persia. 6 During the reign of Achashverosh, at the beginning of his reign, they brought a charge in writing against the people living in Y’hudah and Yerushalayim. 7 Then, during the time of Artach’shashta, Bishlam, Mitr’dat, Tav’el and their other colleagues wrote Artach’shashta; the letter was written in Aramaic, using Aramaic script. 8 Rechum the district governor and Shimshai the secretary wrote a letter against Yerushalayim to Artach’shashta the king as follows:
9 “From Rechum the district governor, Shimshai the secretary, their other colleagues, the judges, the officials, the Dina’im, the Afarsat’khim, the Tarp’lim, the Afarsim, the Ark’vim, the Bavlim, the Shushan’kayim, the Dehayim, the ‘Elma’im, 10 the other nations whom the great and noble Asnapar deported and settled in Shomron, and the others who remain in the country beyond the [Euphrates] River.”
11 (This is the text of the letter they sent him.)
“To Artach’shashta the king from his servants the people beyond the River:
12 “Let the king know that the Judeans who left you to come to us in Yerushalayim are building this rebellious and wicked city. They have finished the walls and are now digging the foundations. 13 So let the king know that if this city is rebuilt and the walls are finished, they will refuse to pay tribute, tax or toll; and this will reduce the royal revenue. 14 Now, because we eat the king’s salt, and it is not right for us to see the king dishonored, we therefore are sending to inform the king, 15 so that a search can be made in the archives of your ancestors; in these archives you will find and ascertain that this city is indeed a rebellious city, the bane of kings and provinces, and that sedition has been fostered there since ancient times — which is why this city was destroyed. 16 We submit to the king that if this city is rebuilt and the walls are finished, you will soon lose possession of all territories beyond the River.”
17 The king sent this answer:
“To Rechum the district governor, Shimshai the secretary, their other colleagues living in Shomron, and the rest beyond the River:
18 “The letter you sent us has now been translated for me. 19 I ordered a search made, and it was found that this city has a long history of revolt against kings, that rebellion and sedition have been fostered there; 20 also that there have been powerful kings over Yerushalayim who ruled all the territory beyond the River; and tribute, taxes and tolls were paid to them.
21 “So now, order that these men stop work and that this city not be rebuilt until I order it. 22 Take care not to neglect your duty; otherwise the harm may increase, to the damage of the king.”
Ezra 4 New International Version (NIV)
Opposition to the Rebuilding
4 When the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the exiles were building a temple for the Lord, the God of Israel, 2 they came to Zerubbabel and to the heads of the families and said, “Let us help you build because, like you, we seek your God and have been sacrificing to him since the time of Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us here.”
3 But Zerubbabel, Joshua and the rest of the heads of the families of Israel answered, “You have no part with us in building a temple to our God. We alone will build it for the Lord, the God of Israel, as King Cyrus, the king of Persia, commanded us.”
4 Then the peoples around them set out to discourage the people of Judah and make them afraid to go on building.[a] 5 They bribed officials to work against them and frustrate their plans during the entire reign of Cyrus king of Persia and down to the reign of Darius king of Persia.
Later Opposition Under Xerxes and Artaxerxes
6 At the beginning of the reign of Xerxes,[b] they lodged an accusation against the people of Judah and Jerusalem.
7 And in the days of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel and the rest of his associates wrote a letter to Artaxerxes. The letter was written in Aramaic script and in the Aramaic language.[c][d]
8 Rehum the commanding officer and Shimshai the secretary wrote a letter against Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king as follows:
9 Rehum the commanding officer and Shimshai the secretary, together with the rest of their associates—the judges, officials and administrators over the people from Persia, Uruk and Babylon, the Elamites of Susa, 10 and the other people whom the great and honorable Ashurbanipal deported and settled in the city of Samaria and elsewhere in Trans-Euphrates.
11 (This is a copy of the letter they sent him.)
To King Artaxerxes,
From your servants in Trans-Euphrates:
12 The king should know that the people who came up to us from you have gone to Jerusalem and are rebuilding that rebellious and wicked city. They are restoring the walls and repairing the foundations.
13 Furthermore, the king should know that if this city is built and its walls are restored, no more taxes, tribute or duty will be paid, and eventually the royal revenues will suffer.[e] 14 Now since we are under obligation to the palace and it is not proper for us to see the king dishonored, we are sending this message to inform the king, 15 so that a search may be made in the archives of your predecessors. In these records you will find that this city is a rebellious city, troublesome to kings and provinces, a place with a long history of sedition. That is why this city was destroyed. 16 We inform the king that if this city is built and its walls are restored, you will be left with nothing in Trans-Euphrates.
17 The king sent this reply:
To Rehum the commanding officer, Shimshai the secretary and the rest of their associates living in Samaria and elsewhere in Trans-Euphrates:
18 The letter you sent us has been read and translated in my presence. 19 I issued an order and a search was made, and it was found that this city has a long history of revolt against kings and has been a place of rebellion and sedition. 20 Jerusalem has had powerful kings ruling over the whole of Trans-Euphrates, and taxes, tribute and duty were paid to them. 21 Now issue an order to these men to stop work, so that this city will not be rebuilt until I so order. 22 Be careful not to neglect this matter. Why let this threat grow, to the detriment of the royal interests?
23 As soon as the copy of the letter of King Artaxerxes was read to Rehum and Shimshai the secretary and their associates, they went immediately to the Jews in Jerusalem and compelled them by force to stop.
24 Thus the work on the house of God in Jerusalem came to a standstill until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.