Ezra 4 Amplified Bible (AMP)
Adversaries Hinder the Work
4 Now when [the Samaritans] the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the exiles from the captivity were building a temple to the Lord God of Israel, 2 they came to Zerubbabel [who was now governor] and to the heads of the fathers’ households and said to them, “Let us build with you, for we seek your God [and worship] just as you do; and we have sacrificed to Him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us up here.” 3 But Zerubbabel and Jeshua and the rest of the heads of fathers’ households of Israel said to them, “You have nothing in common with us in building a house to our God; but we ourselves will together build to the Lord God of Israel, just as King Cyrus, the king of Persia, has commanded us.”
4 Then [the Samaritans and others of] the people of the land [a]discouraged the people of Judah, and frightened them [to deter them] from building, 5 and hired advisers [to work] against them to frustrate their plans during the entire time that Cyrus king of Persia reigned, [and this lasted] even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.
6 Now in the reign of [b]Ahasuerus (Xerxes), in the beginning of his reign, the Samaritans wrote [to him] an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem [who had returned from exile].
7 Later, in the days of [King] Artaxerxes, Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel and the rest of their associates wrote to Artaxerxes king of Persia; and the text of the letter was written in Aramaic and translated from Aramaic.
The Letter to King Artaxerxes
8 Rehum the [Persian] commander [of the Samaritans] and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king as follows— 9 then wrote Rehum the [Persian] commander, Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their associates, the judges, the lesser governors, the officials, the secretaries, the men of Erech, the Babylonians, the men of Susa, that is, the Elamites, 10 and the rest of the nations whom the great and noble [c]Osnappar deported and settled in the city of Samaria, and in the rest of the region [d]west of the [Euphrates] River. Now 11 this is a copy of the letter which they sent to him:
“To King Artaxerxes from your servants, the men in the region west of the [Euphrates] River; and now: 12 Let it be known to the king that the Jews who came up from you have come to us at Jerusalem. They are rebuilding this rebellious and evil city and are finishing its walls and repairing the foundations. 13 Now let it be known to the king, that if that city is rebuilt and the walls are finished, then they will not pay tax, custom, or toll, and the revenue of the kings will be diminished. 14 Now because we are in the service of the palace, and it is not proper for us to witness the king’s dishonor, for that reason we have sent word and informed the king, 15 in order that a search may be made in the record books of your fathers. And you will discover in the record books and learn that this is a rebellious city, damaging to kings and provinces, and that in the past they have incited rebellion within it. That is why that city was laid waste (destroyed). 16 We are informing the king that if that city is rebuilt and its walls finished, it will mean that you will have no possession in the province west of the [Euphrates] River.”
The King Replies and Work Stops
17 Then the king sent an answer to Rehum the [Persian] commander, to Shimshai the scribe, and to the rest of their colleagues who live in Samaria and in the rest of the provinces west of the River: “Peace (Greetings). And now, 18 The document which you sent to us has been translated and read before me. 19 I have issued a command and a search has been made, and it has been discovered that this city [Jerusalem] in earlier times has revolted against the kings, and that rebellion and sedition have been perpetrated in it. 20 There have also been mighty kings over Jerusalem who have ruled over all the provinces west of the [Euphrates] River, and tax, custom, and toll were paid to them. 21 So, now issue a decree to make these men stop [work], so that this city is not rebuilt until a [new] command is issued by me. 22 Beware of being negligent in carrying out this matter. Why should damage increase to the detriment of the kings?”
23 Then as soon as the copy of King Artaxerxes’ document was read before Rehum and Shimshai the scribe, and their colleagues, they went up hurriedly to Jerusalem to the Jews, and made them stop [work] by force of arms.
24 Then the [e]work on the house of God in Jerusalem stopped. It was suspended until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.
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.