Ezra 4 Expanded Bible (EXB)
Enemies of the Rebuilding
4 When the enemies of the people of Judah and Benjamin heard that the returned ·captives [exiles] were building a Temple for the Lord, the God of Israel, 2 they came to Zerubbabel [C a descendant of David; 1 Chr. 3:19] and the ·leaders of the families [L heads of the fathers]. The enemies said, “Let us help you build, because we are like you and ·want to worship [L seek] your God. We have been offering sacrifices to him since the time of Esarhaddon king of Assyria [C 680–669 bc], who brought us here.”
3 But Zerubbabel, Jeshua [3:2], and the ·leaders [L heads of the fathers] of Israel answered, “You will ·not help us build [have no part in building] a ·Temple [L house] to our God. We will build it ·ourselves [alone] for the Lord, the God of Israel, as King Cyrus, the king of Persia, commanded us to do [1:2–4].”
4 Then the people around them tried to discourage the people of Judah by making them afraid to build. 5 Their enemies ·hired others [bribed officials] to ·delay [frustrate] the building plans ·during [throughout] the time Cyrus was king of Persia. And it continued to the time Darius was king of Persia [C 522–486 bc].
More Problems for the Builders
6 When ·Xerxes [L Ahasuerus; C ruled 486–465 bc; Esth. 1:1] first became king, those enemies ·wrote [filed; lodged] a ·letter [L accusation] against the people of Judah and Jerusalem.
7 When Artaxerxes [C ruled about 465–425 B.C.] became king of Persia, Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and those with them wrote a letter to Artaxerxes. It was written in the Aramaic language and translated.
8 Rehum the ·governor [commander] and Shimshai the governor’s ·secretary [scribe] and those with them wrote a letter against Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king. It said:
9 This letter is from Rehum the ·governor [commander], Shimshai the ·secretary [scribe], and their ·fellow workers [colleagues]—the judges and important officers over the men who came from Tripolis, Persia, Erech, and Babylon, the Elamite people of Susa, 10 and those whom the great and honorable Ashurbanipal [L Osnappar; C ruled 668–627 bc] ·forced out of their countries [deported] and settled in the city of Samaria and in other places of the Trans-Euphrates [C provinces west of the Euphrates River].
11 (This is a copy of the letter they sent to Artaxerxes.)
To King Artaxerxes.
From your servants who live in Trans-Euphrates [v. 10].
12 King Artaxerxes, you should know that the Jews who came to us from you have gone to Jerusalem to rebuild that evil ·city that refuses to obey [and rebellious city]. They are ·fixing [restoring; rebuilding; finishing] the walls and repairing the foundations of the buildings.
13 Now, King Artaxerxes, ·you should know [L let it be known] that if Jerusalem is ·built [rebuilt] and its walls are ·fixed [completed; restored], Jerusalem will not pay ·taxes of any kind [L tribute, custom, or toll]. Then the ·amount of money your government collects [king’s/royal treasury/revenue] will ·be less [suffer]. 14 Since we ·must be loyal to the government [L eat the palace’s salt], ·we don’t want [it is not proper] to see the king ·dishonored [damaged]. So we ·are writing to let the king know [L send and inform the king]. 15 ·We suggest you […so that you may] search the ·records [annals; archives] of ·the kings who ruled before you [L your fathers/ancestors]. You will find out that the city of Jerusalem ·refuses to obey [L is a rebellious city] and ·makes trouble for kings and areas controlled by Persia [troublesome for kings and provinces]. ·Since long ago it has been a place where disobedience has started [It has a long history of revolts/sedition]. That is why it was destroyed. 16 We want you to know, King Artaxerxes, that if this city is rebuilt and its walls ·fixed [completed; restored], you will be left with ·nothing [no possessions] in Trans-Euphrates [C provinces west of the Euphrates River].
17 King Artaxerxes sent this answer:
To Rehum the ·governor [commander] and Shimshai the ·secretary [scribe], to all their ·fellow workers [colleagues] living in Samaria [C northern Israel], and to those ·in other places in [throughout] Trans-Euphrates [v. 10].
18 The ·letter [document] you sent to us has been translated and read ·to me [L in my presence]. 19 I ordered ·the records to be searched [L a search], and it was done. We found that ·Jerusalem [L the city] has a history of ·disobedience to [rising against] kings and has been a place of ·problems and trouble [rebellion and revolt/sedition]. 20 Jerusalem has had powerful kings who have ruled over the whole area of Trans-Euphrates [v. 10], and ·taxes of all kinds [L tribute, custom, and toll] have been paid to them. 21 Now, ·give an order [issue a decree] for those men to stop work. The city of Jerusalem will not be rebuilt until I ·say so [issue a decree]. 22 ·Make sure you do this [Do not neglect this matter], ·because if they continue, it will hurt the government [—why should the danger/damage grow and harm the king?].
23 As soon as a copy of the ·letter [document] that King Artaxerxes sent was read to Rehum and Shimshai the ·secretary [scribe] and ·the others [their colleagues], they went to the Jews in Jerusalem and ·forced them [or compelled them by force of arms] to stop building.
24 So the work on the ·Temple [L house] of God in Jerusalem ·stopped [came to a standstill] until the second year Darius was 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.