New American Standard Bible
Enemies Hinder the Work
4 Now when (A)the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that (B)the people of the exile were building a temple to the Lord God of Israel, 2 they approached Zerubbabel and the heads of fathers’ households, and said to them, “Let us build with you, for like you, we seek your God; (C)and we have been sacrificing to Him since the days of (D)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, “(E)You have nothing in common with us in building a house to our God; but we ourselves will together build for the Lord God of Israel, (F)just as King Cyrus, the king of Persia, has commanded us.”
4 Then (G)the people of the land [a]discouraged the people of Judah, and frightened them from building, 5 and bribed advisers against them to frustrate their advice all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.
7 And in the days of [c]Artaxerxes, Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and the rest of his colleagues wrote to Artaxerxes king of Persia; and the [d]text of the letter was written in Aramaic and translated (I)from Aramaic.
The Letter to King Artaxerxes
8 [e]Rehum the commander and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to King Artaxerxes, as follows— 9 [f]Rehum the commander, Shimshai the scribe, and (J)the rest of their colleagues, the judges and (K)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 which the great and honorable [g]Osnappar deported and settled in the city of Samaria, and in the rest of the region beyond the Euphrates River. (L)And now 11 this is a copy of the letter which they sent to him:
“To King Artaxerxes: Your servants, the men of the region beyond 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 (M)the rebellious and evil city and (N)are finishing the 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, (O)they will not pay tribute, custom tax, or toll, and it will [h]be detrimental to the revenue of the kings. 14 Now because we [i]are in the service of the palace, and it is not fitting for us to see the king’s shame, for this reason we have sent word and informed the king, 15 so that a search may be conducted in the record books of your fathers. And you will discover in the record books and learn that that city is a rebellious city and detrimental to kings and provinces, and that they have revolted within it in past days; for this reason that city was laid waste. 16 We are informing the king that if that city is rebuilt and the walls finished, then as a result of this you will have no possession in the province beyond the Euphrates River.”
The King Replies and Work Stops
17 Then the king sent a response to Rehum the commander, Shimshai the scribe, and to the rest of their colleagues who live in Samaria and in the rest of the provinces beyond the Euphrates River: “Peace. And now, 18 the document which you sent to us has been [j](P)translated and read before me. 19 And a decree has been [k]issued by me, and a search has been conducted and it has been discovered that that city has risen up against the kings in past days, and that rebellion and revolt have been perpetrated in it, 20 (Q)that mighty kings have [l]ruled over Jerusalem, governing all the provinces (R)beyond the Euphrates River, and that (S)tribute, custom tax, and toll were paid to them. 21 Now issue a decree to make those men stop work, so that this city will not be rebuilt until a decree is issued by me. 22 And beware of being negligent in carrying out this matter; why should there be great damage, to the detriment of the kings?”
23 Then as soon as the copy of King Artaxerxes’ decree was read before Rehum and Shimshai the scribe and their colleagues, they went in a hurry to Jerusalem to the Jews and stopped them by military force.
24 Then work on the house of God in Jerusalem was discontinued, and it was stopped until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.
- Ezra 4:4 Lit slackened the hands of
- Ezra 4:6 Or Xerxes; Heb Ahash-verosh
- Ezra 4:7 Heb Artah-shashta
- Ezra 4:7 Lit writing
- Ezra 4:8 Chs 4:8-6:18 are in Aram
- Ezra 4:9 Uncertain, MT Then Rehum
- Ezra 4:10 I.e., prob. Ashurbanipal
- Ezra 4:13 Or certainly be...to the kings
- Ezra 4:14 Lit eat the salt of
- Ezra 4:18 Lit clearly read
- Ezra 4:19 Lit put forth
- Ezra 4:20 Lit been
New International Version
Opposition to the Rebuilding
4 When the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the exiles were building(A) 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(B) king of Assyria, who brought us here.”(C)
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.”(D)
4 Then the peoples around them set out to discourage the people of Judah and make them afraid to go on building.[a](E) 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
7 And in the days of Artaxerxes(H) 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(I) 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(J)—the judges, officials and administrators over the people from Persia, Uruk(K) and Babylon, the Elamites of Susa,(L) 10 and the other people whom the great and honorable Ashurbanipal(M) deported and settled in the city of Samaria and elsewhere in Trans-Euphrates.(N)
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.(O)
13 Furthermore, the king should know that if this city is built and its walls are restored, no more taxes, tribute or duty(P) 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(Q) 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.(R) 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:(S)
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(T) against kings and has been a place of rebellion and sedition. 20 Jerusalem has had powerful kings ruling over the whole of Trans-Euphrates,(U) 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?(V)
23 As soon as the copy of the letter of King Artaxerxes was read to Rehum and Shimshai the secretary and their associates,(W) 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(X) king of Persia.