Ezra 3-4 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)
3 When the seventh month arrived, and the Israelites were in their towns, the people gathered as one in Jerusalem. 2 Jeshua son of Jozadak and his brothers the priests along with Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and his brothers began to build the altar of Israel’s God in order to offer burnt offerings on it, as it is written in the law of Moses, the man of God. 3 They set up the altar on its foundation and offered burnt offerings for the morning and evening on it to the Lord even though they feared the surrounding peoples. 4 They celebrated the Festival of Shelters as prescribed, and offered burnt offerings each day, based on the number specified by ordinance for each festival day. 5 After that, they offered the regular burnt offering and the offerings for the beginning of each month[a] and for all the Lord’s appointed holy occasions, as well as the freewill offerings brought to[b] the Lord.
6 On the first day of the seventh month they began to offer burnt offerings to the Lord, even though the foundation of the Lord’s temple had not yet been laid. 7 They gave money to the stonecutters and artisans, and gave food, drink, and oil to the people of Sidon and Tyre, so they would bring cedar wood from Lebanon to Joppa by sea, according to the authorization given them by King Cyrus of Persia.
Rebuilding the Temple
8 In the second month of the second year after they arrived at God’s house in Jerusalem, Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, Jeshua son of Jozadak, and the rest of their brothers, including the priests, the Levites, and all who had returned to Jerusalem from the captivity, began to build. They appointed the Levites who were twenty years old or more to supervise the work on the Lord’s house. 9 Jeshua with his sons and brothers, Kadmiel with his sons, and the sons of Judah[c] and of Henadad, with their sons and brothers, the Levites, joined together to supervise those working on the house of God.
Temple Foundation Completed
10 When the builders had laid the foundation of the Lord’s temple, the priests, dressed in their robes and holding trumpets, and the Levites descended from Asaph, holding cymbals, took their positions to praise the Lord, as King David of Israel had instructed. 11 They sang with praise and thanksgiving to the Lord: “For he is good; his faithful love to Israel endures forever.” Then all the people gave a great shout of praise to the Lord because the foundation of the Lord’s house had been laid.
12 But many of the older priests, Levites, and family heads, who had seen the first temple, wept loudly when they saw the foundation of this temple, but many others shouted joyfully. 13 The people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shouting from that of the[d] weeping, because the people were shouting so loudly. And the sound was heard far away.
Opposition to Rebuilding the Temple
4 When the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the returned exiles[e] were building a temple for the Lord, the God of Israel, 2 they approached Zerubbabel and the family heads and said to them, “Let us build with you, for we also worship your God and have been sacrificing to him[f] since the time King Esar-haddon of Assyria brought us here.”
3 But Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the other heads of Israel’s families answered them, “You may have no part with us in building a house for our God, since we alone will build it for the Lord, the God of Israel, as King Cyrus, the king of Persia has commanded us.” 4 Then the people who were already in the land[g] discouraged[h] the people of Judah and made them afraid to build. 5 They also bribed officials to act against them to frustrate their plans throughout the reign of King Cyrus of Persia and until the reign of King Darius of Persia.
Opposition to Rebuilding the City
6 At the beginning of the reign of Ahasuerus, the people who were already in the land wrote an accusation against the residents of Judah and Jerusalem. 7 During the time of King Artaxerxes of Persia, Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel and the rest of his colleagues wrote to King Artaxerxes. The letter was written in Aramaic and translated.[i]
8 Rehum the chief deputy and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter to King Artaxerxes concerning Jerusalem as follows:
9 From Rehum[j] the chief deputy, Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their colleagues—the judges and magistrates[k] from Tripolis, Persia, Erech, Babylon, Susa (that is, the people of Elam),[l] 10 and the rest of the peoples whom the great and illustrious Ashurbanipal[m] deported and settled in the cities of Samaria and the region west of the Euphrates River.
11 This is the text of the letter they sent to him:
To King Artaxerxes from your servants, the men from the region west of the Euphrates River:
12 Let it be known to the king that the Jews who came from you have returned to us at Jerusalem. They are rebuilding that rebellious and evil city, finishing its walls, and repairing its foundations. 13 Let it now be known to the king that if that city is rebuilt and its walls are finished, they will not pay tribute, duty, or land tax, and the royal revenue[n] will suffer. 14 Since we have taken an oath of loyalty to the king,[o] and it is not right for us to witness his dishonor, we have sent to inform the king 15 that a search should be made in your fathers’ record books. In these record books you will discover and verify that the city is a rebellious city, harmful to kings and provinces. There have been revolts in it since ancient times. That is why this city was destroyed. 16 We advise the king that if this city is rebuilt and its walls are finished, you will not have any possession west of the Euphrates.
17 The king sent a reply to his chief deputy Rehum, Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their colleagues living in Samaria and elsewhere in the region west of the Euphrates River:
18 The letter you sent us has been translated and read[p] in my presence. 19 I issued a decree and a search was conducted. It was discovered that this city has had uprisings against kings since ancient times, and there have been rebellions and revolts in it. 20 Powerful kings have also ruled over Jerusalem and exercised authority over the whole region west of the Euphrates River, and tribute, duty, and land tax were paid to them. 21 Therefore, issue an order for these men to stop, so that this city will not be rebuilt until a further decree has been pronounced by me. 22 See that you not neglect this matter. Otherwise, the damage will increase and the royal interests[q] will suffer.
23 As soon as the text of King Artaxerxes’s letter was read to Rehum, Shimshai the scribe, and their colleagues, they immediately went to the Jews in Jerusalem and forcibly stopped them.
Rebuilding of the Temple Resumed
24 Now the construction of God’s house in Jerusalem had stopped and remained at a standstill until the second year of the reign of King Darius of Persia.