Enemies Hinder the Work

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, 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.” 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.”

Then (G)the people of the land [a]discouraged the people of Judah, and frightened them from building, 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.

Now in the reign of [b](H)Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, they wrote an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem.

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

[e]Rehum the commander and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to King Artaxerxes, as follows— [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.

Footnotes

  1. Ezra 4:4 Lit slackened the hands of
  2. Ezra 4:6 Or Xerxes; Heb Ahash-verosh
  3. Ezra 4:7 Heb Artah-shashta
  4. Ezra 4:7 Lit writing
  5. Ezra 4:8 Chs 4:8-6:18 are in Aram
  6. Ezra 4:9 Uncertain, MT Then Rehum
  7. Ezra 4:10 I.e., prob. Ashurbanipal
  8. Ezra 4:13 Or certainly be...to the kings
  9. Ezra 4:14 Lit eat the salt of
  10. Ezra 4:18 Lit clearly read
  11. Ezra 4:19 Lit put forth
  12. Ezra 4:20 Lit been

Temple Work Resumed

When the prophets, (A)Haggai the prophet and (B)Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, who was over them, then (C)Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak rose up and began to rebuild the house of God which is in Jerusalem; and (D)the prophets of God were with them, supporting them.

At that time (E)Tattenai, the governor of the province beyond the Euphrates River, and Shethar-bozenai and their colleagues came to them and spoke to them as follows: “(F)Who issued you a decree to rebuild this [a]temple and to finish this structure?” (G)Then we told them accordingly what the names of the men were who were reconstructing this building. But (H)the eye of their God was on the elders of the Jews, and they did not stop them until the report could reach Darius, and then the decree concerning it could be sent back.

Enemies Write to Darius

This is the copy of the letter that (I)Tattenai, the governor of the province beyond the Euphrates River, and Shethar-bozenai and his colleagues (J)the officials, who were beyond the River, sent to Darius the king. They sent the report to him in which it was written as follows: “To Darius the king, all peace. May it be known to the king that we have gone to the province of Judah, to the house of the great God which is being built with large stones, and [b]beams are being laid in the walls; and this work is being performed with great care and is succeeding in their hands. Then we asked those elders and said to them as follows: ‘Who issued you a decree to rebuild this temple and to finish this structure?’ 10 We also asked them their names so as to inform you, in order that we might write down the names of the men who were [c]in charge. 11 So they [d]answered us as follows, saying, ‘We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and are rebuilding the temple that was built many years ago, (K)which a great king of Israel built and finished. 12 But (L)because our fathers provoked the God of heaven to wrath, (M)He handed them over to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this temple and deported the people to Babylon. 13 However, (N)in the first year of Cyrus king of Babylon, King Cyrus (O)issued a decree to rebuild this house of God. 14 Also (P)the gold and silver utensils of the house of God which Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple in Jerusalem and brought them to the temple of Babylon, King Cyrus took them from the temple of Babylon and they were given to one (Q)whose name was Sheshbazzar, whom he had appointed governor. 15 And he said to him, “Take these utensils, go and deposit them in the temple in Jerusalem, and have the house of God rebuilt in its place.” 16 Then that Sheshbazzar came and (R)laid the foundations of the house of God in Jerusalem; and from then until now it has been under construction and it is (S)not yet completed.’ 17 And now, if it pleases the king, (T)let a search be conducted in the king’s treasure house, which is there in Babylon, as to whether a decree was issued by King Cyrus to rebuild this house of God in Jerusalem; and let the king send to us his decision concerning this matter.”

Footnotes

  1. Ezra 5:3 Lit house, and so in vv 9, 11, 12
  2. Ezra 5:8 Lit timber is
  3. Ezra 5:10 Lit at their heads
  4. Ezra 5:11 Lit returned us the word

Darius Finds Cyrus’ Decree

Then King Darius issued a decree, and a (A)search was conducted in the [a]archives, where the treasures were stored in Babylon. And in [b]Ecbatana, in the fortress which is (B)in the province of Media, a scroll was found; and the following was written in it: “Memorandum— (C)In the first year of King Cyrus, Cyrus the king issued a decree: ‘Concerning the house of God in Jerusalem, let the [c]temple, the place where sacrifices are offered, be rebuilt, and let [d]its foundations be repaired, its height being [e]sixty cubits and its width sixty cubits, (D)with three layers of large stones and [f]one layer of timber. And the cost is to be paid from the [g]royal treasury. Also (E)the gold and silver utensils of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took from the temple in Jerusalem and brought to Babylon, are to be returned and [h]brought to their places in the temple in Jerusalem; and you shall put them in the house of God.’

“Now as for you, (F)Tattenai, governor of the province beyond the Euphrates River, Shethar-bozenai, and [i]your colleagues, the officials of the provinces beyond the River, [j]stay away from there. Leave that work on the house of God alone; let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews rebuild that house of God on its site. Furthermore, (G)I issue a decree concerning what you are to do for these elders of Judah in the rebuilding of that house of God: the full cost is to be paid to those people from the royal treasury out of the taxes of the provinces beyond the Euphrates River, and that without interruption. And whatever is needed, bulls, rams, and lambs for burnt offerings to the God of heaven, and wheat, salt, wine, and anointing oil, as the priests in Jerusalem order, it is to be given to them daily without fail, 10 so that they may offer acceptable sacrifices to the God of heaven and (H)pray for the lives of the king and his sons. 11 And I issued a decree that (I)any person who violates this decree, a timber shall be pulled out of his house and he shall be impaled on it; and (J)his house shall be turned into a refuse heap on account of this. 12 May the God who (K)has caused His name to dwell there overthrow any king or people who [k]attempts to [l]change it, so as to destroy that house of God in Jerusalem. I, Darius, have issued this decree; it is to be carried out with all diligence!”

The Temple Completed and Dedicated

13 Then (L)Tattenai, the governor of the province beyond the Euphrates River, Shethar-bozenai, and their colleagues carried out the decree with all diligence, just as King Darius had [m]ordered. 14 And (M)the elders of the Jews [n]were successful in building through the prophecy of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And [o]they finished building following the command of the God of Israel and the decree (N)of Cyrus, (O)Darius, and (P)Artaxerxes king of Persia. 15 Now this [p]temple was completed [q]on the third day of the (Q)month Adar; it was the sixth year of the reign of King Darius.

16 And the sons of Israel, the priests, the Levites, and the rest of the [r]exiles, (R)celebrated the dedication of this house of God with joy. 17 They offered for the dedication of this temple of God a hundred bulls, two hundred rams, four hundred lambs, and as a sin offering for all Israel (S)twelve male goats, corresponding to the number of the tribes of Israel. 18 Then they appointed the priests to (T)their divisions and the Levites in (U)their sections for the service of God in Jerusalem, (V)as it is written in the Book of Moses.

The Passover Held

19 (W)The exiles held the Passover on (X)the fourteenth of the first month. 20 (Y)For the priests and the Levites had purified themselves together; all of them were pure. Then (Z)they slaughtered the Passover lambs for all the exiles, both for their brothers the priests and for themselves. 21 And the sons of Israel who returned from exile and (AA)all those who had separated themselves from (AB)the impurity of the nations of the land to join them, to seek the Lord God of Israel, ate the Passover. 22 And (AC)they held the Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days with joy, because the Lord had made them happy, and (AD)had turned the heart of (AE)the king of Assyria toward them to [s]encourage them in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.

Footnotes

  1. Ezra 6:1 Lit house of the books
  2. Ezra 6:2 Aram Achmetha
  3. Ezra 6:3 Lit house
  4. Ezra 6:3 Or perhaps offerings by fire be offered
  5. Ezra 6:3 About 90 ft. or 27 m
  6. Ezra 6:4 As in LXX; Aram a layer of new timber
  7. Ezra 6:4 Lit king’s house
  8. Ezra 6:5 Lit go
  9. Ezra 6:6 Aram their
  10. Ezra 6:6 Lit be distant
  11. Ezra 6:12 Lit sends his hand
  12. Ezra 6:12 Or violate
  13. Ezra 6:13 Lit sent
  14. Ezra 6:14 Lit were building and succeeding
  15. Ezra 6:14 Lit built and finished
  16. Ezra 6:15 Lit house
  17. Ezra 6:15 Lit until
  18. Ezra 6:16 Lit sons of the exile
  19. Ezra 6:22 Lit strengthen their hands

An Experience of the Captivity.

137 By the (A)rivers of Babylon,
There we sat down and (B)wept,
When we remembered Zion.
Upon the [a](C)willows in the midst of it
We (D)hung our [b]harps.
For there our captors [c](E)demanded of us [d]songs,
And (F)our tormentors, jubilation, saying,
“Sing for us one of the songs of Zion!”

How can we sing (G)the Lords song
In a foreign land?
If I (H)forget you, Jerusalem,
May my right hand [e]forget its skill.
May my (I)tongue cling to the roof of my mouth
If I do not remember you,
If I do not [f](J)exalt Jerusalem
Above my chief joy.

Remember, Lord, against the sons of (K)Edom
The day of Jerusalem,
Those who said, “Lay it bare, lay it bare
(L)To its foundation!”
Daughter of Babylon, you [g](M)devastated one,
Blessed will be one who (N)repays you
With [h]the retribution with which you have repaid us.
Blessed will be one who seizes and (O)dashes your children
Against the rock.

Footnotes

  1. Psalm 137:2 Or poplars
  2. Psalm 137:2 Lit lyres
  3. Psalm 137:3 Lit asked
  4. Psalm 137:3 Lit words of song
  5. Psalm 137:5 I.e., become useless
  6. Psalm 137:6 Lit cause to ascend
  7. Psalm 137:8 Or devastator
  8. Psalm 137:8 Lit your requital