Ezra 4Expanded 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.
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