Lexham English Bible
Resistance to Rebuilding the House of God
4 Now the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the returned exiles[a] were building a temple for Yahweh the God of Israel. 2 And they approached Zerubbabel and the heads of the families,[b] and they said to them, “Let us build with you. Like you, we seek your God and have been sacrificing to him from the days of Esarhaddon the king of Assyria who brought us up here. 3 But Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the rest of the heads of the families[c] of Israel said to them, “It is not for you but for us to build a house for our God. For we ourselves alone will build it for Yahweh the God of Israel, just as Cyrus the king of Persia has commanded us.”
4 Then the people of the land discouraged the people of Judah[d] and made them afraid to build 5 and bribed officials against them to frustrate their plan for all the days of Cyrus king of Persia until the reign of Darius king of Persia.
Resistance to Rebuilding Jerusalem
6 In the reign of Ahasuerus, at the beginning of his reign, they wrote an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem. 7 And in the days of Artaxerxes, Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and the rest of their colleagues wrote to Artaxerxes king of Persia. The letter was written in Aramaic and translated from Aramaic. 8 Rehum the royal officer and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to King Artaxerxes as follows 9 (then Rehum the royal officer, Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their associates, the judges, the envoys, the officials, the Persians, the Erechs, the Babylonians, the Susians (that is the Elamites) 10 and the rest of the nations whom the great and noble Osnappar deported and settled in the cities of Samaria and the rest of the province Beyond the River) and now 11 this is the copy of the letter which they sent to him:
“To King Artaxerxes from your servants, the men of the province Beyond the River. And now, 12 be it known to the king that the Jews who have come up from near you to us have gone to Jerusalem. They are building the rebellious and wicked city. They are finishing the wall and repairing the foundation. 13 Now be it known to the king that if this city is built and the walls are finished, they will not pay tribute and toll, and the royal revenue will be reduced. 14 Now since we eat the salt of the palace and the dishonor of the king is not proper for us to see, we send and make this known to the king, 15 so that it may be investigated in the book of records of your ancestors.[e] You will find in the book of records and learn that this city is a rebellious city, hurtful to kings and provinces, and they have rebelled in its midst from ancient times. Because of that this city was destroyed. 16 We make known to the king that if this city is built and the walls are finished, you will have nothing in the province Beyond the River.”
17 The king sent a reply: “To Rehum the royal officer, Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their associates who live in Samaria and the rest of the province Beyond the River, greetings. And now 18 the letter that you sent to us has been translated and read before me. 19 And I issued[f] a decree, and they searched and found that this city from ancient days revolted against kings, and rebellion and sedition has been made in it. 20 Mighty kings have ruled over Jerusalem, governing all the province Beyond the River, to whom tribute, duty, and tax has been given. 21 So now, issue forth a decree that these men stop and this city not be built, until a decree is issued from me. 22 And be careful not to be negligent on this matter. Why should damage grow to hurt kings?”
23 Then when a copy of the letter of King Artaxerxes was read before Rehum, Shimshai the scribe, and their associates they returned in a hurry to Jerusalem against the Jews and they stopped them by force and power. 24 Then the work on the house of God in Jerusalem stopped, and was discontinued until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.