Modern English Version
Resistance to Rebuilding
4 Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the descendants of the captivity built the temple unto the Lord God of Israel, 2 they came to Zerubbabel, and to the chiefs of the fathers’ households, and said to them, “Let us build with you, for, like you, we seek your God and have been sacrificing to Him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us here.”
3 But Zerubbabel, and Joshua, and the rest of the chiefs of the fathers’ households of Israel said to them, “This is not for you! It is for us to build the temple of our God, so we ourselves together will build unto the Lord God of Israel, as Cyrus the king of Persia has commanded us.”
4 Then the people of the land demoralized the people of Judah and terrified them while building, 5 and hired counselors against them to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.
6 In the reign of Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, they wrote an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem.
The Letter to Artaxerxes
7 In the days of Artaxerxes, Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and the rest of their companions wrote to Artaxerxes king of Persia, and the writing of the letter was written in Aramaic, and interpreted in Aramaic.
8 Rehum the commander and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king in this manner:
9 (Rehum the commander, Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their colleagues, the judges, the officials, the officers, the Persians, the men of Uruk, and of Babylon, and of Susa—that is, the Elamites— 10 and the rest of the nations whom the great and noble Ashurbanipal deported and settled in the city of Samaria and in the rest of the province Beyond the River—and now 11 this is the copy of the letter that they sent to him)—
“To Artaxerxes the king:
“Your servants the men of the province Beyond the River, and so forth.
12 “May it be known to the king, that the Jews who came from you have come near to us at Jerusalem and that they are building the rebellious and evil city, restoring its walls, and repairing the foundations.
13 “Be it known now to the king, that, if this city is rebuilt and the walls set up again, then they will not pay toll, tribute, and custom, and the revenue of the kings will be impacted. 14 Now because we are under obligation to the king’s palace, and it was not appropriate for us to see the king’s dishonor, therefore we have sent and notified the king, 15 so that a search may be made in the book of the records of your fathers. There you will find in the book of the records and realize that this city is a rebellious city, and hurtful to kings and provinces, and that they have incited revolt within it in former times—for which cause this city was destroyed. 16 We notify the king that if this city is rebuilt and the walls repaired by this means the portion Beyond the River will no longer be yours.”
17 The king sent an answer:
“To Rehum the commander, to Shimshai the scribe, to the rest of their companions that dwell in Samaria, and to the remainder Beyond the River:
“Peace, and so forth.
18 “The letter which you sent to us has been translated and read before me. 19 I commanded, and a search has been made, and it is found that this city has in the past made insurrection against kings, and that rebellion and revolt have occurred there. 20 There have also been mighty kings over Jerusalem, who have ruled over the whole province Beyond the River, and toll, tribute, and custom was paid to them. 21 Command these men to cease now, so that this city is not built unless I give the command. 22 Take heed now that you do not fail to do this. Why should damage increase to the hurt of the king?”
23 Now when the copy of the letter by King Artaxerxes was read before Rehum, and Shimshai the scribe, and their companions, they went up in haste to Jerusalem to the Jews and made them cease by force and power.
24 Then the work of the house of God in Jerusalem ceased. So it ceased until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.