Ezra 4New Life Version (NLV)
People of the Land Try to Keep the Jews from Building
4 Now those who hated Judah and Benjamin heard that the people had returned from Babylon and were building a house of worship to the Lord God of Israel. 2 They came to Zerubbabel and the heads of the family groups and said to them, “Let us build with you. For we worship your God as you do. We have been giving gifts to Him since the days of King Esar-haddon of Assyria, who brought us here.” 3 But Zerubbabel and Jeshua and the rest of the heads of the family groups of Israel said to them, “You have nothing to do with us in building a house to our God. But we alone will build to the Lord God of Israel, as King Cyrus of Persia has told us to do.” 4 Then the people of the land made the hearts of the people of Judah weak, and made them afraid to go on building. 5 They paid people to speak against them and to make trouble in their plans all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the rule of King Darius of Persia.
People of the Land Do Not Want Jerusalem Built Up Again
6 In the beginning of Ahasuerus’ rule, people of the land wrote that the Jews in Judah and Jerusalem had done something wrong.
7 During Artaxerxes’ rule, Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel and the rest of their friends wrote to King Artaxerxes of Persia. The letter was written in the Aramaic language. 8 Rehum the captain and Shimshai the writer wrote a letter against Jerusalem to King Artaxerxes. 9 It was written by Rehum the captain and Shimshai the writer and the rest of their friends, the judges, the leaders and important men, the men of Erech, Babylon, Shusha (that is, the Elamites), 10 and the rest of the nations. The people of these nations were sent away by the great and honored Osnappar, and made their home in the city of Samaria and in the rest of the land on the other side of the Euphrates River. Now 11 this is what they said in their letter to him: “To King Artaxerxes, your servants, the men in the land on the other side of the River, 12 let it be known to the king that the Jews who came up from you have come to Jerusalem. They are building again the sinful city that is not willing to be ruled. They are finishing the walls and beginning the work on the buildings. 13 Now let it be known to the king that, if that city is built again and the walls are finished, they will not pay what should be paid to the king. The taxes paid to the king will be less. 14 We are under the care of the king, and it is not right for us to see the king not being honored. So we have sent to let the king know. 15 Look through the books kept by your fathers. You will find from these books that Jerusalem is not willing to be ruled, and that it is a danger to kings and lands. They have turned against kings in past times, and this is why that city was laid waste. 16 We are letting the king know that, if that city is built again and the walls are finished, you will own nothing in the land on the other side of the River.”
17 The king sent an answer to Rehum the captain, Shimshai the writer, and to the rest of their friends who live in Samaria and in the rest of the land on the other side of the River. He wrote: “Peace. 18 The letter you sent to us has been put into our language and read to me. 19 I have had men look through the books. And it has been found that the city has turned against kings in past times, and that plans against kings have been made in it. 20 Powerful kings have ruled over Jerusalem, who ruled over all the lands on the other side of the River, and taxes were paid to them. 21 So give word to these men to make them stop the work. This city may not be built again until I allow it. 22 Be sure that you do this. Why should more trouble be given to the kings?”
23 When the letter from King Artaxerxes was read to Rehum and Shimshai the writer and their friends, they went in a hurry to the Jews at Jerusalem and with their power made them stop. 24 Then the work on the house of God in Jerusalem stopped. It was stopped until the second year of the rule of Darius king of Persia.