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Ezra 4New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Adversaries Hinder the Work

Now when the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that 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 we, like you, seek your God; and we have been sacrificing to Him since the days of 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, “You have nothing in common with us in building a house to our God; but we ourselves will together build to the Lord God of Israel, as King Cyrus, the king of Persia has commanded us.”

Then the people of the land [a]discouraged the people of Judah, and frightened them from building, and hired counselors against them to frustrate their counsel all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.

Now in the reign of [b]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 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— then wrote Rehum the commander and Shimshai the scribe and the rest of their colleagues, the judges and 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 [f]Osnappar deported and settled in the city of Samaria, and in the rest of the region beyond the [g]River. Now 11 this is the copy of the letter which they sent to him:

“To King Artaxerxes: Your servants, the men in the region beyond the 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 the rebellious and evil city and 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, they will not pay tribute, custom or toll, and it will damage the revenue of the kings. 14 Now because we [h]are in the service of the palace, and it is not fitting for us to see the king’s dishonor, therefore we have sent and informed the king, 15 so that a search may be made 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 damaging to kings and provinces, and that they have incited revolt within it in past days; therefore that city was laid waste. 16 We inform the king that if that city is rebuilt and the walls finished, as a result you will have no possession in the province beyond the River.”

The King Replies and Work Stops

17 Then the king sent an answer to Rehum the commander, to Shimshai the scribe, and to the rest of their colleagues who live in Samaria and in the rest of the provinces beyond the River: “Peace. And now 18 the document which you sent to us has been [i]translated and read before me. 19 A decree has been [j]issued by me, and a search has been made and it has been discovered that that city has risen up against the kings in past days, that rebellion and revolt have been perpetrated in it, 20 that mighty kings have [k]ruled over Jerusalem, governing all the provinces beyond the River, and that tribute, custom and toll were paid to them. 21 So, now issue a decree to make these men stop work, that this city may not be rebuilt until a decree is issued by me. 22 Beware of being negligent in carrying out this matter; why should damage increase to the detriment of the kings?”

23 Then as soon as the copy of King Artaxerxes’ document was read before Rehum and Shimshai the scribe and their colleagues, they went in haste to Jerusalem to the Jews and stopped them by force of arms.

24 Then work on the house of God in Jerusalem ceased, and it was stopped until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.

Footnotes:

  1. Ezra 4:4 Lit weakened 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 Ch 4:8-6:18 is in Aram
  6. Ezra 4:10 I.e. probably Ashurbanipal
  7. Ezra 4:10 I.e. Euphrates River, and so throughout the ch
  8. Ezra 4:14 Lit eat the salt
  9. Ezra 4:18 Lit plainly read before
  10. Ezra 4:19 Lit put forth
  11. Ezra 4:20 Lit been
New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation

Ezra 4New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Resistance to Rebuilding the Temple

When the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the returned exiles were building a temple to the Lord, the God of Israel, they approached Zerubbabel and the heads of families and said to them, “Let us build with you, for we worship your God as you do, and we have been sacrificing to him ever since the days of King Esar-haddon of Assyria who brought us here.” But Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the rest of the heads of families in Israel said to them, “You shall have no part with us in building a house to our God; but we alone will build to the Lord, the God of Israel, as King Cyrus of Persia has commanded us.”

Then the people of the land discouraged the people of Judah, and made them afraid to build, and they bribed officials to frustrate their plan throughout the reign of King Cyrus of Persia and until the reign of King Darius of Persia.

Rebuilding of Jerusalem Opposed

In the reign of Ahasuerus, in his accession year, they wrote an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem.

And in the days of Artaxerxes, Bishlam and Mithredath and Tabeel and the rest of their associates wrote to King Artaxerxes of Persia; the letter was written in Aramaic and translated.[a] Rehum the royal deputy and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to King Artaxerxes as follows (then Rehum the royal deputy, Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their associates, the judges, the envoys, the officials, the Persians, the people of Erech, the Babylonians, the people of Susa, 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 in the rest of the province Beyond the River wrote—and now 11 this is a copy of the letter that they sent):

“To King Artaxerxes: Your servants, the people of the province Beyond the River, send greeting. And now 12 may it be known to the king that the Jews who came up from you to us have gone to Jerusalem. They are rebuilding that rebellious and wicked city; they are finishing the walls and repairing the foundations. 13 Now may it be known to the king that, if this city is rebuilt and the walls finished, they will not pay tribute, custom, or toll, and the royal revenue will be reduced. 14 Now because we share the salt of the palace and it is not fitting for us to witness the king’s dishonor, therefore we send and inform the king, 15 so that a search may be made in the annals of your ancestors. You will discover in the annals that this is a rebellious city, hurtful to kings and provinces, and that sedition was stirred up in it from long ago. On that account this city was laid waste. 16 We make known to the king that, if this city is rebuilt and its walls finished, you will then have no possession in the province Beyond the River.”

17 The king sent an answer: “To Rehum the royal deputy and Shimshai the scribe and the rest of their associates who live in Samaria and in the rest of the province Beyond the River, greeting. And now 18 the letter that you sent to us has been read in translation before me. 19 So I made a decree, and someone searched and discovered that this city has risen against kings from long ago, and that rebellion and sedition have been made in it. 20 Jerusalem has had mighty kings who ruled over the whole province Beyond the River, to whom tribute, custom, and toll were paid. 21 Therefore issue an order that these people be made to cease, and that this city not be rebuilt, until I make a decree. 22 Moreover, take care not to be slack in this matter; why should damage grow to the hurt of the king?”

23 Then when the copy of King Artaxerxes’ letter was read before Rehum and the scribe Shimshai and their associates, they hurried to the Jews in Jerusalem and by force and power made them cease. 24 At that time the work on the house of God in Jerusalem stopped and was discontinued until the second year of the reign of King Darius of Persia.

Footnotes:

  1. Ezra 4:7 Heb adds in Aramaic, indicating that 4.8–6.18 is in Aramaic. Another interpretation is The letter was written in the Aramaic script and set forth in the Aramaic language
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Ezra 4Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA)

Now the enemies of Juda and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity were building a temple to the Lord the God of Israel.

And they came to Zorobabel, and the chief of the fathers, and said to them: Let us build with you, for we seek your God as ye do: behold we have sacrificed to him, since the days of Asor Haddan king of Assyria, who brought us hither.

But Zorobabel, and Josue, and the rest of the chief of the fathers of Israel said to them: You have nothing to do with us to build a house to our God, but we ourselves alone will build to the Lord our God, as Cyrus king of the Persians hath commanded us.

Then the people of the land hindered the hands of the people of Juda, and troubled them in building.

And they hired counsellors against them, to frustrate their design all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of the Persians.

And in the reign of Assuerus, in the beginning of his reign, they wrote an accusation against the inhabitants of Juda and Jerusalem.

And in the days of Artaxerxes, Beselam, Mithridates, and Thabeel, and the rest that were in the council wrote to Artaxerxes king of the Persians: and the letter of accusation was written in Syriac, and was read in the Syrian tongue.

Reum Beelteem, and Samsai the scribe wrote a letter from Jerusalem to king Artaxerxes, in this manner:

Reum Beelteem, and Samsai the scribe and the rest of their counsellors, the Dinites, and the Apharsathacites, the Therphalites, the Apharsites, the Erchuites, the Babylonians, the Susanechites, the Dievites, and the Elamites,

10 And the rest of the nations, whom the great and glorious Asenaphar brought over: and made to dwell in the cities of Samaria and in the rest of the countries of this side of the river in peace.

11 (This is the copy of the letter, which they sent to him:) To Artaxerxes the king, thy servants, the men that are on this side of the river, send greeting.

12 Be it known to the king, that the Jews, who came up from thee to us, are come to Jerusalem a rebellious and wicked city, which they are building, setting up the ramparts thereof and repairing the walls.

13 And now be it known to the king, that if this city be built up, and the walls thereof repaired, they will not pay tribute nor toll, nor yearly revenues, and this loss will fail upon the kings.

14 But we remembering the salt that we have eaten in the palace, and because we count it a crime to see the king wronged, have therefore sent and certified the king,

15 That search may be made in the books of the histories of thy fathers, and thou shalt find written in the records: and shalt know that this city is a rebellious city, and hurtful to the kings and provinces, and that wars were raised therein of old time: for which cause also the city was destroyed.

16 We certify the king, that if this city be built, and the walls thereof repaired, thou shalt have no possession on this side of the river.

17 The king sent word to Reum Beelteem and Samsai the scribe, and to the rest that were in their council, inhabitants of Samaria, and to the rest beyond the river, sending greeting and peace.

18 The accusation, which you have sent to us, hath been plainly read before me,

19 And I commanded: and search hath been made, and it is found, that this city of old time hath rebelled against kings, and seditions and wars have been raised therein.

20 For there have been powerful kings in Jerusalem, who hare had dominion over all the country that is beyond the river: and have received tribute, and toll and revenues.

21 Now therefore hear the sentence: Hinder those men, that this city be not built, till further orders be given by me.

22 See that you be not negligent in executing this, lest by little and little the evil grow to the hurt of the kings.

23 Now the copy of the edict of king Artaxerxes was read before Reum Beelteem, and Samsai the scribe, and their counsellors: and they went up in haste to Jerusalem to the Jews, and hindered them with arm and power.

24 Then the work of the house of the Lord in Jerusalem was interrupted, and ceased till the second year of the reign of Darius king of the Persians.

Ezra 4The Message (MSG)

The Building Stopped: Cease Rebuilding in That City

1-2 Old enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the exiles were building The Temple of the God of Israel. They came to Zerubbabel and the family heads and said, “We’ll help you build. We worship your God the same as you. We’ve been offering sacrifices to him since Esarhaddon king of Assyria brought us here.”

Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the rest of the family heads of Israel said to them, “Nothing doing. Building The Temple of our God is not the same thing to you as to us. We alone will build for the God of Israel. We’re the ones King Cyrus of Persia commanded to do it.”

4-5 So these people started beating down the morale of the people of Judah, harassing them as they built. They even hired propagandists to sap their resolve. They kept this up for about fifteen years, throughout the lifetime of Cyrus king of Persia and on into the reign of Darius king of Persia.

In fact, in the reign of Xerxes, at the beginning of his reign, they wrote an accusation against those living in Judah and Jerusalem.

Again later, in the time of Artaxerxes, Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and their associates wrote regarding the Jerusalem business to Artaxerxes king of Persia. The letter was written in Aramaic and translated. (What follows is written in Aramaic.)

8-16 Rehum the commanding officer and Shimshai the secretary wrote a letter against Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king as follows:

From: Rehum the commanding officer and Shimshai the secretary, backed by the rest of their associates, the judges and officials over the people from Tripolis, Persia, Erech, and Babylon, Elamites of Susa, and all the others whom the great and honorable Ashurbanipal deported and settled in the city of Samaria and other places in the land across the Euphrates.

(This is the copy of the letter they sent to him.)

To: King Artaxerxes from your servants from the land across the Euphrates.

We are here to inform the king that the Jews who came from you to us have arrived in Jerusalem and have set about rebuilding that rebellious and evil city. They are busy at work finishing the walls and rebuilding the foundations. The king needs to know that once that city is rebuilt and the wall completed they will no longer pay a penny of tribute, tax, or duty. The royal treasury will feel the loss. We’re loyal to the king and cannot sit idly by while our king is being insulted—that’s why we are passing this information on. We suggest that you look into the court records of your ancestors; you’ll learn from those books that that city is a rebellious city, a thorn in the side to kings and provinces, a historic center of unrest and revolt. That’s why the city was wiped out. We are letting the king know that if that city gets rebuilt and its walls restored, you’ll end up with nothing in your province beyond the Euphrates.

17-22 The king sent his reply to Rehum the commanding officer, Shimshai the secretary, and the rest of their associates who lived in Samaria and other places beyond the Euphrates.

Peace be with you. The letter that you sent has been translated and read to me. I gave orders to search the records, and sure enough it turns out that this city has revolted against kings time and again—rebellion is an old story there. I find that they’ve had their share of strong kings who have taken over beyond the Euphrates and exacted taxes, tribute, and duty. So do this: Order these men to stop work immediately—not a lick of rebuilding in that city unless I order it. Act quickly and firmly; they’ve done enough damage to kings!

23 The letter of King Artaxerxes was read to Rehum and Shimshai the secretary and their associates. They lost no time. They went to the Jews in Jerusalem and made them quit work.

24 That put a stop to the work on The Temple of God in Jerusalem. Nothing more was done until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

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