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Rehum the commander and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king as follows: Rehum the commander, Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their associates, the (A)judges, the (B)governors, the officials, the Persians, the men of Erech, the Babylonians, the men of Susa, that is, the (C)Elamites, 10 and the rest of the nations whom the great and noble (D)Osnappar deported and settled in the cities of Samaria and in the rest of the province Beyond the River. 11 (This is a copy of the letter that they sent.) “To Artaxerxes the king: Your servants, the men of the province Beyond the River, send greeting. And now 12 be it 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 (E)finishing the walls and repairing the foundations. 13 Now be it known to the king that if this city is rebuilt and the walls finished, they will not pay (F)tribute, custom, or toll, and the royal revenue will be impaired. 14 Now because we eat the salt of the palace and it is not fitting for us to witness the king's dishonour, therefore we send and inform the king, 15 in order that search may be made in the book of the records of your fathers. You will find in the book of the records and learn that this city is a rebellious city, hurtful to kings and provinces, and that sedition was stirred up in it from of old. That was why 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.”

The King Orders the Work to Cease

17 The king sent an answer: “To Rehum the commander 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 (G)plainly read before me. 19 And I made a decree, and search has been made, and it has been found that this city from of old has risen against kings, and that rebellion and sedition have been made in it. 20 And mighty kings have been over Jerusalem, (H)who ruled over the whole province Beyond the River, to whom (I)tribute, custom, and toll were paid. 21 Therefore make a decree that these men be made to cease, and that this city be not rebuilt, until a decree is made by me. 22 And 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 Shimshai the scribe and their associates, they went in haste to the Jews at Jerusalem and by force and power made them cease. 24 Then the work on the house of God that is in Jerusalem stopped, and it ceased until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.

Rebuilding Begins Anew

Now the prophets, (J)Haggai and (K)Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem, in the name of the God of Israel who was over them. (L)Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and (M)Jeshua the son of Jozadak arose and began to rebuild the house of God that is in Jerusalem, and the prophets of God were (N)with them, supporting them.

At the same time (O)Tattenai the governor of the province Beyond the River and Shethar-bozenai and their associates came to them and spoke to them thus: (P)“Who gave you a decree to build this house and to finish this structure?” They[a] also asked them this: “What are the names of the men who are building this building?” But (Q)the eye of their God was on the elders of the Jews, and they did not stop them until the report should reach Darius and then an answer be returned by letter concerning it.

Tattenai's Letter to King Darius

This is a copy of the letter that (R)Tattenai the governor of the province Beyond the River and Shethar-bozenai and his associates, the (S)governors who were in the province Beyond the River, sent to Darius the king. They sent him a report, in which was written as follows: “To Darius the king, all peace. Be it known to the king that we went to the province of Judah, to the house of the great God. It is being built with huge stones, and timber is laid in the walls. This work goes on diligently and prospers in their hands. Then we asked those elders and spoke to them thus: (T)‘Who gave you a decree to build this house and to finish this structure?’ 10 We also asked them their names, for your information, that we might write down the names of their leaders.[b] 11 And this was their reply to us: ‘We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and we are rebuilding the house that was built many years ago, (U)which a great king of Israel built and (V)finished. 12 (W)But because our fathers had angered the God of heaven, he (X)gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this house and carried away the people to Babylonia. 13 (Y)However, in the first year of Cyrus king of Babylon, Cyrus the king made a decree that this house of God should be rebuilt. 14 (Z)And the gold and silver vessels of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple that was in Jerusalem and brought into the temple of Babylon, these Cyrus the king took out of the temple of Babylon, and they were delivered to one whose name was (AA)Sheshbazzar, whom he had made governor; 15 and he said to him, “Take these vessels, go and put them in the temple that is in Jerusalem, and let the house of God be rebuilt on its site.” 16 Then this (AB)Sheshbazzar came and (AC)laid the foundations of the house of God that is in Jerusalem, and from that time until now it has been in building, and it is (AD)not yet finished.’ 17 Therefore, if it seems good to the king, (AE)let search be made in the royal archives there in Babylon, to see whether a decree was issued by Cyrus the king for the rebuilding of this house of God in Jerusalem. And let the king send us his pleasure in this matter.”

The Decree of Darius

Then Darius the king made a decree, and (AF)search was made in Babylonia, in the house of the archives where the documents were stored. And in Ecbatana, the capital that is (AG)in the province of Media, a scroll was found on which this was written: “A record. In the first year of Cyrus the king, Cyrus the king issued a decree: Concerning the house of God at Jerusalem, let the house be rebuilt, the place where sacrifices were offered, and let its foundations be retained. Its height shall be sixty cubits[c] and its breadth sixty cubits, (AH)with three layers of great stones and one layer of timber. Let the cost be paid from the royal treasury. And also (AI)let the gold and silver vessels of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took out of the temple that is in Jerusalem and brought to Babylon, be restored and brought back to the temple that is in Jerusalem, each to its place. You shall put them in the house of God.”

“Now therefore, (AJ)Tattenai, governor of the province Beyond the River, Shethar-bozenai, (AK)and your associates the governors who are in the province Beyond the River, keep away. Leave the work on this house of God alone. Let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews rebuild this house of God on its site. Moreover, (AL)I make a decree regarding what you shall do for these elders of the Jews for the rebuilding of this house of God. The cost is to be paid to these men in full and without delay from the royal revenue, the tribute of the province from Beyond the River. And whatever is needed—bulls, rams, or sheep for burnt offerings to the God of heaven, wheat, salt, wine, or oil, as the priests at Jerusalem require—let that be given to them day by day without fail, 10 that they may offer pleasing sacrifices to the God of heaven (AM)and pray for the life of the king and his sons. 11 Also I make a decree that if anyone alters this edict, a beam shall be pulled out of his house, and he shall be impaled on it, and (AN)his house shall be made a dunghill. 12 May the God (AO)who has caused his name to dwell there overthrow any king or people who shall put out a hand to alter this, or to destroy this house of God that is in Jerusalem. I Darius make a decree; let it be done with all diligence.”

The Temple Finished and Dedicated

13 Then, according to the word sent by Darius the king, (AP)Tattenai, the governor of the province Beyond the River, Shethar-bozenai, and their associates did with all diligence what Darius the king had ordered. 14 (AQ)And the elders of the Jews built and prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. They finished their building by decree of the God of Israel and (AR)by decree of Cyrus and (AS)Darius and (AT)Artaxerxes king of Persia; 15 and this house was finished on the third day of the (AU)month of Adar, in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king.

16 And the people of Israel, the priests and the Levites, and the rest of the returned exiles, celebrated the (AV)dedication of this house of God with joy. 17 They offered at the dedication of this house of God 100 bulls, 200 rams, 400 lambs, and as a sin offering for all Israel (AW)12 male goats, according to the number of the tribes of Israel. 18 And they set the priests (AX)in their divisions and the Levites (AY)in their divisions, for the service of God at Jerusalem, (AZ)as it is written in the Book of Moses.

Footnotes

  1. Ezra 5:4 Septuagint, Syriac; Aramaic We
  2. Ezra 5:10 Aramaic of the men at their heads
  3. Ezra 6:3 A cubit was about 18 inches or 45 centimetres

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

Rehum the commanding officer and Shimshai the secretary, together with the rest of their associates(A)—the judges, officials and administrators over the people from Persia, Uruk(B) and Babylon, the Elamites of Susa,(C) 10 and the other people whom the great and honorable Ashurbanipal(D) deported and settled in the city of Samaria and elsewhere in Trans-Euphrates.(E)

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

To King Artaxerxes,

From your servants in Trans-Euphrates:

12 The king should know that the people who came up to us from you have gone to Jerusalem and are rebuilding that rebellious and wicked city. They are restoring the walls and repairing the foundations.(F)

13 Furthermore, the king should know that if this city is built and its walls are restored, no more taxes, tribute or duty(G) will be paid, and eventually the royal revenues will suffer.[a] 14 Now since we are under obligation to the palace and it is not proper for us to see the king dishonored, we are sending this message to inform the king, 15 so that a search may be made in the archives(H) of your predecessors. In these records you will find that this city is a rebellious city, troublesome to kings and provinces, a place with a long history of sedition. That is why this city was destroyed.(I) 16 We inform the king that if this city is built and its walls are restored, you will be left with nothing in Trans-Euphrates.

17 The king sent this reply:

To Rehum the commanding officer, Shimshai the secretary and the rest of their associates living in Samaria and elsewhere in Trans-Euphrates:(J)

Greetings.

18 The letter you sent us has been read and translated in my presence. 19 I issued an order and a search was made, and it was found that this city has a long history of revolt(K) against kings and has been a place of rebellion and sedition. 20 Jerusalem has had powerful kings ruling over the whole of Trans-Euphrates,(L) and taxes, tribute and duty were paid to them. 21 Now issue an order to these men to stop work, so that this city will not be rebuilt until I so order. 22 Be careful not to neglect this matter. Why let this threat grow, to the detriment of the royal interests?(M)

23 As soon as the copy of the letter of King Artaxerxes was read to Rehum and Shimshai the secretary and their associates,(N) they went immediately to the Jews in Jerusalem and compelled them by force to stop.

24 Thus the work on the house of God in Jerusalem came to a standstill until the second year of the reign of Darius(O) king of Persia.

Tattenai’s Letter to Darius

Now Haggai(P) the prophet and Zechariah(Q) the prophet, a descendant of Iddo, prophesied(R) to the Jews in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, who was over them. Then Zerubbabel(S) son of Shealtiel and Joshua(T) son of Jozadak set to work(U) to rebuild the house of God in Jerusalem. And the prophets of God were with them, supporting them.

At that time Tattenai,(V) governor of Trans-Euphrates, and Shethar-Bozenai(W) and their associates went to them and asked, “Who authorized you to rebuild this temple and to finish it?”(X) They[b] also asked, “What are the names of those who are constructing this building?” But the eye of their God(Y) was watching over the elders of the Jews, and they were not stopped until a report could go to Darius and his written reply be received.

This is a copy of the letter that Tattenai, governor of Trans-Euphrates, and Shethar-Bozenai and their associates, the officials of Trans-Euphrates, sent to King Darius. The report they sent him read as follows:

To King Darius:

Cordial greetings.

The king should know that we went to the district of Judah, to the temple of the great God. The people are building it with large stones and placing the timbers in the walls. The work(Z) is being carried on with diligence and is making rapid progress under their direction.

We questioned the elders and asked them, “Who authorized you to rebuild this temple and to finish it?”(AA) 10 We also asked them their names, so that we could write down the names of their leaders for your information.

11 This is the answer they gave us:

“We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and we are rebuilding the temple(AB) that was built many years ago, one that a great king of Israel built and finished. 12 But because our ancestors angered(AC) the God of heaven, he gave them into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar the Chaldean, king of Babylon, who destroyed this temple and deported the people to Babylon.(AD)

13 “However, in the first year of Cyrus king of Babylon, King Cyrus issued a decree(AE) to rebuild this house of God. 14 He even removed from the temple[c] of Babylon the gold and silver articles of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple in Jerusalem and brought to the temple[d] in Babylon.(AF) Then King Cyrus gave them to a man named Sheshbazzar,(AG) whom he had appointed governor, 15 and he told him, ‘Take these articles and go and deposit them in the temple in Jerusalem. And rebuild the house of God on its site.’

16 “So this Sheshbazzar came and laid the foundations of the house of God(AH) in Jerusalem. From that day to the present it has been under construction but is not yet finished.”

17 Now if it pleases the king, let a search be made in the royal archives(AI) of Babylon to see if King Cyrus did in fact issue a decree to rebuild this house of God in Jerusalem. Then let the king send us his decision in this matter.

The Decree of Darius

King Darius then issued an order, and they searched in the archives(AJ) stored in the treasury at Babylon. A scroll was found in the citadel of Ecbatana in the province of Media, and this was written on it:

Memorandum:

In the first year of King Cyrus, the king issued a decree concerning the temple of God in Jerusalem:

Let the temple be rebuilt as a place to present sacrifices, and let its foundations be laid.(AK) It is to be sixty cubits[e] high and sixty cubits wide, with three courses(AL) of large stones and one of timbers. The costs are to be paid by the royal treasury.(AM) Also, the gold(AN) and silver articles of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took from the temple in Jerusalem and brought to Babylon, are to be returned to their places in the temple in Jerusalem; they are to be deposited in the house of God.(AO)

Now then, Tattenai,(AP) governor of Trans-Euphrates, and Shethar-Bozenai(AQ) and you other officials of that province, stay away from there. Do not interfere with the work on this temple of God. Let the governor of the Jews and the Jewish elders rebuild this house of God on its site.

Moreover, I hereby decree what you are to do for these elders of the Jews in the construction of this house of God:

Their expenses are to be fully paid out of the royal treasury,(AR) from the revenues(AS) of Trans-Euphrates, so that the work will not stop. Whatever is needed—young bulls, rams, male lambs for burnt offerings(AT) to the God of heaven, and wheat, salt, wine and olive oil, as requested by the priests in Jerusalem—must be given them daily without fail, 10 so that they may offer sacrifices pleasing to the God of heaven and pray for the well-being of the king and his sons.(AU)

11 Furthermore, I decree that if anyone defies this edict, a beam is to be pulled from their house and they are to be impaled(AV) on it. And for this crime their house is to be made a pile of rubble.(AW) 12 May God, who has caused his Name to dwell there,(AX) overthrow any king or people who lifts a hand to change this decree or to destroy this temple in Jerusalem.

I Darius(AY) have decreed it. Let it be carried out with diligence.

Completion and Dedication of the Temple

13 Then, because of the decree King Darius had sent, Tattenai, governor of Trans-Euphrates, and Shethar-Bozenai and their associates(AZ) carried it out with diligence. 14 So the elders of the Jews continued to build and prosper under the preaching(BA) of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah, a descendant of Iddo. They finished building the temple according to the command of the God of Israel and the decrees of Cyrus,(BB) Darius(BC) and Artaxerxes,(BD) kings of Persia. 15 The temple was completed on the third day of the month Adar, in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius.(BE)

16 Then the people of Israel—the priests, the Levites and the rest of the exiles—celebrated the dedication(BF) of the house of God with joy. 17 For the dedication of this house of God they offered(BG) a hundred bulls, two hundred rams, four hundred male lambs and, as a sin offering[f] for all Israel, twelve male goats, one for each of the tribes of Israel. 18 And they installed the priests in their divisions(BH) and the Levites in their groups(BI) for the service of God at Jerusalem, according to what is written in the Book of Moses.(BJ)

Footnotes

  1. Ezra 4:13 The meaning of the Aramaic for this clause is uncertain.
  2. Ezra 5:4 See Septuagint; Aramaic We.
  3. Ezra 5:14 Or palace
  4. Ezra 5:14 Or palace
  5. Ezra 6:3 That is, about 90 feet or about 27 meters
  6. Ezra 6:17 Or purification offering

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