Esdras 4

1 Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity built the temple unto the LORD God of Israel;

2 Then they came to Zerubbabel, and to the heads of the fathers’ houses, and said unto them, Let us build with you: for we seek your God, as you do; and we do sacrifice unto him since the days of Esar-haddon king of Assyria, who brought us up here.

3 But Zerubbabel, and Jeshua, and the rest of the heads of the fathers’ houses of Israel, said unto them, You have nothing to do with us to build a house unto our God; but we ourselves together will build unto the LORD God of Israel, as king Cyrus the king of Persia has commanded us.

4 Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in 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 And in the reign of Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, they wrote unto him an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem.

7 And in the days of Artaxerxes wrote Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and the rest of their companions, unto Artaxerxes king of Persia; and the writing of the letter was written in Aramaic, and set forth in the Aramaic language.

8 Rehum the commander and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king in this fashion:

9 Then wrote Rehum the commander, and Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their companions; the judges, the governors, the officials, the Persians, the men of Erech, the Babylonians, the men of Susa, and the Elamites,

10 And the rest of the nations whom the great and noble Osnappar brought over, and settled in the cities of Samaria, and the rest that are on this side the river, and so forth.

11 This is the copy of the letter that they sent unto him, even unto Artaxerxes the king; Your servants the men on this side the river, send greetings.

12 Be it known unto the king, that the Jews who came up from you to us have come unto Jerusalem, building the rebellious and wicked city, and are finishing its walls, and repairing the foundations.

13 Be it known now unto the king, that, if this city is built, and the walls set up again, then will they not pay toll, tribute, and custom, and so you shall impair the revenue of the kings.

14 Now because we receive support from the king’s palace, and it was not proper for us to see the king’s dishonor, therefore have we sent and informed the king;

15 That search may be made in the book of the records of your fathers: so shall you find in the book of the records, and know that this city is a rebellious city, and harmful unto kings and provinces, and that they have incited sedition within the city from of old: for which cause was this city destroyed.

16 We inform the king that, if this city is built again, and its walls finished, by this means you shall have no dominion on this side of the river.

17 Then sent the king an answer unto Rehum the commander, and to Shimshai the scribe, and to the rest of their companions that dwell in Samaria, and unto the rest beyond the river, Peace, and so forth.

18 The letter which you sent unto us has been plainly read before me.

19 And I commanded, and search has been made, and it is found that this city from of old has made insurrection against kings, and that rebellion and sedition have been made in it.

20 There have been mighty kings also over Jerusalem, who have ruled over all countries beyond the river; and toll, tribute, and custom, was paid unto them.

21 Give you now command to cause these men to cease, and that this city be not built, until another command shall be given from me.

22 Take heed now that you fail not to do this: why should damage increase to the hurt of the kings?

23 Now when the copy of king Artaxerxes’ letter was read before Rehum, and Shimshai the scribe, and their companions, they went up in haste to Jerusalem unto the Jews, and made them to cease by force and power.

24 Then ceased the work on the house of God which is at Jerusalem. So it ceased unto the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.