Esdras 4

1 And when the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the sons of the captivity built the temple to the LORD God of Israel,

2 then they came to Zerubbabel and to the chief of the fathers, and said to them, Let us build with you, for we seek your God, even as you. And we have sacrificed to 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 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 together will build to 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 they 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 an accusation against the people of Judah and Jerusalem.

7 And in the days of Artaxerxes, Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel and the rest of their companions, wrote to Artaxerxes king of Persia. And the letter [was] written in the Syrian tongue, and interpreted in the Syrian tongue.

8 Rehum the chancellor and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king in this way.

9 Then Rehum the chancellor and Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their companions, the judges, and the emissaries, the consuls, the officials, the Erechites, the Babylonians, the men of Susa, that is, the Elamites,

10 and the rest of the nations whom the great and noble Asnappar brought over and set in the cities of Samaria, and the rest of [the province] Beyond the River, and now,

11 this [is] the copy of the letter which they sent to him, to Artaxerxes the king. Your servants the men of the province Beyond the River, and so now,

12 let it be known to the king that the Jews who came up from you to us have come to Jerusalem, and are building the rebellious and the evil city, and have set up [its] walls, and have joined the foundations.

13 And let it be known to the king that if this city is built and the walls set up, then they will not pay toll, taxes, or custom, and you shall endanger the revenue of the kings.

14 And because we have eaten the salt of the palace, and it was not right for us to see the king's dishonor, therefore we have sent and notified the king,

15 so that search may be made in the book of the records of your fathers, and you shall find in the book of the records, and shall know that [this] city [is] a rebellious city, hurtful to kings and provinces, and that they have rebelled in it in the past, for which cause that city was destroyed.

16 We notify the king that if this city is built and the walls of it set up, then you shall have no portion Beyond the River.

17 The message the king sent to Rehum the chancellor, and [to] Shimshai the scribe, and to the rest of their companions who dwell in Samaria, and to the rest Beyond the River, Peace! And now,

18 the letter which you sent to us has been plainly read before me.

19 And I commanded, and search has been made, and it is found that this city has lifted up itself against kings in the past, and rebellion and revolt have been made in it.

20 There have been mighty kings also over Jerusalem, who have ruled over all Beyond the River. And toll, taxes, and custom was paid to them.

21 Now make a decree to cause these men to cease, and that this city be not built until the decree shall be given from me.

22 And take heed that you do not fail to do this. Why should damage grow to the hurt of [the] kings?

23 And when the copy of King Artaxerxes' letter [was] read before Rehum, and Shimshai the scribe, and their companions, they hurried to Jerusalem to the Jews, and made them stop by force and power.

24 Then the work of the house of God at Jerusalem ceased. So it ceased to the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.