1 News came to the enemies of Judah and Benjamin that the people who had come back were building a Temple to Jehovah, the God of Israel.
2 They approached Zerubbabel and the heads of families and said: »Let us help you build for we are servants of your God, the same as you. We have been making offerings to him from the days of Esarhaddon, king of Assyria, who sent us here.«
3 But Zerubbabel and Jeshua and the rest of the heads of families in Israel said to them: »You have no part with us in the building of a house for our God. We will do the work for Jehovah, the God of Israel, as Cyrus, king of Persia, has given us orders.«
4 The people of the land discouraged the people of Judah and tried to make them afraid to go on building.
5 They hired men to work against them and kept them from accomplishing their plans during the reign of Cyrus, king of Persia, till Darius became king.
6 When Ahasuerus first became king, they put on record a statement against the people of Judah and Jerusalem.
7 In the time of Artaxerxes, Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and the rest of his friends, sent a letter to Artaxerxes, king of Persia, writing it in the Aramaic language.
8 Rehum, the chief ruler, and Shimshai the scribe, sent a letter against Jerusalem, to Artaxerxes the king as follows:
9 The letter was sent by Rehum, the chief ruler, and Shimshai the scribe and their friends; the Dinaites and the Apharsathchites, the Tarpelites, the Apharsites, the Archevites, the Babylonians, the Shushanchites people of Susa, the Dehaites, the Elamites,
10 The rest of the nations the great and noble Osnappar took over and put in Samaria and the rest of the country over the river:
11 »This is a copy of the letter that they sent to Artaxerxes the king: Your servants living across the river send these words:
12 »We give news to the king that the Jews who came from you have come to us at Jerusalem. They are again building that uncontrolled and evil town. The walls are complete and they are repairing the bases.
13 »The king may be certain that when the town and its wall are completely rebuilt they will pay no tax or payment in goods or forced payments, and in the end it will be a cause of loss to the kings.
14 »Because we are responsible to the king, and it is not right for us to see the king's honor damaged, we have sent to give the king word of these things.
15 »That way a search may be made in the book of the records of your fathers. You will see in the book of the records that this town has been uncontrolled. It has been a cause of trouble to kings and countries. There were outbursts against authority in the past. That is the reason the town was laid waste.
16 »We give you word, that if this town and its walls is completely rebuilt, your power in the country across the river will end.«
17 The king sent an answer to Rehum, the chief ruler, and Shimshai the scribe, and their friends living in Samaria, and to the rest of those across the river, saying, »Peace to you:
18 »The meaning of the letter you sent to us has been made clear to me,
19 »I gave orders for a search to be made, and it is certain that in the past this town has made trouble for kings, and that outbursts against authority have taken place there.
20 »Further, there have been great kings in Jerusalem. They ruled over all the country across the river. Taxes and tribute was paid to them.
21 »Give an order now that these men are to do no more work and that the building of the town is to be stopped till I give an order.
22 »Be sure to do this with all care. Do not let trouble increase to damage the king.«
23 Then, after reading the king's letter, Rehum and Shimshai the scribe and their friends went quickly to Jerusalem, to the Jews to compel them by force to stop.
24 So the work of the house of God at Jerusalem was stopped, till the second year of the rule of Darius, king of Persia.