Bible: Ezra 4:4-24

4:4 Then the local people 1  began to discourage 2  the people of Judah and to dishearten them from building. 4:5 They were hiring advisers to oppose them, so as to frustrate their plans, throughout the time 3  of King Cyrus of Persia until the reign of King Darius 4  of Persia. 5 


Official Complaints Are Lodged Against the Jews


At the beginning of the reign of Ahasuerus 7  they filed an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem. 8  4:7 And during the reign 9  of Artaxerxes, Bishlam, 10  Mithredath, Tabeel, and the rest of their colleagues 11  wrote to King Artaxerxes 12  of Persia. This letter 13  was first written in Aramaic but then translated.

[Aramaic:] 14 

4:8 Rehum the commander 15  and Shimshai the scribe 16  wrote a letter concerning 17  Jerusalem to King Artaxerxes as follows: 4:9 From 18  Rehum the commander, Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their colleagues – the judges, the rulers, the officials, the secretaries, the Erechites, the Babylonians, the people of Susa (that is, 19  the Elamites), 4:10 and the rest of nations whom the great and noble Ashurbanipal 20  deported and settled in the cities 21  of Samaria and other places in Trans-Euphrates. 22  4:11 (This is a copy of the letter they sent to him:)

“To King Artaxerxes, 23  from your servants in 24  Trans-Euphrates: 4:12 Now 25  let the king be aware that the Jews who came up to us from you have gone to Jerusalem. They are rebuilding that rebellious and odious city. 26  They are completing its walls and repairing its foundations. 4:13 Let the king also be aware that if this city is built and its walls are completed, no more tax, custom, or toll will be paid, and the royal treasury 27  will suffer loss. 4:14 In light of the fact that we are loyal to the king, 28  and since it does not seem appropriate to us that the king should sustain damage, 29  we are sending the king this information 30  4:15 so that he may initiate a search of the records 31  of his predecessors 32  and discover in those records 33  that this city is rebellious 34  and injurious to both kings and provinces, producing internal revolts 35  from long ago. 36  It is for this very reason that this city was destroyed. 4:16 We therefore are informing the king that if this city is rebuilt and its walls are completed, you will not retain control 37  of this portion of Trans-Euphrates.”

4:17 The king sent the following response:

“To Rehum the commander, Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their colleagues who live in Samaria and other parts of Trans-Euphrates: Greetings! 38  4:18 The letter you sent to us has been translated and read in my presence. 4:19 So I gave orders, 39  and it was determined 40  that this city from long ago has been engaging in insurrection against kings. It has continually engaged in 41  rebellion and revolt. 4:20 Powerful kings have been over Jerusalem who ruled throughout the entire Trans-Euphrates 42  and who were the beneficiaries of 43  tribute, custom, and toll. 4:21 Now give orders that these men cease their work and that this city not be rebuilt until such time as I so instruct. 44  4:22 Exercise appropriate caution so that there is no negligence in this matter. Why should danger increase to the point that kings sustain damage?

4:23 Then, as soon as the copy of the letter from King Artaxerxes was read in the presence of Rehum, Shimshai the scribe, and their colleagues, they proceeded promptly to the Jews in Jerusalem 45  and stopped them with threat of armed force. 46 

4:24 So the work on the temple of God in Jerusalem came to a halt. It remained halted until the second year of the reign of King Darius of Persia. 47 

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