Bible: Ezra 4:7-24

4:7 And during the reign 1  of Artaxerxes, Bishlam, 2  Mithredath, Tabeel, and the rest of their colleagues 3  wrote to King Artaxerxes 4  of Persia. This letter 5  was first written in Aramaic but then translated.

[Aramaic:] 6 

4:8 Rehum the commander 7  and Shimshai the scribe 8  wrote a letter concerning 9  Jerusalem to King Artaxerxes as follows: 4:9 From 10  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, 11  the Elamites), 4:10 and the rest of nations whom the great and noble Ashurbanipal 12  deported and settled in the cities 13  of Samaria and other places in Trans-Euphrates. 14  4:11 (This is a copy of the letter they sent to him:)

“To King Artaxerxes, 15  from your servants in 16  Trans-Euphrates: 4:12 Now 17  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. 18  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 19  will suffer loss. 4:14 In light of the fact that we are loyal to the king, 20  and since it does not seem appropriate to us that the king should sustain damage, 21  we are sending the king this information 22  4:15 so that he may initiate a search of the records 23  of his predecessors 24  and discover in those records 25  that this city is rebellious 26  and injurious to both kings and provinces, producing internal revolts 27  from long ago. 28  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 29  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! 30  4:18 The letter you sent to us has been translated and read in my presence. 4:19 So I gave orders, 31  and it was determined 32  that this city from long ago has been engaging in insurrection against kings. It has continually engaged in 33  rebellion and revolt. 4:20 Powerful kings have been over Jerusalem who ruled throughout the entire Trans-Euphrates 34  and who were the beneficiaries of 35  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. 36  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 37  and stopped them with threat of armed force. 38 

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. 39 

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