The Adversaries Stop the Work
4 1 And the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity were building the temple to Jehovah the God of Israel; 2 and they came to Zerubbabel and to the chief fathers, and said to them, We would build with you; for we seek your God, as ye; and we have sacrificed to him since the days of Esar-haddon king of Assyria, who brought us up hither. 3 But Zerubbabel and Jeshua and the rest of the chief fathers of Israel said to them, Ye have nothing to do with us to build a house to our God, but we alone will build to Jehovah the God of Israel, as king Cyrus, the king of Persia, has commanded us. 4 And the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building; 5 and they hired counsellors 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 inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem. 7 And in the days of Artaxerxes, Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and the rest of his companions, wrote to Artaxerxes king of Persia; and the writing of the letter was written in Aramaic, and interpreted in Aramaic. 8 Rehum the chancellor and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king after this sort: 9 Rehum the chancellor, and Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their companions, the Dinaites, and the Apharsathchites, the Tarpelites, the Apharsites, the Archevites, the Babylonians, the Shushanchites, the Dehaites, the Elamites, 10 and the rest of the peoples whom the great and noble Osnappar brought over and settled in the cities of Samaria, and the rest [of the country] on this side the river, and so forth. 11 This is the copy of the letter that they sent to him: To Artaxerxes the king: Thy servants the men on this side the river, and so forth. 12 Be it known to the king that the Jews who came up from thee unto us have come to Jerusalem; they are building the rebellious and the bad city, and they complete the walls and join up the foundations. 13 Be it known therefore unto the king, that, if this city be built and the walls be completed, they will not pay tribute, tax, and toll, and in the end it will bring damage to the kings. 14 Now, since we eat the salt of the palace, and it is not right for us to see the king's injury, therefore have we sent and informed the king; 15 that search may be made in the book of the annals of thy fathers: so shalt thou find in the book of the annals and know that this city is a rebellious city, which has done damage to kings and provinces, and that they have raised sedition within the same of old time, for which cause this city was destroyed. 16 We inform the king that if this city be built and its walls be completed, by this means thou shalt have no portion on this side the river.
17 The king sent an answer to Rehum the chancellor, and Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their companions that dwell in Samaria, and the other places beyond the river: Peace, and so forth. 18 The letter that ye sent to us has been read before me distinctly. 19 And I gave orders, and search has been made, and it has been found that this city of old time has made insurrection against the kings, and that rebellion and sedition have been raised therein. 20 And there have been mighty kings over Jerusalem, who have ruled over all beyond the river; and tribute, tax, and toll were paid to them. 21 Now give order to make these men to cease, and that this city be not built, until the order shall be given from me; 22 and take heed that ye fail not to do this: why should harm grow to the damage of the kings? 23 As soon as the copy of king Artaxerxes' letter was read before Rehum, and Shimshai the scribe, and their companions, they went up in haste to Jerusalem to the Jews, and made them cease by force and power. 24 Then ceased the work of the house of God which is at Jerusalem; and it ceased until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.
The Temple Rebuilt
5 1 Now the prophets, Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied to the Jews that were in Judah and Jerusalem; in the name of the God of Israel [did they prophesy] to them. 2 Then rose up Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and began to build the house of God which is at Jerusalem; and with them were the prophets of God, who helped them.
3 At that time came to them Tatnai, governor on this side the river, and Shethar-boznai, and their companions, and said thus to them: Who gave you orders to build this house and to complete this wall? 4 And they said to them after this manner: What are the names of the men that build this building? 5 But the eye of their God was upon the elders of the Jews, and they did not make them cease till the matter came to Darius; and then they returned answer by letter concerning it. 6 The copy of the letter that Tatnai, governor on this side the river, and Shethar-boznai, and his companions the Apharsachites, who were on this side the river, sent to Darius the king. 7 They sent a report to him in which was written thus: To Darius the king, all peace! 8 Be it known to the king that we went into the province of Judah, to the house of the great God, which is being built with great stones, and timber is laid in the walls, and this work is being carried on with diligence, and prospers in their hand. 9 Then asked we those elders: thus we said to them, Who gave you orders to build this house and to complete this wall? 10 We asked their names also, to inform thee, that we might write the names of the men that were the chief of them. 11 And thus they returned us answer, saying, We are the servants of the God of the heavens and the earth, and build the house that was built these many years ago; and a great king of Israel built and completed it. 12 But after that our fathers had provoked the God of the heavens to wrath, he gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, the Chaldean, and he destroyed this house, and carried the people away unto Babylon. 13 But in the first year of Cyrus king of Babylon, king Cyrus gave orders to build this house of God. 14 And the vessels also of gold and silver of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took out of the temple that was at Jerusalem and brought into the temple of Babylon, those did king Cyrus take out of the temple of Babylon, and they were delivered to one Sheshbazzar by name, whom he had appointed governor. 15 And he said to him, Take these vessels, go, carry them into the temple that is at Jerusalem, and let the house of God be built in its place. 16 Then came the same Sheshbazzar, [and] laid the foundation of the house of God which is at Jerusalem; and since that time even until now has it been in building, and it is not completed. 17 And now, if it seem good to the king, let search be made in the king's treasure-house, which is there at Babylon, whether it be so, that orders were given by king Cyrus to build this house of God at Jerusalem; and let the king send his pleasure to us concerning this matter.
6 1 Then king Darius gave orders, and search was made in the house of the rolls, where the treasures were laid up in Babylon. 2 And there was found at Achmetha in the fortress that is in the province of Media a roll, and therein was a record thus written: 3 In the first year of king Cyrus, king Cyrus made a decree [concerning] the house of God at Jerusalem: Let the house be built for a place where they offer sacrifices, and let its foundations be solidly laid; its height sixty cubits, its breadth sixty cubits, 4 [with] three rows of great stones, and a row of new timber; and let the expenses be given out of the king's house: 5 and also let the golden and silver vessels of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took out of the temple that is at Jerusalem and brought to Babylon, be restored and brought again to the temple that is at Jerusalem, in their place; and thou shalt put [them] in the house of God. 6 Therefore Tatnai, governor beyond the river, Shethar-boznai, and your companions the Apharsachites, who are beyond the river, be ye far from thence: 7 let the work of this house of God alone; let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews build this house of God in its place. 8 Moreover, I give orders what ye shall do to these elders of the Jews, for the building of this house of God: that of the king's goods, of the tribute beyond the river, expenses be diligently given to these men, that they be not hindered. 9 And that which they have need of, both young bullocks and rams and lambs, for the burnt-offerings to the God of the heavens, wheat, salt, wine, and oil, according to the appointment of the priests that are at Jerusalem, let it be given them day by day without fail; 10 that they may present sweet odours to the God of the heavens, and pray for the life of the king and of his sons. 11 Also I have given order that whosoever shall alter this rescript, let timber be pulled down from his house, and being set up, let him be hanged thereon, and let his house be made a dunghill for this. 12 And the God that has caused his name to dwell there overthrow every king and people that shall put forth their hand to alter [or] to destroy this house of God which is at Jerusalem. I Darius have given [this] order; let it be done diligently.
13 Then Tatnai, governor on this side the river, Shethar-boznai, and their companions, because of that which king Darius had sent, did so diligently. 14 And the elders of the Jews built; and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they built and completed [it] according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia. 15 And this house was finished on the third day of the month Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of king Darius. 16 And the children of Israel, the priests and the Levites, and the rest of the children of the captivity, kept the dedication of this house of God with joy; 17 and they presented at the dedication of this house of God a hundred bullocks, two hundred rams, four hundred lambs, and for a sin-offering for all Israel, twelve he-goats, according to the number of the tribes of Israel. 18 And they set the priests in their classes, and the Levites in their divisions, for the service of God, which is at Jerusalem: as it is written in the book of Moses. 19 And the children of the captivity held the passover upon the fourteenth of the first month. 20 For the priests and the Levites had purified themselves as one [man]: they were all pure; and they killed the passover for all the children of the captivity, and for their brethren the priests, and for themselves. 21 And the children of Israel that were come back out of captivity, and all such as had separated themselves to them from the filthiness of the nations of the land, to seek Jehovah the God of Israel, did eat; 22 and they kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with joy; for Jehovah had made them joyful, and turned the heart of the king of Assyria to them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.
Ezra and His Company Come to Jerusalem
7 1 And after these things, in the reign of Artaxerxes, king of Persia, Ezra the son of Seraiah, the son of Azariah, the son of Hilkijah, 2 the son of Shallum, the son of Zadok, the son of Ahitub, 3 the son of Amariah, the son of Azariah, the son of Meraioth, 4 the son of Zerahiah, the son of Uzzi, the son of Bukki, 5 the son of Abishua, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the chief priest, 6 —this Ezra went up from Babylon; and he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which Jehovah the God of Israel had given. And the king granted him all his request, according to the hand of Jehovah his God upon him. 7 (And there went up [some] of the children of Israel, and of the priests, and the Levites, and the singers, and the doorkeepers, and the Nethinim, to Jerusalem, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king.) 8 And he came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which was in the seventh year of the king. 9 For upon the first of the first month the project of going up from Babylon was determined on, and on the first of the fifth month he came to Jerusalem, according to the good hand of his God upon him. 10 For Ezra had directed his heart to seek the law of Jehovah and to do it, and to teach in Israel the statutes and the ordinances.
11 And this is the copy of the letter that king Artaxerxes gave to Ezra the priest, the scribe, a scribe of the words of the commandments of Jehovah, and of his statutes to Israel: 12 Artaxerxes, king of kings, to Ezra the priest, an accomplished scribe of the law of the God of the heavens, and so forth. 13 I have given orders that all they of the people of Israel, and of their priests and the Levites, in my realm, who are disposed to go to Jerusalem, go with thee. 14 Because thou art sent by the king, and by his seven counsellors, to inquire concerning Judah and Jerusalem, according to the law of thy God which is in thy hand; 15 and to carry the silver and gold which the king and his counsellors have freely offered to the God of Israel, whose habitation is at Jerusalem, 16 and all the silver and gold that thou canst find in all the province of Babylon, besides the voluntary offering of the people, and of the priests, who offer willingly for the house of their God which is at Jerusalem. 17 Therefore thou shalt buy diligently with this money bullocks, rams, lambs, with their oblations and their drink-offerings, and offer them upon the altar of the house of your God which is at Jerusalem. 18 And whatever shall seem good to thee and to thy brethren to do with the rest of the silver and the gold, that do according to the will of your God. 19 And the vessels that have been given thee for the service of the house of thy God, deliver before the God of Jerusalem. 20 And whatever more shall be needful for the house of thy God which thou shalt have occasion to bestow, bestow it out of the king's treasure house. 21 And I, I Artaxerxes the king, do give orders to all the treasurers that are beyond the river, that whatever Ezra the priest and scribe of the law of the God of the heavens shall require of you, it be done diligently, 22 unto a hundred talents of silver, and to a hundred measures of wheat, and to a hundred baths of wine, and to a hundred baths of oil, and salt without prescribing [how much]. 23 Whatever is commanded by the God of the heavens, let it be carefully done for the house of the God of the heavens; for why should there be wrath against the realm of the king and his sons? 24 Also we inform you, as regards all the priests and Levites, singers, doorkeepers, Nethinim, and ministers of this house of God, it shall not be lawful to impose tribute, tax, and toll upon them. 25 And thou, Ezra, after the wisdom of thy God, which is in thy hand, set magistrates and judges who may judge all the people that are beyond the river, all such as know the laws of thy God; and teach ye him that knows [them] not. 26 And whosoever will not do the law of thy God and the law of the king, let judgment be executed diligently upon him, whether unto death, or to banishment, or to confiscation of goods, or to imprisonment.
27 Blessed be Jehovah the God of our fathers, who has put [such a thing] as this in the king's heart, to beautify the house of Jehovah which is at Jerusalem; 28 and has extended mercy to me before the king and his counsellors, and before all the king's mighty princes. And I was strengthened, as the hand of Jehovah my God was upon me; and I gathered together out of Israel chief men to go up with me.