When the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the returned exiles were building a temple to the LORD God of Israel,
they approached Zerubbabel and the chiefs of the clans and said to them, “Let us build with you, since we too worship your God, having offered sacrifices to Him since the time of King Esarhaddon of Assyria, who brought us here.”
Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the rest of the chiefs of the clans of Israel answered them, “It is not for you and us to build a House to our God, but we alone will build it to the LORD God of Israel, in accord with the charge that the king, King Cyrus of Persia, laid upon us.”
Thereupon the people of the land undermined the resolve of the people of Judah, and made them afraid to build.
They bribed ministers in order to thwart their plans all the years of King Cyrus of Persia and until the reign of King Darius of Persia.
And in the reign of Ahasuerus, at the start of his reign, they drew up an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem.
And in the time of Artaxerxes, Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and the rest of their colleagues wrote to King Artaxerxes of Persia, a letter written in Aramaic and translated.aCf. below v. 18 and note d.
Aramaic:bA note indicating that what follows is in the Aramaic language.
Rehum the commissioner and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter concerning Jerusalem to King Artaxerxes as follows: (
cVv. 9–11 amplify v. 8.Then Rehum the commissioner and Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their colleagues, the judges, officials, officers, and overseers, the men of Erech, and of Babylon, and of Susa—that is the Elamites—
and other peoples whom the great and glorious Osnappar deported and settled in the city of Samaria and the rest of the province Beyond the River [wrote]—and now
this is the text of the letter which they sent to him:)—“To King Artaxerxes [from] your servants, men of the province Beyond the River. And now
be it known to the king that the Jews who came up from you to us have reached Jerusalem and are rebuilding that rebellious and wicked city; they are completing the walls and repairing the foundation.
Now be it known to the king that if this city is rebuilt and the walls completed, they will not pay tribute, poll-tax, or land-tax, and in the end it will harm the kingdom.
Now since we eat the salt of the palace, and it is not right that we should see the king dishonored, we have written to advise the king [of this]
so that you may search the records of your fathers and find in the records and know that this city is a rebellious city, harmful to kings and states. Sedition has been rife in it from early times; on that account this city was destroyed.
We advise the king that if this city is rebuilt and its walls are completed, you will no longer have any portion in the province Beyond the River.”
The king sent back the following message: “To Rehum the commissioner and Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their colleagues, who dwell in Samaria and in the rest of the province of Beyond the River, greetings. Now
the letter that you wrote me has been read to me in translation.dI.e., from Aramaic to Persian.
At my order a search has been made, and it has been found that this city has from earliest times risen against kings, and that rebellion and sedition have been rife in it.
Powerful kings have ruled over Jerusalem and exercised authority over the whole province of Beyond the River, and tribute, poll-tax, and land-tax were paid to them.
Now issue an order to stop these men; this city is not to be rebuilt until I so order.
Take care not to be lax in this matter or there will be much damage and harm to the kingdom.”
When the text of the letter of King Artaxerxes was read before Rehum and Shimshai the scribe and their colleagues, they hurried to Jerusalem, to the Jews, and stopped them by main force.
At that time, work on the House of God in Jerusalem stopped and remained in abeyance until the second year of the reign of King Darius of Persia.