Ezra 4

1Now the enemies of Judah and of Benjamin heard that the sons of the captivity were building a temple to the Lord, the God of Israel. 2And so, drawing near to Zerubbabel and to the leaders of the fathers, they said to them: “Let us build with you, for we seek your God just as you do. Behold, we have immolated victims to him from the days of Esarhaddon, king of Assyria, who brought us here.” 3And Zerubbabel, and Jeshua, and the rest of the leaders of the fathers of Israel said to them: “It is not for you to build the house of our God with us. Instead, we alone shall build to the Lord our God, just as Cyrus, the king of the Persians, has commanded us.” 4Therefore, it happened that the people of the land impeded the hands of the people of Judah, and they troubled them in building. 5Then they hired counselors against them, so that they might argue against their plan during all the days of Cyrus, king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius, king of the Persians. 6And so, during the reign of Ahasuerus, at the beginning of his reign, they wrote an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and of Jerusalem. 7And so, in the days of Artaxerxes, Bishlam, Mithredath, and Tabeel, and the others who were in their council wrote to Artaxerxes, king of the Persians. Now the letter of accusation was written in Syriac, and was being read in the Syrian language. 8Rehum, the commander, and Shimshai, the scribe, wrote one letter from Jerusalem to king Artaxerxes, in this manner: 9“Rehum, the commander, and Shimshai, the scribe, and the rest of their counselors, the judges, and rulers, the officials, those from Persia, from Erech, from Babylonia, from Susa, the Dehavites, and the Elamites, 10and the rest of the nations, whom the great and glorious Osnappar transferred and caused to live in the cities of Samaria and in the rest of the regions across the river in peace: 11to king Artaxerxes. (This is a copy of the letter, which they sent to him.) Your servants, the men who are across the river, send a greeting. 12Let it be known to the king, that the Jews, who ascended from you to us, have arrived in Jerusalem, a rebellious and most wicked city, which they are building, constructing its ramparts and repairing the walls. 13And now let be it known to the king, that if this city will have been built up, and its walls repaired, they will not pay tribute, nor tax, nor yearly revenues, and this loss will affect even the kings. 14But, remembering the salt that we have eaten in the palace, and because we are led to believe that it a crime to see the king harmed, we have therefore sent and reported to the king, 15so that you may search in the books of the histories of your fathers, and you may find written in the records, and you may know that this city is a rebellious city, and that it is harmful to the kings and the provinces, and that wars were incited within it from the days of antiquity. For which reason also, the city itself was destroyed. 16We report to the king that if this city will have been built, and its walls repaired, you will have no possession across the river.” 17The king sent word to Rehum, the commander, and to Shimshai, the scribe, and to the rest who were in their council, to the inhabitants of Samaria, and to the others across the river, offering a greeting and peace. 18“The accusation, which you have sent to us, has been read aloud before me. 19And it was commanded by me, and they searched and found that this city, from the days of antiquity, has rebelled against the kings, and that seditions and battles have been incited within it. 20Then too, there have been very strong kings in Jerusalem, who also ruled over the entire region which is across the river. They have also taken tribute, and tax, and revenues. 21Now therefore, hear the sentence: Prohibit those men, so that this city may be not built, until perhaps there may be further orders from me. 22See to it that you are not negligent in fulfilling this, otherwise, little by little, the evil may increase against the kings.” 23And so a copy of the edict of king Artaxerxes was read before Rehum, the commander, and Shimshai, the scribe, and their counselors. And they went away hurriedly to Jerusalem, to the Jews. And they prohibited them by force and by strength. 24Then the work of the house of the Lord in Jerusalem was interrupted, and it did not resume until the second year of the reign of Darius, the king of the Persians.
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