1Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the exiles who had returned were building a temple to Yahweh the God of Israel,
2then they drew near to Zerubbabel and to the heads of fathers’ households, and said to them, “Let us build with you, because we seek your God as you do, and we sacrifice to him since the days of Esarhaddon, king of Assyria, who brought us up here.”
3But Zerubbabel and Jeshua and the rest of the heads of fathers’ households of Israel said to them, “You have nothing in common with us in building a house to our God; but we ourselves will together build to Yahweh the God of Israel, as king Cyrus, the king of Persia, has commanded us.”
4Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah and made them afraid to build,
5and hired counselors against them to frustrate their purpose all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.
6In the reign of Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, they wrote an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem.
7In 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 translated from the Aramaic language.
9From Rehum the commander and Shimshai the scribe and the rest of their companions, the judges and the governors, the officials, the Persians, the men of Erech, the Babylonians, the men of Susa, that is, the Elamites,
10and the rest of the nations whom the great and noble Osnappar brought over and set in the city of Samaria, and in the rest of the country beyond the River, and so forth, wrote.
From your servants, the men beyond the River.
12“Now let it be known to the king that the Jews who came up from you to us have gone to Jerusalem. They are rebuilding the rebellious and evil city, and are finishing the walls and repairing the foundations.
13Let it now be known to the king that if this city is built and the walls finished, they will not pay tribute, custom, or toll, and the royal revenue will suffer.
14Now because we eat the salt of the king’s palace and it is not fitting for us to see the king’s dishonor, therefore have we sent and informed the king,
15in order that a search may be made in the book of the records of your fathers. And you will find in the book of the records and discover that this city is a rebellious city, and hurtful to kings and provinces, and that they have incited revolt within it in past days. That was why the city was laid waste.
16We inform the king that, if this city is rebuilt and the walls finished, because of that you will then have no possession beyond the River.”
18“The letter that you sent to us has been translated and read before me.
19And I made a decree, and a search has been made. And it was found that from old time this city has had uprisings against kings and that rebellion and revolts have been made in it.
20Also, there have been mighty kings over Jerusalem who have ruled over all the country beyond the River; and tribute, custom, and toll was paid to them.
21So now, make a decree that these men stop building, and that this city may not be rebuilt until a further decree is made by me.
22And take care not to be slack in this matter. Why should damage increase to the hurt of the kings?”
23Then, when the copy of king Artaxerxes’ letter was read before Rehum, and Shimshai the scribe and their companions, they went in haste to Jerusalem to the Jews and made them stop by force and power.