1The enemies of the people of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin heard that the Israeli people who had returned from Babylonia were rebuilding a temple for Yahweh, the God whom the Israeli people worshiped.
2So they went to Zerubbabel the governor and the other leaders, and said deceptively, “We want to help you build the temple, because we worship that same God whom you worship, and we have been offering sacrifices to him since Esarhaddon, the King of Assyria, brought us here.”
3But Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the other Israeli leaders replied, “We will not allow you to help us build a temple for our(exc) God. We will build it ◄ourselves/without your help► for Yahweh, the God whom we Israelis worship, like Cyrus, the King of Persia, told us to do.”
4Then the people who had been living in that land before the Israelis returned tried to cause the Jews to become discouraged and become afraid, and to cause them to stop building the temple.
5They bribed government officials to oppose what the Israelis were doing and prevent them from continuing to work on the temple. They did that all during the time that Cyrus was King of Persia. They continued to do it when Darius became the King of Persia.
6During the first year that Darius' son Xerxes was king, the enemies of the Jews wrote a note to the king saying that the Jews were planning to rebel against the government.
7Later, when Xerxes' son Artaxerxes became the King of Persia, Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel and their colleagues/companions wrote a letter to him. They wrote the letter in the Aramaic language, and it was translated into another language that the king knew.
8Rehum, the high commissioner, and Shimshai, the provincial secretary, wrote the letter to King Artaxerxes concerning what was happening in Jerusalem.
9They stated that the letter was from Rehum the high commissioner/governor and Shimshai the provincial secretary and from their associates, the judges, and other government officials, who were from Erech city, Babylon city, and Susa city in Elam district.
10They also wrote that they represented the other people-groups whom the army of the great and glorious/famous King Ashurbanipal had ◄deported/forced to move from their homes► and taken to live in Samaria and in other cities in the province west of the Euphrates River.
11This is what they wrote in the letter: To King Artaxerxes, From the officials who serve you who live in the province west of the Euphrates River.
12“Your majesty, we want you to know that the Jews who came here from your territories are rebuilding this city, Jerusalem. These people are wicked and want to rebel against you. Now they are repairing the foundations of the walls/buildings and building the walls of the city.
13It is important for you to know that if they rebuild the city and finish building the walls, they will stop paying any kind of taxes. As a result, there will be less money in your treasury.
14Now, because we are loyal to IDM you, and because we do not want you to be humiliated IDM, we are sending this information to you.
15And, we suggest that you order/tell your officials to search the records that your ancestors made/wrote. If you do that, you will find out that the people in this city have always rebelled against the government. You will also find out that from long ago these people have caused trouble for kings and for rulers of provinces. They have always revolted against those who ruled them. That is the reason that this city was destroyed by the Babylonian army.
16We want you to know that if they rebuild this city and finish building its walls, you will no longer be able to control/rule the people in this province west of the Euphrates River.”
17After the king read this letter, he sent this reply to them: “To Rehum, the high commissioner, and Shimshai, the provincial secretary, and their colleagues in Samaria and in other parts of the province that is west of the Euphrates River: I ◄send you my greetings/wish that things will go well for you►.
18The letter that you sent to me was translated and read to me.
19So then I ordered my officials to search the records. I have found out that it is true that the people of that city have always revolted against their rulers, and that the city is full of people who have rebelled and caused trouble.
20Powerful kings have ruled in Jerusalem, and they have also ruled over the whole province west of the Euphrates River. The people in that province were paying all kinds of taxes to those kings.
21So you must command that the people must stop rebuilding the city. Only if I tell them that they may rebuild it will they be allowed to continue.
22Do this immediately LIT, because I do not want those people to do anything to harm the things/area about which I am concerned.”
23Messengers took that letter to Rehum and Shimshai and their colleagues and read it to them. Then Rehum and the others went quickly to Jerusalem, and they forced the Jews to stop rebuilding the city wall.
24The result was that the Jews stopped rebuilding the temple. They did not do any more work to rebuild the temple until Darius became the King of Persia.