1Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity were building a temple to the LORD, the God of Israel,
2they came near to Zerubbabel, and to the heads of fathers’ households, and said to them, “Let us build with you, for we seek your God as you do; and we have been sacrificing to him since the days of Esar Haddon king of Assyria, who brought us up here.”
3But Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the rest of the heads of fathers’ households of Israel said to them, “You have nothing to do with us in building a house to our God; but we ourselves together will build to the LORD, 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 troubled them in building.
5They 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.
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 Syrian and delivered in the Syrian language.
8Rehum the chancellor and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king as follows.
9Then Rehum the chancellor, 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,
10and the rest of the nations whom the great and noble Osnappar brought over and settled in the city of Samaria, and in the rest of the country beyond the River, and so forth, wrote.
11This is the copy of the letter that they sent: To King Artaxerxes, from your servants, the people beyond the River.
12Be it known to the king that the Jews who came up from you have come to us to Jerusalem. They are building the rebellious and bad city, and have finished the walls and repaired the foundations.
13Be it known now to the king that if this city is built and the walls finished, they will not pay tribute, custom, or toll, and in the end it will be hurtful to the kings.
14Now because we eat the salt of the palace and it is not appropriate for us to see the king’s dishonour, therefore we have sent and informed the king,
15that search may be made in the book of the records of your fathers. You will see in the book of the records, and know that this city is a rebellious city, and hurtful to kings and provinces, and that they have started rebellions within it in the past. That is why this city was destroyed.
16We inform the king that if this city is built and the walls finished, then you will have no possession beyond the River.
17Then the king sent an answer to Rehum the chancellor, and to Shimshai the scribe, and to the rest of their companions who live in Samaria, and in the rest of the country beyond the River: Peace.
18The letter which you sent to us has been plainly read before me.
19I decreed, and search has been made, and it was found that this city has made insurrection against kings in the past, and that rebellion and revolts have been made in it.
20There have also been mighty kings over Jerusalem who have ruled over all the country beyond the River; and tribute, custom, and toll was paid to them.
21Make a decree now to cause these men to cease, and that this city not be built until a decree is made by me.
22Be careful that you not be slack doing so. Why should damage grow to the hurt of the kings?
23Then when the copy of king Artaxerxes’ letter was read before Rehum, Shimshai the scribe, and their companions, they went in haste to Jerusalem to the Jews, and made them to cease by force of arms.
24Then work stopped on God’s house which is at Jerusalem. It stopped until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.