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8 Rehum the royal officer and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to King Artaxerxes as follows 9 (then Rehum the royal officer, Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their associates, the judges, the envoys, the officials, the Persians, the Erechs, the Babylonians, the Susians (that is the Elamites) 10 and the rest of the nations whom the great and noble Osnappar deported and settled in the cities of Samaria and the rest of the province Beyond the River) and now 11 this is the copy of the letter which they sent to him:
“To King Artaxerxes from your servants, the men of the province Beyond the River. And now, 12 be it known to the king that the Jews who have come up from near you to us have gone to Jerusalem. They are building the rebellious and wicked city. They are finishing the wall and repairing the foundation. 13 Now be it known to the king that if this city is built and the walls are finished, they will not pay tribute and toll, and the royal revenue will be reduced. 14 Now since we eat the salt of the palace and the dishonor of the king is not proper for us to see, we send and make this known to the king, 15 so that it may be investigated in the book of records of your ancestors.e You will find in the book of records and learn that this city is a rebellious city, hurtful to kings and provinces, and they have rebelled in its midst from ancient times. Because of that this city was destroyed. 16 We make known to the king that if this city is built and the walls are finished, you will have nothing in the province Beyond the River.”
17 The king sent a reply: “To Rehum the royal officer, Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their associates who live in Samaria and the rest of the province Beyond the River, greetings. And now 18 the letter that you sent to us has been translated and read before me. 19 And ⌊I issued⌋f a decree, and they searched and found that this city from ancient days revolted against kings, and rebellion and sedition has been made in it. 20 Mighty kings have ruled over Jerusalem, governing all the province Beyond the River, to whom tribute, duty, and tax has been given. 21 So now, issue forth a decree that these men stop and this city not be built, until a decree is issued from me. 22 And be careful not to be negligent on this matter. Why should damage grow to hurt kings?”
23 Then when a copy of the letter of King Artaxerxes was read before Rehum, Shimshai the scribe, and their associates they returned in a hurry to Jerusalem against the Jews and they stopped them by force and power. 24 Then the work on the house of God in Jerusalem stopped, and was discontinued until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.
5 Now the prophets, Haggai and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied to the Jews who were in ⌊Judah⌋a and in Jerusalem, in the name of the God of Israel who was over them. 2 Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak set out and began to build the house of God that is in Jerusalem. And with them the prophets of God were helping them.
3 At the same time Tattenai, governor of the province Beyond the River, and Shethar-bozenai, and their associates came to them and spoke to them thus: “Who issued you all a decree to build this house and to finish this structure?” 4 Then web asked them this: “What are the names of the men who are building this building?” 5 And the eye of their God was on the elders of the Jews, and they did not stop them until the report came to Darius, and then answer was received.
6 The copy of the letter that Tattenai, the governor of the province Beyond the River, and Shethar-bozenai and his associates the envoys who were in the province Beyond the River sent to Darius the king. 7 They sent to him the report ⌊in which was written as follows⌋:c “To Darius the king, all peace. 8 May it be known to the king that we went to the province of Judah, the house of the great God. It is being built with stone blocks and timber is being put in the walls. This work is being done with diligence and is making progress in their hands. 9 Then we asked those elders and said this to them, ‘Who issued forth to you a decree to build this house and to finish this structure?’ 10 We also asked them their names to make them known to you, that we might write down the ⌊name of their leaders⌋.d 11 And this is the answer they returned to us: ‘We are servants of the God of heaven and earth, and we are building the house that was built formerly many years ago, which a great king of Israel had built and finished. 12 But because our ancestorse angered the God of heaven, he gave them into the hand of the Chaldean King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. He destroyed this house and carried away the people to Babylonia. 13 But in the first year of King Cyrus of Babylon’s reign he issued forth a decree to build this house of God. 14 Also, the gold and silver vessels of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took away from the temple in Jerusalem and brought to the temple in Babylonia, King Cyrus removed them from the temple in Babylonia and they were given to Sheshbazzar, whom he appointed governor. 15 He said to him, ‘Take these vessels. Go put them in the temple in Jerusalem and let the house of God be built on its site.’ 16 Then this Sheshbazzar came and laid the foundation of the house of God in Jerusalem. And from that time until now it is being built, but not yet finished.’ 17 And now, if it seems good for the king, let it be investigated in the house of the treasury of the king in Babylonia to see if a decree was issued forth from King Cyrus to build this house of God in Jerusalem. And let the king send to us his desire on this matter.”
6 Then King Darius issued forth a decree, and they searched the house of the treasury of scrolls being stored in Babylonia. 2 But it was in Ecbatana in the province of Media, in the citadel, that a certain scroll had written on it, “A record. 3 In the first year of King Cyrus, he issued forth a decree concerning the house of God in Jerusalem. Let the house be built, the place where sacrifices are offered and let its foundations be raised. Its height shall be sixty cubits and its width sixty cubits, 4 with three layers of great stones and a layer of timber. Let the new expenses be paid from the house of the king. 5 Also, let the gold and silver vessels of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took from the temple in Jerusalem and brought to Babylonia, be returned and brought to the temple in Jerusalem to its place. Put them in the house of God.”
6 “Now then, Tattenai governor of the province Beyond the River, Shethar-bozenai, and your associates, the envoys who are in the province Beyond the River—keep far away from there. 7 Leave this work of the house of God alone. Let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews build this house of God on its site. 8 And I issue forth a decree for what you should do for these elders of the Jews to build this house of God. The full expense will be paid to these men from the riches of the king from the taxes of the province Beyond the River, without delay. 9 Whatever may be needed—⌊young bulls⌋,a young rams, sheep for burnt offerings to the God of heaven, wheat, salt, wine, and oil for the priests in Jerusalem—let it be given to them day by day with no negligence, 10 that they may offer incense offerings to the God of heaven, and pray for the life of the king and his children. 11 Furthermore, I issue forth a decree that if any person violates this decree, let a beam be pulled out from his house and let him be impaled on it. And let his house be made a pile of rubble on account of this. 12 May the God who has set his name there overthrow any king or people who sets his hand to alter or to destroy this house of God in Jerusalem. I, Darius, issue forth a decree. Let it be done with diligence.”
13 Then Tattenai the governor of the province Beyond the River, Shethar-bozenai, and their associates consequently did with diligence what Darius the king ordered. 14 So the elders of the Jews were building and prospering, through the prophecy of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah son of Iddo. They finished building by the command of the God of Israel and by the decree of Cyrus, Darius, and King Artaxerxes of Persia. 15 This house was completed on the third day of the month of Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius.
16 And the ⌊Israelites⌋,b the priests, the Levites, and the rest of the ⌊returned exiles⌋c celebrated the dedication of this house of God with joy. 17 And they offered during the dedication of this house of God one hundred young bulls, two hundred young rams, four hundred lambs, and twelve male goats as a sin offering for Israel according to the number of the tribes of Israel. 18 Then they set the priests in their divisions and the Levites in their sections for the work of God in Jerusalem, as it is written in the book of Moses.
Literally “by my means made”
Hebrew is first person plural
Literally “and like this was written in its middle”
Literally “name of the men at their head”
Literally “the sons of young bulls”
Literally “sons/children of Israel”
Literally “sons of the exile”
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