4 When the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the exiles were buildingy a temple for the Lord, the God of Israel, 2 they came to Zerubbabel and to the heads of the families and said, “Let us help you build because, like you, we seek your God and have been sacrificing to him since the time of Esarhaddonz king of Assyria, who brought us here.”a
3 But Zerubbabel, Joshua and the rest of the heads of the families of Israel answered, “You have no part with us in building a temple to our God. We alone will build it for the Lord, the God of Israel, as King Cyrus, the king of Persia, commanded us.”b
4 Then the peoples around them set out to discourage the people of Judah and make them afraid to go on building.a c 5 They bribed officials to work against them and frustrate their plans during the entire reign of Cyrus king of Persia and down to the reign of Darius king of Persia.
7 And in the days of Artaxerxesf king of Persia, Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel and the rest of his associates wrote a letter to Artaxerxes. The letter was written in Aramaic script and in the Aramaicg language.c,d
9 Rehum the commanding officer and Shimshai the secretary, together with the rest of their associatesh—the judges, officials and administrators over the people from Persia, Uruki and Babylon, the Elamites of Susa,j 10 and the other people whom the great and honorable Ashurbanipalk deported and settled in the city of Samaria and elsewhere in Trans-Euphrates.l
To King Artaxerxes,
From your servants in Trans-Euphrates:
12 The king should know that the people who came up to us from you have gone to Jerusalem and are rebuilding that rebellious and wicked city. They are restoring the walls and repairing the foundations.m
13 Furthermore, the king should know that if this city is built and its walls are restored, no more taxes, tribute or dutyn will be paid, and eventually the royal revenues will suffer.e 14 Now since we are under obligation to the palace and it is not proper for us to see the king dishonored, we are sending this message to inform the king, 15 so that a search may be made in the archiveso of your predecessors. In these records you will find that this city is a rebellious city, troublesome to kings and provinces, a place with a long history of sedition. That is why this city was destroyed.p 16 We inform the king that if this city is built and its walls are restored, you will be left with nothing in Trans-Euphrates.
Or and troubled them as they built
Or written in Aramaic and translated
The text of 4:8–6:18 is in Aramaic.
The meaning of the Aramaic for this clause is uncertain.
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