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Ezra 4

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 1 Now when the enemies [the Samaritans] of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity were building the temple to the LORD God of Israel,

 2 They came to Zerubbabel, and to the heads of the houses 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 Esarhaddon king of Assur, who brought us here."

 3 But Zerubbabel and Jeshua and the rest of the heads of the houses of Israel said to them, "You have nothing to do with us in building a temple to our God. We alone will build it to the LORD God of Israel, as King Cyrus, the king of Persia has commanded us."

 4 Then the people of the land set out to discourage the people of Judah, and they troubled them and tried to make them afraid to go on building,

 5 And they hired counselors to work against them to frustrate their plans during all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, down to the reign of Darius king of Persia.

 6 And in the beginning of the reign of Xerxes, the Samaritans also wrote an accusation to him against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem.

 7 Then later, in the days of King Artaxerxes, Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and the rest of their companions wrote to Artaxerxes king of Persia; the letter was written and interpreted in the Syrian language.

 8 Rehum the commander of the Samaritans and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king as follows:

 9 From Rehum the chancellor and Shimshai the scribe and the rest of their companions — the Dinaites, the Apharsathchites, the Tarpelites, the Apharsites, the Archevites, the Babylonians, the Susanchites, the Dehavites, the Elamites,

 10 And the rest of the nations whom the great and noble Osnapper brought over and settled in the cities of Samaria and the rest of the regions that are beyond the Euphrates River, and so forth.

 11 This is a copy of the letter that they sent to Artaxerxes the king: "From your servants the men on this side the river, and so forth.

 12 Let it be known to the king that the Jews who came up to us from you have come to Jerusalem and are rebuilding this rebellious and wicked city. They have restored its walls and repaired its foundations.

 13 Be it known now to the king that if this city is rebuilt and the walls set up again, then they will not pay taxes, tribute, or custom, and so the royal revenue will be diminished.

 14 Now because we receive support from the king's palace and it is not proper for us to see the king's dishonor, therefore we have sent to inform the king,

 15 In order that a search may be made in the book of the records of your fathers, in which you will find that this city is a rebellious city, hurtful to kings and provinces, and that they have stirred up sedition within it in former times. For this reason this city was destroyed.

 16 We inform the king that if this city is rebuilt again and its walls finished, it will mean that you will have no portion on this side the Euphrates River."

 17 Then the king sent an answer: To Rehum the commander, Shimshai the scribe and the rest of their companions who dwell in Samaria and elsewhere beyond the River: "Greetings.

 18 The letter that you sent to us has been plainly read before me.

 19 And I commanded and a search has been made, and it has been found that this city of old time has made insurrection against kings and that rebellion and sedition have been made in it.

 20 There have been mighty kings also over Jerusalem who have ruled over all the region beyond the River, and taxes, tribute, and custom were paid to them.

 21 Therefore issue a decree to make these men stop work, so that this city may not be rebuilt until another command is given by me.

 22 Take heed now that you do not fail to do this. Why should this threat grow, to the hurt of the kings?"

 23 Now when the copy of king Artaxerxes' letter was read before Rehum, Shimshai the scribe, and their companions, they went up in haste to the Jews in Jerusalem and made them stop work by force and power.

 24 Thus the work on the temple of God in Jerusalem stopped. It stopped until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.


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