Exiles return to Jerusalem
1In the first year of Cyrus as king of the Persians the Lord motivated the spirit of King Cyrus to fulfill the Lord’s word spoken through Jeremiah. He made a royal announcement throughout the whole of his kingdom that he also put into writing. 2This is what Persia’s King Cyrus says:
The Lord of Israel, the Most High Lord, has appointed me king of the entire world. The Lord has commissioned me to build God’s house in Jerusalem in Judea. 3Therefore, if you are from this nation, may your Lord be with you.#Or with him Go up to Jerusalem in Judea and build the house of the Lord of Israel—for this is the Lord who dwells in Jerusalem. 4As many of you live in other places, help the Lord with gold and silver, with horses and cattle, in addition to pledging other things dedicated for the Lord’s temple in Jerusalem.
5Then the heads of the families of Judah and Benjamin rose up. The priests and the Levites, and everyone whose spirit the Lord aroused, went up to build a house for the Lord in Jerusalem. 6Their neighbors helped them with everything, with silver and gold, with horses and cattle, and with many other things pledged by those whose minds were inspired to do so.
7King Cyrus also brought out the Lord’s holy equipment that Nebuchadnezzar had carried away from Jerusalem and placed in his temple of idols. 8When King Cyrus of the Persians brought these out, he handed them over to Mithridates, his own treasurer, and through him they were given over to Governor Sheshbazzar#Gk Sanabassaros of Judea. 9The number of these was one thousand gold cups, one thousand silver cups, twenty-nine silver censers, 10thirty gold bowls, twenty-four hundred ten silver bowls, and one thousand other objects. 11They handed over all five thousand four hundred sixty-nine gold and silver objects. So Sheshbazzar, with the help of war prisoners returning from Babylon, carried the equipment back to Jerusalem.
Opposition to rebuilding Jerusalem
12Then during the time of King Artaxerxes of the Persians, Bishlam, Mithridates, Tabeel, Rehum, Beltethmus, Shimshai the scribe, and others associated with them living in Samaria and other places nearby wrote the king a letter, opposing those who were living in Judea and Jerusalem:
13To Your Majesty, King Artaxerxes, your servants Rehum the reporter and Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their council, and the judges in Coele-Syria and Phoenicia:
14Our master the king, may you know that the Judeans who came up to us have come to Jerusalem and are rebuilding that rebellious and evil city, restoring its marketplaces and walls, and laying the foundations for a temple. 15If this city is rebuilt and the walls are completed, not only will they refuse to pay foreign taxes, but they will also be able to resist kings. 16Since the work on the temple is in progress, we didn’t think we should overlook such an act but should call it to the attention of our master the king so that if it concerns you, a search may be made in the records of your ancestors. 17You will discover in the records what has been written about them. You will learn that this city was rebellious, annoying to both kings and other cities. The Judeans were rebels and would regularly set up huge barriers around the city. That is why this city was destroyed. 18So we now advise you, Master and King, that if this city is rebuilt and if its walls are erected, you will no longer have secure lines of access to Coele-Syria and Phoenicia.
19The king wrote back to the recorder Rehum, Beltethmus, the scribe Shimshai, and their associates living in Samaria, Syria, and Phoenicia, as follows:
20I have read the letter that you sent to me. 21Consequently, I ordered a search to be made. It was discovered that this city has indeed rallied against kings in the past, that the people in it revolted frequently and started wars, 22and that powerful and cruel kings have ruled in Jerusalem and exacted taxes from Coele-Syria and Phoenicia. 23Therefore, I issued orders to prevent these people from rebuilding the city 24and to take care in advance that nothing more be done and that such wicked designs go no further to upset the kings.
25After King Artaxerxes’ letter was read, Rehum and the scribe Shimshai and their associates marched on Jerusalem immediately, with cavalry and a large group of armed troops, in order to stop the builders. 26So the building of the temple in Jerusalem ceased until the second year of the rule of Persia’s King Darius.