4 Now when [the Samaritans] the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the exiles from the captivity were building a temple to the Lord, the God of Israel,
2 They came to Zerubbabel [now governor] and to the heads of the fathers’ houses and said, Let us build with you, for we seek and worship your God as you do, and we have sacrificed to Him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us here.(A)
3 But Zerubbabel and Jeshua and the rest of the heads of fathers’ houses of Israel said to them, You have nothing to do with us in building a house to our God; but we ourselves will together build to the Lord, the God of Israel, as King Cyrus, the king of Persia, has commanded us.
4 Then [the Samaritans] the people of the land [continually] weakened the hands of the people of Judah and troubled and terrified them in building
5 And hired counselors against them to frustrate their purpose and plans all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius [II] king of Persia.
6 And in the reign of Ahasuerus [or Xerxes], in the beginning of his reign, [the Samaritans] wrote to him an accusation against the [returned] inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem.
7 Later, in the days of King Artaxerxes, Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and the rest of their associates wrote to Artaxerxes king of Persia; and the letter was written in the Syrian or Aramaic script and interpreted in that language.
8 Rehum the [Persian] commander [of the Samaritans] and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king of this sort—
9 Then wrote Rehum the [Persian] commander, Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their associates—the Dinaites, the Apharsathchites, the Tarpelites, the Apharsites, the Archevites, the Babylonians, the Susanchites, the Dehaites, the Elamites,
10 And the rest of the nations whom the great and noble Osnappar deported and settled in the city of Samaria and the rest of the country beyond [west of] the Euphrates River, and so forth.
11 This is a copy of the letter which they sent to King Artaxerxes: Your servants, the men beyond [that is, west of] the River [Euphrates], and so forth.
12 Be it known to the king that the Jews who came up from you to us have come to Jerusalem. This rebellious and bad city they are rebuilding, and have restored its walls and repaired the foundations.
13 Be it known now to the king that if this city is rebuilt and the walls finished, then they will not pay tribute, custom, or toll, and the royal revenue will be diminished.
14 Now because we eat the salt of the king’s palace and it is not proper for us to witness the king’s discredit, therefore we send 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 learn that this is a rebellious city, hurtful to kings and provinces, and that sedition was stirred up in it of old. That is why [it] was laid waste.
16 We declare to the king that if this city is rebuilt and its walls finished, it will mean that you will have no portion on this side of the [Euphrates] River.
17 Then the king sent an answer: To Rehum the [Persian] official, to Shimshai the scribe, to the rest of their companions who dwell in Samaria and in the rest of the country beyond the River: Greetings.
18 The letter which you sent to us has been plainly read before me.
19 I commanded and search has been made, and it is found that this city [Jerusalem] 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 countries beyond [west of] the [Euphrates] River, and tribute, custom, and toll were paid to them.
21 Therefore give a decree to make these men stop, that this city not be rebuilt, until a command is given by me.
22 Be sure that you do this. Why should damage grow, to the hurt of the kings?
23 When the copy of King Artaxerxes’ letter was read before Rehum, Shimshai the scribe, and their companions, they went up in haste to Jerusalem to the Jews and by force and power made them cease.
24 Then the [a]work on the house of God in Jerusalem stopped. It stopped until the second year of Darius [I] king of Persia.
- Ezra 4:24 The long digression in Ezra 4:6-23 describes later opposition to Jewish efforts to restore the walls and rebuild the city during the reigns of Xerxes (486-465 b.c.) and Artaxerxes I (465-424). Here in Ezra 4:24 Ezra reverts back to the time of Darius I (522-486) and the rebuilding of the temple, which ceased because of the discouragement described in Ezra 4:4-5, resumed again (Ezra 5:2), and was completed in the sixth year of the reign of Darius I (Ezra 6:15).