3 When the seventh month arrived and the Israelites 1 were living 2 in their 3 towns, the people assembled 4 in 5 Jerusalem. 6 2 Then Jeshua the son of Jozadak 7 and his priestly colleagues 8 and Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and his colleagues 9 started to build 10 the altar of the God of Israel so they could offer burnt offerings on it as required by 11 the law of Moses the man of God. 3 They established the altar on its foundations, even though they were in terror of the local peoples, 12 and they offered burnt offerings on it to the Lord, both the morning and the evening offerings. 4 They observed the Festival of Temporary Shelters 13 as required 14 and offered the proper number of 15 daily burnt offerings according to the requirement for each day. 5 Afterward they offered the continual burnt offerings and those for the new moons and those for all the holy assemblies of the Lord and all those that were being voluntarily offered to the Lord. 6 From the first day of the seventh month they began to offer burnt offerings to the Lord. However, the Lord’s temple was not at that time established. 16
7 So they provided money 17 for the masons and carpenters, and food, beverages, and olive oil for the people of Sidon 18 and Tyre, 19 so that they would bring cedar timber from Lebanon to the seaport 20 at Joppa, in accord with the edict of King Cyrus of Persia. 8 In the second year after they had come to the temple of God in Jerusalem, 21 in the second month, Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak initiated the work, 22 along with the rest of their associates, 23 the priests and the Levites, and all those who were coming to Jerusalem from the exile. They appointed 24 the Levites who were at least twenty years old 25 to take charge of the work on the Lord’s temple. 9 So Jeshua appointed both his sons and his relatives, 26 Kadmiel and his sons (the sons of Yehudah 27 ), to take charge of the workers in the temple of God, along with the sons of Henadad, their sons, and their relatives 28 the Levites. 10 When the builders established the Lord’s temple, the priests, ceremonially attired and with their clarions, 29 and the Levites (the sons of Asaph) with their cymbals, stood to praise the Lord according to the instructions left by 30 King David of Israel. 31 11 With antiphonal response they sang, 32 praising and glorifying the Lord:
“For he is good;
his loyal love toward Israel is forever.”
All the people gave a loud 33 shout as they praised the Lord when the temple of the Lord was established. 12 Many of the priests, the Levites, and the leaders 34 – older people who had seen with their own eyes the former temple while it was still established 35 – were weeping loudly, 36 and many others raised their voice in a joyous shout. 13 People were unable to tell the difference between the sound of joyous shouting and the sound of the people’s weeping, for the people were shouting so loudly 37 that the sound was heard a long way off.
4 When the enemies of Judah and Benjamin learned that the former exiles 1 were building a temple for the Lord God of Israel, 2 they came to Zerubbabel and the leaders 2 and said to them, “Let us help you build, 3 for like you we seek your God and we have been sacrificing to him 4 from the time 5 of King Esarhaddon 6 of Assyria, who brought us here.” 7 3 But Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the rest of the leaders of Israel said to them, “You have no right 8 to help us build the temple of our God. We will build it by ourselves for the Lord God of Israel, just as King Cyrus, the king of Persia, has commanded us.” 4 Then the local people 9 began to discourage 10 the people of Judah and to dishearten them from building. 5 They were hiring advisers to oppose them, so as to frustrate their plans, throughout the time 11 of King Cyrus of Persia until the reign of King Darius 12 of Persia. 13
6 At the beginning of the reign of Ahasuerus 15 they filed an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem. 16 7 And during the reign 17 of Artaxerxes, Bishlam, 18 Mithredath, Tabeel, and the rest of their colleagues 19 wrote to King Artaxerxes 20 of Persia. This letter 21 was first written in Aramaic but then translated.
8 Rehum the commander 23 and Shimshai the scribe 24 wrote a letter concerning 25 Jerusalem to King Artaxerxes as follows: 9 From 26 Rehum the commander, Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their colleagues – the judges, the rulers, the officials, the secretaries, the Erechites, the Babylonians, the people of Susa (that is, 27 the Elamites), 10 and the rest of nations whom the great and noble Ashurbanipal 28 deported and settled in the cities 29 of Samaria and other places in Trans-Euphrates. 30 11 (This is a copy of the letter they sent to him:)
“To King Artaxerxes, 31 from your servants in 32 Trans-Euphrates: 12 Now 33 let the king be aware that the Jews who came up to us from you have gone to Jerusalem. They are rebuilding that rebellious and odious city. 34 They are completing its walls and repairing its foundations. 13 Let the king also be aware that if this city is built and its walls are completed, no more tax, custom, or toll will be paid, and the royal treasury 35 will suffer loss. 14 In light of the fact that we are loyal to the king, 36 and since it does not seem appropriate to us that the king should sustain damage, 37 we are sending the king this information 38 15 so that he may initiate a search of the records 39 of his predecessors 40 and discover in those records 41 that this city is rebellious 42 and injurious to both kings and provinces, producing internal revolts 43 from long ago. 44 It is for this very reason that this city was destroyed. 16 We therefore are informing the king that if this city is rebuilt and its walls are completed, you will not retain control 45 of this portion of Trans-Euphrates.”
17 The king sent the following response:
“To Rehum the commander, Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their colleagues who live in Samaria and other parts of Trans-Euphrates: Greetings! 46 18 The letter you sent to us has been translated and read in my presence. 19 So I gave orders, 47 and it was determined 48 that this city from long ago has been engaging in insurrection against kings. It has continually engaged in 49 rebellion and revolt. 20 Powerful kings have been over Jerusalem who ruled throughout the entire Trans-Euphrates 50 and who were the beneficiaries of 51 tribute, custom, and toll. 21 Now give orders that these men cease their work and that this city not be rebuilt until such time as I so instruct. 52 22 Exercise appropriate caution so that there is no negligence in this matter. Why should danger increase to the point that kings sustain damage?”
23 Then, as soon as the copy of the letter from King Artaxerxes was read in the presence of Rehum, Shimshai the scribe, and their colleagues, they proceeded promptly to the Jews in Jerusalem 53 and stopped them with threat of armed force. 54
24 So the work on the temple of God in Jerusalem came to a halt. It remained halted until the second year of the reign of King Darius of Persia. 55
5 Then the prophets Haggai and Zechariah son 1 of Iddo 2 prophesied concerning the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem 3 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 began 4 to rebuild the temple of God in Jerusalem. The prophets of God were with them, supporting them.
3 At that time Tattenai governor of Trans-Euphrates, Shethar-Bozenai, and their colleagues came to them and asked, “Who gave you authority 5 to rebuild this temple and to complete this structure?” 6 4 They 7 also asked them, “What are the names of the men who are building this edifice?” 5 But God was watching over 8 the elders of Judah, and they were not stopped 9 until a report could be dispatched 10 to Darius and a letter could be sent back concerning this.
6 This is a copy of the letter that Tattenai governor of Trans-Euphrates, Shethar-Bozenai, and his colleagues who were the officials of Trans-Euphrates sent to King Darius. 7 The report they sent to him was written as follows: 11
“To King Darius: All greetings! 12 8 Let it be known to the king that we have gone to the province of Judah, to the temple of the great God. It is being built with large stones, 13 and timbers are being placed in the walls. This work is being done with all diligence and is prospering in their hands. 9 We inquired of those elders, asking them, ‘Who gave you the authority to rebuild this temple and to complete this structure?’ 10 We also inquired of their names in order to inform you, so that we might write the names of the men who were their leaders. 11 They responded to us in the following way: ‘We are servants of the God of heaven and earth. We are rebuilding the temple which was previously built many years ago. A great king 14 of Israel built it and completed it. 12 But after our ancestors 15 angered the God of heaven, he delivered them into the hands 16 of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this temple and exiled the people to Babylon. 17 13 But in the first year of King Cyrus of Babylon, 18 King Cyrus enacted a decree to rebuild this temple of God. 14 Even the gold and silver vessels of the temple of God that Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple in Jerusalem and had brought to the palace 19 of Babylon – even those things King Cyrus brought from the palace of Babylon and presented 20 to a man by the name of Sheshbazzar whom he had appointed as governor. 15 He said to him, “Take these vessels and go deposit them in the temple in Jerusalem, and let the house of God be rebuilt in its proper location.” 21 16 Then this Sheshbazzar went and laid the foundations of the temple of God in Jerusalem. From that time to the present moment 22 it has been in the process of being rebuilt, although it is not yet finished.’
17 “Now if the king is so inclined, 23 let a search be conducted in the royal archives 24 there in Babylon in order to determine whether King Cyrus did in fact issue orders for this temple of God to be rebuilt in Jerusalem. Then let the king send us a decision concerning this matter.”