Ezra 4:1:1-24 NIV
Opposition to the Rebuilding
1When the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the exiles were building a Temple for The Lord, The GOD of Israel, 2they 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 Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us here.”
3But 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.”
4Then the peoples around them set out to discourage the people of Judah and make them afraid to go on building.a 5They 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.
Later Opposition Under Xerxes and Artaxerxes
6At the beginning of the reign of Xerxes,b they lodged an accusation against the people of Judah and Jerusalem.
7And in the days of Artaxerxes 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 Aramaic language.c d
8Rehum the commanding officer and Shimshai the secretary wrote a letter against Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king as follows:
9Rehum the commanding officer and Shimshai the secretary, together with the rest of their associates—the judges, officials and administrators over the people from Persia, Uruk and Babylon, the Elamites of Susa, 10and the other people whom the great and honorable Ashurbanipal deported and settled in the city of Samaria and elsewhere in Trans-Euphrates.
11(This is a copy of the letter they sent him.)
To King Artaxerxes,
From your servants in Trans-Euphrates:
12The 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.
13Furthermore, the king should know that if this city is built and its walls are restored, no more taxes, tribute or duty will be paid, and eventually the royal revenues will suffer.e 14Now 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, 15so that a search may be made in the archives 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. 16We inform the king that if this city is built and its walls are restored, you will be left with nothing in Trans-Euphrates.
17The king sent this reply:
To Rehum the commanding officer, Shimshai the secretary and the rest of their associates living in Samaria and elsewhere in Trans-Euphrates:
18The letter you sent us has been read and translated in my presence. 19I issued an order and a search was made, and it was found that this city has a long history of revolt against kings and has been a place of rebellion and sedition. 20Jerusalem has had powerful kings ruling over the whole of Trans-Euphrates, and taxes, tribute and duty were paid to them. 21Now issue an order to these men to stop work, so that this city will not be rebuilt until I so order. 22Be careful not to neglect this matter. Why let this threat grow, to the detriment of the royal interests?
23As soon as the copy of the letter of King Artaxerxes was read to Rehum and Shimshai the secretary and their associates, they went immediately to the Jews in Jerusalem and compelled them by force to stop.
24 Thus the work on the House of GOD in Jerusalem came to a standstill until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.
Ezra 5:1-17 NIV
17Now if it pleases the king, let a search be made in the royal archives of Babylon to see if King Cyrus did in fact issue a decree to rebuild this House of GOD in Jerusalem. Then let the king send us his decision in this matter.
Tattenai’s Letter to Darius
1Now Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the prophet, a descendant of Iddo, prophesied to the Jews in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of The GOD of Israel, Who Was Over them. 2Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and Joshua son of Jozadak set to work to rebuild the House of GOD in Jerusalem. And the prophets of GOD were with them, supporting them.
3At that time Tattenai, governor of Trans-Euphrates, and Shethar-Bozenai and their associates went to them and asked, “Who authorized you to rebuild this temple and to finish it?” 4Theya also asked, “What are the names of those who are constructing this building?” 5But The Eye of their GOD Was Watching Over the elders of the Jews, and they were not stopped until a report could go to Darius and his written reply be received.
6This is a copy of the letter that Tattenai, governor of Trans-Euphrates, and Shethar-Bozenai and their associates, the officials of Trans-Euphrates, sent to King Darius. 7The report they sent him read as follows:
To King Darius:
8The king should know that we went to the district of Judah, to the Temple of the Great GOD. The people are building it with large stones and placing the timbers in the walls. The work is being carried on with diligence and is making rapid progress under their direction.
9We questioned the elders and asked them, “Who authorized you to rebuild this temple and to finish it?” 10We also asked them their names, so that we could write down the names of their leaders for your information.
11This is the answer they gave us:
“We are the servants of The GOD of Heaven and earth, and we are rebuilding the Temple that was built many years ago, one that a great king of Israel built and finished. 12But because our ancestors angered The GOD of Heaven, HE Gave them into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar the Chaldean, king of Babylon, who destroyed this Temple and deported the people to Babylon.
13“However, in the first year of Cyrus king of Babylon, King Cyrus issued a decree to rebuild this House of GOD. 14He even removed from the Templeb of Babylon the gold and silver articles of the House of GOD, which Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the Temple in Jerusalem and brought to the Templec in Babylon. Then King Cyrus gave them to a man named Sheshbazzar, whom he had appointed governor, 15and he told him, ‘Take these articles and go and deposit them in the Temple in Jerusalem. And rebuild the House of GOD on its site.’
16“So this Sheshbazzar came and laid the foundations of the House of GOD in Jerusalem. From that day to the present it has been under construction but is not yet finished.”
Ezra 4 & 5
Every attempt to revive true worship of JEHOVAH will stir up the opposition of Satan, and of those in whom he works. The adversaries were the Samaritans, who had been planted in the land of Israel, 2 Kings 17. It was plain that they did not mean to unite in the worship of JEHOVAH, but to discourage the good work of building the House of GOD, the church of CHRIST.
It is a slander that the prosperity of the church would be hurtful to kings and princes. Nothing can be more false than this, for true godliness teaches us to honor and obey our sovereign.
But where the Command of GOD Requires one thing and the law of the land another, we must obey GOD rather than man, and patiently submit to the consequences. All who love the Gospel should avoid all appearance of evil, lest they should encourage the adversaries of the church. The world is ever ready to believe any accusation against the people of GOD, and refuses to listen to them.