New Heart English Bible
1Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity were building a temple to the LORD, the God of Israel; 2then they drew near to Zerubbabel, and to the heads of ancestral houses, and said to them, "Let us build with you; for we seek your God, as you do; and we sacrifice to him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us up here." 3But Zerubbabel, and Jeshua, and the rest of the heads of ancestral houses of Israel, said to them, "You have nothing to do with us in building a house to our God; but we ourselves together will build to the LORD, the God of Israel, as king Cyrus the king of Persia has commanded us."
4Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building, 5and hired counselors against them, to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.
6In the reign of Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, wrote they an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem.
7In the days of Artaxerxes wrote Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and the rest of his companions, to Artaxerxes king of Persia; and the writing of the letter was written in Aramaic, and set forth in the Aramaic language.
8Rehum the chancellor and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king in this sort: 9then Rehum the chancellor, and Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their companions, the Dinaites, and the Apharsathchites, the Tarpelites, the Apharsites, the Archevites, the Babylonians, the Shushanchites, the Dehaites, the Elamites, 10and the rest of the nations whom the great and noble Osnappar brought over, and set in the cities of Samaria, and in the rest of the country beyond the River, and so forth, wrote. 11This is the copy of the letter that they sent to Artaxerxes the king: Your servants the men beyond the River, and so forth. 12Be it known to the king, that the Jews who came up from you have come to us to Jerusalem; they are building the rebellious and wicked city, and have finished the walls, and repaired the foundations. 13Be it known now to the king that if this city is built, and the walls finished, they will not pay tribute, custom, or toll, and in the end it will be hurtful to the kings. 14Now because we eat the salt of the palace, and it is not appropriate for us to see the king's dishonor, therefore have we sent and informed the king; 15that search may be made in the book of the records of your fathers: so you shall find in the book of the records, and know that this city is a rebellious city, and hurtful to kings and provinces, and that they have moved sedition within the same of old time; for which cause was this city laid waste. 16We inform the king that, if this city be built, and the walls finished, by this means you shall have no portion beyond the River.
17Then the king sent an answer to Rehum the chancellor, and to Shimshai the scribe, and to the rest of their companions who dwell in Samaria, and in the rest of the country beyond the River: Peace, and so forth. 18The letter which you sent to us has been plainly read before me. 19I decreed, and search has been made, and it is found that this city of old time has made insurrection against kings, and that rebellion and sedition have been made in it. 20There have been mighty kings also over Jerusalem, who have ruled over all the country beyond the River; and tribute, custom, and toll, was paid to them. 21Make a decree now to cause these men to cease, and that this city not be built, until a decree shall be made by me. 22Take heed that you not be slack herein: why should damage grow to the hurt of the kings?
23Then when the copy of king Artaxerxes' letter was read before Rehum, and Shimshai the scribe, and their companions, they went in haste to Jerusalem to the Jews, and made them to cease by force and power.
24Then ceased the work of God's house which is at Jerusalem; and it ceased until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.