The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The First Book of Esdras
When news reached the enemies of Juda and Benjamin that the returned exiles were rebuilding the temple of the Lord, the God of Israel,
they had a request to make of Zorobabel and the chieftains. Let us help you to build it, they said; we too have recourse to the same God whom you worship; witness the sacrifices we have been offering to him ever since the Assyrian king Asar-Haddon settled us here.
But Zorobabel and Josue and the clan chiefs told them, To build a house to our God can be no common task of yours and ours. The Lord is our God, and we alone must be the builders of it; such were the orders given to us by Cyrus, king of Persia.
Nothing would serve the neighbouring folk after that but they must thwart Juda’s purpose and interfere, as best they could, with the enterprise.
All through the reign of Cyrus, and right up to the time when Darius came to the throne of Persia, they were still hiring pleaders to baulk the design.
At the beginning of Assuerus’ reign,✻ they sent a letter which brought accusations against the men of Juda and Jerusalem;
and when Artaxerxes came to the throne, Beselam, Mithridates and Thabeel, with their partisans, addressed another to king Artaxerxes, in Syrian script and in the Syrian dialect.
This letter about Jerusalem, sent by the procurator Reum and the notary Samsai to king Artaxerxes, is given below;
it is addressed in the name of Reum and Samsai and their partisans, the Dinaeans, Apharsathachaeans, Terphalaeans, Apharsaeans, Erchuaeans, Babylonians, Susanechaeans, Dievites and Adamites,
and men of other nations besides, settled anew by Asenaphar, of great and glorious memory, in the cities of Samaria, and elsewhere beyond the Euphrates. Peace be with us!
(here the text of their letter begins). Greetings to king Artaxerxes from his subjects beyond the Euphrates.
Be it known to the king’s grace, that the Jews he sent here have betaken themselves to Jerusalem, a city ever infamous for its rebellions, where they have set about building up the ramparts and repairing the walls.
We warn the king’s grace that if this city is rebuilt, and its walls restored, there will be an end of all tribute, toll and custom, to the prejudice of the royal revenues.
To us, beholden as we are to the royal bounty,✻ the sight of any wrong done to the king is something not to be borne; that is why we are sending him this information.
Let him consult the archives of the kings who went before him, and he will learn, from what is set down in their annals, that this is a rebellious city, the bane of king and governor; time out of mind, wars were ever brewing there, and for that very reason it was laid in ruins.
We warn the king’s grace, then, that once this city is rebuilt, and its walls restored, he must not look to have any dominions left on this side of the river.
Thereupon the king wrote to Reum, Samsai, and their partisans in Samaria and beyond Euphrates, wishing them health and peace.
Your accusation (he said) has been read out in my presence, and its sense is clear to me.
I have had research made, and it proves that this city rebelled ever against the royal allegiance, a nursery of wars and revolts.
Time was when Jerusalem had kings most powerful, that were overlords of the whole country beyond Euphrates, receiving tribute, toll and custom from it.
It is my pleasure that you should restrain these men from rebuilding their city, until I take further order.
See that these commands of mine are not neglected, to the imperilling, by slow degrees, of the royal power.
No sooner had the text of this decree from king Artaxerxes been read out to them, than Reum, Samsai and their partisans went post-haste to Jerusalem, and prevented the Jews by main force from any further enterprise.
And so it was now; even the raising of a temple at Jerusalem must needs be abandoned, nor was it ever resumed till the second year of Darius’ reign over Persia.
The Holy Bible