When the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the exiles were building1 a temple for the LORD, the God of Israel,
they 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 Esarhaddon2 king of Assyria, who brought us here."3
But Zerubbabel, Jeshua 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."4
Then the peoples around them set out to discourage the people of Judah and make them afraid to go on building.5
They hired counselors 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.
At the beginning of the reign of Xerxes,6 they lodged an accusation against the people of Judah and Jerusalem.7
And in the days of Artaxerxes8 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 Aramaic9 language.
Rehum the commanding officer and Shimshai the secretary wrote a letter against Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king as follows:
Rehum the commanding officer and Shimshai the secretary, together with the rest of their associates10--the judges and officials over the men from Tripolis, Persia, Erech11 and Babylon, the Elamites of Susa,12
and the other people whom the great and honorable Ashurbanipal13 deported and settled in the city of Samaria and elsewhere in Trans-Euphrates.14