so that a search may be made in the archives1 of your predecessors. In these records you will find that this city is a rebellious city, troublesome to kings and provinces, a place of rebellion from ancient times. That is why this city was destroyed.2
We inform the king that if this city is built and its walls are restored, you will be left with nothing in Trans-Euphrates.
The 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:3 Greetings.
The letter you sent us has been read and translated in my presence.
I issued an order and a search was made, and it was found that this city has a long history of revolt4 against kings and has been a place of rebellion and sedition.
Jerusalem has had powerful kings ruling over the whole of Trans-Euphrates,5 and taxes, tribute and duty were paid to them.
Now issue an order to these men to stop work, so that this city will not be rebuilt until I so order.
Be careful not to neglect this matter. Why let this threat grow, to the detriment of the royal interests?6
As soon as the copy of the letter of King Artaxerxes was read to Rehum and Shimshai the secretary and their associates,7 they went immediately to the Jews in Jerusalem and compelled them by force to stop.
Thus the work on the house of God in Jerusalem came to a standstill until the second year of the reign of Darius8 king of Persia.