In the second year of Darius' rule, the prophets Haggai and Zechariah (Iddo's son) prophesied to the Judeans who were in Judea and in Jerusalem in the name of the Lord God of Israel, who is ruler over them.
Then Zerubbabel, Shealtiel's son, and Jeshua, Jozadak's son, went up and began to build the Lord's house in Jerusalem, assisted by the Lord's prophets.
At the same time, Sisinnes, the commander of Syria and Phoenicia, and Sathrabuzanes and their associates came to them and said,
"By whose order are you building this house and this roof and finishing all the other things? Who are the builders who are doing all of these things?"
Yet the elders of the Judeans enjoyed the gracious protection of the Lord on the exiles,
and they weren't prevented from building until Darius could be informed about them and return an answer.
Here is a copy of the letter that Sisinnes, the commander of Syria and Phoenicia, Sathrabuzanes, and their associates, the local officials in Syria and Phoenicia, wrote to Darius:
To King Darius. Greetings. Our master the king, may you know that when we came to the country of Judea and entered the city of Jerusalem, we found the elders of the Jews, who had been in captivity, building in the city of Jerusalem a large new house for the Lord, of polished stone with costly beams set in the walls.
These projects are proceeding swiftly, and the overall work is succeeding. They are completing it with brillance and precision.
So we asked these elders, "By whose command are you building this house and laying the foundations of this project?"
In order that we might inform you, we questioned them about who the leaders are and demanded a list of the names of the troublemakers.
They told us, "We are the servants of the Lord who created the heaven and the earth.
The house was built many years before by a great and mighty king of Israel, and it was finished.
But when our ancestors angrily sinned against the Lord of Israel who is in heaven, God gave them over into the hands of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, king of the Chaldeans;
and they tore down the house and burned it, and led the people away as prisoners to Babylon.
But in the first year of Cyrus' rule over the country of Babylonia, King Cyrus wrote that this house should be rebuilt.
King Cyrus took out the holy gold and silver equipment from the temple in Babylon, which Nebuchadnezzar had removed from the house in Jerusalem and deposited in his own temple. Cyrus handed it over to Zerubbabel and the governor Sheshbazzar
with the order that they take all of this equipment back and place it in the temple in Jerusalem, and that the Lord's temple be rebuilt on its site.
After coming here, Sheshbazzar laid the foundations of the Lord's house in Jerusalem. It has been under construction until now, although it isn't finished."
Now, King, if it seems right, please search the royal archives that are in Babylon.
If it is discovered that the building of the Lord's house in Jerusalem was done with King Cyrus' consent, and if it seems right to our master the king, please direct us concerning these things.
Then King Darius commanded a search of the royal archives that were kept in Babylon. In Ecbatana, within the palace of Medea, a scroll was found that recorded the following words:
In the first year of Cyrus' rule, King Cyrus commissioned the rebuilding of the Lord's house in Jerusalem, where they offer sacrifices with continuous fire.
Its height should be ninety feet and its width ninety feet, with three layers of polished stone and one layer of new native wood. The expenses should come out of the treasury of King Cyrus.
Also the holy silver and gold equipment from the Lord's house, which Nebuchadnezzar removed from the house in Jerusalem and transported to Babylon, should be restored to the house in Jerusalem, to be kept where it used to be.
So he commanded Sisinnes the governor of Syria and Phoenicia, and Sathrabuzanes, and their associates, and those who were appointed as local officials in Syria and Phoenicia to stay away from the place and to let Zerubbabel, the Lord's servant and Judea's governor, and the elders of the Jews rebuild the Lord's house on its site.
I hereby command that it be built completely and that close attention be paid to helping those who have returned from the exile of Judea, util the Lord's house is finished.
A sum of money, out of the tribute of Coele-Syria and Phoenicia, should be carefully arranged to be given to these persons, specifically to Zerubbabel the governor, for offerings to the Lord, for bulls, rams, and lambs.
Also money should be given for wheat, salt, wine, and oil, continually every year, without arguing, for daily use as the Jerusalem priests may indicate
so that drink offerings may be made to the Most High God for the king and his children, and prayers be offered for their lives.
He further commanded that if anyone should disobey any of the things previously mentioned or previously written, or attempt to cancel them, a beam should be taken out of the house of the guilty, who then should be hung on it, and all their possessions forfeited to the king.
May the Lord, on whose name they called, destroy every king and nation that will stretch out their hands to prevent or damage the Lord's house in Jerusalem.
I, King Darius, have declared that it be done with the necessary care described here.