Accessibility setting


Select language

Skip to secondary menu

Skip to table of contents

Skip to content

Jehovah’s Witnesses


Online Bible

The Bible in Living English

Ezra 4:1-24

4  And the foes of Judah and Benjamin heard that the returned deportees were building a temple to Israel’s God Jehovah, 2*  and they approached Zerubbabel and the heads of families and said to them “We will build with you, because we invoke your God the same as you do, and we have been sacrificing to him since the days of King Esarhaddon of Assyria who brought us up here.” 3  But Zerubbabel and Jeshuaʽ and the rest of Israel’s heads of families said to them “It is not a joint business of yours and ours to build a house for our God, but we as a unit will build to Israel’s God Jehovah, as the king, King Cyrus of Persia, ordered us to.” 4  And the local population were discouraging the people of Judah and scaring them out of building 5  and hiring lobbyists against them to balk their policy throughout the time of King Cyrus of Persia and down to the reign of King Darius of Persia; 6*  and in the reign of Xerxes, at the beginning of his reign, they wrote in antagonism to the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem. 7***  And in Artaxerxes’s time Bishlam, Mithradata, Tabeel, and the rest of their fellow-colonists wrote to King Artaxerxes of Persia; and the script of the document is written in Aramaic and translated. (In Aramaic:) 8  Commandant Rehum and Secretary Shimshai wrote this letter against Jerusalem to King Artaxerxes, as follows. 9  Then Commandant Rehum and Secretary Shimshai and the rest of their fellow-colonists, the Dinaites and the Apharsathkites, the Tarpelites, the Apharsites, the Arkevites, the Babylonians, the Susianans, the Dehites, the ʽElamites, 10*  and the rest of the nations that the great and august Asurbanipal deported and settled in the city of Samaria and the rest of Trans-Euphrates, ss. 11  This is a copy of the letter sent to King Artaxerxes by his servants the men of Trans-Euphrates, ss. 12**  “Be it known to the king that the Judahites who came up from you to us have come to Jerusalem, the rebellious and malignant city; they are building, and are completing the walls and digging for the foundations. 13*  Now be it known to the king that if that city is rebuilt and its walls are completed, they will not pay taxes, levies, and tributes, and it will make trouble for future kings. 14  Now inasmuch as we eat the salt of the palace and it is not proper for us to view the denuding of the king, for this reason we send and notify the king 15  that search be made in the book of your fathers’ history; and you will find in the book of history, and thereby learn, that that city has been a rebellious city and a troublemaker for kings and provinces, and they have been making insurrections in it, long since; that was why that city was laid waste. 16  Now we are notifying the king that if that city is rebuilt and its walls completed, in consequence you with not have any share of Trans-Euphrates.” 17  The king sent a rescript to Commandant Rehum and Secretary Shimshai and the rest of their fellow-colonists resident in Samaria and the rest of Trans-Euphrates, “Peace, ss. 18  The communication you sent me has been read before me point by point, 19  and by my orders they have searched and found that that city has long been insubordinate to kings, and has rebelled and insurrections have been made in it, 20  and there have been mighty kings over Jerusalem, sovereign over all Trans-Euphrates, and taxes, levies, and tributes have been paid to them. 21  Now give orders to have those men leave off, and let that city not be rebuilt until further orders. 22  And beware of negligent dealing as to this, lest mischief should increase to make trouble for kings.” 23*  Then, when a copy of King Artaxerxes’s communication had been read before Rehum and Secretary Shimshai and their fellow-colonists, they came rushing to Jerusalem against the Judahites and made them leave off by main force. 24  Then the work on God’s house at Jerusalem was broken off, and was at a standstill till the year two of King Darius of Persia.


4:2 Var. approached Zerubbabel and Jeshuaʽ and the
4:6 Lit. wrote an antagonism
4:7, 4:9, 4:17 Or of their colleagues
4:7 The book of Ezra as a whole was written in Hebrew; but the part from chapter 4 verse 8 to chapter 6 verse 16 is in Aramaic. The words “in Aramaic” seem to be a note marking where the different language begins.
4:7 (last words) Susp.
4:10 Var. cities
4:12 Or to Jerusalem, are building the rebellious and malignant city, and they are completing
4:12 (last words) Unc., susp.
4:13, 4:20 Or and customs
4:23 Or and their colleagues