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Esdras 2: Opposition to the Temple

Exterior of the North WallThe Greek text of 1 Esdras provides an alternative or expanded version of Ezra 4-7-24. This text relates the attempt of the Samaritans to stop the Judeans from building the Temple and the city walls.

2-16 But in the time of Artaxerxes king of the Persians, Bishlam, Mithridates, Tabeel, Rehum, Beltethmus, Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their associates, living in Samaria and other places, wrote him the following letter, against those who were living in Judea and Jerusalem-

17 “To King Artaxerxes our lord, your servants Rehum the recorder and Shimshai the scribe and the other judges of their council in Coelesyria and Phoenicia- 18 Now be it known to our lord the king that the Jews who came up from you to us have gone to Jerusalem and are building that rebellious and wicked city, repairing its market places and walls and laying the foundations for a temple. 19 Now if this city is built and the walls finished, they will not only refuse to pay tribute but will even resist kings. 20 And since the building of the temple is now going on, we think it best not to neglect such a matter, 21 but to speak to our lord the king, in order that, if it seems good to you, search may be made in the records of your fathers. 22 You will find in the chronicles what has been written about them, and will learn that this city was rebellious, troubling both kings and other cities. 23 and that the Jews were rebels and kept setting up blockades in it from of old. That is why this city was laid waste. 24 Therefore we now make known to you, O Lord and king, that if this city is built and its walls finished, you will no longer have access to Coelesyria and Phoenicia.”

25 Then the king, in reply to Rehum the recorder and Beltethmus and Shimshai the scribe and the others associated with them and living in Samaria and Syria and Phoenicia, wrote as follows-

26 “I have read the letter which you sent me. So I ordered search to be made, and it has been found that this city from of old has fought against kings, 27 and that the men in it were given to rebellion and war, and that mighty and cruel kings ruled in Jerusalem and exacted tribute from Coelesyria and Phoenicia. 28 Therefore I have now issued orders to prevent these men from building the city and to take care that nothing more be done 29 and that such wicked proceedings go no further to the annoyance of kings.”

30 Then, when the letter from King Artaxerxes was read, Rehum and Shimshai the scribe and their associates went in haste to Jerusalem, with horsemen and a multitude in battle array, and began to hinder the builders. And the building of the temple in Jerusalem ceased until the second year of the reign of Darius king of the Persians.

73. The Revised Standard Version (New York- Oxford University Press. Inc.), 1973, 1977.

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