1猶大和便雅憫的敵人聽說流亡者回來要為以色列的上帝耶和華建殿， 2就去見所羅巴伯和以色列的族長，對他們說：「請讓我們與你們一同建造，因為我們像你們一樣也尋求你們的上帝。自從亞述王以撒哈頓帶我們到這裡以後，我們就一直獻祭給上帝。」 3所羅巴伯、耶書亞和以色列其餘的族長回答說：「你們不能參與建殿。遵照波斯王塞魯士的吩咐，我們要自己為以色列的上帝耶和華建殿。」
7波斯王亞達薛西統治年間，比施蘭、米特利達、他別及其同黨上奏亞達薛西。奏章是用亞蘭文寫的，經過翻譯後呈上。 8利宏省長和伸帥書記也寫了奏本給亞達薛西王，控告耶路撒冷人，內容如下： 9「利宏省長、伸帥書記和我們的同僚底拿人、亞法薩提迦人、他毗拉人、亞法撒人、亞基衛人、巴比倫人、書珊迦人、底亥人、以攔人， 10以及偉大尊貴的亞斯那巴遷來並安置在撒瑪利亞各城與幼發拉底河西一帶的人民， 11上奏亞達薛西王，
「『幼發拉底河西的臣民奏告亞達薛西王， 12王該知道，從王那裡到我們這裡來的猶太人已經去了耶路撒冷，如今正在重建這座叛逆、罪惡之城，正在重建地基，修築城牆。 13王該知道，如果這城建好，城牆完工，他們將不再進貢、交賦、納稅，王的稅收必受虧損。 14我們既食王祿，就不能坐視王遭受損失，因此上奏於王。 15請王查看先王的記錄，必從中獲悉這城是叛逆之城，危害列王和各省。自古以來，城中叛亂不斷，因此才被毀滅。 16我們願王知道，這城一旦建好，城牆完工，幼發拉底河西之地就不再為王所有了。』」
17王回覆利宏省長、伸帥書記及其住在撒瑪利亞與幼發拉底河西一帶的同僚，說：「願你們平安！ 18你們呈上的奏章，經過翻譯已奏報給我。 19我已命人查考，發現這城自古以來屢屢背叛列王，是悖逆和叛亂之地。 20強大的君王曾經統管耶路撒冷和幼發拉底河西全境，並向人們徵收貢物和賦稅。 21現在你們要下令讓這些人停止建造這城，等候我的諭旨。 22要認真辦理這事，不可遲延，何必容事情惡化，使王受虧損呢？」
Opposition to the rebuilding
1When the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the exiles were building a temple for the Lord, the God of Israel, 2they 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 Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us here.’
3But Zerubbabel, Joshua 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.’
4Then the peoples around them set out to discourage the people of Judah and make them afraid to go on building.4:4 Or and troubled them as they built 5They bribed officials 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.
Later opposition under Xerxes and Artaxerxes
6At the beginning of the reign of Xerxes,4:6 Hebrew Ahasuerus they lodged an accusation against the people of Judah and Jerusalem.
7And in the days of Artaxerxes 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 Aramaic language.4:7 Or written in Aramaic and translated4:7 The text of 4:8–6:18 is in Aramaic.
8Rehum the commanding officer and Shimshai the secretary wrote a letter against Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king as follows:
9Rehum the commanding officer and Shimshai the secretary, together with the rest of their associates – the judges, officials and administrators over the people from Persia, Uruk and Babylon, the Elamites of Susa, 10and the other people whom the great and honourable Ashurbanipal deported and settled in the city of Samaria and elsewhere in Trans-Euphrates.
11(This is a copy of the letter they sent him.)
To King Artaxerxes,
From your servants, the men of Trans-Euphrates:
12The king should know that the people who came up to us from you have gone to Jerusalem and are rebuilding that rebellious and wicked city. They are restoring the walls and repairing the foundations.
13Furthermore, the king should know that if this city is built and its walls are restored, no more taxes, tribute or duty will be paid, and eventually the royal revenues will suffer.4:13 The meaning of the Aramaic for this clause is uncertain. 14Now since we are under obligation to the palace and it is not proper for us to see the king dishonoured, we are sending this message to inform the king, 15so that a search may be made in the archives of your predecessors. In these records you will find that this city is a rebellious city, troublesome to kings and provinces, a place with a long history of sedition. That is why this city was destroyed. 16We inform the king that if this city is built and its walls are restored, you will be left with nothing in Trans-Euphrates.
17The 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:
18The letter you sent us has been read and translated in my presence. 19I issued an order and a search was made, and it was found that this city has a long history of revolt against kings and has been a place of rebellion and sedition. 20Jerusalem has had powerful kings ruling over the whole of Trans-Euphrates, and taxes, tribute and duty were paid to them. 21Now issue an order to these men to stop work, so that this city will not be rebuilt until I so order. 22Be careful not to neglect this matter. Why let this threat grow, to the detriment of the royal interests?
23As soon as the copy of the letter of King Artaxerxes was read to Rehum and Shimshai the secretary and their associates, they went immediately to the Jews in Jerusalem and compelled them by force to stop.
24Thus the work on the house of God in Jerusalem came to a standstill until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.