Enemies try to stop the work
1 The Israelites who had returned to Jerusalem from exile were building the temple for the Lord, Israel's God. The enemies of the people of Judah and Benjamin heard that the Israelites had begun to build. 2 They went to speak to Zerubbabel and to the leaders of the Israelite families. They said, ‘Let us help you to build the temple. We also want to worship your God. We have lived in this country since Esarhaddon, king of Assyria, brought us here. All this time we have made sacrifices to your God.’
4:1Judah and Benjamin were the two Israelite tribes that had been taken to Babylon as prisoners. Now they had returned to Jerusalem and the other towns of their home country.
3 But Zerubbabel, Jeshua and the other leaders of Israel's people said, ‘No. You cannot help us to build the temple for our God. We must build it by ourselves for the Lord, Israel's God. That is what Cyrus, king of Persia, has commanded us to do.’
4 Then the people who lived near them tried to make Judah's people afraid. They tried to stop them building. 5 They paid bribes to government officers to work against the Israelite builders. Then they could not do the work. They continued to do this all the time that King Cyrus ruled Persia, until Darius became king.