Ezra 5

Tattenai writes to Darius

1 Haggai and Zechariah, Iddo's descendant, gave us messages from God. They obeyed the God of Israel. They were prophets. They told God's message to the Jews in Jerusalem and Judea. 2 Then Zerubbabel, Shealtiel's son, and Jeshua, Jozadak's son, started again to build the temple in Jerusalem. And the prophets worked with them, to help them.

3 At that time Tattenai was the king's ruler of all the land across the River Euphrates. He and Shethar-Bozenai and their friends went to ask them what they were doing. They said, ‘Who gave you the authority to start building this temple again?’ 4 And they asked, ‘What are the names of the men who are building this place?’ 5 But God was watching over the Jews' leaders, and nobody stopped them building then. They waited until they could send a letter to King Darius. They waited for him to reply.

6 The ruler Tattenai, Shethar-Bozenai and their friends wrote to King Darius. 7 This is what they said:

We hope that you, King Darius, are well and happy.

8 We went to Judah to visit the temple of the great God. The king should know that the people are building it. They are using big stones and beams of wood to build the walls. They are working hard and the temple is growing fast. Their leaders showed them how to build it.

9 We spoke to them and we asked, ‘Who gave authority to you to do this and to build up this temple again?’ 10 We also asked them their names. Then we could give the names of their leaders to you.

11 This is the answer that they gave to us:

‘We are servants of the God of heaven and earth. A great king of Israel built this temple and finished it many years ago. We are building it again. 12 But our ancestors made the God of heaven angry. So he let Nebuchadnezzar, Babylon's king, fight with them. And Nebuchadnezzar destroyed this temple. Then he took many of our people to Babylon.

13 But Cyrus, king of Babylon said that we must build the house of our God again. He said this in the first year that he was king. 14 And he even gave us the gold and silver things from the Jerusalem temple. Nebuchadnezzar had taken them out of Jerusalem's temple and he put them in the temple in Babylon.

Then King Cyrus gave the valuable things to Sheshbazzar. He had given authority to this man over Jerusalem and the places round it. 15 He said to Sheshbazzar, “Take these things and put them in the temple in Jerusalem. And build again the house of God where it used to be.” 16 So this Sheshbazzar came and he built the foundations of God's house in Jerusalem. Since then we have continued to build it, but we have not finished it yet.’

17 If the king should choose, he may look in the letters in his store. It is there in Babylon. King Cyrus did say that we must build up God's temple in Jerusalem. And you will see that in the letters. After this, the king will decide what is right. That is what we hope. We must know whether the king will let us finish this work.