Ezra 5:1-17

Tattenai writes to King Darius

1 Then the prophets Haggai and Iddo's grandson, Zechariah, spoke messages from God. They served Israel's God, and they spoke with his authority. They told God's message to the Jews who lived in Jerusalem and in other parts of Judea. 2 Then Shealtiel's son, Zerubbabel, and Jozadak's son, Jeshua, started again to build God's temple in Jerusalem. God's prophets were there to help them.

3 At that time, Tattenai was the ruler who had authority over the region on the west side of the Euphrates river. He went with Shethar-Bozenai and their friends to ask the Jews what they were doing. They asked them, ‘Who gave you the authority to build this temple and make it ready to use again?’ 4 They also asked, ‘What are the names of the men who are building this place?’

5 But God was watching over the Jewish leaders. Nobody was able to stop them building at that time. The city's officers had to wait until they could send a letter to King Darius. They waited for him to reply.

6 Tattenai, the city's ruler, Shethar-Bozenai and their friends who had authority in the region west of the Euphrates river wrote to King Darius. 7 This is what they said:

King Darius, we hope that you are well.

8 We went to Judah to visit the temple of the great God. The king should know that the Jews are building it with big stones. They are putting wooden beams in its walls. They are working hard and very carefully. The building is growing fast.

9 We spoke to their leaders and we asked them, ‘Who gave you authority to build this temple and make it ready to use again?’ 10 We also asked them to tell us their names. Then we could tell you who the leaders are.

11 This is the answer that they gave to us:

‘We are servants of the God who rules heaven and earth. A great king of Israel built this temple and finished it many years ago. Now we are building it again. 12 Our ancestors made the God of heaven angry. So he let King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon have power over them. He destroyed this temple. Then he took our people as prisoners to Babylon.

13 But later, King Cyrus of Babylon commanded that we must build God's temple again. He said this in the first year that he was king. 14 He gave back to us the gold and silver things that belong in our God's temple. King Nebuchadnezzar had taken those things away from the temple in Jerusalem. He took them to Babylon and he put them in his own temple.

But King Cyrus gave our valuable things to Sheshbazzar. He had given authority to this man to rule over Judah. 15 He said to Sheshbazzar, “Take these things and put them safely in the temple in Jerusalem. Let the people build the house of God again, in the place where it used to be.” 16 So this man, Sheshbazzar, came here. He built the foundations of God's temple 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 books in Babylon's royal library. You should see whether King Cyrus did give a command about God's temple in Jerusalem. See if he said that the Jews should build it again. When you know what is true, you should decide what is right. Please tell us what we should do.