Ezra 5

Tattenai’s Letter to King Darius

Haggai and Zechariah, the prophets, prophesied to the Jews in Judah and Jerusalem. They spoke to them in the name of the God of Israel. God had spoken to those prophets. Zechariah belonged to the family line of Iddo. Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, began to work. So did Joshua, the son of Jozadak. They began to rebuild the house of God in Jerusalem. The prophets of God were right there with them. They were helping them.

At that time Tattenai was governor of the land west of the Euphrates River. He and Shethar-Bozenai and their friends went to the Jews. They asked them, “Who authorized you to rebuild this temple? Who told you that you could finish it?” They also asked, “What are the names of the people who are putting up this building?” But the God of the Jews was watching over their elders. So they didn’t have to stop their work. First a report would have to be sent to Darius. Then they would have to receive his answer in writing.

Here is a copy of the letter sent to King Darius. It was from Tattenai, the governor of the land west of the Euphrates. Shethar-Bozenai joined him in writing it. So did their friends. They were officials of that land. The report they sent to the king said,

We are sending this letter to you, King Darius.

We give you our most friendly greetings.

We want you to know that we went to the land of Judah. We went to the temple of the great God. The people are building it with large stones. They are putting wooden beams in the walls. The people are working hard. The work is moving ahead very quickly under the direction of the people.

We asked the elders some questions. We said to them, “Who authorized you to rebuild this temple? Who told you that you could finish it?” 10 We also asked them what their names were. We wanted to write down the names of their leaders for your information.

11 Here is the answer they gave us. They said,

“We serve the God of heaven and earth. We are rebuilding the temple that was built many years ago. The great King Solomon built it and finished it. 12 But our people made the God of heaven angry. So he handed them over to Nebuchadnezzar from Chaldea. He was king of Babylon. He destroyed this temple. He forced the Jews to leave their own country. He took them away to Babylon.

13 “But King Cyrus gave an order to rebuild this house of God. He gave it in the first year he was king of Babylon. 14 He even removed some gold and silver objects from the temple of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar had brought them there from the house of God in Jerusalem. He had taken them to the temple in Babylon. Then King Cyrus brought the objects out. He gave them to a man named Sheshbazzar. Cyrus had appointed him as governor. 15 Cyrus told him, ‘Take these objects with you. Go and put them in the temple in Jerusalem. Rebuild the house of God in the same place where it stood before.’

16 “So Sheshbazzar made the trip to Jerusalem. He laid the foundations of the house of God there. From that day until now the people have been working on it. But they haven’t finished it yet.”

17 If it pleases you, King Darius, let a search be made in the royal records. Search the official records of the kings of Babylon. Find out whether King Cyrus really did give an order to rebuild this house of God in Jerusalem. Then tell us what you decide to do.