1 At that time the prophets Haggai* Haggai See Haggai 1:1. and Zechariah son of Iddo† Zechariah son of Iddo See Zechariah 1:1. began to prophesy in the name of God. They encouraged the Jews in Judah and Jerusalem. 2 So Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and Jeshua son of Jozadak again started working on the Temple in Jerusalem. All of God’s prophets were with them and were supporting the work. 3 At that time Tattenai was the governor of the area west of the Euphrates River. Tattenai, Shethar Bozenai, and the men with them went to Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the others who were building. Tattenai and the people with him asked Zerubbabel and the people with him, “Who gave you permission to rebuild this Temple and repair it like new?” 4 They also asked Zerubbabel, “What are the names of the men who are working on this building?”
5 But God was watching over the Jewish leaders. The builders didn’t have to stop working until a report could be sent to King Darius. They continued working until the king sent his answer back.
6 Tattenai the governor of the area west of the Euphrates River, Shethar Bozenai, and the important people with them sent a letter to King Darius. 7 This is a copy of that letter:
To King Darius.
8 King Darius, you should know that we went to the province of Judah. We went to the Temple of the great God. The people in Judah are building that Temple with large stones. They are putting big wooden timbers in the walls. The work is being done with much care and the people of Judah are working very hard. They are building very fast; it will soon be done.
9 We asked their leaders some questions about the work they are doing. We asked them, “Who gave you permission to rebuild this temple and repair it like new?” 10 We also asked for their names. We wanted to write down the names of their leaders so that you would know who they are.
11 This is the answer they gave us:
“We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth. We are rebuilding the Temple that a great king of Israel built and finished many years ago. 12 But our ancestors made the God of heaven angry, so God gave our ancestors to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar destroyed this Temple, and he forced the people to go to Babylon as prisoners. 13 But, in the first year that Cyrus was king of Babylon, King Cyrus gave a special order for God’s Temple to be rebuilt. 14 And Cyrus brought out from his false god’s temple in Babylon the gold and silver things that were taken from God’s Temple in the past. Nebuchadnezzar took them from the Temple in Jerusalem and brought them to his false god’s temple in Babylon. Then King Cyrus gave those gold and silver things to Sheshbazzar.” Cyrus chose Sheshbazzar to be governor.
15 Then Cyrus said to Sheshbazzar, “Take these gold and silver things and put them back in the Temple in Jerusalem. Rebuild God’s Temple in the same place it was in the past.”
16 So Sheshbazzar came and built the foundations of God’s Temple in Jerusalem. From that day until now, the work has continued, but it is not yet finished.
17 Now, if it pleases the king, please search the official records of the king. See if it is true that King Cyrus gave an order to rebuild God’s Temple in Jerusalem. And then, sir, please send us a letter to let us know what you have decided to do about this.