Psalm 74; Ezra 4

Arise, O God, Defend Your Cause

A Maskil1 of rAsaph.

74  O God, why do you scast us off forever?

Why does your anger tsmoke against uthe sheep of your pasture?

vRemember your congregation, which you have wpurchased of old,

which you have xredeemed to be ythe tribe of your heritage!

Remember Mount Zion, zwhere you have dwelt.

Direct your steps to athe perpetual ruins;

the enemy has destroyed everything in the sanctuary!

Your foes have broared in the midst of your meeting place;

cthey set up their down signs for esigns.

They were like those who swing faxes

in a forest of trees.2

And all its gcarved wood

they broke down with hatchets and hammers.

They hset your sanctuary on fire;

they iprofaned jthe dwelling place of your name,

bringing it down to the ground.

They ksaid to themselves, We will utterly subdue them;

they burned all the meeting places of God in the land.

We do not see our lsigns;

mthere is no longer any prophet,

and there is none among us who knows how long.

10  How long, O God, nis the foe to scoff?

Is the enemy to revile your name forever?

11  Why odo you hold back your hand, your right hand?

Take it from the fold of your garment3 and destroy them!

12  Yet pGod my King is from of old,

working salvation in the midst of the earth.

13  You qdivided the sea by your might;

you rbroke the heads of sthe sea monsters4 on the waters.

14  You crushed the heads of tLeviathan;

you gave him as food for the creatures of the wilderness.

15  You usplit open springs and brooks;

you vdried up ever-flowing streams.

16  Yours is the day, yours also the night;

you have established wthe heavenly lights and the sun.

17  You have xfixed all the boundaries of the earth;

you have made ysummer and winter.

18  zRemember this, O Lord, how the enemy scoffs,

and aa foolish people reviles your name.

19  Do not deliver the soul of your bdove to the wild beasts;

cdo not forget the life of your poor forever.

20  Have regard for dthe covenant,

for ethe dark places of the land are full of the habitations of violence.

21  Let not fthe downtrodden gturn back in shame;

let hthe poor and needy praise your name.

22  Arise, O God, idefend your cause;

jremember how the foolish scoff at you all the day!

23  Do not forget the clamor of your foes,

kthe uproar of those who rise against you, which goes up continually!


Adversaries Oppose the Rebuilding

Now when gthe adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the returned exiles were building a temple to the Lord, the God of Israel, they approached Zerubbabel and the heads of fathers’ houses and said to them, Let us build with you, for we worship your God as you do, and we have been sacrificing to him ever hsince the days of iEsarhaddon king of Assyria jwho brought us here. But Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the rest of the heads of fathers’ houses in Israel said to them, kYou have nothing to do with us in building a house to our God; but we alone will build to the Lord, the God of Israel, las King Cyrus the king of Persia has commanded us.

Then mthe people of the land discouraged the people of Judah and made them afraid to build and bribed counselors against them to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.

And in the reign of nAhasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, they wrote an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem.

The Letter to King Artaxerxes

In the days of Artaxerxes, Bishlam and oMithredath and Tabeel and the rest of their associates wrote to Artaxerxes king of Persia. The letter was written pin Aramaic and translated.1 Rehum the commander and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king as follows: Rehum the commander, Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their associates, the qjudges, the rgovernors, the officials, the Persians, the men of Erech, the Babylonians, the men of Susa, that is, the sElamites, 10 and the rest of the nations whom the great and noble tOsnappar deported and settled in the cities of Samaria and in the rest of the province Beyond the River. 11 (This is a copy of the letter that they sent.) To Artaxerxes the king: Your servants, the men of the province Beyond the River, send greeting. And now 12 be it known to the king that the Jews who came up from you to us have gone to Jerusalem. They are rebuilding that rebellious and wicked city. They are vfinishing the walls and repairing the foundations. 13 Now be it known to the king that if this city is rebuilt and the walls finished, they will not pay wtribute, custom, or toll, and the royal revenue will be impaired. 14 Now because we eat the salt of the palace2 and it is not fitting for us to witness the king’s dishonor, therefore we send and inform the king, 15 in order that search may be made in the book of the records of your fathers. You will find in the book of the records and learn that this city is a rebellious city, hurtful to kings and provinces, and that sedition was stirred up in it from of old. That was why this city was laid waste. 16 We make known to the king that if this city is rebuilt and its walls finished, you will then have no possession in the province Beyond the River.

The King Orders the Work to Cease

17 The king sent an answer: To Rehum the commander and Shimshai the scribe and the rest of their associates who live in Samaria and in the rest of the province Beyond the River, greeting. And now 18 the letter that you sent to us has been xplainly read before me. 19 And I made a decree, and search has been made, and it has been found that this city from of old has risen against kings, and that rebellion and sedition have been made in it. 20 And mighty kings have been over Jerusalem, ywho ruled over the whole province Beyond the River, to whom ztribute, custom, and toll were paid. 21 Therefore make a decree that these men be made to cease, and that this city be not rebuilt, until a decree is made by me. 22 And take care not to be slack in this matter. Why should damage grow to the hurt of the king?

23 Then, when the copy of King Artaxerxes’ letter was read before Rehum and Shimshai the scribe and their associates, they went in haste to the Jews at Jerusalem and by force and power made them cease. 24 Then the work on the house of God that is in Jerusalem stopped, and it ceased until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.