Saturday, November 14, 2015

Ezra-The Rebel's Letter to the Fake King

By Mary Vee

From Ezra's Journal

Photo Courtesy
My name is Ezra. I am with the Hebrews who chose to return to Jerusalem. Not everyone wanted to come back to our homeland. Some of our brothers preferred to stay in their new homes in Babylon. 

King Cyrus gave us permission to return to Jerusalem to build the temple.

I must admit, the work has not gone well. Everyone wanted to first rebuild their homes, plant their crops, fix all the broken things. No one seemed interested in rebuilding the temple.

We received word that King Cyrus died and his son Cambyses took over the Persian throne. He allowed his father's word to stand. The word that said we could be in Jerusalem to rebuild the temple.

Cambyses led his troops to Egypt and conquered the land. While he was gone, his half-brother tried to take over the country. King Cambyses's aids killed the half-brother to stop him.

This may seem boring, but in truth these events had a major impact on those of us living in Jerusalem. There is a little more I must tell you to help you understand our troubles. A man by the name of Guamata pretended to be Cambyses half-brother. He convinced many people and talked them into revolting against the throne. He called himself Artaxerxes which is a common name used for the king, and took over the throne while Cambyses was gone.

At the same time there were many evil men who didn't want our Hebrew temple to be built. The leaders of this group were: Bihlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and other associates. They wrote a letter to Guamata, the man pretending to be Artxerxes. This is the letter:

The king should know that the Jews who came up to us from you have gone to Jerusalem and are rebuilding that rebellious and wicked city. They are restoring the walls and repairing the foundations.

Furthermore, the king should know that if this city is built and its walls are restored, no more taxes, tribute, or duty will be paid, and the royal treasury will suffer. Now since we are under obligation to the palace and it is not proper for us to see the king dishonored, we are sending this message to inform the king, so that a search may be made in the archives of your predecessors. 

In these records you will find that this city is a rebellious city, troublesome to kings and provinces, a place of rebellion from ancient times. That is why this city was destroyed. We inform the king that if this city is built and its walls are restored, you will be left with nothing in Trans-Euphrates.

Ack. This is terrible news. If the men are successful, we will end up as captives again. Next time I will tell you what the king, the man who stole the throne and lied to the people, wrote back.


1.  Who led the people to Jerusalem?
2.  Which king gave them permission to rebuild the temple?
3.  Why did this king leave his land?
4.  Who stole his throne?
5.  What did the letter say? Why do you think the evil men sent the letter?

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