The prophets Haggai and Zechariah, son of Iddo, gave messages* to the Jews in Judah and Jerusalem from the God of Israel, their ruler. Then Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua, son of Jozadak, decided to start work on rebuilding God's Temple in Jerusalem. The prophets of God encouraged them and helped them.
Almost immediately Tattenai, the governor of the province west of the Euphrates, Shethar-bozenai, and their fellow officials arrived and asked, “Who gave you permission to rebuild this Temple and finish it?” Then they asked, “What are the names of the men who are working on this building?”
But their God was watching over the Jewish leaders, so that they were not prevented from working until a report could be sent to Darius and a written reply with instructions was received.
The following is a copy of the letter that Tattenai, the governor of the province west of the Euphrates, Shethar-bozenai, and their fellow officials, officials of the province, sent to King Darius.
The report they sent him read went like this: “To King Darius: Greetings. We wish to inform Your Majesty that we went to the province of Judah, to the Temple of the great God. It is being built with large stones, with timber beams being placed on the walls. This work is being done properly and is progressing well.
We questioned the leaders, asking them, ‘Who gave you permission to rebuild this Temple and finish it?’ 10 We also asked for their names, so that we could write them down and let you know the names of their leaders.
11 This is the answer they gave us. ‘We are servants of the God of heaven and earth. We are rebuilding the Temple built and completed many years ago by a great king of Israel. 12 But our forefathers made the God of heaven angry, so he handed them over to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this Temple and deported the people to Babylon. 13 However, Cyrus, king of Babylon, in the first year of his reign, issued a decree to rebuild this Temple of God. 14 He even gave back the gold and silver items belonging to God's Temple, which Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the Temple in Jerusalem and placed in his temple in Babylon. King Cyrus gave them to a man named Sheshbazzar, whom he had appointed governor, 15 telling him, Take these items and place them in the Temple in Jerusalem. Rebuild God's Temple on its original site. 16 So Sheshbazzar came and laid the foundation of God's Temple in Jerusalem. It has been under construction since then, but hasn't yet been completed.’
17 So, if Your Majesty wishes, authorize a search to be made of the royal archives in Babylon to discover if there is a record that King Cyrus issued a decree to rebuild God's Temple in Jerusalem. Then please let us know Your Majesty's decision in this matter.”
* 5:1 “Gave messages”: literally, “prophesied.” From the reaction of Zerubbabel the messages were to restart the building of the Temple.