The local people opposed the return of Judah and Benjamin and spoke against them, attempting to discourage them and stop the work. Chapter 4 contains a letter written by them to King Artaxerxes in which they warned that the Hebrews would rebel once Jerusalem was rebuilt. King Artaxerxes was indeed concerned and ordered the work stopped. Later, during Darius’ reign Zerubbabel and Joshua began rebuilding the temple and again the local authorities wrote to the emperor. This time they included the Hebrew response to their accusations which was that Cyrus had ordered the temple rebuilt. The record was found in Ecbatana rather than Babylon because this was Cyrus’ Median capital and the summer palace of later kings.
After reading Cyrus’ original decree Darius ordered that the Trans-Euphrates district pay for the temple construction and provide anything needed, including daily food rations. “Furthermore, I decree that if anyone defies this edict, a beam is to be pulled from their house and they are to be impaled on it. And for this crime their house is to be made a pile of rubble” (6:11). The modern practice of Israel destroying the homes of suicide bombers thus has a long history. The work went ahead and the temple was completed on the third day of the month Adar, in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius. The people celebrated with a dedication and priestly instillation. Then in the first month Passover was again celebrated.