(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 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 finishing the walls and repairing the foundations. Now be it known to the king that if this city is rebuilt and the walls finished, they will not pay tribute, custom, or toll, and the royal revenue will be impaired. Now because we eat the salt of the palace and it is not fitting for us to witness the king’s dishonor, therefore we send and inform the king, 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. 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.”
I found this letter to be interesting because it confirms what I have said about protests and symbolism.
Protest accomplish nothing. All of the signs, speeches,demonstrations, catchy little phrases and hash tags, don’t make a difference. They just make you feel better about yourself. You say; See, I did something, I wore this color, I wore this wristband, I stood or I kneeled with my hand in the air. I did my part. I’m helping. I’m special.
But this letter from the book of Ezra, is an example of how you really get things done. The letter was written by the adversaries of the Jews. They knew who to contact and where their heart really lies.
The Jews were returning to Jerusalem after years of exile in Babylon. They were going to rebuild the city and the Temple of the Lord at the instruction of King Cyrus, the king of Persia. The people who were now inhabiting the area that the Jews were returning to asked if they could join in the rebuilding process. But the Jews said no, as per the instruction of King Cyrus.
The current residents must have felt threatened by the Jews, so the residents threatened and bribe the officials of the land in order to try and stop the Jews. Sounds just like the politics of today. They continued to try and thwart the efforts of the Jews all through the reign of King Cyrus.
When Artaxerxes became king of Persia those who opposed the Jews finally figured out how to get some traction for their cause. They knew they had to stop the Jews from rebuilding Jerusalem and becoming a strong nation. So the enemies of the Jews wrote the letter cited at the beginning of this post to King Artaxerxes.
In the letter they hit Artaxerxes right where it hurts the most. They found the button to push that will call him to action against the Jews. They let him know that this ongoing rebuilding effort by the Jews will hit him right in the old wallet. And they say so in no uncertain terms.
Now be it known to the king that if this city is rebuilt and the walls finished, they will not pay tribute, custom, or toll, and the royal revenue will be impaired.
King Artaxerxes understands, “the royal revenue will be impaired”.
He reads these words and does what the adversaries of the Jews couldn’t accomplish through the reign of two previous kings. Artaxerxes orders an immediate halt to all work by the Jews. And in Ezra 4 verse 22 he clearly states his motives for this order.
And take care not to be slack in this matter. Why should damage grow to the hurt of the king?
Artaxerxes had no personal involvement with the people who lived miles away from him. The only reference he had was from his own history records. The Jews weren’t setting up camp outside of his city, they had no army and no real political clout. So if someone came to him and said we are upset that the Jews are rebuilding their temple and city, and they won’t include us, he would have said that’s your problem. You deal with it.
But as soon as they said, hey these Jews rebuilding their city are going to hurt you tax revenues, he leapt to action.
That’s how you get stuff done in any society. I don’t care if it’s capitalist, communist, socialist, fascist, monarchist, industrial, agrarian, or whatever kind of society. If you want action, hit them where it hurts, hit them in the revenue stream.
Don’t believe it?
Go to Washington and say tax cut. It doesn’t matter who’s getting the tax cut, just say the words and Congress will leap to action.
© Otis P Smith and About the Groove, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Otis P Smith and About the Groove with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.