1. Exposition

For how long would the temple building have ceased?

Ezra 4:23–24 (ESV)

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.

Some commentators think that the work of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem began with Ezra (sometime after 458 BC) until it was stopped as a result of this letter. The walls were then forcibly burned and broken down once again, probably by Rehum and Shimshai. Nehemiah then hears about this bad news and he petitions King Artaxerxes to allow him to go back to Jerusalem and rebuild the walls (Nehemiah 1:1–2:20). He arrives in Jerusalem in 445 BC.