1. Exposition

Why do they ask for who decreed the building of the temple?

Ezra 5:3 (ESV)

3 At the same time Tattenai the governor of the province Beyond the River and Shethar-bozenai and their associates came to them and spoke to them thus: “Who gave you a decree to build this house and to finish this structure?”

It is clear that the focus of the investigation is on determining if the people of Israel have the authority to rebuild the temple. Their chief concern was whether the Jews’ actions involved subversion. The Persian Empire had been marked by revolts since the death of Cyrus, and the political situation became worse when Darius took the throne.