The question that Tattenai, the governor, poses to those attempting to rebuild the Jerusalem temple in Ezra 5 appears twice in the chapter, though scholarship has paid little attention to it. This study lays out the relevant surviving documentary data (Persian-period decrees and administrative documents) and uses them as a sociohistorical lens through which the importance of Tattenai’s question might be seen. The data suggest that, for ideological reasons, the narrative conceals the name of the person responsible for rebuilding Jerusalem’s Second Temple as well as provides insights into the compositional history of the chapter.

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