1 On the fourth day of the ninth month in the fourth year of Darius, the king, 2 the people of Bethel sent Sha rezer and Regem melech with their men to win the favor of Yahweh 3 and to question the priests of the House of Yahweh, God of hosts, and the prophets, “Must we mourn and fast in the fifth month as we have done these many years?”
The true religion
4 And the word of Yahweh, God of hosts came to me: 5 “Speak to the inhabitants of the land and to the priests; say to them: When you fasted and mourned in September and December for seventy years, was I the one who made you fast? 6 Were you not those who decided to eat and to drink or not to do so?
7 Remember the message that Yah weh proclaimed through earlier proph ets when Jerusalem was peace fully inhabited and the surrounding region as well, when the Ne geb and the western foothills were settled.
7 ( 8 ) Yahweh said, 9 Render true judgment, be kind and merciful to each other. 10 Do not op press the widow or the orphan, the alien or the poor, do not plot evil in your heart against one another.
11 But they refused to listen and stubbornly turned their back, stopping their ears. 12 They made their hearts hard as diamonds so as not to hear the Law or the words that Yahweh, the God of hosts spoke by his spirit through the earlier prophets. 13 Then Yahweh, God of hosts in his great anger proclaimed that just as they had not listened when he called to them, so when they cried to him he would not listen. 14 Yahweh said he would scatter them as in a whirlwind among nations they did not know and the land behind them would be devastated without anyone passing through it. In that way a pleasant land was made desolate.”