“Then the people of the land discouraged the people of Judah. They made them afraid to build. They bribed officials to frustrate their plans throughout the reign of King Cyrus of Persia, even until the reign of King Darius of Persia.”
The ‘people of the land’ was the derogatory phrase often used to describe the Samaritans. These were part of the poor landless people who were not taken into captivity. Somehow they made the returning Israelites afraid. They discouraged them. It is not clear what they did. They, however, did hire or bribe officials to present their cause to King Cyrus of Persia. See, those city planning boards are over 2,500 years old. Bribery is as old as anything. Apparently, they were successful as long as King Cyrus and King Darius were alive. This would bring us to about 485 BCE. Somehow they were able to frustrate this project of the Jerusalem temple for over 50 years. Clearly this area was still under Persian rule with the local Persian seat of power in Samaria, not Jerusalem.