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Bible Commentaries
Ezra 4

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-24

Chapter 4

And when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity [had built the towers,] started to build the temple of the Lord unto the LORD God of Israel; they came to Zerubbabel, and to the chief of the fathers, and they said, Let us build with you: for we seek your God, as you do; and we do sacrifice unto him since the days of Esarhaddon the king of Assur, which brought us up hither. But Zerubbabel, and Jeshua, and the rest of the chief of the fathers of Israel, said unto them, You don't have anything to do with us to build a house unto our God; but we ourselves together will build unto the LORD God of Israel, as king Cyrus the king of Persia hath commanded us. Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building ( Ezra 4:1-4 ),

Now when the northern kingdom was destroyed by Assyria, the Assyrian king took the people of the northern kingdom and scattered them throughout the world, and they had brought other people that they had conquered and settled them in the land of the northern kingdom. Became known as Samaria. But that was the capital city. And the people ultimately became known as the Samaritans. Now when they came into the land, the wild animals began to turn against the people, and many of them were devoured. And they came to the king and they said, "Hey, we can't get along with the gods of the land. The animals are turning against us. So send us some priests that they may teach us how to worship in order that we might worship these gods of the land so that these wild animals won't be eating our kids and all."

So the king of Assyria found some priests and they brought them to these people who the priests taught them the worship of God. And so they feared Jehovah, but they worshipped their own gods. In other words, He was just made a part of their whole total worship program, but it wasn't a true worship of Jehovah, nor were they truly descendants of Abraham or Israel. So they did, however, as a part of their total worship, worship Jehovah, even as they were taught, they did have the sacrifices; they did offer the sacrifices and all because the priest taught them the burnt offerings, the peace offerings and these things, so they did do that. And so when these fellows came and were going to build their temple, they said, "Hey, we'd like to help you because we worship your God, too." But they worship God as a mixture, with a lot of other gods. And so Zerubbabel and Jeshua and the chief men decided that they didn't want their help.

Now it would be great if the church would maintain that same attitude today. We don't need the help of the world in doing the work of God. But not all churches see it that way, and many are trying to conscript Satan to come help them in their building programs or whatever. But God doesn't need any help in accomplishing His program, especially from those who are not true servants of God. And I feel that it is wrong to go to worldly people to try to conscript aid for the work of God.

They refused to accept their help. Now these are the same people that in the time of Christ were called the Samaritans. And the Jews would not have any dealings, even after they returned, they would not have any dealings four hundred years later when Christ came, they still would not have any dealings with the Samaritans. And you remember when Jesus met the woman of Samaria at the well and said, "Would you give me a drink of water?" She said, "How come you're asking me for a drink? You're a Jew, I'm a Samaritan. The Jews don't have dealings with the Samaritans."

It is true the Jews would usually, when they were coming to the feast from Galilee, go clear on down to the Jordan River and come all the way along the Jordan River and then come up from Jericho rather than take the shorter route directly through Samaria, because they just didn't like to be around the Samaritans. There was a lot of bad blood between the two.

Now the Holy Spirit came upon the church, and in one of the early persecutions, the church was sort of scattered, and Jesus had said to His disciples, "When the Holy Ghost comes upon you, you shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in Judaea, and in Samaria and unto the uttermost parts of the earth." So in the persecution, as the church was scattered, Philip went up to Samaria and began to preach Christ to the Samaritans. And many believed and were baptized when they saw the miracles that were wrought through the hands of Philip.

Now when the church in Jerusalem heard that the Samaritans had also received the Gospel, they sent unto them Peter and John for as yet the Holy Spirit had not come upon them. And when they came, they laid hands on them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. And that's when Simon said, "Hey, I'd like to buy this power that whoever I lay my hands on they would receive, too." And Peter said, "Your money perish with you because you think that the gifts of God can be bought with money." And told him to pray that God would forgive him the bitterness, the gall that was in his heart.

So the Samaritans received the Gospel, a great revival. Now at the present time there are still about two hundred Samaritans still living. They're almost extinct. There's only about two hundred of them living today. They still live in the area of Nablus, which is at the, in the valley at the base of mount Ebal and mount Gerizim. And they still believe that mount Gerizim is the place where God should be worshipped. You remember the woman by the well said to Jesus, when she realized that He was a prophet, "Sir, I perceive that you're a prophet, our fathers say that we are to worship God in this mountain, Gerizim," right above them there, for they were at Shechem which is the present-day Nablus( John 4:19-20 ), in that area. "Our fathers tell us we're to worship God in this mountain, Gerizim. You say in Jerusalem. Where is God to be worshipped?"

And so they still today have an annual Passover sacrifice, and they sacrifice a lamb at the top of mount Gerizim still to the present time. They are called the Samaritans, as I said there are only about two hundred of them left and they are pretty much imbecilic. They're pretty much imbeciles now because of the close cross breeding. They won't marry outside, and so their numbers continue to reduce. And they have just a lot of idiocy among them because of this cross, close cross breeding. But they still exist, which is about two hundred Samaritans left.

So these were the people that came to Jeshua and Zerubbabel and they said, "Hey, we will help you because we worship your gods, too. We'll help you build this temple." And they consulted together and they said, "Nope, we don't want your help." Well, their help being spurned, then they turned against them and did their best to defeat their purposes of rebuilding. They started really hassling them and hindering in every opportunity.

So they hired attorneys, to frustrate their purposes ( Ezra 4:5 ),

To file injunctions, to get the court to file injunctions. Make them have an EIR report and all this kind of junk, you know, to just frustrate their building efforts. I'm sure that no matter what they did, they couldn't foul things up as much as things can be fouled up with our present governmental systems today. If you want to build anything, it is just unreal what they make you go through. We are, we are just governmentalized to death. It seems to be the government's purpose to put everybody out of business and to make everybody dependent on the government. That sounds good, but then who's going to pay the bills? If the government makes, try and be independent, so difficult, more and more ordinances, OSHAs and everything else to come and harass you. I'll tell you, they couldn't harass them nearly as much as the government harasses building projects today. It's a... Some of you may be government employees and... But oh, the bureaucracy today is something horrible. We're just going to sink under bureaucrats.

So they sought to frustrate the purposes.

all of the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the time that Darius took over the throne. So in the reign of Ahasuerus [who is the Cambyses of secular history], at the beginning of his reign, they wrote to him an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem. And in the days of Ahasuerus Artaxerxes [who is also Ahasuerus the previous verse, Cambesis( Ezra 4:6 ) of the secular history] they wrote him a letter in the Syrian tongue. And they said, Artaxerxes the king; Thy servants the men on this side of the river, and at such a time. Be it known to the king, that the Jews which came up from thee to us are come to Jerusalem, and they are building the rebellious and bad city, they have set up the walls, and they've joined the foundations. Be it known now unto the king, that, if this city is built, and the walls are set up again, then they will not pay their toll, or their taxes, or customs, so that you will be endangered in receiving revenue. Now because we have maintenance from the king's palace, and it was not meet for us to see the king's dishonor, therefore we have sent and certified to the king these things; [And we suggest] That you search the book of records: and you will find in the book of records, and know that this city is a rebellious city, and hurtful unto kings and provinces, and that they have moved sedition within the same in old times: for this cause this city was destroyed. We certify the king that, if this city be built again, and the walls are set up, by this means thou shalt have no portion on this side of the river. Then sent the king an answer unto Rehum the chancellor, and to Shimshai the scribe, and to the rest of their companions that dwell in Samaria, and unto the rest beyond the river, Peace, and at such a time. The letter which ye sent unto us hath been plainly read before me. And I have commanded, and a search hath been made, and it is found that this city of old time hath made insurrection against kings, and that rebellion and sedition have been made therein. There have been mighty kings also over Jerusalem, which have ruled over all the countries beyond the river; and toll, tribute, and custom, was paid unto them. Give ye now commandment to cause these men to cease, and that this city be not built, until another commandment shall be given from me. Take heed now that ye fail not to do this: why should damage grow to the hurt of the kings? Now when the copy of king Artaxerxes' letter was read before Rehum, and to his companions, they went up in haste to Jerusalem unto the Jews, and made them to cease by force and power. Then ceased the work of the house of God which is at Jerusalem. So it ceased unto the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia ( Ezra 4:5-7 , Ezra 4:11-24 ).

So during the time of Cambesis(???), the Artaxerxes, the work was stopped. The period of perhaps ten years or so. They have started, they laid the foundation, they were building, and they got this order to cease and desist. So they stopped the building, and in stopping the building, they got then involved in their own houses, and fixing up their own places. And they started fixing up their houses very nicely, just forgot and left desolate the house of the Lord. And so if you will read Haggai, chapter one, he is crying out against the people for their forsaking the house of the Lord. "Is it time for you, O Israel, to dwell in your ceiled houses, while the house of the Lord lies desolate? Behold, take a look at things because you have sowed much, but you're gathering little" ( Haggai 1:4 , Haggai 1:6 ).

It seems like your pockets have holes in them. You can't keep your money. And you're always broke and you never have enough. And the reason is, is that you've been spending everything for yourself and you've just been letting God's house go desolate. And so Haggai is encouraging the people, "Let's get back and let's start building the temple once again." "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Ezra 4". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/ezra-4.html. 2014.
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