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Bible Commentaries
Ezra 4

Haydock's Catholic Bible CommentaryHaydock's Catholic Commentary

Verse 1

Enemies; Samaritans, and others, ver. 9.

Verse 2

Asor Haddan sent a priest to instruct these people, but Salmanasar had transported them into the country. (Calmet) --- They continued for some time worshipping idols alone, and afterwards they consented to pay the like adoration to the Lord, 4 Kings xvii. 24, &c. (Haydock) --- It is clear, from their petition, that they had as yet no temple. The first was erected by them on Garizim, by leave of Alexander the Great, as a retreat for Manasses, brother of the Jewish high priest, and other who would not be separated from their strange wives. (Josephus, [Antiquities?] xi.) --- Yet the Samaritan Chronicle, lately published, seems to give a higher antiquity to that temple, and pretends that a miracle declared in favour of the place. (Calmet) --- The fathers indeed adored there, (John iv. 20., and Genesis xii. 6,) and Josue erected an altar on Hebal, but the Samaritan copy says it was to be on Garizim, Deuteronomy xxvii. 4., and Josue viii. 30. (Haydock)

Verse 3

You, &c. Literally, "It is not for you and us to build." But why might not these people assist in the work, as well as king Hiram or Darius? (Haydock) --- Schismatics and heretics must not communicate in sacrifices with Catholics, (Worthington) nor must the latter have society with them, in matters of religion. The Jews feared lest the Samaritans might introduce the worship of idols, or claim a part of the temple, or at least boast of what they had done. (Tirinus) --- They were aware of the insincerity of these people. (Menochius) --- The permission was moreover only granted to the Jews: (Calmet) but Cyrus had exhorted all to contribute; (chap. i. 4,) and Darius, as well as his pagan governors, were not repelled with disdain, chap. vi. 13. This treatment caused the Samaritans to be more inveterate, though the Jews were always more unwilling to come to a reconciliation. (Haydock) --- "For the Scripture did not say, the Samaritans have no commerce with the Jews," says St. Chrysostom in John iv. The Jewish authors inform us, that "Ezra, &c., gathered all the congregation into the temple, and the Levites sung and cursed the Samaritans,...that no Israelite eat of any thing that is a Samaritan’s, not that any Samaritan be proselyted to Israel, nor have any part in the resurrection," &c. (R. Tanchum) (Lightfoot i. p. 598.) (Kennicott) --- If this were true, it would be carrying their resentment too far; as we ought to promote the conversion of the greatest reprobates. But we have no reason to condemn such great men. They knew the character of the Samaritans, and wished to bring them to a sense of their duty, by this rebuke. (Haydock)

Verse 5

Counsellors; ministers of the king, (Calmet) or governors of the provinces. (Tirinus) --- Cyrus, who was ignorant of their machination, (Josephus) being engaged in war with the Scythians. We may easily conceive what ill-disposed ministers may do, against the inclinations of their prince. (Calmet) --- Darius, son of Hystaspes, who succeeded the false Smerdis, after five months’ usurpation. (Calmet)

Verse 6

Assuerus; otherwise called Cambyses, the son and successor of Cyrus. He is also, in the following verse, named Artaxerxes, by a name common to almost all the kings of Persia, (Calmet) after Memnon. (Diodorus xv.) Septuagint, "Arthasastha." Arta signifies "great," and xerxes, "warriour." (Herodotus vi. 98.) --- After Assuerus, some copies add, "he is Artaxerxes;" and Assuerus is so called in the Septuagint of Sixtus, 3 Esdras ii. 16. (Menochius)

Verse 7

Artaxerxes may be the Oropastes of Trogus, (Calmet) or the false (Haydock) Smerdis. (Herodotus) --- Beselam, &c. These governed the provinces on the west side of the Euphrates. --- Syriac comprises the Chaldean, with which it as a great resemblance. It was spoken at the court of Babylon. (Xenophon vii.) See 4 Kings xviii. 26., and 2 Machabees xv. 37., and Daniel ii. 4.

Verse 8

Beelteem. Syriac, "the son of Baltam." The term designates the office of Reum, "the master of reason," president of the council, treasurer, &c. (Calmet) --- Protestants, "chancellor." --- From. Protestants, "against." (Haydock) --- Hebrew, "concerning."

Verse 9

Counsellors. Septuagint and Syriac, "of our fellow-servants." Chaldean, "colleagues." This letter, and as far as chap. vi. 16, is in the Chaldean language. --- Dinites, perhaps the Denarenians. (Junius) (4 Kings xvii. 24.) (Calmet)

Verse 10

Asenaphar, commonly supposed to be the Asarhaddon, though we know not that he caused any of these nations to remove thither, as Salmanasar certainly did. (Calmet) --- The name of the latter occurs in some copies. (Lyranus) --- River, Euphrates. --- In peace. (Haydock) --- The original, cehenth, is neglected by the Septuagint and Arabic. The Syriac reads, "Acheeneth." Others translate, "at that time," as if the date had been lost. (Junius, &c.) --- Protestants, "and at such a time." (Haydock) --- Others suppose the writers lived "at Kineeth." (Pagnin) --- But who ever heard of such a place? Le Clerc takes it to mean "and the rest," as if the title were curtailed. But it is more probable that the text ought to be Ceheth, as [in] ver. 17, and that we should translate, "beyond the river, (Calmet) as now, (11) unless this word ought to be here omitted, (Haydock) to Artaxerxes, the king, peace (and prosperity) as at present." (Calmet) --- Chaldean sslum ucath, "peace even now." (Haydock) --- So Horace says, suaviter ut unc est, wishing a continuation of happiness. 3 Esdras (ii. 17.) joins the last word with ver. 12, "And now be it," &c. Canoth may have this sense, (Calmet) and consequently no change is necessary. (Haydock)

Verse 11

Him. This is a gloss. (Calmet) --- Greeting. Protestants, "and at such a time."

Verse 12


Rebellious. The Jews had shewn themselves impatient of subjection, contending with the kings of Assyria and Babylon, whose territories were now possessed by the successors of Cyrus, ver. 15. (Haydock)

Verse 13

Revenues. Septuagint, &c., include all under the term of "tribute."

Verse 14

Eaten. Chaldean, "on account of the salt, with which we have been salted, from the palace." The king’s officers were fed from his table. Salt is put for all their emoluments; (Calmet) and hence the word salary is derived. (Pliny, [Natural History?] xxxi. 7.) We may also translate, "because we have demolished the temple, and because," &c. (Kimchi; Grotius, &c.) But this seems to refined. (Calmet) --- Protestants, "Now because we have maintenance from the king’s palace, and it is not meet," &c. To have neglected their master’s interests, would have betrayed great ingratitude and perfidy; particularly if they had entered into a covenant of salt, or solemnly engaged to be ever faithful servants, as the nature of their office implied, Numbers xviii. 19., and 2 Paralipomenon xiii. 5. (Haydock) --- Palace, being honoured with much distinction. (Delrio, adag. 215.)

Verse 15

Fathers, the preceding emperors, Nabuchodonosor, Salmanasar, &c. (Haydock)

Verse 16

Possession. Septuagint have simply, "peace."

Verse 17

Greeting. Protestants, "peace, and at such a time," which has no great meaning. (Haydock) See ver. 10.

Verse 19

Seditions: so are styled the just efforts of the Jews, to keep or to regain their liberty. (Calmet)

Verse 20

Kings; only David and Solomon. (Menochius) --- They had made some on the east side of the river pay tribute, though the king may speak of the countries on the west.

Verse 21

Hear. Chaldean, "give command," &c. --- Further: literally, "perhaps." (Haydock) --- This was a private edict, which might be rescinded, Daniel vi. 7.

Verse 23

Beelteem, is not in Chaldean. --- Arm, or "force." (Protestants) (Haydock)

Verse 24

House. They went beyond the order, which only forbade the building of the city, ver. 21. --- Darius, the year of the world 3485. (Calmet) --- He was the son of Hystaspes, (St. Jerome) and not Nothus, the sixth from Cyrus, as Sulpitius and Scalinger believe. (Tirinus)

Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Ezra 4". "Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hcc/ezra-4.html. 1859.
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