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EZRA CHAPTER 4
The adversaries, being not accepted in the building of the temple with the Jews, endeavour to hinder it, Ezra 4:1-6.
Their false and malicious letter to Artaxerxes, Ezra 4:7-16.
Artexerxes’s decree: the building is hindered, Ezra 4:17-24.
The adversaries of Judah and Benjamin; the Samaritans, as appears from Ezra 4:2,Ezra 4:10.
Let us build with you: this they spake not sincerely, as appears from their disposition and designs discovered in the following history; but that by this conjunction with them they might pry into their counsels, and thereby get an opportunity to find some matter or pretences of accusation against them.
We seek your God, as ye do; for so they did, though in a mongrel way: see 2 Kings 17:26, &c.
Esar-haddon king of Assur; son of Sennacherib, and after him king of Assyria, 2 Kings 19:37; who brought or sent these persons hither, either,
1. In the days of Salmaneser, who lived and reigned in Assyria but eight years before Esar-haddon’s reign; and so Esar-haddon might be one of his most eminent commanders, and the man by whom that colony was sent. Or,
2. In the reign of Esar-haddon, who sent this second colony to supply and strengthen the first.
Ye have nothing to do with us; as being of another nation and religion, and therefore not concerned in Cyrus’s grant, which was confined to the Israelites and to the worshippers of the true God.
We ourselves together, i.e. who are united together by Cyrus’s grant in this work; or, alone, as this word is sometimes used, as Job 34:29; Psalms 33:15; Hosea 11:7.
The people of the land, Heb. of that land; the present inhabitants of that province, to wit, the Samaritans.
Troubled them in building; by false reports and threats, and other means, described afterwards.
Hired counsellors against them; who by their artifices and interests in the Persian court should give some stop to their work.
All the days of Cyrus king of Persia; for though Cyrus still favoured the Jews, yet he was then diverted by his wars, and his son Cambyses was left his viceroy, who was a very wicked prince, and an enemy to the Jews and their religion.
Even until the reign of Darius, Heb. and until, &c., i.e. not only in the reign of Cyrus, but also of Cambyses, and of the magician, after whom was this Darius; of whom see Ezra 5:0; Ezra 6:0.
In the reign of Ahasuerus; which is supposed by divers learned men to be from this time a common name to divers succeeding kings of Persia. And this makes it seem doubtful who this was. This was either,
1. Xerxes the fourth and rich king of Persia, as he is called, Daniel 11:2. Or rather,
2. Cambyses the son and successor of Cyrus, as may appear,
1. Because none but he and Smerdis were between Cyrus and this Darius.
2. Because Cambyses was known to be no friend to the Jewish nation nor religion; and therefore it is very improbable that these crafty, and malicious, and industrious enemies of the Jews would omit so great an opportunity when it was put into their hands.
In the days of Artaxerxes; either,
1. Artaxerxes the son of Xerxes. Or,
2. Smerdis the magician. Or rather,
3. The same Cambyses, called by his Chaldee name Ahasuems, Ezra 4:6, and here by his Persian name Artaxerxes; by which name he is here called in the inscription of this letter, because so he was called by himself and others in the letters written either by him or to him. Interpreted, or exposed, or declared. The sense is, It was written in the Chaldee or Syrian language, and in the Syrian character; for sometimes the Chaldee or Syrian words are written in the Hebrew character, as Hebrew words are oft written in an English character.
Several people thus called from the several places of that vast Assyrian empire, from whence they were fetched, and who were united together into one body, and sent as one colony by the Assyrian monarchs into these parts.
Asnappar; either Esar-haddon, or some other person then of great eminency, especially with his subjects and followers, who was captain of this colony, and conducted them hither.
On this side the river, to wit, Euphrates.
At such a time: the date of the epistle was particularly expressed in the epistle, but here it was sufficient to note it in the general.
Have set up the walls thereof: either,
1. The Jews had begun to build or repair some part of the walls which Nebuchadnezzar had left, which they aggravate in this manner. Or,
2. This is a mere fiction, which, being confidently affirmed, they thought would easily find belief with a king whose heart and ears they possessed by their hired counsellors, and others of their friends, or the enemies of the Jews.
Thus they pretend the king’s service to their own malicious designs and private interests.
The records of thy fathers; political fathers, i.e. thy predecessors, the former emperors of this empire, namely, in the Assyrian and Babylonish records, which together with the empire were now in the hands of the Persian kings, to be searched or read as the king’s pleasure was, or as the affairs of the empire required.
Then ceased the work of the house of God; for they neither could nor might proceed in that work against their king’s prohibition, without a special command from the King of heaven, which they had, Ezra 5:1,Ezra 5:2.
Darius king of Persia, to wit, Darius the son of Hystaspes, successor of Cambyses; not, as some would have it, Darius Nothus, the son of Artaxerxes Longimanus, who was not emperor till above one hundred years after Cyrus, and consequently from the beginning of the building of the temple to the finishing of it must be about one hundred and thirty years, which is not credible to any one that considers,
1. That the same Zerubbabel did both lay the foundations and finish the work, Zechariah 4:9.
2. That some of the same persons who saw the finishing of this second house, had seen the glory of the first house, Haggai 2:3.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Ezra 4". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13