Ezra 4

1 Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity were building the temple unto the LORD God of Israel,
2 then they came to Zerubbabel and to the chief of the fathers, and said unto them, "Let us build with you, for we seek your God as ye do; and we have done sacrifice unto Him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us up hither."
3 But Zerubbabel and Jeshua, and the rest of the chief of the fathers of Israel said unto them, "Ye have nothing to do with us in building 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."
4 Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building,
5 and hired counselors against them to frustrate their purpose all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.
6 And in the reign of Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, they wrote unto him an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem.
7 And in the days of Artaxerxes, Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel and the rest of their companions wrote unto Artaxerxes king of Persia; and the writing of the letter was written in the Syrian tongue, and interpreted in the Syrian tongue.
8 Rehum the chancellor and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king of this sort:
9 Rehum the chancellor, and Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their companions, the Dinaites, the Apharsathchites, the Tarpelites, the Apharsites, the Archevites, the Babylonians, the Shushanites, the Dehavites, and the Elamites,
10 and the rest of the nations whom the great and noble Osnapper brought over and set in the cities of Samaria, and the rest who are on this side of the river and at such a time:
11 (This is the copy of the letter that they sent unto him, even unto Artaxerxes the king.) "Thy servants, the men on this side of the river, and at such a time.
12 Be it known unto the king that the Jews who came up from thee to us have come unto Jerusalem, building the rebellious and the bad city, and have set up the walls thereof, and joined the foundations.
13 Be it known now unto the king that, if this city be built and the walls set up again, then they will not pay toll, tribute, and custom, and so thou shalt bring damage to the revenue of the kings.
14 Now because we have maintenance from the king's palace, and it was not meet for us to see the king's dishonor, therefore have we sent and certified this to the king,
15 that search may be made in the book of the records of thy fathers. So shalt thou find in the book of the 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 which cause this city was destroyed.
16 We certify to the king that if this city be built again, and the walls thereof set up, by this means thou shalt have no portion on this side of the river."
17 Then sent the king an answer unto Rehum the chancellor, and to Shimshai the scribe, and to the rest of their companions who dwell in Samaria, and unto the rest beyond the river: "Peace, and at such a time.
18 The letter which ye sent unto us hath been plainly read before me.
19 And I commanded, and search hath been made, and it is found that this city in old times hath made insurrection against kings, and that rebellion and sedition have been made therein.
20 There have been mighty kings also over Jerusalem, who have ruled over all countries beyond the river; and toll, tribute, and custom were paid unto them.
21 Give ye now command to cause these men to cease, and that this city be not built until another command shall be given from me.
22 Take heed now that ye fail not to do this. Why should damage grow to the hurt of the kings?"
23 Now when the copy of King Artaxerxes' letter was read before Rehum and Shimshai the scribe and their companions, they went up in haste to Jerusalem unto the Jews, and made them cease by force and power.
24 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 Commentary

Chapter 4

The adversaries of the temple. (1-5) The building of the temple is hindered. (6-24)

Verses 1-5 Every attempt to revive true religion will stir up the opposition of Satan, and of those in whom he works. The adversaries were the Samaritans, who had been planted in the ( 2 Kings 17 ) unite in the worship of the Lord, according to his word. Let those who discourage a good work, and weaken them that are employed in it, see whose pattern they follow.

Verses 6-24 It is an old slander, that the prosperity of the church would be hurtful to kings and princes. Nothing can be more false, for true godliness teaches us to honour and obey our sovereign. But where the command of God requires one thing and the law of the land another, we must obey God rather than man, and patiently submit to the consequences. All who love the gospel should avoid all appearance of evil, lest they should encourage the adversaries of the church. The world is ever ready to believe any accusation against the people of God, and refuses to listen to them. The king suffered himself to be imposed upon by these frauds and falsehoods. Princes see and hear with other men's eyes and ears, and judge things as represented to them, which are often done falsely. But God's judgment is just; he sees things as they are.

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO EZRA 4

The contents of this chapter are the offer the Samaritans made to the Jews, to assist them in building the temple, which having refused, they gave them all the trouble they could, Ezr 4:1-6 and a letter of theirs to Artaxerxes, king of Persia, full of accusations of them, Ezr 4:7-16 and the answer of Artaxerxes to it, giving orders to command the Jews to cease building the temple, Ezr 4:17-22 which orders were accordingly executed, and the work ceased till the second year of Darius, Ezr 4:23,24.

Ezra 4 Commentaries