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Friday, September 29th, 2023
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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Bible Commentaries
Ezra 4

Bridgeway Bible CommentaryBridgeway Bible Commentary

Verses 1-24

Opposition stops the work (4:1-24)

As a result of Assyria’s resettlement program of two centuries earlier, a race of people grew up in the area around Samaria and Jerusalem who were of mixed blood and mixed religion. They were known as Samaritans (see notes on 2 Kings 17:24-33). The Jewish leaders refused their offered help in building the temple of God, no doubt to prevent wrong ideas from corrupting Israel’s religion. The Samaritan group reacted bitterly. They opposed the Jewish builders so fiercely that soon work on the temple stopped completely (4:1-5,24).

Two examples show the kind of opposition that Israel suffered. These stories do not belong to the time of Zerubbabel. They are taken from official documents of a later period, and in fact are written in a different language from the rest of the book. The writer puts them into his account at this point to give the reader an idea of how Israel was unjustly persecuted.

The first example is taken from the reign of Ahasuerus, also known as Xerxes I (6). (This king later showed favour to the Jews, as the book of Esther shows). The second belongs to the reign of Artaxerxes I. By that time the temple had long been completed and the Jews were rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. Their Samaritan opponents wrote to Artaxerxes, accusing the Jews of fortifying Jerusalem in preparation for a rebellion against Persia (7-16). The king therefore commanded that the work cease immediately, though he reserved the right to reverse his decree at a later date if he so desired (17-23). (We learn from Nehemiah 2:1-8 that later this king did, in fact, reverse his decree and give his support to the Jews.)

Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Ezra 4". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bbc/ezra-4.html. 2005.
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