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 Elohim, as ye do; and we do sacrifice unto him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assur, which brought us up hither.
The Samaritans, as they afterwards came to be called, now sought alliance and desired to help in the work. This could not be. They mixed together idolatry, superstition and fear. Those who would serve God must then as now be separate.
Assur means Assyria. Esar Haddon is mentioned in 2 Kings 19:37. Asnapper was probably the official who had charge of the arrangements for colonising Israel with Assyrians. Their offer was rejected, and they weakened the Jews' hands every way. Ahasuerus seems to have been the Persian regal title, like Pharaoh in Egypt, and Cæsar in Rome.
They obtained authority to stop the building for a period variously estimated at 2 to 21 years. Perhaps 14 years is correct-5 years of Cyrus' reign, 7½ of Cambyses, 7 months of Smerdis, and one year of Darius. 5.
The rebuilding of the temple was commenced, without permission, at the bidding of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah. Read the whole of Haggai, and as far as you can Zechariah. These books have a historical bearing as well as prophetic.
God would take away the adversaries' power to injure. He would be a wall of fire to defenceless Jerusalem (2:5). Zerubbabel should finish the Temple (4:9). Wickedness should be banished (5:8). In chap. 3. we see the Jews tried symbolically in the person of their high priest Joshua-forgiven and accepted.
Bro C. A. Bower.
The Christadelphian, Sept 1904