Ezra 4

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

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 to build an house unto our Elohim; but we ourselves together will build unto the Yahweh Elohim of Israel, as king Cyrus the king of Persia hath commanded us.

A plausible appeal

(from those outside the covenant):

"Let us build with you: for we seek your God, as ye do; and we do sacrifice unto Him."

A faithful reply:

"Ye have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our Elohim; but we ourselves together will build unto Yahweh Elohim of Israel."

A natural result:

"Then the people of the land weakened the lands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building" (Ezra 4:2, 3, 4).

How singularly suggestive are these facts of our experience in the erection of the antitypical temple. The children of the apostasy would join hands with us in the work, but we dare not allow them. They argue with us, but falsely, as did the enemies of Judah and Benjamin. Our faithful refusal evokes their hatred. They commence to annoy, malign, and hinder. But there is comfort to be derived from the Old Testament record.

It is written that the eye of God was upon the elders of the Jews, that their enemies could not cause them to cease from building (5:5). A blessed fact is this, divinely narrated out of love for us (Rom. 15:4).

God beholds us and our opponents. He permits certain events, as in Israel's case, and prevents others. Let us be calm and trustful, however much the Satan may slander, abuse, or misrepresent. Our work is the work of God, and withstand it none can. Let us not forget that God still unobservedly influences the affairs of man.

In the days of Ezra, God providentially turned the hearts of the King of Assyria and of all his mighty princes for the benefit of His people (6:27, 7:28). May we not look to Him as occasion requires for similar favour? Let us remember Paul's words:

"God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that you always having sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work" (2 Cor. 9:8).

The Christadelphian, Feb 1889