4 Nov. Ezra 4:1-13,19-21

4 Nov. Opposition to rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem

“When the enemies of the people of Judah and Benjamin heard that the returned captives were building a Temple for the LORD, the God of Israel, they came to Zerubbabel and the leaders of the families.”

“The enemies said, ‘Let us help you build, because we are like you and want to worship your God. We have been offering sacrifices to him since the time of Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us here.’”

“But Zerubbabel, Jeshua and the leaders of Israel answered, ‘You will not help us build a Temple to our God. We will build it ourselves for the LORD, the God of Israel, as King Cyrus, the king of Persia, commanded us to do.’”

“Then the people around them tried to discourage the people of Judah by making them afraid to build. Their enemies hired others to delay the building plans during the time Cyrus was king of Persia. And it continued to the time Darius was king of Persia.”

“When Xerxes first became king, those enemies wrote a letter against the people of Judah and Jerusalem. When Artaxerxes became king of Persia, Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel and those with them wrote a letter to Artaxerxes. It was written in the Aramaic language and translated. Rehum the governor and Shimshai the governor’s secretary wrote a letter against Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king.”

“It said… ‘King Artaxerxes, you should know that the Jewish people who came to us from you have gone to Jerusalem to rebuild that evil city that refuses to obey. They are fixing the walls and repairing the foundations of the buildings. Now, King Artaxerxes, you should know that if Jerusalem is built and its walls are fixed, Jerusalem will not pay taxes of any kind…’”

“King Artaxerxes sent this answer… ‘I ordered the records to be searched, and it was done. We found that Jerusalem has a history of disobedience to kings and has been a place of problems and trouble… Now, give an order for those men to stop work. The city of Jerusalem will not be rebuilt until I say so.’”

          (Ezra 4:1-13,19-21)



The rebuilding of the Temple and the city walls in Jerusalem didn’t take place without a lot of opposition from other groups of people who had been settled in Judah by the Assyrians and Babylonians.

The second group of exiles, led by Zerubbabel and Jeshua, began rebuilding the altar of the Temple in Jerusalem in 525BC. Work on the foundations of the Temple began in 523BC.

During the reign of Cambyses (530-522BC), the enemies of Judah (neighbouring peoples such as the Samaritans) threatened to overthrow Jerusalem, and the inhabitants were afraid to carry on re-building the Temple. Work stopped until 520BC - the second year of the reign of Darius I (522-486BC) (see Ezra 4:24).

While discussing opposition to the re-building of the Temple, the writer adds that, later, during the reign of Xerxes I (486 – 465BC), the enemies of Judah persuaded the king that Jerusalem might rebel against him if the city walls were rebuilt.

The re-building of the city walls then came to a halt during the reign of Xerxes I and the neighbouring tribes made raids on the city. (The story of Esther, the Queen of Xerxes I of Persia, occurred during this time of anti-Jewish hostility, between 483 and 473BC.)

The writer then adds that, later still, during the reign of Artaxerxes I (465-424BC), there was further opposition to the re-building of the walls of Jerusalem, and work on the walls again stopped until the arrival of a third group of exiles under Ezra in 458BC and a fourth group under Nehemiah in 445BC.

The photo (by gugganij) shows a reconstructed four-horned altar at Tel Be'er Sheva.

You can read the background to the story of Queen Esther @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/biblejourney2/35-the-exiles-return-to-judah/esther-becomes-queen-of-persia/

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