BIBLE: Ezra Chapter 4 – Headline “Frienemies and NMEs” [Biographies]

Words in italic type have been added for clarity. They are not found in the original Hebrew or Aramaic.

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  • Headline: Definition of “Frienemies”: Definition of frenemy – noun
    • 1) Informal. a person or group that is friendly toward another because the relationship brings benefits, but harbors feelings of resentment or rivalry.
    • 2) A person or group who reaches out extending friendship in order to take advantage of the other person’s transparency and vulnerability, ie: stabbing the other person in the back.
  • The larger the number for the BC year, the farther back in history. The lower the number for the BC year, the closer to the present.

What should I learn from this chapter?

  • Who is Cyrus? Cyrus II, The Great, Conquered Babylon and released the Jews in 539 BC, died in 530 BC.
  • Who is Ezra? Born: 480 BC, Babylon – Died: 440 BC Note: once the building program is stopped, it does not begin again until Darius.
  • Who is Zerubbabel?
  • Who is Esarhaddon?
  • Who is Osnapper?
  • Who are “The People of the Land?”
  • Some of this information overlaps with Ezra Chapter 4 Headline “Letter of Termination” [History, Timelines, Genealogies]

    The kings of each generation are the boxes in yellow:
  • Immediately note:
  • Ezra 4:24 Thus the work of the house of God (‘ĕlâ) which is at Jerusalem ceased, and it was discontinued until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.
  • Darius is Darius I The Great Hystaspes. His father is Ahasuerus: probably also known as Hystaspes the Prince who also ruled the same time as Cyrus II. Ahasuerus would also be called Artaxerxes (Hystaspes). See Daniel 9:12

Ezra 4

  • Ezra served as both scribe and priest. According to the Hebrew Bible he was a descendant of Sraya, the last High Priest to serve in the First Temple, and a close relative of Joshua, the first High Priest of the Second Temple.
  • First Return: 516 BC The Temple is Rebuilt 70 yrs after its destruction Jer 29:10.
  • 2nd return. The City: 459 BC Led by Ezra in the 7th yr of Artaxerxes. [Ezra 7:7] Those who came with Zerubbabel were Jeshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispar, Bigvai, Rehum, and Baanah. These are the people (Great grandchildren) of the province who came back from the captivity, the last of the captives from 581 BC.

Resistance to Rebuilding the Temple

Ezra 4:1 Now when the adversaries (enemies) of Judah and Benjamin heard that the descendants of the captivity were building the temple of the Lord God (Yᵊhōvâ ‘ĕlōhîm) of Israel,
Ezra 4:they came to Zerubbabel and the heads of the fathers’ houses, and said to them, “Let us build with you, for we seek your God (‘ĕlōhîm) as you do; and we have sacrificed to Him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us here.”
  • Esarhaddon king of Assyria: Esarhaddon, was the king of the Neo-Assyrian Empire from the death of his father Sennacherib in 681 BC to his own death in 669 BC. This would be in-line with the approximate timing of Achaemenes King of Persia 700 BC and Teispes King of Persia who died 640 BC.

    Sennacherib is mentioned in II KIngs chapters 18 & 19, II Chronicles chapter 32 and Isaiah 36 & 37.
Ezra 4:But Zerubbabel and Jeshua and the rest of the heads of the fathers’ houses of Israel said to them, “You may do nothing with us to build a house (Temple) for our God (‘ĕlōhîm); but we alone will build to the Lord God (Yᵊhōvâ ‘ĕlōhîm) of Israel, as King Cyrus the king of Persia has commanded us.”
Ezra 4:Then the people of the land tried to discourage the people of Judah. They troubled them in building,
Ezra 4: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.

Rebuilding of Jerusalem Opposed:

Ezra 4:In the reign of Ahasuerus (Artaxerxes), in the beginning of his reign, they wrote an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem.
Ezra 4:In the days of Artaxerxes also, Bishlam (Or in peace), Mithredath, Tabel, and the rest of their companions wrote to Artaxerxes king of Persia; and the letter was written in Aramaic script, and translated into the Aramaic language.

THE ORIGINAL LANGUAGE OF EZRA 4:8 THROUGH 7:18 IS WRITTEN IN ARAMAIC.

Ezra 4:Rehum the commander and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to King Artaxerxes in this fashion:
Ezra 4:From (Lit. Then) Rehum the commander, Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their companions—representatives of the Dinaites, the Apharsathchites, the Tarpelites, the people of Persia and Erech and Babylon and Shushan (Or Susa), the Dehavites, the Elamites,
Ezra 4:10 and the rest of the nations whom the great and noble Osnapper took captive and settled in the cities of Samaria and the remainder beyond the River (The Euphrates)—and so forth (Lit. and now).
  • An Assyrian noble, Osnapper resettled non-Jewish people, including Egyptians and Ethiopians, in the cities of Samaria after Sargon II took Israel captive in 722 BC.
    • Isaiah 20:1-5 In the year that Tartan came to Ashdod, when Sargon the king of Assyria sent him, and he fought against Ashdod and took it, at the same time the Lord spoke by Isaiah the son of Amoz, saying, “Go, and remove the sackcloth from your body, and take your sandals off your feet.” And he did so, walking naked and barefoot. Then the Lord said, “Just as My servant Isaiah has walked naked and barefoot three years for a sign and a wonder against Egypt and Ethiopia, so shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians as prisoners and the Ethiopians as captives, young and old, naked and barefoot, with their buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt. Then they shall be afraid and ashamed of Ethiopia their expectation and Egypt their glory. And the inhabitant of this territory will say in that day, ‘Surely such is our expectation, wherever we flee for help to be delivered from the king of Assyria; and how shall we escape?’”
 (This is a copy of the letter that they sent him.)
  • Ezra 4:11 To King Artaxerxes from your servants, the men of the region beyond the River, and so forth (Lit. and now):

    Ezra 4:12 Let it be known to the king that the Jews who came up from you have come to us at Jerusalem, and are building the rebellious and evil city, and are finishing its walls and repairing the foundations.

    Ezra 4:13 Let it now be known to the king that, if this city is built and the walls completed, they will not pay tax, tribute, or custom, and the king’s treasury will be diminished.

    Ezra 4:14 Now because we receive support from the palace, it was not proper for us to see the king’s dishonor; therefore we have sent and informed the king,

    Ezra 4:15 that search may be made in the book of the records of your fathers. And you will find in the book of the records and know that this city is a rebellious city, harmful to kings and provinces, and that they have incited sedition within the city in former times, for which cause this city was destroyed.

    Ezra 4:16 We inform the king that if this city is rebuilt and its walls are completed, the result will be that you will have no dominion beyond the River.
The king sent an answer:
  • Ezra 4:17 To Rehum the commander, to Shimshai the scribe, to the rest of their companions who dwell in Samaria, and to the remainder beyond the River:

    Peace, and so forth (Lit. and now).

    Ezra 4:18 The letter which you sent to us has been clearly read before me.

    Ezra 4:19 And I gave the command (Lit. by me a decree has been put forth), and a search has been made, and it was found that this city in former times has revolted against kings, and rebellion and sedition have been fostered in it.

    Ezra 4:20 There have also been mighty kings over Jerusalem, who have ruled over all the region beyond the River; and tax, tribute, and custom were paid to them.

    Ezra 4:21 Now give the command (put forth a decree) to make these men cease, that this city may not be built until the command is given by me.

    Ezra 4:22 Take heed now that you do not fail to do this. Why should damage increase to the hurt of the kings?
Ezra 4:23 Now when the copy of King Artaxerxes’ letter was read before Rehum, Shimshai the scribe, and their companions, they went up in haste to Jerusalem against the Jews, and by force of arms made them cease.
Ezra 4:24 Thus the work of the house of God (‘ĕlâ) which is at Jerusalem ceased, and it was discontinued until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia (the Son of Artaxerxes aka Ahasuerus Hystapses).
  • Darius I married Cyrus’ daughter, which in pure speculation, might have made him more hospitable in carrying out Cyrus plans for the Jews.

Other Biblical Events which occurred in THE SECOND YEAR OF KING DARIUS’ REIGN 525 BC: King Cyrus died 5 years prior to these events.

YRYRKINGMONTHMONTHDAYPROPHETVERSEEVENT
525 BC2ndKING DARIUSEzraEzra 4:24Work had been discontinued – It begins again
525 BC2ndKING DARIUS6th MonthElul1HaggaiHaggai 1:1 The Command to Build God’s House (the Temple: Not the City)
525 BC2ndKING DARIUS6th MonthElul24HaggaiHaggai 1:15They came and worked on the house (the Temple) of the Lord of hosts, their God
525 BC2ndKING DARIUS9th MonthKislev24HaggaiHaggai 2:10Work; for I am with you
525 BC2ndKING DARIUS11th MonthShevat24ZechariahZechariah 1:7 Vision of the Horses
525 BC
Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian. Cyrus died in 530 BC, 5 years prior to 525 BC.

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