BIBLE: Ezra Chapter 4 – Headline “Letter of Termination” [Genealogies, Timelines, and History]

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

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What should I learn from this chapter?

  • Events concerning the Persian Kingdom and their dates.
  • This chapter concerns the rebuilding of the TEMPLE. It is the book of Nehemiah which deals with the rebuilding of the city.

    The kings of each generation are the boxes in yellow:

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.
Nehemiah in 446 BC rebuilds the walls.

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. 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.

This must be the Ahasuerus who is the father of Darius and who reigned at approximately the same time as Cyrus. He would be also be known as Artaxerxes.
Daniel 9:1 In the first year of Darius, the son of Ahasuerus, of the lineage of the Medes, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans-

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.

(Like the Ahasuerus who made Esther Queen, the name Ahasuerus is synonymous with Artaxerxes.)

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).
 (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.

  • Parallel events during the 2nd year of the reign of Darius, king of Persia:
    • Haggai 1:1 The Command to Build God’s House
      In the second year of King Darius, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, saying,
    • Haggai 1:15
      on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month, in the second year of King Darius.
    • Haggai 2:10 The People Are Defiled
      On the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet, saying,…work; for I am with you
    • Zechariah 1:1 A Call to Repentance
      In the eighth month of the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to Zechariah the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying,
    • Zechariah 1:7 Vision of the Horses
      On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month, which is the month Shebat, in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to Zechariah the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet:

NOTE: The smaller that the number of the BC year is- the closer the event is to the present day; The larger the number of the BC year the farther the event is into the past.

The timelines below begin the fartherest away in the past and move closer to the present at the bottom.

THE BEGINNING OF CYRUS’ REIGN (OVER THE JEWS) 539 BC

YRYRKINGMONTHMONTHDAYPROPHETVERSEEVENT
539 BC1stKING CYRUSEzraEzra 1:1Gives command to build the temple
539 BC1stKING CYRUS7thTishri1stEzraEzra 3:6They began to offer burnt offerings to the Lord, although the foundation of the temple of the Lord had not been laid.
539 BC

SECOND YEAR OF KING CYRUS’ REIGN 538 BC

YRYRKINGMONTHMONTHDAYPROPHETVERSEEVENT
538 BC2ndKING CYRUS2ndIyarEzraEzra 3:8Restoration of the Temple Begins
538 BC
YRYRKINGMONTHMONTHDAYPROPHETVERSEEVENT
~538 BC1stARTAXERXES (HYSTAPES) Father of DariusEzraEzra Jerusalem Opposed – Building Ceases

THE FIRST YEAR OF KING DARIUS‘ REIGN 526 BC

YRYRKINGMONTHMONTHDAYPROPHETVERSEEVENT
526 BC1stKING DARIUSDaniel Daniel 9:2Daniel receives understanding: 70 years of captivity for the Jews through Jeremiah.
526 BC1stKING DARIUSDaniel Daniel 9:24Daniel receives understanding: 70 “weeks” determined for the Jews and the prophecy of the “Prince” (Messiah)
526 BC

THE SECOND YEAR OF KING DARIUS’ REIGN 525 BC (this chapter)

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

THE TWENTIETH YEAR OF THE REIGN OF ARTAXERXES, SON OF XERXES WHO MADE ESTHER QUEEN

YRYRKINGMONTHMONTHDAYPROPHETVERSEEVENT
445 BC20thARTAXERXES1NisanNehemiahNehemiah 2:1Request to build the wall and the city
445 BC20thARTAXERXES1NisanNehemiahNehemiah 5:14The first year that the Appointed Governor Nehemiah denied for himself the governor’s provisions. This will continue for 12 years
445 BC20thARTAXERXES6 ???ElulNehemiahNehemiah 6:15So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of Elul, in fifty-two days.
445 BC20thARTAXERXES9 ???KislevNehemiahNehemiah 1:1Report to Nehemiah received that Jerusalem is broken down and burnt
445 BC

See Timeline BC: Notable Events Scroll to desired year.

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