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Go to Bible: Ezra 4
“Judah and Benjamin.” The two tribes that made up the nation of “Judah.” After Solomon died, the United Kingdom of Israel, which was 12 tribes was split into “Israel,” which had ten tribes and “Judah,” which was composed of Benjamin and Judah. Israel was carried away captive by the Assyrians (2 Kings 17:1-23). Years later, Judah was deported by the Babylonians but were allowed to return to their homeland by the Persians. Nevertheless, history shows us that the majority of Judeans stayed where they had settled and remained in Mesopotamia.
“exiles who had returned.” The Hebrew is idiomatic: “the sons of the exile,” that is, those who had been taken captive to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar but had now returned to Judah.(top)
“Esarhaddon.” A son of Sennacherib, king of Assyria, who brought those particular people to Israel. A number of successive kings imported people conquered by the Assyrians into Israel. It was not just one king who did that.
“who brought us up here.” When the Assyrians conquered the northern kingdom of Israel, they deported the Israelites and brought in people from other nations they had conquered and repopulated Israel (2 Kings 17:24-41). These pagans began to worship Yahweh, but also continued to worship their own gods, thus creating a kind of perverted worship of Yahweh that persisted until the time of Christ. These imported people became the Samaritans of the New Testament, and the fact they were foreigners and worshipped Yahweh in a perverted way explains why they were so hated by the Jews of Christ’s time.(top)
“nothing in common.” More literally, it is “not to you and to us.” In other words, we cannot work together on this.(top)
|Ezr 4:4||- (top)|
“hired counselors.” Many translations say “bribed counselors.” The hiring of people to frustrate the plans of the Jews would include bribing officials, but they likely hired other advisors as well.(top)
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|Ezr 4:9||- (top)|
“Osnappar.” This is apparently the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal.
“brought over.” This is a reference to the fact that the people the Assyrians brought into Israel were from beyond the Euphrates River, and had to be “brought over” it to Israel. The prophet Ahijah foretold that Israel would be carried away captive and scattered “beyond the river” (1 Kings 14:15).(top)
|Ezr 4:11||- (top)|
“Now.” This “now” is pulled into this verse from the end of verse 11.
“rebuilding.” The Hebrew text just says “building,” but in this context it means rebuilding.(top)
|Ezr 4:13||- (top)|
“eat the salt of the king’s palace.” The men writing this letter say they are doing so because of the custom of the salt covenant, which binds them to the king. [For more on the salt covenant, see commentary on 2 Chron. 13:5].(top)
|Ezr 4:15||- (top)|
“beyond the River.” That is, on the other side of the Euphrates River. This is an exaggeration to incite the king of Persia, but one the king might have considered an actual possibility. There is very little chance that little Judah would be able to conquer the Middle East north to the Euphrates. They did not even control that territory under Solomon.(top)
|Ezr 4:17||- (top)|
“translated and read.” The Hebrew is literally, “plainly read before me,” but in order to “plainly” read the letter to the king of Persia, it would have had to have been translated, so that is why he used the word “plainly.”(top)
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|Ezr 4:24||- (top)|