The Story of Ezra

Chapter 4

The adversaries, being not accepted in the building of the temple with the Jews, endeavor to hinder it, 1-6. Their letter to Artaxerxes, 7-16. The answer and decree of Artaxerxes, 17-22. The building is hindered, 23, 24.

1 Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity were building the temple to the LORD God of Israel, 2 They came to Zerubbabel and to the chief of the fathers, and said to them, "Let us build with you, for we seek your God, as you do, and we have sacrificed to him since the days of Esar-haddon king of Assur, who brought us up here." 3 But Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the rest of the chief of the fathers of Israel, said to them, "You have nothing to do with us to build a house to our God. But we ourselves together will build to the LORD God of Israel, as king Cyrus the king of Persia has commanded us."

4 Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah and troubled them in building, 5 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.

6 And in the reign of Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, they wrote to him an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem.

7 And in the days of Artaxerxes, Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and the rest of their companions wrote to Artaxerxes king of Persia, and the writing of the letter was written in the Syrian language and interpreted in the Syrian language.

8 Rehum the chancellor and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king in this sort. 9 Then wrote Rehum the chancellor, Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their companions, the Dianites, the Apharsathchites, the Tarpelites, the Apharsites, the Archevites, the Babylonians, the Susanchites, the Dehavites, and the Elamites, 10 And the rest of the nations whom the great and noble Asnapper brought over and set in the cities of Samaria, and the rest who are on this side of the river, and at such a time. 11 This is the copy of the letter that they sent to him, even to Artaxerxes the king: "Your servants the men on this side of the river, and at such a time. 12 May it be known to the king, that the Jews who came from you to us have come to Jerusalem and they are building the rebellious and noxious city. They have set up its walls and joined the foundations. 13 May it now be known to the king, that if this city is built and the walls set up again, they will not pay toll, tribute, and custom, and thus you will damage the revenue of the kings. 14 Now because we eat the salt of the palace, and it was not proper for us to see the king's dishonor, therefore we have sent and informed the king, 15 So that search may be made in the book of the records of your fathers. Thus you will find in the book of the records and know that this city is a rebellious city and hurtful to kings and provinces, and that they have moved sedition within the same of old time, for which cause this city was destroyed. 16 We make known to the king that if this city is built again and its walls set up, by this means you will have no portion on this side of the river."

17 Then the king sent an answer to Rehum the chancellor, to Shimshai the scribe, and to the rest of their companions who dwell in Samaria, and to the rest beyond the river: "Peace, and at such a time. 18 The letter which you sent to us has been plainly read before me. 19 And I commanded, and search has been made, and it is found that this city of old time has made insurrection against kings, and that rebellion and sedition have been made in it. 20 There have also been mighty kings over Jerusalem, who have ruled over all countries beyond the river, and toll, tribute, and custom was paid to them. 21 Now give commandment to cause these men to cease, and that this city not be built, until another commandment is given from me. 22 Take heed now that you do not fail to do this. Why should damage grow to the hurt of the kings?"

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 to the Jews and made them to cease by force and power.

24 Then the work of the house of God which is at Jerusalem ceased. Thus it ceased until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.


Matthew Henry Commentary - Ezra, Chapter 4[➚]


[v.14] - "Now because we eat the salt of the palace" - WBS/KJV: "Now because we have maintenance from the king's palace." From the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary: "'Eating a prince's salt' is an Oriental phrase, equivalent to 'receiving maintenance from him.'" From the Pulpit Commentary: "'Eating a man's salt' in the East is deriving one's subsistence from him. The man who eats another's salt is bound to look after his interests."