Dave Burnette's Commentary

Ezra Chapter 4

Written By: God through Inspiration
Penned By: Ezra
Date Penned: (450 BC)
Overview: The Return of the Jewish Exiles (c 1-10)
Theme: The Return Led By Zerubbabel (c 1-6)
Message: King Artaxerxes Stops the Work (1-24)

Ezra 4 Commentary 

(4:1) Obstacles to Overcome - Believers can expect opposition when they do God's work (2 Timothy 3:12). Unbelievers and evil spiritual forces are always working against God and his people. The opposition may offer compromising alliances (Ezra 4:2), attempt to discourage and intimidate us (4:4-5), or accuse us unjustly (4:6). If you expect these tactics, you won't be hindered by them. Move ahead with the work God has planned for you, and trust him to show you how to overcome the obstacles.

(4:1-3) Partnerships with Unbelievers  - The enemies of Judah and Benjamin were people who had been relocated in the northern kingdom when Assyria had conquered Israel (see 2 Kings 17 and the note on Ezra 3:3). In an attempt to infiltrate and disrupt the project, these people offered to help with the rebuilding. They wanted to keep a close eye on what the Jews were doing. They were hoping to keep Jerusalem from becoming strong again. The Jews, however, saw through their ploy. Such a partnership with unbelievers would have led God's people to compromise their faith.

(4:2) True Worship - These enemies claimed to worship the same God as Zerubbabel and the rest of the Jews. In one sense, this was true; they did worship God, but they also worshiped many other gods (see 2 Kings 17:27-29.32-34.41). In God's eyes, this was not worship- it was sin and rebellion. True worship involves devotion to God alone (Exodus 20:3-5). To these foreigners, God was just another "idol" to be added to their collection. Their real motive was to disrupt the temple project. Believers today must beware of those who claim to be Christians but whose actions clearly reveal they are using Christianity to serve their own interests.

(4:4-5) Discouragement and Fear - Discouragement and fear are two of the greatest obstacles to completing God's work. Most often they come where and when you least expect them. Discouragement eats away at our motivation, and fear paralyzes us so we don't act at all. Recognize these common barriers. Remember that God's people in every age have faced these problems and with God's help have overcome them. By standing together with other believers, you can prevail over fear and discouragement and fulfill God's purposes for your life.

(4:6-23) Opposition in Building the Temple - In these verses, Ezra summarizes the entire story of the opposition to building the temple, the walls, and other important buildings in Jerusalem. Chronologically, 4:6 fits between Ezra 6 and Z; 4:7-23 refers to the events between Ezra Z and Nehemiah 1. Ezra grouped them here to highlight the persistent opposition toward God's people over the years and God's ability to overcome it.

(4:7) A Clay Tablet - This letter sent to King Artaxerxes may have been inscribed on a clay tablet, a fragment of pottery, or sheets of parchment.

(4:10) The Assyrian King - Asnapper, another name for Ashurbanipal (669-627 BC), was the Assyrian king who completed the relocation of the Israelite captives. He was the last of the strong Assyrian kings. After his death the nation quickly declined, and Assyria was conquered by Babylon in 612.

(4:19-20) Insurrection - Artaxerxes said that Jerusalem was associated with "insurrection" and "rebellion and sedition." By reading the historical records, he learned that mighty kings had come from Jerusalem, and he may have feared that another would arise if the city were rebuilt. Solomon had ruled a huge empire (Kings 4:21), and Jerusalem's kings had rebelled against mighty powers -Zedekiah, for example, had rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar despite his oath of loyalty (2 Chronicles 36:13). Artaxerxes did not want to aid the rebuilding of a rebellious city and nation.

(4:23) Discouragement - Setbacks and standstills can bring pain and discouragement to God's workers. These exiles had received a double dose (see 4:1-5 and 4:6-22). Leaders should do everything they can to keep work from grinding to a halt, yet circumstances sometimes really are beyond our control. When you have been brought to a standstill, remember to still stand strong in the Lord.

(4:24) A Timeline Clarification - Ezra resumes his chronological account here. Ten years may have passed since the Israelites had worked on the temple. The work did not begin again until 520 BC, the second year of Darius's reign (5:1-17).



Dave Burnette's Life Application

Don't Quit

 Each day we walk through the Bible chapter by chapter making an application of our text to help us grow in the Lord. Many applications can be made from each day's text. Today we Continue in the book of Ezra with Chapter 4 and we see the enemies oppose the rebuilding and King Artaxerxes stops the work. In making application we see how that the enemy will hinder out service toward the Lord. We face it every day as we attempt to connect people with Bibles. We learned as out text today to let the Lord fight out battles. The battle is the Lord's and we are to remain faithful. Although the delay was just a chapter in our text it was years in real life. The Lord works on His timetable and if we get discouraged we have a tendency to quit. We need to remember the Lord is in control and will defeat the enemy in His timing. Our job is to simply remain faithful. How about you? Are you facing a battle and get discouraged? Let us learn from our text today and nation of Israel who let the Lord fight their battles by remaining faithful to our Lord.


Ezra 4

Ezra 4

 1Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity builded the temple unto the LORD God of Israel;

 2Then they came to Zerubbabel, and to the chief of the fathers, and said unto them, Let us build with you: for we seek your God, as ye do; and we do sacrifice unto him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assur, which brought us up hither.

 3But Zerubbabel, and Jeshua, and the rest of the chief of the fathers of Israel, said unto them, Ye have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our God; but we ourselves together will build unto the LORD God of Israel, as king Cyrus the king of Persia hath commanded us.

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

 5And hired counsellors against them, to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.

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

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

 8Rehum the chancellor and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king in this sort:

 9Then wrote Rehum the chancellor, and Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their companions; the Dinaites, the Apharsathchites, the Tarpelites, the Apharsites, the Archevites, the Babylonians, the Susanchites, the Dehavites, and the Elamites,

 10And the rest of the nations whom the great and noble Asnapper brought over, and set in the cities of Samaria, and the rest that are on this side the river, and at such a time.

 11This is the copy of the letter that they sent unto him, even unto Artaxerxes the king; Thy servants the men on this side the river, and at such a time.

 12Be it known unto the king, that the Jews which came up from thee to us are come unto Jerusalem, building the rebellious and the bad city, and have set up the walls thereof, and joined the foundations.

 13Be it known now unto the king, that, if this city be builded, and the walls set up again, then will they not pay toll, tribute, and custom, and so thou shalt endamage the revenue of the kings.

 14Now because we have maintenance from the king's palace, and it was not meet for us to see the king's dishonour, therefore have we sent and certified the king;

 15That search may be made in the book of the records of thy fathers: so shalt thou find in the book of the records, and know that this city is a rebellious city, and hurtful unto kings and provinces, and that they have moved sedition within the same of old time: for which cause was this city destroyed.

 16We certify the king that, if this city be builded again, and the walls thereof set up, by this means thou shalt have no portion on this side the river.

 17Then sent the king an answer unto Rehum the chancellor, and to Shimshai the scribe, and to the rest of their companions that dwell in Samaria, and unto the rest beyond the river, Peace, and at such a time.

 18The letter which ye sent unto us hath been plainly read before me.

 19And I commanded, and search hath been made, and it is found that this city of old time hath made insurrection against kings, and that rebellion and sedition have been made therein.

 20There have been mighty kings also over Jerusalem, which have ruled over all countries beyond the river; and toll, tribute, and custom, was paid unto them.

 21Give ye now commandment to cause these men to cease, and that this city be not builded, until another commandment shall be given from me.

 22Take heed now that ye fail not to do this: why should damage grow to the hurt of the kings?

 23Now when the copy of king Artaxerxes' letter was read before Rehum, and Shimshai the scribe, and their companions, they went up in haste to Jerusalem unto the Jews, and made them to cease by force and power.

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