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Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building,
And 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.
And in the reign of Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, wrote they unto him an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem.
And 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.
Then 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,
And 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.
This 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.
Be 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.
Be 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.
Now 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;
That 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.
We 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.

New Defender's Study Bible Notes

4:4 people of the land. These “people of the land” thus demonstrated their insincerity in offering to help build the temple. They claimed to worship the true God of creation as Israel did (Ezra 4:2) but actually they had mixed this with the worship of the pagan gods of Israel’s ancient adversaries (II Kings 17:33). It was vital that true Biblical theism not be corrupted with pagan pantheism.

4:5 frustrate their purpose. Ezra 4:6-24 seems to constitute a general summary by Ezra of the opposition received against the rebuilding of the temple during the reigns of four different emperors of Persia: first Cyrus (approximately 550–530 B.C.), later also Ahasuerus (or Xerxes), Artaxerxes I and Darius Hystaspes. The precise chronology and identification of these kings are uncertain and controversial, even among conservative scholars, but the general history and message are clear.

4:6 Ahasuerus. Ahasuerus is considered the Hebrew equivalent of Xerxes, probably the Xerxes whose fleet was defeated by the Greeks in 480 B.C. If so, he was probably also the Ahasuerus who married Queen Esther (Esther 1:1). Others identify him as Cambyses, the son of Cyrus.

4:7 Syrian tongue. The “Syrian tongue” is the Aramaic language. Although the Old Testament was written in Hebrew, a few portions are written in Aramaic. One such section is Ezra 4:8-6:18.

4:8 Artaxerxes. This is believed to be either the short-lived King Smerdis, who succeeded Cambyses, or the emperor who granted Ezra the decree he requested to go to Jerusalem (Ezra 7:13), and later to Nehemiah as well (Nehemiah 2:1-8). He was, thus, possibly the stepson of Queen Esther.

4:10 Asnapper. Asnapper is believed to be the same as Ashurbanipal, the last truly great king of the Assyrian empire.

4:10 the river. The “river” here means the Euphrates.

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