New Defender's Study Bible Notes
4:2 Esar-haddon King of Assur. Esar-haddon was the son of Sennacherib, whose armies had been destroyed by God’s angel, at the siege of Jerusalem (II Kings 19:35-37). The Assyrians made no further attempt to take Jerusalem, but Esar-haddon did carry out the work of replacing the population of the northern kingdom with people of other nations.
4:3 nothing to do with us. Just as in the rebuilding of the temple, Christians and Christian organizations are often tempted to compromise with the world system in doctrine or practice with the supposed motive of getting the work more acceptable to worldly people, but this is the route to ultimate apostasy or defeat. The Lord’s work should be done by the Lord’s people in the Lord’s way. Note II Peter 3:17.
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.
4:23 made them to cease. This decree resulted in the cessation of work on the temple for many years, perhaps about sixteen years.
4:24 Darius. Darius Hystapses, known to history as Darius the Great. It was he who left the famous Behistun Inscription chronicling his military conquests in three languages (Persian, Elamite and Babylonian), on a great vertical escarpment northwest of Babylon. These writings enabled Sir Henry Rawlinson to decipher the ancient Babylonian language.