Ezra 4:12
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.
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(12) Virulence and craft and exaggeration are stamped on every sentence of the letter. It only says, however, that “they are preparing the walls thereof, and joining the foundations.” Afterwards, however, the charge is modified in Ezra 4:13; Ezra 4:16.

Ezra 4:12. Thy servants, and at such a time, &c. — The particular time when the letter was written was no doubt expressed therein; but in this narrative it was sufficient to mention it in general.

Ezra 4:12. And have set up the walls thereof — This was a mere calumny, for they had attempted no such thing as to build the walls of Jerusalem. They had indeed built some houses, without which the place could not be inhabited, and were now employed in erecting the walls of the temple: but they had not begun to encompass the city with walls, to defend it against the incursions of their enemies. This was not undertaken till long after. The assertion of the Samaritans, therefore, was without foundation. But being confidently affirmed, they thought it would be easily credited by the king, whose heart and ears they had contrived to possess by their counsellors.

4:6-24 It is an old slander, that the prosperity of the church would be hurtful to kings and princes. Nothing can be more false, for true godliness teaches us to honour and obey our sovereign. But where the command of God requires one thing and the law of the land another, we must obey God rather than man, and patiently submit to the consequences. All who love the gospel should avoid all appearance of evil, lest they should encourage the adversaries of the church. The world is ever ready to believe any accusation against the people of God, and refuses to listen to them. The king suffered himself to be imposed upon by these frauds and falsehoods. Princes see and hear with other men's eyes and ears, and judge things as represented to them, which are often done falsely. But God's judgment is just; he sees things as they are.A snapper was perhaps the official employed by Esar-haddon Ezra 4:2 to settle the colonists in their new country.

On this side the river - literally, "beyond the river," a phrase used of Palestine by Ezra, Nehemiah, and in the Book of Kings, as designating the region west of the Euphrates.

And at such a time - Rather, "and so forth." The phrase is vague, nearly equivalent to the modern use of et cetaera. It recurs in marginal references.

12. the Jews which came up from thee to us—The name "Jews" was generally used after the return from the captivity, because the returning exiles belonged chiefly to the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. Although the edict of Cyrus permitted all who chose to return, a permission of which some of the Israelites availed themselves, the great body who went to settle in Judea were the men of Judah. Have set up the walls thereof: either,

1. The Jews had begun to build or repair some part of the walls which Nebuchadnezzar had left, which they aggravate in this manner. Or,

2. This is a mere fiction, which, being confidently affirmed, they thought would easily find belief with a king whose heart and ears they possessed by their hired counsellors, and others of their friends, or the enemies of the Jews.

Be it known unto the king,.... The intent of this letter was, that it might be known to the king what follows:

that the Jews which came up from thee to us are come unto Jerusalem; this they observe partly out of contempt of the Jews, having been lately captive in Babylon, and partly to insinuate what ingratitude they were guilty of; that having got their liberty, and come to Jerusalem, they made use of it to the king's detriment:

building the rebellious and the bad city; as they suggest it had been to kings, even his predecessors, in former times, Ezra 4:15

and have set up the walls thereof, and joined the foundations; which was a falsehood; for the most they had done was setting up the walls of their houses in Jerusalem, and laying the foundation of the temple; as for the walls of the city, they had not as yet done anything unto them.

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.
12. the Jews] We have here practically the first application of this name to the new community at Jerusalem. It had been used of the Southern Kingdom (2 Kings 16:6; 2 Kings 25:25; 2 Chronicles 32:18) and of its exiles (Jeremiah 32:12; Jeremiah 34:9; Jeremiah 38:19; Jeremiah 40:11-12; Jeremiah 40:15; Jeremiah 41:3; Jeremiah 44:1; Jeremiah 52:28; Jeremiah 52:30; Daniel 3:8; Daniel 3:12). As the return from the Captivity almost exclusively affected the exiles of the Southern Kingdom, the name was naturally applied to the new dwellers in Jerusalem and the neighbourhood, and was quickly adopted as the designation of all members of the race; cf. Zechariah 8:23; Ezra 4:23; Ezra 5:1; Ezra 5:5; Ezra 6:7-8; Ezra 6:14; ten times in Nehemiah, fifty-one times in Esther. The History of Israel had become the History of the Jews.

which came up from thee to us are come] R.V. which came up from thee are come to us, generally expressed; i.e. from exile on the banks of the Euphrates to dwell in Judæa and Jerusalem. The introductory statement of the subject.

building] R.V. they are building. A separate clause, containing an epitome of the charge against the Jews. ‘The rebellious and the bad city’, cf. Ezra 4:15. An appeal to its antecedents was calculated to prejudice the king against Jerusalem.

and have set up the walls] R.V. finished: the verb in the original has the idea of completion.

and joined the foundations] R.V. repaired, which gives the sense of the word better, and is more intelligible than the A.V.

The accusation that the Jews were engaged in rebuilding the city, strengthening and repairing the walls, seems to refer to the days of Artaxerxes and to the work either of Nehemiah or, as is more probable, of Ezra before Nehemiah’s arrival. Those who see Pseudo-Smerdis in Artaxerxes (Ezra 4:7; Ezra 4:11) maintain that the accusation is designedly false, and intended to incense the Government against the Jews for exceeding the instructions of Cyrus’s decree, which limited them to the restoration of the Temple.

Verse 12. - The Jews which came up from thee. i.e. from the central provinces - from that part of the empire where thou dwellest. To us. To our part of the world - to Palestine. Are... building the rebellious and the bad city. The ground of this accusation must be sought in the various revolts of the Jews from the Babylonians recorded in 2 Kings 24, 25. There had been one, or perhaps two, previous revolts from Assyria (2 Kings 18:7; 2 Chronicles 33:11); but of these the Samaritans probably knew nothing. They would, however, be likely to know that before Nebuchadnezzar took the extreme measure of removing the Jews from their own land to Babylon, they had rebelled against him three several times - once under Jehoiakim (2 Kings 24:1), once under his son Jehoiachin (ibid. vers. 9, 10), and once under Zedekiah, the last king (ibid. ver. 20). Thus they had a basis of truth on which to ground their charge that Jerusalem was "the rebellious and the bad city." And have set up the walls thereof. It appears very clearly from the book of Nehemiah that the walls of Jerusalem were not restored till his time, seventy-five years after this. The Samaritans, however, would naturally exaggerate, and call the rebuilding of the temple, and of a certain number of dwelling-houses, a fortifying of the place. The exaggeration, however, is not so great in the Chaldee text as in the Authorized Version. What is said seems to be, that "they are setting up the walls and joining the foundations." That the work was far from complete is admitted in the next verse. We may doubt whether it was really begun. Ezra 4:12The letter. Ezra 4:12 "Be it known unto the king." On the form להוא for יהוא, peculiar to biblical Chaldee, see remarks on Daniel 2:20. "Which are come up from thee," i.e., from the territory where thou art tarrying; in other words, from the country beyond Euphrates. This by no means leads to the inference, as Schrader supposes, that these Jews had been transported from Babylon to Jerusalem by King Artachshasta. מלק answers to the Hebrew עלה, and is used like this of the journey to Jerusalem. "Are come to us, to Jerusalem," עלינא, to us, that is, into the parts where we dwell, is more precisely defined by the words "to Jerusalem." "They are building the rebellious and bad city, and are setting up its walls and digging its foundations." Instead of מרדתּא (with Kamets and Metheg under )ר the edition of J. H. Mich. has מרדתּא, answering to the stat. abs. מרדא, Ezra 4:15; on the other hand, the edition of Norzi and several codices read מרדתּא, the feminine of מרוד. For בּאוּשׁתּא Norzi has באישׁתּא, from בּישׁ, a contraction of בּאישׁ. For אשׁכללוּ must be read, according to the Keri, שׁכללוּ שׁוּריּא. The Shaphel שׁכלל from כּלל, means to complete, to finish. אשּׁין, bases, foundations. יחיטוּ may be the imperf. Aphel of חוּט, formed after the example of יקּים for יקים, omitting the reduplication, יחיט. חוּט means to sew, to sew together, and may, like רפא, be understood of repairing walls or foundations. But it is more likely to be the imperf. Aphel of חטט, in Syriac hat, and in the Talmud, to dig, to dig out, fodit, excavavit - to dig out the foundations for the purpose of erecting new buildings.
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