Ezra 4:16
We certify the king that, if this city be built again, and the walls thereof set up, by this means you shall have no portion on this side the river.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(16) No portion on this side the river.—The same unscrupulous use of language: that is, if the river Euphrates is meant. In the days of Solomon, and once or twice subsequently, the Israelites had advanced towards the river, but it was not likely that they would ever do so again. The letter may, however, have been intended to suggest loosely that Jerusalem might become a centre of general disaffection.

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.The book of the records - Compare Esther 2:23; Esther 6:1; Esther 10:2. The existence of such a "book" at the Persian court is attested also by Ctesias.

Of thy fathers - i. e., thy predecessors ripen the throne, Cambyses, Cyrus, etc. If Artaxerxes was the Pseudo-Smerdis (Ezra 4:7 note), these persons were not really his "fathers" or ancestors; but the writers of the letter could not venture to call the king an impostor.

14. we have maintenance from the king's palace—literally, "we are salted with the salt of the palace." "Eating a prince's salt" is an Oriental phrase, equivalent to "receiving maintenance from him." No text from Poole on this verse. We certify the king, that if this city be builded again, and the walls thereof set up,.... As it formerly was, and now attempted, as they suggest:

by this means thou shalt have no portion on this side the river; the river Euphrates; intimating that the Jews would not only shake off his yoke, and refuse to pay tribute themselves, but would seize on all his dominions on that side the river, and annex them to their own.

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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
16. be builded again, and the walls thereof set up] R.V. be builded and the walls finished.

by this means] i.e. in consequence of Jerusalem becoming once more a fortified city and so recovering her capacity for rebellion.

thou shalt have no portion on this side the river] R.V. beyond the river. For this expression see note on Ezra 4:12.

no portion] For the use of this phrase cf. Joshua 22:25; Joshua 22:27, 2 Samuel 20:1, John 13:8 (οὐκ ἔχεις μέρος), 2 Corinthians 6:15 (τίς μέρις πιστῷ μετὰ ἀπίστου). The letter concludes with an exaggerated appeal to the king’s alarms.

(1) The Jews would be a centre of rebellion among the Western nations:

(2) A Jewish empire might spring from the fortifications of Jerusalem as an Israelite empire once before had done. In either case the Persian king would find himself deprived of his hold upon the country W. of the Euphrates.

The LXX. read οὐκ ἐστιν σοι εἰρήνη: i.e. thou shalt have no peace. 1Es 2:24, ‘thou shalt from henceforth have no passage into Cœle-Syria and Phœnice’. Both paraphrases of our text.Verse 16. - Thou shalt have no portion on this side the river. It is not quite clear whether the river intended here and in ver. 10 is the Euphrates or the Jordan. Generally in the Old Testament hannahar means the Euphrates, but the exaggeration is gross if that river was intended here. Only twice in their history had the Israelites advanced their frontier as far as that stream - under Solomon (1 Kings 4:21) and under Menahem (2 Kings 15:16); in their present depressed condition it was absurd to imagine that they could rival those early glories. But jealousy does not stop to weigh the reasonableness of its accusations.

CHAPTER 4:17-24. After this introduction we naturally look for the letter itself in Ezra 4:9, instead of which we have (Ezra 4:9 and Ezra 4:10) a full statement of who were the senders; and then, after a parenthetical interpolation, "This is the copy of the letter," etc., the letter itself in Ezra 4:11. The statement is rather a clumsy one, the construction especially exhibiting a want of sequence. The verb to אדין is wanting; this follows in Ezra 4:11, but as an anacoluthon, after an enumeration of the names in Ezra 4:9 and Ezra 4:10 with שׁלחוּ. The sentence ought properly to run thus: "Then (i.e., in the days of Artachshasta) Rehum, etc., sent a letter to King Artachshasta, of which the following is a copy: Thy servants, the men on this side the river," etc. The names enumerated in Ezra 4:9 and Ezra 4:10 were undoubtedly all inserted in the superscription or preamble of the letter, to give weight to the accusation brought against the Jews. The author of the Chaldee section of the narrative, however, has placed them first, and made the copy of the letter itself begin only with the words, "Thy servants," etc. First come the names of the superior officials, Rehum and Shimshai, and the rest of their companions. The latter are then separately enumerated: The Dinaites, lxx Δειναῖοι, - so named, according to the conjecture of Ewald (Gesch. iii. p. 676), from the Median city long afterwards called Deinaver (Abulf. Gegr. ed. Paris. p. 414); the Apharsathchites, probably the Pharathiakites of Strabo (15:3. 12) (Παρητακηνοί, Herod. i. 101), on the borders of Persia and Media, described as being, together with the Elymaites, a predatory people relying on their mountain fastnesses; the Tarpelites, whom Junius already connects with the Τάπουροι dwelling east of Elymais (Ptol. vi. 2. 6); the Apharsites, probably the Persians (פרסיא with א prosthetic); the Archevites, probably so called from the city ארך, Genesis 10:10, upon inscriptions Uruk, the modern Warka; the בּבליא, Babylonians, inhabitants of Babylon; the Shushanchites, i.e., the Susanites, inhabitants of the city of Susa; דּהוא, in the Keri דּהיא, the Dehavites, the Grecians (Δάοι, Herod. i. 125); and lastly, the Elamites, the people of Elam or Elymais. Full as this enumeration may seem, yet the motive being to name as many races as possible, the addition, "and the rest of the nations whom the great and noble Osnapper brought over and set in the city of Samaria, and the rest that are on this side the river," etc., is made for the sake of enhancing the statement. Prominence being given both here and Ezra 4:17 to the city of Samaria as the city in which Osnapper had settled the colonists here named, the "nations brought in by Osnapper" must be identical with those who, according to Ezra 4:2, and 2 Kings 17:24, had been placed in the cities of Samaria by King Esarhaddon. Hence Osnapper would seem to be merely another name for Esarhaddon. But the names Osnapper (lxx Ἀσσεναφάρ) and Asarhaddon (lxx Ἀσαραδάν) being too different to be identified, and the notion that Osnapper was a second name of Asarhaddon having but little probability, together with the circumstance that Osnapper is not called king, as Asarhaddon is Ezra 4:2, but only "the great and noble," it is more likely that he was some high functionary of Asarhaddon, who presided over the settlement of eastern races in Samaria and the lands west of the Euphrates. "In the cities," or at least the preposition ב, must be supplied from the preceding בּקריה before נהרה עבר שׁאר: and in the rest of the territory, or in the cities of the rest of the territory, on this side of Euphrates. עבר, trans, is to be understood of the countries west of Euphrates; matters being regarded from the point of view of the settlers, who had been transported from the territories east, to those west of Euphrates. וּכענת means "and so forth," and hints that the statement is not complete.

On comparing the names of the nations here mentioned with the names of the cities from which, according to 2 Kings 17:24, colonists were brought to Samaria, we find the inhabitants of most of the cities there named - Babylon, Cuthah, and Ava - here comprised under the name of the country as בּבליא, Babylonians; while the people of Hamath and Sepharvaim may fitly be included among "the rest of the nations," since certainly but few colonists would have been transported from the Syrian Hamath to Samaria. The main divergence between the two passages arises from the mention in our present verse, not only of the nations planted in the cities of Samaria, but of all the nations in the great region on this side of Euphrates (נהרה עבר). All these tribes had similar interests to defend in opposing the Jewish community, and they desired by united action to give greater force to their representation to the Persian monarch, and thus to hinder the people of Jerusalem from becoming powerful. And certainly they had some grounds for uneasiness lest the remnant of the Israelites in Palestine, and in other regions on this side the Euphrates, should combine with the Jerusalem community, and the thus united Israelites should become sufficiently powerful to oppose an effectual resistance to their heathen adversaries. On the anacoluthistic connection of Ezra 4:11. פּרשׁגן, Ezra 4:11, Ezra 4:23; Ezra 5:6; Ezra 7:11, and frequently in the Targums and the Syriac, written פּתשׁגן Esther 3:14 and Esther 4:8, is derived from the Zendish paiti (Sanscr. prati) and enghana (in Old-Persian thanhana), and signifies properly a counterword, i.e., counterpart, copy. The form with ר is either a corruption, or formed from a compound with fra; comp. Gildemeister in the Zeitschr. fr die Kunde des Morgenl. iv. p. 210, and Haug in Ewald's bibl. Jahrb. v. p. 163, etc. - The copy of the letter begins with עבדּיך, thy servants, the men, etc. The Chethib עבדיך is the original form, shortened in the Keri into עבדּך. Both forms occur elsewhere; comp. Daniel 2:29; Daniel 3:12, and other passages. The וכענת, etc., here stands for the full enumeration of the writers already given in Ezra 4:9, and also for the customary form of salutation.

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