Ezra 4:16
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.
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(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.
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. Ezra 4:16After thus casting suspicion upon the Jews as a seditious people, their adversaries bring the accusation, already raised at the beginning of the letter, to a climax, by saying that if Jerusalem is rebuilt and fortified, the king will lose his supremacy over the lands on this side the river. דּנה לקבל, on this account, for this reason, that the present inhabitants of the fortified city Jerusalem are like its former inhabitants, thou wilt have no portion west of Euphrates, i.e., thou wilt have nothing more to do with the countries on this side the river-wilt forfeit thy sway over these districts.
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