Then they came to Zerubbabel, and to the chief of the fathers, and said to them, Let us build with you: for we seek your God, as you do; and we do sacrifice to him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assur, which brought us up here.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)As ye do.—“They feared the Lord, and worshipped their own gods” (2Kings 17:33): thus they came either in the spirit of hypocrites or with an intention to unite their own idolatries with the pure worship of Jehovah. In any case, they are counted enemies of the God of Israel.
We do sacrifice unto Him since the days of Esar-haddon.—He ended his reign B.C. 668, and therefore the Samaritans speak from a tradition extending backwards a century and a half.
Which brought us up hither.—Thus they entirely leave out of consideration what residue of Israel was yet to be found among them.Ezra 4:2. They came to Zerubbabel, &c., and said, Let us build with you — Hearing that the temple was in building, they were presently aware that it would be a fatal blow to their superstition, and therefore set themselves to oppose it. But as they had not power to do it openly and by force, they endeavoured to do it secretly and by wiles. They offer their service to build with them, but only that by this conjunction with them they might pry into their counsels, find some matter of accusation against them, and thereby retard the work, while they pretended to further it. For we seek your God, as ye do — This was false; for though they sought the same God, they did not seek him only, nor seek him in the way he had appointed, as the true Jews did. And we do sacrifice unto him since the days of Esar-haddon — Son of Sennacherib, and after him king of Assyria, who brought or sent these persons thither, either, 1st, in the days of Shalmaneser, who reigned in Assyria but eight years before Esar-haddon, and so Esar-haddon might be one of his commanders, and the man by whom that colony was sent; or, 2d, in the reign of Esar-haddon, who sent a second colony to strengthen the first.2 Kings 17:24-28 notes.
Since the days - Esar-haddon reigned from 681-668 B.C. Thus, the Samaritans speak of what had taken place at least 130 years previously. There appear to have been at least three colonizations of Samaria by the Assyrian kings. The first is mentioned in 2 Kings 17:24. Later in his reign Sargon added to these first settlers an Arabian element. Some 30 or 40 years afterward, Esarhaddon, his grandson, largely augmented the population by colonists drawn especially from the southeast parts of the Empire Ezra 4:10. Thus, the later Samaritans were an exceedingly mixed race.Let us build with you: this they spake not sincerely, as appears from their disposition and designs discovered in the following history; but that by this conjunction with them they might pry into their counsels, and thereby get an opportunity to find some matter or pretences of accusation against them.
We seek your God, as ye do; for so they did, though in a mongrel way: see 2 Kings 17:26, &c.
Esar-haddon king of Assur; son of Sennacherib, and after him king of Assyria, 2 Kings 19:37; who brought or sent these persons hither, either,
1. In the days of Salmaneser, who lived and reigned in Assyria but eight years before Esar-haddon’s reign; and so Esar-haddon might be one of his most eminent commanders, and the man by whom that colony was sent. Or,
2. In the reign of Esar-haddon, who sent this second colony to supply and strengthen the first.
and said unto them, let us build with you; that is, the temple, they proposed to join with them, and assist them in it; which proposal at first sight might seem very agreeable and welcome, and would have been so had they been sincere, but they were not; they hoped, by getting among them, to have sown discord among them, and disunited them; and so by these or other means to have retarded the building; or if it went forward, that they might have a claim to it as theirs, at least as to set up their own idols in a part of it; the reasons they gave follow:
for we seek your God as ye do; which was false, for they did not worship him alone, but with idols, nor in the same manner as the Jews did:
and we do sacrifice unto him; but even that could not recommend them to the Jews, since they ought not to sacrifice, even to the Lord himself, but at Jerusalem: there is a various reading here; the textual reading is, "we do not sacrifice"; that is, to idols; the marginal reading is, "we sacrifice to him", which we follow; Aben Ezra takes in both, perhaps most rightly; "we do not sacrifice to any other, but to him"; which was also false:
since the days of Esarhaddon, king of Assur, who brought us up hither; to Samaria, from Babylon, and other places; see 2 Kings 17:24.Then they came to Zerubbabel, and to the chief of the fathers, and said unto them, Let us build with you: for we seek your God, as ye do; and we do sacrifice unto him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assur, which brought us up hither.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)2. then they came &c.] R.V. then they drew near to Zerubbabel, and to the heads of fathers’ houses.
for we seek your God, as ye do] The claim to cooperate in the work of building the Temple is based upon the assertion of common worship. The phrase ‘to seek’ in the sense of ‘to worship’ is not uncommon in these books and in Chronicles. Cf. Ezra 6:21; 1 Chronicles 22:19; 2 Chronicles 15:13; 2 Chronicles 17:4; 2 Chronicles 31:21; 2 Chronicles 34:3.
and we do sacrifice unto him] so R.V. text. R.V. margin. ‘Another reading is, yet we do no sacrifice since &c.’ The Hebrew words for “unto him” and “not” though written with a different second letter are pronounced in the same way, ‘lô’. The context as a rule makes it easy to distinguish the meaning. But there are some fifteen instances, in which the Hebrew Bibles preserve the tradition of confusion between the two words. It is even possible that the word ‘lô’ (‘unto him’) may have sometimes been written with the same second letter as the negative (e.g. Exodus 21:8; 1 Samuel 2:3; 2 Samuel 16:18; 2 Kings 8:10).
In this verse the Hebrew text has the letters of the negative; the margin has the letters of the pronoun.
The external evidence is in favour of the pronoun ‘unto him’, being supported by the K’ri, by the LXX. (αὐτῷ), the Vulgate (‘nos immolabimus victimas’ without a negative), the Syriac, Versions and by the parallel text in 1Es 5:69 (‘and do sacrifice unto him’).
Internal evidence may thus be summarized. In favour of the negative (‘yet we do no sacrifice’), it may be alleged
(1) that the statement contained in the alternative reading ‘we do sacrifice unto him’ would have no weight, since the Jews would at once reject as idolatrous sacrifices not offered at Jerusalem:
(2) that the Samaritan argument requires the negative. Having pleaded sameness of worship, they regret the omission of sacrifice and proceed to entreat that they may obtain this privilege by becoming sharers in the work.
In favour of the pronoun (‘unto him’) it may be replied
(1) that had the disputed word been the negative, it would stand in the Hebrew in the wrong place, i.e. before the pronoun ‘we’ instead of before the verb ‘sacrifice’:
(2) that the affirmative clause (‘and we do sacrifice unto him’) expands the force of the plea for common worship. That they had not sacrificed at Jerusalem hitherto, was, they could plead, either due to ignorance or a fault which they now wished to rectify:
(3) that the argument is strengthened by the assertion of long-established custom of sacrifice:
(4) that the pronoun ‘unto him’ was very liable to be altered to the negative by patriotic scribes who could not tolerate or credit the statement that their hated enemies had at such an early time done sacrifice to the God of Israel.
We conclude that the balance of probability preponderates for the reading ‘and we do sacrifice unto him’.
since the days of Esar-haddon king of Assur] R.V. Assyria. Esarhaddon succeeded Sennacherib (cf. 2 Kings 19:37; Isaiah 37:38) and reigned over Assyria 12 years, 680–668.
His name in the Assyrian Inscriptions appears as ‘Assur-ak-iddin’ or ‘Assur sent a brother’. The Greek attempts to transliterate the name are very strange: the LXX. gives ‘Asbakappas’, 1Es 5:69 ‘Azbazareth’.
In the A.V. ‘Assur’ occurs also in Psalm 83:8, Asshur in Numbers 24:22; Numbers 24:24; Ezekiel 27:23; Ezekiel 32:22; Hosea 14:3. The difference in the spelling is purely arbitrary. The R.V. has altered ‘Assur’ to ‘Assyria’, but has left ‘Asshur’ in the above passages. This is to be regretted, since there is no difference in the original to justify the preservation of ‘Asshur’ by the side of ‘Assyria’ (see Genesis 2:14; Ezekiel 23:7; Hosea 7:11; Hosea 8:9; Hosea 9:3; Hosea 10:6; Hosea 11:11).Verse 2. - We seek your God, as ye do. "We seek your God" was true; "as ye do" was not true. The Samaritans worshipped Jehovah, but not, as the Jews did, exclusively. "They feared the Lord, and worshipped their own gods" (2 Kings 17:33). Such worship dishonours Jehovah almost more than total neglect of him. Since the days of Esar-haddon. There was more than one colonisation of Central Palestine by the Assyrians. Sargon relates that he placed Arabians in the country; the writer of Kings tells us that it was occupied by Babylonians, Cuthaeans, Avites, Hamathites, and Sepharrites (2 Kings 17:24); the Samaritans themselves said that they were "Dinaites, Apharsathchites, Tarpelites, Apharsites, Archevites, Babylonians, Susanchites, Debarites, and Elamites" (infra, ver. 9). They attributed this last colonization to Esar-haddon. We may suspect that the second colonisation was by Sennacherib, who appears to have taken Babylon, Hamath, Sepharvaim, and Ivah or Avah (2 Kings 18:34). The result was that the Samaritans were a very mixed race. Ezra 2:40). From a comparison of these passages, we perceive that יהוּדה בּני is a clerical error for הודויה (or הודיּה) בּני. This more precise designation is not "a comprehensive appellation for all hitherto enumerated" (Bertheau), but, as is undoubtedly obvious from Ezra 2:40, only a more precise designation of the sons of Kadmiel. כּאחד, as one, i.e., all, without exception. The third class, the sons of Henadad, are not expressly named in Ezra 2:40 among those who returned from Babylon; but a son of Henadad appears, Nehemiah 3:24 and Nehemiah 10:10, as head of an order of Levites. The naming of this order after the predicate, in the form of a supplementary notice, and unconnected by a ו cop., is striking. Bertheau infers therefrom that the construction of the sentence is incorrect, and desires to alter it according to 1 Esdr. 5:56, where indeed this class is named immediately after the two first, but יהוּדה בּני is separated from what precedes; and of these בני יהודה is made a fourth class, υἱοὶ Ἰωδά τοῦ Ἡλιαδούδ. All this sufficiently shows that this text cannot be regarded as authoritative. The striking position or supplementary enumeration of the sons of Henadad may be explained by the fact to which the placing of כּאחד after בני יהודה points, viz., that the two classes, Jeshua with his sons and brethren, and Kadmiel with his sons, were more closely connected with each other than with the sons of Henadad, who formed a third class. The הלויּם at the end of the enumeration offers no argument for the transposition of the words, though this addition pertains not only to the sons of Henadad, but also to the two first classes. hm' עשׂה is plural, and only an unusual reading for עשׁי; see on 1 Chronicles 23:24.
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