Ezra 4:3
But Zerubbabel, and Jeshua, and the rest of the chief of the fathers of Israel, said unto them, Ye have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our God; but we ourselves together will build unto the LORD God of Israel, as king Cyrus the king of Persia hath commanded us.
Jump to: BarnesBensonBICambridgeClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctGaebeleinGSBGillGrayGuzikHaydockHastingsHomileticsJFBKDKellyKingLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWParkerPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBWESTSK
(3) Ye have nothing to do with us.—The account in 2 Kings 17 carefully studied will show that the stern refusal of the leaders was precisely ill harmony with the will of God; there was nothing in it of that intolerant spirit which is sometimes imagined. The whole design of the Great Restoration would have been defeated by a concession at this point. The reference to the command of Cyrus is another and really subordinate kind of justification, pleaded as subjects of the King of Persia, whose decree was absolute and exclusive.

Ezra 4:3. Ye have nothing to do with us — The chief of the fathers were soon aware that they meant them no kindness, whatever they might pretend, but really designed to do them an injury; and therefore, (though they had need enough of help, if it had been such as they could confide in,) they told them plainly they could not accept it, nor unite with them, as being of another nation and religion, and therefore not concerned in Cyrus’s grant, which was confined to the Israelites. But we ourselves will build — For you are none of those with whom we dare hold communion. Thus we ought to take heed with whom we go partners, and on whose hand we lean. While we trust God with an absolute confidence, we must trust men with a prudent caution. They do not plead to them the law of their God, which forbade them to mingle themselves with strangers, though they especially had an eye to that, but they urge what they knew would have greater weight with them, the king’s commission, which was directed to themselves only. In doing good we have need of the wisdom of the serpent, as well as of the innocence of the dove.

4:1-5 Every attempt to revive true religion will stir up the opposition of Satan, and of those in whom he works. The adversaries were the Samaritans, who had been planted in the land of Israel, 2Ki 17. It was plain that they did not mean to unite in the worship of the Lord, according to his word. Let those who discourage a good work, and weaken them that are employed in it, see whose pattern they follow.Ye have nothing to do with us - Because the Samaritans had united idolatrous rites with the worship of Yahweh 2 Kings 17:29-41. To have allowed them a share in restoring the temple would have been destructive of all purity of religion.

As king Cyrus ... commanded us - The exact words of the edict gave the right of building exclusively to those who should "go up" from Babylonia to Judaea Ezra 1:3.

3. But Zerubbabel and Jeshua … said … Ye have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our God—This refusal to co-operate with the Samaritans, from whatever motives it sprang, was overruled by Providence for ultimate good; for, had the two peoples worked together, familiar acquaintanceship and intermarriage would have ensued, and the result might have been a relapse of the Jews into idolatry. Most certainly, confusion and obscurity in the genealogical evidence that proved the descent of the Messiah would have followed; whereas, in their hostile and separate condition, they were jealous observers of each other's proceedings, watching with mutual care over the preservation and integrity of the sacred books, guarding the purity and honor of the Mosaic worship, and thus contributing to the maintenance of religious knowledge and truth. Ye have nothing to do with us; as being of another nation and religion, and therefore not concerned in Cyrus’s grant, which was confined to the Israelites and to the worshippers of the true God.

We ourselves together, i.e. who are united together by Cyrus’s grant in this work; or, alone, as this word is sometimes used, as Job 34:29 Psalm 33:15 Hosea 11:7.

But Zerubbabel, and Joshua, and the rest of the chief of the fathers, said unto them,.... The prince and high priest, and chief of the people:

you have nothing to do with us to build an house to our God; being neither of the same nation, nor of the same religion:

but we ourselves together will build to the Lord God of Israel; we and we only, who are together as one man, united in one body of people, and in the same religious sentiments, being Israelites; we separately, without admitting strangers among us, will build a temple to the God of Israel:

as King Cyrus, the king of Persia, hath commanded us; thereby letting them know that they acted by his authority, and the commission they had from him only concerned themselves, and not others.

But Zerubbabel, and Jeshua, and the rest of the chief of the fathers of Israel, said unto them, Ye have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our God; {b} but we ourselves together will build unto the LORD God of Israel, as king Cyrus the king of Persia hath commanded us.

(b) For they knew their pretence, that is to erect idolatry instead of true religion.

3. But Zerubbabel &c.… the chief of the fathers] R.V. … heads of fathers’ houses. Zerubbabel’s name stands first, as in Ezra 3:8, in connexion with the work, with which he had been commissioned by Cyrus.

You have nothing to do with us] literally ‘It is not for you and for us’. A common Hebrew idiom, cf. Jdg 11:12, ‘What hast thou to do with me?’ literally ‘What is there for thee and for me &c.?’ 2 Kings 3:13; for its occurrence in the N. T., cf. Mark 1:24; John 2:4. The A.V. of 1Es 5:70 gives ‘It is not for us and you to build together’.

unto our God] Almost as if they had said ‘our God and not yours’.

ourselves together] The union of the new community and the exclusion of all strangers. The word rendered ‘together’ is not to be understood as if the phrase were an exclusive one, ‘ourselves alone’. It emphasizes the combined action of the true Israelites. Cf. Psalm 2:2 ‘take counsel together’.

unto the Lord God of Israel] R.V. ‘unto the Lord, the God of Israel’, cf. Ezra 4:4, Ezra 1:3. This implies, though it does not assert in so many words, that the applicants were not members of Israel.

as king Cyrus &c.] referring to the words in Ezra 1:3 ‘Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him &c.’

The refusal of the application is thus technically based upon the wording of Cyrus’ decree; the applicants failed to come under the permission which Cyrus had granted, and could not therefore take part in the work. Zerubbabel and his companions evaded the dilemma of having to meet the religious plea either by counter-argument or by direct contradiction. At the same time they made it quite evident that they declined to recognize the identity of worship which was pleaded, or the claim to relationship and political union which underlay the plea.

On the two points (a) who made the overtures? (b) how we are to regard their rejection by the Jewish leaders, see Introduction, § 6. Outline of History.

Verse 3. - Ye have nothing to do with us to build a house unto our God. You have no ground on which to rest your claim of uniting with us in this matter. You do not really wish to build to our God simply and singly; nor were you mentioned in the decree of Cyrus, which is our warrant for what we are doing. Ezra 4:3Zerubbabel and the other chiefs of Israel answer, "It is not for you and for us to build a house to our God;" i.e., You and we cannot together build a house to the God who is our God; "but we alone will build it to Jahve the God of Israel, as King Cyrus commanded us." יחד אנחנוּ, we together, i.e., we alone (without your assistance). By the emphasis placed upon "our God" and "Jahve the God of Israel," the assertion of the adversaries, "We seek your God as ye do," is indirectly refuted. If Jahve is the God of Israel, He is not the God of those whom Esarhaddon brought into the land. The appeal to the decree of Cyrus (Ezra 1:3, comp. Ezra 3:6, etc.) forms a strong argument for the sole agency of Jews in building the temple, inasmuch as Cyrus had invited those only who were of His (Jahve's) people (Ezra 1:3). Hence the leaders of the new community were legally justified in rejecting the proposal of the colonists brought in by Esarhaddon. For the latter were neither members of the people of Jahve, nor Israelites, nor genuine worshippers of Jahve. They were non-Israelites, and designated themselves as those whom the king of Assyria had brought into the land. According to 2 Kings 17:24, the king of Assyria brought colonists from Babylon, Cuthah, and other places, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel. Now we cannot suppose that every Israelite, to the very last man, was carried away by the Assyrians; such a deportation of a conquered people being unusual, and indeed impossible. Apart, then, from the passage, 2 Chronicles 30:6, etc., which many expositors refer to the time of the destruction of the kingdom of the ten tribes, we find that in the time of King Josiah (2 Chronicles 34:9), when the foreign colonists had been for a considerable period in the country, there were still remnants of Manasseh, of Ephraim, and of all Israel, who gave contributions for the house of God at Jerusalem; and also that in 2 Kings 23:15-20 and 2 Chronicles 34:6, a remnant of the Israelite inhabitants still existed in the former territory of the ten tribes. The eighty men, too, who (Jeremiah 41:5, etc.) came, after the destruction of the temple, from Shechem, Shiloh, and Samaria, mourning, and bringing offerings and incense to Jerusalem, to the place of the house of God, which was still a holy place to them, were certainly Israelites of the ten tribes still left in the land, and who had probably from the days of Josiah adhered to the temple worship. These remnants, however, of the Israelites inhabitants in the territories of the former kingdom of the ten tribes, are not taken into account in the present discussion concerning the erection of the temple; because, however considerable their numbers might be, they formed no community independent of the colonists, but were dispersed among them, and without political influence. It is not indeed impossible "that the colonists were induced through the influence exercised upon them by the Israelites living in their midst to prefer to the Jews the request, 'Let us build with you;' still those who made the proposal were not Israelites, but the foreign colonists" (Bertheau). These were neither members of the chosen people nor worshippers of the God of Israel. At their first settlement (2 Kings 17:24, etc.) they evidently feared not the Lord, nor did they learn to do so till the king of Assyria, at their request, sent them one of the priests who had been carried away to teach them the manner of worshipping the God of the land. This priest, being a priest of the Israelitish calf-worship, took up his abode at Bethel, and taught them to worship Jahve under the image of a golden calf. Hence arose a worship which is thus described, 2 Kings 17:29-33 : Every nation made gods of their own, and put them in the houses of the high places which the Samaritans, i.e., the former inhabitants of the kingdom of the ten tribes, had made, every nation in their cities wherein they dwelt. And besides their idols Nergal, Asima, Nibhaz, Tartak, they feared Jahve; they sacrificed to all these gods as well as to Him. A mixed worship which the prophet-historian (2 Kings 17:34) thus condemns: "They fear not the Lord, and do after their statutes and ordinances, not after the law and commandment which the Lord commanded to the sons of Jacob." And so, it is finally said (2 Kings 17:41), do also their children and children's children unto this day, i.e., about the middle of the Babylonian captivity; nor was it will a subsequent period that the Samaritans renounced gross idolatry. The rulers and heads of Judah could not acknowledge that Jahve whom the colonists worshipped as a local god, together with other gods, in the houses of the high places at Bethel and elsewhere, to be the God of Israel, to whom they were building a temple at Jerusalem. For the question was not whether they would permit Israelites who earnestly sought Jahve to participate in His worship at Jerusalem-a permission which they certainly would have refused to none who sincerely desired to turn to the Lord God-but whether they would acknowledge a mixed population of Gentiles and Israelites, whose worship was more heathen than Israelite, and who nevertheless claimed on its account to belong to the people of God.

(Note: The opinion of Knobel, that those who preferred the request were not the heathen colonists placed in the cities of Samaria by the Assyrian king (2 Kings 17:24), but the priests sent by the Assyrian king to Samaria (2 Kings 17:27), has been rejected as utterly unfounded by Bertheau, who at the same time demonstrates, against Fritzsche on 1 Esdr. 5:65, the identity of the unnamed king of Assyria (2 Kings 17:24) with Esarhaddon.)

To such, the rulers of Judah could not, without unfaithfulness to the Lord their God, permit a participation in the building of the Lord's house.

Ezra 4:3 Interlinear
Ezra 4:3 Parallel Texts

Ezra 4:3 NIV
Ezra 4:3 NLT
Ezra 4:3 ESV
Ezra 4:3 NASB
Ezra 4:3 KJV

Ezra 4:3 Bible Apps
Ezra 4:3 Parallel
Ezra 4:3 Biblia Paralela
Ezra 4:3 Chinese Bible
Ezra 4:3 French Bible
Ezra 4:3 German Bible

Bible Hub

Ezra 4:2
Top of Page
Top of Page