Ezra 4:4
Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Ezra 4:4. But the people of the land — Hebrew of that land; namely, the Samaritans, the present inhabitants of that province. Weakened the hands of the people of Judah — As they could not divert them from the work, they endeavoured to discourage them in it, by persuading them it was in vain to attempt it, and that they would never be able to finish what they had begun. And troubled them in building — Laying all the impediments they could in their way; by false reports and slanders; by threatenings; and by preventing materials or provisions from coming to them; or by enticing away their workmen, and other means described afterward.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.

4, 5. Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, &c.—Exasperated by this repulse, the Samaritans endeavored by every means to molest the workmen as well as obstruct the progress of the building; and, though they could not alter the decree which Cyrus had issued regarding it, yet by bribes and clandestine arts indefatigably plied at court, they labored to frustrate the effects of the edict. Their success in those underhand dealings was great; for Cyrus, being frequently absent and much absorbed in his warlike expeditions, left the government in the hands of his son Cambyses, a wicked prince, and extremely hostile to the Jews and their religion. The same arts were assiduously practised during the reign of his successor, Smerdis, down to the time of Darius Hystaspes. In consequence of the difficulties and obstacles thus interposed, for a period of twenty years, the progress of the work was very slow. The people of the land, Heb. of that land; the present inhabitants of that province, to wit, the Samaritans.

Troubled them in building; by false reports and threats, and other means, described afterwards. Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building. By threatening them, or by dissuading the workmen from going on, by endeavouring to hinder their having materials from the Tyrians and Zidonians, or money out of the king's revenues to bear the expenses as ordered; see Ezra 6:4. Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building,
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
4. Then the people of the land] i.e. the Samaritans, as opposed to ‘the people of Judah’. It is noteworthy that this expression ‘the people of the land’ (’am haâreç) became a synonym for ‘the ignorant’ or ‘the vulgar’ in contrast to ‘the wise’, with special reference to a knowledge of ‘the law’. Cf. John 7:49 ‘This people who knoweth not the law are cursed’. Buxtorf gives illustrations by the Jewish proverbs ‘Better is the bastard who is the disciple of the wise than the high-priest of the people of the land’ (i.e. who is ‘vulgar’) ‘The people of the land (i.e. the ‘vulgar’) have degrees of morals but none of intelligence’.

weakened the hands] The Hebrew construction gives the idea of a continuous policy of weakening, terrifying, and bribing. For the phrase itself compare Jeremiah 38:4.

the people of Judah] ‘The children of the captivity’ are here given the name of the old southern kingdom. Cf. Ezra 4:12.

troubled] so R.V.: marg. Or ‘terrified’. There are two readings. The reading of the Hebrew text or K’thib gives a word that does not occur elsewhere in the O.T. but is connected with a substantive rendered ‘terror’ (R.V. Isaiah 17:14). The reading of the Hebrew tradition or K’ri, preserved with the text, gives an otherwise unused form of a common word meaning ‘to trouble’. In all probability the letters of the unused root were transposed by a scribe so as to give the familiar root; preference should be given to the harder rendering, ‘terrified them from building’.Verse 4. - Then the people of the land (i.e. the Samaritans) weakened the hands of the people of Judah. As aiding is called "strengthening the hands (infra, Ezra 6:22; Isaiah 35:3; Jeremiah 23:14; Ezekiel 16:49, etc.), so hindering is expressed by "weakening the hands" (Jeremiah 38:4), though this latter phrase is, comparatively speaking, unusual. And troubled them in building. Probably as Sanballat and his followers troubled the builders of the wall in Nehemiah's time (Nehemiah 4:1-12). When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, they (Zerubbabel and Joshua, the heads of the community) set the priests in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites the sons of Asaph with cymbals, to praise the Lord after the ordinance of David. The perf. ויסּדוּ, followed by an imperf. connected by a Vav consecutive, must be construed: When they laid the foundations, then. מלבּשׁים, clothed, sc. in their robes of office; comp. 2 Chronicles 5:12; 2 Chronicles 20:21. ידי על as 1 Chronicles 25:2. On Ezra 3:11, comp. remarks on 1 Chronicles 16:34, 1 Chronicles 16:41; 2 Chronicles 5:13; 2 Chronicles 7:3, and elsewhere. Older expositors (Clericus, J. H. Mich.), referring to Exodus 15:21, understand בהלּל ויּענוּ of the alternative singing of two choirs, one of which sang, "Praise the Lord, for He is good;" and the other responded, "And His mercy endureth for ever." In the present passage, however, there is no decided allusion to responsive singing; hence (with Bertheau) we take יענוּ in the sense of, "They sang to the Lord with hymns of thanksgiving." Probably they sang such songs as Psalm 106-107, or Psalm 118, which commence with an invitation to praise the Lord because He is good, etc. All the people, moreover, raised a loud shout of joy. גּדולה תּרוּעה is repeated in Ezra 3:13 by השּׂמחה תּרוּעת. הוּסד על, on account of the founding, of the foundation-laying, of the house of the Lord. הוּסד as in 2 Chronicles 3:3.
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