Ezra 4:9
Then wrote Rehum the chancellor, and Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their companions; the Dinaites, the Apharsathchites, the Tarpelites, the Apharsites, the Archevites, the Babylonians, the Susanchites, the Dehavites, and the Elamites,
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(9) Then wrote . . .—This verse and the following give the general superscription of the letter which the Persian officials wrote for the Samaritans: introduced, however, in a very peculiar manner, and to be followed by another introduction in Ezra 4:11. Of the names by which the Samaritans think fit to distinguish themselves the Apharsites and Dehavites are Persians; the Babylonians the original races of Babylon, Cuthah and Ava (2Kings 17:24); the Susanchites are from Susa; the Apharsathchites, probably the Pharathia-kites, a predatory people of Media; the Archevites, inhabitants of Erech (Genesis 10:10). The Dinaites and Tarpelites can be only conjecturally identified.

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.These verses form the superscription or address of the letter (Ezra 4:11, etc.) sent to Artaxerxes.

The Dinaites were probably colonists from Dayan, a country often mentioned in the Assyrian inscriptions as bordering on Cilicia and Cappadocia. No satisfactory explanation can be given of the name Apharsathchites (see Ezra 5:6 note). The Tarpelites were colonists from the nation which the Assyrians called Tuplai, the Greeks "Tibareni," and the Hebrews generally "Tubal." (It is characteristic of the later Hebrew language to insert the letter "r" (resh) before labials. Compare Darmesek for Dammesek, 2 Chronicles 28:23 margin). The Apharsites were probably "the Persians;" the Archevites, natives of Erech (Warka) Genesis 10:10; the Susanchites, colonists from Shushan or Susa; the Dehavites, colonists from the Persian tribe of the Dai; and the Elamites, colonists from Elam or Elymais, the country of which Susa was the capital.

9. the Dinaites—The people named were the colonists sent by the Babylonian monarch to occupy the territory of the ten tribes. "The great and noble Asnappar" was Esar-haddon. Immediately after the murder of Sennacherib, the Babylonians, Medes, Armenians, and other tributary people seized the opportunity of throwing off the Assyrian yoke. But Esar-haddon having, in the thirtieth year of his reign, recovered Babylon and subdued the other rebellious dependents, transported numbers of them into the waste cities of Samaria, most probably as a punishment of their revolt [Hales]. Several people thus called from the several places of that vast Assyrian empire, from whence they were fetched, and who were united together into one body, and sent as one colony by the Assyrian monarchs into these parts. Then wrote Rehum the chancellor, and Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their companions,.... who all signed the letter; namely, the governors of the following nations:

the Dinaites, the Apharsathchites, the Tarpelites, the Apharsites, the Archevites, the Babylonians, the Susanchites, the Dehavites, and the Elamites; which were colonies from several parts of Chaldea, Media, and Persia, and were settled in the several cities of Samaria, as several of their names plainly show, as from Persia, Erech, Babylon, Shushan, and Elimais; some account for them all, but with uncertainty; according to R. Jose (k) these were the Samaritans who first were sent out of five nations, to whom the king of Assyria added four more, which together make the nine here mentioned, see 2 Kings 17:24.

(k) Pirke Eliezer, c. 38.

Then wrote Rehum the chancellor, and Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their companions; the Dinaites, the Apharsathchites, the Tarpelites, the Apharsites, the Archevites, the Babylonians, the Susanchites, the Dehavites, and the Elamites,
9. then wrote &c.] Although Ezra 4:8 ends with ‘in this sort’, the actual copy of the letter is not given until Ezra 4:11. Ezra 4:9-10 describe more minutely the senders, whose names were perhaps attached to the letter.

Nine of the nationalities from which the Samaritan colonists had been drawn are here mentioned by name; and the existence of many other varieties is implied in Ezra 4:10.

Scholars have been able approximately to identify the names.

the Dinaites] are probably the ‘Dayani’, a tribe mentioned in the inscriptions of Tiglath-pilesar and other Assyrian kings as inhabiting Western Armenia. If this identification be correct, it illustrates the very different sources from which Samaria had been colonised.

the Apharsathchites] These have not yet been recognized with any certainty in the inscriptions. Rawlinson identifies with the Apharsachites (Ezra 5:6, Ezra 6:6) and considers the ‘Apharsites’, the second name below, to be an accidental repetition of the same word. He understands ‘the Persians’ to be meant in each case. Other scholars deny that any Assyrian king was ever in a position to have obtained colonists from Persia. Frid. Delitzsch suggests the inhabitants of one of the two great Median towns ‘Partakka’ and ‘Partukka’ mentioned in Esarhaddon’s inscriptions.

the Tarpelites] Rawlinson identifies with ‘Tuplai’, which name appears in the Inscriptions as equivalent to the Greek τιβαρηνοί, a tribe on the coast of Pontus.

Tripolis in Northern Phoenicia is suggested by another scholar (Hitzig).

the Apharsites] See above. Identified probably with a Median tribe mentioned in the inscriptions of Sennacherib as dwellers in the district of Parsua.

the Archevites] The dwellers in Warka, a town S.E. of Babylon, the same as Erech (Genesis 10:10).

the Babylonians] i.e. dwellers in Babylon,—in Esarhaddon’s days the capital of the subject province of Babylonia, Nineveh being the capital of the Empire. Possibly inhabitants expelled for insurrection.

the Susanchites] The dwellers in Susa, one of the capitals of the Persian Empire, mentioned in Nehemiah 1:1, Daniel 8:2, and Esther, the chief town of Elam.

the Dehavites] Rawlinson identifies with the Dai (? Daghestan), a Persian tribe mentioned by Herodotus (i. 125); Frid. Delitzsch, with the dwellers in the town called ‘Du-ua’ mentioned in an Assyrian inscription (747 b.c.).

the Elamites] dwellers in Elam, ‘the Highlands’ or Elymais, the country lying E. of Babylonia, having Persia on its eastern, Media on its northern frontier.Verse 9. - The Dinaites, etc. It is curious that the Samaritans, instead of using a general appellation, describe themselves under the names of the various nations and cities which had furnished the colonists of whom they were the descendants. It would seem that they were not yet, in the time of the Pseudo-Smerdis, amalgamated into a single people. From the list of names we may gather that the colonists of Esar-haddon's time had been derived chiefly from Southern Babylonia and the adjacent regions of Susiana, Persia, and Elymais. The Babylonians, Susanchites, and Elamites speak for themselves, and require no explanation. The Archevites are the people of Ereeh or Orchoe (now Warka), a city to the south-east of Babylon. The Apharsites are no doubt Persians; the Dehavites, Dai or Dahae, a tribe located in Persia Proper ('Herod.,' 1:125). If uncertainty attaches to any of the names, it is to two only - the Dinaites and the Tarpelites. Of these, the Dinaites are probably the people of Dayan, a country bordering on Cilicia, whose inhabitants are often mentioned by the Assyrian monarchs. The Tarpelites have been regarded as the people of Tripolis; but it is improbable that that city had as yet received its Greek name. Perhaps they are the Tuplai, or people of Tubal, mentioned in Scripture and the Assyrian inscriptions, the letter r being a euphonic addition, as in Darmesek for Dammesek sharbith for shebeth, and the like. Zerubbabel 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.

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