Ezra 4:1-3 (NRSV)

"When the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the returned exiles were building a temple to the Lord, the God of Israel, 2 they approached Zerubbabel and the heads of families and said to them, “Let us build with you, for we worship your God as you do, and we have been sacrificing to him ever since the days of King Esar-haddon of Assyria who brought us here.” 3 But Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the rest of the heads of families in Israel said to them, “You shall have no part with us in building a house to our God; but we alone will build to the Lord, the God of Israel, as King Cyrus of Persia has commanded us.”

Why did Zerubbabel refuse an offer for help?


The offer was a ruse, an attempt by the adversaries (vs. 1) to slow down the rebuilding of the temple. Continue the reading in verses 4 and 5.

Ezra 4:4-5, (YLT)

"And it cometh to pass, the people of the land are making the hands of the people of Judah feeble, and troubling them in building,

5 and are hiring against them counsellors to make void their counsel all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even till the reign of Darius king of Persia."

"Making the hands ... feeble" meant they were causing the Judeans (Judahites) problems, trying to prevent the temple from being rebuilt.

The Holy Spirit accurately recorded the words spoken by those offering to help the people of Judah, but the words spoken by the adversaries were a lie. Part of our task in studying the scriptures is to separate the words of men from the words of the Lord, and to realize that men did not always speak the truth.

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