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7.52 Ezra-Nehemiah -- Intermission

Right in the middle of Ezra 4, in recounting hostility to rebuilding the temple in the time of Cyrus, the writer inserted a passage describing similar opposition from the time of Artaxerxes (465-424), Ezra 4:6-23.  This was 70 years later.  The focus of dispute in this later passage was not the Temple, which was completed, but the rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem and its walls.  The letter originated from numerous

          officials over the men from Tripolis, Persia, Erech and Babylon, the Elamites of Susa, and the other people whom the great and honorable Ashurbanipal deported and settled in the city of Samaria and elsewhere in Trans-Euphrates (Ezra 4:9-10).

In other words, all the non-Jewish neighbors of Judah resented their presence and feared their growth.  They warned the king:

          "If this city is built and its walls are restored, no more taxes, tribute or duty will be paid, and the royal revenues will suffer.  This city is a rebellious city, troublesome to kings and provinces, a place of rebellion from ancient times.  That is why this city was destroyed.  We inform the king that if this city is built and its walls are restored, you will be left with nothing in Trans-Euphrates" (Ezra 4:13-16).
That is the ultimate threat to a king -- hit him in his pocketbook!  Artaxerxes at once took notice, and forbid any further work on the city (Ezra 4:21).  So the enemies of Judah were successful in their politicking.  The exact dates of this interruption are unknown, but must have occurred in the early part of Artaxerxes’ reign.

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