Ezra 4:5
And hired counsellors against them, to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(5) And hired counsellors against them.—They adopted a systematic course of employing paid agents at the court: continued for eight years, till B.C. 529. Cambyses, his son, succeeded Cyrus; he died B.C. 522; then followed the pseudo-Smerdis, a usurper, whose short reign Darius did not reckon, but dated his own reign from B.C. 522. A comparison of dates shows that this was the first Darius, the son of Hystaspes.

Ezra 4:5. And hired counsellors against them — Bribed some of the king’s council, in order that by their artifices, and interests in his court, they might give some stop to the work, and frustrate the purpose of the Jews. All the days of Cyrus king of Persia — For though Cyrus still favoured the Jews, yet he was then diverted by his wars, and his son Cambyses was left his viceroy, who was a wicked prince, and an enemy to the Jews. Even until the reign of Darius — The son of Hystaspis, who, having killed the magi, (that, after Cambyses, had possessed themselves of the kingdom,) was made king; and marrying Atossa, the daughter of Cyrus, and loving her very much, confirmed the decree of Cyrus, and followed his steps, that he might stand the safer himself.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.Hired counselors - Rather, "bribed" officials at the Persian court to interpose delays and create difficulties, in order to hinder the work.

Darius - i. e., Darius, the son of Hystaspes

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. Hired counsellors against them; who by their artifices and interests in the Persian court should give some stop to their work.

All the days of Cyrus king of Persia; for though Cyrus still favoured the Jews, yet he was then diverted by his wars, and his son Cambyses was left his viceroy, who was a very wicked prince, and an enemy to the Jews and their religion.

Even until the reign of Darius, Heb. and until, &c., i.e. not only in the reign of Cyrus, but also of Cambyses, and of the magician, after whom was this Darius; of whom see Ezr 5 6. And hired counsellors against them, to frustrate their purpose,.... Either to advise and persuade the king of Persia's officers in those parts not to supply them with money, or to influence the great men at his court to get the edict revoked: and this they did

all the days of Cyrus king of Persia; who, though the hearty friend and patron of the Jews, yet being engaged in wars abroad with the Lydians and Scythians, and leaving his son as viceroy in his absence, who was no friend unto them, the work went on but slowly, attended with interruptions and discouragements:

even until the reign of Darius king of Persia; who was Darius Hystaspis, between whom and Cyrus were Cambyses the son of Cyrus, and Smerdis the impostor, who pretended to be Smerdis, the brother of Cambyses; a space of about fifteen years.

And {c} hired counsellors against them, to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.

(c) They bribed the governors under the king to hinder their work, thus they that hinder cannot understand that God would be purely served.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
5. This verse describes one effectual method of opposition, ‘hired counsellors against them’. This will not necessarily imply that bribes were given to the king’s ministers referred to elsewhere (Ezra 7:28, Ezra 8:25) as ‘his counsellors’. We should in that case have had the word more definitely expressed as ‘the counsellors’ or ‘the king’s counsellors’.

It rather means that ‘the people of the land’ paid officials (probably connected with the satrapy of Syria) to make unfavourable reports at the king’s Court respecting ‘the people of Judah’.

hired] Cf. the application of Samaritan money within the Jewish community, Nehemiah 6:12-13. The word used with special reference to Balaam in Deuteronomy 23:4; Nehemiah 13:2.

to frustrate their purpose] i.e. to render fruitless their cherished scheme of rebuilding the Temple. ‘Frustrate’ = ‘break’, Ezra 9:14. ‘Purpose’ = ‘counsel’ Ezra 10:3; Ezra 10:8; Nehemiah 4:15. The two words occur together Psalm 33:10 ‘The Lord bringeth the counsel of the nations to nought’.

all the days of Cyrus, &c.] Cyrus died in 529.

even until the reign of Darius king of Persia] Cyrus was succeeded by Cambyses, who died in 522. Pseudo-Smerdis then reigned for 7 months, and was succeeded by Darius Hystaspes 522. (Upon the disputed question of chronology raised in this verse, see the note on Ezra 4:7.) Darius, Darayavus, ‘the Preserver’ (Herod. VI. 98 translates ἑρξείης) gave order and system to the Persian Empire, of which he was the second founder. Darius consolidated the successes of Cyrus. Like Augustus following upon Julius Cæsar, he gave, as a statesman, system and cohesion to the Empire, which he had inherited from his predecessor’s military genius.Verse 5. - And hired counsellors against them. It is always possible at an Oriental court to bribe some of the royal favourites, and induce them to use their influence with the monarch for the furtherance, or hindrance, of any work that is being proceeded with in any part of the country. The Samaritans now had recourse to this system, and employed it with great success for a considerable period. All the days of Cyrus. i.e. "all the remaining days," from B.C. 537 to B.C. 529, when Cyrus died, and was succeeded by his son Cambyses. Even until the reign of Darius. It is implied that the reign of Darius did not immediately follow on that of Cyrus. Profane history tells us of two intermediate kings, via, Cambyses, son of Cyrus, who reigned from B.C. 529 to B.C. 522, and Smerdis, or Bardes, a usurper, who occupied the throne for about ten months in the years B.C. 522, 521. Darius became king in this last-named year, but seems to have counted his reign from the date of the decease of Cambyses. But many of the priests and Levites, and chief of the people, the old men who had seen (also) the former temple, at the foundation of this house before their eyes (i.e., when they saw the foundation of this house laid), wept with a loud voice. Solomon's temple was destroyed b.c. 588, and the foundation of the subsequent temple laid b.c. 535 or 534: hence the older men among those present at the latter event might possibly have seen the former house; indeed, some (according to Hagg. Ezr 2:2) were still living in the second year of Darius Hystaspis who had beheld the glory of the earlier building. Upon these aged men, the miserable circumstances under which the foundations of the new temple were laid produced so overwhelming an impression, that they broke into loud weeping. בּיסדו is connected by its accents with the words preceding: the former temple in its foundation, i.e., in its stability. But this can scarcely be correct. For not only does no noun יסד, foundation, occur further on; but even the following words, "of this house before their eyes," if severed from בּיסדו, have no meaning. Hence (with Aben Ezra, Cler., Berth., and others) we connect בּיסדו with the parenthetical sentence following, "when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes;" and then the suffix of the infinitive יסדו expressly refers to the object following, as is sometimes the case in Hebrew, e.g., 2 Chronicles 26:14; Ezra 9:1, and mostly in Chaldee; comp. Ew. 209, c, "But many were in rejoicing and joy to raise their voice," i.e., many so joyed and rejoiced that they shouted aloud.
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