The meeting with their adversaries (Ezra 4:1-4:3)

“When the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the returned exiles were building a temple to Yahweh, the God of Israel, they approached Zerubbabel and the heads of families. They said to them. ‘Let us build with you. We worship your God as you do. We have been sacrificing to him ever since the days of King Esarhaddon of Assyria who brought us here.’ However, 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. We alone will build to Yahweh, the God of Israel, as King Cyrus of Persia has commanded us.’”

Into this wonderful setting of great joy entered the problem of those who were left behind, the so called poor people. A new group of adversaries arose, the inhabitants of the land who had not gone into captivity. They began to be upset at these new immigrants to their land. On top of that these northern groups of Samaritans were considered inferior to the people of Judah and Benjamin. In fact, all the other Israelite tribes were now not as good as these two groups. This adversarial group seemed to be part of the swap of inhabitants in the north in the 7th century BCE. King Esarhaddon of Assyria was the son of Sennacherib, who took over when his brothers killed their father in Babylon. These inhabitants of the land wanted to help build the Temple. The response of Zerubbabel, Jeshua and the others was no, because they alone were to build this Temple according to the decree of King Cyrus. This was not a happy meeting.