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The Complete Jewish Bible with Rashi Commentary
   

Ezra - Chapter 4

Ezra - Chapter 4

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Rashi's Commentary:

Chapter 4

1. Now the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the people of the exile were building a Temple for the Lord God of Israel.   א. וַיִּשְׁמְעוּ צָרֵי יְהוּדָה וּבִנְיָמִן כִּי בְנֵי הַגּוֹלָה בּוֹנִים הֵיכָל לַיהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל:
the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin: They are the nations whom Sannecherib settled in the land Israel, as it says (II Kings 17: 24): “And the king of Assyria brought [people] from Babylonia and from Cuthah and from Avvah and from Hamath and from Sepharvaim, and he settled them in the cities of Samaria instead of the Children of Israel.”  
2. And they approached Zerubbabel and the heads of the fathers' houses and said to them, "Let us build with you, for like you we seek your God, and we have been sacrificing to Him since the days of Esarhaddon, the king of Assyria, who brought us up here."   ב. וַיִּגְּשׁוּ אֶל זְרֻבָּבֶל וְאֶל רָאשֵׁי הָאָבוֹת וַיֹּאמְרוּ לָהֶם נִבְנֶה עִמָּכֶם כִּי כָכֶם נִדְרוֹשׁ לֵאלֹהֵיכֶם וְלוֹ | אֲנַחְנוּ זֹבְחִים מִימֵי אֵסַר חַדּוֹן מֶלֶךְ אַשּׁוּר הַמַּעֲלֶה אֹתָנוּ פֹּה:
and said to them, “Let us build with you…”: They said this in order that through them the work of the Temple should be disrupted, that they should build no more.  
since the days of Esarhaddon the king of Assyria: the son of Sannecherib, for after Sannecherib settled them there, as it says (II Kings 29:37, Isa. 37:38): “And he was prostrating himself in the temple of Nisroch his god, and Adramelech and Sharezer, his sons, slew him by the sword etc., and his son Esarhaddon reigned in his stead.”  
3. And Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the rest of the heads of the fathers' houses of Israel said to them, "It is not for you and for us to build a House for our God, but we ourselves shall build for the Lord God of Israel, as King Cyrus, the king of Persia, commanded us."   ג. וַיֹּאמֶר לָהֶם זְרֻבָּבֶל וְיֵשׁוּעַ וּשְׁאָר רָאשֵׁי הָאָבוֹת לְיִשְׂרָאֵל לֹא לָכֶם וָלָנוּ לִבְנוֹת בַּיִת לֵאלֹהֵינוּ כִּי אֲנַחְנוּ יַחַד נִבְנֶה לַיהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוָּנוּ הַמֶּלֶךְ כּוֹרֶשׁ מֶלֶךְ פָּרָס:
but we: Heb. כִּי, but we alone shall build. This כִּי serves in place of אֶלָּא, but.  
4. And the people of the land were hindering the people of Judea and frightening them from building.   ד. וַיְהִי עַם הָאָרֶץ מְרַפִּים יְדֵי עַם יְהוּדָה וּמְבַהֲלִים אוֹתָם לִבְנוֹת:
the people of the land: They are the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin.  
were hindering: to disrupt them from their work.  
from building: Heb. לִבְנוֹת, lit. to build, and so (Gen. 41:49): “until one ceased to count (לִסְפֹּר).”  
5. And they would hire advisors against them to frustrate their plan, all the days of Cyrus, the king of Persia, and until the kingdom of Darius, the king of Persia.   ה. וְסֹכְרִים עֲלֵיהֶם יוֹעֲצִים לְהָפֵר עֲצָתָם כָּל יְמֵי כּוֹרֶשׁ מֶלֶךְ פָּרַס וְעַד מַלְכוּת דָּרְיָוֶשׁ מֶלֶךְ פָּרָס:
And they would hire: Heb. וְסֹכְרִים. This is written with a “sammech,” but its meaning is as though it was written with a “sin,” [meaning] that they would hire advisors to disrupt the work.  
all the days of: the reign of Cyrus and the reign of Ahasuerus, who reigned after Cyrus, until the second year of Darius, who reigned after Ahasuerus, the work was stopped.  
6. And in the reign of Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, they wrote an accusation against the dwellers of Judea and Jerusalem.   ו. וּבְמַלְכוּת אֲחַשְׁוֵרוֹשׁ בִּתְחִלַּת מַלְכוּתוֹ כָּתְבוּ שִׂטְנָה עַל יֹשְׁבֵי יְהוּדָה וִירוּשָׁלִָם:
And in the reign of Ahasuerus: who reigned after Cyrus; he is the Ahasuerus who took Esther.  
they wrote an accusation: not to build the Temple.  
against the dwellers of Judea and Jerusalem: to inform on them and to chide them not to build the Temple.  
7. And in the days of Artaxerxes, Mithredath Tabeel and the rest of his colleagues wrote with peace, to Artaxerxes, the king of Persia, and the script of the epistle was written in Aramaic and explained in Aramaic.   ז. וּבִימֵי אַרְתַּחְשַׁשְׂתָּא כָּתַב בִּשְׁלָם מִתְרְדָת טָבְאֵל וּשְׁאָר כְּנָו‍ֹתָיו עַל אַרְתַּחְשַׁשְׂתְּא מֶלֶךְ פָּרָס וּכְתָב הַנִּשְׁתְּוָן כָּתוּב אֲרָמִית וּמְתֻרְגָּם אֲרָמִית:
And in the days of Artaxerxes: He is Cyrus, the king of Persia. The numerical value of the letters of כּרֶשּׁ equal the numerical value of the letters of דָּרְיָוֶשּׁ : [כ = 20; ר = 200; שּׁ = 300; total = 520. ד = 4; ר = 200; י = 10; 520 ו = 6; שּׁ = 300; total = 520.] And so we learned in Tractate Rosh Hashanah (3b): “The same one is Cyrus, who is Darius, who is Artaxerxes.” [He was called Cyrus כּרֶשּׁ because he was a worthy (כָּשֵּׁר) king; Artaxerxes, because of the kingdom, and in Seder Olam (ch. 30): “Darius was Artaxerxes (אַרְתַּחְשַּׁשְּׁתָּא), and the entire kingdom was called Artaxerxes, etc.” [meaning that all the kings were called Artaxerxes].  
wrote with peace: wrote his letter with words of peace.  
Mithredath Tabeel: This is the name of a man, one of the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin.  
and the rest of his colleagues: Heb. כְּנָותָיו, his companies and his societies.  
to Artaxerxes: [as translated,] to Artaxerxes.  
and the script of the epistle: Heb. וּכְתָב הַנִשְּׁתְּוָן.  
written in Aramaic: in Aramaic characters.  
and explained in Aramaic: The script was explained in the Aramaic language.  
8. Rehum was the secretary, and Shimshai was the scribe; they wrote a letter about Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king, as is stated.   ח. רְחוּם בְּעֵל טְעֵם וְשִׁמְשַׁי סָפְרָא כְּתַבוּ אִגְּרָא חֲדָא עַל יְרוּשְׁלֶם לְאַרְתַּחְשַׁשְׂתְּא מַלְכָּא כְּנֵמָא:
Rehum was the secretary: Rehum was the secretary and the master of words to compose the epistle.  
and Shimshai was the scribe: And Shimshai was the scribe: he is Shimshai the son of Haman. So it is customary to mention the scribe and the secretary together because they need each other; one composes and dictates, and the scribe writes, as it says (I Kings 4: 3): “Eliphoreph and Ahiah, the sons of Shisha, scribes, Jehoshaphat, the son of Ahlud, the secretary,” and in another place it says (Isa. 36:22): “And Eliakim, the son of Hilkiah etc. and Shebna the scribe, and Joah, the son of Asaph the secretary, came.”  
they wrote a letter: These two, Rehum and Shimshai, wrote the letter as Mithredath Tabeel had commanded them, and they all were dwellers of the cities of Samaria.  
about Jerusalem: about the building of the Temple, which is in Jerusalem.  
as is stated: Aram. כְּנֵמָא, as is stated, and that is similar to the expression of the Gemara: “as we wish to say further.”  
9. Then Rehum the secretary and Shimshai the scribe and the rest of their companies, the Dinites, the Apharesattechites, the Tarpelites, the Apharesites, the Archevites, the Babylonians, the Shushanchites, the Dehites, the Elamites.   ט. אֱדַיִן רְחוּם בְּעֵל טְעֵם וְשִׁמְשַׁי סָפְרָא וּשְׁאָר כְּנָוָתְהוֹן דִּינָיֵא וַאֲפַרְסַתְכָיֵא טַרְפְּלָיֵא אֲפָרְסָיֵא אַרְכְּוָיֵא בַבְלָיֵא שׁוּשַׁנְכָיֵא דֶּהָיֵא עֵלְמָיֵא:
Then: Aram. אֱדַיִן, equivalent to the Hebrew אָז.  
Rehum: the name of a man.  
the secretary: Aram. בְּעֵל טְעֵם secretary and master of words.  
the Dinites, the Apharesattechites, etc.: All these are names of nations whom Sennacherib repatriated in the cities of Samaria.  
the Apharesites: They are the Persians whom Sennacherib settled in the cities of Samaria.  
the Archevites: They are the people of Erech, as it says (Gen. 10:10): “and Erech and Accad and Calneh.”  
the Babylonians: the people of Babylon.  
the Shushanchites: the people of Shushan, the capital.  
the Elamites: the people of Elam. Sennacherib settled all of these peoples in the land of Israel, and all of them were settling and concurring with the commission of this letter.  
10. And the rest of the nations whom the great and honored Asenappar exiled and settled in the cities of Samaria and the rest of the other side of the river and Ke'eneth.   י. וּשְׁאָר אֻמַּיָּא דִּי הַגְלִי אָסְנַפַּר רַבָּא וְיַקִּירָא וְהוֹתֵב הִמּוֹ בְּקִרְיָה דִּי שָׁמְרָיִן וּשְׁאָר עֲבַר נַהֲרָה וּכְעֶנֶת:
And the rest of the nations: and the rest of the nations that Sennacherib exiled; they have all concurred.  
Asenappar: Sennacherib.  
the great and honored: for he was a great and honored king, as it says (Isa. 36:4): “So has the great king, the king of Assyria, said.”  
in the cities of Samaria: in the cities surrounding Samaria.  
and the rest of the other side of the river: and the rest of the nations that are on the other side of the river; because the river Euphrates intervenes between the land of Israel and Babylon, those nations that are in Israel are on the opposite side of the river of those found in Babylon.  
and Ke’eneth: a name of a place; and all the people of Ke’eneth have concurred with the commission of this letter.  
11. This is the meaning of the letter that they sent to him, to Artaxerxes the king: "Your servants are the people of the other side of the river and Ke'eneth.   יא. דְּנָה פַּרְשֶׁגֶן אִגַּרְתָּא דִּי שְׁלַחוּ עֲלוֹהִי עַל אַרְתַּחְשַׁשְׂתְּא מַלְכָּא עַבְדָּךְ אֱנָשׁ עֲבַר נַהֲרָה וּכְעֶנֶת:
This is the meaning of the letter: and this is the interpretation of the letter.  
the meaning: Aram. פַּרְשֶּׁגֶן like (Esther 3:14): "The meaning of (פַּתְשֶּׁגֶן) the writ.  
that they sent to him: [as translated,] that they sent to him.  
to Artaxerxes: [as translated,] to Artaxerxes.  
Your servants are the people of the other side of the river and Ke’eneth: The people of the other side of the river and the people of Ke’eneth are your servants. All the nations counted here are included in this generalization, for they were all on the side of the land of Israel, which is on the opposite side of the river of those dwelling in Babylon, and this is the beginning of the letter: “Your servants are the people of the other side of the river etc.” until, “… you will have no part.”  
12. Let it be known to the king that the Jews who ascended from you upon us have come to Jerusalem, the rebellious and sinful city they are building, and the walls they have completed, and the walls they have joined.   יב. יְדִיעַ לֶהֱוֵא לְמַלְכָּא דִּי יְהוּדָיֵא דִּי סְלִקוּ מִן לְוָתָךְ עֲלֵינָא אֲתוֹ לִירוּשְׁלֶם קִרְיְתָא מָרָדְתָּא וּבִאיֹשְׁתָּא בָּנַיִן וְשׁוּרַיָּא שַׁכְלִלוּ וְאֻשַּׁיָּא יָחִיטוּ:
Let it be known to the king: Let it be a known thing to the king.  
that the Jews: that the Jews who ascended from you upon us have come to Jerusalem.  
the rebellious and sinful city they are building: [as translated,] a rebellious and sinful city they are building.  
the walls they have completed: [as translated,] the walls they have completed.  
and the walls: [as translated,] and the walls.  
they have joined: Aram. יָחִיטוּ, an expression of a thread, like (Gen. 14:23): “not from a thread, (מִחוּטּ) ,” for they are “sewing” and joining the walls one to another.  
13. Now let it be known to the king that if this city is built and the walls are founded, they will not give the king's due, the head tax, or the meal tax they will not give, and the tax of the kings will suffer.   יג. כְּעַן יְדִיעַ לֶהֱוֵא לְמַלְכָּא דִּי הֵן קִרְיְתָא דָךְ תִּתְבְּנֵא וְשׁוּרַיָּא יִשְׁתַּכְלְלוּן מִנְדָּה בְלוֹ וַהֲלָךְ לָא יִנְתְּנוּן וְאַפְּתֹם מַלְכִים תְּהַנְזִק:
Now let it be known: Now let it be known to the king.  
that if this city is built: [as translated,] that if this city is built.  
this: [as translated,] this.  
and the walls are founded: [as translated,] and the walls are founded.  
the king’s due, the head tax, or the meal tax: They are types of taxes and the money for the head taxes.  
they will not give: They will no longer pay taxes.  
and the tax of the kings will suffer: [as translated,] and the tax of the kings will suffer, for they will no longer give tax to the kings.  
14. Now, in view of this, that we wish to destroy the Temple, and it is improper for us to witness the king's disgrace, we have therefore sent and notified the king.   יד. כְּעַן כָּל קֳבֵל דִּי מְלַח הֵיכְלָא מְלַחְנָא וְעַרְוַת מַלְכָּא לָא אֲרִיךְ לָנָא לְמֶחֱזֵא עַל דְּנָה שְׁלַחְנָא וְהוֹדַעְנָא לְמַלְכָּא:
Now in view of this, that we wish to destroy the Temple: Now in view of this matter, that we wish to implement the destruction of the Temple. דִי מְלַח is an expression of destruction and desolation, like Jer. 17:6): “barren (מְלֵחָה) land that is uninhabitable.”  
we wish to destroy: We wish to demolish and to destroy.  
and… the king’s disgrace: Aram. מַלְכָּא וְעַרְוַת, lit. and the king’s nakedness.  
it is improper: Aram. לָא אַרִי, it is improper for us to see. אַרִי means proper, like “Is it proper (אַרִי) or improper (לָא אַרִי) ?” in Tractate Succah (44b).  
therefore: therefore we have sent and notified the king.  
15. That one should search in the annals of your fathers, and you will find in the annals, and you will know that this city is a rebellious city, and it injures kings and countries, and they have made rebellion in its midst since days of yore; because of this, this city was destroyed.   טו. דִּי יְבַקַּר בִּסְפַר דָּכְרָנַיָּא דִּי אֲבָהָתָךְ וּתְהַשְׁכַּח בִּסְפַר דָּכְרָנַיָּא וְתִנְדַּע דִּי קִרְיְתָא דָךְ קִרְיָא מָרָדָא וּמְהַנְזְקַת מַלְכִין וּמְדִינָן וְאֶשְׁתַּדּוּר עָבְדִין בְּגַוָּהּ מִן יוֹמָת עָלְמָא עַל דְּנָה קִרְיְתָא דָךְ הָחָרְבַת:
That one should search: that a seeker should search and seek in the annals of your fathers, the first kings.  
and you will find: And you will find in the annals, and you will know that this city is a rebellious city, and it injures the kings and the countries.  
and they have made rebellion in its midst: And its inhabitants were making rebellion in its midst, for Israel would rebel against the kings of the nations.  
since days of yore: Aram. מִן יוֹמָת עָלְמָא, from days of yore. Since ancient times, it has been their custom to rebel against the kings of the nations.  
because of this: Because of this, this city was destroyed.  
16. We make known to the king that if this city is built, and its walls founded, because of this, you will have no part in the other side of the river."   טז. מְהוֹדְעִין אֲנַחְנָה לְמַלְכָּא דִּי הֵן קִרְיְתָא דָךְ תִּתְבְּנֵא וְשׁוּרַיָּה יִשְׁתַּכְלְלוּן לָקֳבֵל דְּנָה חֲלָק בַּעֲבַר נַהֲרָא לָא אִיתַי לָךְ:
We make known to the king: [as translated,] we make known to the king.  
that if this city: that if this city is built, and its walls are founded.  
because of this: In view of this and because of this, you will have no part in the entire other side of the river, because Israel will rebel against you and take everything out of your hands.  
in the other side of the river: That is the entire area of the side of Israel, which is on the other side of the river of those who are in Babylon.  
17. The king sent a word to Rehum the secretary and Shimshai the scribe and the rest of their companies who lived in Samaria, and the rest of the other side of the river, Shelam and Ke'eth.   יז. פִּתְגָּמָא שְׁלַח מַלְכָּא עַל רְחוּם בְּעֵל טְעֵם וְשִׁמְשַׁי סָפְרָא וּשְׁאָר כְּנָוָתְהוֹן דִּי יָתְבִין בְּשָׁמְרָיִן וּשְׁאָר עֲבַר נַהֲרָה שְׁלָם וּכְעֶת:
The king sent a word: Aram. מַלְכָּא פִּתְגָּמָא שְּׁלַח  
to Rehum the secretary: to Rehum the secretary, and Shimshai the scribe, and to the rest of their companies, who dwelt in the cities of Samaria, and to the rest of the nations who were on the other side of the river of the side of the land of Israel.  
Shelam and Ke’eth: They are places, like “and Ke’eneth.” Sometimes he calls it this and sometimes that.  
18. "The letter that you sent to us was explained and read before me.   יח. נִשְׁתְּוָנָא דִּי שְׁלַחְתּוּן עֲלֶינָא מְפָרַשׁ קֱרִי קֳדָמָי:
The letter: The writ of the letter that you sent to us was explained and read before me.  
19. And the order was given by me, and they searched and found that this city had raised itself up over kings, and rebellion and disobedience were committed within it.   יט. וּמִנִּי שִׂים טְעֵם וּבַקָּרוּ וְהַשְׁכַּחוּ דִּי קִרְיְתָא דָךְ מִן יוֹמָת עָלְמָא עַל מַלְכִין מִתְנַשְּׂאָה וּמְרַד וְאֶשְׁתַּדּוּר מִתְעֲבֶד בַּהּ:
the order was given: And the order was given by me, the matter of a command that I commanded.  
and they searched and found: And they searched in the annals of the kings and found written that this city, from days of yore, would raise itself up and exalt itself over all the kings of the nations, and rebellion and disobedience were committed there to rebel against the kings of the nations.  
20. And mighty kings were over Jerusalem who ruled over all beyond the river, and the king's due, the head tax, and the meal tax was given to them.   כ. וּמַלְכִין תַּקִּיפִין הֲווֹ עַל יְרוּשְׁלֵם וְשַׁלִּיטִין בְּכֹל עֲבַר נַהֲרָה וּמִדָּה בְלוֹ וַהֲלָךְ מִתְיְהֵב לְהוֹן:
And mighty kings: and mighty kings were in Jerusalem who were the rulers and governors over the entire side of the river on the side of Israel, as it says regarding Solomon (I Kings 5:4): “For he had dominion over all this side of the river, etc.” And taxes and the head tax were given to them, for the nations paid them tribute.  
21. Now issue an order to stop these men, and this city shall not be built; until orders are given by me.   כא. כְּעַן שִׂימוּ טְעֵם לְבַטָּלָא גֻּבְרַיָּא אִלֵּךְ וְקִרְיְתָא דָךְ לָא תִתְבְּנֵא עַד מִנִּי טַעֲמָא יִתְּשָׂם:
Now issue an order: Now give out a word to announce in the land to stop these men, the Children of Israel, from the work, and the city of Jerusalem shall not be built until orders are given with my knowledge and my authorization.  
22. And beware of committing an error in this matter. Why should the damage increase to injure the kings?"   כב. וּזְהִירִין הֱווֹ שָׁלוּ לְמֶעְבַּד עַל דְּנָה לְמָה יִשְׂגֵּא חֲבָלָא לְהַנְזָקַת מַלְכִין:
And beware of committing an error: And you shall beware of committing any postponement or error. שָּׁלוּ is desto(u)rber in Old French, to violate.  
of committing… in this matter: [as translated,] of committing in this manner.  
Why should… increase: Why should the act of destruction in this city increase to injure the kings? Until here is Cyrus’ reply, which he sent back.  
23. Then, since the interpretation of the letter of Artaxerxes the king was read before Rehum, and Shimshai the scribe, and their companies, they went in haste to Jerusalem to the Jews, and they stopped them with force and might.   כג. אֱדַיִן מִן דִּי פַּרְשֶׁגֶן נִשְׁתְּוָנָא דִּי אַרְתַּחְשַׁשְׂתְּא מַלְכָּא קֱרִי קֳדָם רְחוּם וְשִׁמְשַׁי סָפְרָא וּכְנָוָתְהוֹן אֲזַלוּ בִבְהִילוּ לִירוּשְׁלֵם עַל יְהוּדָיֵא וּבַטִּלוּ הִמּוֹ בְּאֶדְרָע וְחָיִל:
then: [as translated,] then.  
since the interpretation: Since the interpretation of the writ of the letter of Artaxerxes the king-he is Cyrus-this incident took place.  
was read before: for the writ of this letter was read before Rehum and Shimshai and their companies, and they went with speed and haste to Jerusalem, to the Jews, and stopped them with force and might from continuing the construction of the edifice.  
to the Jews: Aram. עַל יְהוּדָיֵא, lit. On the Jews.  
and they: Aram. הִמוֹ, equivalent to הֵם.  
24. Then the work of the House of God, which was in Jerusalem, was stopped, and it was suspended until the second year of the reign of Darius, the king of Persia.   כד. בֵּאדַיִן בְּטֵלַת עֲבִידַת בֵּית אֱלָהָא דִּי בִּירוּשְׁלֵם וַהֲוָת בָּטְלָא עַד שְׁנַת תַּרְתֵּין לְמַלְכוּת דָּרְיָוֶשׁ מֶלֶךְ פָּרָס:
Then: Then the work of the building of the House of God, which was in Jerusalem, was suspended until the second year of Darius, the king of Persia; for after Cyrus, Ahasuerus, who married Esther, reigned, and after Ahasuerus, Darius, the son of Ahasuerus, who was the son of Esther, reigned. And from the first year of Cyrus, the king of Persia, until the second year of Darius were eighteen years, which completed the seventy years from the destruction of Jerusalem. For from the destruction of the Temple, when Zedekiah was exiled, until the first year of Cyrus, were fifty-two years, as is explained in Seder Olam (ch. 29). There were then eighteen years from the first year of Cyrus until the second year of Darius, totaling a complete seventy years, and in the second year of Darius they commenced to build the Temple until they completed it.  
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