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Ezra 4: The Samaritans and the Temple

Greco-Roman Period
Already before the rebuilding of the Temple commenced, the Samaritans, a mixed people made up of descendants of the North Israelites who were left in the land after the exile by Assyria in 722 B.C.E. and foreigners brought in by the Assyrians, asked to participate. Because of their questionable lineage, they were rebuffed by the Judeans. As a result, they tried all kinds of machinations to stop the rebuilding of the Temple. In our view, this was the start of the Samaritan schism, the gradual separation of this group from the Jewish people.

4- 1 When the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the returned exiles were
building a temple to the Lord God of Israel, 2 they approached Zerubbabel 70 and the
chiefs of the clans and said to them, “Let us build with you, since we too worship your
God, having offered sacrifices to Him since the time of King Esarhaddon of Assyria, 71
who brought us here.” 3 Zerubbabel, Jeshua, 72 and the rest of the chiefs of the clans of
Israel answered them, “It is not for you and us to build a House to our God, but we alone
will build it to the Lord God of Israel, in accord with the charge that the king, King Cyrus
of Persia, laid upon us.” 4 Thereupon the people of the land undermined the resolve of
the people of Judah, and made them afraid to build. 5 They bribed ministers in order to
thwart their plans all the years of King Cyrus of Persia and until the reign of King Darius
of Persia.

70. A Davidic scion who served as governor of Judea under King Darius 1.

71. Ruled ca. 681-669 B.C.E.

72. Jeshua son of Jehozadak, high priest who was instrumental in the building of the Second Temple in
516 B.C.E.

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