1. Exposition

Why do the leaders refuse help?

Ezra 4:3 (ESV)

3 But Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the rest of the heads of fathers’ houses in Israel said to them, “You have nothing to do with us in building a house to our God; but we alone will build to the LORD, the God of Israel, as King Cyrus the king of Persia has commanded us.”

Cyrus’ original decree granted only to those who returned from exile the right to rebuild the temple (Ezra 1:1–4). In the leaders' response to the adversaries' offer for help, they refuse the offer by referring to the original command of Cyrus. Only the people who have returned from exile should be permitted to rebuild the temple. The foreign origin of those who wanted to help was sufficient to bar them from helping with the project, since it was only the Jews who returned from exile that were given the permission to rebuild the temple.1