Ezra 4:23—How could foreign influence have caused the work to cease when Haggai 1:2 blames it on the indifference of the leaders?
Problem: Ezra 4:7–23 records that after the great beginning made by the people in laying the foundation of the temple, foreign enemies came up to force the people to stop the rebuilding project. However, Haggai 1:2 implies that the people were indifferent toward the building project. What was the real reason for the delay in rebuilding the temple?
Solution: Both statements are true. Although the military force of the enemy caused the rebuilding to stop, it was the indifference of the people that was responsible for the fact that the project was not restarted. During the reign of Cyrus the Great, the climate was hostile toward the people, and the building project faced stiff opposition. Once Darius I had taken power in Persia in about 522 b.c., the opportunity to restart the building project was much more favorable. However, the leaders of the people had become so involved in their own affairs that they were not interested in undertaking such an enormous project.
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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.