The Jewish Eye
Sefer Ezra: Part 8 - Here Come The Kutim and… Haman!
“And the enemies of Yehudah and Binyamin heard that the people of the exile were building a Heichel for Hashem, the G-d of Yisrael.”
Rashi says that these enemies were nations which Sancheriv, the king of Ashur, had resettled in Eretz Yisrael almost two hundred years earlier. The Gemara calls them Kutim because some of them originally lived in a land called Kuta. The Kutim now approached Zerubavel and requested to build the Beis Hamikdash together with Bnei Yisrael, claiming that they served the same G-d as Bnei Yisrael. The Kutim did consider Hashem as the Kal Elyon, but they also served avodah zara. Rashi says that the Kutim did not have sincere intentions from the start, and their sole intention was to interfere with the rebuilding of the Bais Hamikdash. This explains why the possuk calls them “enemies” despite their originally peaceful request.
The Jewish leaders informed the Kutim that it would not be possible for them to share in the avodas Hashem of Bnei Yisrael and help build the Beis Hamikdash. Bnei Yisrael, who alone are supervised by Hashem with direct hashgachas pratis without a middleman, are the only ones who are spiritually fit to build a Beis Hamikdash.
The leaders also informed the Kutim that their request could not be fulfilled for political reasons as well. Coresh had specifically commanded that the Beis Hamikdash will be only for Yisrael, and not a general place of prayer for all of the nations.
“And the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah and made them fearful of building.”
The interference of the Kutim not only caused Bnei Yisrael to be fearful of continuing to build, but it also caused their initial excitement about rebuilding the Beis Hamikdash to wane.
“And they employed advisors against them to interfere with their plans, all the days of Coresh, the king of Persia, until the reign of Daryavesh, the king of Persia.”
The Kutim began scheming how to bring the building of the Beis Hamikdash to a halt. They hired advisors to aid them with their diabolical plans, who advised them to write a libelous letter to Coresh about Bnei Yisrael. The passuk says that they wrote the letter during the reign of Acheshverosh. In fact, one opinion holds that those who wrote the libelous letter were the ten sons of Haman. When Haman rose to power, he ascertained that the building of the Beis Hamikdash, which had been halted, would not continue. He even traveled to Yerushalayim for this purpose.
Ultimately, they succeeded in bringing the rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdash to an end, through the reigns of Coresh, Achashverosh, and until the second year of the reign of Daryavesh.
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