Ezra 4:1-2 The enemies of Judah and Benjamin … came to Zerubbabel … and said, “Let us help you build because, like you, we seek your God and have been sacrificing to him since the time of Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us here.”
A careful reading of the written word can bring to light the intent of the author. Also, a careful listening to the words someone speaks to you can also give clues to their motives. The opening two verses of chapter 4 bring to light the real intent and position of the people living in the area of the returning exiles.
Like the exiles, the people come and say that they too are seeking God. If that were true, then why wasn’t the Temple rebuilt? Why did the Israelites who were not taken into captivity instruct these people in the Law of Moses? Surely someone in the remaining group could teach them how and where true worship of God was to be conducted.
They have been sacrificing to God for years, they say. The altar and the Temple were in disarray for over seventy years. There was no place to sacrifice, no place acceptable to God. Were they lying or had they been offering unofficial sacrifices elsewhere in the area?
Lastly, these people were brought to the area as a result of another conquest by a different king and they had come from another foreign land. They could not have been instructed by Esarhaddon, king of Assyria, for he was not an Israelite and he followed a multiple of gods.
It is easy to be deceived if you are not paying attention to what people say. It is easy to fall into the misguided beliefs of those who are not truly seeking Jehovah, the God of Israel.