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Bible Commentaries

F. B. Hole's Old and New Testament Commentary

Ezra 7



Verses 1-28

IT WAS AFTER these things, as the first verse of chapter 7 tells us, that Ezra the priest with Levitical companions left Babylon and went up to Jerusalem. It was in the seventh year of that Artaxerxes, under whom thirteen years later Nehemiah went up. Ezra's genealogy was clearly known. and it is given in the first 5 verses, showing him to be truly descended from Aaron, the first high priest. This fact qualified him for the place he was about to take. He had the further qualification of being, 'a ready scribe in the law of Moses', which indicates that he was fully acquainted with the original word of God, which still had authority over the lives of the people.

But he had a third qualification of even greater importance, and this is stated in verse Ezra 7:10. He was a man who 'prepared his heart', which indicates that he was a man of spiritual exercise, something like Timothy of New Testament days, who was to meditate upon the things of God and give himself wholly to them. As a scribe he must have had a good knowledge of the words he had often written, and this must have prepared his head. The preparing of his heart went much deeper than this, for it led him to 'seek the law of the Lord'. He really wanted to be instructed of God.

The next statement of verse Ezra 7:10 still further deepens his qualifications. He was a seeker after the law in order that he might 'do it'. This was the crowning feature that marked him. Let us pause and consider this.

Ezra lived under the law of Moses, in regard to which our Lord said, 'This do, and thou shalt live' (Luke 10:28), and he knew well that to do it was the great thing. We are not under the law but under grace, yet we have the apostolic injunction, 'Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves' (James 1:22). In this Paul does indeed agree with James, for in all his epistles he first expounds doctrine and then enforces the practical living and behaviour that the doctrine demands. Under the law men were to do in order to live. Under the Gospel we are brought into life in order that we may do the will of God. It is easy to forget this, and treat Christianity as though it were simply an exalted philosophy to entertain our minds.

Having prepared his heart to seek the law, so that he might do it, and thus exemplify its demands to some degree, he was now in the right state to 'teach in Israel statutes and judgments'. We all can see the point of this, and we trust we may realize its implications in regard to ourselves. We only effectually teach if our own lives are in accordance with what we say. How well the Apostle Paul illustrated this, for twice he alluded to it. when speaking to the elders of Ephesus: I 'have shewed you, and have taught you', and again, 'I have shewed you all things' (Acts 20:20, Acts 20:35). He illustrated in his life what he taught with his mouth. This is the effective way of teaching, whether it be in Ezra's day, or Paul's, or our own.

Following this statement of the piety and zeal that marked Ezra, we have given us a full account of the letter given by Artaxerxes to Ezra, amounting to a decree, under the authority of which he journeyed to Jerusalem and acted when he got there. It occupies verses Ezra 7:11-26. As one reads through these verses, one cannot but be struck with the wonderful work of God in the mind of a heathen king, which led him to grant such powers, order such assistance to be given and express such a recognition of the claims and greatness of 'the God of heaven'. We also see the over ruling wisdom of God controlling the mind of the king so that His servant was given liberty and even commanded to do, what God proposed.

Ezra, we see, was given remarkable authority, it being assumed that he would act, as the king said, 'after the wisdom of thy God'; and he and his helpers were exempted from every form of tax or exaction, and also given power to punish all evildoers, whether they transgressed the law of God or 'the law of the king'. Ezra was to teach the laws of God to those who were ignorant of them. So Ezra was commissioned to go up to the land armed with remarkable powers in the providence of God.

The two verses that close this chapter record Ezra's thanksgiving as he recognized how God had put His good hand upon him and moved the king's heart to grant all this. All was 'to beautify the house of the Lord'. The silver and gold and other gifts out of the treasuries would doubtless be used to increase the natural beauty of the house that was being constructed, but we venture to think that the teaching of the law, which Ezra purposed to do, would produce in the people, if they received it, a piety, which is a greater adornment to any house than can be conferred by any amount of silver and gold. The piety that marked Ezra himself can be plainly seen in these two verses.


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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Hole, Frank Binford. "Commentary on Ezra 7:4". "F. B. Hole's Old and New Testament Commentary". 1947.

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