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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Ezra 7

 

 

Verse 1

Now after these things, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra the son of Seraiah, the son of Azariah, the son of Hilkiah,

In the reign of Artaxerxes - i:e., him who was surnamed Longimanus. An interval of 50 years intervenes between the close of the last chapter and this; i:e., between the dedication of the temple and the journey of Ezra to Palestine. A number of stirring events occurred during that period-namely, the expedition of Xerxes into Greece, the battles of Marathon, Thermopylae, and Salamis, with the deeds of Miltiades, Leonidas, and Cimon, which brought such humiliating disasters on the Persian empire. Then, after the return of Xerxes from this unfortunate expedition, there was the episode of Esther and the exaltation of Mordecai, both of which produced a happy change on the condition and prospects of the Jews, a short time before the mission of Ezra.

Ezra the son of Seraiah , [ `Ezraa' (Hebrew #5830), help; Septuagint, Esdras]. A period of 120 years had elasped between that catastrophe and the journey of Ezra to Jerusalem; and as a grandson of Seraiah-namely, Jeshua, who held the office of high priest-had accompanied Zerubbabel in the first caravan of returning exiles, Ezra must have been in all probability a grandson, descended too from a younger son, the older branch being in possession of the pontificate.


Verses 2-5

The son of Shallum, the son of Zadok, the son of Ahitub, No JFB commentary on these verses.


Verse 6

This Ezra went up from Babylon; and he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which the LORD God of Israel had given: and the king granted him all his request, according to the hand of the LORD his God upon him.

This Ezra ... was a ready scribe in the law of Moses. The term "scribe" does not mean a penman, nor even an attorney well versant in forms of law, and skilled in the method of preparing public or private deeds. He was a rabbi, or doctor, learned in the Mosaic law, and in all that related to the civil and ecclesiastical polity and customs of the Hebrew people. Scribes of this description possessed great authority and influence (cf. Matthew 23:25; Mark 12:28).

The king granted him all his request. Nothing is said as to the ground or channel of Ezra's influence with the king. But Josephus ('Antiquities,' b. 11:, ch. 5:, sec. 1) says that he enjoyed a reputation in society for the integrity and high qualities of his character. He left Babylon entrusted with an important commission to be executed in Jerusalem. The manner in which he obtained this office is minutely related in a subsequent passage. Here it is noticed, but with a pious acknowledgment of the divine grace and goodness which disposed the royal mind in favour of Ezra's patriotic objects. The Levites, etc. did not go at that time, and are mentioned here by anticipation.


Verse 7

And there went up some of the children of Israel, and of the priests, and the Levites, and the singers, and the porters, and the Nethinims, unto Jerusalem, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 8

And he came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which was in the seventh year of the king. Came to Jerusalem in the fifth month - i:e., corresponding to the end of our July or beginning of our August. Since he left Babylon on New Year's Day (Ezra 7:9), the journey must have occupied not less than four months-a long period; but it was necessary to move at a slow pace, and by short, easy stages, as he had to conduct a large caravan of poor people, including women, children, and all their household gear, (see the note at Ezra 8:1-36.)


Verse 9

For upon the first day of the first month began he to go up from Babylon, and on the first day of the fifth month came he to Jerusalem, according to the good hand of his God upon him.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 10

For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.

Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord ... His reigning desire had been to study the divine law, its principles, institutions, privileges, and requirements; and now, from love and zeal, he devoted himself, as the business of his life, to the work of instructing, reforming, and edifying others.


Verse 11

Now this is the copy of the letter that the king Artaxerxes gave unto Ezra the priest, the scribe, even a scribe of the words of the commandments of the LORD, and of his statutes to Israel.

This is the copy of the letter that the king Artaxerxes gave. The measure which this document authorized, and the remarkable interest in the Jews displayed in it, was most probably owing to the influence of Esther, the king's mother, who had imbued her son with favourable dispositions toward the Jews.


Verse 12

Artaxerxes, king of kings, unto Ezra the priest, a scribe of the law of the God of heaven, perfect peace, and at such a time.

Artaxerxes, king of kings. That title might have been assumed as, with literal truth, applicable to him, since many of the tributary princes of his empire still retained the name and authority of kings. But it was as probably a mere Orientalism, denoting a great and powerful prince, as the heaven of heavens signified the highest heaven, and vanity of vanities the greatest vanity. This vain-glorious title was assumed by the kings of Assyria, from whom it passed to the sovereigns of Persia.

Unto Ezra the priest, a scribe of the law of the God of heaven. The appointment of Ezra, which was in the seventh year of Artaxerxes' reign, to this influential mission, was of the highest importance to the Hebrew people, as a large proportion of them were become, in a great measure, strangers both to the language and the institutions of their forefathers.


Verse 13

I make a decree, that all they of the people of Israel, and of his priests and Levites, in my realm, which are minded of their own freewill to go up to Jerusalem, go with thee.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 14

Forasmuch as thou art sent of the king, and of his seven counsellors, to inquire concerning Judah and Jerusalem, according to the law of thy God which is in thine hand;

Sent of the king, and of his seven counselors. This was the fixed number of the privy council of the king of Persia (see the note at Ezra 5:2 : cf. Esther 1:10; Esther 1:14). The document describes, with great clearness and precision, the nature of Ezra's commission, and the extent of power and prerogatives with which he was invested. It gave him authority, in the first place, to organize the colony in Judea, and institute a regular government, according to the laws of the Hebrew people, and by magistrates and rulers of their own nation (Ezra 7:25-26), with power to punish offenders by fines, imprisonment, exile, or death, according to the degree of their criminality. Secondly, he was empowered to carry a large donation of money, partly from the royal treasury, and partly raised by voluntary contributions among his countrymen, to create a fund out of which to make suitable provision for maintaining the regular worship of God in Jerusalem (Ezra 7:16-17). Thirdly, the Persian officers in Syria were commanded to afford him every assistance by gifts of money, within a certain specified limit, in carrying out the objects of his patriotic mission (Ezra 7:21).


Verses 15-21

And to carry the silver and gold, which the king and his counsellors have freely offered unto the God of Israel, whose habitation is in Jerusalem,

No JFB commentary on these verses.


Verse 22

Unto an hundred talents of silver, and to an hundred measures of wheat, and to an hundred baths of wine, and to an hundred baths of oil, and salt without prescribing how much.

An hundred talents of silver - 22,000 British pounds, according to the rate of the silver talent of Babylon. Fourthly, Artaxerxes gave his royal sanction in establishment of the divine law which exempted priests and Levites from taxation or tribute, and confirmed to them the exclusive right to officiate in the sacred services of the sanctuary. And, finally, in the expression of the king's desire for the divine blessing upon the king and his government (Ezra 7:23), we see the strong persuasion which pervaded the Persian court, and had been produced by the captivity of the Hebrew people as to the Being and Directing Providence of the God they worshipped. It will be observed, however, that the commission related exclusively to the rebuilding of the temple-not of the walls. The Samaritans (Ezra 4:20-22) had succeeded in alarming the Persian court by their representations of the danger to the empire of fortifying a city notorious for the turbulent character of its inhabitants and the prowess of its kings.


Verses 23-26

Whatsoever is commanded by the God of heaven, let it be diligently done for the house of the God of heaven: for why should there be wrath against the realm of the king and his sons? No JFB commentary on these verses.


Verse 27

Blessed be the LORD God of our fathers, which hath put such a thing as this in the king's heart, to beautify the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem:

Blessed be the Lord God of our fathers. This devout thanksgiving is in unison with the whole character of Ezra, who discerns the hand of God in every event, and is always ready to express a pious acknowledgment for the divine goodness.

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Ezra 7:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/ezra-7.html. 1871-8.

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