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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Ezra 1

 

 

Verses 1-4

PART I (Ezra 1-6). The Return under Zerubbabel to the Completion of the Temple.

Ezra 1:1-4. The Edict of Cyrus.—Cf. 2 Chronicles 36:22 f., where Ezra 1:1-3 a is reproduced almost verbally. These verses are here in their proper place; they were added to the end of 2 Ch., when this was separated from Ezr.-Neh. in order to make that book conclude with a joyous note. The edict here reported does not give the original wording; it is an abbreviation in the Chronicler's words, who has also moulded it in accordance with his ideas.

Ezra 1:1. the first year: 537 B.C.—Cyrus: on Babylonian inscriptions the form of the name is Kurash and Kurshu; he became king in 559 B.C., but from the Chronicler's point of view, as a Jew, the first year of his reign was that in which his direct connexion with Jewish history began.—the word . . . accomplished: cf. Jeremiah 25:11*, Jeremiah 29:10; the "seventy years" is a designation for a long period of time, and is not to be taken in a literal sense.—the Lord stirred up . . . Persia: cf. Isaiah 45:1, where Cyrus is spoken of as Yahweh'a anointed—he made a proclamation: lit. "he caused a voice to pass," i.e. that of a herald.—throughout all his kingdom: this could hardly have been necessary as the edict only concerned Jews, and they were congregated in definite districts, all of which were probably in Babylonia; the words are due to the Chronicler.

Ezra 1:2. All the kingdoms . . . given me: Oriental exaggeration; that Cyrus should have ascribed his victories to Yahweh is improbable; but this would be the Chronicler's belief. The expression "God of heaven" (cf. Nehemiah 1:4 f; Nehemiah 2:4; Nehemiah 2:20,) was not Israelite, it does not occur in pre-exilic times; in all probability it was borrowed from Babylonian use.—he hath . . . Judah: according to the form of the edict given by the Chronicler it was issued for the purpose not so much of proclaiming liberty to the Jews as for furthering the building of the Temple.

Ezra 1:4. The text is not in order; the meaning probably is not that the Babylonians are to send gifts for the building of the Temple, but that the wealthier Jews who would prefer to remain in their present homes should help their poorer brethren who were about to return.


Verses 5-11

Ezra 1:5-11. The Return of the Jews under Sheshbazzar with the Holy Vessels.—The carrying out of the decree.

Ezra 1:5. even all . . . Jerusalem: implying that many did not avail themselves of the opportunity of returning. The lot of many of the exiles was far from unhappy, while the prospect for those who might decide to return was not bright.

Ezra 1:6. all they that were round about them: i.e. those of their own race.—beside all that was willingly offered: the free-will offerings for the Temple; the other gifts were personal.

Ezra 1:7. the vessels . . . his gods: see 2 Kings 24:13; 2 Kings 25:14 f., 2 Chronicles 36:7.

Ezra 1:8. Mithredath: "dedicated to Mithra," the Persian sun-god.—Sheshbazzar: not to be identified with Zerubbabel, whose predecessor he was as governor (nasi) of Judah (Stade, Geschichte des Volkes Israel, ii. 100f.).

Ezra 1:11 a. The Chronicler's exaggeration in numbers is characteristic

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Ezra 1:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/ezra-1.html. 1919.

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