Ezra 7

CHAPTER VII

In the seventh year of Artaxerxes, king of Persia, Ezra goes up

to Jerusalem; and with him certain of the priests, Levites,

porters, and Nethinim: his character, 1-10.

The letter and decree of Artaxerxes in behalf of the Jews,

11-26.

Ezra's thanksgiving to God for these mercies, 27, 28.

NOTES ON CHAP. VII

Verse 1. In the reign of Artaxerxes] This was Artaxerxes

Longimanus, the seventh of whose reign chronologers place A.M.

3547, sixty-eight years after Cyrus had sent back

Zerubbabel.-Calmet. See the introduction.

Son of Seraiah] Either this could not have been Seraiah the high

priest, who had been put to death by Nebuchadnezzar one hundred

and twenty-one years before this time, or the term son here must

signify only his descendants, or one of his descendants. Were it

otherwise, Ezra must now be at least one hundred and twenty-two

years of age, supposing him to have been born in the year of his

father's death; if, indeed Seraiah the high priest was his father;

but this is evidently impossible. In this place there are only

sixteen generations reckoned between Ezra and Aaron, but in

1Ch 6:3, 4, &c., there are not less than

twenty-two. We must therefore supply the deficient generations

from the above place, between Amariah son of Meraioth, 1Ch 6:7,

and Azariah the son of Johanan, 1Ch 6:10. There are other

discrepancies relative to genealogies in these historical books

which it would be useless to investigate. On these differences

much has been already said in different parts of this comment.

Verse 6. A ready scribe] sopher machir does not

merely signify a speedy writer or an excellent penman, but one who

was eminently skilful in expounding the law. In this sense the

word γραμματευς, scribe, is repeatedly used in the New Testament,

and we find that both in the Old and New Testament it had the same

signification. The Syriac gives the sense of the word by

translating [Persian] sophro chocimo, a wise scribe, or expounder.

Verse 8. He came to Jerusalem in the fifth month] From the

following verse we learn that Ezra and his company set off from

Babylon on the first day of the first month, and thus we find they

were upwards of four months on their journey. They could not

travel fast, as they were a great company, composed in part of the

aged and infirm, besides multitudes of women and children.

They appear also to have taken a circuitous route. See on

Ezr 8:24-32,

Verse 10. Ezra had prepared his heart] Here is a fine character

of a minister of God: He prepares, hechin, he fixes,

purposes, and determines, lebabo, with his heart-with all his

powers and affections, to seek the law of God, and to do it

himself, that he may be properly qualified to teach its statutes

and judgments to Israel.

Verse 12. Artaxerxes, king of kings] This letter, from the

beginning of this verse to the end of Ezr 7:12-26, is

in the Aramitic or Chaldee language.

This title of the king would, in Persian, run thus: [Persian]

Ardsheer shahinshah, or [Persian] padshah, "Ardsheer, king of

kings;" "great or supreme king, or emperor."

Verse 13. Their own free-will] None shall be forced either to go

or to stay. He who loves his God will avail himself of this

favourable opportunity.

Verse 14. His seven counsellors] It is very likely that the

privy counsel of the king consisted of seven persons simply. The

names of these seven counsellors or chamberlains may be found in

the book of Esther, Es 1:10.

Verse 16. And all the silver and gold] The king and his

counsellors had already made a present to the house of the God of

Israel; and Ezra is now empowered to receive any contribution

which any of the inhabitants of the province of Babylon may think

proper to give.

Verse 18. After the will of your God] He gave them the fullest

liberty to order every thing according to their own institutions,

binding them to no form or mode of worship.

Verse 22. A hundred talents of silver] The talent of silver was

450.

A hundred measures of wheat] A hundred cors; each cor was a

little more than seventy-five gallons, one quart, and a pint, wine

measure.

A hundred baths of wine] Each bath was seven gallons and five

pints.

Verse 23. Why should there be wrath] As he believed he was

appointed by the Almighty to do this work, he therefore wished to

do it heartily, knowing that if he did not, God would be

displeased, and that the kingdom would be cut off from him or his

posterity.

Verse 24. It shall not be lawful to impose toll] As these

persons had no private revenues, it would have been unreasonable

to have laid them under taxation.

Verse 26. Whether it be unto death] These include almost every

species of punishment which should be inflicted on culprits in any

civilized state. With this verse the Chaldee part of this chapter

ends.

Verse 28. And I was strengthened] In what the king decreed he

saw the hand of God; he therefore gave him the praise, and took

courage. There is a most amiable spirit of piety in these

reflections. Ezra simply states the case; shows what the king had

determined, and tells what he said; and then points out the grand

agent in the whole business-it was the Lord God of his fathers.

Thus God had put it into the king's heart to beautify the house of

Jehovah; and, as that house was built for the salvation of the

souls of men, he gives God praise for putting it into the king's

heart to repair it: he who loves God and man will rejoice in the

establishment of the Divine worship, because this is the readiest

way to promote the best interests of man.

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