Ezra 8

CHAPTER VIII

The genealogy of the chief persons who went with Ezra from

Babylon, 1-14.

He gathers them together at Ahava; and finding among them no

Levites, he sends confidential persons to the river of Ahava,

who return with many Levites and Nethinim, 15-20.

He proclaims a fast at Ahava for Divine protection on their

journey, 21-23.

He delivers to the care of the priests &c., the silver, gold,

and sacred vessels, that they might carry them to Jerusalem,

and deliver them to the high priest, 24-30.

They depart from Ahava, and come to Jerusalem, 31, 32.

The vessels are weighed and the weight registered, 33, 34.

They offer burnt-offerings to God, 35;

deliver the king's commissions to his lieutenants, by whom they

are furthered in their work, 36.

NOTES ON CHAP. VIII

Verse 2. Gershom] One of the descendants of Phinehas, son of

Eliazar.

Verse 3. Of the sons of Shechaniah] There were three of this

name; the second is mentioned Ezr 8:6, and the third Ezr 10:2.

They were all different persons, as may be seen from their

fathers' houses.

Verse 15. The river that runneth to Ahava] Ahava was a river

itself, which is supposed to be the same that is called Diava or

Adiava, in the province of Adiabene; and perhaps the place

whence the people of Ava came who were brought by the king of

Assyria to Palestine, 2Ki 17:24.

None of the sons of Levi.] None that were simply Levites. He

found priests, and they were sons of Levi; but no Levites that

were not priests.

Verse 17. At the place Casiphia] The most judicious commentators

are agreed that by Casiphia, the Caspian mountains, between Media

and Hyrcania, are intended; where, probably, the Nethinim were

employed in working silver mines: keseph, from which the word

comes, signifies silver.

Verse 22. I was ashamed to require-a band] He had represented

God, the object of his worship, as supremely powerful, and as

having the strongest affection for his true followers: he could

not, therefore, consistently with his declarations, ask a band of

soldiers from the king to protect them on the way, when they were

going expressly to rebuild the temple of Jehovah, and restore his

worship. He therefore found it necessary to seek the Lord by

fasting and prayer, that they might have from Him those succours

without which they might become a prey to their enemies; and then

the religion which they professed would be considered by the

heathen as false and vain. Thus we see that this good man had more

anxiety for the glory of God than for his own personal safety.

Verse 26. Silver vessels a hundred talents] That is, The weight

of all the silver vessels amounted to one hundred talents; not

that there were one hundred vessels of silver, each a talent in

weight.

Reckoning in round sums, 650 talents of silver at 450 the

talent, amount to 292,500 sterling. Silver vessels, 100 talents,

amount to 45,000; gold, 100 talents, at 7,000 per talent,

amount to 700,000 independently of the 20 basons of gold,

amounting to 1000 drachms. Now the golden drachm or daric was

worth about 1. 2s., therefore these basons were worth 1100;

the whole amounting to 1,038,600 sterling. But these different

weights and coins are variously computed; some making the silver

talent only 353 11s. 10 �d., and the talent of gold 5057

15s. 1 �d., calculations which I have elsewhere introduced.

Two vessels of fine copper, precious as gold] What these were we

cannot tell. The Syriac translates [Persian] nechoso corinthio

toba, to be vessels of the best Corinthian brass; so called from

the brass found after the burning of Corinth by Lucius Mummius,

which was brass, copper, gold, and silver, all melted together, as

is generally supposed. But it was probably some factitious metal

made there, that took the polish and assumed the brightness of

gold, and because of its hardness was more durable. There is still

a certain factitious metal of this kind, made among the Asiatics.

I have seen this metal often made; it is as bright and fine as

gold, takes a most exquisite polish, and will scarcely tarnish. I

have kept this exposed to every variation of the air, even among

old iron, brass, copper, &c., for twenty years together, without

being scarcely at all oxidized. It requires much art in the

making, but the constituent materials are of small value. Vessels

of this metal, because of their lustre and durability for

ornamental and domestic uses, are in many respects more valuable

than gold itself. The only difficulty is to get at first the true

colour, which depends on the degree of heat, and the time employed

in fusion; but there are, however, proper rules to ascertain them.

This metal is widely different from the or molu of France and

England, is less expensive, and much more valuable.

Verse 35. Twelve bullocks for all Israel] Though of tribes there

were only Judah and Benjamin, yet they offered a bullock for every

tribe, as if present. There can be little doubt that there were

individuals there from all the twelve tribes, possibly some

families of each; but no complete tribe but those mentioned above.

Verse 36. The king's lieutenants] achashdarpeney:

this is generally understood to mean lieutenant or deputy, and is

probably of Persian origin, though here greatly corrupted. The

Vulgate renders it regis satrapis, to the satraps of the king,

which is the Persian [Persian] satrab. A viceroy in Persian is

[Persian] soubah-dar; viceroys, [Persian] soubahdaran. [Persian]

darafreen signifies a person in whom one has confidence; and

[Persian] achi is an epithet of a vizir. These two words conjoined

will make nearly that of the text. But I do not give any of these

etymologies with confidence. Other words might be proposed as

candidates, but where there is so little certainty, conjecture is

useless. Were it necessary a dissertation might be written on the

Persian words, and Persian forms of speech, in this and the two

following books; but probably after my toil few of my readers

would thank me for my pains.

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