|<< Ezra 6 >>|
Clarke's Commentary on the Bible
Darius orders search to be made for the edict of Cyrus, Ezra 6:1. It is found at Achmetha, Ezra 6:2. A transcript of this edict, Ezra 6:3-5. Darius confirms it, Ezra 6:6-12. Tatnai encourages the Jews to proceed; and they finish the temple in the sixth year of Darius, Ezra 6:13-15. They dedicate the temple, Ezra 6:16-18; keep the Passover, Ezra 6:19-21, and the feast of unleavened bread, Ezra 6:22.
1Then Darius the king made a decree, and search was made in the house of the rolls, where the treasures were laid up in Babylon.
In the house of the rolls - בית ספריא beith siphraiya, the house of the books, the king's library. This is the first time we hear of a library.
2And there was found at Achmetha, in the palace that is in the province of the Medes, a roll, and therein was a record thus written:
At Achmetha - Ecbatana in India, whither it is probable all the records of Cyrus had been carried. This was a sort of summer residence for the kings of Persia.
3In the first year of Cyrus the king the same Cyrus the king made a decree concerning the house of God at Jerusalem, Let the house be builded, the place where they offered sacrifices, and let the foundations thereof be strongly laid; the height thereof threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof threescore cubits;
The height thereof threescore cubits - This was much larger than the temple of Solomon. This was sixty cubits high, and sixty cubits broad; whereas Solomon's was only twenty cubits broad, and thirty cubits high.
4With three rows of great stones, and a row of new timber: and let the expences be given out of the king's house:
Three rows of great stones, and a row of new timber - We have noticed this kind of building before, three courses of stones, and then a course of strong balk; and this continued to the square of the building.
And let the expenses be given - Cyrus had ordered wood to be cut at Libanus, and conveyed to Joppa at his expense; but it does not appear that he furnished the other expenses of the building, for we have already seen that the Jews contributed for the defraying of all others. But it appears that he provided at his own expense the sacrifices and offerings for the temple. See Ezra 6:9.
5And also let the golden and silver vessels of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took forth out of the temple which is at Jerusalem, and brought unto Babylon, be restored, and brought again unto the temple which is at Jerusalem, every one to his place, and place them in the house of God.
6Now therefore, Tatnai, governor beyond the river, Shetharboznai, and your companions the Apharsachites, which are beyond the river, be ye far from thence:
Be ye far from thence - Do not interrupt the Jews in their building; but, on the contrary further them all in your power.
7Let the work of this house of God alone; let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews build this house of God in his place.
8Moreover I make a decree what ye shall do to the elders of these Jews for the building of this house of God: that of the king's goods, even of the tribute beyond the river, forthwith expences be given unto these men, that they be not hindered.
9And that which they have need of, both young bullocks, and rams, and lambs, for the burnt offerings of the God of heaven, wheat, salt, wine, and oil, according to the appointment of the priests which are at Jerusalem, let it be given them day by day without fail:
10That they may offer sacrifices of sweet savours unto the God of heaven, and pray for the life of the king, and of his sons.
And pray for the life of the king, and of his sons - Even heathens believed that offerings made in their behalf to the God of the Jews would be available. And this principle has had considerable influence in certain states where there was even a form of religion established by the law, to induce them to tolerate other forms, that the state might have the benefit of their prayers.
11Also I have made a decree, that whosoever shall alter this word, let timber be pulled down from his house, and being set up, let him be hanged thereon; and let his house be made a dunghill for this.
Let timber be pulled down - Whether this refers to the punishment of hanging and gibbeting of whipping at a post, or of empaling, is not quite clear. In China they tie culprits to posts; and the executioner cuts them open while alive, takes out their bowels, etc. Empaling, thrusting a sharp stake through the body till it comes out at the side of the neck, or hanging, seems to be intended here.
Let his house be made a dunghill - Let it be reduced to ruins, and never more used, except for the most sordid and unclean purposes.
12And the God that hath caused his name to dwell there destroy all kings and people, that shall put to their hand to alter and to destroy this house of God which is at Jerusalem. I Darius have made a decree; let it be done with speed.
13Then Tatnai, governor on this side the river, Shetharboznai, and their companions, according to that which Darius the king had sent, so they did speedily.
14And the elders of the Jews builded, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they builded, and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia.
According to the commandment of the God of Israel - He first gave the order, and stirred up the hearts of the following Persian kings to second that order.
Of Cyrus - This sovereign gave his orders for the rebuilding of the temple about A.M. 3468.
And Darius - Darius Hystaspes confirmed the above orders, A. M. 3485.
And Artaxerxes - Artaxerxes Longimanus sent Ezra to Judea with new privileges, A.M. 3547. With the permission of the same king, Nehemiah came to Judea in 3550. The writer recapitulates the different sovereigns who favored the Jews after the Babylonish captivity. See Calmet.
15And this house was finished on the third day of the month Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king.
This house was finished - The sixth year of Darius mentioned here was about A.M. 3489, twenty years after the foundation had been laid by Zerubbabel, under the reign of Cyrus.
16And the children of Israel, the priests, and the Levites, and the rest of the children of the captivity, kept the dedication of this house of God with joy,
17And offered at the dedication of this house of God an hundred bullocks, two hundred rams, four hundred lambs; and for a sin offering for all Israel, twelve he goats, according to the number of the tribes of Israel.
Twelve he-goats - This was a sin-offering for every tribe.
18And they set the priests in their divisions, and the Levites in their courses, for the service of God, which is at Jerusalem; as it is written in the book of Moses.
And they set the priests - With this verse the Chaldee or Aramitic part of this chapter ends.
19And the children of the captivity kept the passover upon the fourteenth day of the first month.
20For the priests and the Levites were purified together, all of them were pure, and killed the passover for all the children of the captivity, and for their brethren the priests, and for themselves.
The Levites were purified together - They were all ready at one time to observe the proper rites and ceremonies, and had no need of having a second passover, which was appointed by the law for those who had been accidentally defiled, or were at a distance from the tabernacle. See 2 Chronicles 30:3.
21And the children of Israel, which were come again out of captivity, and all such as had separated themselves unto them from the filthiness of the heathen of the land, to seek the LORD God of Israel, did eat,
And all such as had separated themselves - These were the proselytes who had embraced the Jewish religion by having mingled with the Jews in their captivity. This proves that there the poor captives had so acted according to the principles of their religion, that the heathens saw it, and walked in the light of the Lord with them. A good example is very persuasive; and particularly so when founded on pure principles.
22And kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with joy: for the LORD had made them joyful, and turned the heart of the king of Assyria unto them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.
Turned the heart of the king of Assyria - I am of Calmet's mind, that king of Assyria is here put for king of Persia. Cyrus and his successors possessed all the rights and estates of the ancient kings of Assyria, and therefore the same monarch may be styled king of Assyria as well as king of Persia.
Darius had a very high character, as a wise, just, and merciful prince. To strengthen his title to the crown, he married two of the daughters of Cyrus, and, no doubt, to show his affection to this family, he the more cheerfully confirmed the edict which Cyrus had made in favor of the Jews.