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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible
Ezra 7

 

 

Verses 1-28


The Journey of Ezra to Jerusalem

1. Now after.. Artaxerxes] The interval of time here implied amounted to more than fifty years, from the sixth year of Darius (516 b.c.) to the seventh year of Artaxerxes Longimanus (458 b.c.). Between the reign of Darius and Artaxerxes there intervened the reign of Xerxes (485-464 b.c.), to which belong the incidents related in the book of Esther. In the early years of his successor Artaxerxes an effort was made to surround Jerusalem, with a wall (see Ezra 4:12), though with no success. Probably to the same period should be assigned the ministry of the prophet Malachi. From his writings it may be gathered that the religious and moral condition of the Jewish community at Jerusalem was very unsatisfactory. The people were divided into two sections, the one scrupulous in their religious duties, the other sceptical and indifferent (Malachi 3:18). The latter party had contracted marriages with heathen women (Ezra 2:11); oppression and immorality were prevalent (Ezra 3:5); the Temple services were neglected (1:6-14); and the maintenance of the priesthood stinted (Ezra 3:8-10). Against the continuance of these evils the prophet raised a strong protest, denouncing divine judgment upon the offenders, but promising that God's blessing would attend them upon their reformation (Ezra 3:10; Ezra 4:1-3).

Ezra.. Seraiah] Ezra was a descendant of the Seraiah who was chief priest in the reign of the last king of Judah (2 Kings 25:18). His genealogy as given in Ezra 7:1-5 is abbreviated by the omission not only of all the generations separating him from Seraiah, but also of many of those between Seraiah and Aaron: cp. 1 Chronicles 6:3-15.

6. This Ezra] Ezra, as his history shows, was a devout and zealous ecclesiastic, of passionate temperament, strong religious faith, and rigid principles, who, though he met with temporary failure, in the end permanently influenced the thoughts and habits of his countrymen. A ready scribe] Ezra belonged to the class of literary men, who, being acquainted with the art of writing, had, in the time when the nation was independent, furnished its statesmen with their secretaries (2 Samuel 8:17; 1 Kings 4:3; 2 Kings 18:18), but now that its political life had ceased, were students of the Law, which they copied, and interpreted (cp. Nehemiah 8:7). All his request] The nature of this is implied in the letter of Artaxerxes (Ezra 7:12-26).

9. Began he to go up] better (by a slight correction), 'he fixed the going up.' The actual journey was not begun till the twelfth day (Ezra 8:31). The first month] i.e Nisan. (=Mar.-April). The fifth month] i.e. Ab (=July-August). The journey, which lasted some three months and a half, was probably made by way of the Euphrates to Carchemish, then across to Hamath, and so southward along the Orontes. The distance was about 900 m.

10. To teach in Israel] Ezra, though like Zerubbabel he led a body of settlers to Jerusalem, is never styled 'Tirshatha' (as Zerubbabel is in Ezra 2:63), and his mission appears to have had purely religious ends in view. The Jews who remained in Babylon, and who were surrounded by a population wholly heathen, were marked off from their neighbours by a much deeper line of cleavage than were the Jews of Palestine, and a higher standard of religious devotion prevailed amongst them: consequently when the religious laxity of the people of Jerusalem became known at Babylon, Ezra was sent to enquire into it (Ezra 7:14), to introduce reforms, and, by authority of the Persian king, to enforce the observance of the Law by means of penalties (Ezra 7:26).

12. King of kings] The same title was used by the kings of Babylon (Ezekiel 26:7; Daniel 2:37). Perfect peace, and at such a time] better, 'the whole' (of the usual heading) 'and so forth.'

13. His priests] RV 'their (i.e. Israel's) priests.'

14. His seven counsellors] In Esther 1:14 mention is made of seven princes 'who saw the king's face and sat the first in his kingdom.'

16. Canst find] i.e. obtain from the native Babylonians and Persians: cp. Ezra 1:4, Ezra 1:6.

22. Talents.. measures.. baths] The 'talent' used by the early Hebrews weighed 96 lb., the Persian talent was 66 lb. A 'measure' (Heb. cor) contained 83 gallons, a 'bath' a little more than 8 gallons. The wheat, wine, oil, and salt were required for the sacrificial offerings: see Exodus 29:40; Leviticus 2:13.

23. Why should there be wrath, etc.] The piety of the Persian kings led them to seek the favour of the deities worshipped by the different nationalities under their sway: cp. Leviticus 6:10.

26. Banishment] or exclusion from the congregation: cp. Leviticus 10:8.

27. Blessed be the lord, etc.] This introduces Ezra's thanksgiving for the king's letter. His gratitude to God is conspicuous throughout the passages in this book which proceed directly from him (e.g. Ezra 8:18, Ezra 8:22, Ezra 8:31), and is reflected in the account of the historian (Ezra 7:6, Ezra 7:9, etc.).

 


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Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Ezra 7:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcb/ezra-7.html. 1909.

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