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Bible Commentaries

Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Ezra 1

Verse 1

By the first year of Cyrus is to be understood the first year of his sovereignty over the Jews, or 538 B.C.

Verse 2

The Lord God of heaven - Or, “Yahweh, the God of heaven.” In the original Persian, the document probably ran - “ Ormazd, the God of heaven.” The Hebrew transcript took “Yahweh” as the equivalent of “Ormazd.” The Persian notion of a single Supreme Being - Ahura-Mazda, “the much-knowing, or much-bestowing Spirit” - did, in fact, approach nearly to the Jewish conception of Yahweh.

Hath given me all the kingdoms ... - There is a similar formula at the commencement of the great majority of Persian inscriptions.

He hath charged me to build him an house - It is a reasonable conjecture that, on the capture of Babylon, Cyrus was brought into contact with Daniel, who drew his attention to the prophecy of Isaiah Isaiah 44:28; and that Cyrus accepted this prophecy as a “charge” to rebuild the temple.

Verse 4

Let the men of his place help him - i. e., “Let the pagan population help him” (see Ezra 1:6).

The freewill offering - Probably that made by Cyrus himself Ezra 1:7-11.

Verse 5

Only a portion of the Israelites took advantage of the permission of Cyrus. Many remained in Babylon, since they were disinclined to relinquish their property. They who returned were persons whom God had especially stirred up to make sacrifices for His glory.

Verse 7

The house of his gods - Rather, “of his god” Daniel 1:2, i. e., Merodach, “his lord” (see 2 Chronicles 36:7 note).

Verse 8

Mithredath - Or, “Mithridates.” The occurrence of this name, which means “given by Mithra” or “dedicated to Mithra,” is an indication that the sun-worship of the Persians was at least as old as the time of Cyrus.

Sheshbazzar - i. e., Zerubbabel. On his royal descent, see 1 Chronicles 3:19 note.

Verse 9

Chargers - The word in the original thus translated occurs only in this passage. Its meaning is doubtful. Some derive it from a Hebrew root, “to hollow out,” and translate “cup” or “vessel.”

Knives - This is another doubtful word, only used here. The etymology points to some employment of basket-work.

Verse 11

The sum of the numbers as they stand in the present Hebrew text is 2,499, instead of 5,400. In the Apocryphal Book of Esdras the sum given is 5,469, and with this sum the items in that place exactly agree (1 Esdras 2:13, 14). Most commentators propose to correct Ezra by the passage of Esdras; but the items of Esdras are improbable. Probably the sum total in the present passage has suffered corruption.

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Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Ezra 1". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/ezra-1.html. 1870.