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Now after these things, in the reign of Artaxerxes ( Ezra 7:1 )
Who is Longimanus of the secular history.
Ezra went up from Babylon; and he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which the LORD God of Israel had given: and the king granted him all of his request, according to the hand of the LORD his God upon him. And there went up some of the children of Israel, and of the priests, and the Levites, and the singers, and the porters, and the Nethinims, unto Jerusalem, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king. And he came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which was in the seventh year of the king. For upon the first day of the first month began he to go up from Babylon, and on the first day of the fifth month came he to Jerusalem, according to the good hand of his God upon him. For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments ( Ezra 7:6-10 ).
So Ezra was called a ready scribe. He had sought his heart to seek God. And Artaxerxes had given to him permission to come on back with another contingency of men, about 1,754 plus their little ones and their wives and all their substance. So this is now the second return. It's a small one under Ezra coming back to Jerusalem. A favorite phrase and, of course, now we get into chapter seven. We get into, this is eighty years approximately after the first people had come. So the people, of course, had been in the land. It was their first return. They have been now there for about eighty years when Ezra comes on the scene, and he evidently has favor with the king. He is granted permission to go back in order that he might teach and instruct the people in the ways of the law of God. A popular phrase with Ezra is "the good hand of God upon him."
Now Artaxerxes gave Ezra the priest a decree, verse twelve.
Artaxerxes, king of kings, unto Ezra the priest, a scribe of the law of the God of heaven, perfect peace, and at such a time. I make a decree, that all they of the people of Israel, and of his priests and Levites, in my realm, which are minded of their own freewill to go up to Jerusalem, go with you. Forasmuch as you are sent of the king, and of his seven counsellors, to enquire concerning Judah and Jerusalem, according to the law of thy God which is in your hand; and to carry the silver and gold, which the king and his counsellors have freely offered unto the God of Israel, whose habitation is in Jerusalem, and all the silver and gold that you can find in all the province of Babylon, with the freewill offering of the people, and of the priests, offering willingly for the house of their God which is in Jerusalem: that you may buy speedily with this money bullocks, rams, lambs, with their meat offerings and their drink offerings, and offer them upon the altar of the house of your God which is in Jerusalem. And whatsoever shall seem good to thee, and to your brothers, to do with the rest of the silver and the gold, that do after the will of your God. The vessels also that are given thee for the service of the house of thy God, those deliver before the God of Jerusalem. And whatsoever more shall be needful for the house of thy God, which thou shalt have occasion to bestow, bestow it out of the king's treasure house. And I, even I Artaxerxes the king, do make a decree to all the treasurers which are beyond the river, that whatsoever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, shall require of you, be it done speedily, unto an hundred talents of silver, and to an hundred measures of wheat, and to an hundred baths of wine, and to an hundred baths of oil, and salt without prescribing. Whatsoever is commanded by the God of heaven, let it be diligently done for the house of the God of heaven: for why should there be wrath against the realm of the king and his sons? ( Ezra 7:12-23 )
Now why would he say that? Because he said... Ezra had gone to the king and said, "Now the hand of the Lord is upon all them for good who seek him. But if those forsake him, then you know the punishment and the wrath of God." So he said, "Why should God's wrath be upon me? Go ahead and do all these things." So he also made the decree that they could not tax the ministers, the priests and all of those who ministered in the house of God. There was not to be any taxes or tolls or customs imposed upon them.
And thou, Ezra, after the wisdom of thy God, that is in thine hand, set magistrates and judges, which may judge all the people that are beyond the river, all such as know the laws of thy God; and teach them that know them not. And whosoever will not do the law of thy God, and the law of the king, let judgment be executed speedily upon him, whether it be unto death, or to banishment, or to confiscation of goods, or to imprisonment ( Ezra 7:25-26 ).
And Ezra said,
Blessed be the LORD God of our fathers, which hath put such a thing as this in the king's heart, to beautify the house of the LORD which is at Jerusalem: and hath extended mercy unto me before the king, and his counsellors, and before all the king's mighty princes. And [he said, Ezra said] I was strengthened as the hand of the LORD my God was upon me, and I gathered together out of Israel the chief men to go up with me ( Ezra 7:27-28 ).
So Ezra, no doubt, had a very great favor in the eyes of Artaxerxes. And Artaxerxes gave this marvellous decree, giving unto Ezra money and also commanding that those on the other side give money. Also commanding that he could collect a freewill offering.
But it is interesting to me that so few really decided to go back with Ezra. Now as many as want can return, and only 1,754 wanted to. What had happened is that the Jews had become so prosperous. They started in businesses and all. Up until, of course, the time of captivity, they were most of them just farmers. But here they started getting into the businesses and they started getting so prosperous and so wealthy that they just really didn't want to go back to the hardships of the land. The land of Israel was still, offered just a lot of hardship, a lot of work. It was, everything was rebuilding. Here they were in Persia and this great and glorious empire and they were wealthy; they were getting along so well that they really didn't desire to go back.
And so though they all had the right, as many as want to of their own free will to return may do so at this time, only 1,754 chose to do so; the rest of them just settling down, comfortable, prosperous, not wanting to go through the rigors of trying to rebuild the land that had been desolated. "
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Ezra 7". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13