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Ezra 3:1 . The seventh month, and the tenth day was the great and holy day of atonement, as explained in Leviticus 16:0. They had left Babylon in the spring; and being four months on their journey, the priests hasted the erection of the altar.
Ezra 3:2 . Jeshua and Zerubbabel. Ezra puts the highpriest first, for all ancient highpriests were princes; but Zechariah the prophet puts Zerubbabel first. Ezra was the uncle of Jeshua.
Zerubbabel, Joshua, Haggai, and others returned from Babylon in an excellent spirit. They had been instructed and profited by the judgments of God on their country. Hence as the patriarch, on coming to a new district, erected an altar to the Lord, so Israel moved by sanctifying fear, erected a brazen altar to the God of their fathers; that obtaining pardon and his defence, they might be secure from all their surrounding foes. No nation can subsist without religion, and that family which does not surround the sacred altar, has no protection in the day of adversity.
The gathering nation of Israel being now in covenant with God, gave gifts to the Lord’s house and service. There were among them who said, The time is not yet come, though they had begun to build for themselves houses of cedar; yet a liberal spirit prevailed, and the body of the people offered of their substance very willingly. That man who cheerfully lends his aid to support the sacred ministry, and to aid every institution for the conversion of sinners, the furtherance of piety, and the help of the poor, shall not want a friend in the day of trouble. When we aid the cause of God by that one act, we do good in every point of view, and for ages yet unborn. No sooner had the Israelites been one year in the land, and reaped a small harvest, than they assembled to bring the firstfruits to the Lord at the feast of tabernacles. The pious and zealous governor had also prepared their affairs so as to lay the foundation-stone of the temple on that festival. This ceremony, so glorious to an afflicted people, was attended with every circumstance of joy and of weeping, which can possibly affect the heart. While the music sounded, and the young people shouted, the aged men wept both for sorrow and joy; and so loud, that the difference in the voices could hardly be distinguished. They had seen the glory of the former temple; and now when they saw the narrow design and scanty preparations for the present house, they could not contain their sentiments of sorrow. Saurin, on opening a small church for the French refugees in Holland, quotes this passage with much feeling. They had enjoyed temples in France, but were reduced to holes and corners, on the revocation of the edict of Nantes. The mobs, keen of the game as dogs in a chase, had ascended the roofs of their churches and temples, with ladders and hatchets, and in one day levelled them with the ground, for the rewards of plunder. Oh popery, popery! thy day shall also come.
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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Ezra 3". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany