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Ezr 3:1 And when the seventh month was come, and the children of Israel [were] in the cities, the people gathered themselves together as one man to Jerusalem.
Ver. 1. And when the seventh month was come ] Heb. And the seventh month approached; a month of many festivities, Leviticus 23:24 ; Leviticus 23:27 ; Lev 23:34 1 Kings 8:2 , and so, to the good, a foretaste of eternal life, where it shall be holiday every day, where they have no rest, Revelation 4:8 (and yet no unrest), praising the God of heaven, for heaven’s happiness, Psalms 136:1-3 ; Psalms 136:26 (the same that these good souls sang together, Ezr 3:11 of this chapter). God is praised five and twenty times for his mercies; but the conclusion is, "O give thanks unto the God of heaven," &c. Christ hath cast up such a causeway to it, that we may well travel thither from all coasts, as these Jews did to Jerusalem from all their cities.
As one man to Jerusalem ] There to serve the Lord with one shoulder, Zephaniah 3:9 . Neither counted they it any trouble to travel thither, though they were scarce yet warm in their nests, as we say.
Ezr 3:2 Then stood up Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and his brethren, and builded the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings thereon, as [it is] written in the law of Moses the man of God.
Ver. 2. Then stood up Jeshua ] Ministers, of all others, should be most forward and forth putting, ready prest and prepared to every good work, as patterns to the people, who are led more by their eyes than by their ears, &c.
And Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel ] These two ever went hand in hand; and hence the work so prospered in their hand. It must needs be so (said Queen Elizabeth once to the Suffolk gentlemen who came to meet her with their ministers by their sides) where the word and the sword go together.
And builded the altar of the God of Israel ] Which therefore, in their father Jacob’s sense, Genesis 33:20 , they might safely have called El, Elohe-Israel, that is, God, the God of Israel, putting the sign for the thing signified. Thus also the ark is called God’s face, Psalms 105:4 ; yea, even God himself, Psalms 132:5 .
As it is written in the law of Moses ] This was the rule they wrought by. God requireth to have a reasonable service, Romans 12:1 , such as whereof we can render a reason out of his word; he hateth a Samaritan service, John 4:22 , and will not endure Popish will-worship. Who requireth these things at their hands, their altars, crucifixes, penances, pilgrimages, &c.? The whole number of the beast is but the number of a man, Revelation 13:18 . Men will have it so, and this is the sum of all Popish religion. All their superstructions are human inventions.
Moses, the man of God ] The prophet, the lawgiver, a man of much communion with God above any other, Numbers 12:8 . One calleth him heaven’s chancellor.
Ezr 3:3 And they set the altar upon his bases; for fear [was] upon them because of the people of those countries: and they offered burnt offerings thereon unto the LORD, [even] burnt offerings morning and evening.
Ver. 3. And they set the altar upon his bases ] Upon the old foundation in the priests’ court, being glad of any place where to worship God jointly and publicly; for temple, as yet, there was none. Our worship-scorners are rightly styled by one, The last brood of Beelzebub.
For fear was upon them ] Though that was a lewd speech of the poet Statius, Primus in orbe Deos fecit Timor, It was timorousness that first made men religious; yet there’s no question but fear of danger driveth men to God, as it did these here. Their malignant neighbours, bandying and bending their forces against them, make them hasten up an altar, that they might get God on their side, and run to him reconciled, whatever evil should befall them. Be not thou a terror to me, Lord, saith holy Jeremiah, Jeremiah 17:17 , and then I fear no creature. Let us sing the forty-sixth Psalm (said Luther once in a great strait), and then let the devil do his worst. "What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee," Psalms 56:3 . Some read the text thus, Though fear was upon them, yet that hindered not their setting up God’s altar; but they brake through all discouragements, and did their duty. It is well observed that the very light of nature taught heathens, that the services they performed to their gods with peril and hazard to themselves were best accepted. Caius Fabius ventured through the enemies’ camp to offer a solemn anniversary sacrifice, and returned in safety satis sperans (saith the historian) propitios fore Deos, quorum culture ne mortis quidem metu prohibitus intermisis set, trusting that in such a case his gods would secure him. When Numa, the second king of the Romans, heard, as he was sacrificing, that the enemies were coming, he made this answer, At ego rem divinam facio, Eγω δε θυω (Plut.); "if God be for us, who shall be against us?"
And they offered burnt offerings thereon ] That their sins might be expiated, and their persons protected. The ceremonial law was Christ in figure, it was their gospel.
Ezr 3:4 They kept also the feast of tabernacles, as [it is] written, and [offered] the daily burnt offerings by number, according to the custom, as the duty of every day required;
Ver. 4. They kept also the feast of tabernacles ] Or booths, built of boughs or branches of thick trees, Nehemiah 8:15 , in a grateful memorial of God’s gracious preservation of them in the wilderness, where they dwelt in tents or tabernacles. It signified also (the prophet Zechariah being interpreter, Zec 14:16-19 ) that the remembrance of our redemption by Christ should be perpetuated with all spiritual gladness.
by number, according to the custom ] There is an elegance in the original. The book of God hath many such, as I have elsewhere noted.
As the duty of every day required ] Heb. The matter of the day in his day. Here we are all travellers, having no certain habitation, Hebrews 11:13 , αστατουμεν , 1 Corinthians 4:11 . Let us account duty a debt, and be daily doing at it. Let us keep holy day, keep the feast, εορταζωμεν , 1 Corinthians 5:8 . Let us be "in the fear of the Lord all the day long." Pro 23:17
Ezr 3:5 And afterward [offered] the continual burnt offering, both of the new moons, and of all the set feasts of the LORD that were consecrated, and of every one that willingly offered a freewill offering unto the LORD.
Ver. 5. And afterward offered ] Finding a float of holy affections in their hearts, they passed from one good exercise to another, and were indefatigable in the Lord’s work. David, finding such a heat and height in his people, prays God to "keep it ever in the imagination of the thoughts of their hearts," which he knew well to be fickle and false, 1 Chronicles 29:18 .
Both of the new moons ] Kept in thankfulness to God for their time renewed upon them, from month to month, and his mercies every morning and moment.
And of all the set feasts of the Lord that were consecrated ] By a holy resting, both from corporal labour and from spiritual idleness.
A freewill offering ] See Trapp on " Ezr 1:4 "
Ezr 3:6 From the first day of the seventh month began they to offer burnt offerings unto the LORD. But the foundation of the temple of the LORD was not [yet] laid.
Ver. 6. From the first day of the seventh month ] Which was the feast of blowing of trumpets, signifying the just man’s joyfulness, and serving to put life and spirit into them.
Began they to offer ] And so held on: for this month had as many feasts in it as were celebrated in all the year besides: so, as the Sabbath was the queen of days ( Regina dierum ), so was this of months. See Trapp on " Ezr 3:1 "
But the foundation of the temple ] Heb. of the kingly palace, aula basilica, used here and elsewhere for the place where God’s honour dwelleth. God is a great King, Malachi 1:14 , and requires to be served like himself.
Was not yet laid ] Heb. Was not yet founded. Nevertheless they would be worshipping God as they could at an altar till they had a temple. All the power of Persia could not keep God and Daniel asunder, Daniel 6:10 ; the trade of godliness never standeth still. Demosthenes (Contra Arist.) could say that a heart beautified with piety, justice, and modesty is the best temple, and to God most acceptable.
Ezr 3:7 They gave money also unto the masons, and to the carpenters; and meat, and drink, and oil, unto them of Zidon, and to them of Tyre, to bring cedar trees from Lebanon to the sea of Joppa, according to the grant that they had of Cyrus king of Persia.
Ver. 7. They gave money also unto the masons and carpenters ] Who usually get it and eat it, laying up little; their life is called the life of their hands, because maintained by the labour of their hands, Isaiah 57:10 ; Isaiah 57:14 ; day wages they must have, or they cannot subsist; and these good Jews spared for no cost, but gave money out of the bag freely to these workmen. Idolaters care not what cost they cast away upon their dumb idols: Drum alienum dotant, so some read that text, Psalms 16:4 . The Turkish stately mosques, and Popish Basilicae, stuffed with vowed presents and memories, as they call them, are things known to all. When the famous artificer Phidias advised the Athenians to make the statue of Minerva rather of marble than of ivory, 1. Because more durable, this passed with allowance; 2. Because less chargeable, this they abhorred, and bade him say no more of such a matter.
And meat, and drink, and oil ] More prized by the Tyrians and Sidonians than money, because their country was nourished by this country, Acts 12:20 , as being barren, and not bringing forth provision enough for themselves. Diogenes deeply taxed the folly of his Athenians, that prized money so much and bread grain so little; when as the life of man could be without that, but not without the other.
To bring cedar trees ] Smooth and durable, and every way fit for fair buildings; and, therefore, made choice of by God himself, 2 Samuel 7:7 , by Solomon for the first temple, 1 Kings 5:6 , and by these Jews for the second. The temple of Diana at Ephesus was likewise built of cedar; as the devil affecteth to be God’s ape.
To the sea of Joppa ] This was a harbour, Jos 19:46 3 John 1:3; 3 John 1:33 John 1:3 , and hath its name, a pulchritudine et elegantia, from its beauty and bravery, such as draweth love and liking. It might have been called The Fair Havens, as well as that place nigh unto the city of Lasea, Acts 27:8 , which retaineth the same name unto this day.
According to the grant ] Or licence, which they took in the largest extent, as we also ought to do God’s gracious promises. Promissa sunt amplianda; and we must labour to see our own names written in them.
Ezr 3:8 Now in the second year of their coming unto the house of God at Jerusalem, in the second month, began Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and the remnant of their brethren the priests and the Levites, and all they that were come out of the captivity unto Jerusalem; and appointed the Levites, from twenty years old and upward, to set forward the work of the house of the LORD.
Ver. 8. To set forward the work ] To urge the continuance of it to the end, as the word siguifieth; to encourage and call upon the workmen to hasten and go through; to be as so many Eργοδιωκται , that the business might go on end, and come to a good upshot.
Ezr 3:9 Then stood Jeshua [with] his sons and his brethren, Kadmiel and his sons, the sons of Judah, together, to set forward the workmen in the house of God: the sons of Henadad, [with] their sons and their brethren the Levites.
Ver. 9. Then stood Jeshua ] Not the high priest, but another, a Levite.
The sons of Henadad, with their sons ] A generation of godly and active men in the things of God, see Nehemiah 3:18 ; Nehemiah 3:24 ; Nehemiah 10:9 . Grace is not hereditary, the white halcyons hatch black young ones, Heroum filii noxae. Nevertheless, nurture helpeth nature; and good men strive to mend that by education which they have marred by propagation. They cocker not, but correct their children; they pray for them, and drop good principles into them; they smooth them as arrows, Psalms 128:3-4 , getting off the knottiness of their nature; and leave not till they see them the work of God’s hands, so as to sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and to fear the God of Israel, Isaiah 29:23 . These sons of Henadad, as they attended upon the temple work, so themselves were as the polished corners of the temple, Psalms 144:12 .
Ezr 3:10 And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, they set the priests in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites the sons of Asaph with cymbals, to praise the LORD, after the ordinance of David king of Israel.
Ver. 10. With trumpets ] These were used on all occasions of rejoicing.
With cymbals ] Instruments of a shrill sound used also by the heathens at offering of their sacrifices (Aelian.). So, in imitation of the Urim and Thummim, Exodus 28:30 , the Egyptian high priest wore about his neck a sapphire stone which was called Aληθεια . Satan Dei Mimus ut et Momus. See before, Ezra 3:7 .
After the ordinance of David ] He very much added to the Church music. He likewise anticipated the age of the priests, entering into their service five years earlier than the Mosaical appointment.
Ezr 3:11 And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the LORD; because [he is] good, for his mercy [endureth] for ever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid.
Ver. 11. And they sang together by course ] Amant alterna Camaenae. Antiphonies are of ancient use.
In praising and giving thanks ] Men praise God for his excellencies, thank him for his benefits.
Because he is good ] So they sang David’s Psalms, a good warrant for us so to do. Heretofore happy were they held that could sound out aliquid Davidicum :now some have found out new inventions.
Ezr 3:12 But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, [who were] ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy:
Ver. 12. Who were ancient men ] From seventy years of age and upwards; for it was but seventy years before this that the temple was burnt.
Wept with a loud voice ] Considering the disproportion. Let us do the like when we compare our state of creation with our state of corruption.
Ezr 3:13 So that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people: for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off.
Ver. 13. The noise of the shout of joy from the noise, &c. ] Nam partim iubilabant, partim eiulabant. Our joys, while we are here, will be mixed joys. Let those that would have joys unspeakable stir up sighs unutterable.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Ezra 3". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13