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Ezr 6:1 Then Darius the king made a decree, and search was made in the house of the rolls, where the treasures were laid up in Babylon.
Ver. 1. Then Darius the king ] DARIUS HYSTASPES, who succeeded Cambyses, being chosen by the princes of the Persians, as saith Herodotus. Plato commendeth him for a restorer of the Persian monarchy, much defaced under Cambyses. Howbeit he discommends him for this, that he bred not his son Xerxes so well as he might have done, and further testifieth, that to him it might be said: O Darius, how little care hast thou taken to shun Cyrus’s slackness! for thou hast bred Xerxes every whit as ill as he did Cambyses, W Dαρειε ως του Kυρου κακον ουκ εμα- Yες ..
In the house of the rolls ] So called, because rolled up together, volumes rolled up, like the web upon the pin.
Ezr 6:2 And there was found at Achmetha, in the palace that [is] in the province of the Medes, a roll, and therein [was] a record thus written:
Ver. 2. And there was found at Achmetha ] Or Ecbatana. This was occasioned by the malice of the Jews’ adversaries, and proved a great furtherance to the finishing of the temple. Sic canes lingunt ulcera Lazari. So dogs licked the sores of Lazarus. All things work together for good to them that love God, Romans 8:28 . Venenum aliquando pro remedio fuit, At length a poison will be for a medicine. saith Seneca.
Ezr 6:3 In the first year of Cyrus the king [the same] Cyrus the king made a decree [concerning] the house of God at Jerusalem, Let the house be builded, the place where they offered sacrifices, and let the foundations thereof be strongly laid; the height thereof threescore cubits, [and] the breadth thereof threescore cubits;
Ver. 3. The height thereof threescore cubits ] Yet was it less than Solomon’s temple, Haggai 2:3 Ezra 3:12 . Solomon’s cubits therefore were longer (likely) than these here mentioned.
Ezra 6:4 [With] three rows of great stones, and a row of new timber: and let the expenses be given out of the king’s house:
Ver. 4. Out of the king’s house] i.e. Out of the royal revenue in those parts, Ezra 7:20 . Herodotus testifieth that Cyrus and Darius (who married his daughter Atossa, and made him his pattern for imitation) were highly honoured among the Persians for their kingly munificence; God hath threatened that the nation and kingdom that will not serve the Church shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted, Isa 60:12 Ezra 6:12 .
Ezr 6:5 And also let the golden and silver vessels of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took forth out of the temple which [is] at Jerusalem, and brought unto Babylon, be restored, and brought again unto the temple which [is] at Jerusalem, [every one] to his place, and place [them] in the house of God.
Ver. 5. And also let the golden and silver vessels ] This was decreed, and this was done accordingly, Ezra 1:7-8 . Let good resolutions be put in execution; purpose without performance is like a cloud without rain; and not unlike Hercules’s club in the tragedy, of a great bulk, but stuffed with moss and rubbish.
Ezr 6:6 Now [therefore], Tatnai, governor beyond the river, Shetharboznai, and your companions the Apharsachites, which [are] beyond the river, be ye far from thence:
Ver. 6. Be ye far from thence ] i.e. Come not at them, to hinder them at all. Thus, though the Church’s enemies bandy together and bend all their forces against her; yet are they bounded by Almighty God (who saith unto them, Be ye far from thence), as is the raging sea, Jeremiah 5:22 . Surely, saith the psalmist, the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain, Heb. gird, that is, keep it within compass, as with a girdle. The Septuagint render it thus, The remnant of wrath shall keep holy day to thee, that is, it shall rest from working, or acting, how restless soever it be within.
Ezr 6:7 Let the work of this house of God alone; let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews build this house of God in his place.
Ver. 7. Let the work of this house of God alone ] Meddle not, make no disturbance; this was doubtless a hard task to them, for their spirits were irked, as Moab, Numbers 22:3 , and their fingers even itched at these builders. They sleep not, except they may do mischief, Proverbs 4:16 .
Ezr 6:8 Moreover I make a decree what ye shall do to the elders of these Jews for the building of this house of God: that of the king’s goods, [even] of the tribute beyond the river, forthwith expenses be given unto these men, that they be not hindered.
Ver. 8. Moreover I make a decree ] So did some of the heathen emperors for the persecuted Christians, Charles V for the Lutherans (at the motion of Albertus, archbishop of Mentz, and Ludovicus, palatine of Rhine), and Henry III of France for the Protestants; which yet was but sorrily observed though sworn to. It is written by an Italian (no stranger to the court of Rome) that their proverb is, Mercatorum est, non regum stare iuramentis, that it is for merchants, and not for kings, to keep to their oaths.
Ezr 6:9 And that which they have need of, both young bullocks, and rams, and lambs, for the burnt offerings of the God of heaven, wheat, salt, wine, and oil, according to the appointment of the priests which [are] at Jerusalem, let it be given them day by day without fail:
Ver. 9. Of the God of heaven ] Heathens have this notion by nature, that God is the God of heaven, and that there he is, as in his place; howbeit we must not conceive that God is commensurable by any place, since he filleth all places, and is everywhere all-present, totally present wheresoever present; but in heaven is his glory most manifested, and on earth is he alone to be worshipped.
Ezr 6:10 That they may offer sacrifices of sweet savours unto the God of heaven, and pray for the life of the king, and of his sons.
Ver. 10. That they may pray for the life of the king ] For God, at his pleasure, cutteth off the spirits of princes, Psalms 76:12 , he crops them off with ease, as one would do a flower; slips them off, as one would do a bunch of grapes; as he dealt by Alexander the Great, Attila, that terror of the world, and King Henry II of France, who upon the marriage of his sister to the king of Spain, was so puffed up, that he called himself by a new title, Tres-heureuse Roy, the thrice happy king. But, to confute him, in solemnizing that marriage, he was slain at tilt, by the captain of his guard (though against his will, but not without God’s determinate counsel), in the very beginning of his supposed happiness. Death is the only king against whom there is no rising up. The mortal scythe is master of the royal sceptre, saith one, and it moweth down the lilies of the crown as well as the grass of the field; pray, therefore, for the life of the king, saith this king here; let the priests shout and say, Let the king live for ever, Nehemiah 2:3 .
And of his sons ] Some of whom had soon died, say some: he therefore calleth for prayers for the preservation of the rest.
Ezr 6:11 Also I have made a decree, that whosoever shall alter this word, let timber be pulled down from his house, and being set up, let him be hanged thereon; and let his house be made a dunghill for this.
Ver. 11. Let timber be pulled down from his house ] 1. Let his house be pulled down for a penalty. The Popish Council of Toulouse called together against the Albigenses (those ancient Protestants) made this cruel constitution, We decree that that house, wherein is found a heretic, be pulled down to the ground. 2. Let that timber be set up for a gibbet, and let him be hanged thereon Chaldee, destroyed. Compare that of the apostle, 1 Corinthians 3:17 , If any man destroy the temple of God (which temple ye are), him shall God destroy; and let those look to it who turn it into a den of thieves, into a brothel house, slaughter house, pest house of noisome lusts, qui podicem ex ore faciunt, by their unsavoury speeches, and spoil themselves worse than by tumbling in an out house.
Ezr 6:12 And the God that hath caused his name to dwell there destroy all kings and people, that shall put to their hand to alter [and] to destroy this house of God which [is] at Jerusalem. I Darius have made a decree; let it be done with speed.
Ver. 12. And the God that hath caused his name ] i. e. His word and true worship, Act 9:15 Psa 138:2 Micah 4:5 1 Kings 5:3 ; 1 Kings 5:5 .
Destroy all kings and people ] A dreadful curse, and such as God saith Amen to. Let all persecutors and church robbers look to themselves. God’s hand hath ever been very heavy upon such and their posterity. See Proverbs 20:25 , with the note.
Let it be done with speed ] It hath been too much retarded and delayed already; let it now be expedited. David made haste, and delayed not to keep God’s commandments, Psalms 119:60 . And Austin crieth out, Nimis sere te amavi, Domine. Too late I loved you, God. It was a great burden to his good soul that he began no sooner to love God. He resolveth therefore to redeem time, and to redouble his diligence; not leaving till his soul was turned into a lump of love. Morus novissime omnium germinat; et tamen parit inter primas; the mulberry tree buds last, but fruits with the first.
Ezr 6:13 Then Tatnai, governor on this side the river, Shetharboznai, and their companions, according to that which Darius the king had sent, so they did speedily.
Ver. 13. So they did speedily ] This they did, because they durst do no otherwise; their obedience was wrung out of them, as sour juice is out of a crab, or as distilled water is forced out by the heat of the fire. Thus some perform duties, aud yet hate them; part with sins, and yet love them. Show the malefactor the rack, and he will say or do anything. This is to fear God for his lions, as those mongrels did, 2 Kings 17:33-34 , timore servili, non amicali, fearing slavery not God, which yet may addere alas, add to their strength, lest they fall under the lash, the correction of the law, for refusing the direction thereof (Beda).
Ezr 6:14 And the elders of the Jews builded, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they builded, and finished [it], according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia.
Ver. 14. And Artaxerxes ] This is Xerxes (called also Ahasuerus, husband of Esther), or, as some think, Artaxerxes Longimanus, the son of Xerxes by Esther; by whom the temple, finished before, might be much beautified, and, haply, enlarged also.
Ezr 6:15 And this house was finished on the third day of the month Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king.
Ver. 15. And this house was finished ] About fifteen years after that the foundation had been laid, or twenty at most. The Jews therefore either were out in their account, John 2:20 , Forty and six years was this temple in building; or else they meant it of Herod’s temple, which was long in building and beautifying, whereby he sought to ingratiate with the Jews, which yet he could never do.
Ezr 6:16 And the children of Israel, the priests, and the Levites, and the rest of the children of the captivity, kept the dedication of this house of God with joy,
Ver. 16. Kept the dedication … with joy] So they did at the dedication of the first temple, 2 Chronicles 7:10 . God had required all his worships to be celebrated with joy, Deuteronomy 12:7 , and made it a condition of an acceptable service, Deuteronomy 26:14 . Sacrifices offered with mourning were abomination, Hosea 9:4 , yea, accursed by God, Deuteronomy 28:47 . What a general joy was there at Samaria when Christ first was preached and believed on among them, Acts 8:8 , when they first became God’s building, 1 Corinthians 3:9 , a temple for God to dwell in and walk in, 2Co 6:16 ! The like was at Bern, at Geneva, at Zurich, when the reformed religion was first received among them. They caused (for joy thereof) the day and year to be engraven in a pillar in letters of gold, for a perpetual memory to all posterity. Like as at Heidelberg, A.D. 1617, on the first of November, they kept, for three days time, an evangelical Jubilee, for joy of the Reformation begun by Luther, a hundred years before (Vita Parei, operib, praefix.).
Ezr 6:17 And offered at the dedication of this house of God an hundred bullocks, two hundred rams, four hundred lambs; and for a sin offering for all Israel, twelve he goats, according to the number of the tribes of Israel.
Ver. 17. An hundred bullocks, &c. ] This little (in comparison of what was done at Solomon’s dedication, 1Ki 8:63 ) was highly accepted in heaven: as was likewise Noah’s sacrifice, which yet could not be great: because that after a great trial of affliction, "the abundance of their joy, and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality," 2 Corinthians 8:2 ; which, saith Aristotle, is not to be measured by the worth of the gift, but by the will of the giver, Oυ τω πληθει των διδομενων, αλλα τη του διδοντος εξει (Arist. Ethic. lib. 4). See Trapp on " Ezr 2:6 "
Twelve he-goats ] A fit creature for a sin offering, because nasty, unruly, &c.
According to the number of the tribes of Israel ] All whom (wheresoever dispersed) they remember in their prayers; as we should likewise do all the Israel of God, in all places.
Ezr 6:18 And they set the priests in their divisions, and the Levites in their courses, for the service of God, which [is] at Jerusalem; as it is written in the book of Moses.
Ver. 18. For the service of God ] According to that, Exodus 12:25 , Ye shall keep this service, where the same word (Gnabhodah) is used that elsewhere serveth to set forth their servile service, their bondage in Egypt. God lets them know that they must serve still, though another master, and after another manner. So Christ calleth upon his, to take his yoke upon them: free though they be, yet they must not look to be yokeless, lawless, aweless, but to serve God with reverence and godly fear, Hebrews 12:28 .
As it is written in the book of Moses ] Moses then was the penman of the Pentateuch, and not Ezra, as some have said; grounding upon that Apocryphal Esdras.
Ezr 6:19 And the children of the captivity kept the passover upon the fourteenth [day] of the first month.
Ver. 19. And the children of the captivity ] So the returned captives are called, first, to keep still afoot the remembrance of their late misery, lest they should despise the chastening of the Lord, Hebrews 12:5 . Secondly, to remind them of that signal mercy of their return to their own country. Hence doth the evangelist Matthew so oft mention their transportation to Babylon, and rings it in the ears of his ungrateful countrymen, Matthew 1:11-12 ; Matthew 1:17 .
Kept the passover ] In remembrance, that the punishing angel passed over their ancestors in Egypt, Exodus 12:12-14 , and for confirmation of their faith in Christ, the true paschal Lamb. Hast thou escaped a danger? offer a passover. Hath Christ delivered thee from the wrath to come? keep the feast with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth 1 Corinthians 5:8 .
Upon the fourteenth day of the first month ] See Exodus 12:2 , with the note.
Ezr 6:20 For the priests and the Levites were purified together, all of them [were] pure, and killed the passover for all the children of the captivity, and for their brethren the priests, and for themselves.
Ver. 20. Were purified together ] Misery had framed them to unanimity. See 2 Chronicles 29:34 .
All of them were pure ] Ritually at least, if not really.
And killed the passover ] i.e. The paschal lamb, whereof see Exo 12:1-51 with the notes.
For all the children ] See Trapp on " Ezr 6:1 "
And for themselves ] For they also were sinners, and needed a Saviour, Hebrews 7:27 . That Popish expositor was utterly out when, from Exodus 30:31-32 , he will needs infer that priests, when once anointed with the holy oil, were thenceforth angels, spirits, not having human flesh, or infirmities.
Ezr 6:21 And the children of Israel, which were come again out of captivity, and all such as had separated themselves unto them from the filthiness of the heathen of the land, to seek the LORD God of Israel, did eat,
Ver. 21. And the children of Israel ] The whole community, of what tribe soever.
And all such as had separated themselves ] Who were the better to like, because not prosperity proselytes, such as came in (not a few) in Solomon’s time; but the Jews were very careful how they received them, as Josephus relateth.
From the filthiness of the heathen ] Who had filled the land from one end to the other with their uncleannesses, Ezra 9:11 . Great sins do greatly pollute.
To seek the Lord God of Israel ] To seek not his omnipresence (for that none need to do, since he is not far from any one of us, Act 17:27 ), but his gracious presence. And such a seeker is every good soul: Psalms 24:6 , This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, that is, Jacob.
Did eat ] Edebant, id est, credebant, They were eating, it is, they were believing, for even Christ their passover was sacrificed for them, 1 Corinthians 5:7 .
Ezr 6:22 And kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with joy: for the LORD had made them joyful, and turned the heart of the king of Assyria unto them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.
Ver. 22. And kept the feast of unleavened bread ] See 1Co 7:8 Exodus 12:35 , with the notes.
Seven days ] This began on the fifteenth day, and lasted till the one and twentieth day, Num 28:16-17 Exodus 34:25 .
With joy ] See Trapp on " Ezr 6:16 "
For the Lord had made them joyful ] Given them cause of joy, and a heart enlarged accordingly, a mind right set for the purpose. St James’s word, ευθυμειν , James 5:13 , shows that all true mirth is from the rectitude of a man’s mind, which God only giveth.
And turned the heart of the king ] It is he alone that gives favour, that frameth men’s opinions and affections, that maketh a good man’s enemies to be at peace with him.
To strengthen their hands ] As Ezra 6:8 . And this did more ennoble him than all his warlike achievements.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Ezra 6". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13