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Ezr 7:1 Now after these things, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra the son of Seraiah, the son of Azariah, the son of Hilkiah,
Ver. 1. Now after these things ] After that Zerubbabel had done his part in building the altar and temple, Ezra (according to the notation of his name) began his, and became a singular helper of the afflicted Church of God, as appeareth in this chapter, and those that follow.
In the reign of Arlaxerxes ] sc. Longimanus, Esther’s son, and the same that thirteen years after sent Nehemiah to Jerusalem, Nehemiah 2:1 ; Nehemiah 2:11 , while Ezra was yet alive, Nehemiah 8:1 .
Ezra the son of Seraiah ] That is, the grandson: for Seraiah was slain when Jerusalem was last taken, 2 Kings 25:18 ; 2 Kings 25:21 .
Ezr 7:2 The son of Shallum, the son of Zadok, the son of Ahitub,
Ver. 2. The son of Shallum ] See 1 Chronicles 6:7-10 . Of those two Books of Chronicles this same Ezra is held to be the penman: and it is not improbable.
Ezr 7:3 The son of Amariah, the son of Azariah, the son of Meraioth,
Ver. 3. The son of Meraioth ] Here is a great leap: six of Ezra’s ancestors (likely for brevity sake) being overskipped.
Ezr 7:4 The son of Zerahiah, the son of Uzzi, the son of Bukki,
Ver. 4. The son of Zerahiah, &c. ] These might be (as one saith of Jesse the father of David) Viri boni et honesti, minus tamen clari, good men, but obscure.
Ezr 7:5 The son of Abishua, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the chief priest:
Ver. 5. The son of Aaron the chief priest ] Ezra then was ex genere pontificio (as those, Act 4:5 ) non tamen pontifex. The title of chief priest is never given unto him.
Ezr 7:6 This 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 his request, according to the hand of the LORD his God upon him.
Ver. 6. This Ezra went up from Babylon ] Together with many others, who were moved thereunto by his example and authority. He was (as one saith of Tiberius) imperio magnus, exemplo maior. Great men are looking glasses, according to which most men dress themselves; let them look to it, therefore, and shine as lamps.
And he was a ready scribe ] Or a nimble textman: his office was to write out copies of the law, and to interpret it. He wrote (say some) the Hebrew Bible out in Chaldee letters (the same that we now call Hebrew, the ancient Hebrew characters remained with the Samaritans) for the use of his countrymen returned out of Chaldea. He first ordained (say others) the vowels, accents, and Masoreth. A great scholar he was, and excellently well seen in the learning of Scripture: to which all other skill is but straminea candela, a rush candle, a small light, that serveth but to light men into utter darkness. Be wise be learned, saith the Psalmist; but in addition serve the Lord with fear, kiss the Son, &c., Psa 2:12 otherwise ye may be as learned as Varro, that general scholar; as Albertus Magnus, quem nihil penitus fugit, omnia perfecte novit, who knew whatsoever was knowable, as one saith of him or as Tostatus (otherwise called Abulensis), qui omnium scientiarum doctrinarumque arca fuit et emporium, saith Bonosius, that writes his life who was a living library; and yet ye may perish everlastingly. The Jews called their learned men Scribes, as the Persians did theirs Magi the French, Druids; the Indians, Brahmans &c. But he that is not a scribe instructed, and instructing others, to the kingdom of heaven Matthew 13:52 , shall hear, "Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world?" 1 Corinthians 1:20 , Sapientes sapienter in infernum descendent The wise, wisely descend into hell. (Aug.).
Which the Lord God of Israel had given ] The moral law, with his own immediate mouth (so that he might say with Joseph, Genesis 45:12 , "Behold, your eyes see, that it is my mouth that speaketh unto you"), the other laws he ordained by angels in the hand of a Mediator, i.e. of Moses, Galatians 3:19 . Hence Josephus calleth the Jewish polity a theocracy; and Prosper thinketh that they were called Judaei, because they received ius Dei, the Law from God. But we can give a better derivation from the Hebrew, viz. Jews, i.e. confessors, such as were those above, Ezra 5:11 .
And the king granted him all his request ] Giving him more and greater things than he dared desire. So great facility and flexibleness found he in this king, that he needed only to ask, and give thanks; as it is said of Tiberius, that he never denied his favourite Sejanus anything; but often prevented his request, and avowed that be deserved much more.
According to the hand of the Lord his God upon him ] i.e. His sweet and singular providence, ever watching over, and working for those that are good, 2 Chronicles 19:11 . Such may well sit and sing as one did once,
Una est in trepida mihi re medicina, Iehovae
Cor patrium, Os verax, omnipotensque Manus.
Ezr 7:7 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.
Ver. 7. And there went up some of the children of Israel ] And but some; for many chose rather to continue in the land of their captivity, though God by his prophets, and the king by his proclamation, had cried out, "Ho, ho, come forth," &c. "Deliver thyself, O Zion, that dwellest with the daughter of Babylon," Zechariah 2:6-7 ; See Trapp on " Zec 2:6 " see Trapp on " Zec 2:7 "
And the Nethininms ] See Trapp on " Ezr 2:43 "
Ezr 7:8 And he came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which [was] in the seventh year of the king.
Ver. 8. And he came to Jerusalem in the fifth month ] So that they were four months in coming; and that which upheld them was, that they should shortly see the face of God in Zion, Psalms 84:7 . Popish pilgrims, though they have many a weary step, and meet with much hardship, besides loss of their estates, yet satisfy themselves in this, We have what we came for, viz. the sight of some dumb idol. What then should not we do or suffer to see God in his ordinances, in holy assemblies!
Ezr 7:9 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.
Ver. 9. According to the good hand of his God upon him ] See Trapp on " Ezr 7:6 " In all thy ways acknowledge God, and he shall direct thy paths, Proverbs 3:6 . Commit thy way unto the Lord, trust also upon him, and he shall bring it to pass, Psalms 37:5 . Holy Ezra had experimented all this (as also had Eliezer, Gen 24:56 ), and therefore ascribeth his good success to God’s good providence.
Ezr 7:10 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.
Ver. 10. For Ezra had prepared his heart ] Which, without due preparation, would not have been drawn to any good. See 1Sa 7:3 Job 11:13 Amos 4:12 . An instrument must be tuned ere it can be played upon; sour wines need good sweetening.
To seek the law of the Lord ] To dive into the very bosom and bottom of it. Qui nucleum vult, nucem frangat. The Rabbis have a saying, that there is a mountain of sense hanging upon every tittle of God’s law.
And to do it ] His knowledge and practice ran parallel, and mutually transfused warmth into one another. He was not of those orators blamed by Diogenes, for that they studied bene dicere, non bene facere, to speak commendably, but not to live accordingly. He knew well that his forefathers (the high priests) had pomegranates for savour as well as bells for sound.
And to teach in Israel ] He knew the truth of that Hebrew proverb, Lilmod Lelammed, Men must therefore learn, that they may teach others, and not bury their talents, lest the canker of their great skill prove a swift witness one day against them.
Ezr 7:11 Now this [is] the copy of the letter that the king Artaxerxes gave unto Ezra the priest, the scribe, [even] a scribe of the words of the commandments of the LORD, and of his statutes to Israel.
Ver. 11. Even a scribe of the words of the commandments ] This showeth Ezra was not an ordinary scribe (called a scribe of the people), nor a public notary, or king’s secretary, such as were called for, Esther 3:13 , but Scriba sacer, legis peritus, et interpres, a teacher of the words of the commandments of the Lord and his statutes to Israel. This is a high and honourable employment.
Ezr 7:12 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.
Ver. 12. Artaxerxes, king of kings ] This is a very high style for any mortal wight; yet ambitiously assumed by monarchs and emperors. It is indeed the proper title of Jesus Christ, who hath upon his vesture and upon his thigh a name written, King of kings, and Lord of lords; kings and captives, lords and lowlies, are all his underlings and vassals, as those good emperors, Constantine, Theodosius, and Valentinian usually called themselves (Socrates). This name of the Lord Christ is said to be written, 1. On his vesture, that all may see it and submit to it. 2. On his thigh, where hangs his sword, to show his absolute and unlimited empire, got out of the hands of his enemies with his sword and with his bow, Psalms 45:5 . "By me king’s reign," saith he, Proverbs 8:15 . And Nebuchadnezzar is made to know as much, Daniel 4:35 , who once vain gloriously vaunted that his princes were altogether kings, Isaiah 10:8 . Maximilian, emperor of Germany, also said of himself, that he was a king of kings, but in another sense; for every one of my subjects (quoth he) will be a king; and say I what I can, they will do what they wish (Johan. Manl. loc. com. p. 586).
Of the God of heaven See Trapp on " Ezr 5:11 "
Ezr 7:13 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 thee.
Ver. 13. And of his priests ] sc. The God of heaven’s priests, Ezra 7:12 , and therefore honoured and respected by this great monarch; so was Samuel by Saul, Jaddus by Alexander the Great; the Bards (anciently) here in Albion by the greatest commanders.
Which are minded of their own freewill ] He would compel none; neither doth Almighty God. His people are all volunteers, Psa 110:3 Isaiah 56:6 ; he finds them not so, but makes them so; and accounts that Virtus nolentium nulla est. Lex voluntaries quaerit The courage of the unwilling is nothing. The law seeks volunteers. (Ambrose in Psa 1:1-6 ). God accepts a freewill offering, and commands us to come off roundly and readily in his service.
Ezr 7:14 Forasmuch as thou art 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 thine hand;
Ver. 14. And of his seven counsellors ] Without whom the king did nothing of moment. This king was better affected to his council than his father Xerxes had been, of whom it is storied, that in his expedition against Greece he called his princes together, as if he would have been advised by them, but spoke to them to this purpose: Lest, saith he, I should seem to follow mine own counsel, I have assembled you. And now do you remember, that it becomes you rather to obey than advise. Valerius Maximus, l. 9. c. 5. ext. 2. 2:339
To inquire concerniny Judah ] So St Paul sent to inquire what was yet lacking in the faith of the Churches.
According to the law of thy God ] Which is not only recta, but regula, the rule and rudder. Those that walked by this rule Ezra was to cherish, and to punish such as did otherwise, being custos utriusque tabulae
Which is in thine hand ] Which thou art singularly skilled in, and much exercised about it; that thou mayest both observe it thyself, and also preserve it from other men’s violations.
Ezr 7:15 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,
Ver. 15. Which the king and his counsellors have freely offered ] This king, as he had been well bred by his mother, Queen Esther, so he had likely been well instructed by Ezra in the knowledge of the God of heaven (as he calleth him), whose service he thus promoteth. So Origen wrought much upon Alexander Severus the emperor, by his sound doctrine and holy conversation; but especially upon his mother, Mammaea, who became a great friend to the persecuted Christians.
Ezr 7:16 And all the silver and gold that thou canst 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:
Ver. 16. And all the silver and gold that thou canst find ] And gold thirsty Babylon was not without great store of both, could the owners but find in their hearts to part with it to so pious a use: some did, and the rather because the king and his council began to them.
With the freewill offering of the people ] God’s select people, of whom Moses singeth, "Happy art thou, O Israel: who is like unto thee, O people!" Deuteronomy 33:29 .
Ezr 7:17 That thou mayest 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.
Ver. 17. That thou mayest buy speedily ] Illico. immediately, God is himself a pure act, and hateth dulness in duty. What thou doest, do quickly, said Christ, even to the very traitor that did seek and suck his blood.
Ezr 7:18 And whatsoever shall seem good to thee, and to thy brethren, to do with the rest of the silver and the gold, that do after the will of your God.
Ver. 18. And whatsoever shall seem good to thee, &c. ] The king knew them to be faithful and wise stewards (such as Hanani was, Neh 7:2 ), and, therefore, leaveth much of the money to be bestowed as they pleased.
Ezr 7:19 The vessels also that are given thee for the service of the house of thy God, [those] deliver thou before the God of Jerusalem.
Ver. 19. The vessels also, &c. ] How naturally seemeth this king to care for the service of God! and what pity is it that he should so oft call him your God, and thy God, and not own him for his! So hard a thing it is to relinquish that vain conversation that people have received by tradition from their fathers. I will never forsake the religion that I have received from my forefathers, said Cicero. And the monarch of Morocco told the English ambassador that he had lately read St Paul’s Epistles, and liked them so well, that were he now to choose his religion, he would, before any other, embrace Christianity. But every one ought, said he, to die in his own religion; and the leaving of the faith wherein he was born was the only thing that he disliked in that apostle.
Ezr 7:20 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.
Ver. 20. And whatsoever more, &c. ] What could this king say more to seal up his good affection to the work in hand? Shall not this liberal heathen rise up in judgment and condemn such hold fasts among us, such miserly money hoarders, as have no quick silver, no current money for God or any good uses; but are, the richer the harder, as Dives?
Ezr 7:21 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, it be done speedily,
Ver. 21. Let it be done speedily ] Without shucking and bucking, without delays and consults: I, even I will have it so, saith the great king; dispute not, therefore, but despatch: Quod ego volo, pro canone sit, because I wish, let him be for the writing, as Constantius the emperor said to Paulinus, Lucifer, and other dissenting bishops.
Ezr 7:22 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 [how much].
Ver. 22. Unto an hundred talents of silver ] This was no small sum. How chargeable was the service of God heretofore to what it is now! and yet how heavily do men come off when to expend though but a very small sum that way! Ad quid perditio haec? To what end is this waste? is the common cry in this case. Surely Pagans and Papagans who lavish money out of the bag without measure, dotantque Deos alienos (as some read that text, Psa 16:3 ), shall have an easier judgment than such pinch penny professors.
Ezr 7:23 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?
Ver. 23. For why should there be wrath ] Heb. Boiling or foaming anger, great indignation, as it is rendered, and made the utmost degree of the Divine displeasure, Deuteronomy 29:28 . Of all things God cannot endure to be slighted, and to have his service neglected; this blind nature saw, and was, therefore, sedulous herein to prevent wrath. Aristotle hath this divine precept, Pρωτα περι θειων επιμελει , Make religion thy first and chief care, that thou mayest prosper, &c. (Arist. Polit. l. 7. c. 8). Let our worship scorners look to it: Do they provoke the Lord to wrath? Are they stronger than he? Will they bring God’s vengeance upon us all?
Against the realm of the king and his sons ] For God is higher than the highest, and will rain down indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doth evil, or that neglecteth to do good, Romans 2:8-9 ; for not serving of God, not sacrificing, is a sin, Mal 3:18 Ecclesiastes 9:2 . And sin doth as naturally draw and suck judgments to it, both personal and public, as the lodestone doth iron, or turpentine fire.
Ezr 7:24 Also we certify you, that touching any of the priests and Levites, singers, porters, Nethinims, or ministers of this house of God, it shall not be lawful to impose toll, tribute, or custom, upon them.
Ver. 24. And also we certify you, that touching any of the priests ] These he taketh special order for, that they be freed from public payments; and the like care was taken by our ancestors for the ministers of the Church of England, as appeareth by Magna Charta, chpat. 14. Their maintenance is of the law of nature, Genesis 47:22 . Jezebel provided for her priests; idolatrous Micah for his Levite; the Papists for their shavelings, granting them many and great immunities, and being so free to them, that there was need of a statute of Mortmain providing that men should give no more to the Church. But tempera mutantur, &c. Seasons be changed.
Ezr 7:25 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 ye them that know [them] not.
Ver. 25. And thou, Ezra ] Qui monet ut facias, who warned you to do this, &c.
After the wisdom of thy God, that is in thine hand ] That is, in thine heart and life, Sapientia est vel codicibus vel cordibus. Wisdom is either from the books or the heart. Ezra had both these, being a thorough wise man.
All such as know the laws of thy God ] Else how shall they see them duly executed? How shall they be as so many living laws, walking statuted? How shall they teach in the cities of Judah, as Jehoshaphat’s judges did, 2 Chronicles 17:7 ; 2 Chronicles 17:9 , and as it followeth here, "And teach ye them that know them not"; how can the people perform their duty, which they are ignorant of?
Ezr 7:26 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.
Ver. 26. And whosoever will not do the law of thy God ] In the first place, and then the king’s law, as it is subordinate and subservient to God’s. Obediemus Atridis honesta mandantibus, non aliter, saith he in Euripides (in Iphigenia), If the king command honest things, we will obey him; otherwise not.
Let judgment be executed speedily upon him ] Let this be noted against those that hold that magistrates have nothing to do with men in matters of religion. Artaxerxes here interposed, and Ezra blesseth God for it. See Dan 3:29 Deuteronomy 13:6 Romans 13:4 1 Peter 2:13-14 .
Ezr 7:27 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] in Jerusalem:
Ver. 27. Blessed be the Lord God ] Deo gratias to the God of graces, is ever in a good man’s mouth. The Jews at this day are bound to say a hundred benedictions every day; and more as occasion requires (Leo Modena).
Ezr 7:28 And hath extended mercy unto me before the king, and his counsellors, and before all the king’s mighty princes. And I was strengthened as the hand of the LORD my God [was] upon me, and I gathered together out of Israel chief men to go up with me.
Ver. 28. And hath extended mercy unto me ] sc. By making use of my service for the promoting of his. Any employment about God is a high preferment, and so to be esteemed; yea, it is a mercy, and sealeth up further mercy.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Ezra 7". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/