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Bible Commentaries
Ezra 3

Coke's Commentary on the Holy BibleCoke's Commentary

Introduction

CHAP. III.

The altar of burnt-offerings is set up: the feast of tabernacles is celebrated: in the second year the foundations of the temple are laid, amid shouts of joy on one hand, and on the other, much weeping of those who had seen the former temple.

Before Christ 536.

Verse 1

Ver. 1. When the seventh month was come The seventh month, called Tizri, answers in part to our September and October. The first day of the month Tizri was the beginning of the Jewish civil year; and on it was the feast of trumpets, which lasted for two days, when all labour and business was suspended; and while sacrifices were in use, the Jews offered, in the name of the whole nation, a solemn holocaust of a calf, two rams, and seven lambs, all of the same year, together with the flour and wine which usually accompanied such sacrifices; but, instead of that, they now go to the synagogue, where they repeat several prayers and benedictions; and, having very solemnly taken the Pentateuch out of the chest, and read to five persons the sacrifice which used to be performed on that day, they sound twenty times upon a horn, sometimes very low, sometimes very loud; and this, they say, makes them think of the judgments of God, to intimidate sinners, and put them upon repentance. See Calmet, and Leviticus 23:24.

Verse 3

Ver. 3. For fear was upon them, &c.— Although they were afraid of the neighbouring people. Houbigant.

Verse 12

Ver. 12. But many—wept with a loud voice Not only because this temple was likely to prove far inferior to that of Solomon as to its outward structure; but because it was also to want those extraordinary marks of the divine favour wherewith the other temple was honoured. Both the temples, without doubt, were of the same dimensions; but here was the sad difference which drew tears from the eyes of the elders, that to all appearance there were no hopes that the poor beginnings of the latter temple would ever be raised to the grandeur and magnificence of the former, since the one had been built by the wisest and richest king, and constantly adorned by some one or other of his posterity; the other was now begun by a small company of exiles, just returned from their captivity: the one in a time of profound peace and the greatest opulence; the other in a time of common calamity and distress: the one finished with the most costly stones and timber, wrought with exquisite art, and overlaid with vast quantities of gold; the other to be raised out of no better materials than what could be dug from the ruinous foundation of the old one. But the occasion of their grief was not only this, that the materials and ornaments of the second temple were even as nothing in comparison with the first (Haggai 2:3.); but that the ark of the covenant, and the mercy-seat which was upon it; the holy fire upon the altar; the Urim and Thummim; the spirit of prophesy; and the Shechinah, or Divine presence, the five great things for which the former temple was so renowned, were lost and gone, and never to be recovered to this other. This was a just matter of lamentation to those who had seen these singular tokens of the Divine favour in the former temple, and a discouragement of their proceeding with the building of the present; and therefore the prophet Haggai was sent to inform them, that all these wants and defects should be abundantly repaired by the coming of the Messiah, the true Shechinah of the Divine Majesty, in the time of the second temple: (ch. Ezra 2:7; Ezra 2:9.) I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come; and I will fill this house with glory; the glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the Lord of hosts.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, Scarcely were they settled in their several possessions, before,

1. They with one consent assembled at Jerusalem, at the approach of the seventh month, to consult together about carrying on the work of God, and beginning the service of the sanctuary. Amid all their other cares, many and perplexing as they must have been, God's glory was their chief concern. Note; All is likely to end well with us, when we are careful thus to begin with God.

2. The high-priest, his brethren, and the chief princes, hereupon set up the altar in the same place where it had stood; perhaps the old bases might remain: though they could not quickly rear the temple, they would not defer till then the service of the altar. Note; (1.) When we cannot enjoy all the ordinances that we desire, we should be the more diligent to improve those in our power. Wherever we are, at least we need not want an altar for prayer and praise. (2.) Those who are distinguished in station should adorn it by the eminence of their zeal for God.

3. The reason given for their solicitude to begin God's worship was, the fear of their enemies, who hated them, and failed not to oppose their designs. Note; (1.) The best defence is, God's favourable presence. (2.) We must not be frightened out of our religion: man's threatenings should only quicken our prayers.

4. No sooner was the altar reared, than they began to offer their sacrifices on the first day of the seventh month, which was the feast of blowing of trumpets. From thenceforward, they continued the daily sacrifice, and kept the appointed feasts in their season, though the foundation of the temple was not laid. Note; (1.) We must make the best of what we enjoy, and do what we can when we cannot do all that we would. (2.) Every day we are required to offer the sacrifice of a grateful heart.

5. Beside the instituted sacrifices, they offered also free-will offerings. Though they could ill spare them from their little stock of cattle, yet they concluded that they should never be the poorer for what burned on God's altar.
6. They began to make preparations for building the temple, giving out the money that they had collected to the proper workmen, and engaging those of Tyre and Zidon to supply them with materials, according to the grant which Cyrus had made them. Thus a second time did they assist in rearing a temple for God. Note; Many help to build God's house, whose names, it is to be feared, will not be found in the book of life. They serve his interests only because they promote their own.

2nd, Though the work was great, their hearts were eager upon it, and therefore the preparations went on briskly.
1. In the second month of the second year the foundation was laid; seven months the materials were preparing, and then without delay they began to build. Note; (1.) If church-work be slow, it is because those who are engaged in it care not for the worship. (2.) What our hand findeth to do for God, we must do it with our might.

2. Zerubbabel and Jeshua, and their brethren the priests and Levites, forwarded with zeal the service: and of the Levites, officers were appointed to look over the workmen. Note; The eye that oversees is as necessary as the hand that builds.

3. When the foundation was laid, the priests with trumpets, and the Levites with cymbals, praised God in the Eucharistic hymn; the burden of which was, for his mercy endureth for ever, see Psalms 136:0. Note; The never-failing mercy of God is just matter of everlasting praise; and we can be in no circumstance, or condition, in which we are not bound to acknowledge this precious truth.

4. Very different emotions were on this occasion awakened in the bosoms of the spectators. The younger part, who had never seen the former temple, beheld with delight the glorious fabric rising to their view, while the more aged fathers could not but look back to the magnificence of the ancient house, and weep to behold the change. It was now about fifty-four years, according to the most received computation, since Solomon's temple was destroyed; and many of those who were returned from the captivity might well remember it. The voice of weeping and shouting was thus blended together; but the shouting prevailed, and was heard at a distance; the mourning was only heard at home. Note; (1.) It is matter of joy to see revivals of religion, though they come not up to those in the days of our fathers. (2.) Even in our joys, some drops of sorrow will mingle: it will only be perfectly pure when we come to the better temple.

Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Ezra 3". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tcc/ezra-3.html. 1801-1803.
 
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