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This book details the events of a very interesting period of the Sacred History, when, according to the decree of Providence, the Jewish people were to be delivered from their captivity, at the expiration of seventy years, and restored to the land of their fathers. This book informs us how the Divine goodness accomplished this most gracious design, and the movers and agents He employed on the occasion. Ezra was undoubtedly the chief agent under God in effecting this arduous work; and his zeal, piety, knowledge, and discretion, appear here in a most conspicuous point of view, and claim our utmost admiration. Descended from Seraiah, in a direct line from Aaron, he seems to have united all the requisites of a profound statesmen with the functions of the sacerdotal character. He appears to have made the Sacred Scriptures, during the captivity, his peculiar study; and, perhaps assisted by Nehemiah and the great synagogue, he corrected the errors which had crept into the Sacred Writings, through the negligence or mistake of transcribers; he collected all the books of which the Sacred Scriptures then consisted, disposed them in their proper order, and settled the canon of Scriptures for his time; he occasionally added, under the dictation of the Holy Spirit, whatever appeared necessary for the purpose of illustrating, completing, or connecting them; he substituted the modern for the ancient names of some places, which had now become obsolete; and transcribed the whole of the Scriptures into the Chaldee character. He is said to have lived to the age of 120 years, and, according to Josephus, was buried in Jerusalem; but the Jews believe he died in Persia, in a second journey to Artaxerxes, where his tomb is shown in the city of Zamusa. Though not styled a prophet, he wrote under the Divine Spirit; and the canonical authority of his book has never been disputed. It is written with all the spirit and fidelity that could be displayed by a writer of contemporary times; and those parts which chiefly consist of letters, decrees, etc., are written in Chaldee, because it seemed more suitable to the fidelity of a sacred historian to give these official documents, as they may be termed, in the original language, especially as the people, recently returned from the captivity, were familiar, and perhaps more conversant with the Chaldee, than with the Hebrew.
the Week of Proper 12 / Ordinary 17