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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
Ezra 3

 

 

Verse 1

THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES KEPT IN THE SEVENTH MONTH, Ezra 3:1-7.

1. The seventh month — Of the first year of the return from exile. The seventh month was called Ethanim, sometimes Tisri, and was fixed upon by Solomon for the dedication of his temple. See notes on 1 Kings 8:2. As this month fell in our October, it is commonly thought that these Israelites left Babylon in the preceding spring, in March or April.

Were in the cities — That is, had become numbered and settled in their homes in the various towns and cities round about Jerusalem.

As one man — So promptly and with such accord did the entire new community assemble, that it was like the coming of a single individual.


Verse 2

2. Then stood up — To lead and direct the people in the work and worship for which they had come together.

Jeshua… Zerubbabel — See note on Ezra 2:2. Here priestly work is the main subject of the context, and Jeshua, the priest, is named first; in other passages where the government of the people, or building matters, form the chief topic, Zerubbabel is named first. Compare Ezra 3:8, Ezra 2:2; Ezra 4:3, etc.

Builded the altar — This was their first care. Before the temple is commenced they provided for the proper offering of the daily and special sacrifices.

The law of Moses — This had been sacredly preserved, and existed in book form; but during the exile the masses of the people had so far lost the use of their ancient language that they needed to have the law not only read, but expounded in their hearing. Nehemiah 8:1-8.


Verse 3

3. Upon his bases — Rather, upon its foundation. מכונתis here to be understood, as in Ezra 2:68, where it is rendered place, of foundations lain upon its ancient site.

For — This particle introduces the first prominent reason for their speedy erection of the altar.

Fear was upon them — Literally, in fear upon them.

Because of the people of those countries — The surrounding population, whose hostile attitude towards the returned exiles began already to show itself, and soon after caused great troubles, and caused the rebuilding of the temple for a long time to cease. Chap. 4. They hoped by sacrifice and offering to secure the help of Jehovah against their foes.


Verse 4

4. Kept… feast of tabernacles — Called also the feast of ingathering, because it was celebrated in autumn, when the fruits of the field had been gathered in. It is mentioned and described in Exodus 23:16; Leviticus 23:34-36; Numbers 29:12-38; Deuteronomy 16:13-15; Deuteronomy 31:10-13 — where see notes.

Offered the daily burnt offerings by number — Literally, the burnt offering of day by day by number, according to precept, the matter of a day in its day; that is, a strict observance of the order prescribed in Numbers 29:12-38.


Verse 5

5. The continual burnt offering — Described in Exodus 29:38-42; Numbers 28:3-8.

New moons — See at Numbers 10:10; Numbers 28:11.

All the set feasts — Enumerated in Numbers 28, 29.

A freewill offering — That is, one willingly offered over and above what was prescribed in the law.


Verse 7

7. They gave money also — The feast of tabernacles was made also an occasion of contributing to the fund necessary to rebuild the temple.

Cedar trees from Lebanon — The same kind of wood, from the same place Solomon had used in the first temple. 1 Kings 5:6; 1 Kings 5:9.

To the sea of Joppa — Or, to the sea at Joppa. The transportation was to be done as in the time of Solomon. See note on 1 Kings 5:9.

According to the grant… of Cyrus — All Syria and Phoenicia was subject to Cyrus, and this grant had doubtless been given to gratify the Jews in their desire to have the second temple built as nearly as possible after the manner of the first one.


Verse 8

THE FOUNDATION OF THE SECOND TEMPLE LAID, Ezra 3:8-13.

8. The second year — More than a year elapsed before the new community began… to set forward the work of the house of the Lord — Other things first required attention. The people were to be numbered, classified, and settled in new homes, and many had to build them houses. Much time also was necessary to arrange for the feasts and offerings, and also for bringing material from Lebanon.


Verse 9

9. Jeshua… Kadmiel — Levites mentioned in the list of the returned, Ezra 2:40. This Jeshua is not to be confounded with the high priest, the son of Jozadak, of the same name.

Sons of Judah — Instead of Judah, we should probably read Hodevah (Nehemiah 7:43) or Hodaviah, who is also mentioned in Ezra 2:40.


Verse 10

10. To praise the Lord — Not only in evidence of their joy and gratitude, but also to thrill the builders and all the people with inspiration and enthusiasm.

After the ordinance of David — Literally, at the hands of David; that is, according to his direction or example in providing for appropriate temple services. See 1 Chronicles 6:31; 1 Chronicles 16:4; 1 Chronicles 25:1.


Verse 11

11. Sang together by course — All this is expressed by the single Hebrew word ענה, which means literally to answer. The sense is, as often where the word is used, that they sang antiphonally, one party saying, The Lord… is good, and the other responding, For his mercy endureth for ever. Comp. Exodus 15:21; 1 Samuel 18:6.

A great shout — Of triumph, hope, and joy.


Verse 12

12. Ancient men, that had seen the first house — So not a few of the returned exiles were the same persons whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried captive more than half a century before.

When the foundation of this house was laid — The Masoretic accent, and most natural grammatical construction of the Hebrew text, would require us to render thus — Had seen the first house when its foundation was laid. But none of these ancient men could have been so old as to have witnessed the laying of the foundation of the first temple nearly five hundred years before, and hence some take יסדhere in the sense of standing upon its foundation. The word, however, has nowhere else such a meaning, and it seems therefore better to disregard the accent, and construe ביסדוwith what follows, as is done in our common version. Literally, then, the Hebrew reads: In its being founded — this house before their eyes. Maurer refers the Hebrew suffix to Zerubbabel — when he (Zerubbabel) laid the foundation of this house; but as he is not mentioned in the context, it is better to translate the passage impersonally, and the common version can hardly be improved.

When the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes — When they witnessed the founding of this second temple the old men wept with a loud voice at the remembrance of the desolation of former glory, while others shouted aloud for joy in the strong hope and prospect of the restoration or former glory. Here, says Wordsworth, “is an apt emblem of every thing, however joyous, which is done in the Church militant on earth. Her march of victory is through a vale of tears; her restorations are memorials of sins which have caused the destruction of that which had been dissolved. Even when she celebrates the glories of the incarnation of Christ, who made our nature to be a temple of the Godhead, she may not forget to weep for the ruin into which the temple of that nature fell by sin.”

 


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Ezra 3:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/ezra-3.html. 1874-1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, December 9th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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