Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Ezra 8:21

Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river of Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God to seek from Him a safe journey for us, our little ones, and all our possessions.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Ahava;   Blessing;   Children;   Ezra;   Fasting;   Humiliation and Self-Affliction;   Prayer;   Thompson Chain Reference - Children;   Ezra;   Fasts Proclaimed;   Home;   Penitence-Impenitence;   Reception-Rejection;   Repentance;   Seekers;   Seeking God;   Teachableness;   Worship;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Fasting;   Prayer, Answers to;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Ahava;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Ezra;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Fast, Fasting;   Humility;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Ahava;   Fast;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Ahava;   Ezra;   Fasting;   Meshullam;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Ahava;   Exile;   Ezra, Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Ahava;   Ezra;   Fasting;   Johanan;   Prayer;   River;   Theras;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Ahava ;   Ivah ;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Ahava;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Aha'va;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Babylonish Captivity, the;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Ezra;   Fast;   Right;   Substance;   Theras;   Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia - Ahava;  

The Biblical Illustrator

Ezra 8:21

Then I proclaimed a fast there.

Prayer and fasting

(preached on the occasion of a public fast):--

I. That the best means to procure success upon our counsels and endeavours is to seek God for his blessing.

1. This results from the first principles on which all religion is built.

2. In giving His assistance God does not always act in so palpable a manner as that whereby we see second causes producing their effects. But that it is the most rational and most religious way to begin at Heaven in all His consultations and designs will appear by reflecting--

II. That solemn fasting is a proper method to be used in such addresses to God. We have but two ways to express our thoughts and the inclinations of our minds, either by words or by such actions as naturally flow from them, and both of these are equally proper and therefore such as become our devotions. For God is the author of decency and order, and His service is then most decent and orderly when it is unaffected and agreeable to nature; and therefore such gestures or actions are proper in His worship which do naturally flow from or by custom are used to accompany such a disposition of mind as we ought to be in when we make our approaches to Him. Thus kneeling becomes us at our prayers, because it is the usual posture of supplicants; singing of hymns is decent in thanksgiving, because songs and music are fit attendants on praise and joy; and fasting is extremely proper for a solemn humiliation before God, for the begging pardon of our sins, and assistance in our difficulties, because it is a natural expression of sorrow, and is productive of humble thoughts in ourselves and devout ones towards God. And therefore we find that it has been the practice not only of the Churches of God, but even of the heathens themselves, to use solemn fasts upon extraordinary applications to Heaven, so that fasting is a part of worship prescribed by nature and by common sense of men. Public fasting should be attended with public demonstrations of seriousness, such as gravity in our discourse and behaviour, a ceasing from the business of our particular callings, abstaining from ornaments, recreations, and places of civil concourse, and spending the day in the public devotions of the Church and in the retirements of our closets. For though It private Christian may fast (as he may pray) without any of this pomp, and discharge the duty in his own breast, yet to make it public there is no other way but an outward solemnity; and a community cannot hold a fast but by such an appearance. In this the minds of men are more apt to be grave and serious when there is no appearance of jollity to divert them, they are drawn off from thoughts of worldly business and fixed on pious meditations, when they see their neighbours thronging to the temple, when there is no commerce in the shops nor hurry in the streets. Such a face of things shows that men are about the more serious business of another world. (William Hayley, D. D.)

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Ezra 8:21". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/ezra-8.html. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

EZRA PROCLAIMS A FAST FOR THREE DAYS

"Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek of him a straight way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance. For I was ashamed to ask of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way, because we had spoken unto the king saying, The hand of our God is upon all them that seek him for good; but his power and his wrath is against all them that forsake him. So we fasted and besought our God for this: and he was entreated of us."

"I proclaimed a fast there at the river Ahava" (Ezra 8:21). Ezra had good reason behind this proclamation. Due to his previous remarks to the king, he was ashamed to request a military escort to Jerusalem; and, since he was transporting a vast sum of money, and as the way was always a dangerous one, he felt a special need of God's protection.

Fasting, as a means of seeking God's favor, was a common practice in Israel; and even in the New Testament, Jesus prophesied that his followers would fast (Matthew 6:15; 8:14).

There was a long tradition in Israel that the rulers had the authority to proclaim a fast; and one was even called by Jezebel (1 Kings 21:12).

"And he was entreated of us" (Ezra 8:23). Ezra wrote this after his safe arrival in Jerusalem; but here he included this word that God had indeed answered their prayers. As a consequence of their prayers, "The journey was successfully accomplished, God's gracious protection delivering them from the bands of enemies and marauders."[12]

Copyright Statement
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Ezra 8:21". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/ezra-8.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava,.... After the messengers to Iddo were returned with those they brought with them:

that we might afflict ourselves before our God; humble themselves before him for their sins, confess them, and declare their repentance of them, and ask forgiveness for them:

to seek of him a right way for us; to take from thence towards Jerusalem, to be directed by him in it: either by a prophet, or by a vision in a dream, as Eben Ezra; or rather by the guidance of his providence; this they sought in prayer by the river side, where it had been usual with them, and since has been, to perform religious exercises, see Ezekiel 1:1, hence TertullianF26Ad nationes, l. 1. c. 13. Vid. lib. de jejuniis, c. 16. calls the prayers of the Jews "orationes littorales"; they sought not so much which was the shortest and easiest way for them to travel in, as which was the safest:

and for our little ones and for all our substance; for the safe conveyance of them; this shows, that though males only are numbered, as before, yet they had their wives and children with them; for little ones cannot be supposed without women to take care of them.

Copyright Statement
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Ezra 8:21". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/ezra-8.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict f ourselves before our God, to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance.

(f) He shows that the purpose of fasting is to humble the body to the spirit, which must proceed from the heart that is touched, or else it is hypocrisy.
Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Ezra 8:21". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/ezra-8.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Ezra 8:21-36. A fast proclaimed.

Then I proclaimed a fast there — The dangers to travelling caravans from the Bedouin Arabs that prowl through the desert were in ancient times as great as they still are; and it seems that travelers usually sought the protection of a military escort. But Ezra had spoken so much to the king of the sufficiency of the divine care of His people that he would have blushed to apply for a guard of soldiers. Therefore he resolved that his followers should, by a solemn act of fasting and prayer, commit themselves to the Keeper of Israel. Their faith, considering the many and constant perils of a journey across the Bedouin regions, must have been great, and it was rewarded by the enjoyment of perfect safety during the whole way.

Copyright Statement
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Ezra 8:21". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/ezra-8.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance.

A fast — For public mercies. Publick prayers must be made, that all who are to share in the comfort, may share in the requests for it.

Afflict ourselves — For our sins; and so be qualified for the pardon of them. When we are entering on any new condition of life, our care should be to bring into it none of the guilt of the sins of our former condition. When we are in any imminent danger, let us make our peace with God, and then nothing can hurt us.

Right way — A safe and prosperous journey; such a way and course as might be best for us.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Ezra 8:21". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/ezra-8.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Ezra 8:21 Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance.

Ver. 21. Then I proclaimed a fast there] A day of restraint from food, fine clothes, and other delights of life. There is a threefold fast, saith one, from meat, from mirth, and from sin; this last crowns all. Unless God sees turning, he sees no work in a fast, saith another, explaining that text, Jonah 3:10, "God saw their works, that they turned." Of a fast, See Trapp on "Joel 2:12".

That we might afflict ourselves before our God] Not outwardly only (that is but the shell, Isaiah 58:3), but inwardly also, for that is the kernel of this exercise, Jeremiah 16:19, which else is but bodily, and profiteth little; something it may, as it did Ahab; but if rightly performed, though it weakeneth the body, yet it strengtheneth the spirit, making it vigorous and victorious.

To seek of him a right way for us] To edge our prayers and give wings to them; for fasting inflameth prayer, and prayer sanctifieth fasting; hence they go coupled for the most part, Luke 2:37, Matthew 17:21, 1 Corinthians 7:5. And surely, if with fasting and prayer we can seek of God direction and protection, as here, we shall speed of both.

And for our little ones] These should be a main part of our care, to lay up prayers for them, to commend them to God’s safe keeping, forasmuch as puerilitas est periculorum pelagus, Little ones are liable to a thousand deaths and dangers.

And for all our substance] Our stock and our store, all the goods that we have got and gathered together. Our English word Riches answereth to the Hebrew Recush.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Ezra 8:21". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/ezra-8.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Ver. 21. I proclaimed a fast They had the greater reason to do this, because they carried with them things of considerable value, were apprehensive of enemies who lay in wait for them, and were ashamed to ask any guard of the king, who, being not much instructed in these matters, might possibly think, that what they said of God's favour towards them, and the prophesies concerning their restoration, were but vain boasts, if they should seem to distrust the power and favour of that God of whom they had spoken so magnificently, by making application to the king for his protection and defence. Rather, therefore, than give any such umbrage, they were resolved to commit themselves entirely to God; but then it was necessary that they should beseech that of him, which, without giving offence, they could not request of the king. See Bishop Patrick.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Ezra 8:21". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/ezra-8.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

A right way, i.e. a safe and prosperous journey; or such a way and course as might be best for us.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Ezra 8:21". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/ezra-8.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

21.Proclaimed a fast — That by proper humiliation before God they might secure his blessing upon their journey.

Afflict ourselves — By abstinence and personal humiliation. Compare marginal references.

A right way for us — A course of righteousness and safety. Great and pressing dangers beset this expedition of Ezra. There was danger that transgressors might appear among these exiles to covet the treasures that had been given for the temple, and so, like Achan, be a curse to the whole camp. They were also in danger of robbers and perils by the way.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Ezra 8:21". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/ezra-8.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Ezra 8:21. Then I proclaimed a fast there — Ezra had procured Levites to go along with him, but what would that avail unless he had God with him? this is therefore his chief care. No doubt he had himself begged of God direction in this affair, from the first time he had it in his thoughts: but for public mercies, public prayers must be made, that all who are to share in the comfort of them, may join in requests for them. Thus, in all our ways we must acknowledge God, and in those particularly wherein we are endeavouring to serve the interests of his kingdom among men. That we might afflict ourselves before our God — For our sins, and so be qualified for the pardon of them. When we are entering on any new condition of life, our care should be to bring none of the guilt of the sins of our former condition into it. When we are in any imminent peril, let us be sure to make our peace with God, and then we are safe; nothing can do us any real hurt. To seek of him a right way for us — A safe and prosperous journey; such a way and course as might be best for us. And for our little ones, and for all our substance — They had the greater reason to fast and pray, because they carried with them their little children, treasures of gold and silver, and divers vessels, and other things, of very considerable value, and were apprehensive of enemies, who would waylay them to plunder them of their substance; namely, the Arabs, Samaritans, and others, against whom they peculiarly needed the divine protection and aid.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Ezra 8:21". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/ezra-8.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Fast it seems for eight days, so that they departed on the 12th, ver. 31. (Menochius) --- It will not suffice to leave sin, we must also do works of satisfaction. (Worthington)

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Ezra 8:21". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/ezra-8.html. 1859.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance.

Then I proclaimed a fast there. The dangers to traveling caravans from the Bedouin Arabs that prowl through the desert were in ancient times as great as they still are; and it seems that travelers usually sought the protection of a military escort. But Ezra had spoken so much to the king of the sufficiency of the divine care of his people that he would have blushed to apply for a guard of soldiers; and therefore he resolved that his followers should, by a solemn act of fasting and prayer, commit themselves to the Keeper of Israel. Their faith, considering the many and constant perils of a journey across the Bedouin regions, must have been great, and it was rewarded by the enjoyment of perfect safety during the whole way.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Ezra 8:21". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/ezra-8.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(21) To seek of him a right way for us.—The wilderness was now before them, and an enemy, indefinitely referred to, was in the way: probably desert tribes, always lying in wait for unprotected caravans.

Our little ones.—An intimation that whole households went up.

Our substance.—Chiefly the treasures for the Temple, though the term signifies cattle and other goods, with an undertone of abundance.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Ezra 8:21". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/ezra-8.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance.
I proclaimed
Judges 20:26; 1 Samuel 7:6; 2 Chronicles 20:3; Joel 1:14; 2:12-18; Jonah 3:5
afflict ourselves
Leviticus 16:29,31; 23:29; Isaiah 58:3,5; Jeremiah 31:8,9; 50:4,5
to seek
Psalms 5:8; 107:2-8; 143:8-10; Proverbs 3:6; Isaiah 30:21; 35:8; 42:16; 49:10; Jeremiah 10:23
for our little ones
Numbers 14:3,31; Psalms 8:2; Mark 10:13-16; Acts 2:39
Reciprocal: Genesis 24:42 - prosper;  Genesis 24:48 - led me;  Genesis 43:8 - also our;  Leviticus 23:27 - afflict;  Numbers 29:7 - afflict;  Numbers 30:13 - to afflict;  Joshua 9:14 - asked not;  Ezra 3:3 - for fear;  Ezra 8:15 - Ahava;  Ezra 8:31 - the river of Ahava;  Psalm 107:7 - he led;  Psalm 121:8 - thy going out;  Psalm 137:1 - the rivers;  Jeremiah 42:3 - GeneralDaniel 9:3 - with;  Jonah 3:7 - caused;  1 Thessalonians 3:11 - our way

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Ezra 8:21". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/ezra-8.html.