Ezra (Ch 7-8)

Earlier, the Samaritans (Ezra 4:20-22) had succeeded in alarming the Persian court by their representations of a danger to the empire of fortifying a city, Jerusalem, notorious for the turbulent character of its inhabitants and the prowess of its kings.

Their punishment now requires them to be subjected to “a decree to all the treasurers who 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.”

Ezra 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, — now after these things; the finishing of the temple and the dedication of it and keeping the passover: in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia; in the seventh year of his reign, Ezra 7:7, who is the same with Darius in the preceding chapter;

— Ezra the son of Seraiah; that is, grandson or great-grandson. Seraiah was the high priest put to death by Nebuchadnezzar at Riblah (II King 25:18,21).

the son of Shallum, the son of Zadok, the son of Ahitub,

the son of Amariah, the son of Azariah, the son of Meraioth,

the son of Zerahiah, the son of Uzzi, the son of Bukki,

the son of Abishua, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the chief priest”

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.

And there went up some of the children of Israel, and of the priests and the Levites, and the singers and the gatekeepers, and the Nethinim, unto Jerusalem in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king. — as Artaxerxes began to reign in BC 464, his seventh year would be BC 458.

And he came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which was in the seventh year of the king.

For upon the first day of the first month he began to go up from Babylon, and on the first day of the fifth month he came to Jerusalem, according to the good hand of his God upon him. — according to the good hand of his God upon him; there was great reason to acknowledge the favour and protection of God, in conducting them safe to Jerusalem;

— for the journey was long and difficult, and they had many impediments, (going with wives and children, flocks and herds,) and were not without enemies, by whom they were in danger of being waylaid. These, however, Ezra did not fear, but relied on the divine protection, as he told the king, Ezra 8:2, being inspired with supernatural courage and fortitude;

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 judgements.

— Ezra was a man of God; to “seek the law of the Lord and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgements,” yet he has formidable enemies today; namely, Fred F. Coulter, Frank W. Nelte and John W. Ritenbaugh:

— these modern pretenders accuse Ezra of corrupting God’s Word (of forging Deuteronomy 16 in particular) and thus deemed for condemnation: “Whatever I command you, observe to do it. Thou shalt not add thereto nor diminish from it (Deuteronomy 12:32). Forging the Bible is a serious charge, risking eternal life (Revelation 22:18-19);

— but if Ezra is indeed a man of God, who taught the statutes correctly, then these three men are identified to be condemned; for it says in Zechariah 11:8 “Three shepherds also I cut off in one month; and my soul loathed them and their soul also abhorred me.”

11 Now this is the copy of the letter that 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: — this is the copy of the letter that the King Artaxerxes gave unto Ezra; it can hardly be supposed, but that some more than ordinary means were used to obtain so great a favour from Artaxerxes, as this commission was upon which Ezra went.

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. — Artaxerxes, king of kings; the Persian monarchs inherited this proud and haughty  title from the Babylonians (Daniel 2:37). 

— Imperial Majesty Reza Pahlavi Aryamehr ascended the throne on September 1941, known by his people as Shahanshah; translated as King of Kings; fled to Egypt when a revolution in January 1979 overthrew his reign. He died in Cairo on July 27, 1980 due to “advanced cancer” at the age of only 60.

13 I make a decree that all those of the people of Israel and of his priests and Levites in my realm, who are minded of their own free will to go up to Jerusalem, go with thee. — I make a decree, which, according to the laws of the Medes and Persians, when signed, could not be changed, Daniel 6:8,

14 Inasmuch as thou art sent by the king and by his seven counselors to inquire concerning Judah and Jerusalem, according to the law of thy God which is in thine hand, — to inquire concerning Judah according to the law of thy God; to make inquiry into all abuses and deviations from your law, and to redress them;

— which is in thy hand; a copy which is now and always in thy hand, being the matter of thy daily study and exercise; which thou now carriest along with thee, the interpretation whereof belongeth unto thee.

15 and to carry the silver and gold which the king and his counselors have freely offered unto the God of Israel, whose habitation is in Jerusalem, — and to carry the silver and gold for the temple built there; for the service of which, either for purchasing and procuring vessels that were wanting in it, or for sacrifices to be offered in it, the king and his nobles had made a voluntary contribution, and intrusted and sent Ezra with it.

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” — that thou can find; or that thou shalt find. Permission is granted to Ezra to ask for contributions from the people of other province of Babylon.

17 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. — with their meat offerings, and their drink offerings; which always went along with the burnt offerings, according to the law of Moses; and which the king seemed to have a knowledge in any way that Ezra, acting under Divine guidance, might direct correctly in his court.

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.

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.

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. — bestow it out of the king’s treasure house; where the money collected by tribute, tax, and custom, was deposited; his exchequer, as it may be called.

21 “And I, even I Artaxerxes the king, do make a decree to all the treasurers who 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, — and I, even I Artaxerxes the king, do make a decree to all the treasurers which are beyond the river; the receivers of his tribute, tax, and custom, beyond the river Euphrates, on the side towards the land of Israel, which includes the Samariatns; that whatsoever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven;

— shall require of you, it be done speedily; which seems at first a grant at large for whatsoever he should want or demand, but is limited and restrained by what follows.

22 up to a hundred talents of silver, and to a hundred measures of wheat, and to a hundred baths of wine, and to a hundred baths of oil, and salt without prescribing how much.

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? — the phrase “the God of heaven” occurs twice, and the Persian king tries to avoid the risks of His wrath;

— for why should there be wrath against the realm of the king and his sons? – for the omission of any part of his worship, occasioned by the king’s neglect.

24 Also we inform you, that concerning any of the priests and Levites, singers, gatekeepers, Nethinim, or ministers of this house of God, it shall not be lawful to impose toll, tribute, or custom upon them. — “We certify you,” perhaps he speaks in the name of himself and his successors; or possibly he means to say that in this matter he has asked and obtained the assent and consent of his council (compare verse 28).

25 “And thou, Ezra, according to the wisdom of thy God that is in thine hand, set magistrates and judges who may judge all the people who are beyond the river, all such as know the laws of thy God; and teach ye those who know them not. — after the wisdom of thy God in thy hand; that is, which God hath put into thy heart, and which appears in the works of thy hand. Wisdom is sometimes ascribed to the hand, as Psalm 78:72. Or, by the wisdom of God, he means the law of God, which was said to be in his hand, Ezra 7:14.

— set magistrates and judges, which may judge all the people; all the Jews on that side of the river; all such as know the laws of thy God; all that professed the Jewish religion were to be under the jurisdiction of these judges; which intimates that they were exempt from the jurisdiction of heathen magistrates;

— it was a great favour to the Jews to have such magistrates of themselves, and especially of Ezra’s nomination. And teach ye them that know them not; they were to instruct in the laws of God those that were ignorant of them, whether Jews or others, which implies that he had no objection to their making proselytes to the Jewish religion.

26 And whosoever will not do the law of thy God and the law of the king, let judgement be executed speedily upon him, whether it be unto death or to banishment, or to confiscation of goods or to imprisonment.” — this passage is very prophetic, that is, it would be the situation that those who disobey would be horsewhipped at the start of the Millenium;

— and whosoever will not do the law of thy God, and the law of the king; either the judge who delays judgement, or does not execute it according to the law of God, and of the king or the people, that do not obey the law of God in matters of religion, and the law of the king in civil things, Judea being now a province of the Persian empire; though some think the law of the king only refers to this law or decree of the king, which gave the Jews power to execute their own laws:

— let judgement be executed speedily upon him; horsewhipped immediately, without delay, according to the nature of his crime: whether it be unto death; if guilty of a capital crime, deserving death, let him be put to death: or to banishment; from his native country to a foreign distant land.

27 Blessed be the Lord God of our fathers, who hath put such a thing as this in the king’s heart, to beautify the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem, — Blessed be the Lord God of our fathers; this is Ezra’s thanksgiving to God for the above decree: which hath put such a thing as this in the king’s heart; which he rightly took to be of God, who wrought in him to will and to do:

— to beautify the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem; to provide for the ornamenting of it, for vessels in it, as well as for sacrifices; for as for the building of it, that was finished. People who could identify the Unspoken Word of God are blessed if they do them (for more, see The Unspoken Will of God or the end).

28 and hath extended mercy unto me before the king and his counselors, 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. — and hath extended mercy unto me, before the king and his counsellors, and before all the king’s mighty princes; before Artaxerxes, his seven counsellors, Ezra 7:14 and the nobles of his realm, in being appointed by them to carry their freewill offerings to Jerusalem, and the king’s commands to his treasurers, with leave to take as many of the Jews with him as were willing to go:

— and I was strengthened as the hand of the Lord my God was upon me; animated to undertake this work and execute this commission, being under the influence of divine favour and protection:

— and I gathered together out of Israel chief men to go up with me; he went about in the several parts where Israelites dwelt, and persuaded some of the principal men among them to go along with him to Jerusalem, showing them the king’s decree, which gave them leave; and their names and numbers are described in the next chapter.

Ezra 8

1 Now these are the chiefs of their fathers, and this is the genealogy of those who went up with me from Babylon in the reign of Artaxerxes the king. — a list of the chief names, given by families, of those who accompanied Ezra; this is the genealogy; the names of the heads of houses is followed generally by that of the wider families they belonged to. With this list is to be compared the register of those who went up with Zerubbabel.

Of the sons of Phinehas, Gershom; of the sons of Ithamar, Daniel; of the sons of David, Hattush;

of the sons of Shecaniah, of the sons of Parosh, Zechariah; and with him were reckoned by genealogy of the males, a hundred and fifty. — by genealogy of the males; though the males only be expressed, yet doubtless they carried the women along with them as they did the little ones, Ezra 8:21.

Of the sons of Pahathmoab, Elihoenai the son of Zerahiah, and with him two hundred males.

Of the sons of Shecaniah, the son of Jahaziel, and with him three hundred males;

of the sons also of Adin, Ebed the son of Jonathan, and with him fifty males;

and of the sons of Elam, Jeshaiah the son of Athaliah, and with him seventy males;

and of the sons of Shephatiah, Zebadiah the son of Michael, and with him fourscore males;

of the sons of Joab, Obadiah the son of Jehiel, and with him two hundred and eighteen males;

10 and of the sons of Shelomith, the son of Josiphiah, and with him a hundred and threescore males;

11 and of the sons of Bebai, Zechariah the son of Bebai, and with him twenty and eight males;

12 and of the sons of Azgad, Johanan the son of Hakkatan, and with him a hundred and ten males;

13 and of the last sons of Adonikam, whose names are these — Eliphelet, Jeiel, and Shemaiah — and with them threescore males;

14 of the sons also of Bigvai, Uthai and Zabbud, and with them seventy males.

15 And I gathered them together at the river that runneth to Ahava; and there abode we in tents three days. And I viewed the people and the priests, and found there none of the sons of Levi.

16 Then sent I for Eliezer, for Ariel, for Shemaiah, and for Elnathan, and for Jarib, and for Elnathan, and for Nathan, and for Zechariah, and for Meshullam, chief men; also for Joiarib and for Elnathan, men of understanding.

17 And I sent them with commandment unto Iddo the chief at the place Casiphia, and I told them what they should say unto Iddo and to his brethren the Nethinim at the place Casiphia, that they should bring unto u ministers for the house of our God.

18 And by the good hand of our God upon us, they brought us a man of understanding of the sons of Mahli, the son of Levi, the son of Israel, and Sherebiah, with his sons and his brethren, eighteen;

19 and Hashabiah, and with him Jeshaiah of the sons of Merari, his brethren and their sons, twenty;

20 also of the Nethinim, whom David and the princes had appointed for the service of the Levites, two hundred and twenty Nethinim; all of them were expressed by name.

21 Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river of Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek of Him a right way for us and for our little ones, and for all our substance. — the little ones went along, though they may not be counted in the official total.

22 For I was ashamed to request of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy on the way, because we had spoken unto the king, saying, “The hand of our God is upon all those for good who seek Him, but His power and His wrath is against all those who forsake Him.” — saying, the hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek him; that pray unto him, serve and worship him; his hand is open to them to bestow all needful good upon them, temporal and spiritual, and his power and providence are over them, to protect and defend them from all evil:

— but his power and his wrath is against all them that forsake him; his word, his ways and worship; his powerful wrath, or the strength and force of it, is exerted against them and they are sure to feel the weight and dreadful effects of it: and now all this being said to the king, after this, to desire a guard to protect them, it would look as if they had not that favour in the sight of God; therefore, rather than reflect any dishonour on God, they chose to expose themselves to danger, seeking his face and favour, and relying on his goodness and power.

23 So we fasted and besought our God for this; and He was entreated by us. — so we fasted, and besought our God for this; sought the Lord by fasting and prayer for a good journey, and preservation in it: and he was entreated of us; accepted their prayer so that they came safe to Jerusalem.

24 Then I separated twelve of the chief of the priests —Sherebiah, Hashabiah, and ten of their brethren with them — of the Levites, the two names Sherebiah and Hashabiah are given as those of heads of houses, with whom ten other Levites were associated.

25 and weighed unto them the silver and the gold and the vessels, even the offering of the house of our God, which the king and his counselors and his lords and all Israel there present had offered. — then I separated twelve of the chief of the priests … and weighed unto them the silver; the custody of the contributions and of the sacred vessels was, during the journey, committed to twelve of the chief priests, who, with the assistance of ten of their brethren, were to watch closely over them by the way, and deliver them into the house of the Lord in Jerusalem.

26 I even weighed unto their hand six hundred and fifty talents of silver, and silver vessels a hundred talents, and of gold a hundred talents;

27 also twenty basins of gold of a thousand drams, and two vessels of fine copper, precious as gold.

28 And I said unto them, “Ye are holy unto the Lord; the vessels are holy also; and the silver and the gold are a freewill offering unto the Lord God of your fathers. — God said, Ye are holy unto the Lord; the vessels are holy also; men being consecrated to God’s service, they are bound, above all others, to be faithful in the discharge of their duty;

— especially being intrusted with holy things, which must be carefully delivered at Jerusalem, just as they were committed to their trust. Watch ye, and keep them, until ye weigh them; that they be not lost or embezzled, or mingled with other things, keep them together; keep them by themselves; keep them safe, till you weigh them in the temple, before the great men there.

29 Watch ye, and keep them until ye weigh them before the chief of the priests and the Levites, and chief of the fathers of Israel at Jerusalem, in the chambers of the house of the Lord.” — until ye weigh them before the chief of the priests and the Levites, and chief of the fathers of Israel at Jerusalem, in the chambers of the house of the Lord: that is, until they had delivered them in full weight, as they had received them, in the presence of those persons as witnesses, and into their hands, in order to be laid up in the chambers and treasuries of the temple.

30 So the priests and the Levites took the weight of the silver and the gold and the vessels, to bring them to Jerusalem unto the house of our God. — so the twelve priests and twelve Levites weight the silver and the gold, and the vessels to bring them to Jerusalem unto the house of our God; this they undertook to do, and did.

31 Then we departed from the river of Ahava on the twelfth day of the first month to go unto Jerusalem; and the hand of our God was upon us, and He delivered us from the hand of the enemy and from such as lay in wait by the way. — and the hand of our God was upon them; guiding, directing and protecting them by his providence:

— and he delivered them from the hand of the enemy, and of such as lay in wait by the way; either by intimidating them, that their enemies like the Samaritans (who were to endure much curses later in their posterity) dared not attack them, or by directing them to take a different road, whereby they escaped them.

32 And we came to Jerusalem, and stayed there three days.

33 Now on the fourth day the silver and the gold and the vessels were weighed in the house of our God by the hand of Meremoth the son of Uriah the priest, and with him was Eleazar the son of Phinehas, and with them were the Levites, Jozabad the son of Jeshua, and Noadiah the son of Binnui. — this was done by the hand of Meremoth the son of Uriah the priest, and with him was Eleazar the son of Phinehas; these were priests:

— and with them was Jozabad and Noadia; two priests and two Levites; for since there were of both that were charged with the above things, it was proper there should be some of both, when weighed, that they might be witnesses of their fidelity.

34 By number and by weight of every one, the weight of all was written down at that time. — by number and by weight of everyone; they were delivered in by tale and weight, which exactly agreed to the number and weight in which they received them:

— and all the weight was written at that time; an account was taken in writing, and laid up, that it might not only be known hereafter what freewill offerings had been made in Babylon, but that it might be a voucher for the fidelity and integrity of those that brought them, should it ever be called in question.

35 Also the children of those who had been carried away, who had come out of the captivity, offered burnt offerings unto the God of Israel: twelve bullocks for all Israel, ninety and six rams, seventy and seven lambs, twelve hegoats for a sin offering; all this was a burnt offering unto the Lord. — those that now came along with Ezra: they offered burnt offerings unto the God of Israel; by way of thankfulness for their deliverance from captivity, and for their safe journey:

— twelve bullocks for all Israel: according to the number of the tribes; and there might be some of every tribe that now came up: ninety and six rams, seventy and seven lambs; these and the bullocks were burnt offerings:

— twelve he goats for a sin offering; according to the number of the twelve tribes, also to make atonement for sins they had been guilty of: all this was a burnt offering unto the Lord; excepting the twelve he goats, which were a sin offering.

36 And they delivered the king’s commissions unto the king’s lieutenants, and to the governors on this side of the river; and they furthered the people and the house of God. — and they delivered the king’s commissions unto the king’s lieutenants, and to the governors on this side the river; the governors of the provinces of Syria, Palestine, and Judea, which were on that side of Euphrates the land of Israel was:
and they furthered the people, and the house of God;

— or “lifted them up” – eased them of all burdens, and freed them from all impediments, and assisted them and furnished them with everything, as the decree of Artaxerxes enjoined them; and provided everything as they required for ornamenting the temple, and for the sacrifices of it; all which is to be understood of the king’s lieutenants and governors, who obeyed his commands.

~~~

The Scriptures do not give any details about the Unspoken Will of God, but they are in the Oral Law:

The answer lies in the Four fasts of Zechariah:

“Thus saith the LORD of hosts: ‘The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness and cheerful feasts. Therefore love the truth and peace.’ Zechariah 8:19

Seventeenth of Tammuz (Shiva Asar B’Tammuz, minor fast) — the breaching of the walls of Jerusalem before the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 AD. – July 16,17, 2022

Ninth of Av (Tisha B’Av, full fast) — fall of Jerusalem on the same dates in 587 BC and 70 AD. – August 6,7, 2022

Third of Tishrei: Fast of Gedalia (Tzom Gedalia, minor fast) — assassination of Gedaliah, the righteous governor of Judah (II Kings 25:22–26). – September 28, 2022

Tenth of Tevet (Asara B’Tevet, minor fast) — the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon. –January 3, 2023

Note that today these fasts are mainly observe by the Jews only — the “house of Judah” — which will turn to be a joy and into “gladness and cheerful feasts.” How so, we may ask? God must have accepted their fasts and prayers and those who participate in them would be duly rewarded, their fasts will turn into joy! Extra blessings await those who touches the heart of God; extar blessings! These four fasts are all related to Jerusalem, God’s beloved city with its Temple where God initially told Moses to build a sanctuary for Him to dwell.

~ by Joel Huan on May 18, 2022.

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