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NOW after these things in the reign of Artaxerxes king of the Persians, Esdras the son of Saraias, the son of Azarias, the son of Helcias,

Ver. 1.  Things, sixty-eight years after the journey of Zorobabel.  C.


--- Salien adds ten years more.  H.


--- Artaxerxes Longimanus.  M.  T.


--- Son, or great grandson of Saraias, who had been slain 121 years.  Esdras was still living, in the days of Nehemias.  Many persons are omitted in this genealogy.  The immediate descendants of Azarias may be found, 1 Par. vi.  Similarity of names has occasioned many mistakes.  3 Esd. viii. reckons only eleven persons between Aaron and Esdras; and 4 Esd. i. has eighteen; whereas here we behold sixteen generations, and 1 Par. twenty-two.  C.


2 The son of Sellum, the son of Sadoc, the son of Achitob, 3 The son of Amarias, the son of Azarias, the son of Maraioth, 4 The son of Zarahias, the son of Ozi, the son of Bocci, 5 The son of Abisue, the son of Phinees, the son of Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest from the beginning.

Ver. 5.  Beginning of the Jewish republic.

6 This Esdras went up from Babylon, and he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which the Lord God had given to Israel: and the king granted him all his request, according to the hand of the Lord his God upon him.

Ver. 6.  Went up, a second time.  2 Esd. xii. 1.  W.


--- Ready.  Heb. mahir, "diligent," &c.  H.


--- Scribe, not so much noted for his skill in writing fast, or drawing up deeds, as for his knowledge of the divine law.  C.


--- The gospel sometimes gives the title of scribe to the doctors of the law.  Matt. xxii. 35, with Mark xii. 28.  It is peculiarly due to Esdras, who gave a correct copy of the Scriptures, and wrote them in a different character, leaving the ancient one to the Samaritans, that the people might be less connected.  Bellarm. De Verb. xx. 1, citing (T.) the most learned Fathers and Jewish writers.  C. Diss.


--- The author of 4 Esdras (xiv. 19,) intimates that the sacred books had been all destroyed, and were dictated again to Esdras by the Holy Spirit.  But this book is not of sufficient authority to establish so dangerous an opinion; (H.) which is refuted by the whole context of the Bible, in which we see that the law was never forgotten.  C. Diss.  D.


--- As Esdras was inspired, what additions he might make, must be accounted divine and authentic.  C.


--- Hand; protection, (Delrio, adag. 217,) or inspiration.  M.


--- God can incline the heart of the king, (Prov. xxi.) to accomplish his decrees.  H.

7 And there went up some of the children of Israel, and of the children of the priests, and of the children of the Levites, and of the singing men, and of the porters, and of the Nathinites to Jerusalem in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king.

8 And they came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, in the seventh year of the king.

9 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.

Ver. 9.  Month.  Thus four entire months were spent on the journey, as they did not go the shortest way, and had much baggage, &c.  C.

10 For Esdras had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do and to teach in Israel the commandments and judgment.

Ver. 10.  Heart.  Thinking continually (M.) how he might keep the law himself, and direct others.  H.


--- It would be well if all would thus teach by example, like Jesus Christ, who began to do and then to teach.  H.


--- Judgment.  Both these terms express the same thing.  M.

11 And this is the copy of the letter of the edict, which king Artaxerxes gave to Esdras the priest, the scribe instructed in the words and commandments of the Lord, and his ceremonies in Israel.

Ver. 11.  Of the edict, is a farther explanation of the letter.  H.

12 Artaxerxes king of kings to Esdras the priest, the most learned scribe of the law of the God of heaven, greeting.

Ver. 12.  Kings.  This title was placed on the tomb of Cyrus, (Strabo xv.) and denoted a very powerful king.  Artaxerxes had many tributaries in Media, Sidon, &c.  The kings of Assyria had before assumed such pompous titles.  Osee viii. 10.  C.


--- The most learned, comes later in the original Chald.  H.


--- "The priest, scribe of the law,...perfection, (health and happiness, (C.) or consummate in learning, &c.  H.) as at present."  C.


--- Gemir uceheneth, "perfection (Castel. Lexic.) even now."  C. iv. 10.  Prot. "perfect peace, and at such a time."  H.

13 It is decreed by me, that all they of the people of Israel, and of the priests and of the Levites in my realm, that are minded to go into Jerusalem, should go with thee.

Artaxerxes Granting Liberty To The Jews

Artaxerxes Granting Liberty To The Jews

It is decreed by me, that all they of the people of Israel, and of the priests and of the Levites in my realm, that are minded to go into Jerusalem, should go with thee.

14 For thou art sent from before the king, and his seven counsellors, to visit Judea and Jerusalem according to the law of thy God, which is in thy hand.

Ver. 14.  Counsellors.  Interpreters of the laws.  Joseph. xi. 6.


--- The number seems to have been established at the courts of the Assyrian and Chaldee monarchs.  Tob. xii. 15.  We find their names, Est. i. 10. 14.  The history of this queen happened in the reign of Darius Hystaspes.  C.


--- Hand.  By this he was to pass sentence, v. 25.  H.


--- The Jews were authorized to follow their own laws (C.) under the Persian dominion, v. 26.  T.

15 And to carry the silver and gold, which the king and his counsellors have freely offered to the God of Israel, whose tabernacle is in Jerusalem.

16 And all the silver and gold that thou shalt find in all the province of Babylon, and that the people is willing to offer, and that the priests shall offer of their own accord to the house of their God, which is in Jerusalem,

Ver. 16.  Babylon, which the Chaldees may freely give.  M.

17 Take freely, and buy diligently with this money, calves, rams, lambs, with the sacrifices and libations of them, and offer them upon the altar of the temple of your God, that is in Jerusalem.

18 And if it seem good to thee, and to thy brethren to do any thing with the rest of the silver and gold, do it according to the will of your God. 19 The vessels also, that are given thee for the sacrifice of the house of thy God, deliver thou in the sight of God in Jerusalem.

20 And whatsoever more there shall be need of for the house of thy God, how much soever thou shalt have occasion to spend, it shall be given out of the treasury, and the king's exchequer, and by me.

Ver. 20.  By me.  Heb. "to spend, take it out of the king's treasure-house."  Sept. adds, "and from me."

21 I Artaxerxes the king have ordered and decreed to all the keepers of the public chest, that are beyond the river, that whatsoever Esdras the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, shall require of you, you give it without delay, 22 Unto a hundred talents of silver, and unto a hundred cores of wheat, and unto a hundred bates of wine, and unto a hundred bates of oil, and salt without measure.

Ver. 22.  Salt was used in all the sacrifices.  Lev. ii. 13.  In 3 Esd. no mention is made of oil or salt; but we read, "and all other things in abundance."

23 All that belongeth to the rites of the God of heaven, let it be given diligently in the house of the God of heaven: lest his wrath should be enkindled against the realm of the king, and of his sons. 24 We give you also to understand concerning all the priests, and the Levites, and the singers, and the porters, and the Nathinites, and ministers of the house of this God, that you have no authority to impose toll or tribute, or custom upon them.

Ver. 24.  Nathinites.  3 Esd. "sacred slaves."  H.


--- Artaxerxes confirms the immunities granted by the law of God, (Num. iii. 6. 12,) by the kings of Egypt, (Gen. xlvii. 22,) and by all nations to the ministers of religion.  C.

25 And thou Esdras according to the wisdom of thy God, which is in thy hand, appoint judges and magistrates, that may judge all the people, that is beyond the river, that is, for them who know the law of thy God, yea and the ignorant teach ye freely.

Ver. 25.  River.  3 Esd. "In all Syria and Phenicia."  H.


--- Hitherto, it seems, the royal judges had decided all affairs of consequence, which required any public chastisement.

26 And whosoever will not do the law of thy God, and the law of the king diligently, judgment shall be executed upon him, either unto death, or unto banishment, or to the confiscation of goods, or at least to prison.

Ver. 26.  Banishment.  Heb. lit. "eradication" by death or exile, (C.) or by being cut off from all society.  C. x. 8.  De Dieu.


--- Sept. "correction." H.

27 Blessed be the Lord the God of our fathers, who hath put this in the king's heart, to glorify the house of the Lord, which is in Jerusalem,

Ver. 27.  Blessed.  Here the author beings to write again in Heb. and in the following verse, Esdras speaks in person.  C.

28 And hath inclined his mercy toward me before the king and his counsellors, and all the mighty princes of the king: and I being strengthened by the hand of the Lord my God, which was upon me, gathered together out of Israel chief men to go up with me.
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Holy Spirit