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,
A. M. 3547. B.C. 457. Artaxerxes
The son of Shallum, the son of Zadok, the son of Ahitub,
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.
Sopher mahir does not merely signify a speedy writer, or an excellent penman, but one eminently skilful in expounding the law, sophro chochmo, "a wise scribe," as the Syriac renders.
And there went up some of the children of Israel, and of the priests, and the Levites, and the singers, and the porters, and the Nethinims, unto Jerusalem, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king.
For upon the first day of the first month began he to go up from Babylon, and on the first day of the fifth month came he to Jerusalem, according to the good hand of his God upon him.
began he to go up
Heb. was the foundation of the going up. according to.
For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.
to do it
and to teach
Now this is the copy of the letter that the 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.
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.
The title of the king would, in Persian, run thus: Ardsheer shahinshah, or padshah, "Ardsheer, king of kings," i.e., great or supreme king or emperor.
unto Ezra, etc
or, to Ezra the priest, a perfect scribe of the law of the God of heaven, peace, etc. and at such a time.
I make a decree, that all they of the people of Israel, and of his priests and Levites, in my realm, which are minded of their own freewill to go up to Jerusalem, go with thee.
Forasmuch as thou art sent of the king, and of his seven counsellors, to enquire concerning Judah and Jerusalem, according to the law of thy God which is in thine hand;
of the king
Chal. from before the king. seven counsellors. Seven princes of Persia having conspired against and slain the usurper Smerdis, and thus made way for the family of Darius, which afterwards filled the throne, the Persian kings of this race had always seven chief princes as their counsellors, who possessed peculiar privileges, were his chief assistants in the government, and by whose advice all the public affairs of the empire were transacted. The names of these counsellors are given in the parallel place of the book of Esther.
And to carry the silver and gold, which the king and his counsellors have freely offered unto the God of Israel, whose habitation is in Jerusalem,
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:
all the silver
That 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.
their meat offerings
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.
after the will
He gave them the fullest liberty to order every thing according to their own institutions; binding them to no form or mode of worship.
The vessels also that are given thee for the service of the house of thy God, those deliver thou before the God of Jerusalem.
the God of Jerusalem
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.
And I, even I Artaxerxes the king, do make a decree to all the treasurers which 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,
beyond the river
Ezra the priest
Unto an hundred talents of silver, and to an hundred measures of wheat, and to an hundred baths of wine, and to an hundred baths of oil, and salt without prescribing how much.
Luke 16:7 *marg:
baths of wine
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?
Whatsoever is commanded
Chal. Whatsoever is of the decree.
let it be
why should there be wrath
As Artaxerxes believed he was appointed by the Almighty to do this work, he therefore wished to do it heartily; knowing that if he did not, God would be displeased, and that the kingdom would be cut off from him or his posterity.
Also we certify you, that touching any of the priests and Levites, singers, porters, Nethinims, or ministers of this house of God, it shall not be lawful to impose toll, tribute, or custom, upon them.
And thou, Ezra, after the wisdom of thy God, that is in thine hand, set magistrates and judges, which may judge all the people that are beyond the river, all such as know the laws of thy God; and teach ye them that know them not.
beyond the river
That is, "west of the Euphrates," which was beyond with regard to the king of Persia, who was on the east.
And whosoever will not do the law of thy God, and the law of the king, let judgment be executed speedily upon him, whether it be unto death, or to banishment, or to confiscation of goods, or to imprisonment.
the law of thy God
whether it be
Chal. rooting out.
Blessed be the LORD God of our fathers, which hath put such a thing as this in the king's heart, to beautify the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem:
There is a most amiable spirit of piety in these reflections. Instead of expatiating on the praises of his munificent patron, or boasting of his own services, he blesses God for "putting such a thing in the king's heart;" and for all the assistance and favour shown him by the king and his counsellors.
in the king's heart
And hath extended mercy unto me before the king, and his counsellors, 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 I was strengthened
In what the king decreed he saw the hand of God: he therefore gave Him the praise, and took courage.