2 Chronicles 36:22
Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
2 Chronicles 36:22. Now in the first year of Cyrus — Kennicott thinks that the last two verses of this book belong properly to the book of Ezra, and were subjoined to the Chronicles through the inadvertency of some transcriber. And thus ends the history of the kingdom of Judah, as governed by the successors of the illustrious King David, with the destruction of Jerusalem, the temple, and the whole Jewish monarchy, by the conquest of the Babylonian king: which, in the course of a righteous providence, in punishment of the idolatry and other sins of this people, fell out about nine hundred and three years after their deliverance from Egypt; eight hundred and sixty-three from their first entrance into the land of Canaan; four hundred and sixty-eight from David’s reign; four hundred and seventeen after the building of the temple; and one hundred and thirty-four after the destruction of the kingdom of the ten tribes.

It is justly observed by a late writer, that the propriety of this dispensation of Divine Providence toward this people will appear, if we reflect,

1st, That this dreadful calamity came upon them gradually, by a succession of judgments, from less to greater, for the space of twenty-two years; in which the lenity of God was very apparent, and which should have been a warning to them, that the threatenings denounced by the prophets would certainly be executed; but which effected no amendment of the religion or morals of the nation; Zedekiah, the last king, being as bad as his predecessors.

2d, That it was a just punishment of their sins, particularly of their idolatry, whereby they forsook God, and therefore God justly forsook them, and delivered them into the hands of their enemies, as Moses had foretold, Leviticus 26:30-36.

3d, That this terrible overthrow was the most effectual means to work their reformation, which was the end proposed by the divine wisdom. Now, in their captive, disconsolate state, they had time, and their calamities had a natural tendency to give them a disposition, to reflect upon the long series of iniquity and perverseness which had brought them under the heaviest of God’s judgments. Now their own wickedness corrected them, and their backslidings reproved them: now they must know and see that it was an evil thing and bitter, that they had forsaken the Lord their God, and that his fear had not been in them, Jeremiah 2:19. In the land of their captivity, the sermons of the prophets, declaiming with the highest authority against their profane and vicious practices, would be still sounding in their ears, and their abject, wretched condition, the consequence of such practices, would cause these discourses to sink deep into their hearts, and produce an utter detestation of what they very well knew was the cause of all their grievous sufferings.

4th, The law of God, written by Moses, as the rule of their conduct in all affairs, civil and religious, and the ground of their happiness, they had so far neglected, that once it was almost unknown and lost among them, 2 Kings 22:8-12. This contempt of the divine law the prophets had frequently and strongly protested against, and publicly declared that it would be their ruin. And in their ruined state this would be remembered as the primary reason of all their sufferings; and they would be made thoroughly sensible that a due regard to the law of God was the only way to recover his favour and their own prosperity; and accordingly would be disposed to attend to it; which, in some measure, was the case. This was another good effect of this dispensation, and may justly be given as one good reason of their being so strongly fixed against idolatry ever after the Babylonish captivity.

5th, This dispensation was also calculated to produce good effects among the nations whither they were carried into captivity. For wherever they were dispersed, in the eastern countries, they would bring with them the knowledge of the true God, now seriously impressed upon their hearts. But Divine Providence, by such signal circumstances of his interposition as were published and known over all the vast extent of the eastern empire, raised some of the captive Jews to the highest posts of dignity and power in the courts of Assyria and Persia, (Daniel 1:19-20,) insomuch that the most haughty monarchs openly confessed the living and true God, (Daniel 2:47-49; Daniel 4:34, &c.,) and made decrees, which were published throughout their spacious dominions, in favour of the profession and worship of him. Daniel 3:29; Daniel 6:25, &c. From all this, it is clear, that the Jews, notwithstanding their depravity in their own country, during the captivity of seventy years, must have been the means of diffusing a blessed light all over the eastern countries. And thus, in this dispensation also, God, the Father and Governor of mankind, was working for the reformation and improvement of the world, in that which is the true excellence of their nature, and the only foundation of their happiness. See Dodd and Taylor’s Scheme of Scripture Doctrine. 36:22,23 God had promised the restoring of the captives, and the rebuilding of Jerusalem, at the end of seventy years; and that time to favour Zion, that set time, came at last. Though God's church be cast down, it is not cast off; though his people be corrected, they are not abandoned; though thrown into the furnace, they are not lost there, nor left there any longer than till the dross be separated. Though God contend long, he will not contend always. Before we close the books of the Chronicles, which contain a faithful register of events, think what desolation sin introduced into the world, nay, even into the church of God. Let us tremble at what is here recorded, while in the character of some few gracious souls, we discover that the Lord left not himself without witness. And when we have looked at this faithful portrait of man by nature, let us contrast with it that same nature, when recovered by Almighty grace, through the justifying and soul-adorning righteousness of Christ our Saviour.This and the next verse are repeated at the commencement of the book of Ezra Ezr 1:1-3, which was, it is probable, originally a continuation of Chronicles, Chronicles and Ezra together forming one work. See the introduction to Chronicles.2Ch 36:22, 23. Cyrus' Proclamation.

22. the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus—(See on [484]Ezr 1:1-3).

This and the next verse are repeated in the beginning of the next book, where they will be more fitly explained. Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia,.... These two verses are the same with which the next book, the book of Ezra, begins, where they will be explained; and these two books, the one ending and the other beginning with the same words, is a strong presumption, that one and the same person, Ezra, is the writer of them both; or rather, as a learned (e) writer conjectures, these two verses are added by some transcriber, who, having finished the book of Chronicles at verse twenty one went on with the book of Ezra, without any stop; but, perceiving his mistake, broke off abruptly; for so it is plain these verses conclude; however, this shows, as the same writer observes, that the book of Ezra followed that of the Chronicles, in the Hebrew copies, though it now does not.

(e) Dr. Kennicott's Dissert. 1. p. 492, &c.

Now in the {m} first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying,

(m) In the first year that he reigned over the Chaldeans, Ezr 1:1.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
22. stirred up the spirit] Cp. 1 Chronicles 5:26; Haggai 1:14.

made a proclamation] cp. 2 Chronicles 30:5. The phrase is characteristic of the Chronicler.

22, 23 (= Ezra 1:1-3 a; 1Es 2:1-5 a). Cyrus Decrees the Rebuilding of the Temple

On this section see the full notes of Professor Ryle on Ezra.

The historical character of this decree of Cyrus has been questioned (on purely subjective grounds) by Cheyne, Jewish Religious Life after the Exile, pp. 5–7.Verse 22. - In the first year of Cyrus King of Persia. A period of half a century has elapsed between the latest date of the foregoing verses (circ. B.C. 586) and the date signalized here (circ. B.C. 5.38-6). With the proclamation of Cyrus begins in fact the manhood, with all its mystic, its wonderful, and its still non-progressing struggles, of the Jew. His simple childhood, wilful youth, am indeed for ever gone. But he and his nation are with unspeakably painful travail born. No life of nation that is or ever has been merits the devout observation and study that this unchal-lengeably does. Our present verse and the one succeeding it are, sentence for sentence, the same with the opening verses of the Book of Ezra, which may possibly once have joined on to Chronicles, as one work, though we think this exceedingly unlikely. Cyrus (the כורֶשׁ of the Hebrew text) was the son of a royal Persian, Cambysses; his mother was Mandane, daughter of Astyages, last King of Media. The name appears on the monuments, written Kurus. Cyrus defeated his grandfather Astyages, B.C. 559; ending thereby the Median royal line; and he defeated Croesus, B.C. 546, possessing himself thereby of the kingdom of Lydia; he took Babylon, as above, B.C. 538. He himself died in battle, B.C. 529. That the word of the Lord by... Jeremiah might be accomplished (see Jeremiah 25:11-14; Jeremiah 29:9-11). The Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus. The fact is told us, and this, no doubt, as on a thousand other unsuspected occasions of far more intrinsic and vital interest in the Bible, is sufficient. It would have been interesting to know, however, even here, the mode in which Cyrus was appealed to; as, e.g., it has been plausibly suggested that Daniel may have been in part instrumental in the work, and that, again, in part perhaps by directing the attention of Cyrus to Isaiah 44:28; Isaiah 45:1. "And all princes of the priests and the people increased faithless transgressions, like to all the abominations of the heathen, and defiled the house of the Lord which He had consecrated in Jerusalem." Bertheau would refer this censure of their idolatry and the profanation of the temple to the guilt incurred by the whole people, especially in the time of Manasseh, because, from all we know from the book of Jeremiah, the reproach of idolatry did not at all, or at least did not specially, attach to the princes of the priests and the people in the time of Zedekiah. But this reason is neither tenable nor correct; for from Ezekiel 8 it is perfectly manifest that under Zedekiah, not only the people, but also the priesthood, were deeply sunk in idolatry, and that even the courts of the temple were defiled by it. And even though that idolatry did not take its rise under Zedekiah, but had been much practised under Jehoiakim, and was merely a revival and continuation of the idolatrous conduct of Manasseh and Amon, yet the reference of our verse to the time of Manasseh is excluded by the context; for here only that which was done under Zedekiah is spoken of, without any reference to earlier times.

Meanwhile God did not leave them without exhortation, warning, and threatening. - 2 Chronicles 36:15. Jahve sent to them by His messengers, from early morning onwards continually, for He spared His people and His dwelling-place; but they mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets. בּיד שׁלח, to send a message by any one, to make a sending. The object is to be supplied from the verb. ושׁלוח השׁכּם exactly as in Jeremiah 26:5; Jeremiah 29:19. For He spared His people, etc., viz., by this, that He, in long-suffering, again and again called upon the people by prophets to repent and return, and was not willing at once to destroy His people and His holy place. מלעיבים is ἁπ. λεγ., in Syr. it signifies subsannavit; the Hithp. also, מתּעתּעים (from תּעע), occurs only here as an intensive: to launch out in mockery. The distinction drawn between מלאכים (messengers) and נביאים (prophets) is rhetorical, for by the messengers of God it is chiefly prophets who are meant; but the expression is not to be confined to prophets in the narrower sense of the word, for it embraces all the men of God who, by word and deed, censured and punished the godless conduct of the idolaters. The statement in these two verses is certainly so very general, that it may apply to all the times of gradually increasing defection of the people from the Lord their God; but the author of the Chronicle had primarily in view only the time of Zedekiah, in which the defection reached its highest point. It should scarcely be objected that in the time of Zedekiah only Jeremiah is known as a prophet of the Lord, since Ezekiel 54ed and wrought among the exiles. For, in the first place, it does not hence certainly follow that Jeremiah and Ezekiel were the only prophets of that time; then, secondly, Jeremiah does not speak as an individual prophet, but holds up to the people the witness of all the earlier prophets (cf. e.g., 2 Chronicles 26:4-5), so that by him all the former prophets of God spoke to the people; and consequently the plural, His messengers, His prophets, is perfectly true even for the time of Zedekiah, if we always keep in mind the rhetorical character of the style. וגו עלות עד, until the anger of Jahve rose upon His people, so that there was no healing (deliverance) more.

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