|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:5-11 The same God that raised up the spirit of Cyrus to proclaim liberty to the Jews, raised up their spirits to take the benefit. The temptation was to some to stay in Babylon; but some feared not to return, and they were those whose spirits God raised, by his Spirit and grace. Whatever good we do, is owing to the grace of God. Our spirits naturally bow down to this earth and the things of it; if they move upward in any good affections or good actions, it is God who raises them. The calls and offers of the gospel are like the proclamation of Cyrus. Those bound under the power of sin, may be made free by Jesus Christ. Whosoever will, by repentance and faith, return to God, Jesus Christ has opened the way for him, and raises him out of the slavery of sin into the glorious liberty of the children of God. Many that hear this joyful sound, choose to sit still in Babylon, are in love with their sins, and will not venture upon a holy life; but some break through all discouragements, whatever it cost them; they are those whose spirit God has raised above the world and the flesh, whom he has made willing. Thus will the heavenly Canaan be filled, though many perish in Babylon; and the gospel offer will not have been made in vain. The bringing back the Jews from captivity, represents the redemption of sinners by Jesus Christ.
Verse 8. - Mithredath the treasurer. Not "Mithridates, the son of Gazabar," as the Vulgate renders. The Hebrew gizbar represents a Persian word, gazabara or ganzabara, which had no doubt the meaning of "treasurer," literally "treasure-bearer. We have here the first occurrence of the famous name, borne by so many great kings, of Mithridates. The name is thoroughly Persian, and is excellently rendered by the Hebrew מִתְיְדָת. It means either "given by Mithra" or "dedicated to Mithra," and is distinct evidence of the worship of Mithra by the Persians as early as the time of Cyrus. Mithra was the sun, and was venerated as Mitra by the early Vedic Indians. His worship in later Persia is clearly established; but, except for the name of Mithredath in this place, it would have been doubtful whether he was as yet an object of religious veneration to the Iranians. Sheshbazzar. It is generally allowed that this was the Chaldaean or court name of Zerubbabel. (The chief evidence of this is to be found in Ezra 5:16 compared with Ezra 3:8.) What the name signified is uncertain. The prince of Judah. Zerubbabel was the son of Pedaiah, brother of Salathiel, who was the legal heir of Jehoiachin, king of Judah. He appears to have been adopted by Salathiel as his son, and to have been recognized as the legitimate heir to the throne of David. Thus he did not owe his appointment to the mere favour of Cyrus, but was the natural leader of the people.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Even these did Cyrus king of Persia bring forth by the hand of Mithredath the treasurer,.... Or Mithridates, a name common with the Persians, from their god Mithras, the sun they worshipped:
and numbered them unto Sheshbazzar prince of Judah; delivered them by tale to him; who, according to the Jewish rabbins, as Jarchi says, was Daniel, who was so called, because he stood in six tribulations; but it does not appear that Daniel went up to Jerusalem with the captivity, as this man did, but remained at Babylon; rather, with Aben Ezra, it is best by him to understand Zerubbabel, who did go up, and was the prince of Judah; and Cyrus, in his letter (q) to the governors of Syria, expressly says, that he delivered the vessels to Zerubbabel, the prince of the Jews. He had two names, Sheshbazzar, which signifies he rejoiced in tribulation, and Zerubbabel, which signifies either the seed of Babylon, being born there, or dispersed, or a stranger there, as others.
(q) Apud Joseph. Antiqu. l. 11. c. 1. sect. 3.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
8. Shesh-bazzar, the prince of Judah—that is, Zerubbabel, son of Salathiel (compare Ezr 3:8; 5:16). He was born in Babylon, and called by his family Zerubbabel, that is, stranger or exile in Babylon. Shesh-bazzar, signifying "fire-worshipper," was the name given him at court, as other names were given to Daniel and his friends. He was recognized among the exiles as hereditary prince of Judah.
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