|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
6:1-12 When God's time is come for fulfilling his gracious purposes concerning his church, he will raise up instruments to do it, from whom such good service was not expected. While our thoughts are directed to this event, we are led by Zechariah to fix our regard on a nobler, a spiritual building. The Lord Jesus Christ continues to lay one stone upon another: let us assist the great design. Difficulties delay the progress of this sacred edifice. Yet let not opposition discourage us, for in due season it will be completed to his abundant praise. He shall bring forth the head-stone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it.
Verse 10. - That they may offer sacrifices of sweet savours. Either incense, as in Daniel 2:46, or "sacrifices that are pleasing and acceptable" (see Genesis 8:21; Numbers 28:2). And pray for the life of the king. The Jews have always maintained the practice of praying for the civil ruler of any country in which they have had their abode. Jeremiah s exhortation to "seek the peace" of Babylon (Numbers 29:7) was understood in this way, and the tradition has been handed down even to the present day. Under monarchs so favour-able to them as the Achaemenian Persians the duty would certainly not have been neglected. And of his sons. In Persia "the royal house" was the special object of regard. Individual kings must die, but the house would go on (see the speech of Artemisia to Xerxes in 'Herod.,' 8:102; and compare the references to the "gods of the royal house" in the Inscriptions). Kings took special care of their sons. Thus Cyrus sent Cambyses back to Persia when he was about to attack the Massagetae ('Herod.,' 1:208), and Xerxes gave several of his sons into the charge of Artemisia, to convey them by ship to Asia, while he himself took the long and perilous journey by land (ibid. 8:103).
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That they may offer sacrifices of sweet savours unto the God of heaven,.... Such as will be acceptable to him, Genesis 8:21
and pray for the life of the king, and of his sons; prayer being wont to be made at the time of the morning and evening incense; and the Jews used to pray for other people besides themselves, and especially when desired, and particularly for kings and civil magistrates, to whom they were subject, see Jeremiah 29:7, the sons of Darius Hystaspis, for whose life, as well as his own, he would have prayer made, were, according to Herodotus (d), three by his first wife, the daughter of Gobryas, before he began to reign, the eldest of which was Artobazanes; which sons must be here meant, since this was towards the beginning of his reign; he had afterwards four more by Atossa the daughter of Cyrus, the eldest of which was Xerxes, who succeeded him: many of the Heathens had an high opinion of the God of the Jews, and of their prayers to him for them; even the Emperor Julian (e) styles him the best of all the gods, and desired the Jews to pray to him for the welfare of his kingdom; nor need it seem strange that Darius should desire the same, since he was a devout prince; his father Hystaspes is supposed by some to be the same that was one of the most famous among the Persian Magi, or ministers in sacred things; and Darius himself had so great a veneration for the men of that sacred order, that he commanded that it should be put upon his sepulchral monument, that he was master of the Magi (f); and by his familiarity with the priests of Egypt, and learning their divinity, had the honour, while alive, to have deity ascribed to him (g).
(d) Polymnia, sive, l. 7. c. 2.((e) Opera, par. 2. ep. 25. p. 153. (f) Porphyr. de abstinentia, l. 4, c. 16. (g) Diodor. Sic. l. 1. p. 85.
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