Haggai and Zechariah the prophets encourage Zerubbabel and Jeshua to proceed with the building of the temple, Ezra 5:1, Ezra 5:2. Tatnai, the governor of the provinces on this side the Euphrates, and his companions, inquire by what authority they do this, Ezra 5:3-5. They write to Darius; a copy of the letter, Ezra 5:6-16. They request to know how they are to proceed, Ezra 5:17.
Then the prophets, Haggai the prophet, and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied unto the Jews that were in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, even unto them.Haggai - and Zechariah - These are the same whose writings we have among the twelve minor prophets.
The son of Iddo - That is, the grandson of Iddo; for Zechariah was the son of Barachiah, the son of Iddo. See his prophecy, Zechariah 1:1 (note).
Then rose up Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and began to build the house of God which is at Jerusalem: and with them were the prophets of God helping them.Then rose up Zerubbabel - Here we find three classes of men joining in the sacred work: Zerubbabel the civil governor; Jeshua the high priest or ecclesiastical governor; and Haggai and Zechariah the prophets. How glorious it is when we see the civil government joining with the sacerdotal and prophetic for the establishment and extension of true religion!
At the same time came to them Tatnai, governor on this side the river, and Shetharboznai, and their companions, and said thus unto them, Who hath commanded you to build this house, and to make up this wall?Tatnai, governor - He was governor of the provinces which belonged to the Persian empire on their side of the Euphrates, comprehending Syria, Arabia Deserta, Phoenicia, and Samaria. He seems to have been a mild and judicious man; and to have acted with great prudence and caution, and without any kind of prejudice. The manner in which he represented this to the king is a full proof of this disposition.
Then said we unto them after this manner, What are the names of the men that make this building?What are the names - It is most evident that this is the answer of the Jews to the inquiry of Tatnai, Ezra 5:3, and the verse should be read thus: Then said we unto them after this manner: These are the names of the men who make this building.
But the eye of their God was upon the elders of the Jews, that they could not cause them to cease, till the matter came to Darius: and then they returned answer by letter concerning this matter.The eye of their God was upon the elders - The watchful care of God was upon the elders. They were assured of his favor; and they found his especial providence working in their behalf.
The copy of the letter that Tatnai, governor on this side the river, and Shetharboznai, and his companions the Apharsachites, which were on this side the river, sent unto Darius the king:
They sent a letter unto him, wherein was written thus; Unto Darius the king, all peace.
Be it known unto the king, that we went into the province of Judea, to the house of the great God, which is builded with great stones, and timber is laid in the walls, and this work goeth fast on, and prospereth in their hands.With great stones - They are making a very strong and a very costly building.
Then asked we those elders, and said unto them thus, Who commanded you to build this house, and to make up these walls?
We asked their names also, to certify thee, that we might write the names of the men that were the chief of them.
And thus they returned us answer, saying, We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and build the house that was builded these many years ago, which a great king of Israel builded and set up.We are the servants of the God of heaven - How simple, plain, and ingenuous is this confession! They were the servants of the God of heaven. How came they then into bondage! Why, they provoked the God of heaven - repeatedly sinned against him, and then he gave them into the hands of their enemies.
But after that our fathers had provoked the God of heaven unto wrath, he gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this house, and carried the people away into Babylon.
But in the first year of Cyrus the king of Babylon the same king Cyrus made a decree to build this house of God.
And the vessels also of gold and silver of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took out of the temple that was in Jerusalem, and brought them into the temple of Babylon, those did Cyrus the king take out of the temple of Babylon, and they were delivered unto one, whose name was Sheshbazzar, whom he had made governor;
And said unto him, Take these vessels, go, carry them into the temple that is in Jerusalem, and let the house of God be builded in his place.
Then came the same Sheshbazzar, and laid the foundation of the house of God which is in Jerusalem: and since that time even until now hath it been in building, and yet it is not finished.Sheshbazzar - Probably the military officer that conducted the people from Babylon, and had the oversight of the work; but some think that Ezra is meant.
Now therefore, if it seem good to the king, let there be search made in the king's treasure house, which is there at Babylon, whether it be so, that a decree was made of Cyrus the king to build this house of God at Jerusalem, and let the king send his pleasure to us concerning this matter.The - treasure house - גנזיא ginzaiya. This is a Persian word, gunji, a treasury.
There is a great deal of good sense and candour in this letter. Nothing of passion or prejudice appears in it. They laid before the king a fair statement without any attempt to prejudice his mind, and gave him those directions which were most likely to lead him to the truth, and to form a correct judgment on a business which, however it issued, must be of considerable importance to the state. God was in all this business; he was now giving an additional proof of his continued regard for a disobedient people, whom, though he had punished in his justice, he had spared in his mercy.