Ezra 1:4
And whoever remains in any place where he sojournes, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, beside the freewill offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Ezra 1:4. Whosoever remaineth in any place where be sojourneth, &c. — This seems to relate to such as were desirous to go up with their brethren, but were forced to stay behind for want of necessaries to support them in so long a journey. To such he would have a supply of all things needful to be given by the inhabitants of the places where they lived, who could afford it, besides sending by them an offering toward the rebuilding of the temple.1:1-4 The Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus. The hearts of kings are in the hand of the Lord. God governs the world by his influence on the spirits of men; whatever good they do, God stirs up their spirits to do it. It was during the captivity of the Jews, that God principally employed them as the means of calling the attention of the heathen to him. Cyrus took it for granted, that those among the Jews who were able, would offer free-will offerings for the house of God. He would also have them supplied out of his kingdom. Well-wishers to the temple should be well-doers for it.Let the men of his place help him - i. e., "Let the pagan population help him" (see Ezra 1:6).

The freewill offering - Probably that made by Cyrus himself Ezra 1:7-11.

3. Who is there among you of all his people—The purport of the edict was to grant full permission to those Jewish exiles, in every part of his kingdom, who chose, to return to their own country, as well as to recommend those of their countrymen who remained to aid the poor and feeble on their way, and contribute liberally towards the rebuilding of the temple. Whosoever remaineth; who, when his brethren were gone up, was desirous to go with them, but forced to tarry there for want of necessaries for his journey.

Let the men of his place help him; I require my officers to take care that they may be supplied, either by the voluntary contributions of the people, or by a moderate tax to be laid either only upon those Jews who were resolved to stay, or upon the Gentiles also, which the Persian monarchs, being absolute, had a power to do; and which was the more reasonable, because the king himself submitted to it, and bore a great part of the burden, and because it was for the house of that great God to whom they all owed their present peace and great felicity.

With silver and with gold, which upon this occasion I give you leave to transport. And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth,.... Is left behind, and cannot go up through poverty, not having a sufficiency to bear his charges in his journey to Jerusalem:

let the men of his place keep him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts; with money to bear the expenses of his journey, with goods to furnish his house, or trade with, when he came to Judea, and with cattle to carry him, and his goods, and to till the ground with, when he came thither; and the men exhorted to this are either the Gentiles that dwelt in the cities where these poor Jews were, or the richer Jews, who chose as yet not to go up until they saw how things would succeed; and are therefore called upon to assist their brethren who had a will, but not ability:

besides the freewill offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem: which they freely gave, and sent by them for the rebuilding of the temple.

And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, {e} let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, {f} beside the freewill offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.

(e) If any through poverty were not able to return, the king's commission was that he should be furnished with all he needed.

(f) Which they themselves should send for the repairing of the temple.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
4. And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth] R.V. And whosoever is left, in any place where he sojourneth. The wording of this clause is a little ambiguous. The following paraphrase will give the meaning. ‘In any place where survivors of the Jewish captivity are to be found sojourning, there let the natives of the place, the non-Israelite neighbours, render him all assistance.’ That this is the right interpretation is shown by the passages Nehemiah 1:2, ‘The Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity’ and Haggai 2:3, ‘Who is left among you that saw this house in its former glory’. Cf. 2 Kings 25:22 and ‘the residue’ (R.V.) in Jeremiah 8:3; Jeremiah 24:8; Jeremiah 39:9, &c.

The A.V. gives no intelligible sense. The R.V. (1) by altering ‘remaineth’ to ‘is left’ preserves the application of the word in the original to the survivors of the Captivity, (2) by punctuation indicates the construction of the verse, in which ‘whosoever is left’ is placed independently as a heading to the whole sentence; while the words ‘in any place where he sojourneth’ do not belong to ‘whosoever is left’ but introduce the succeeding clause ‘let the men &c.’

The passage is somewhat awkwardly worded, but with the above explanation is rendered quite clear in meaning. The decree made no universal requisition for aid to the Jews. It only enjoined that local assistance should be given by neighbours, wherever any resident Jew availed himself of the king’s edict for the Return.

sojourneth] The word in the original regularly used in the sense of ‘to dwell as a stranger’. Cf. Leviticus 19:34.

help] The A.V. margin has ‘Heb. lift him up’. The word in the original is the intensive Mood of the verb ‘to lift or carry’, and occurs in 1 Kings 9:11 = ‘furnished’. The LXX. (ἀντιλαμβανέσθωσαν αὐτοῦ) renders the sense well by the Greek word so familiar to English readers in the words ‘He hath holpen Israel his servant’ (Luke 1:54).

with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts] The assistance should be given in money for the journey, in necessaries for the new homes, and in means of transport.—“Goods” a vague word, reproducing the indefiniteness of the original. It occurs again Ezra 8:21, Ezra 10:8, = ‘substance’ in A.V. and R.V. (LXX. κτῆσις and ὕπαρξις, Vulgate ‘substantia’). Here the LXX. has ἀποσκευή and the Vulgate ‘substantia’. From its use in these passages and in Genesis 12:5; Genesis 13:6, we gather that the word means the moveables of a household. ‘Beasts’ i.e. beasts of burden—horses, camels and asses. Cf. Ezra 2:66-67.

besides the freewill offering] ‘beside’, i.e. along with (Vulg. wrongly ‘excepto quod’) certain voluntary gifts of a more private nature especially intended for the Temple, as in chap. Ezra 8:25. Compare the freewill-offerings mentioned in Exodus 35:29; Leviticus 22:23. This freewill offering is not to be restricted, as by some commentators, to the gifts either of Cyrus or of the Jews who remained behind. Any one, Jew or Gentile, could make such offerings, in Ezra 3:5.

for the house of God] These words denote the object of the free-will offering: and are not, as the Hebrew accents interpret, to be taken as following after ‘help him’, the intervening words being taken parenthetically.

that is in Jerusalem] R.V. which is, consistently with Ezra 1:2-3. The clause refers to ‘the house’. Some understand ‘God’ as the antecedent to ‘which’; but see note on a similar interpretation in Ezra 1:3. The expression is in its explicitness similar to ‘Jerusalem which is in Judah’ (Ezra 1:2).Verse 4. - Whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth. Literally correct; but the meaning is, "And with regard to all those who remain (of the captive people) in any part of the country where they have their temporary abode, let the men of his district help him with silver," etc. Cyrus finishes his decree by calling upon his heathen subjects to come to the aid of the poorer Israelites, and assist them with money, cattle, and other commodities, in order that none may be hindered by poverty, or by the want of beasts of burthen, from joining the band of emigrants, and setting out on their return to Jerusalem. Again, the kindliness of his disposition is apparent. Beside the freewill offering. So the Septuagint; but the Vulgate has, "Except the freewill offering," etc. The Septuagint and the A. V. are right. Cyrus means that money, cattle, and goods are to be made over to the poorer Israelites, in addition to any offering that might be intrusted to them for conveyance to Jerusalem, either by himself or by his subjects. Individually, he was about to send "a freewill offering," consisting of a number of gold and silver vessels for the service of the temple. His words suggest that his subjects might follow this good example.

He who remained from the sword, i.e., who had not been slain by the sword, had not fallen and died in war, Nebuchadnezzar carried away to Babylon into captivity; so that they became servants to him and to his sons, as Jeremiah (Jeremiah 27:7) prophesied, until the rise of the kingdom of the Persians. These last words also are an historical interpretation of the prophecy, Jeremiah 27:7. All this was done (2 Chronicles 36:21) to fulfil (מלּאת instead of מלּא, as in 1 Chronicles 29:5), that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, he having prophesied (Jeremiah 25:11., 2 Chronicles 29:10) the seventy years' duration of Judah's desolation and the Babylonian captivity, while the king and people had not regarded his words (2 Chronicles 36:12). This period, which according to 2 Chronicles 36:20 came to an end with the rise of the kingdom of the Persians, is characterized by the clause וגו רצתה עד as a time of expiation of the wrong which had been done the land by the non-observance of the sabbath-years, upon the basis of the threatening (Leviticus 26:34), in which the wasting of the land during the dispersion of the unrepentant people among the heathen was represented as a compensation for the neglected sabbaths. From this passage in the law the words are taken, to show how the Lord had inflicted the punishment with which the disobedient people had been threatened as early as in the time of Moses. רצתה עד is not to be translated, "until the land had made up its years of rest;" that signification רצה has not; but, "until the land had enjoyed its sabbath-years," i.e., until it had enjoyed the rest of which it had been deprived by the non-observance of the sabbaths and the sabbath-years, contrary to the will of its Creator; see on Leviticus 26:34. That this is the thought is placed beyond doubt by the succeeding circumstantial clause, taken word for word from Leviticus 26:34 : "all days (i.e., the whole time) of its desolation did it hold it" (שׁבתה, it kept sabbath). "To make full the seventy years;" which Jeremiah, ll. cc., had prophesied.

This connecting of Jeremiah's prophecy with the declaration in Leviticus 26:34 does not justify us in supposing that the celebration of the sabbath-year had been neglected seventy times, or that for a period of 490 years the sabbath-year had not been observed. Bertheau, holding this view, fixes upon 1000 b.c., i.e., the time of Solomon, or, as we cannot expect any very great chronological exactitude, the beginning of the kingly government in Israel, as the period after which the rest-years ceased to be regarded. He is further of opinion that 2 Chronicles 35:18 harmonizes with this view; according to which passage the passover was not celebrated in accordance with the prescription of the law until the end of the period of the judges. According to this chronological calculation, the beginning of this neglect of the observance of the sabbath-year would fall in the beginning of the judgeship of Samuel.

(Note: The seventy years' exile began in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, i.e., in the year 606 b.c., or 369 years after the division of the kingdom; see the Chronol. Tables at 1 Kings 12 (ii. 3, S. 141), to which the eighty years of the reigns of David and Solomon, and the time of Saul and Samuel, must be added to make up the 490 years (see the comment. on Judges).)

But this is itself unlikely; and still more unlikely is it, that in the time of the judges the sabbath-year had been regularly observed until Samuel; and that during the reigns of the kings David, Solomon, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and Josiah, this celebration remained wholly in abeyance. But even apart from that, the words, that the land, to make full the seventy years prophesied by Jeremiah, kept the whole time of the desolation holy, or enjoyed a sabbath rest such as Moses had proclaimed in Leviticus 26:34, do not necessarily involve that the land had been deprived of its sabbath rest seventy times in succession, or during a period of 490 years, by the sin of the people. The connection between the prophecy of Jeremiah and the provision of the law is to be understood theologically, and does not purport to be calculated chronologically. The thought is this: By the infliction of the punishment threatened against the transgressors of the law by the carrying of the people away captive into Babylon, the land will obtain the rest which the sinful people had deprived it of by their neglect of the sabbath observance commanded them. By causing it to remain uncultivated for seventy years, God gave to the land a time of rest and refreshment, which its inhabitants, so long as they possessed it, had not given it. But that does not mean that the time for which this rest was granted corresponded to the number of the sabbath-years which had not been observed. From these theological reflections we cannot calculate how often in the course of the centuries, from the time of Joshua onwards till the exile, the sabbath-year had not been observed; and still less the time after which the observation of the sabbath-year was continuously neglected. The passage 2 Chronicles 35:8 has no bearing on this question, because it neither states that the passover had been held according to the precepts of the law till towards the end of the time of the judges, nor that it was no longer celebrated in accordance with the precept from that time until Josiah; it only contains the thought that such a passover as that in Josiah's reign had not been held since the time of the judges: see on the passage.

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