Ezra 1:6
And all they that were about them strengthened their hands with vessels of silver, with gold, with goods, and with beasts, and with precious things, beside all that was willingly offered.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Ezra 1:6. All that were about them strengthened their hands — Some of them, probably, because they had embraced, or at least favoured, the Jewish religion, concerning which they had been instructed by the Israelites, who had now for a long time dwelt among them; and others, that they might hereby gratify the king, and procure his favour, perceiving him to be friendly to the Jews, and forward and hearty in the work of helping them. Thus God, when he pleases, can incline the hearts of strangers to be kind to his people; yea, make those strengthen their hands, who formerly weakened them.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.Only a portion of the Israelites took advantage of the permission of Cyrus. Many remained in Babylon, since they were disinclined to relinquish their property. They who returned were persons whom God had especially stirred up to make sacrifices for His glory. 5, 6. Then rose up the chief of the fathers, &c.—The paternal and ecclesiastical chiefs of the later captivity, those of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, with some also from other tribes (1Ch 9:3), who retained their attachment to the pure worship of God, naturally took the lead in this movement. Their example was followed by all whose piety and patriotism were strong enough to brave the various discouragements attending the enterprise. They were liberally assisted by multitudes of their captive countrymen, who, born in Babylonia or comfortably established in it by family connections or the possession of property, chose to remain. It seems that their Assyrian friends and neighbors, too, either from a favorable disposition toward the Jewish faith, or from imitation of the court policy, displayed hearty good will and great liberality in aiding and promoting the views of the emigrants. Strengthened their hands; either because they had embraced, or at least favoured the Jewish religion, concerning which they were instructed by the Israelites that had now for a long time dwelt among them; or rather, that they might hereby gratify the king’s humour, and purchase his favour; for they perceived him to be hearty and forward in the work. And all they that were about them,.... Their neighbours, the Chaldeans:

strengthened their hands with vessels of silver, with gold, with goods, and with beasts, and with precious things; which they either did of themselves at their own motion, or by the direction and example of Cyrus, Ezra 1:4 and perhaps many of them to ingratiate themselves into the favour of their new monarch:

besides all that was willingly offered: by the rich Jews, who thought fit, at least for the present, to remain in Babylon.

And all {g} they that were about them strengthened their hands with vessels of silver, with gold, with goods, and with beasts, and with precious things, beside all that was willingly offered.

(g) The Babylonians and Chaldeans gave them these presents: thus rather than have the children of God be in need, he would stir the heart of the infidels to help them.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
6. And all they that were about them] R.V. round about them. A general expression which would include both the heathen neighbours, alluded to (in Ezra 1:3) by the edict, and the Jewish neighbours, not contemplated in the edict, who preferred to remain in the land of the Captivity.

strengthened their hands] The use of this expression differs slightly in the grammar of the original from such passages as Nehemiah 2:18, ‘So they strengthened their hands for the good work’; Jeremiah 23:14, ‘they strengthen the hands of evil doers’. In those passages the idea is simply that of ‘invigorating’ and ‘adding strength’. Here the employment of a preposition introduces a shade of variety into the metaphor. The idea is that of ‘grasping’, ‘laying firm hold on the hand with the view of strengthening or supporting’. The Jews who sought to return were like a convalescent essaying to walk and needing assistance. Cf. Isaiah 51:18, ‘There is none that taketh her by the hand of all the sons that she hath brought up’.

vessels of silver, with gold] we should expect ‘with vessels of gold’, cf. Ezra 1:9.

with goods] see Ezra 1:4.

and with precious things] A rare word in the original, ‘migdânoth’. It occurs in 2 Chronicles 21:3 = A.V. and R.V. precious things, 2 Chronicles 32:23 = A.V. presents, R.V. precious things. And in a well-known passage, Genesis 24:53 = A.V. and R.V. precious things. The Latin here ‘in supellectili’ is a mere guess. The LXX. rendering ‘ἐν ξενίοις’ = with gifts agrees with their rendering δῶρα in Gen., and δόματα in 2 Chronicles 32. In 2 Chronicles 21:3 they render by ὅπλα.

beside all that was willingly offered] i.e. these gifts were over and above the free-will offerings. The clause in the original is peculiar, ‘beside over and above all one willingly offered’. The relative is omitted as in Ezra 1:4, but is implied in ‘all’. The verb is active in meaning (cf. Ezra 2:68, Ezra 3:5) and is here used impersonally.Verse 6. - All they that were about them. i.e. all their neighbours. Strengthened their hands. This is the literal rendering. The margin gives the right meaning - "helped them." With precious things. Migdanoth, a rare word, only used here, in Genesis 24:53, and in 2 Chronicles 21:3; always connected with silver and gold: derived from meged, which means "precious. Besides all that was willingly offered (comp. ver. 4). The gold, silver, precious things, etc. previously mentioned were free gifts to individual Jews, and were additional to certain offerings which were intrusted to them for conveyance to Jerusalem. On the value attached by the Persians to offerings made in Jerusalem to Jehovah, see below, Ezra 6:10, and Ezra 7:17.

To point out still further how exactly God had fulfilled His word by the mouth of the prophet Jeremiah, it is in conclusion briefly mentioned that God, in the first year of Coresh king of Persia, stirred up the spirit of this king to cause a command to go forth in all his kingdom, that Jahve, the God of heaven, who had given him all the kingdoms of the earth, had commanded him to build again His temple in Jerusalem, and that whoever belonged to the people of God might go up to Jerusalem. With this comforting prospect for the future, the author of the Chronicle closes his consideration of the prae-exilic history of the people of God without completely communicating the contents of the royal edict of Cyrus, since he purposed to narrate the history of the restoration of Judah to their own land in a separate work. This we have in the book of Ezra, which commences by giving us the whole of the edict of Cyrus the king of the Persians (Ezra 1:1-3), and then narrates the return of a great part of the people to Jerusalem and Judah, the rebuilding of the temple, and the re-settlement in the land of their fathers of those who had returned.
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