Ezra 1:8
Even those did Cyrus king of Persia bring forth by the hand of Mithredath the treasurer, and numbered them unto Sheshbazzar, the prince of Judah.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Ezra 1:8. And numbered them — Caused them to be delivered to the Jews by number; unto Sheshbazzar, the prince of Judah — The captain and governor of these returning Jews, Ezra 2:2. The sceptre, therefore, was not yet departed from Judah. This person’s name was originally Zerubbabel, but it was common for the great men of Judah, at the time of the captivity, to have two names, one of their own country, which was domestic, and another of the Chaldeans, which was used at court. “Zerubbabel was born at Babylon, and his name, which signifies an exile, or stranger in Babylon, implies the misery of the people of Israel at that time; but Sheshbazzar, which is a compound of two words, signifying fine linen and gold, seems to be a name of better omen, and to denote their future and more flourishing condition. So Bishop Patrick. Dr. Trapp, however, says that Sheshbazzar signifies joy in tribulation. Some are of opinion, that among the sacred things which Cyrus ordered to be restored, the ark of the covenant was one; but it nowhere appears that this ark was carried from Jerusalem to Babylon. They tell us, indeed, that in the second temple sacrifices were offered as in the first, and all solemn days observed, especially the great day of expiation, when the law ordained that the blood should be sprinkled before the mercy-seat, and the mercy-seat, say they, was part of the ark; but besides that the ark, without the Shechinah, (which was then certainly withdrawn,) would have been of no great significance, the Jews universally acknowledge that the ark was one of the five things which were wanting in the second temple.” — Dodd.

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.Mithredath - Or, "Mithridates." The occurrence of this name, which means "given by Mithra" or "dedicated to Mithra," is an indication that the sun-worship of the Persians was at least as old as the time of Cyrus.

Sheshbazzar - i. e., Zerubbabel. On his royal descent, see 1 Chronicles 3:19 note.

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. Numbered them, i.e. he caused them to be delivered to the Jews by number.

Unto Sheshbazzar, i.e. Zorobabel, as appears by comparing Ezra 3:8, with Ezra 5:16, to whom the Persians, or rather the Chaldeans, had given this name of Sheshbazzar, as they gave other names to Daniel and his companions, Daniel 1:7.

The prince of Judah, and the captain and governor of these returning Jews, Ezra 2:2. So the sceptre is not yet departed from Judah.

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.

Even those did Cyrus king of Persia bring forth by the hand of Mithredath the treasurer, and numbered them unto {h} Sheshbazzar, the prince of Judah.

(h) So the Chaldeans called Zerubbabel who was the chief governor, so that the preeminence still remained in the house of David.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
8. by the hand of] So A.V. and R.V. This phrase in the original is a little difficult. It occurs Ezra 8:26, ‘I even weighed into their hand &c.’, 33, ‘was the silver and the gold and the vessels weighed into the hand of, &c. (marg. ‘by’), Esther 6:9, ‘let the apparel and the horse be delivered to the hand of one of the king’s most noble princes’. It seems better here to render ‘into the hand of’. The vessels were brought out and given into the charge of Mithredath, who was to superintend their numbering.

Mithredath the treasurer] This is the Hebrew form of the old Persian name ‘Mithradata’, familiar to us as Mithridates. On coins we find the more correct transliteration ‘Mithradates’. It was a very common name among the Medo-Persians, cf. Ezra 4:7. It is derived from ‘Mithras’, the name of the Persian sun-god, and the root ‘da’ = to give, and has been differently understood to mean either ‘given by Mithras’, or ‘given, i.e. dedicated, to Mithras’. Of these the former is the preferable Cf. Hormisdas = ‘given by Ormuzd’, Theodotus = ‘given by God’.

the treasurer] The word in the original is a Persian, not a Hebrew word, and occurs again Ezra 7:21; Daniel 3:2-3. The ‘gizbar’, Old Persian ‘gazabara’, mentioned here seems to have been the king’s Privy Purse, the bearer or dispenser of the royal treasure. The Persian word will remind the student of the Hellenistic ‘gaza’ (γάζα) = ‘treasure’ adopted from the Persian. The Ethiopian Eunuch, chamberlain to queen Candace, was ‘over all her treasure’, ἐπὶ πάσης τῆς γάζης αὐτῆς (Acts 8:27). The word for ‘the treasury’, used in the gospels, means “the place for keeping the ‘gaza’,” γαζοφυλάκιον (cf. Mark 12:41; Luke 21:1; John 8:20).

and numbered them] so A.V. R.V. Better, and he numbered them. The king made the gift; his officer had the charge of its disposition and valuation.

unto Sheshbazzar, the prince of Judah] There seems to be no good reason to doubt that the Sheshbazzar mentioned here and in Ezra 5:14; Ezra 5:16 is the same as Zerubbabel. For although Zerubbabel (Ezra 3:2; Ezra 3:8, Ezra 4:3, Ezra 5:2) is not designated by any official title in our book, still (1) the manner in which he is regarded as the representative of the Jewish returned exiles in Ezra 4:2, (2) the fact that his name, as that of the chief layman and of the head of the Davidic line, is associated with that of the High-priest Jeshua in the general administration, Ezra 3:2; Ezra 3:8, Ezra 4:3, Ezra 5:2; Haggai 1:1; Zechariah 3:4, (3) the title of ‘governor (pekhah) of Judah’ given him by the prophet Haggai (Ezra 1:1, Ezra 2:2; Ezra 2:21), and given also to Sheshbazzar (Ezra 5:14) make it reasonable to suppose that Sheshbazzar was another name of Zerubbabel, just as Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, were the names given in the Captivity to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (Daniel 1:6-7). To this view the objection has fairly been raised that in Daniel we find a Babylonish by the side of a Hebrew name, but that in this case both Sheshbazzar and Zerubbabel are considered to be Babylonish names, and that it is very strange to find the same man called in a Jewish book by two foreign names. This objection may possibly be met by regarding Zerubbabel as the name, though of foreign origin, which he took as prince among his own people, Sheshbazzar as the name by which he was known at the court of the Persian king. At any rate Sheshbazzar is here called ‘the prince of Judah’ and in Ezra 5:14 he is mentioned as conveying the sacred vessels and laying the foundation of the Temple. See also the Introduction, § 6.

the prince of Judah] The ‘nasi’ of Judah. In two passages he is given the title of ‘Tirshatha’, the Persian equivalent of the Assyrian ‘pekhah’ (Ezra 2:63, Nehemiah 7:65; Nehemiah 7:70). He is called ‘pekhah’ or ‘Tirshatha” in relation to the Persian government. In relation to his own people, he is called ‘nasi’ or prince either as head of the great tribe of Judah (cf. the title ‘nasi’ of the ‘princes’ of the tribes in Numbers 7, Numbers 34:22-28), or as the representative of the royal house of David (cf. especially the frequent use of this term in Ezekiel, chaps. 45, 46, 48). In later days this title was taken by Simon, the brother of Judas the Maccabee, whose coins contain the legend ‘Simon the prince (nasi) of Israel’. Sheshbazzar is mentioned here alone. The prominence of the High-priest seems to date from the arrival at Jerusalem.

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. Ezra 1:8Cyrus delivered these vessels יד על, into the hand of the treasurer, to whose care they were entrusted; i.e., placed them under his inspection, that they might be faithfully restored. ממרדת is Mithridates. נּזבּר, answering to the Zend gazabara, means treasurer (see comm. on Dan. p. 514, note 4). This officer counted them out to the prince of Judah Sheshbazzar, undoubtedly the Chaldee name of Zerubbabel. For, according to Ezra 5:14, Ezra 5:16, שׁשׁבּצּר was the governor (פּחה) placed by Cyrus over the new community in Judah and Jerusalem, and who, according to Ezra 1:11 of the present chapter, returned to Jerusalem at the head of those who departed from Babylon; while we are informed (Ezra 2:2; Ezra 3:1, Ezra 3:8, and Ezra 4:3; Ezra 5:2) that Zerubbabel was not only at the head of the returning Jews, but also presided as secular ruler over the settlement of the community in Judah and Jerusalem. The identity of Sheshbazzar with Zerubbabel, which has been objected to by Schrader and Nldeke, is placed beyond a doubt by a comparison of Ezra 5:16 with Ezra 3:8, etc., Ezra 5:2 : for in Ezra 5:16 Sheshbazzar is named as he who laid the foundation of the new temple in Jerusalem; and this, according to Ezra 5:2 and Ezra 3:8, was done by Zerubbabel. The view, too, that Zerubbabel, besides this his Hebrew name, had, as the official of the Persian king, also a Chaldee name, is in complete analogy with the case of Daniel and his three companions, who, on being taken into the service of the Babylonian king, received Chaldee names (Daniel 1:7). Zerubbabel, moreover, seems, even before his appointment of פּחה to the Jewish community in Judah, to have held some office in either the Babylonian or Persian Court or State; for Cyrus would hardly have entrusted this office to any private individual among the Jews. The meaning of the word שׁשׁבּצּר is not yet ascertained: in the lxx it is written Σασαβασάρ, Σαβαχασάρ, and Σαναβάσσαρος; 1 Esdras has Σαμανασσάρ, or, according to better MSS, Σαναβασσάρ; and Josephus, l.c., Ἀβασσάρ.
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