Ezra 2:69
They gave after their ability to the treasure of the work three score and one thousand drams of gold, and five thousand pound of silver, and one hundred priests' garments.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(69) The dram being a daric of a little more than our guinea, and the pound, or maneh, a little more than £4. the whole would be nearly £90,000, and not an exorbitant sum for a community far from poor. But Nehemiah c statement is smaller, and probably more correct.

One hundred priests’ garments.—An almost necessary correction or supply in the defective text of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 7:70) makes his “four hundred and thirty priests’ garments,” as contributed by the Tirshatha, “five hundred pounds of silver and thirty priests’ garments.” This being so, the two accounts agree, always allowing that Ezra’s 61,000 is a corruption of 41,000 in the gold, and his 5,000 pounds of silver and 100 priests’ garments round numbers.

Ezra 2:69. Threescore and one thousand drachms of gold, &c. — About seventy-five thousand and five hundred pounds of our money; for every drachm of gold is worth ten shillings of our money, and every mina, or pound of silver, nine pounds; for it contains sixty shekels, and every shekel of silver is worth three shillings of our money. And one hundred priests’ garments — Garments, as well as gold and silver, were wont to be laid up in treasuries, Matthew 6:20. We may infer then, from these rich offerings, not only, as has been just intimated, that the Jews were not made such poor slaves in Babylon as wrought for their lords and masters, but that there may not be all the truth imaginable in that common saying among them, that they were only the bran, that is, the dregs of the people, who returned to Jerusalem at the end of the captivity, and that all the fine flour stayed behind at Babylon. See Prideaux’s Connect., Ann. 536, and Dodd.2:64-70 Let none complain of the needful expenses of their religion. Seek first the kingdom of God, his favour and his glory, then will all other things be added unto them. Their offerings were nothing, compared with the offerings of the princes in David's time; yet, being according to their ability, were as acceptable to God. The Lord will carry us through all undertakings entered on according to his will, with an aim to his glory, and dependence on his assistance. Those who, at the call of the gospel, renounce sin and return to the Lord, shall be guarded and guided through all perils of the way, and arrive safely at the mansions provided in the holy city of God.The numbers here and in Nehemiah (see the marginal reference) vary. 69. drams of gold—rather, "darics," a Persian coin (see on [485]1Ch 29:7).

priests' garments—(compare Ne 7:70). This—in the circumstances—was a very appropriate gift. In general, it may be remarked that presents of garments, or of any other usable commodities, however singular it may seem to us, is in harmony with the established notions and customs of the East.

A dram of gold is supposed to be of the weight of the fourth part of a shekel, and of the value of a French crown. They gave after their ability unto the treasure of the world threescore and one thousand drachms of gold,.... These "darcemons or darics" were a Persian coin; one of which, according to Brerewood (k), was of the value of fifteen shillings of our money, and so this quantity of them amounted to 45,750 pounds; but according to Bishop Cumberland (l) they were of the value of twenty shillings and four pence of our money, and so came to upwards of 61,000 pounds; these everyone, according to his ability, put into the common stock or treasury for the work of building the temple; the Vulgate Latin (m) reads 40,000:

and five thousand pounds of silver; and an Hebrew "mina", or pound, being of our money seven pounds, ten shillings, according to Brerewood (n), amounted to 31,250 pounds: but others (o), reckoning a drachm of gold at ten shillings, and a mina or pound of silver at nine pounds, make the whole to amount only to 75,500 pounds of our money:

and one hundred priests' garments; which, as they were laid up among treasures, so were necessary for the service of the temple.

(k) De Pret. & Ponder. Vet. Num. ch. iii. v. (l) Scripture Weights & Measures, ch. 4. p. 115. (m) Sixtus V. Lovain & MSS. in James ut supra. (Contrariety of Popish Bibles, p. 295) (n) Ut supra, (De Pret. & Ponder. Vet. Num.) ch. iv. v. (o) Universal History, vol. 10. p. 183, marg.

They gave after their ability unto the treasure of the work threescore and one thousand {n} drams of gold, and five thousand {o} pounds of silver, and one hundred priests' garments.

(n) Which in our money amounts to 24,826 pounds, 13 shillings and 4 pence, valuing the french crown at 6 shillings and 4 pence for the dram is the eighth part of an ounce, and the ounce the eighth part of a mark.

(o) Which are called mina and contain 2 marks apiece, so 50,000 minas make 55,000 franks which in our money amounts to 69,666 pounds, 13 shillings and 4 pence so that the whole sum was 94,493 pounds, 6 shillings, and 8 pence.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
69. they gave &c.] There is a slight discrepancy between the sums mentioned in this verse and the sums recorded in greater detail in Nehemiah. The figures stand thus—

Ezra

Heads of fathers’ houses 61,000

   darics of gold

5,000

   pounds of silver

100

   priests’ garments.

Nehemiah

  darics of gold

  basons

  pounds silver

  priests’ garments

Tirshatha

  1,000

  50

  500?

  30

Heads of fathers’houses

  20,000

  

  2,200

  

Rest of people

  20,000

  

  2,000

  67

Total

  41,000

  

  4,700

  97

The contributions as described in Ezra are all placed to the credit of the heads of fathers’ houses; in Nehemiah we find a considerable portion contributed by the Tirshatha and by the rest of the people.

(a) The 61,000 darics of gold appear to consist of the Tirshatha’s 1000+other contributions of which we are able to identify 40,000 (i.e. 20,000 given by heads of fathers’ houses+20,000 given by the rest of the people). Perhaps the value of 50 basons and of the other gifts amounted to a figure which could be described in round numbers as 20,000.

(b) The 5,000 pounds of silver express in round numbers the 2,200 contributed by the heads of fathers’ houses+the 2,000 by the rest of the people+500 pounds silver given by the Tirshatha (the probable reading of Nehemiah 7:70).

(c) The 100 priests’ garments represent the 30 given by the Tirshatha (probable reading of Nehemiah 7:70), and the 67 given by the rest of the people.

after their ability] literally ‘strength’ or ‘power’ as in Daniel 1:4 : not elsewhere of ‘wealth’. The word rendered ‘ability’ in Nehemiah 5:8 is different and denotes ‘sufficiency’.

unto the treasure] R.V. into the treasury.

drams] R.V. darics. The A.V. translation ‘dram’ seems to suppose that the coin spoken of was the Greek ‘drachma’. It is in reality the well-known Persian gold coin ‘daric’. The name has commonly been derived from the Darius who was said to have first had the piece coined. But this is far from certain. The word ‘daric’ more probably refers to the emblem on the coin, and is to be derived either from a Persian word meaning ‘a bow’, or from ‘dara’ = ‘a king’, cf. our ‘sovereign’. The obverse side of the coin has the figure of a crowned king, kneeling, holding in his right hand a sceptre or spear and in his left a bow; for the sake possibly of securing a good impression, the reverse of the coin was left rough.

The ‘daric’ is transliterated into Hebrew as ‘Adarcon’ in chap. Ezra 8:27; 1 Chronicles 29:7 : but in this verse and in Nehemiah 7:70-72 it appears as ‘Darcemon’ with a various reading ‘Adarcemon’.

Its value was as nearly as possible equivalent to our sovereign. The coin is by some identified with the gold stater of Crœsus, the last king of Lydia. This is the first mention of coined money in the Old Testament, as the reference to ‘darics’ in David’s reign (1 Chronicles 29:7) is strictly an anachronism.

pound] Hebr. ‘maneh’. We do not find in the Old Testament any mention of Persian silver coinage. Before the Persian period, Hebrew money had for the most part been calculated by weight upon something akin to the Babylonian system, by ‘talent’, ‘maneh’, ‘shekel’.

A ‘talent’ of Hebrew money consisted of ‘50 manim’, one maneh of 60 shekels.

priests’ garments] The priests differed from the Levites in having special garments ‘in which they ministered’ and which they put off as being holy, as soon as they had ceased from their ministrations (Leviticus 6:10; Ezekiel 42:14; Ezekiel 44:19). The priestly garments are briefly enumerated in Exodus 28:40; Exodus 39:27. They consisted of (1) a long coat or tunic, (2) a mitre or turban, (3) breeches or nether garments, (4) a girdle. The material was fine linen, and the colour white. These garments the priest appears to have laid aside and deposited in one of the chambers at the entrance of the inner court of the Temple, before passing into the people’s court.Verse 69. - After their ability. As each was able; the richer more, the poorer less. Threescore and one thousand drams of gold. The word translated "dram" is darkemon, which appears to be the Hebrew representative of the Persian word which the Greeks rendered by dareikos, or "daric." This was a gold coin, stamped with the figure of a Persian king, wearing his crown, and armed with a bow and arrow. According to the most exact computation, each such coin contained somewhat more pure gold than an English guinea, and was worth £1 1s. 10.5d. of our money. The 61,000 darics would therefore have been equal to £66,718 15s. Five thousand pounds of silver. The word translated "pound" is maneh, an equivalent of the Greek tuna and the Latin mind. In Greece the silver mind was worth a little more than £4 of our money. The value of the Hebrew silver munch is uncertain, but probably was not very different from the Greek. Thus the sum contributed in silver may be estimated at above £20,000, and the entire contribution at nearly £90,000. It must be noted, however, that Nehemiah's estimate (Nehemiah 7:71, 72) is less. One hundred priests' garments. Nehemiah says ninety-seven (ibid. vers. 70, 72), whence we may conclude that Ezra uses a round number. The Tirshatha, the secular governor of the community, i.e., as is obvious from a comparison of Nehemiah 7:65 with Nehemiah 7:70, Zerubbabel, called Haggai 1:1 יהוּדה פּחת. תּרשׁתא, always used with the article, is undoubtedly the Persian designation of the governor or viceroy. Nehemiah is also so called in Nehemiah 8:9 and Nehemiah 10:2, and likewise הפּחה, Nehemiah 12:26. The meaning of the word is still matter of dispute. Some derive it from the Persian trsı̂dn, to fear, and trs, fear equals the feared or respected one (Meier, Wurzelb. p. 714); others from Persian trš, acer, auster, the strict ruler; others, again (with Benfey, die Monatsnamen, p. 196), from the Zend. thvôrestar (nom. thvôresta), i.e., praefectus, penes quem est imperium: comp. Gesenius, thes. p. 1521. The Tirshatha decided that they were not to eat of the most holy things till there should arise a priest with Urim and Thummim, i.e., to give a final decision by means of Urim and Thummim. עמד, according to the later usage of the language, is equivalent to קוּם, comp. Daniel 8:3; Daniel 11:2, and other places. The prohibition to eat of the most holy things (comp. on Leviticus 2:3) involved the prohibition to approach the most holy objects, e.g., the altar of burnt-offering (Exodus 29:37; Exodus 30:10), and to enter the most holy place, and thus excludes from specific priestly acts: without, however, denying a general inclusion among the priestly order, or abolishing a claim to the priestly revenues, so far as these were not directly connected with priestly functions. On Urim and Thummim, see on Exodus 28:30. From the words, "till a priest shall arise," etc., it is evident that the then high priest was not in a position to entreat, and to pronounce, the divine decision by Urim and Thummim. The reason of this, however, need not be sought in the personality of Joshua (Ewald, Gesch. iv. 95), nor supposed to exist in such a fact as that he might not perhaps have been the eldest son of his father, and therefore not have had full right to the priesthood. This conjecture rests upon utterly erroneous notions of the Urim and Thummim, upon a subjectivistic view, which utterly evaporates the objective reality of the grace with which the high priest was in virtue of his office endowed. The obtainment of the divine decision by Urim and Thummim presupposes the gracious presence of Jahve in the midst of His people Israel. And this had been connected by the Lord Himself with the ark of the covenant, and with its cherubim-overshadowed mercy-seat, from above which He communed with His people (Exodus 25:22). The high priest, bearing upon his breast the breastplate with the Urim and Thummim, was to appear before Jahve, and, bringing before Him the judgment of Israel, to entreat the divine decision (Exodus 28:30; Numbers 27:21). The ark of the covenant with the mercy-seat was thus, in virtue of the divine promise, the place of judgment, where the high priest was to inquire of the Lord by means of the Urim and Thummim. This ark, however, was no longer in existence, having been destroyed when Solomon's temple was burned by the Chaldeans. Those who returned with Zerubbabel were without the ark, and at first without a temple. In such a state of affairs the high priest could not appear before Jahve with the breastplate and the Urim and Thummim to entreat His decision. The books of Samuel, indeed, relate cases in which the divine will was consulted by Urim and Thummim, when the ark of the covenant was not present for the high priest to appear before (comp. 1 Samuel 23:4, 1 Samuel 23:6, 1 Samuel 23:9, etc., 1 Samuel 14:18); whence it appears that the external or local presence of the ark was not absolutely requisite for this purpose. Still these cases occurred at a time when the congregation of Israel as yet possessed the ark with the Lord's cherubim-covered mercy-seat, though this was temporarily separated from the holy of holies of the tabernacle. Matters were in a different state at the return from the captivity. Then, not only were they without either ark or temple, but the Lord had not as yet re-manifested His gracious presence in the congregation; and till this should take place, the high priest could not inquire of the Lord by Urim and Thummim. In the hope that with the restoration of the altar and temple the Lord would again vouchsafe His presence to the returned congregation, Zerubbabel expected that a high priest would arise with Urim and Thummim to pronounce a final decision with regard to those priests who could not prove their descent from Aaron's posterity. This expectation, however, was unfulfilled. Zerubbabel's temple remained unconsecrated by any visible token of Jahve's presence, as the place where His name should dwell. The ark of the covenant with the cherubim, and the Shechinah in the cloud over the cherubim, were wanting in the holy of holies of this temple. Hence, too, we find no single notice of any declaration of the divine will or the divine decision by Urim and Thummim in the period subsequent to the captivity; but have, on the contrary, the unanimous testimony of the Rabbis, that after the Babylonian exile God no longer manifested His will by Urim and Thummim, this kind of divine revelation being reckoned by them among the five things which were wanting in the second temple. Comp. Buxtorf, exercitat. ad historiam Urim et Thummim, c. 5; and Vitringa, observat. ss. Lib. vi. c. 6, p. 324f.
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