Now because we have maintenance from the king's palace, and it was not meet for us to see the king's dishonor, therefore have we sent and certified the king;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Maintenance.—more exactly, we eat the salt of the palace. This seems to be a general expression for dependence on the king, whose dishonour or loss they profess themselves unwilling to behold.Ezra 4:14. Now because we have maintenance from the king’s palace — In the Hebrew it is, we are salted with the salt of the palace. That is, are sustained by the king’s munificence, or have a salary from him, as Junius translates it. In ancient times, it appears, it was usual to allow those who had deserved well, and on that account were honourably provided for at the king’s charge, among other things, a daily quantity of salt; it being a thing very necessary in human life. Locke, however, who translates the clause, we have eaten of the king’s salt, understands the meaning to be, “We have engaged ourselves in a covenant of friendship with him.” It was not meet for us to see the king’s dishonour — Thus they represent themselves as very loyal to the government, and mightily concerned for the honour and interest of it; and hence they urge the king to put a stop to the building of the city and temple of Jerusalem, as what would certainly be to his loss and dishonour.
and it was not meet for us to see the king's dishonour; to see any thing done injurious to his crown and dignity, to his honour and revenues, when we are supported by him; this would be ungrateful as well as unjust:
therefore have we sent and certified the king; of the truth of what is before related; and, for the further confirmation of it, refer him to the ancient records of the kingdom, as follows.Now because we have maintenance from the king's palace, and it was not meet for us to see the king's dishonour, therefore have we sent and certified the king;
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)14. have maintenance from the king’s palace] R.V. eat the salt of the palace; which preserves the metaphor of the original. The LXX. omitted the clause: Vulg. ‘memores salis, quod in palatio comedimus’: 1Es 2:20, ‘forasmuch as the things pertaining to the Temple are now on hand’, which substitutes a different sentence for one that was not intelligible. The old Jewish translation ‘because we aforetime destroyed the Temple’, adopted by many former commentators (cf. Luther, ‘Nun wir alle dabei sind, die wir den Tempel zerstöret haben’), seems to have been based upon the old symbolical custom of ‘sowing with salt’ the site of a town or place that had been destroyed, e.g. Jdg 9:45, and upon the idea of unfruitfulness associated with salt (cf. ‘a salt land and not inhabited’, Jeremiah 17:6; Deuteronomy 29:23; Zephaniah 2:9; cf. Heb. Job 39:6; Psalm 107:34). Others, with the same conception, ‘we have salted (Jerusalem) with the salt of the palace’, i.e. assisted the Imperial armies in its destruction. ‘The palace’ in the original is the same word (‘heycâl’) as that used for ‘the temple’ in Ezra 3:6, Ezra 5:14. The ambiguity of this word and the use of a rare metaphor has given rise to the difficulty of translation. Literally, the words mean ‘because we have salted the palace’s salt’. The explanation then will be not, as has been suggested, ‘because we have been entertained (guest friends, i.e. are the king’s friends), at the palace’, but ‘because we are in the king’s service’. The writers as representatives of colonies and dependent districts were very probably officials, and therefore members of the great network of Persian government.
The English word ‘salary’ from salarium or salt-money is generally compared with this phrase.
and it was not meet] R.V. and it is not meet.
dishonour] literally ‘nakedness’. A strong metaphor, which the LXX. ἀσχημοσύνη reproduces. Cf. Leviticus 18:7, &c. The order is emphatic, ‘and the shame of the king it is not meet for us to see’. The Vulg. ‘læsiones’ gives the technical Latin word for ‘damage’ in a general sense.Verse 14. - We have maintenance from the king's palace. The marginal rendering is better, and shows the true sense. "Eating a man's salt" in the East is deriving one's subsistence from him. The man who eats another's salt is bound to look after his interests. It was not meet for us to see the king's dishonour. Rather, "the king's detriment or loss" - it was not meet for us to stand by tamely and see the king stript of his due.
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