But after that our fathers had provoked the God of heaven to wrath, he gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this house, and carried the people away into Babylon.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, the Chaldean.—These words not only show that the people regarded themselves as punished by the sole hand of God, but also remind the overthrowers of the Chaldean power that they also themselves are no more than instruments of the same Divine will.Ezra 5:12-14. After that our fathers had provoked the God of heaven — It was to punish us for our sins, that we were, for a time, put out of the possession of this house, and not because the gods of the nations had prevailed against our God. But in the first year of Cyrus, &c. — We have the royal decree of Cyrus to justify us, and bear us out in what we do. And he not only permitted, but charged and commanded us, to build this house, and to build it in its place, (Ezra 5:15,) the same place where it had stood before. And the vessels also, &c. — These also he delivered to one whom he intrusted with the care of them, and commanded him to restore them to their ancient place and use. And these we have to show in confirmation of what we allege.
he (God) gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon the Chaldean, who destroyed this house, and carried the people away into Babylon; see 2 Chronicles 36:19.But after that our fathers had provoked the God of heaven unto wrath, he gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this house, and carried the people away into Babylon.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)12. after that] So R.V., R.V. marg. ‘because that’. The purpose of the passage is to account for the destruction of the Temple and the captivity of God’s people. The conjunction is not temporal, but causal: ‘for this reason, namely, that &c.’ The rendering of the R.V. margin is preferable.
provoked … unto wrath] The word used here for ‘provoke’ is found in the Hebrew books with this meaning only in Job 12:6. Elsewhere to ‘shake’, ‘disquiet’, 1 Samuel 28:15; Isaiah 13:13; Isaiah 23:11; Jeremiah 50:34.
the God of heaven] See on Ezra 1:2. A general description of Israel’s provocation of their God is given in 2 Chronicles 36:14-21.
Nebuchadnezzar] Cf. on Ezra 1:7 : the Chaldean, i.e. the Babylonian.Verse 12. - Our fathers provoked the God of heaven unto wrath. Mainly by their long series of idolatries, with the moral abominations that those idolatries involved - the sacrifice of children by their own parents, the licentious rites belonging to the worship of Baal, and the unmentionable horrors practised by the devotees of the Dea Syra. For centuries, with only short and rare intervals, "the chief of the priests, and the people, had transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen," and had even "polluted the house of the Lord which he had hallowed in Jerusalem" (2 Chronicles 36:14). Therefore, he gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon. He punished, as he always does, national apostasy with national destruction. Making an idolatrous people, but a less guilty one, his sword, he cut off Judah, as he had previously cut off Israel, causing the national life to cease, and even removing the bulk of the people into a distant country. Not by his own power or might did Nebuchadnezzar prevail. God could have delivered the Jews from him as easily as he had delivered them in former days from Jabin (Judges 4:2-24), and from Zerah (2 Chronicles 14:11-15), and from Sennacherib (2 Kings 19:20-36). But he was otherwise minded; he "gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar" (comp. 2 Chronicles 36:17). He divided their counsels, paralysed their resistance, caused Pharaoh Hophra to desert their cause (2 Kings 24:7), and left them helpless and unprotected. Nebuchadnczzar was his instrument to chastise his guilty people, and in pursuing his own ends merely worked out the purposes of the Almighty. Ezra 5:6-17 follows the letter which the royal officials sent to the king. Ezra 5:6 and Ezra 5:7 form the introduction to this document, and correspond with Ezra 5:8-11 in Ezra 4. Copy of the letter (comp. Ezra 4:11) which Tatnai, etc., sent. The senders of the letter are, besides Tatnai, Shethar-Boznai and his companions the Apharsachites, the same called Ezra 4:9 the Apharsathchites, who perhaps, as a race specially devoted to the Persian king, took a prominent position among the settlers in Syria, and may have formed the royal garrison. After this general announcement of the letter, follows the more precise statement: They sent the matter to him; and in it was written, To King Darius, much peace. פּתגּן here is not command, but matter; see above. כלּא, its totality, is unconnected with, yet dependent on שׁלמא: peace in all things, in every respect. The letter itself begins with a simple representation of the state of affairs (Ezra 5:8): "We went into the province of Judaea, to the house of the great God (for so might Persian officials speak of the God of Israel, after what they had learned from the elders of Judah of the edict of Cyrus), and it is being built with freestone, and timber is laid in the walls; and this work is being diligently carried on, and is prospering under their hands." The placing of wood in the walls refers to building beams into the wall for flooring; for the building was not so far advanced as to make it possible that this should be said of covering the walls with wainscotting. The word אספּרנא here, and Ezra 6:8, Ezra 6:12-13; Ezra 7:17, Ezra 7:21, Ezra 7:26, is of Aryan origin, and is explained by Haug in Ew. Janro. v. p. 154, from the Old-Persian us-parna, to mean: carefully or exactly finished-a meaning which suits all these passages.
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