Ezra 5:17
Now therefore, if it seem good to the king, let there be search made in the king's treasure house, which is there at Babylon, whether it be so, that a decree was made of Cyrus the king to build this house of God at Jerusalem, and let the king send his pleasure to us concerning this matter.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(17) Let there be search made.—All depended on the original decree, which nothing done intermediately by the usurper could cancel. And the request of Tatnai seems to imply that it would be found: although the original was not found in Babylon, as was expected, a copy had been made.

Ezra 5:17. Now therefore, let there be search made, &c. — So they properly propose, that the real facts might be ascertained; in the king’s treasure-house — The house or place where the records of the kingdom were preserved very carefully, as rich treasures are wont to be. Thus these Samaritans seem to have given a fair representation of the cause of the Jews to the king, telling him only what was done namely, that they were rearing the temple, as persons that intended to worship, and not what was not done, that they were fortifying the city, as if they intended war; as those Samaritans that had written to Artaxerxes had falsely represented. It is probable, if their case had been as fairly stated to the former king (see the foregoing chapter) as it was now to Darius: he would not have ordered the work to be hindered. God’s people could not be persecuted if they were not belied. Let but the cause of God and truth be fairly stated and heard, and it will keep its ground. 5:3-17 While employed in God's work, we are under his special protection; his eye is upon us for good. This should keep us to our duty, and encourage us therein, when difficulties are ever so discouraging. The elders of the Jews gave the Samaritans an account of their proceedings. Let us learn hence, with meekness and fear, to give a reason of the hope that is in us; let us rightly understand, and then readily declare, what we do in God's service, and why we do it. And while in this world, we always shall have to confess, that our sins have provoked the wrath of God. All our sufferings spring from thence, and all our comforts from his unmerited mercy. However the work may seem to be hindered, yet the Lord Jesus Christ is carrying it on, his people are growing unto a holy temple in the Lord, for a habitation of God through the Spirit.Let there be search made ... at Babylon - They perhaps doubted whether proof of the decree of Cyrus remained in the archives. The Pseudo-Smerdis had had the records in his power for seven months; and, when he reversed the policy of his predecessors, might have been expected to destroy their edicts. The decree was not found at Babylon, the most natural place for it, but in the provincial capital of Ecbatana, which Tatnai and his friends had not asked Darius to have searched (see Ezra 6:2). 16. Then came … Shesh-bazzar … since that time even until now hath it been in building—This was not a part of the Jews' answer—they could not have said this, knowing the building had long ceased. But Tatnai used these expressions in his report, either looking on the stoppage as a temporary interruption, or supposing that the Jews were always working a little, as they had means and opportunities. No text from Poole on this verse. Now therefore, if it seem good to the king, let there be search made in the king's treasure house, which is there at Babylon,.... Where were the archives of the kingdom, where the laws, decrees, edicts, and proclamations, and other things relating to the state, were laid up, that recourse might be had to them upon occasion:

whether it be so, that a decree was made of Cyrus the king to build this house of God at Jerusalem; which the Jews affirmed was made by him, and upon which they proceeded:

and let the king send his pleasure to us concerning this matter; whether the Jews should be allowed to go on with the building of their temple, and finish it, or whether they should be restrained from it; signifying they were ready to do his will and pleasure either way, as he thought fit.

Now therefore, if it seem good to the king, let there be search made in the king's {g} treasure house, which is there at Babylon, whether it be so, that a decree was made of Cyrus the king to build this house of God at Jerusalem, and let the king send his pleasure to us concerning this matter.

(g) Meaning in the library or places where lay the register or record of times.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
17. if it seem good to the king] A similar phrase in Ezra 7:18; Esther 1:19.

in the king’s treasure house] which apparently was the repository of important documents as well as of treasure. The expression occurs again in Esther 3:9; Esther 4:7. The word rendered ‘treasure’ (ginzayya) is rendered by ‘gaza’ (γάζα) in the LXX. Compare Ezra 1:8; (gizbar) ‘treasurer’; 1 Chronicles 28:11 (ganzak) ‘treasure’; chap. Ezra 6:1 gives the full explanation of the present phrase. The Vulgate too narrowly renders ‘bibliotheca’.

at Babylon] i.e. where would be kept the records of the Babylonian Empire.

his pleasure] Same word as that in Ezra 7:18, ‘the will of God’. The LXX. by a mistake of similar letters renders ‘having learnt’ (γνούς).

concerning this matter] Same phrase as in Ezra 5:5 (where see note). The word ‘matter’ added here in the English for the sake of explicitness. Tattenai asks for instructions as to how he should proceed generally in dealing with the Jews and their Temple-building.Verse 17. - Let there be search made in the king's treasure house. The Vulgate has "in the king's library;" and this, though not the literal rendering, is probably what was intended by Tatuai. Libraries or record chambers were attached to the royal residences under the old Assyrian and Babylonian kings; and the practice was no doubt continued by the Persians. Some of these record offices have been recently found, and their stores recovered. In the year 1850 Mr. Layard came upon the royal library of Asshur-bani-pal at Koyunjik, and obtained from it several hundreds of documents. More recently, in 1875-6, some Arab explorers happened upon a similar collection near Babylon, which yielded from 3000 to 4000 tablets ('Transactions of the Society of Biblical Archaeology,' vol. 6. pp. 4, 582). It is quite possible that the "decree of Cyrus" may still exist, and be one day recovered.



The answer of the elders of the Jews. They returned us answer in the following manner (לממר equals לאמר): "We are His, the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and build the house which was built many years ago; and a great king of Israel built and completed it." דּנה מקּדמת, of before this, i.e., before the present; to which is added the more precise definition: many years (accusative of time), i.e., many years before the present time.
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