Ezra 5:5
But the eye of their God was upon the elders of the Jews, that they could not cause them to cease, till the matter came to Darius: and then they returned answer by letter concerning this matter.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(5) And then they returned answer.And [till] they should receive answer. It is implied that “the eye of their God” was with special vigilance fixed on the work, and it will appear that His influence was upon the officials of Persia as well as upon the rulers of the Jews. The letter that follows shows this.

Ezra 5:5. But the eye of God was upon the elders, &c. — The peculiar favour, watchful providence, and powerful protection of God, giving them courage and resolution to go on with the work, notwithstanding the threats of their enemies; and so overruling the hearts and hands of their enemies, that they did not hinder them by force, as they might have done. While we are employed in God’s work, we are taken under his special protection, and his eye is upon us for good.

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.Then said we - The Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions have "Then said they," which brings this verse into exact accordance with Ezra 5:10. 5-17. But the eye of their God was upon the elders of the Jews, &c.—The unusual presence, the imposing suite, the authoritative enquiries of the satrap appeared formidable, and might have produced a paralyzing influence or led to disastrous consequences, if he had been a partial and corrupt judge or actuated by unfriendly feelings towards the Jewish cause. The historian, therefore, with characteristic piety, throws in this parenthetical verse to intimate that God averted the threatening cloud and procured favor for the elders or leaders of the Jews, that they were not interrupted in their proceedings till communications with the court should be made and received. Not a word was uttered to dispirit the Jews or afford cause of triumph to their opponents. Matters were to go on till contrary orders arrived from Babylon. After surveying the work in progress, he inquired: first, by what authority this national temple was undertaken; and, secondly, the names of the principal promoters and directors of the undertaking. To these two heads of enquiry the Jews returned ready and distinct replies. Then having learned that it originated in a decree of Cyrus, who had not only released the Jewish exiles from captivity and permitted them to return to their own land for the express purpose of rebuilding the house of God, but, by an act of royal grace, had restored to them the sacred vessels which Nebuchadnezzar had carried off as trophies from the former temple, Tatnai transmitted all this information in an official report to his imperial master, accompanying it with a recommendatory suggestion that search should be made among the national archives at Babylon for the original decree of Cyrus, that the truth of the Jews' statement might be verified. The whole conduct of Tatnai, as well as the general tone of his despatch, is marked by a sound discretion and prudent moderation, free from any party bias, and evincing a desire only to do his duty. In all respects he appears in favorable contrast with his predecessor, Rehum (Ezr 4:9). They could not cause them to cease; because God overruled their hearts and hands, that they did not hinder them by force, as they could have done.

But the eye of their God was upon the elders of the Jews,.... He in his providence looked favourably at them, smiled upon them, encouraged them in the work by his good Spirit, and by the prophets, and gave them success, and protected and defended them, see 2 Chronicles 16:9,

that they could not cause them to cease, till the matter came to Darius; they were not intimidated by what the governor and those with him said to them, but went on in their work; nor did the governor attempt to interrupt them, they having referred him and their cause to Darius for the truth of what they had said, and for further information from him:

and then they returned answer by letter concerning this matter; that is, Tatnai and those with him sent a letter to Darius about this affair, to which they had an answer, which are both related in this and the following chapters.

But the {c} eye of their God was upon the elders of the Jews, that they could not cause them to cease, till the matter came to Darius: and then they returned answer by letter concerning this matter.

(c) His favour and the spirit of strength.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
5. But the eye of their God] Cf. Deuteronomy 11:12, ‘a land which God careth for; the eyes of the Lord thy God are always upon it’; Psalm 33:18, ‘The eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him’; Psalm 34:15, ‘The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous’.

upon the elders of the Jews] Cf. Ezra 10:8, ‘the princes and elders’. The LXX. by a strange mistake render ‘the captivity’ (τὴν αἰχμαλωσίαν).

God’s favour was shewn in that Tattenai did not immediately stop the work, but let it go on until he learned his master’s wishes.

that they could not cause them to cease] R.V. and they did not make them cease. This gives the original accurately, and corrects the impression produced by the A.V.

till the matter came to Darius: and then they returned answer] R.V. till the matter should come to Darius, and then answer should he returned. Marg. Or, they returned answer. The R.V. corrects the grammatical mistake of the A.V. Both clauses are dependent upon the previous sentence. The governor and his party forebore to stay the work, until (1) the matter had been reported to Darius, (2) Darius’s reply had been received by the governor. Then only would they, if it were necessary, interfere.

And then answer should be returned’ or, ‘And then they returned answer by letter’. In the former case the reference is to the answer of the king or of his officials to Tattenai: in the latter case, it is to the final reply of Tattenai, after hearing from the king, to the Jews. Perhaps the former is to be preferred on account of the formal ‘by letter (nishtewan, cf. Ezra 4:7) concerning it’.

concerning this matter] R.V. concerning it. The A.V. unnecessarily here repeats the word ‘matter’. See Ezra 5:17.

Verse 5. - The eye of their God was upon the elders. "The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous" (Psalm 34:15) with a jealous watchfulness, which never for a moment slackens. "He withdraweth not his eyes from them" (Job 36:7). Nothing happens to them that he does not know and allow. At this time the elders, who pre-aided over the workmen employed in the restoration, were a special subject of God's watchful care, so that those who would fain have hindered them could not. The work of rebuilding went on uninterruptedly during the whole time that the messengers were away. Ezra 5:5Tatnai and Shethar-Boznai had power to prohibit them from proceeding; they allowed them, however, to go on with their work till the arrival of an answer from the king, to whom they had furnished a written report of the matter. In these dealings, the historian sees a proof of the divine protection which was watching over the building. "The eye of their God was over the elders of the Jews, that they should not restrain them (from building) till the matter came to Darius; and they should then receive a letter concerning this matter." Bertheau incorrectly translates יהך לד עד־טעמא: until the command of King Darius should arrive. ל is only used as a paraphrase of the genitive in statements of time; otherwise the genitive, if not expressed by the status construc., is designated by דּ or דּי. יהך, fut. Peal of הלך, formed by the rejection of ל, construed with ל, signifies to go to a place (comp. Ezra 7:13), or to come to a person. טעמא (טעם) does not here mean commandment, but the matter, causa, which the king is to decide; just as פּתגּן, Ezra 6:11, means thing, res. The clause יתיבוּן ואדין still depends upon עד: and till they (the royal officials) then receive a letter, i.e., obtain a decision.
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