Ezra 6:1
Then Darius the king made a decree, and search was made in the house of the rolls, where the treasures were laid up in Babylon.
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(1) Made a decree.—Rather, gave an order.

Were laid up.—In the original, laid down, in a chamber for the storing of documents and other treasures.

Ezra 6:1. Then Darius the king made a decree — To search the rolls in Babylon, where search was fairly made; but not finding the edict there, they searched in Achmetha, or Ecbatana, the royal city of the Medes and Persians, and found it there. As Darius, the better to fortify his title to the crown, had married two of the daughters of Cyrus, he thought himself concerned to do every thing which might tend to the honour of that great prince, and therefore more readily confirmed the decree which he had granted to the Jews.

6:1-12 When God's time is come for fulfilling his gracious purposes concerning his church, he will raise up instruments to do it, from whom such good service was not expected. While our thoughts are directed to this event, we are led by Zechariah to fix our regard on a nobler, a spiritual building. The Lord Jesus Christ continues to lay one stone upon another: let us assist the great design. Difficulties delay the progress of this sacred edifice. Yet let not opposition discourage us, for in due season it will be completed to his abundant praise. He shall bring forth the head-stone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it.A "house of the rolls" was discovered at Koyunjik, the ancient Nineveh, in 1850 - a set of chambers, i. e., in the palace devoted exclusively to the storing of public documents. These were in baked clay, and covered the floor to the depth of more than a foot. Such a "house" was probably that at Babylon. CHAPTER 6

Ezr 6:1-12. Darius' Decree for Advancing the Building.

1. Darius the king—This was Darius Hystaspes. Great and interesting light has been thrown on the history of this monarch and the transaction of his reign, by the decipherment of the cuneatic inscriptions on the rocks at Behistun.

in the house of the rolls, where the treasures were laid up in Babylon—An idea of the form of this Babylonian register house, as well as the manner of preserving public records within its repositories, can be obtained from the discoveries at Nineveh. Two small chambers were discovered in the palace of Koyunjik, which, from the fragments found in them, Mr. Layard considers "as a house of the rolls." After reminding his readers that the historical records and public documents of the Assyrians were kept on tablets and cylinders of baked clay, many specimens of which have been found, he goes on to say, "The chambers I am describing appear to have been a depository in the palace of Nineveh for such documents. To the height of a foot or more from the floor they were entirely filled with them; some entire, but the greater part broken into many fragments, probably by the falling in of the upper part of the building. They were of different sizes; the largest tablets were flat, and measured about nine inches by six and a half inches; the smaller were slightly convex, and some were not more than an inch long, with but one or two lines of writing. The cuneiform characters on most of them were singularly sharp and well-defined, but so minute in some instances as to be almost illegible without a magnifying glass. These documents appear to be of various kinds. The documents that have thus been discovered in the house of rolls' at Nineveh probably exceed all that have yet been afforded by the monuments of Egypt, and when the innumerable fragments are put together and transcribed, the publication of these records will be of the greatest importance to the history of the ancient world" [Nineveh and Babylon].Darius answereth the former letter, Ezra 6:1-7; and maketh a new decree, Ezra 6:8-12. By the help of the adversaries, and the directions of the prophets, the temple is finished, Ezra 6:13-15. The feasts of the dedication, Ezra 6:16-18, and of the passover, are kept, Ezra 6:19-22.

Darius made a decree; either,

1. To search the rolls. Or rather,

2. To permit and promote the building of the temple. And so the following words may be rendered, after search was made, &c., the Hebrew particle vau being oft so used, as hath been noted before. In Babylon; either,

1. In the kingdom or empire of Babylon, which he now possessed; or rather,

2. In the city of Babylon, where search was first made, supposing that this edict, which was made presently after Cyrus had taken Babylon, was kept there; but not finding it there, they searched in Achmetha, and found it there.

Then Darius the king made a decree,.... To make inquiry after the edict of Cyrus, to search the public records for it:

and search was made in the house of the rolls; or "books" (r), in a public library or museum:

where the treasures were laid up in Babylon; where things of worth and value were reposited; not only gold, silver, jewels, and precious stones, and things rare and curious, but all sorts of writings relating to the monarchy, and the dominions belonging to it; but it seems it could not be found here, and therefore the king ordered search to be made elsewhere.

(r) , , Sept. "in bibliotheca", V. L. "in bibliotheca librorum", Tigurine version; "in domo librorum", Pagninus, Montanus.

Then Darius the king made a decree, and search was made in the house of the rolls, where the treasures were laid up in Babylon.
Chap. Ezra 6:1-12. Darius’s Decree

1. made a decree] cf. Ezra 4:19.

search was made] literally ‘they made a search’. Plural used impersonally.

in the house of the rolls] R.V. in the house of the archives: marg. Aram. books.

rolls] The word usually rendered ‘roll’ is Megillah, see Ezra 6:2; Jeremiah 36:2-6, &c.; Ezekiel 3:1-2; Zechariah 5:1. The word used here is ‘Sêpher’ = ‘book’. Sometimes the two occur together ‘the roll of a book’ in Jeremiah 36:2; Jeremiah 36:4; Ezekiel 2:9. ‘Sêpher’ is the ordinary word for a book or a writing. The town Kirjath-Sêpher (‘town of a book’), called also Debir, Joshua 15:15, may have been famous for its treasured documents.

‘The house of the Archives’ at Babylon must have contained a state library in which such a document as Cyrus’s decree would probably be found.

Such libraries containing documents consisting of burnt clay tablets have been found in Nineveh and in the vicinity of Babylon. The rolls and parchments and more perishable materials have not survived.

the treasures] cf. Ezra 5:17. It was evidently a place of great security.

Verse 1. - Darius the king made a decree. Rather, "gave an order" (Vulg., praecepit). A "decree" would not be necessary. And search was made in the house of the rolls. Literally, "in the house of the books," i.e. in the royal library, or record chamber. Where the treasures were laid up. The same repository was, apparently, used for documents of value and for the precious metals. An underground apartment is perhaps indicated by the word translated "laid up," which means "made to descend." Ezra 6:1Search was made in the house of the books where also the treasures were deposited in Babylon. מהחתין, partic. Aphel of נחת; see Ezra 5:15.
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