Ezra 6:10
That they may offer sacrifices of sweet savours unto the God of heaven, and pray for the life of the king, and of his sons.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(10) That they may offer sacrifices . . . and pray for the life of the king.—Two ends are to be answered: the God of heaven is to be honoured, and the dynasty of Darius interceded for by the Jews. (Comp. Jeremiah 29:7.)

Of sweet savours.—The word occurs again only in Daniel 2:46, and there is translated “sweet odours,” meaning incense. The connection of this with the prayer following justifies the same translation here, and, moreover, indicates under what good instruction the decree was drawn up.

Ezra 6:10. And pray for the life of the king and his sons — Persuaded that he, whom he once and again reverently calls the God of heaven, was ready to hear and answer his people in all things for which they called upon him, he desires an interest in their prayers for himself and family, and in order that he might obtain it, was kind to them. For though the Jews were not allowed to desire the heathen to pray to their deities for them, because they were forbidden to acknowledge any other gods but one: yet the heathen might with reason ask the Jews to pray to Jehovah for them; because they acknowledged a plurality of gods, and allowed the God of Israel to be really a God, as well as those they themselves worshipped. And the Jews were not prohibited either by reason or revelation from addressing their prayers to God for the heathen, when they were desired by them so to do. What then are we to think of the spirit of those Christians, so called, who hold it unlawful to pray for those whom they denominate heretics, though they are not heathen, but worshippers of the same living and true God, whom they themselves profess to worship? Let them blush when they read this, to think how far the spirit of the Jewish religion excels theirs!

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.This verse gives the words of the decree of Darius, which was grounded upon, and probably recited, the decree of Cyrus. 8-10. of the king's goods, even of the tribute beyond the river … expenses be given unto these men—The decree granted them the privilege of drawing from his provincial treasury of Syria, to the amount of whatever they required for the furthering of the work and providing sacrifice for the service of the temple, that the priests might daily pray for the health of the king and the prosperity of the empire. No text from Poole on this verse.

That they may offer sacrifices of sweet savours unto the God of heaven,.... Such as will be acceptable to him, Genesis 8:21

and pray for the life of the king, and of his sons; prayer being wont to be made at the time of the morning and evening incense; and the Jews used to pray for other people besides themselves, and especially when desired, and particularly for kings and civil magistrates, to whom they were subject, see Jeremiah 29:7, the sons of Darius Hystaspis, for whose life, as well as his own, he would have prayer made, were, according to Herodotus (d), three by his first wife, the daughter of Gobryas, before he began to reign, the eldest of which was Artobazanes; which sons must be here meant, since this was towards the beginning of his reign; he had afterwards four more by Atossa the daughter of Cyrus, the eldest of which was Xerxes, who succeeded him: many of the Heathens had an high opinion of the God of the Jews, and of their prayers to him for them; even the Emperor Julian (e) styles him the best of all the gods, and desired the Jews to pray to him for the welfare of his kingdom; nor need it seem strange that Darius should desire the same, since he was a devout prince; his father Hystaspes is supposed by some to be the same that was one of the most famous among the Persian Magi, or ministers in sacred things; and Darius himself had so great a veneration for the men of that sacred order, that he commanded that it should be put upon his sepulchral monument, that he was master of the Magi (f); and by his familiarity with the priests of Egypt, and learning their divinity, had the honour, while alive, to have deity ascribed to him (g).

(d) Polymnia, sive, l. 7. c. 2.((e) Opera, par. 2. ep. 25. p. 153. (f) Porphyr. de abstinentia, l. 4, c. 16. (g) Diodor. Sic. l. 1. p. 85.

That they may offer sacrifices of sweet savours unto the God of heaven, and pray for the life of the king, and of his sons.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
10. The king’s special desire, propitiatory sacrifice and intercessory prayer to be offered on behalf of his dynasty.

sacrifices of sweet savours] R.V. sacrifices of sweet savour. One word in the original; it occurs also in Daniel 2:46 ‘Then the king Nebuchadnezzar … worshipped Daniel, and commanded that they should offer an oblation and sweet odours unto him’. The expression recalls the ‘burnt offering … of a sweet savour unto the Lord’ (Exodus 29:18; Exodus 29:25; Leviticus 1:9; Leviticus 1:13; Leviticus 1:17; Leviticus 2:2-3; Leviticus 2:9; Leviticus 2:12) which should be compared with Genesis 8:21. This interpretation lays stress upon the acceptableness of the propitiatory offering. Others giving the word a more material sense consider it to mean especially the incense used in offerings (LXX. εὐωδίας; Vulg. oblationes).

pray for the life, &c.] Compare especially Jeremiah 29:7 ‘and seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray unto the Lord for it; for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.’

Allusions to sacrifice and prayer for Gentile rulers will be found also in Bar 1:10-12, where Ezra 6:11 especially should be compared with this passage ‘And pray for the life of Nebuchodonosor king of Babylon, and for the life of Balthasar his son, that their days may be upon earth as the days of heaven’. See also 1Ma 7:33; 1Ma 12:11; 2Ma 3:35; 2Ma 13:23.

and of his sons] i.e. for the prosperity of Darius’s dynasty. We hear of two wives of Darius, Atossa, daughter of Cyrus, and Tarsys, daughter of Smerdis.

Verse 10. - That they may offer sacrifices of sweet savours. Either incense, as in Daniel 2:46, or "sacrifices that are pleasing and acceptable" (see Genesis 8:21; Numbers 28:2). And pray for the life of the king. The Jews have always maintained the practice of praying for the civil ruler of any country in which they have had their abode. Jeremiah s exhortation to "seek the peace" of Babylon (Numbers 29:7) was understood in this way, and the tradition has been handed down even to the present day. Under monarchs so favour-able to them as the Achaemenian Persians the duty would certainly not have been neglected. And of his sons. In Persia "the royal house" was the special object of regard. Individual kings must die, but the house would go on (see the speech of Artemisia to Xerxes in 'Herod.,' 8:102; and compare the references to the "gods of the royal house" in the Inscriptions). Kings took special care of their sons. Thus Cyrus sent Cambyses back to Persia when he was about to attack the Massagetae ('Herod.,' 1:208), and Xerxes gave several of his sons into the charge of Artemisia, to convey them by ship to Asia, while he himself took the long and perilous journey by land (ibid. 8:103). Ezra 6:10The end the king had in view in all this follows: "That they (the priests) may offer sacrifices well-pleasing to the God of heaven, and pray for the life of the king and of his sons." ניחוחין (comp. Daniel 2:46) are sacrifices agreeable to God, ניחוחין ריח (Leviticus 1:9, Leviticus 1:13, and elsewhere), i.e., sacrifices pleasing to God. Cyrus had commanded the rebuilding of the temple at Jerusalem, because he acknowledged the God of Israel to be the God of heaven, who had given him the kingdoms of the earth (Ezra 1:2). Darius was treading in his footsteps by also owning the God of the Jews as the God of heaven, and desiring that the blessing of this God might rest upon himself and his dynasty. Such an acknowledgment it was possible for the Persian kings to make without a renunciation of their polytheism. They could honour Jahve as a mighty, nay, as the mightiest God of heaven, without being unfaithful to the gods of their fathers; while the Jews could also, in the interest of their own welfare, pray and offer sacrifices in the temple of the Lord for the life of the king to whom God had caused them to be subject (comp. Jeremiah 29:7). Accordingly we find that in after times sacrifices were regularly offered for the king on appointed days: comp. 1 Macc. 7:33, 12:11; 2 Macc. 3:35, 13:23; Joseph. Antiq. xii. 2. 5, and elsewhere.
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