Also I have made a decree, that whoever shall alter this word, let timber be pulled down from his house, and being set up, let him be hanged thereon; and let his house be made a dunghill for this.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Alter this word seems to mean “violate this command,” since the alteration of a decree was a thing unheard of.
Hanged is literally crucified. Among the Persians crucifixion was generally the nailing of a body to a cross after decapitation; among the Assyrians it was transfixion or impalement. Here the “being set up” refers of course to the man, and not to the beam.
let timber be pulled down from his house, and being set up, let him, be hanged thereon; that is, let a beam be taken from it, and a gallows or gibbet made of it, and hang him on it:Also I have made a decree, that whosoever shall alter this word, let timber be pulled down from his house, and being set up, let him be hanged thereon; and let his house be made a dunghill for this.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)11. The penalty.
Also I have made a decree] The same words as in Ezra 6:8, Ezra 4:19.
whosoever shall alter] See especially Daniel 6:15. The word ‘alter’ here probably includes infringement of the decree as well as alteration of its terms.
let timber be pulled down] R.V. let a beam be pulled out, more correctly. The beams of the man’s own house should be the instruments of execution.
and being set up, let him be hanged thereon] R.V. let him be lifted up and fastened thereon. The subject of both words is the malefactor. The punishment here referred to is probably that of impalement, to which allusion is frequently made in Assyrian and Persian inscriptions. It may indeed be a form of crucifixion, such as is also implied in Genesis 40:19 and Esther 2:23. The passages in Numbers 25:4; Deuteronomy 21:22-23; Joshua 8:29, where this frightful form of punishment is spoken of, seem to show that among the Israelites the victims were often first executed, and that the corpses were then hung upon a tree till nightfall. The Hebrew and Aramaic word for ‘lift up’ which is used in a perfectly general sense for elevation of any sort, e.g. Psalm 145:14; Psalm 146:8, and Targum of Psalm 93:3, Jeremiah 3:2, was applied technically to execution by impalement or crucifixion, as in the Targum of Esther 7:10. This double meaning of the word may illustrate the Saviour’s word ‘I, if I be lifted up from the earth’ (John 12:32).
and let his house be made a dunghill for this] See 2 Kings 10:27; Daniel 2:5; Daniel 3:29. A repulsive metaphor for shameful overthrow, cf. 1 Kings 14:10; Job 20:7; Zephaniah 1:17.Verse 11. - Whoever shall alter this word. Rather, "this edict." To alter the terms of a royal decree would in any country be a heinous offence. In Persia, where the monarch was absolute, and where decrees were regarded as "altering not" (Daniel 6:8, 12), it was a crime of the deepest dye. Hence the severity of the punishment threatened. The punishment has been explained as crucifixion, impalement, and "whipping at a post;" but there seems to be no real doubt that crucifixion is intended. Great criminals were almost always crucified by the Persians (see Brisson, 'De Regno Persarum,' 2. pp. 327-329; and comp. 'Behist. Inscr.,' col. 2. par. 14; col. 3. par. 8). Let his house be made a dunghill Some render "be confiscated," but wrongly. The best Hebraists agree with our translators. The practice of concluding important documents with maledictions was common to the Persians, with the Assyrians, Babylonians, and others (see 'Records of the Past,' vol. 1. pp. 53, 105, 126; vol. 5. p. 26; vol. 7. pp. 19, 20, 56; vol. 9. pp. 35, 36, 95, 100 107, etc.).
CHAPTER 6:13-22 Ezra 1:7 and Ezra 5:14. The sing. יהך (comp. Ezra 5:5) is distributive: it (each vessel) to its place. ותחת (comp. אחת Ezra 5:15) cannot, according to the sense, be third pers. fem. (neutr.), but only second pers. imperf. Aphel: thou shalt place. None but Sheshbazzar can be addressed (Ezra 5:15), though he is not named in Ezra 6:3. The historian is evidently not giving the contents of the document word for word, but only its essential matter; hence he infers the address to Sheshbazzar from the answer of the Jewish elders (Ezra 5:15). Perhaps it was also remarked in the document, that Coresh caused the sacred vessels to be delivered to Sheshbazzar (Ezra 1:8).
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