And offered at the dedication of this house of God an hundred bullocks, two hundred rams, four hundred lambs; and for a sin offering for all Israel, twelve he goats, according to the number of the tribes of Israel.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Twelve he goats.—The people are not now “Judah” or “Judah and Benjamin,” but “all Israel.” On the Day of Atonement, on the new moons, and on all the great feasts the kid was the sin-offering for the people. But only here is one offered for each tribe.Ezra 6:17. And offered a hundred bullocks, &c. — Few in number in comparison of those which Solomon had offered at the dedication of his temple. But, being according to their present ability, their offering was accepted, for it was made after a great trial of affliction, and in the midst of deep poverty, as the apostle speaks in another case, 2 Corinthians 8:2. Indeed, these hundreds were more to them than Solomon’s thousands to him. And they offered them willingly and cheerfully, for this service was performed with joy, all being glad to see the temple built, and the concerns of it in so good a posture. For a sin-offering for all Israel, twelve he-goats — One for every tribe, to make atonement for their sins, which they looked upon as necessary in order to the acceptance of their services. It appears from many passages of Scripture, that though Shalmaneser had carried captive the ten tribes, yet many of them had remained in their country, and were carried away by Nebuchadnezzar, together with Judah and Benjamin, with whom they returned out of Babylon, as many others of the ten tribes did, who were carried away at the taking of Samaria.Zechariah 4:10, the lavish offering of Solomon (see the marginal reference "n").
and for a sin offering for all Israel, twelve he goats, according to the number of the tribes of Israel; for though the ten tribes were carried captive by Shalmaneser, yet, as before observed, there were some of them that remained in the land, and others that went and returned with the two tribes; and therefore a sin offering was made for them all, for the typical expiation of guilt contracted since they had been in an Heathen land, and, temple service had ceased.And offered at the dedication of this house of God an hundred bullocks, two hundred rams, four hundred lambs; and for a sin offering for all Israel, twelve he goats, according to the number of the tribes of Israel.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)17. and offered] R.V. And they offered. A fresh sentence: Ezra 6:16 treated of the general festivities: this verse describes the special sacrificial offerings.
at the dedication of this house] These words evidently imply a comparison between the modest sacrifices offered at this dedication and the enormous number offered by Solomon at the dedication of the firs Temple (1 Kings 8:5; 1 Kings 8:63). Solomon offered then for ‘the sacrifice of peace-offerings … two and twenty thousand oxen, and an hundred and twenty thousand sheep’. The numbers also mentioned in connexion with the dedication-festivals of Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 30:24) and Josiah (2 Chronicles 35:7) very largely exceed the offerings of Zerubbabel and his companions.
The decay of material wealth and splendour must have vividly impressed itself upon the mind of many a patriot Jew, who looked only for a renewal of worldly empire. To them it must have seemed ‘a day of small things’ (Zechariah 4:10) by the side of the recollections of the kingdom.
a sin offering for all Israel, twelve he goats &c.] Compare Numbers 7:87, ‘and the males of the goats for a sin-offering twelve’, at the dedication of the altar. It is noticeable that in the reign of Hezekiah, at the purification of the Temple, we are told ‘they brought seven bullocks, and seven rams, and seven lambs, and seven he-goats, for a sin offering for the kingdom and for the sanctuary and for Judah’ (2 Chronicles 29:21). The number ‘seven’ there denotes the consecration, the number ‘twelve’ here denotes the ideal unity, of the community. The sin offering ‘of twelve he-goats according to the number of the tribes of Israel’, was an incident full of deep religious pathos. The remnant who had returned make solemn confession of sin in the name of the whole scattered and dispersed race. They acknowledge the essential unity of Israel’s tribes alike in the consequences of sin, in the possibilities of restoration, and in the renewed consecration to God’s service.
The symbolical representation of a restored and ideal Israel is thus indicated by the verse (cf. Ezra 2:2; Ezra 2:70, Ezra 8:35). We need not necessarily assume (as some commentators) that each tribe was literally represented upon the occasion. Compare the prophet’s picture of a reunited Israel (Ezekiel 37:15-28) and Elijah’s offering on Mt. Carmel, 1 Kings 18:31.Verse 17. - And offered... an hundred bullocks, two hundred rams, four hundred lambs. A poor offering, if it be compared, not alone with Solomon's (1 Kings 8:63), but even with Hezekiah's (2 Chronicles 30:24), or Josiah's (ibid. 35:7). Hundreds now take the place of the thousands offered under the old monarchy. A sin offering for all Israel. See comment on ver. 16. We may assume that some of every tribe had returned with Zerubbabel, and that consequently it was possible to regard the re-established people as "Israel" (comp. Nehemiah 11:20; Zechariah 8:13; Malachi 1:1); though, since the great majority were Jews, they were more commonly spoken of as "Judah" (Ezra 4:1, 6, 23; Ezra 5:1, 5; Ezra 6:7, 14; Zechariah 8:15, etc.). Zerubbabel, desirous of emphasising the nobler and grander view, made this solemn sin offering of twelve he-goats, one for each of the tribes. Ezra acted similarly when he brought the second colony (infra, Ezra 8:35). Daniel 2:5 and 2 Kings 10:27.
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