Ezra 6:2
And there was found at Achmetha, in the palace that is in the province of the Medes, a roll, and therein was a record thus written:
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(2) At Achmetha.—That is, Ecbatana, the Median capital of Cyrus. It is probable that the original roll of parchment had been destroyed at Babylon by Smerdis, but a copy of it was found here, probably in a Chaldean transcript.

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."Achmetha" is the "Ecbatana," or "Agbatana," of the Greeks, the Persian name for which, as we find in the Behistun Inscription, was HaGMaTANa.

We must suppose that, when Babylon had been searched in vain, the other cities which possessed record-offices were visited, and the decree looked for in them. Ecbatana was the capital of Cyrus.

2. Achmetha—long supposed to be the capital of Greater Media (the Ecbatana of classical, the Hamadan of modern times), [is] at the foot of the Elwund range of hills, where, for its coolness and salubrity, Cyrus and his successors on the Persian throne established their summer residence. There was another city, however, of this name, the Ecbatana of Atropatene, and the most ancient capital of northern Media, and recently identified by Colonel Rawlinson in the remarkable ruins of Takht-i-Soleiman. Yet as everything tends to show the attachment of Cyrus to his native city, the Atropatenian Ecbatana, rather than to the stronger capital of Greater Media, Colonel Rawlinson is inclined to think that he deposited there, in his fortress, the famous decree relating to the Jews, along with the other records and treasures of his empire [Nineveh and Persepolis]. Here the king’s answer may seem to begin, and this following account he sends to them, and after that lays down his commands.

Achmetha; the royal city of the Medes and Persians.

And there was found at Achmetha,.... Which Jarchi and Aben Ezra take to be the name of a vessel in which letters and writings were put for safety; but it was no doubt the name of a place; the Vulgate Latin version has it Ecbatana; and so Josephus (s); which was the name of a city in Media, where the kings of that country had their residence in the summer time (t); for it has its name from heat (u); the Persian kings dwelt at Shushan in the winter, and at Ecbatana in the summer (w); hence they are compared by Aelian (x) to cranes, birds of passage, because of their going to and from the above places:

in the palace that is in the province of the Medes, here was found

a roll; which was the decree of Cyrus, which perhaps he took with him when he went thither:

and therein was a record thus written; as follows.

(s) Antiqu. l. 11. c. 4. sect. 6. (t) Curtius, l. 5. c. 8. Vid. Alex. ab Alex. Genial. Dier. l. 3. c. 6. (u) Hiller. Onomastic. Sacr. p. 618. (w) Athen. Deipnosophist, l. 12. c. 1.((x) De Animal. l. 3. c. 13.

And there was found at {a} Achmetha, in the palace that is in the province of the Medes, a roll, and therein was a record thus written:

(a) In which were the acts of the kings of the Medes and Persians.

2. And there was found at Achmetha] R.V. margin, That is, Ecbatana. The precious document was not found at Babylon. It has been suggested that valuable records were hastily transferred from Babylon to Ecbatana during the short and disturbed reign of Pseudo-Smerdis, who would wish to destroy the edicts of his predecessors. But whatever the cause may have been, notice of its removal had been duly recorded, and the enquiry at Babylon led to search and identification at Ecbatana.

Achmetha] This is the Aramaic transliteration of the Median capital known to us as ‘Ecbatana’ (Gr. ἐκβάτανα and ἀγβάτανα) of which the Persian pronunciation was something like ‘Hangmatâna’. It was the summer residence of the Persian kings. According to Herodotus it was built by king Deioces (708–655 b.c.) and surrounded with seven walls. Alexander the Great resided there in the autumn of 324. After his death, the city fell into insignificance until under the Parthian monarchy it once more became a royal residence. Under the Mohammedans the name became altered to Hamadan. An unhistorical description of the place is given in Jdt 1:1 ff.

in the palace] The royal palace, which was probably also the citadel (bîrah, Greek βάρις) and the treasury. The Aramaic word is the same as the Hebrew rendered ‘palace’ (marg. or ‘castle’) in Nehemiah 1:1; Esther 1:2 &c.; Daniel 8:2 in reference to ‘Shushan’, and in 1 Chronicles 29:1; 1 Chronicles 29:19 in reference to ‘the Temple of Solomon’; ‘castle’, Nehemiah 2:8; Nehemiah 7:2 in reference to fortifications of Temple.

in the province of the Medes] R.V. of Media. Literally ‘in the province of Madai’ (see Genesis 10:2). Media stretched north and south between the Caspian sea and the country of Elam, being bounded by Mt Zagros on the W. and by Parthia on the E. During the earlier period, of which we have an historical account in the Inscriptions, Media seems to have been a tributary province of the Assyrian Empire. She shook off the yoke probably in the reign of Assurbanipal (666–624); and the Median king Cyaxares joined with the Babylonian king Nabopolassar in the overthrow of Nineveh. Cyrus by his defeat of Astyages (550 b.c.) gained possession of Media, which he united with the Persian kingdom.

was a record thus written] R.V. was thus written for a record. More literally accurate: the roll was to serve as the official memorandum.

Verse 2. - There was found at Achmetha. Not "in a coffer," as our translators suggest in the margin, and as Aben Ezra and Jarchi interpret; but "at Ecbatana," which is expressed letter for letter by the word used in the original, except that the final n is dropped. Compare for this omission the passage of Harran into Carrhae, and of Shu-shan into Susa. In the palace that is in the province of the Medes. The palace of Ecbatana was very famous. Herodotus says that it was built by Deioces, the first Median king, occupied the centre of the town, and was defended by seven circles of walls, one inside the other (1:98). Polybius states that the building covered an area 1420 yards in circumference, and consisted of a number of halls and cloistered courts, supported by wooden pillars, of cypress or of cedar, both of which were coated with a plating of gold or silver, and supported roofs sloped at an angle, consisting of silver plates instead of the customary tiling (5:27, 10). This grannd building was the residence of the old Median monarchs, and also of Cyrus and Cambyses. Darius built himself still more magnificent residences at Susa and Persepolis; but both he and the later Achaemenian monarchs continued to use the Median palace as a summer residence, and it maintained its celebrity till the close of the empire (see Arrian, 'Exp. Alex.,' 3:19). A roll. According to Ctesias ('Died. Sic.,' 2:32), the Persians employed parchment or vellum for the material of their records, not baked clay, like the Assyrians and Babylonians, or paper, like the Egyptians. Parchment would be a suitable material for rolls, and no doubt was anciently used chiefly in that shape. Therein was a record thus written. The decree would no doubt be written, primarily, in the Persian language and the Persian cuneiform character; but it may have been accompanied by a Chaldaean transcript, of which Ezra may have obtained a copy. Public documents were commonly set forth by the Persians in more than one language (see 'Herod.,' 4:87; and comp. the 'Inscriptions,' passim, which are almost universally either bilingual or trilingual). Ezra 6:2"And there was found at Achmetha, in the fortress that is in the land of Media, a roll; and thus was it recorded therein." In Babylon itself the document sought for was not found; though, probably the search there made, led to the discovery of a statement that documents pertaining to the time of Cyrus were preserved in the fortress of Achmetha, where the record in question was subsequently discovered. אחמתא, the capital of Great Media - τὰ Εκβάτανα, Judith 1:1, 14, or Ἀγβάτανα (Herod. i. 98) - built by Dejokes, was the summer residence of the Persian and Parthian kings, and situate in the neighbourhood of the modern Hamadan. Achmetha is probably the Old-Median or Old-Persian pronunciation of the name, the letters אחם on Sassanidian coins being explained as denoting this city (Mordtmann in the Zeitschrift der deutsch morgenl. Gesellschaft, viii. p. 14). The citadel of Ecbatana probably contained also the royal palace and the official buildings. For בּגוּהּ is found in some MSS and editions בּגוּהּ; but Norzi and J. H. Mich. have Pathach under ו as the better authorized reading. דּכרונה, stat. emph. of דּכרון, memorandum, ὑπόμνημα, a record of anything memorable. The contents of this document follow, Ezra 6:3-5. First, the proclamation of King Cyrus in the first year of his reign: "The house of God at Jerusalem, let this house be built as a place where sacrifices are offered." The meaning of the words following is doubtful. We translate מסובלין ואשּׁוחי: and let them raise up its foundations, i.e., its foundations are to be again raised up, restored. אשּׁין, foundations (Ezra 4:12); מסובלין, part. Poel of סבל, to carry, to raise (not to be raised). סבל often stands for the Hebrew נשׂא, to carry, to raise up, to erect; compare the Samaritan translation of Genesis 13:10 : וסבל את עגין, he lifted up his eyes. סובל אשּׁין analogous with מוסדי ד קומם, Isaiah 58:12, and signifies to erect buildings upon the foundations.

(Note: The Vulgate, following a rabbinical explanation, has ponant fundamenta supportantia, which is here unsuitable. The conjecture of Bertheau, who labours, by all sorts of critical combinations of the letters in the words מסובלין ואשּׁוחי, to produce the text תמנים מאה אמין אשוהי, "its foundation length 180 cubits," is as needless as it is mistaken. The interpretation of the words in the lxx, καὶ ἔθηκεν ἔπαρμα, and Pseudo-Ezra 6, διὰ πυρός ἐνδελεχους, are nothing else than unmeaning suppositions.)

Expositors are divided as to the dimensions of the new temple, "its height 60 cubits, and its breadth 60 cubits," Antiq. xi. 4. 6; while Solomon's temple was but 30 cubits high, and, without the side-buildings, only 20 cubits broad. We nevertheless consider the statements correct, and the text incorrupt, and explain the absence of the measure of length simply by the fact that, as far as length was concerned, the old and new temples were of equal dimensions. Solomon's temple, measured externally, inclusive of the porch and the additional building at the hinder part, was about 100 cubits long (see the ground plan in my bibl. Archaeol. Table II. fig. 1). To correspond with this length, the new temple was, according to the desire of Cyrus, to be both higher and broader, viz., 60 cubits high, and as many wide, - measurements which certainly apply to external dimensions. Zerubbabel's temple, concerning the structure of which we have no further particulars, was externally of this height and breadth. This may be inferred from the speech of King Herod in Joseph. Ant. xv. 11. 1, in which this tyrant, who desired to be famous for the magnificence of his buildings, endeavoured to gain the favour of the people for the rebuilding of the temple, which he was contemplating, by the remark that the temple built by their forefathers, on their return from the Babylonian captivity, was 60 cubits too low, - Solomon's temple having been double that height (sc. according to the height given in 2 Chronicles 3:4, 120 cubits) - and from the fact that Herod made his temple 100 or 120 cubits high. Hence the temple of Zerubbabel, measured externally, must have been 60 cubits high; and consequently we need not diminish the breadth of 60 cubits, also given in this verse, by alterations of the text, because Herod's temple was likewise of this width, but must understand the given dimensions to relate to external height and breadth. For in Herod's temple the holy places were but 60 cubits high and 20 wide; the holy place, 40 cubits long, 20 wide, and 60 high; the holy of holies, 20 cubits long, 20 wide, and 60 high. And we may assume that the dimensions of Zerubbabel's temple preserved the same proportions, with perhaps the modification, that the internal height did not amount to 60 cubits, - an upper storey being placed above the holy place and the holy of holies, as in Herod's temple; which would make the internal height of these places amount to only about 30 or 40 cubits.

(Note: While we acknowledge it possible that the holy and most holy places, measured within, may have been only 40 cubits high, we cannot admit the objection of H. Merz, in Herzog's Realencycl. xv. p. 513, that 20 cubits of internal breadth is an inconceivable proportion to 60 cubits, this being the actual proportion in Herod's temple, as Merz himself states, p. 516, without finding it in this instance "inconceivable.")

In like manner must the 60 cubits of breadth be so divided, that the 5 cubits internal breadth of the side-buildings of Solomon's temple must be enlarged to 10, which, allowing 5 cubits of thickness for the walls, would make the entire building 60 cubits wide (5 + 10 + 5 + 20 + 5 + 10 + 5).

(Note: The conjecture of Merz in his above-cited article, and of Bertheau, that the dimensions of Zerubbabel's temple were double those of Solomon's, - viz. the holy and most holy places 40 cubits high and 40 wide, the upper chambers 20 cubits high, the side-chambers each 10 cubits high, and the whole building 120 cubits long, - must be rejected as erroneous, by the consideration that Herod's temple was only the length of Solomon's, viz., 100 cubits, of which the holy of holies took up 20, the holy place 40, the porch 10, the additional building behind 10, and the four walls 20. For Herod would by no means have diminished the length of his building 20, or properly 40 cubits. We also see, from the above-named dimensions, that the 60 cubits broad cannot be understood of internal breadth.)

The statement in Ezra 6:4, "three layers of great stones, and a layer of new timber," is obscure. נדבּך means row, layer, and stands in the Targums for the Hebrew טוּר, "used of a layer of bricks;" see Gesen. Thes. p. 311, and Levy, chald. Wrterbuch, ii. p. 93. גּלל אבן, stone of rolling, one that is rolled and cannot be carried, i.e., a great building stone. חדת, novus, as an epithet to אע, is remarkable, it being self-evident that new wood is generally used for a new building. The lxx translates εἷς, reading the word חדה (Ezra 6:3). This statement involuntarily recalls the notice, 1 Kings 6:36, that Solomon built the inner court, ארזים כּרתת וטוּר גזית טוּרי שׁלשׁה; hence Merz expresses the supposition that "this is certainly a fragment, forming the conclusion of the whole design of the building, which, like that in 1 Kings 6:36, ends with the porch and the walls of the fore-court," Thus much only is certain, that the words are not to be understood, as by Fritzsche on 1 Esdr. 6:25, as stating that the temple walls were built of "three layers of large stones, upon which was one layer of beams," and therefore were not massive; such kind of building never being practised in the East in old times. "And let the expenses be given out of the king's house." This is more precisely stated in Ezra 6:8 of the royal revenues on this side the river. נפקא the expense (from נפק, Aphel, to expend), therefore the cost of building.

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