Ezra 6:3
In the first year of Cyrus the king the same Cyrus the king made a decree concerning the house of God at Jerusalem, Let the house be built, the place where they offered sacrifices, and let the foundations thereof be strongly laid; the height thereof three score cubits, and the breadth thereof three score cubits;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) Strongly laid.—“Thy foundation shall be laid” (Isaiah 44:28). The decree adds a word that signifies “with sufficient support.”

Ezra 6:3. The height thereof threescore cubits — These proportions differ from those of Solomon’s temple, which was but thirty cubits high, only the porch was a hundred and twenty cubits high, and but twenty cubits in breadth. Either therefore Solomon’s cubits were sacred cubits, which were larger than the other, and these but common cubits; or, the sixty cubits of height are meant only for the porch. And the word rendered breadth, should be rendered the extension or the length of it; it being improbable that the king should give orders about the breadth, and none about the length of it.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.It is difficult to reconcile the dimentions here with expressions in Zechariah Zechariah 4:10, Haggai Hag 2:3, and even Ezra Ezr 3:12, which imply that the second temple was smaller than the first (compare 1 Kings 6:2). Perhaps the dimensions here are those which Cyrus required the Jews not to exceed. 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]. He did not command them to make it so large, for he left the ordering of the proportions of the building to their skill and choice; but he restrained them that they should make it no larger, lest they should hereafter make use of it to other purposes against himself: but those proportions differ much from those of Solomon’s temple, which was but thirty cubits high, only the porch was one hundred and twenty cubits high, and but twenty cubits in breadth. Either therefore Solomon’s cubits were sacred cubits, which were larger than the other, and these were but common cubits; or the sixty cubits of height are meant only of the porch, which he would not have to be so high and magnificent as that of Solomon’s was, lest they should be puffed up with it, and by degrees arrive at their former height and insolence. And the word rendered

breadth, may be, and is by some, rendered more generally, the extension, or amplitude, or the length of it; it being improbable that the king should give orders about the breadth, and none about the length of it. In the first year of Cyrus the king; the same Cyrus the king made a decree concerning the house of God at Jerusalem, let the house be builded,.... See Ezra 1:1,

the place where they offered sacrifices; to God in times past, ever since it was built by Solomon:

and let the foundations thereof be strongly laid; so as to bear and support the building erected on them, as the word signifies:

the height thereof sixty cubits; which were thirty more than the height of Solomon's temple, 1 Kings 6:2 though sixty less than the height of the porch, which was one hundred and twenty, 2 Chronicles 3:4 and which some take to be the height of the whole house; and hence it may be observed what Herod said (y), that the temple then in being wanted sixty cubits in height of that of Solomon's:

and the breadth thereof sixty cubits; whereas the breadth of Solomon's temple was but twenty, 1 Kings 6:2, but since it cannot reasonably be thought that the breadth should be equal to the height, and so very disproportionate to Solomon's temple; many learned men understand this of the extension of it as to length, which exactly agrees with the length of the former temple, 1 Kings 6:2.

(y) Apud Joseph. Antiqu. l. 15. c. 11. sect. 1.

In the first year of Cyrus the king the same Cyrus the king made a decree concerning the house of God at Jerusalem, Let the house be builded, the place where they offered sacrifices, and let the foundations thereof be strongly laid; the height thereof threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof threescore cubits;
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
3. the same Cyrus the king] R.V. Cyrus the king. See Ezra 5:13.

made a decree concerning the house of God at Jerusalem, Let &c.] R.V. made a decree; concerning &c., let &c. The words ‘concerning the house of God at Jerusalem’ form a kind of heading to the memorandum, of which what follows is a transcript.

where they offered sacrifices] R.V. where they offer sacrifices.

and let the foundations thereof be strongly laid] The meaning of these words in the original is very uncertain They have been variously rendered, (1) ‘and let them set up its foundations’ (active), (2) ‘And let its foundations be set up’ (passive): but neither rendering gives any fresh idea to the preceding clause. (3) The rendering of the A.V. and R.V. ‘let the foundations thereof be strongly laid’ (whether passive, i.e. heavily weighted, or active, i.e. capable of bearing heavy weights), gives a fair sense, the emphasis resting upon the substantial character of the building. It may be doubted whether the text is correct. The transition from this clause to the description of the height and breadth of the building (the length being omitted) is abrupt and awkward.

The rendering of the versions shows the difficulty which the words occasioned and possibly the uncertainty of the text at a very early period. LXX. καὶ ἔθηκαν ἔπαρμα. Vulg. ‘ponant fundamenta supportantia’. 1Es 6:24 ‘With continual fire’ διὰ πυρὸς ἐνδελεχοῦς.

the height thereof, &c.] In view of the uncertainty of the text, it is doubtful whether we can rely upon these statements of dimensions, especially as the length is not specified. Solomon’s temple is described in 1 Kings 6:2 as 60 cubits long, 20 broad, and 30 high. Here the temple is to be 60 cubits high and 60 broad. Josephus who, speaking of Zerubbabel’s temple, describes its height as 60 cubits less than that of Solomon’s temple, is clearly comparing the passage in 2 Chronicles 3:4, where the porch of Solomon’s temple is said to be 120 cubits in height, with the statement of our verse. If the dimensions here given are correct, the second temple in breadth and height was much larger than the first. The comparison in respect of size could hardly account for the disparaging criticism of certain Jews alluded to in Zechariah 4:10; Haggai 2:3. The view that the present verse does not give the actual dimensions but only the extreme limits to which the plan might be followed is too obviously an attempt to escape the difficulty to be at all a probable explanation.Verse 3. - Let the house be builded, the place where they offered sacrifice. Or, "the place where they may offer sacrifice." It is the future, rather than the past, which Cyrus is contemplating. Let the foundation thereof be strongly laid. Isaiah had prophesied that Cyrus should "say to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid" (Isaiah 44:28). Cyrus adds an injunction that the foundations be laid "supportingly," or "strongly," that so the house may the longer continue. The height thereof threescore cubits. Half the height of the first temple, according to the existing text of Chronicles (2 Chronicles 3:4); but one-third more than the previous height, as estimated by the author of Kings (1 Kings 6:2). And the breadth thereof threescore cubits. This breadth is thrice that of the main building, according to both Chronicles and Kings. It is even double that of the old temple, with the side chambers, which occupied a space of five cubits, or seven and a half feet, on either wing. That such an enlargement actually took effect would seem to be most improbable; and we may perhaps conclude that Cyrus designed a building on a grander scale than Zerubbabel, with the resources at his disposal, was able to erect. It is curious that Cyrus did not in his decree specify the length of the temple. In the first year, however, of Cyrus king of Babylon, King Cyrus made a decree, etc.; comp. Ezra 1:3. The infin. לבנא like Ezra 5:3. - On Ezra 5:14 and Ezra 5:15, comp. Ezra 1:7-11. ויחיבוּ, praeter. pass. of Peal; they were given to one Sheshbazzar, (is) his name, i.e., to one of the name of Sheshbazzar, whom he had made pechah. Zerubbabel is also called פּחה, Haggai 1:1, Haggai 1:14, and elsewhere.
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