Ezra 6:8
Moreover I make a decree what you shall do to the elders of these Jews for the building of this house of God: that of the king's goods, even of the tribute beyond the river, immediately expenses be given to these men, that they be not hindered.
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(8) Moreover.I also make my decree.

Of the king’s goods.—From the tribute collected to be sent to Persia sums were previously to be deducted.

Ezra 6:8-9. That of the king’s goods, forthwith expenses be given — That the work might not be stopped for want of money to carry it on, he orders certain sums to be paid them out of his own revenue. And that which they have need of both young bullocks, &c. — He orders that they should be supplied with every thing they wanted for maintaining the sacrifices at the temple, when it should be built, both for burnt-offerings and meat- offerings. Let it be given them day by day — That the morning and evening sacrifices might not fail to be offered every day.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. From proceeding in their work for want of money. Moreover, I make a decree, what ye shall do to the elders of these Jews, for the building of this house of God,.... This must be considered as an additional decree of Darius, which was peculiarly made by him, in which more was granted in favour of the Jews, and as an encouragement to them to go on with the building of the temple; though Josephus (a) says this is no other than a confirmation of the decree of Cyrus; for, according to him, all that is here granted to them, or threatened to others, from hence to the end of Ezra 6:10, was contained in the decree:

that of the king's goods, even of the tribute beyond the river; what was collected out of his dominions on that side the river Euphrates, towards the land of Israel: according to Herodotus (b), this Darius was the first of the kings of Persia that exacted tribute; under Cyrus and Cambyses only presents were brought; but he imposed a tribute, and was therefore called an huckster, as Cambyses had the name of lord, and Cyrus that of father: the same writer gives an account of the several nations he received it from, and the particular sums, which in all amounted to 14,560 Euboic talents of gold; among whom are mentioned all Phoenicia and Syria, called Palestine, the tribute of which parts is the tribute beyond the river he referred to: and this king was well disposed to the Jewish nation, temple, and worship, before he was king, if what Josephus (c) says is true, that, while a private man, he vowed to God that, if he should be king, he would send all the sacred vessels that were in Babylon to the temple at Jerusalem: and out of the above tribute it is ordered:

that forthwith expenses be given unto these men, that they be not hindered; from going on with the building, for want of money to buy materials, and pay the workmen.

(a) Antiqu. l. 11. c. 4. sect. 6. (b) Thalia, sive, l. 3. c. 89-95. (c) Antiqu. l. 11. c. 3. sect. 1.

Moreover I make a decree what ye shall do to the elders of these Jews for the building of this house of God: that of the king's goods, even of the tribute beyond the river, forthwith expenses be given unto these men, that they be {d} not hindered.

(d) For lack of money.

8. The injunction; official support, (a) money for the building.

I make a decree] cf. Ezra 6:11, Ezra 4:19, Ezra 7:13.

of the king’s goods, even of the tribute beyond the river] The king addressing the governor of the whole country W. of the Euphrates refers to that portion of the territorial tribute which the governor would remit to the king’s treasury, the greater portion being reserved for his own use and for satrapial administration.

goods] So the LXX. ‘possessions’ (ἀπὸ ὑπαρχόντων): Vulgate ‘treasury’ (arcâ). The Aramaic word occurs again in Ezra 7:26.

The royal contribution lays no burden upon the rest of the satrapy. It literally fulfilled the edict of Cyrus: it was ‘given out of the king’s house’ (Ezra 6:4) when it was paid out of the royal share in the tribute.

forthwith expences be given] R.V. expenses be given with all diligence, ‘with all diligence’ (A.V. ‘forthwith’), see note on chap. Ezra 5:8. LXX. ἐπιμελῶς.

that they be not hindered] According to this translation, the words depend upon the previous clause. So also Vulg. ‘ne impediatur opus’. The verb occurs in Ezra 4:21; Ezra 4:23. Here the hindrance apprehended seems rather to be to the execution of the royal command than to the activity of the Jews. It is probable that we should rather render ‘which is not to be neglected’, a short abrupt clause denoting the urgency of the royal rescript, an instance of the idiom found also in Daniel 6:15 ‘no decree … may be changed’ (lit. a decree … not to change). The first part of the injunction relating to the payment will then conclude with a peremptory command for the order to be carried out, just as the second part relating to material for the sacrifices concludes with a demand for unremitting regularity in their supply (Ezra 6:12).Verse 8. - Moreover, I make a decree. Literally, "By me too is a decree made." The decree of Cyrus is not enough. I add to it, and require you

(1) to pay the wages of the workmen employed out of the royal revenue, and

(2) to supply the temple perpetually with all that is needed for the regular sacrifices (see ver. 9). What ye shall do to the elders. Not, "Lest ye do anything to the elders" (LXX.); much less, "What must be done by the elders" (Vulg.); but, as in the A. V., "What ye shall do to them" - how ye shall act towards them. Of the tribute beyond the river forthwith expences be given to these men. The Persian satraps had to collect from their provinces a certain fixed sum as the royal tribute, and had to remit this sum annually to the court. Darius orders that the expenses of the men employed on the temple shall be paid by the satrap of Syria out of the royal tribute of his province, and only the balance remitted. Thus no additional burthen was laid upon the taxpayers. "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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