Ezra 7:1
Now after these things, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra the son of Seraiah, the son of Azariah, the son of Hilkiah,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
II.—THE SECOND RETURN UNDER EZRA.

VII.

(1-10) A. general summary of Ezra’s expedition under Divine guidance.

(1) After these things.—Fifty-seven years after: this special phrase is here alone used. During the interval we must place the events of the Book of Esther.

Ezra the son of Seraiah.—His lineage is given, as frequently in Scripture, compendiously, and according to the genealogical law which makes every ancestor a “father” and every descendant a “son.” We know not the reason why certain names supplied in 1 Chronicles 6 are here omitted; but Seraiah is claimed as the father of Ezra because he was the eminent high priest who last ministered in Solomon’s Temple and was slain at Riblah (2Kings 25:18). The links wanting in the lineage are easily supplied.

Ezra 7:1. In the reign of Artaxerxes — The same of whom he speaks chap. Ezra 6:14. Ezra the son of Seraiah — Descended from him, but not immediately. For Seraiah, being high-priest when Jerusalem was taken was then slain by the Chaldeans, (2 Kings 25:18; 2 Kings 25:21,) at which time, it is likely, Ezra was not in being: but he was his grandson, or great-grand-son, and his descent is mentioned from him, because he was an eminent person, who flourished before the destruction of the temple, whereas Ezra’s father, if not also his grandfather, lived obscurely in captivity.

7:1-10 Ezra went from Babylon to Jerusalem, for the good of his country. The king was kind to him; he granted all his requests, whatever Ezra desired to enable him to serve his country. When he went, many went with him; he obtained favour from his king, by the Divine favour. Every creature is that to us, which God makes it to be. We must see the hand of God in the events that befal us, and acknowledge him with thankfulness.After these things - The words mark an interval of 57 years; if, with most commentators, we take Artaxerxes to be Longimanus. See the introduction to the Book of Ezra. Three kings named Artaxerxes, the Greek rendering of the Hebrew Artakhshasta, and the Persian Artakhshatra, ruled over Persia, namely,: Longimanus, Mnemon, and Ochus. The evidence is in favor of the first being meant here: he was the grandson of Darius Hystaspis, Jeshua's contemporary.

The genealogy of Ezra here is incomplete. The time between the Exodus and Ezra must have exceeded one thousand years, and cannot have been covered by 16 generations. One gap may be filled up from 1 Chronicles 6:7-10, which supplies six names between Meraioth and Azariah Ezra 7:3 : another gap probably occurs between Seraiah Ezra 7:1 and Ezra himself; since Seraiah appears to be the high priest of Zedekiah's time (marginal reference), who lived at least 130 years before Ezra. Three or four names are probably missing in this place. Another name (Meraioth) may be supplied from 1 Chronicles 9:11, between Zadok and Ahitub Ezra 7:2. These additions would produce 27 generations - a number nearly sufficient - instead of 16 generations.

CHAPTER 7

Ezr 7:1-10. Ezra Goes Up to Jerusalem.

1, 2. in the reign of Artaxerxes—the Ahasuerus of Esther.

Ezra the son of Seraiah—that is, grandson or great-grandson. Seraiah was the high priest put to death by Nebuchadnezzar at Riblah (2Ki 25:18). A period of one hundred thirty years had elapsed between that catastrophe and the journey of Ezra to Jerusalem. As a grandson of Seraiah, namely, Jeshua, who held the office of high priest, had accompanied Zerubbabel in the first caravan of returning exiles, Ezra must have been in all probability a grandson, descended, too, from a younger son, the older branch being in possession of the pontificate.Ezra’s genealogy, Ezra 7:1-5. The priests, Levites, and Ezra go up to Jerusalem, Ezra 7:6-10. The gracious commission of Artaxerxes to Ezra, Ezra 7:1-26. Ezra blesseth God for his favour to his people, Ezra 7:27,28.

Artaxerxes; the same of whom he speaks Ezra 6:14. The son of Seraiah, i.e. his grandson. Here are divers persons omitted for brevity sake, which may be supplied out of 1Ch 6 1 Chronicles 7 1Ch 8 1Ch 9.

Now after these things,.... The finishing of the temple, and the dedication of it, and keeping the passover:

in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia; in the seventh year of his reign, Ezra 7:7, who is the same with Darius in the preceding chapter; so Jarchi and Aben Ezra; See Gill on Ezra 6:14.

Ezra the son of Seraiah; the high priest slain by Nebuchadnezzar Jeremiah 52:24, this Ezra was a younger son of his, brother to Josedech, and uncle to Joshua, who were high priests in succession; his pedigree is carried in the ascending line up to Aaron, in this and the four following verses; only six generations, for brevity sake, are omitted, between Azariah and Meraioth, which may be supplied from 1 Chronicles 6:7; see Gill on

Now after these things, in the reign of {a} Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra the son of Seraiah, the son of Azariah, the son of Hilkiah,

(a) The Hebrews write that many of the kings of Persia were called by this name, as Pharaoh was a common name to the kings of Egypt and Caesar to the Romans emperors.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Ch. Ezra 7:1-10. A brief Summary of Events

1–5. Ezra’s Genealogy

Now after these things] An interval of 58 years is passed over in silence (516–458). One allusion has already been made to the reign of Xerxes (ch. Ezra 4:6). But with this exception the Compiler apparently found nothing to record of historic importance in the formation of the new religious community at Jerusalem during the period which elapsed between the completion of the Temple and the accession of Artaxerxes. The story of Esther belongs to Xerxes’ reign, which belongs to the chronicles of ‘the Dispersion’. It has no part in the development of the Jewish constitution. ‘Now after these things’. A not infrequent phrase combining connexion (‘now’ or ‘and’) with the previous narrative and statement of indefinite interval. Cf. Genesis 15:1; Genesis 22:1; Luke 10:1.

in the reign of Artaxerxes] Artaxerxes the son of Xerxes began to reign in 465 b.c.

Ezra, the son of Seraiah &c.] Ezra’s genealogy is here traced back to Aaron.

(a) His immediate connexion with the high-priestly line is through Seraiah. He is therefore here called ‘the son of Seraiah’, although Seraiah was High-priest in the days of king Zedekiah and was slain at Riblah by Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 25:18-21) in 588 b.c. (i.e. 130 years before). Inasmuch as (1) the High-priest Jeshua (538) is described as the son of Jehozadak, (2) neither of these names occurs in Ezra’s genealogy, (3) Jehozadak was the eldest son of Seraiah (1 Chronicles 6:14) succeeding to the High-priesthood, we conclude that Ezra was descended from a younger son of Seraiah.

(b) In this genealogy 15 names occur between Ezra and Aaron. This is manifestly too small a number for a period of about 1000 years (reckoning 30 years to a generation), especially when we find 26 names recorded between Zerubbabel (who was of the previous generation to that of Ezra) and Nashon, prince of Judah, the contemporary of Aaron, in 1 Chronicles 2:10-15; 1 Chronicles 3:1-19.

Ezra’s genealogy therefore appears here in an abbreviated form. We are enabled in a great measure, if not completely, to fill up its lacunæ by means of (a) Ezra’s genealogy in the parallel passage, 1Es 8:1-2, (b) in 2Es 1:1-3, (c) the genealogy of the High-priests Jehozadak and Seraiah in 1 Chronicles 6:3-15, (d) in 1 Chronicles 9:10-11; Nehemiah 11:11.

The full genealogy then appears as follows:

1 Aaron, 2 Eleazar, 3 Phinehas, 4 Abishua, 5 Bukki, 6 Uzzi, 7 Zerahiah, 8 Meraioth, 9 Amariah, 10 Ahitub, 11 Zadok, 12 Ahimaaz, 13 Azariah, 14 Johanan, 15 Azariah, 16 Amariah, 17 Heli (?), 18 Phinehas (?), 19 Ahiah, 20 Ahitub, 21 Meraioth (see 1 Chronicles 9:11), 22 Zadok, 23 Shallum, Meshullam (1 Chronicles 9:11), 24 Hilkiah, 25 Azariah, 26 Seraiah, 27 son of Seraiah, 28 (?), contemporary with Zerubbabel, 29 father of Ezra, 30 Ezra.

Of these names 9–14 occur in 1 Chron. 6:7–10:21 in 1 Chronicles 9:11 : 17, 18, 19 in 2Es 1:2 are doubtful. At least three and possibly four generations must be inserted between Seraiah (died 588) and Ezra (? died circ. 430), the names being here omitted because they were not High-priests.

(c) Why does Ezra’s genealogy appear in this abbreviated form, if the materials of a fuller one were accessible to the compiler of our book in the materials of the book ‘Chronicles’?

(i) Jewish genealogies were often abbreviated by the omission of unimportant or dishonourable names, for the sake of securing a shorter list or an arrangement of names more easily remembered (see Genesis 11:13; cf. Luke 3:36 and Matthew 1:8).

It is possible that the present genealogy was artificially arranged. By reference to 1 Chronicles 6:10, we find that Azariah (Ezra 7:3) is there specially described as ‘having executed the priest’s office in the house that Solomon built in Jerusalem’. Azariah’s name therefore represents the age of the foundation of the Temple, just as Aaron’s name represents the foundation of the Levitical system, Ezra’s its reconstitution. It is noteworthy that between Ezra and Azariah there are seven names, between Azariah and Aaron seven names: the first group contains the names of High-priests before the setting up of the Monarchy and before the Temple was built, the second group contains the list of the High-priests during the Monarchy down to the destruction of Jerusalem. It is possible that this twofold arrangement of seven names placed between the two names representative of the foundation and the revival of the Mosaic system, and linked by the name representative of the Temple, may be the explanation of the abbreviation (cf. the threefold grouping by ‘fourteen’ in Matthew 1:1-16).

(ii) On the other hand it must be granted that a list containing two trios of Amariah, Ahitub, Zadok, three Azariahs, two Amariahs, and a Meraioth could easily give rise to errors in transcription; a copyist’s eye passing from one similar name or termination to another. It is thus quite possible that after Azariah (No. 15) the copyist accidentally passed on to Meraioth (No. 8) which followed the similarly sounding Amariah.

It is clear from the fewness of the names and from the omission of all names after Seraiah that the genealogy cannot pretend to be complete. The view that the six names (9–14) have accidentally dropped from the text, rests on the omission of the renowned Zadok and Ahimaaz, whose names we should naturally expect to find inserted in a list of Ezra’s forefathers (1 Chronicles 6:8).

Hilkiah] the celebrated High-priest of the reign of Josiah: see 2 Kings 22:4, &c.; 2 Chronicles 34:14, &c.

Verse 1. - The writer makes a marked division between his first and second sections by means of the words, "Now after these things," which he uses in this place only. The actual interval seems to have been one of between fifty-seven and fifty-eight years, the sixth year of Darius being B.C. 516, and the seventh of Artaxerxes Longimanus B.C. 458. Artaxerxes is in the original "Artakhshatra," which reproduces the Persian Artakhshatra with the change of only one letter. That Longimanus, the grandson of Darius, is meant seems to follow from the fact that Eliashib, the grandson of Jeshua is high priest under him (Nehemiah 3:1).

Darius, correspond to Jeshua,

Xerxes correspond to Joiakim

Artaxerxes correspond to Eliashib

But for this it would be possible to regard the Artaxerxes of Ezra (ch. 7.) and Nehemiah as Mnemon. Ezra the son of Seraiah. Probably the great-great-grandson. In the language of the sacred writers, every descendant is a "son," and every ancestor a "father." Christ is "the son of David," and David "the son of Abraham" (Matthew 1:1). Joram "begat" Uzziah (ibid. 8), his great-great-grandson. Jochebed was "the daughter of Levi (Exodus 2:1). Ezra omits the names of his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, who were undistinguished, and claims descent from Seraiah, the last high priest who had ministered in Solomon's temple (2 Kings 25:18). Azariah, the father of Seraiah, does not occur in either Kings or Chronicles; but Hilkiah, Azariah's father, is no doubt the high priest of Josiah's time (2 Kings 22:4-14; 2 Chronicles 34:14-22, etc.). Ezra 7:1What follows is slightly combined with the former occurrences by the formula "after these things," without any more exact chronological definition; comp. Genesis 15:1; Genesis 22:1, and elsewhere. Between the dedication of the temple in the sixth year of Darius and the arrival of Ezra in Jerusalem, a period of fifty-seven years had elapsed. "In the reign of Artachshasta king of Persia, went up Ezra," etc. The verb of the subject עזרא does not follow till Ezra 7:6, where, after the interposition of the long genealogy, Ezra 7:1-5, the distant subject is again taken up in עזרא הוּא. It is all but universally agreed that Artaxerxes Longimanus is intended by ארתּחשׁסתּא; the explanation of this appellation as Xerxes in Joseph. Antiq. xi. 5. 1, for which Fritzsche (on 1 Esdr. 8:1) has recently decided, being a mere conjecture on the part of that not very critical historian. The fact that the Artachshasta of the book of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 1:1; Nehemiah 5:14; Nehemiah 13:6) can be no other than Artaxerxes, is decisive of this point: for in Nehemiah 13:6 the thirty-second year of Artachshasta is mentioned; while according to Nehemiah 8:9; Nehemiah 12:26, Nehemiah 12:36, Ezra and Nehemiah jointly exercised their respective offices at Jerusalem.

(Note: Very superficial are the arguments, and indeed the whole pamphlet, Etude Chronologique des livres d'Esdras et de Nhmie, Paris 1868, p. 40, etc., by which F. de Saulcy tries to show that the Artachshasta of Ezra 7 and of Nehemiah is Artaxerxes II((Mnemon).)

Ezra is called Ben Seraiah, whose pedigree is traced to Eleazar the son of Aaron; Seraiah the son of Azariah, the son of Hilkiah, was the father of Josedec the high priest carried into captivity (1 Chronicles 6:14, etc.), and was himself the high priest whom Nebuchadnezzar slew at Riblah (2 Kings 25:18-21). Between the execution of Seraiah in the year 588 and the return of Ezra from Babylon in 458 b.c., there is a period of 130 years. Hence Ezra could have been neither the son nor grandson of Seraiah, but only his great or great-great-grandson. When we consider that Joshua, or Jeshua (Ezra 2:2), the high priest who returned from Babylon with Zerubbabel, was the grandson of Seraiah, we cannot but regard Ezra, who returned thence 78 years later, as a great-great-grandson of Seraiah. Moreover, we are justified in inferring from the fact that Ezra is not, like Joshua, designated as Ben Josedech, that he did not descend from that line of Seraiah in which the high-priestly dignity was hereditary, but from a younger son, and hence that his immediate ancestors were not (though his forefathers from Seraiah upwards were) of high-priestly descent. Hence the names of Ezra's ancestors from Seraiah up to Aaron (Ezra 7:1-5) agree also with the genealogy of the high-priestly race (1 Chronicles 6:4-14), with the one deviation that in Ezra 7:3, between Azariah and Meraioth, six members are passed over, as is frequently the case in the longer genealogies, for the sake of shortening the list of names. - In v. 6 Ezra, for the sake of at once alluding to the nature of his office, is designated בת מהיר סוף ר, a scribe skilful in the law of Moses. The word סופר means in older works writer or secretary; but even so early as Jeremiah 8:8 the lying pen of the ספרים is spoken of, and here therefore סופר has already attained the meaning of one learned in the Scripture, one who has made the written law a subject of investigation. Ezra is, however, the first of whom the predicate הסּופר, ὁ γραμματεύς, is used as a title. He is so called also in the letter of Artaxerxes (Ezra 7:11), because he is said (Ezra 7:9) to have applied his heart to seek out and to do the law of the Lord, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgment, i.e., because he had made the investigation of the law, for the sake of introducing the practice of the same among the congregation, his life-task; and the king granted him all his desire, according to the hand of the Lord his God upon him. The peculiar expression עליו אלהיו יהוה כּיד which is found only here and in Ezra 7:9, Ezra 7:28, Ezra 8:18; Nehemiah 2:8, Nehemiah 2:18, and in a slightly altered guise in Ezra 8:22, Ezra 8:31, "according to the good hand of his God, which was over him," means: according to the divine favour or divine care arranging for him; for the hand of God is הטּובה, the good (Ezra 7:9, and Ezra 8:18), or לטובה, Ezra 8:22. בּקּשׁה, the desire, request, demand, occurs only here and in the book of Esther.

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