Ezra 7:12
Artaxerxes, king of kings, unto Ezra the priest, a scribe of the law of the God of heaven, perfect peace, and at such a time.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(12) Artaxerxes, king of kings.—Artachshatra in Persian, Artachshasta in Hebrew. The Persian monarchs inherited the title here given from the Babylonians (Daniel 2:37). It is not used by the historian, only by the king himself.

Perfect peace, and at such a time.—Literally, perfect, and so forth. The expression occurs only here, and is a difficult one. Our translation follows the apocryphal Esdras, and is on the whole to be accepted, a salutation being implied.

Ezra 7:12. Unto Ezra the priest, a scribe of the law of the God of heaven — Or, as the Hebrew may be rendered, a perfect scribe of the law, &c., a title which, it seems, Ezra delighted in, and desired no other; no, not when he was advanced to the proconsular dignity, and made the governor of a province. He reckoned it more to his honour to be a scribe of God’s law than to be a peer or prince of the empire.

7:11-26 The liberality of heathen kings to support the worship of God, reproached the conduct of many kings of Judah, and will rise up in judgment against the covetousness of wealthy professed Christians, who will not promote the cause of God. But the weapons of Christian ministers are not carnal. Faithful preaching, holy lives, fervent prayers, and patient suffering when called to it, are the means to bring men into obedience to Christ.The title, "king of kings," is assumed by almost all the persian monarchs in their inscriptions.

Perfect peace - "Peace" is not in the original, and the word translated "perfect" occurs only in this place. Some prefer to take it as an adjective descriptive of Ezra (see margin); others (Septuagint) as the opening word of the first paragraph of the letter, and give it the meaning, "it is completed."

12. Artaxerxes, king of kings—That title might have been assumed as, with literal truth, applicable to him, since many of the tributary princes of his empire still retained the name and authority of kings. But it was a probably a mere Orientalism, denoting a great and powerful prince, as the heaven of heavens signified the highest heaven, and vanity of vanities, the greatest vanity. This vainglorious title was assumed by the kings of Assyria, from whom it passed to the sovereigns of Persia.

unto Ezra the priest, a scribe of the law of the God of heaven—The appointment of Ezra to this influential mission was of the highest importance to the Hebrew people, as a large proportion of them were become, in a great measure, strangers both to the language and the institutions of their forefathers.

No text from Poole on this verse.

Artaxerxes, king of kings,.... Having many kings and kingdoms subject and tributary to him; for this was not merely a proud haughty title which the eastern kings (p) assumed, particularly the Persians; for after Cyrus they were so in fact, who took this title also, and had it put on his sepulchral monument,"Here I lie, Cyrus, king of kings (q);''this title was given to Grecian kings, particularly Agamemnon is called king of kings (r), he being general at the siege of Troy, under whom the rest of the kings fought; if this was Darius Hystaspis, of him Cyrus dreamed that he had wings on his shoulders, with one he covered Asia, and with the other Europe (s):

unto Ezra the priest, a scribe of the law of the God of heaven; of which titles see Ezra 7:11,

perfect peace, and at such a time; the word "perfect" belongs to Ezra's title as a scribe, signifying that he was a most learned and complete scribe or teacher of the law of God; "peace" is not in the text, and the phrase "at such a time" respects the date of the letter, though not expressed, or is only an "et cetera"; see Gill on Ezra 4:10.

(p) See the Universal History, vol. 5. p. 16, 137. & vol. 11. p. 7, 8. margin, & p. 66. (q) Strabo, Geograph. l. 15. p. 502. (r) Vell. Patercul. Hist. Roman. l. 1. in initio. (s) Herodot. Clio, sive, l. 1. c. 209.

Artaxerxes, king of kings, unto Ezra the priest, a scribe of the law of the God of heaven, perfect peace, and {f} at such a time.

(f) Some take this for the name of a people, some for time or continuance, meaning that the king wished him long life.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
12. king of kings] title common in inscriptions of Persian monarchs. (Cf. of Nebuchadnezzar, Ezekiel 26:7; Daniel 2:37.) No mere hyperbole, when the great empire included so many subject kingdoms.

a scribe] R.V. the scribe.

the God of heaven] See note on Ezra 1:2.

perfect peace, and at such a time] R.V. perfect and so forth. The Aramaic word ‘perfect’, ‘g’mir’, occurs only here. The salutation, probably a lengthy affair, is here condensed and the sentence breaks off abruptly. The word ‘perfect’ refers to ‘the scribe’ Ezra and was probably the first of a series of complimentary epithets. So the Vulgate ‘doctissimo’. The A.V. understands the words of salutation, cf. 1 Esdras, ‘hail’ (χαίρειν). The LXX. ‘the word has been ended and the answer’ (τετέλεσται ὁ λόγος καὶ ἡ ἀπόκρισις) is completely at fault. Others render the word as an adverb (= ‘completely’), to be connected either with ‘the scribe’, or with the omitted words of salutation, i.e. the completely (learned) scribe’, or ‘full greetings’.

‘and so forth’, as in Ezra 4:10-11.

12–26. The contents of the letter are given in Aramaic.

Verse 12. - Artaxerxes, king of kings. "King of kings, kkshayathiya khshaya-thiyanam," an equivalent of the modern shahinshah, was a recognised title of the Persian monarchs, and is found in every Persian inscription of any considerable length (Rawlinson, 'Cuneiform Inscriptions of Persis,' vol. 1 pp. 195, 271, 279, 287, 292, etc.). It was a title that had been used occasionally, though not at all frequently, by the Assyrian monarchs ('Records of the Past,' vol. 3. p. 41; vol. 5. p. 8), and naturally expressed the fact that those monarchs for the most part maintained the native princes on the thrones of the countries which they conquered (see Isaiah 10:8). It was less appropriate to the Persians, whose empire was in the main satrapial, but still had a basis of truth to rest upon, since the Persian monarch had always a certain number of tributary kings under him ( cf. 'Herod.,' 5:104, 118; 8:142; Xen., 'Anab.,' 1:2, §12; 'Hellen.,' 4:1,§§ 3,4,etc.). The Parthian kings took the title from the time of Mithridates I.; and from them it passed to the Sassanians, who style themselves malkan malka, from first to last, upon their coins. The God of heaven. On this favourite Persian expression see comment on Ezra 1:2. Perfect peace. There is nothing in the Chaldee original in any way corresponding to "peace;" and the participle passage being translated as in the margin of the A. V. - "to Ezra the priest, a perfect scribe of the law of the God of heaven." And at such a time. Rather, "and so forth," as in Ezra 4:10, 11, 17. Ezra 7:12The letter containing the royal commission is given in the Chaldee original. It is questionable what explanation must be given to גּמיר in the title. If it were the adjective belonging to דּתא ספר, we should expect the emphatic state גּמירא. Hence Bertheau combines it with the following וּכענת as an abbreviation, "completeness, etc.," which would signify that in the royal commission itself this introductory formula would be found fully given, and that all the words here missing are represented by וּכענת. This would be, at all events, an extremely strange expression. We incline to regard גּמיר as an adverb used adjectively: To the scribe in the law of God perfectly, for the perfect scribe, etc., corresponding with the translation of the Vulgate, doctissimo. The commission begins with an order that those Israelites who desire to go to Jerusalem should depart with Ezra, because the king and his seven counsellors send him to order matters in Judah and Jerusalem according to the law of God, and to carry thither presents and free-will offerings as a contribution towards the sacrifices, and other matters necessary for the worship of God, Ezra 7:13. "By me is commandment given," as in Ezra 6:8. למהך...כּל־מתנדּב: Every one of the people of Israel in my kingdom, who shows himself willing to go up to Jerusalem, let him go up with thee. On יהך and the infin. מהך, comp. Ezra 5:5.
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