Ezra 7:12
Artaxerxes, king of kings, to Ezra the priest, a scribe of the law of the God of heaven, perfect peace, and at such a time.
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(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.

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. What 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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