Ezra 7:14
For as much as you are sent of the king, and of his seven counsellors, to inquire concerning Judah and Jerusalem, according to the law of your God which is in your hand;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(14) Seven counsellors.—These are mentioned in Esther 1:14, and were probably the heads of those families who aided Darius Hystaspis against the pseudo-Smerdis, as mentioned by Herodotus.

According to the law of thy God.—Ezra’s commission was first to enquire into the condition of the city and province, with regard to the relation of both to the Divine law.

Ezra 7:14. And of his seven counsellors — His chief nobles and officers of state; of whom see Esther 1:10; Esther 1:14. This decree, being made by their advice, had the greater authority. To inquire concerning Judah according to the law of thy God — To make inquiry into all abuses and deviations from your law, and to redress them. Which is in thy hand — With which thou art very conversant, and in which thou art well skilled. It may seem strange that the edict should be drawn up in this manner, as it is more in the style of a Jewish supreme governor than of a heathen king; but it is not improbable that Ezra, being in such favour in the Persian court, might get the edict drawn up in the manner and words which he thought would be most proper for the purposes for which he had obtained it.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.Seven counselors - Herodotus relates that there were seven families pre-eminent in Persia, those of the seven conspirators against the Pseudo-Smerdis (Ezra 4:7 note); and it is reasonable to suppose that the heads of these families formed the special council of the king; the "Achaemenidae," or royal family, being represented by the head of the branch next in succession to that of the reigning monarch (see the marginal reference). 14. sent of the king, and of his seven counsellors—This was the fixed number of the privy council of the kings of Persia (Es 1:10, 14). The document describes, with great clearness and precision, the nature of Ezra's commission and the extent of power and prerogatives with which he was invested. It gave him authority, in the first place, to organize the colony in Judea and institute a regular government, according to the laws of the Hebrew people, and by magistrates and rulers of their own nation (Ezr 7:25, 26), with power to punish offenders by fines, imprisonment, exile, or death, according to the degree of their criminality. Secondly, he was empowered to carry a large donation in money, partly from the royal treasury and partly raised by voluntary contributions among his countrymen, to create a fund out of which to make suitable provision for maintaining the regular worship of God in Jerusalem (Ezr 7:16, 17). Thirdly, the Persian officers in Syria were commanded to afford him every assistance by gifts of money within a certain specified limit, in carrying out the objects of his patriotic mission (Ezr 7:21). His seven counsellors; his chief nobles and officers of state, of whom see also Esther 1:10,14.

To inquire concerning Judah and Jerusalem, i.e. to make inquiry into all abuses and deviations from your law, and to redress them.

Which is in thine hand; which is now and always in thy hand, being the matter of thy daily study and exercise; which thou now carriest along with thee, the interpretation whereof belongeth unto thee. Forasmuch as thou art sent of the king, and of his seven counsellors,.... Such a number the kings of Persia used to have from the times of Darius Hystaspis, who was chosen out of seven nobles to be king, and ever after the Persian kings had seven counsellors privileged, as those nobles were, Esther 1:14, and Ezra had the honour to be sent with a commission from this king and his seven counsellors:

to inquire concerning Judah and Jerusalem; the inhabitants thereof, whether they had knowledge of and behaved

according to the law of thy God which is in thine hand; a copy of which he had with him, and was very expert in and conversant with, and could readily and at once pass judgment whether they acted according to it or not.

Forasmuch as thou art sent of the king, and of his seven counsellors, to {h} enquire concerning Judah and Jerusalem, according to the law of thy God which is in {i} thine hand;

(h) To examine who lived according to the law.

(i) Of which you are an expert.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
14. Object of the commission: (a) to investigate.

of the king, and of his seven counsellers] R.V. marg. Aram. ‘from before the king’.

‘The counsellers’ are mentioned again Ezra 7:15; Ezra 7:28. ‘The seven’ here spoken of should be compared with ‘the seven princes of Persia and Media, which saw the king’s face, and sat first in the kingdom’ (Esther 1:14).

to enquire] R.V. to inquire. Same word in the original as ‘to make search’ in Ezra 4:15. The object of the enquiry is not defined except by the clause ‘according to the law of thy God’; from which we must conclude that the moral and religious condition of the Jews at Jerusalem having occasioned anxiety to the Jews at Babylon, Ezra, who in some way enjoyed the favour of the court, obtained permission to enquire generally into the position.

Judah and Jerusalem] Cf. Ezra 5:1.

according to the law] Literally ‘with, or, through the law’.

which is in thine hand] Not a book in Ezra’s private possession, but the law of the Israelite people, in which Ezra was reputed to be the best instructed of his day.Verse 14. - Ezra received his commission from the king, and from his seven counsellors, who thus seem to occupy an important position in the Persian state. They are commonly identified with the "seven princes of Persia and Media," mentioned in Esther (Esther 1:14), "which saw the king's face," and "sate first in the kingdom." A conjecture, which, though not unreasonable, cannot be said to be substantiated, connects the "seven counsellors" with the seven great Persian septs, or families, which had privileges beyond the rest, and among them the right of unrestricted access to the royal presence ('Herod.,' 3:84). The commission which Ezra received is described in this verse as one to inquire concerning Judah and Jerusalem; but the subject-matter of the inquiry is not mentioned. He can scarcely have been sent to make inquiry whether the law of Moses was observed or no, since that was certainly not a matter with which the Persian government would concern itself. Probably he was to inquire generally into the material prosperity of the province, and to report thereon. With Ezra went up a number of Israelites, priests, and Levites. מן partitive: a part of the whole. That they went up with Ezra appears from the context, and is expressly stated both in the royal edict (Ezra 7:13) and in the further description of the expedition (Ezra 7:28, Ezra 8:1). They went up in the seventh year of Artaxerxes, and reached Jerusalem in the fifth month of that year. - In Ezra 7:8 Ezra is again, as in Ezra 7:6, the subject of the sentence; the intervening seventh verse being really only in apposition with Ezra 7:6. - In Ezra 7:9 the time occupied by the journey is more precisely defined; כּי is explanatory. Namely, on the first day of the first month, he had appointed the journey from Babylon, etc. The Keri יסד הוּא can only mean, ipsum erat fundamentum profectionis, as J. H. Mich. after R. Sal. explains it, for יסד is pointed as the construct state. The departure of the expedition from the place of meeting occurred, according to Ezra 8:31, on the twelfth day of the first month. Since, however, they encamped three days there, making the final preparations for their journey, eleven days might easily elapse between the period when the whole caravan had assembled, and the day of actual departure. The Keri offers no appropriate signification; for since הוּא can only be taken for the subject, and הם יסד for the predicate, the sentence would contain an anacoluthon. To translate הוּא by ipsum cannot be justified by the usages of the language, for there is no such emphasis on יסד as to cause הוּא to be regarded as an emphatic reference to the following noun. יסד must be pointed יסד or יסּד, as the third pers. perf. Kal or Piel, meaning to arrange, to appoint, and הוּא referred to Ezra. On הטּובה אלהיו כּיד, comp. Ezra 7:6. The hand of his God graciously arranged for him, for he had prepared his heart to seek and to do the law of Jahve, i.e., to make the law of God his rule of action. לבבו הכין, like 2 Chronicles 12:14; 2 Chronicles 19:3; 2 Chronicles 30:19. To teach in Israel statutes and judgments, as both are prescribed in the law of God.
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