Ezra 7:6
This Ezra went up from Babylon; and he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which the LORD God of Israel had given: and the king granted him all his request, according to the hand of the LORD his God upon him.
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(6) A ready scribe.—The “ready writer” of Psalm 45:1. Ezra was a priest, and this title is rightly placed before that of scribe in what follows; but here at the outset, when he first appears in history, the title is used which expressed his pre-eminent function, that of guarding and interpreting the law (Ezra 7:10).

All his request.—This anticipates the letter of Ezra 7:11; a series of supplementary notes intervenes.

According to the hand of the Lord his God upon him.—The full formula for that special providence over God’s servants which both Ezra and Nehemiah recognised.

Ezra 7:6. This Ezra went up from Babylon — With the king’s consent and commission. And he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses — He is called a scribe, as Buxtorf observes in his Tiberias, not from writing and describing, but from declaring and explicating those things that are contained in the Scripture. For, as ספר, sepher, signifies a book, so סופר, sopher, signifies one skilful and learned in that book, an interpreter and teacher out of it. And, there being no book comparable to the book of the law, therefore Sopher became a name of great dignity, and signified one that taught God’s law, and expounded it to his people. Thus, in the New Testament, the scribes were those who instructed the people in the law. It is said he was a ready scribe, because he was expert in the law, and understood it thoroughly, both in all things belonging to the priesthood, and to the civil power; in which he was so well versed, that he could give a ready account of any part of it. The Jews say, he collected and collated all the copies of the law, and published an accurate edition of it, with all the books that were given by divine inspiration, and so made up the canon of the Old Testament. Moses in Egypt, and Ezra in Babylon, were wonderfully fitted for eminent service in the church. This was the second time that Ezra came up from Babylon, for he came up at first with Zerubbabel, as we learn from Nehemiah 12:1, and probably returned to Babylon to persuade those who had staid behind to come up to Jerusalem, and to obtain some further assistance from the king. According to the hand of the Lord his God upon him — God not only stirred up Ezra to this undertaking, but was so favourable to him as to incline the king to give a gracious answer to his petition.

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.A ready scribe - Or, "a ready writer" Psalm 45:1. The professional scribe was well known in Egypt from an early date (see Genesis 39:4 note); and under David and his successors "scribes" were attached to the court as the king's secretaries (2 Samuel 8:17; 2 Samuel 20:25; 2 Kings 12:10, etc.). It was scarcely, however, until the time of the captivity that the class to which Ezra belonged arose. The "scribes" of this time, and of later Jewish history, were students, interpreters, and copiers of the Law (see the marginal references and Jeremiah 8:8). They retained the knowledge of the old dialect, which was being rapidly superseded by a new one. The emphatic application of the title "the scribe" to Ezra marks the high honor in which the office was now held. Its glories eclipsed those of the priesthood.

The hand of the Lord ... upon him - The use of this phrase in a good sense is rare elsewhere (compare 1 Kings 18:46), but is a favorite one with both Ezra and Nehemiah (see the marginal references; Nehemiah 2:8, Nehemiah 2:18).

6. This Ezra … was a ready scribe in the law of Moses—The term "scribe" does not mean merely a penman, nor even an attorney well versed in forms of law and skilled in the method of preparing public or private deeds. He was a rabbi, or doctor, learned in the Mosaic law, and in all that related to the civil and ecclesiastical polity and customs of the Hebrew people. Scribes of this description possessed great authority and influence (compare Mt 23:25; Mr 12:28).

the king granted him all his request—left Babylon entrusted with an important commission to be executed in Jerusalem. The manner in which he obtained this office is minutely related in a subsequent passage. Here it is noticed, but with a pious acknowledgment of the divine grace and goodness which disposed the royal mind in favor of Ezra's patriotic objects. The Levites, &c., did not go at that time, but are mentioned here by anticipation.

Ezra went up from Babylon, with the king’s consent and commission.

A ready scribe, i.e. a learned and expert doctor; for in that sense the word scribe is oft used, as Jeremiah 8:8 Matthew 7:29 Matthew 17:10 23:2,13 Mr 12:28, compared with Matthew 22:35,36.

According to the hand of the Lord his God upon him, i.e. by the grace and favour of God so disposing the heart of the king.

This Ezra went up from Babylon,.... A second time; for that he went up with Zerubbabel is clear from Nehemiah 12:1, and is plainly intimated, Ezra 5:4,

and he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which the Lord God of Israel had given; the meaning is, not that he had a quick hand in writing out copies of it, but was well versed in the knowledge of it; had studied it thoroughly, well instructed in it, and was abundantly qualified to teach it others; he was an eminent doctor of the law; so scribes, in the New Testament, who are the same with the lawyers, were such as were teachers of the law; the word here used in the Arabic language signifies to be expert, as Jarchi (o) learned from one of their doctors:

and the king granted him all his request, according to the hand of the Lord his God upon him; either upon Ezra, giving him favour with the king, and so success and prosperity; or it may denote the divine influence of the God of Ezra upon the heart of the king, moving him to grant what he asked of him, even everything he desired: he seems to have been sent upon an embassy to the king from the chief men at Jerusalem; perhaps the governors of Syria had not so fully made the disbursements the king in his decree had required them to make, since the following commission chiefly respects such things; and he was sent on that errand to acquaint the king with it, as well as to persuade those that remained to return, and to obtain leave for it.

(o) Comment. in Psal. xlv. 1. "acutus ingenio et solers fuit", Golius, col. 2272. "in re exercitatus fuit et excultus", Castel. col. 2008. Ethiop. "docuit, erudivit", ib. col. 2007.

This Ezra went up from Babylon; and he was a ready {c} scribe in the law of Moses, which the LORD God of Israel had given: and the king granted him all his request, according to the hand of the LORD his God upon him.

(c) He shows here what a scribe is, who had charge to write the law and to expound it. Whom Mark calls a scribe, Mr 12:28, Matthew and Luke called a lawyer or doctor of the law, Mt 22:35, Lu 10:25.

6–10. Arrival at Jerusalem

6. went up from Babylon] i.e. to Jerusalem, cf. Ezra 1:11, Ezra 2:1. It will be observed that this description of Ezra is given in the 3rd person. At Ezra 7:27 there is a change to the 1st person.

and he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses] Cf. Ezra 7:10; Ezra 7:12.

‘the scribe’ (Hebr. Sophêr) in the days of the Monarchy was the king’s State Secretary or Chancellor. Cf. Seraiah, the scribe (2 Samuel 8:17), Sheva, the scribe (2 Samuel 20:25) = Shavsha (1 Chronicles 18:16): Elihoreph and Ahijah, scribes (1 Kings 4:3): Shebna, the scribe (2 Kings 18:18, &c.): Shaphan, the scribe (2 Kings 22:3). Cf. Gemariah (Jeremiah 36:10), Elishama (Jeremiah 36:12), Jonathan (Jeremiah 37:15).

During the latter days of the Monarchy, the name began to receive a special meaning as applied to those who were occupied in studying and copying the documents containing the sacred laws of the nation, e.g. Jeremiah 8:8 ‘How do ye say, We are wise, and the law of the Lord is with us? But, behold, the false pen of the scribes hath wrought falsely’.

After the Captivity, the increased importance of the written law and the necessity of explaining its obligation upon the people brought ‘the scribes’ into great prominence. ‘The scribe’ took the place of the prophet and, in his influence upon his countrymen, eclipsed the priest. The name of Ezra is associated with the development of ‘the scribe’ and he is designated ‘the scribe’ as by an honourable title in Ezra 7:11, and Nehemiah 8:1. He was the typical representative and in a measure the founder of the later type of scribes. Devoted to the minute study of the written law, he sought to expound it to his people and to impress upon them the duty of its rigid observance. (See Introduction.) To the same class perhaps belonged ‘the teachers’ mentioned in Ezra 8:16, and ‘Zadok the scribe’ (Nehemiah 13:13).

The word ‘ready’ is the same as appears elsewhere in the O.T. only in Psalm 45:1 ‘a ready writer’. Proverbs 22:29diligent in his business’. Isaiah 16:5swift to do righteousness’. A ‘ready scribe’ would be one prompt and skilful in interpreting the difficulties of the law. His quickness is the dexterity of his erudition, not of his pen.

the law of Moses, which the Lord God of Israel had given] R.V. the Lord the God of Israel, cf. Ezra 1:3. ‘The law of Moses’, see Ezra 3:2, Ezra 6:18, and cf. 1 Kings 2:3, 2 Kings 14:6; 2 Kings 21:8.

The Divine origin of the law is here asserted with reverent emphasis. The expression is well illustrated by Malachi 4:4 ‘the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, even statutes and judgements’ and Nehemiah 8:14 ‘The law which the Lord had commanded by Moses’.

all his request] What the request was, which Ezra preferred to Artaxerxes, we are not told, but are left to gather it from the letter of Artaxerxes (12–26). The word ‘request’ in the Hebrew denotes an eager quest, and occurs elsewhere in the O.T. only in the book of Esther (Ezra 5:3; Ezra 5:7-8, Ezra 7:3, Ezra 9:12).

according to the hand of the Lord his God upon him] This expression is characteristic of the writer. It occurs again Ezra 7:28, with the adjective ‘good’, Ezra 7:9, Ezra 8:18; Nehemiah 2:8; Nehemiah 2:18, and in a slightly different form Ezra 8:22; Ezra 8:31. ‘The hand of the Lord’ denotes the merciful favour, as may be seen from the context here and in Ezra 7:28, even without the addition of the adjective good: cf. ‘the eye of the Lord’, chap. Ezra 5:5. Similar is the phrase in 2 Chronicles 30:12. From that ‘hand’ comes discipline as well as bounty, Job 2:10 ‘Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?’ Job 19:21 ‘the hand of God hath touched me’. In adversity ‘the hand of the Lord’ is described as ‘against’, not ‘upon’ a person. See Deuteronomy 2:15; Ruth 1:13.

Verse 6. - This Ezra went up. See comment on Ezra 2:1, where the same expression — "went up" - is used. He was a ready scribe in the law of Moses. On the meaning of this phrase, and the new position occupied by "scribes" after the captivity, see Introduction to Ezra,' § 5. Which the Lord God of Israel had given. It is characteristic of Ezra's piety never to forget that the law was not a mere human code given by an earthly lawgiver, not even a national treasure, the accumulation of centuries, but a direct Divine gift "the law of the Lord" (ver. 10), "the words of the commandments of the Lord, and of his statutes to Israel" (ver. 11), "the law which the Lord had commanded by Moses" (Nehemiah 8:14). According to the hand of the Lord his God upon him. i.e. "by reason of God's favour to him." God, by reason of his favour to Ezra, inclined the heart of Artaxerxes towards him, so that he granted all his request. The nature of the "request" is not directly stated, but may be gathered from the "letter of Artaxerxes," especially vers. 13, 14, 16. Ezra 7:6What 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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