And there went up some of the children of Israel, and of the priests, and the Levites, and the singers, and the porters, and the Nethinims, to Jerusalem, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Ezra 7:7. There went up some of the children of Israel — This was the second company that went up to Jerusalem, consisting of such like persons as went up at first with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and others, Ezra 2:2; Ezra 2:70. For, hearing the temple was rebuilt, and the worship of God restored, we may very well think many went along with Ezra, who had not such a strong motive to go at the first.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 They retained the knowledge of the old dialect, which was being rapidly superseded by a new one.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).
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.
and of the priests, and the Levites, and the singers, and the porters, and the Nethinims, unto Jerusalem; to take their places, and execute their offices in the temple now built; for of the Levites especially, some of which were singers, and others porters, and of the Nethinims, there were but few that went up with Zerubbabel: now this journey of theirs was taken
in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king; that is, of Darius Artaxerxes, and this was the year after the temple was finished: though it is thought by many learned men, and not without some show of reason, that Artaxerxes Longimanus is meant.And there went up some of the children of Israel, and of the priests, and the Levites, and the singers, and the porters, and the Nethinims, unto Jerusalem, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)7. And there went up some of the children of Israel] For “some of” compare Ezra 2:70.
some of the children of Israel] i.e. a portion of the lay element of the Jewish community at Babylon, mainly of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, cf. Ezra 2:2 ‘the men of the people of Israel’.
The division into Priests, Levites, Singers, Porters, Nethinim, as in chap. Ezra 2:36; Ezra 2:40-43.
the Levites] The difficulty of obtaining Levites to accompany the caravan is described in Ezra 8:15-21.
Nethinims] R.V. Nethinim, see note on Ezra 2:43.
the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king] i.e. 458 b.c.Verse 7. - The same six classes are here mentioned as furnishing colonists under Ezra which, according to the earlier narrative (Ezra 2:70), had accompanied Zerubbabel. The order in which the classes are mentioned is nearly, but not quite, the same. In the seventh year of Artaxerxes. This is the emphatic clause of the verse; Ezra's main object in the section being to give the exact date of his journey. As Artaxerxes began to reign in B.C. 464 (Clinton, F. H., vol. 2. p. 380, note b), his seventh year would be B.C. 458. 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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