Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
And when the seventh month was come, and the children of Israel were in the cities, the people gathered themselves together as one man to Jerusalem.
Ezr 3:1-13. The Altar Set Up.
1. when the seventh month was come—The departure of the returning exiles from Babylon took place in the spring. For some time after their arrival they were occupied in the necessary work of rearing habitations to themselves amid the ruins of Jerusalem and its neighborhood. This preliminary work being completed, they addressed themselves to rebuild the altar of burnt offering. As the seventh month of the sacred year was at hand—corresponding to the latter end of our September—when the feast of tabernacles (Le 23:34) fell to be observed, they resolved to celebrate that religious festival, just as if the temple had been fully restored.
Then stood up Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and his brethren, and builded the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings thereon, as it is written in the law of Moses the man of God.
2. Jeshua—the grandson of Seraiah, the high priest, put to death by Nebuchadnezzar at Riblah (2Ki 25:18-21). His father, Josedech, had been carried captive to Babylon, and died there, some time before this.
Zerubbabel—was, according to the order of nature, son of Pedaiah (1Ch 3:17-19); but having been brought up by Salathiel, he was called his son.
builded the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings thereon—This was of urgent and immediate necessity, in order, first, to make atonement for their sins; secondly, to obtain the divine blessing on their preparations for the temple, as well as animate their feelings of piety and patriotism for the prosecution of that national work.
And they set the altar upon his bases; for fear was upon them because of the people of those countries: and they offered burnt offerings thereon unto the LORD, even burnt offerings morning and evening.
3. they set the altar upon his bases—They reared it upon its old foundation, so that it occupied as nearly as possible the site on which it had formerly stood.
they offered burnt offerings … morning and evening—Deeming it their duty to perform the public rites of religion, they did not wait till the temple should be rebuilt and dedicated; but, at the outset, they resumed the daily service prescribed by the law (Ex 29:38, 39; Le 6:9, 11), as well as observed the annual seasons of solemn observance.
They kept also the feast of tabernacles, as it is written, and offered the daily burnt offerings by number, according to the custom, as the duty of every day required;
Ezr 3:4-7. Offerings Renewed.
4, 6. They kept also the feast of tabernacles … From the first day of the seventh month—They revived at that time the daily oblation, and it was on the fifteenth day of that month the feast of tabernacles was held.
And afterward offered the continual burnt offering, both of the new moons, and of all the set feasts of the LORD that were consecrated, and of every one that willingly offered a freewill offering unto the LORD.
From the first day of the seventh month began they to offer burnt offerings unto the LORD. But the foundation of the temple of the LORD was not yet laid.
They gave money also unto the masons, and to the carpenters; and meat, and drink, and oil, unto them of Zidon, and to them of Tyre, to bring cedar trees from Lebanon to the sea of Joppa, according to the grant that they had of Cyrus king of Persia.
7. They gave … meat … drink, and oil, unto them of Zidon—They opened negotiations with the Tyrians for workmen, as well as for timber, on the same terms and with the same views as Solomon had done (1Ki 5:11; 2Ch 2:15, 16).
Now in the second year of their coming unto the house of God at Jerusalem, in the second month, began Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and the remnant of their brethren the priests and the Levites, and all they that were come out of the captivity unto Jerusalem; and appointed the Levites, from twenty years old and upward, to set forward the work of the house of the LORD.
Ezr 3:8-13. The Foundation of the Temple Laid.
8. appointed the Levites … to set forward the work—that is, to act as overseers of the workmen, and to direct and animate the laborers in the various departments.
Then stood Jeshua with his sons and his brethren, Kadmiel and his sons, the sons of Judah, together, to set forward the workmen in the house of God: the sons of Henadad, with their sons and their brethren the Levites.
9. Jeshua with his sons—not the high priest, but a Levite (Ezr 2:40). To these, as probably distinguished for their mechanical skill and taste, the duty of acting as overseers was particularly committed.
And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, they set the priests in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites the sons of Asaph with cymbals, to praise the LORD, after the ordinance of David king of Israel.
And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the LORD; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid.
But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy:
12. But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers … wept with a loud voice—Those painful emotions were excited by the sad contrast between the prosperous circumstances in which the foundations of the first temple had been laid and the desolate, reduced state of the country and city when the second was begun; between the inferior size and less costliness of the stones used in the foundations of the second (1Ki 7:9, 10), and the much smaller extent of the foundation itself, including all the appurtenances of the building (Hag 2:3); between the comparative smallness of their present means and the immense resources of David and Solomon. Perhaps, however, the chief cause of grief was that the second temple would be destitute of those things which formed the great and distinguishing glory of the first; namely, the ark, the shekinah, the Urim and Thummim, &c. Not that this second temple was not a very grand and beautiful structure. But no matter how great its material splendor was, it was inferior in this respect to that of Solomon. Yet the glory of the second far outshone that of the first temple in another and more important point of view, namely, the receiving within its walls the incarnate Saviour (Hag 2:9).
So that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people: for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off.
13. the people could not discern the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people—Among Eastern people, expressions of sorrow are always very loud and vehement. It is indicated by wailing, the howl of which is sometimes not easily distinguishable from joyful acclamations.