Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
The Resumption of the Work of Building the Temple and its completion
CHAPTERS 5, 6
A.—THE RESUMPTION OF THE WORK AND THE REPORT OF THE OFFICIALS TO DARIUS
I. The Resumption of the Work of Building the Temple. Ezra 5:1–5
1 THEN the prophets, Haggai the prophet, and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied unto the Jews that were in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, even unto them. 2Then rose up Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua son of Jozadak, and began to build the house of God which is at Jerusalem: and with them were the prophets of God helping them. 3At the same time came to them Tatnai, governor on this side the river, and Shethar-boznai, and their companions, and said thus unto them, Who hath commanded you to build this house, and to make up this wall? 4Then said we unto them after this manner, What are the names of the men that make this building? 5But the eye of their God was upon the elders of the Jews, that they could not cause them to cease, till the matter came to Darius: and then they returned answer by letter concerning this matter.
II. The Report of the officials. Ezra 5:6–17
6The copy of the letter that Tatnai, governor on this side the river, and Shethar-boznai, and his companions the Apharsachites, which were on this side the river, sent unto Darius the king: 7They sent a letter unto him, wherein was written thus; Unto Darius the king, all peace. 8Be it known unto the king, that we went into the province of Judea, to the house of the great God, which is builded with great stones, and timber is laid in the walls, and this work goeth fast on, and prospereth in their hands. 9Then asked we those elders, and said unto them thus, Who commanded you to build this house, and to make up these walls? 10We asked their names also, to certify thee, that we might write the names of the men that were the chief of them. 11And thus they returned us answer, saying, We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and build the house that was builded these many years ago, which a great king of Israel builded and set up. 12But after that our fathers had provoked the God of heaven unto wrath, he gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this house, and carried the people away into Babylon. 13But in the first year of Cyrus the king of Babylon, the same king Cyrus made a decree to build this house of God. 14And the vessels also of gold and silver of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took out of the temple that was in Jerusalem, and brought them into the temple of Babylon, those did Cyrus the king take out of the temple of Babylon, and they were delivered unto one, whose name was Sheshbazzar, whom he had made governor; 15And said unto him, Take these vessels, go, carry them into the temple that is in Jerusalem, and let the house of God be builded in his place. 16Then came the same Sheshbazzar, and laid the foundation of the house of God which is in Jerusalem: and since that time even until now hath it been in building, and yet it is not finished. 17Now therefore, if it seem good to the king, let there be search made in the king’s treasure house, which is there at Babylon, whether it be so, that a decree was made of Cyrus the king to build this house of God at Jerusalem, and let the king send his pleasure to us concerning this matter.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Ezra 5:1–5. The author now narrates in the closest connection with the last verse of the previous chapter how it came to pass that the work of building, which had been interrupted, was resumed.
Ezra 5:1. Then the prophets, Haggai, the prophet and Zechariah.—We learn also from Haggai himself that the congregation at that time needed prophetic admonition. At first the most of them had, without doubt, with great reluctance allowed the building to remain unfinished, but gradually had lost the desire thereto, caring only for their own interests, such as the erection of their own houses in as beautiful a manner as possible. Notwithstanding this, however, some of them had still such devotion to the Lord and zeal for His worship, that the prophetic office was possible, and there was relatively a great susceptibility for it. נְבִיָּאה in Hebrew הַנָּבִיא, seems to have been almost a surname of Haggai, Ezra 6:14; Hag. 1:1. The plural “the prophets,” which in the Hebrew text follows Zechariah son of Iddo, as if Haggai had not yet been called prophet, is in favor of this view. The preposition עַל after “prophesied,” does not denote hostility, but simply the direction of the address, “unto” (comp. 2 Chron. 20:37; 1 Kings 12:8, etc.), as is sufficiently clear from the contents of the prophecies.—The Jews that were in Judah and Jerusalem.—Thus they are designated to distinguish them from those who remained behind in Chaldea. At the same time it indicates those who had undertaken the task of building the temple. עֲלֵיהוֹן is a closer designation of the name of God, so that the relative might be supplied before it: Who was over them (comp. Ezra 3:3, etc.), which characterizes them as those who belonged to God. (Isa. 4:1 and Jer.4:16), who leads them, urges them on and encourages them.1
Ezra 5:2. Then rose up Zerubbabel.—They now had an express command of God, which already in itself was an advantage; now moreover they could no longer doubt that the building would succeed.—And began to build.—Properly it should have been: They re-commenced, but we might disregard the fact that בָּנָה readily =rebuild, for the first beginning was so long before, and had had such little success, that it no longer came into consideration.
Ezra 5:3. At the same time.—Now again they were threatened with interruption. בֵּהּ זִמְנָא, at it, the time, = at the same time. Comp. Dan. 3:7, 9; 4:33.2 Again Persian officials arrive, but at this time only do their duty.—Tatnai, governor on this side the river, of the entire province to the west of the Euphrates, outranked Zerubbabel, whom Cyrus had appointed governor of Judah (comp. Ezra 5:14). He was perhaps unacquainted with the mission of Zerubbabel, because he had come into his office at a subsequent period to him.—Shethar Boznai who accompanied him, is not designated indeed as Shimshai (chap.4:8 sq.), e. g., as scribe or chancellor, but the entire appearance is in favor of his being likewise a magistrate.—Their companions, however, who in Ezra 5:6 are especially called his companions, that is, Shethar-Boznai’s companions, and are named the Apharsachites, are according to Ezra 5:6 likewise government officials, probably of a lower grade. At this time also the Samaritans may have been at work in that they had called attention to the building of the temple in Jerusalem, but now they were no longer able to fill the officials with hostile sentiments. They simply inquire who hath commanded you to build this house?—לִבְנֵא here and in Ezra 5:13 is a singular form, since the infin. in Chald. is מִבְנֵא (comp. Ezra 5:2, 17; Ezra 6:8), or מִבְנְיָה, comp. chapter 5:9. R. Norzi has here and in Ezra 5:13 a dagesh in the ב, but there cannot be an assimilation of the מ because it has a vowel. It may be that the language was not entirely fixed in its usage of מ in the infin., as it is here absent from the infin. in Peal., to which elsewhere it is peculiar, so it has been at times prefixed to the Pael and Aphel, before which it is usually absent, and always to the infinitive of the passive conjugations in the later Targums. Comp. Winer, Gram., § 12. [Luzzatto Gram., § 88.—TR.]. [Rawlinson, in loco. “There was no doubt a formal illegality in the conduct of Zerubbabel and Jeshua; since all edicts of Persian kings continued in force unless revoked by their successors. But they felt justified in disobeying the decree of the Pseudo-Smerdis, because the opposition between his religious views and those of his successors was a matter of notoriety. (See Ancient Monarchies, IV. p. 405).”—TR.]. אֻשַּׁרְנָא, a word of doubtful etymology, is in Esdras rendered by τήν στέγην ταύτην κὰι τὰ ἄλλα πάντα (the beams and all the rest), in the Sept. on the other hand by τήν χορηγίαν ταύτην (this sacred service = this building). These derivations in the versions makes it probable that there was no fixed tradition respecting the meaning; the one rendering being as much guess work as the other. The Vulg., Syriac and the Rabbins have explained it as “walls,” which might well be the most suitable and correct, having as its root not אשׁר (Gesen.), but אשׁן more properly אָשׁוּן (firm, strong).
Ezra 5:4. Then said we unto them.—Here the Masoretic text gives at once the answer of the Jews. But this text is in more than one respect singular. The first person might be explained, it is true, very well as having come from the use of an ancient document, whose author had taken part in the building. But אמר should be followed by the direct discourse, whilst the indirect is used, so that we must translate, not, then we said, but then said we to them, what the names of the men were. Besides, if the Jews here spake, that is, answered to the question in Ezra 5:3, instead of referring to the names of the men, we should expect another answer. It is natural therefore with Bertheau to conjecture that the text has been corrupted in some way, that is to say that the first person is incorrect, as it were, has come over from Ezra 5:9, instead of which we must read here the third person, so that the Persian officials still continue: then said they to them, what are the names of the men, etc., as from the start we might expect, according to Ezra 5:9 and 10. It is possible then that likewise אֱדַיִן, which would separate almost too much the second part of the address from the first in Ezra 5:3, is a mistake likewise. The Sept. and Esdras already have regarded the verse as a question of the Persian officials, the former translating: τότε ταῦταἔιποσαν, the latter, in that it passes over entirely the first four words. It is true that the objection might be raised, that then there is no answer on the part of the Jews. But this might have been omitted with reference to Ezra 5:11. The names of the men were important to the officials, for they had to know whom the king was to hold responsible. Instead of שְׁמָהַת the more accurate editions have שְׁמָהָת.
Ezra 5:5. The eye of their God was upon the elders of the Jews.—This is the prelimiminary result, producing for them mildness on the part of the officials, and securing them from interruption. The eye is used instead of the hand, because the Providence and Wisdom of God above all came into consideration. Comp. Ps. 34:16; Zech. 4:10; 1 Peter 3:2. The שָׂבִין, corresponding with the זְקֵנִים in Hebrew, are at the same time the שָׂרִים Ezra 10:8.—Until the report came to Darius, and they then brought back a letter concerning the matter.—Bertheau understood it as: Until a command arrived from Darius, etc. But מְעֵם need not be the royal decree. Although this word does not assume the wider sense of causa (Keil), it yet has the meaning of ratio, and indeed also in the sense of account (or likewise of consideration) יְהַב טַעֲמָאDan. 6:3 = give account. Thus it may be used here for a report, by which officers would give their king an account of an important occurrence, and their observation of it. The לְ before Darius cannot be a circumlocution of the genitive—it is thus used only in designations of time. On the other hand its use with הֲלַךְ to give the end, is entirely assured. Comp. Ezra 7:13, etc. Finally, if it did not mean “to Darius,” the הֲלַךְ alone would be too indefinite. As well Esdras as the Septuagint also has, therefore, although rendering freely, properly understood it as a report to Darius. Naturally, however, these words are only preparatory for the following clause: “Until they bring back a letter, etc.”, which really for the first expresses the limit of time meant.יְהַךְ imperf. of הלך (comp. Ezra 6:5; 7:13) is referred by Winer, § 25, to a special root ההךְ. It is possible, however, that as usually the ה is absorbed at the beginning, so here the ל of הלך and thus we have יְהַךְ for יִהְלַךְ.3 The letter to be brought back, was certainly to come from Darius, there is no occasion to think of one from Tatnai, etc., unless it is already supposed that there is a royal command in טְעֵם. The subject of יְתִיבוּן is indefinite “they.”
Ezra 5:6–17. The report of the officers to Cyrus in Ezra 5:6, 7, at first, precisely like Ezra 4:8–11, has the superscription which this letter probably received already in the collection of documents at Jerusalem.—These are the contents of the letter that Tatnai.—Shethar-boznai and his companions the Apharsachites.—We must leave in doubt the question why the Apharsachites (comp. 4:9) are especially mentioned as the companions of Shethar-boznai, which here means either lower officials or as it were men of the same race, or else people especially attached to him.4
Ezra 5:7. They sent a report.—פִּתְגָּמָא according to its etymology (comp. 4:17) is used in the same sense as טְעֵם in Ezra 5:5, e.g., report, message. כֹּלָּא is loosely connected with שְׁלָמָא = peace, hence peace universally = peace in its fulness.
Ezra 5:8. Be it known unto the king.—The letter in 4:12 began in the same way. The present letter however is distinguished by the fact that it gives first of all a simple objective report. Judah is called a מְרִינָה (see 2:1), the god of the Jews, the great God.—It is not probable however that they, like the Samaritans (4:1) actually paid a certain degree of reverence to him, rather the deep reverence of the Jews made such an impression upon them that they supposed He must be an especially great God (namely, for His worshippers). What they say respecting the building, is manifestly to show that the work was welldone, in a strong, stately manner.—Of great stones.—אֶבֶן נְּלָל here the accusative of material is the stone which was too heavy to lift, and which could only be rolled along; thus very heavy and large stones (as Ezra 4:4), which were only taken for great buildings, designed to last a very long time. The Sept. emphasizes by its translation λίθοι ἐκλεκτοί, the excellence of the material; Esdras 4:9, by its translation λίθοι ξεστὸι πολυτελεῖς at the same time the labor applied to them, as well as their costliness.—And timber is laid in the walls.—Berth. understands by this the placing of beams in the walls, that is, in the partitions, [Rawlinson, in loco, “party walls”], or likewise the erection of the scaffolding on the outer walls. But the expressions indicate rather the inlaying of the walls with wood work artistically finished (comp. פְּתוּחֶיהָPs. 74:6), thus according to the view of the writer represent the building as one erected with great care. It is true the work had not made such progress, in fact that the walls, which themselves were first built of the great stones, could have been already inlaid. But it is probable that the zeal, which is clearly enough attested by Haggai, manifested itself likewise in this way, that those skilled in wainscoting went at once to work, since moreover it was necessary to make as great haste as possible on account of the threatened interruption. The haste is expressly referred to by the officials in the last words—and this work goeth fast on—אָסְפַּרְנָה (comp. 6:8, 13; 7:17, 21, 26) is explained from the Persian, and means properly, very active. אֹם is probably the ancient Persian us or os, Sanscrit ut, which expresses intensity; as our “very” and parna is an adjective from the ancient Persian par, Zend pere = do, complete. Comp. Haug. a. a. O. The subject of מַצְלַה, it prospereth is not the form עֲבִידְתָּה (comp. 4:14; Dan. 6:28), but “it.”
Ezra 5:9, 10 then give an account at first of their question.—Then asked we those elders.—אִלֶּךְ, those who, as a matter of course, were in Jerusalem at the head, Ezra 5:10, at their head.—בְּרָאשֵׁהֹם is more naturally explained as at their head (comp. 2 Chron. 20:2), than: in their capacity as their heads (Berth., Keil). [A. V., “that were the chief of them”]. The latter interpretation of בְּ is in itself doubtful, especially moreover, since no verb is given with it. The plural, expressed by the vowels, may be explained by the fact that they worked in different groups, namely, by families (comp. Neh. 3.)
Ezra 5:11 sq. gives the answer of the heads of the Jews.—And thus they made us the report, namely, the one required. לֵאמֹר = לְמֵמַר—We are the servants of the God of heaven.—The pleonastic suffix of עַבְדוֹהִי emphasizes very strongly the fact, not that they above all others and alone are servants of God (Berth.) but that they above all others are servants of the God of heaven, and not of any lower being. They therefore expressly designate God as the God of heaven and earth, that is, the highest; yea, properly the only true God. They would without doubt show the officers that they had good grounds and were very well entitled to build their temple, and that those would do wrong who should oppose their undertaking. On this account therefore they add that their God had had this house long ago, and in it had long ago possessed a worthy place of worship.—And we build the house that was built.—not הִתְבְּנֵא, it was once built, but הְוָא בְנֵא, it was built and continued to be a place of worship—these many years ago.—מִקַּדְמַת דְּנָה =before this (present) time.—A great king of Israel built and completed it.—It would have been an evidence against their God if He had not provided Himself with a worthy place of worship in ancient times, and had not made the king of his people great and mighty. They say intentionally not the great king Solomon, but a great king (the genitive relation being expressed by לְ); they thus emphasize better the idea itself, that the king was a great one.
Ezra 5:12. It is true the temple has been destroyed, but this does not show any weakness in their God, but rather His holiness.—On this account, because our fathers provoked.—לָהֵן does not refer to that which precedes, but to what follows, for it is used in its usual sense of “on this account,” and is here really = only on this account. It does not follow from the fact that it sometimes has the sense of “but” after negative expressions, that it may also be an adversative particle, and mean “nevertheless,” “however,” “yet.” מִן־דִּי however, is here not in the temporal sense, [A. V.after that], for then it would express very vaguely the idea: since that the fathers had already provoked God long before He abandoned His temple; but it is here in its usual causal sense “because.” מִן may be very properly used in this sense, comp. Hebrew מֵאְשֶׁר, Isa. 43:4. סַתֵּר, = to conceal, then like the Hebrew הִכְחִיד, to destroy. It is true it is only used here in the Bible in this sense, but in the Targums occurs quite frequently. עַמָּה might, if it had the suffix, that is, if the ה were pointed with mappiq, mean simply, “the people of the land;” ארע is often to be supplied. Yet the Massora remarks, that mappiq is not to be written, and R. Norzai and J. H. Mich. have left it out, so that the הis to be taken as a representative of the א, as is often the case in this book.
Ezra 5:13. But in the first year of Cyrus.—When the predestined time of chastisement had passed the Lord Himself was able to gain recognition from Cyrus, so that now the restoration of His temple has a good and assured foundation. Comp. chaps. 1:2; 6:3.לִבְּנֵא, as Ezra 5:3.
Ezra 5:14. And the vessels also—did Cyrus the king take.—So great was the recognition that Cyrus gave to the true God, that he not only allowed His veneration, but furthered it with offerings, so that the building of the temple, unless the vessels were to remain without a suitable place, became so much the more necessary. הֵיכְלָא is here used as at the first, so naturally also the second and third time in the sense of temple. Comp. בֵּית אֱלֹהָיו, Ezra 2:7. וִיהִיבוּ is probably the conjugated passive participle = and they were given, not the active preterite = they gave, for the indefin. subject with sing. (against Berth.). In the last case we would expect הִמּוֹ after the object, which is not elsewhere in such cases omitted: moreover, the yod in the second syllable has usually only an intrans. or passive signification.—Whose name is Sheshbazzar—thus indefinitely, as we would say, to Sheshbazzar, as he is called. For this name see Ezra 1:8. As in Hag. 1:1, etc., so here Zerubbabel is designated as Pechah, whilst in Ezra 1:8 as prince of Judah, נָשִׂיא.
Ezra 5:15. And he said unto him, Take these vessels.—In connection with giving out the vessels Cyrus expressly ordained the building of the temple. Instead of אֵלֶּה, the Qeri is here as in 1 Chron. 20:8, אֵל. The three unconnected imperatives, “take, go forth, lay down,” comprehend the three acts, to a certain extent, in one, thus expressing likewise the zeal of Cyrus, and the zeal that Sheshbazzar was expected to exhibit. אֲחֵת, notwithstanding the Chateph Pathah, may be merely the imper. Aphel of נחת, of which we have the part. in Ezra 6:1, and the imperf. in Ezra 6:5.—And let the house of God be built.—These words are connected with the words lay them down in the temple as a necessary complement, by the copula וְ.
Ezra 5:16. Then came this Sheshbazzar, namely from Babylon to Jerusalem, and laid the foundations,etc.—The copula is also lacking before יְהַב, because the two acts are connected together in the closest way. אֻשַּׁיָּא, as in Ezra 4:12. Here it can only mean the laying of the foundations in Ezra 3:8–10.—Since that time even until now hath it been in building, and is not yet finished.—These words were probably designed to let the present activity appear as a simple continuation of the building, ordained by Cyrus, thus also as something entirely justified. At any rate it was entirely in the interest of the Jews to be silent respecting the fact that Cyrus had allowed an interruption to take place, and there is nothing in our representation of the subject opposed to its reality. But had the express prohibition of the Artaxerxes in Ezra 4:17 sq. already preceded, yet the Jews might well have said that it had been occasioned only by the entirely groundless slanders of the Samaritans. Hence they must regard it as their absolute duty to contradict these slanders. שְׁלֵם occurs only here in Bib. Chaldee, yet often enough in the Targums and Syriac, and indeed in the sense of “complete and ready.”
Ezra 5:17. And now, if it seem good to the king, let there be search made in the treasure-house.—טָבֲעל, comp. 7:18; Dan. 6:24, as in later Hebrew, טוֹב עַל, Esther 1:19, good according to any one’s judgment. גִּנְזַיָּא, Heb. נְּנָזִים (Esth. 3:9; 4:7), are the treasures, probably from כנס = גּנז, collect, and dshanasa, conceal, but at the same time in accordance with the Arian gaza, comp. גִּזְבַר, Ezr. 1:8; on the other hand, גַּנְזַךְ1 Chron. 28:11. It is clear from this passage and Ezra 6:1, that written documents were likewise preserved in the treasure-house.—Whether a command was given by king Cyrus.—הֵן = whether, as likewise Jer. 2:10. For שֵׂים, vid. Ezra 4:19. רְעוּת, comp. Ezra 7:18, from רעח = רעה, voluntas, opinion.
THOUGHTS UPON THE HISTORY OF REDEMPTION
Ezra 5:1. Notwithstanding the great readiness which distinguished the new congregation at first (comp. notes upon chap. 3.), they yet fell into indolence and worldliness as soon as difficulties were placed in the way of their work, comp. Haggai’s prophecy. It was even necessary that again God’s word should arouse, encourage, strengthen them, and fill them with joy. And indeed the Lord does not fail on His part: wherever any powers whatever are present; if slumbering, He awakens them. The more we need His all-awakening call, and the more that is the result of undeserved grace and faithfulness that shames us, the more willing should we be to hear and follow Him.
Ezra 5:1–5. Although the new congregation, when they were called upon by the prophets and strengthened by their prophecies, might have readily supposed that the building of the temple would now be finished without stumbling upon difficulties, they were yet obliged presently to submit to an inquiry on the part of the Persian officials, that might again easily result in an interruption. Such trials the Lord Himself sends at the time,—and then often very properly,—when His own word has given the impulse to an undertaking or action. Even then, and then particularly, faith must be strengthened by trials. The congregation at this time did not allow the interference of the Persian officials to surprise them too much; they were not faint-hearted on this account, and did not allow themselves to be deterred thereby from building; in the careful hesitancy of the officials they saw rather the influence and protection of God. Thus is it ever for the church, so long as it is in covenant with the Lord, to regard the hinderances, even if they seem threatening, and easily might be destructive, as yet trifling; and things favorable, even, if they seem at first insignificant, as great and important. We must be inclined thereto by the contentment with which one feels impelled to thankfulness for the little, and the faith in Him who has all things in His hand. It is the very reverse with the world.
Ezra 5:6–17. The magistracy often, as is clear from chap. 4, allows itself to use calumniators as its instruments. But without regard to the fact that they are obliged to help in realizing the design of God even in such a case, they are easily preserved by their office and their duties from such errors, even if they are worldly and heathen in their character. In our present chapter they act as true magistrates; they quietly listen to the report of the Jews, and bring it without misrepresentation before the king. Brentius rightly remarks: “vides differentiam inter calumniatores et bonos ac probos viros. Una eademque causa erat ædificii templi, unus idemque populus Judæorum: attamen hujus populi causa aliter refertur ab impiis calumniatoribus aliter a bonis viris. How much worse off the Jewish congregation would have been, if the Samaritans had had to do with them without the Persian officials! Hence the church should never forget, even if at times it has had to suffer injustice from worldly authorities, to be thankful from the heart to God that there are magistrates after all, comp. Rom. 13:1 sq., etc.
Ezra 5:11, 12. The congregation did not keep back their faith, when it came to the point of rendering account of their designs before the magistrates, rather did they lay down an open confession, even before the heathen, without fearing to be laughed at for their assertion that they served the only true God. In order to ward off the objection that their Lord had been without power, they confessed the sinfulness of their fathers, and praised the holiness of God. God’s honor was for them more important than the honor of their fathers or of the nation. Well for the church, when the world itself is obliged to give testimony to it, as it here gives to the Jewish congregation, that it has made such a good confession as this. If with such a confession heart and hand accord, it has the power that overcomes the world.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
Ezra 5:1–5. How does the Lord prevent our being conformed to the world? 1) By His warning word.—STARKE: It is the office of faithful teachers to strengthen the faint hands and feeble knees (Isa. 35:3). 2) By the trials that He sends, especially by making the accomplishment of His own word difficult. 3) By providential care and preservation (Ezra 5:5).—BRENTIUS: Multa hic notanda. Primum, quod Deus sæpenumero nos a bono proposito impedit, non ut non exequamur, sed ut clarius et illustrius exequamur. Deinde, quod sit ingenium vulgi: mox enim putat, numquam fore, ut promoveat (sc. Deus opus suum, si aliquamdiu intermittatur).—The movements that the development and advance of the kingdom of God call forth: 1) The congregation is agitated by the overwhelming voice of God; it gives new courage, and lays hold of the work of building obligatory upon it with new joy.—STARKE: Although it involves not a little danger for awhile to accomplish with obedience that which God commands in His word, yet we should obey not withstanding, and not allow ourselves to be frightened off by any danger. 2) The world is agitated, for it cannot quietly see the events in the kingdom of God, especially when the congregation is subordinated to its civil authority, but it is obliged to assist in furthering the cause of God in its own way. 3) God Himself is agitated. He directs His eye with especial care and wisdom upon the leaders of the congregation, and stretches forth His hand to give protection and help.
Ezra 5:11, 12. The true confession. 1) The occasion of it—the magistrates call to account,—2) its contents, God’s grace and truth and our own sins,—3) its aim, the establishment of a tabernacle of God among men. The true contents of a believing confession. 1) God’s gracious acts—He has by them from the most ancient times obtained worship. STARKE: If we purify the doctrines with which Christ and His apostles have erected a spiritual temple to God, from human ordinances, we start no new doctrine, but erect again the marred temple of God. 2) Exhibition of the divine holiness. He has imposed upon His church dependence and deficiencies on account of its sins.—STARKE: Even the sins of our forefathers we should not cloak, but where they have erred, confess it. 3) God’s assertions of power.—He has wrung a recognition from even a Cyrus, even the mightiest worldly power, and made them serviceable for the re-establishment of His worship.
[SCOTT: Whilst we continue in this world, we shall always have to confess that our sins have provoked the God of heaven unto wrath, and that all our sufferings spring from this source, and all our comforts from His unmerited mercy.—HENRY: Our eye upon God, observing His eye upon us, will keep us to our duty, and encourage us in it when difficulties are never so discouraging. Let the cause of God, and Truth, be fairly stated and fairly heard, and it will keep its ground.—TR.]
[Rawlinson in loco more properly renders in accordance with the current Hebrew phrase “which was upon them” that is, having God’s name called upon them.—TR.]
[Suffix with prep. before its noun has this force in Aramaic, Riggs’ Manual. § 49, 3. Comp. Cowper, Syriac. Gram., § 203, 5.—TR.]
[So Luzatto Gram., § 104. This is the better interpretation of the form.—TR.]
[Rawlinson, in loco, regards them as Persians or foreign settlers in Sameria generally.—TR.]
Then the prophets, Haggai the prophet, and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied unto the Jews that were in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, even unto them.