Matthew Poole's Commentary
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.Zerubbabel, being encouraged by Haggai and Zechariah the prophets, setteth forward the work, Ezra 5:12. Their adversaries oppose them again, Ezra 5:3-5. Their letter to Darius concerning this matter, Ezra 5:6-17.
Zechariah the son of Iddo, i.e. Iddo’s grandchild; for he was the son of Berechiah. In the name of the God of Israel; commanding them from God to return to the work of building the temple, with promise of his favour and assistance.
Then rose up Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the 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.Encouraging the people to work by their presence, and assurance of success.
At the same time came to them Tatnai, governor on this side the river, and Shetharboznai, and their companions, and said thus unto them, Who hath commanded you to build this house, and to make up this wall?Tatuai and Shethar-boznai; not Rehum and Shimshai &c., who were either dead, or removed from their offices by the new emperor Darius, as is very usual.
Then said we unto them after this manner, What are the names of the men that make this building?Then said we; either,
1. We Tatnai and Shethar-boznai. And so this is an additional and more express inquiry concerning the names of the builders. And this sense is favoured by comparing Ezra 5:9,10, where the same questions here severally made, Ezra 5:3,4, are in like manner distinguished. And so the sacred writer speaks this in their person; such variation of persons being frequent in the Hebrew language, as the learned know. Or,
2. We Jews; and so the translation must be a little varied, and the words read without an interrogation, thus, Then we told them accordingly (i.e. according to what they asked)
what were the names of the men that made this building, i.e. who were the chief undertakers and encouragers of this work; for although the Hebrew particle mah, rendered what, seems always to be used interrogatively, yet the Chaldee particle man, here rendered what, is used otherwise, as is manifest from Daniel 4:17.
But 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.They could not cause them to cease; because God overruled their hearts and hands, that they did not hinder them by force, as they could have done.
The copy of the letter that Tatnai, governor on this side the river, and Shetharboznai, and his companions the Apharsachites, which were on this side the river, sent unto Darius the king:The Apharsachites; a people so called, sent hither as a colony. As the other people, mentioned Ezra 4:9 they seem to have had a greater power with Rehum and Shimshai that with these new officers, who made choice of other companions.
Which were on this side the river, whereby they are distinguished from those of their brethren who yet continued in their native country beyond the river, and were not transplanted hither.
They sent a letter unto him, wherein was written thus; Unto Darius the king, all peace.No text from Poole on this verse.
Be 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.The great God; whom the Jews account the great God, the God of gods, esteeming all others to be but little and false gods.
Then asked we those elders, and said unto them thus, Who commanded you to build this house, and to make up these walls?No text from Poole on this verse.
We asked their names also, to certify thee, that we might write the names of the men that were the chief of them.No text from Poole on this verse.
And 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.No text from Poole on this verse.
But 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.No text from Poole on this verse.
But in the first year of Cyrus the king of Babylon the same king Cyrus made a decree to build this house of God.No text from Poole on this verse.
And 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;No text from Poole on this verse.
And 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.No text from Poole on this verse.
Then 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.Even until now; allowing for some interruptions.
Now 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.No text from Poole on this verse.