Whatever is needed--young bulls, rams, and lambs for burnt offerings to the God of heaven, as well as wheat, salt, wine, and oil, as requested by the priests in Jerusalem--must be given to them day by day without fail.
I. THE INSTRUCTION FOUNDED UPON THE DECREE OF CYRUS (vers. 6, 7).
1. The instruction is intrinsically good.
(1) Do not hinder the work of God.
(2) Do not molest those who are engaged in it.
Good men would receive it gladly. The work of God is their work. Those engaged in it their fellows.
2. But to the wicked it is mortifying.
(1) Not to all equally so. The governor, Tatnai, did not commit himself to the opposition in the spirit of bitterness. Therefore to him the turn of events might not be mortifying.
(2) But to the Apharsachites it would be intensely so. Their opposition was malicious (see ch. 4.). Therefore the frustration of their purposes would sting them to the quick. Lesson - Never do anything that may involve humiliation. Reflection - What an agony of mortification there will be in the vanquished insolence of the lost!
II. THE REQUISITION MADE BY DARIUS (vers. 8-10).
1. That from the king's revenue from beyond the river expenses be given to the builders of God's house.
(1) Not from the kingdom in general, but from that portion whence the opposition came. What a public defeat! Yet not so public as that of the enemies of Christ before an assembled universe in the great day of judgment.
(2) The leaders of the opposition are the very persons required to raise and make these payments. What a retribution! Eye for eye; tooth for tooth.
2. That all they required for sacrifice and offering should be supplied.
(1) For burnt offerings "young bullocks and rams and lambs."
(3) These, "according to the appointment of the priests, to be given day by day without fail." We need the continual efficacy of the sacrifice of Calvary. We need a daily supply of spiritual as well as natural food.
3. Their patriotism and loyalty concerned in carrying out this.
III. THE MALEDICTION DENOUNCED UPON THOSE WHO MAY FAIL TO FULFIL THE REQUISITION (vers. 11, 12).
1. Civil penalties.
(1) His house to be demolished. Infliction not only upon his person, but also on his family.
(2) The timber of it to be made into a cross or gibbet for his crucifixion or destruction. Thus held up to public execration (see Deuteronomy 21:22, 23).
(3) The place of his house to be made a dunghill. That his very memory might be abhorrent to men.
2. The vengeance of heaven imprecated.
(2) This vengeance imprecated upon "kings;" may refer to deputies, and particularly to Tatnai and Shethar-boznai.
(3) It is also called down upon the "people." Those "of the land" particularly intended. Query - Does not this suggest a belief in a future state; for if the civil penalties are to the death, what more can there he else? Let us "fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell." - J.A.M.
That they may offer sacrifices of sweet savours unto the God of heaven.
1. It is often said of Abraham and Isaac that where they pitched their tents they also built an altar, and "there called upon the name of the Lord"; but an altar is a place for sacrifice; therefore sacrifice must be a rite whereby they called upon the name of God.
3. This is further proved by Psalm 116:13: "I will take the cup of salvation" (or drink offering) "and call upon the name of the Lord."
5. The like may be inferred out of Solomon's prayer at the dedication of the temple and the Lord's answer thereto. In the prayer no mention is made of sacrifice to be there offered, but only that God would be pleased to hear the prayers that should be made in that place or towards it. Nevertheless, when God appeared to Solomon in the night, He said unto him, "I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to Myself for a house of sacrifice" (2 Chronicles 7:12). From what has been said we can understand in what sense the ancient Church called the Eucharist a sacrifice, and how harmless that notion was, viz., they took this sacrament to have been ordained by Christ to succeed the bloody sacrifices of the law, and to be a means of supplication and address to God, in the New Testament as they were in the Old, by representing the body and blood of Christ unto His Father, according to His appointment.
(J. Mede, B. D.)
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