The Book of Ezra


Ezra (meaning help), was written around 458 BCE. and tells us how the priesthood became polluted. Ezra is written to fit a schematic pattern in which the God of Israel inspires a king of Persia to commission a leader from the Jewish community to carry out a mission; three successive leaders carry out three such missions, the first rebuilding the Temple, the second purifying the Jewish community, and the third sealing of the holy city itself behind a wall. In the early 6th century Judah rebelled against Babylon and was destroyed. As a result the royal court, the priests, the prophets and scribes, were taken into captivity in Babylon. There a profound intellectual revolution took place, the exiles blaming their fate on disobedience to their God and looking forward to a future when he would allow a purified people to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple. The same period saw the rapid rise of Persia, previously an unimportant kingdom in present-day southern Iran, to a position of great power, and in 539 BCE Cyrus II, the Persian ruler, conquered Babylon.

Ezra 1

Ezr 1:1 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying. Cyrus, the son of Astyages and Esther, was so named and fulfilled the prophecy nearly 200 years before he was born (Jeremiah 29:1-14, Isaiah 44:28). 

Ezr 1:2 Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Appointed by God to build the Temple at Jerusalem. (Isaiah 44:24-28). According to the testimony of ancient writers, Cyrus, at this time, reigned over the Medes, Persians, Hyrcanians, Syrians, Assyrians, Indians, etc., and all lesser Asia. (Better know as Cyrus the Great).

Ezr 1:3 Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem. Around 50,000 Jews chose to go, but most of the Jews remained in Babylon and went from being farmers to being merchants. Many had become very wealthy in Babylon.

Ezr 1:4 And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, beside the freewill offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem. The He and Him here points to Judah. (i.e. asking to help the tribes of Judah). 

Ezr 1:5 Then rose up the chief of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests, and the Levites, with all them whose spirit God had raised, to go up to build the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem. God stirred up the hearts of the priests and Levites and the leaders of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple. (II Chronicles 36:22-23).

Ezr 1:6 And all they that were about them strengthened their hands with vessels of silver, with gold, with goods, and with beasts, and with precious things, beside all that was willingly offered. The neighboring people assisted them by giving them gold, silver, livestock and supplies for the journey.   

Ezr 1:7 Also Cyrus the king brought forth the vessels of the house of the LORD, which Nebuchadnezzar had brought forth out of Jerusalem, and had put them in the house of his gods. King Cyrus himself brought out the articles that King Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the Lord's Temple for his own gods. (II Kings 24:13, II Chronicles 36:1). 

Ezr 1:8 Even those did Cyrus king of Persia bring forth by the hand of Mithredath the treasurer, and numbered them unto Sheshbazzar, the prince of Judah. Cyrus directed Mithredath to present the treasures to Sheshbazzar (the Chaldean name of the prince of Judah), not Zerubbabel, which means born of Babel.  

Ezr 1:9 And this is the number of them: thirty chargers of gold, a thousand chargers of silver, nine and twenty knives. 

Ezr 1:10 Thirty basons of gold, silver basons of a second sort four hundred and ten, and other vessels a thousand. Nebuchadnezzar had taken all this gold and silver.

Ezr 1:11 All the vessels of gold and of silver were five thousand and four hundred. All these did Sheshbazzar bring up with them of the captivity that were brought up from Babylon unto Jerusalem. In all, there were 5,400 articles of gold and silver. (All the tools to build the Temple). 

Ezra 2

Ezr 2:1 Now these are the children of the province that went up out of the captivity, of those which had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away unto Babylon, and came again unto Jerusalem and Judah, every one unto his city. This chapter is parallel with (Nehemiah 7:69). Children = sons. The Province: i.e. the Persian province of Judah (Nehemiah 1:3, 7:6). Nebuchadnezzar in charge of the province.

Ezr 2:2 Which came with Zerubbabel: Jeshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispar, Bigvai, Rehum, Baanah. The number of the men of the people of Israel: Zerubbabel, born in Babylon, appointed to govenor, and was responsible for the building of the Temple. Jeshua, the great helper of Zerubbabel. Nehemiah (Nehemiah 1:1, 10:1). Seraiah = Azariah (Nehemiah 7:7). Mordecai (taken in Jehoiachin's deportation). People of Israel (I Kings 12:17). This is the number of men of Israel who returned from exile:  

Ezr 2:3 The children of Parosh, two thousand an hundred seventy and two.

Ezr 2:4 The children of Shephatiah, three hundred seventy and two.

Ezr 2:5 The children of Arah, seven hundred seventy and five.

Ezr 2:6 The children of Pahathmoab, of the children of Jeshua and Joab, two thousand eight hundred and twelve.

Ezr 2:7 The children of Elam, a thousand two hundred fifty and four.

Ezr 2:8 The children of Zattu, nine hundred forty and five.

Ezr 2:9 The children of Zaccai, seven hundred and threescore.

Ezr 2:10 The children of Bani, six hundred forty and two.

Ezr 2:11 The children of Bebai, six hundred twenty and three.

Ezr 2:12 The children of Azgad, a thousand two hundred twenty and two.

Ezr 2:13 The children of Adonikam, six hundred sixty and six.

Ezr 2:14 The children of Bigvai, two thousand fifty and six.

Ezr 2:15 The children of Adin, four hundred fifty and four.

Ezr 2:16 The children of Ater of Hezekiah, ninety and eight.

Ezr 2:17 The children of Bezai, three hundred twenty and three.

Ezr 2:18 The children of Jorah, an hundred and twelve.

Ezr 2:19 The children of Hashum, two hundred twenty and three.

Ezr 2:20 The children of Gibbar, ninety and five.

Ezr 2:21 The children of Bethlehem, an hundred twenty and three.

Ezr 2:22 The men of Netophah, fifty and six.

Ezr 2:23 The men of Anathoth, an hundred twenty and eight.

Ezr 2:24 The children of Azmaveth, forty and two.

Ezr 2:25 The children of Kirjatharim, Chephirah, and Beeroth, seven hundred and forty and three.

Ezr 2:26 The children of Ramah and Gaba, six hundred twenty and one.

Ezr 2:27 The men of Michmas, an hundred twenty and two.

Ezr 2:28 The men of Bethel and Ai, two hundred twenty and three.

Ezr 2:29 The children of Nebo, fifty and two.

Ezr 2:30 The children of Magbish, an hundred fifty and six.

Ezr 2:31 The children of the other Elam, a thousand two hundred fifty and four.

Ezr 2:32 The children of Harim, three hundred and twenty.

Ezr 2:33 The children of Lod, Hadid, and Ono, seven hundred twenty and five.

Ezr 2:34 The children of Jericho, three hundred forty and five.

Ezr 2:35 The children of Senaah, three thousand and six hundred and thirty.

Ezr 2:36 The priests: the children of Jedaiah, of the house of Jeshua, nine hundred seventy and three.

Ezr 2:37 The children of Immer, a thousand fifty and two.

Ezr 2:38 The children of Pashur, a thousand two hundred forty and seven.

Ezr 2:39 The children of Harim, a thousand and seventeen.

Ezr 2:40 The Levites: the children of Jeshua and Kadmiel, of the children of Hodaviah, seventy and four. (The Levite Priests)

Ezr 2:41 The singers: the children of Asaph, an hundred twenty and eight.

Ezr 2:42 The children of the porters: the children of Shallum, the children of Ater, the children of Talmon, the children of Akkub, the children of Hatita, the children of Shobai, in all an hundred thirty and nine.

Ezr 2:43 The Nethinims: the children of Ziha, the children of Hasupha, the children of Tabbaoth, (The Nethinim), Many which were the Kenites. (I Chronicles 2:55), they had already slipped in and were keeping the books for Judah. They started out by carrying wood and water, and not before long they were doing the liturgical duties. (Now you know how the Kenites worked their way in). "Beware of their false teachings."

Ezr 2:44 The children of Keros, the children of Siaha, the children of Padon,

Ezr 2:45 The children of Lebanah, the children of Hagabah, the children of Akkub,

Ezr 2:46 The children of Hagab, the children of Shalmai, the children of Hanan,

Ezr 2:47 The children of Giddel, the children of Gahar, the children of Reaiah,

Ezr 2:48 The children of Rezin, the children of Nekoda, the children of Gazzam,

Ezr 2:49 The children of Uzza, the children of Paseah, the children of Besai,

Ezr 2:50 The children of Asnah, the children of Mehunim, the children of Nephusim,

Ezr 2:51 The children of Bakbuk, the children of Hakupha, the children of Harhur,

Ezr 2:52 The children of Bazluth, the children of Mehida, the children of Harsha,

Ezr 2:53 The children of Barkos, the children of Sisera, the children of Thamah,

Ezr 2:54 The children of Neziah, the children of Hatipha.

Ezr 2:55 The children of Solomon's servants: the children of Sotai, the children of Sophereth, the children of Peruda,

Ezr 2:56 The children of Jaalah, the children of Darkon, the children of Giddel,

Ezr 2:57 The children of Shephatiah, the children of Hattil, the children of Pochereth of Zebaim, the children of Ami.

Ezr 2:58 All the Nethinims, and the children of Solomon's servants, were three hundred ninety and two. (Claiming to be descendents of Solomon).

Ezr 2:59 And these were they which went up from Telmelah, Telharsa, Cherub, Addan, and Immer: but they could not shew their father's house, and their seed, whether they were of Israel: (They were also claiming to be descendants of Israel, but could not prove it). (I Kings 12:17).

Ezr 2:60 The children of Delaiah, the children of Tobiah, the children of Nekoda, six hundred fifty and two. Nekoda (meaning temple servant), was of the Nethinim.

Ezr 2:61 And of the children of the priests: the children of Habaiah, the children of Koz, the children of Barzillai; which took a wife of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite, and was called after their name: Claim to be of Barzillai. (i.e. claiming to be a Levite priest).

Ezr 2:62 These sought their register among those that were reckoned by genealogy, but they were not found: therefore were they, as polluted, put from the priesthood. They searched for their names in the genealogical records, but were not found. They claimed to be priests of the priesthood, but they were rejected. (i.e. polluted from the priesthood). (Nehemiah 7:64, 13:29, Isaiah 59:3, 63:3, Lamentations 4:14, Zephaniah 3:1, Malachi 1:7).  

Ezr 2:63 And the Tirshatha said unto them, that they should not eat of the most holy things, till there stood up a priest with Urim and with Thummim. Seven holy things and 4 most holy things. (The priests share of food from the sacrifices). Tirshatha: or, governor, The person who held this office at this time was probably Zerubbabel. The word Tirshatha is supposed to be Persian; and if, as Castel supposes, it signifies austerity, or that fear which is impressed by the authority of a governor, it may be derived from tars, "ear," or tursh, "acid, austere." 

Ezr 2:64 The whole congregation together was forty and two thousand three hundred and threescore. Though the sum total, both here and in Nehemiah, is equal, namely, 42,360, yet the particulars reckoned up only make 29,818 in Ezra, and 31,089 in Nehemiah; and we find that Nehemiah mentions 1,765 persons who are not in Ezra, and Ezra has 494 not mentioned in Nehemiah. This last circumstance, which seems to render all hope of reconciling them impossible, Mr. Alting thinks is the very point by which they can be reconciled; for, if we add Ezra's surplus to the sum in Nehemiah, and Nehemiah's surplus to the number in Ezra, they will both amount to 31,583; which subtracted from 42,360, leaves a deficiency of 10,777, which are not named because they did not belong to the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, or to the priests, but to the other Israelitish tribes. (Nehemiah 7:66-69). 

Ezr 2:65 Beside their servants and their maids, of whom there were seven thousand three hundred thirty and seven: and there were among them two hundred singing men and singing women. In addition to 7,337 servants and 200 singers, both men and women. (Nehemiah 7:67). (The Hebrews hired these singers, not the Levitical priesthood).

Ezr 2:66 Their horses were seven hundred thirty and six; their mules, two hundred forty and five;

Ezr 2:67 Their camels, four hundred thirty and five; their asses, six thousand seven hundred and twenty.

Ezr 2:68 And some of the chief of the fathers, when they came to the house of the LORD which is at Jerusalem, offered freely for the house of God to set it up in his place: Some of the family leaders made voluntary offerings toward the rebuilding of God's Temple on its original site. (Nehemiah 7:70-73).

Ezr 2:69 They gave after their ability unto the treasure of the work threescore and one thousand drams of gold, and five thousand pound of silver, and one hundred priests' garments. 

Ezr 2:70 So the priests, and the Levites, and some of the people, and the singers, and the porters, and the Nethinims, dwelt in their cities, and all Israel in their cities. These were the people who settled in the villages near Jerusalem. The rest of the people returned to their own towns throughout Israel. (Nehemiah 7:73).

Ezra 3

Ezr 3:1 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. The people assembled in Jerusalem with a unified purpose. (Passover, Pentecost, Feast of Tabernacles).

Ezr 3:2 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. Before the temple was built, there seems to have been a tabernacle pitched for Divine service, as was in David's time, not on mount Moriah, but mount Sion, to be used while the temple was building. Let us learn hence to begin with God, and to do what we can in the worship of God, when we cannot do what we would. They could not immediately have a temple, but they would not be without an altar. Wherever a Christian goes, if he carry not with him the sacrifices of prayer and praise, he is wanting in his duty; for he has an altar ever ready that sanctifies both the gift and the giver. (Exodus 17:14, 20:24-25)

Ezr 3:3 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. Even though the people were afraid of the local residents, they rebuilt the altar at its old site. (Psalm 56:2-4).

Ezr 3:4 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. The Old Covenant sacred Feast of Shelters, called "Sukkot" in the Hebrew, and also known as the Feast of Tabernacles. (Leviticus 23:34-36, Exodus 29:38). As recorded in the parallel passage (Nehemiah 8:14-17). 

Ezr 3:5 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. They also offered the regular burnt offerings and the offerings required for the new moon celebration and the annual festivals as required by the Lord. (Exodus 29:38). This "new moon" is speaking of one beginning of the month. (Numbers 28:11).

Ezr 3:6 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. Fifteen days before the festival of Shelters began, the priests had begun to sacrifice burnt offerings to the Lord. However, the foundation of the temple was not yet laid.

Ezr 3:7 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. The people hired masons and carpenters and brought cedar logs from the people of Tyre and Sidon. They paid them with food, wine and olive oil. The logs were brought down from the Lebanon mountains by permission of King Cyrus. (II Chronicles 2:16). Joppa, now Jaffa or Yaffa, one of the most ancient sea-ports in the world, is situated in a fine plain on the shore of the Mediterranean, between Jamnia south and Caesarea of Palestine north, 150 stadia from Antipatris, according to Josephus, 30 miles south of Caesarea, 12 miles north of Ashdod, 9 miles west of Ramla, and 40 miles west of Jerusalem, according to modern authorities; and in lat. 32 degrees 50 minutes long. 65 degrees 40 minutes according to Ptolemy. It is still a considerable town, containing about 4,000 or 5,000 souls, and occupying a circular eminence close to the seaside, with a citadel on the summit; the bottom of the hill being surrounded by a wall 12 or 14 feet high, and two or three feet thick. The environs are occupied by extensive gardens.  

Ezr 3:8 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. The construction of the Temple began in mid-spring, during the second year after they arrived in Jerusalem. The work force was made up of everyone who returned from exile. (Put in charge of rebuilding the temple, they were 20 years old and older). Zerubbabel was the prince of Judah if you will. (Ezra 3:2).   

Ezr 3:9 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. The workers at the Temple were supervised by Jeshua. Not Jeshua the high-priest, before mentioned, but another Jeshua, a Levite, mentioned in the parallel passage. (Ezra 2:40).

Ezr 3:10 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. When the builders completed the foundation of the Temple, the priests put on their robes and took their place to blow the trumpets and the sons of Asaph made a clashing sound with cymbals to praise the Lord as King David had prescribed. (II Chronicles 29:25-26).

Ezr 3:11 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. With praise and thanks they sang the song of the Lord because the foundation of the Temple was laid.

Ezr 3:12 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: Many of the older priests, Levites, and other leaders who had seen the first Temple wept aloud when they saw the new Temple foundation (they remembered the first Temple of Solomon, it was awesome), the others shouted for joy. Thus fulfilling (Jeremiah 33:10-11).   

Ezr 3:13 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. The joyful shouting and weeping mingled together in a loud noise was heard as far as Samaria. This sight must have been very affecting; a whole people, one part weeping aloud with sorrow, the other shouting aloud for joy; and on the same occasion too, in which both sides felt an equal interest. The prophet Haggai (Haggai 2:1-9), comforted them on this occasion, by assuring them that the glory of this latter house should exceed that of the former, because the Lord would come to this temple, and fill it with His glory.

Ezra 4

Ezr 4:1 Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity builded the temple unto the LORD God of Israel. The enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the exiles were rebuilding the Temple. These were the Samaritans, the descendants of the various nations with which the kings of Assyria had peopled Israel, when they had carried the original inhabitants captive. (Nehemiah 4:1-11).

Ezr 4:2 Then they came to Zerubbabel, and to the chief of the fathers, and said unto them, Let us build with you: for we seek your God, as ye do; and we do sacrifice unto him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assur, which brought us up hither. Now they approached Zerubbabel (descendent of Babylon), along with the other leaders and wanted to build the Temple with them. The only problem was that these were a mix of people (intermarried with some Jews and became know as the Samaritans), and did not serve Yahveh only; they served other gods. (II Kings 17:27-33, 17:41).

Ezr 4:3 But Zerubbabel, and Jeshua, and the rest of the chief of the fathers of Israel, said unto them, Ye have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our God; but we ourselves together will build unto the LORD God of Israel, as king Cyrus the king of Persia hath commanded us. But, Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the other leaders of Israel replied; "You may have no part in this work." We will do it ourselves as King Cyrus of Persia (the most powerful king in the land), had commanded.

Ezr 4:4 Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building. The locals tried to discourage and frighten the people of Judah to keep them from their work. (Nehemiah 4:7-8, 4:11).

Ezr 4:5 And hired counsellors against them, to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia. So, the locals hired agents to work against Judah to frustrate their plans. 

Ezr 4:6 And in the reign of Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, wrote they unto him an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem. Years later when Ahasuerus (know as Xerxes), "the king who married Esther," began to reign, the enemies of Judah made accusations against Judah. (Ezra 4:6 - 4:23) actually takes place after the construction of the Temple. Ezra's point is to give you an overall picture of the opposition that the Jews faced. (This letter of accusation is written somewhere around 486 BC).

Ezr 4:7 And in the days of Artaxerxes wrote Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and the rest of their companions, unto Artaxerxes king of Persia; and the writing of the letter was written in the Syrian tongue, and interpreted in the Syrian tongue. It was during the reign of Artaxerxes the king of Persia, that the enemies of Judah sent a letter to Artaxerxes in the Aramaic language. This Artaxerxes was one of the Magi, who usurped the throne after the death of Cambyses, for seven months, feigning himself to be Smerdis, brother of Cambyses. He is called Oropoestus by Justin, Smerdis by Herodotus, Mardus by AEschylus, and Sphendatates by Ctesias.

Ezr 4:8 Rehum the chancellor and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king in this sort: It was the governor "Rehum" and "Shimahai" the court secretary who wrote the letter.

Ezr 4:9 Then wrote Rehum the chancellor, and Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their companions; the Dinaites, the Apharsathchites, the Tarpelites, the Apharsites, the Archevites, the Babylonians, the Susanchites, the Dehavites, and the Elamites. They greeted the king for all their colleagues.

Ezr 4:10 And the rest of the nations whom the great and noble Asnappar brought over, and set in the cities of Samaria, and the rest that are on this side the river, and at such a time. It was on the west and south part of the Euphrates river. (They are going to make accusations to the king about Judah). 

Ezr 4:11 This is the copy of the letter that they sent unto him, even unto Artaxerxes the king; Thy servants the men on this side the river, and at such a time. Below is a copy of the letter to king Artaxerxes.

Ezr 4:12 Be it known unto the king, that the Jews which came up from thee to us are come unto Jerusalem, building the rebellious and the bad city, and have set up the walls thereof, and joined the foundations. This is a progress report on the rebuilding of the entire city (the Temple has already been finished in 515 BC).

Ezr 4:13 Be it known now unto the king, that, if this city be builded, and the walls set up again, then will they not pay toll, tribute, and custom, and so thou shalt endamage the revenue of the kings. In other words, they are saying that if the walls are set up, then the people would get the idea that they could declare independence as well as to be able to withstand any attacks. (i.e. the king's taxes would go down).

Ezr 4:14 Now because we have maintenance from the king's palace, and it was not meet for us to see the king's dishonour, therefore have we sent and certified the king. They are telling the king that they are his loyal subjects and they do not want to see the king dishonored in this way, so they are giving him this information. In other words, they are saying that if the walls are set up, then the people would get the idea that they could declare independence as well as to be able to withstand any attacks. (i.e. the king's taxes would go down). To have maintenance: The salt of the power of the king is our salt. Chaldeans, are salted with the salt of the palace, Salt is reckoned among the principal necessaries of life. Hence, by a very natural figure, salt is used for food or maintenance in general. It is a common expression of the natives in the East Indies, "I eat such a one's salt," meaning, I am fed by him. Salt was also, as it still is, among eastern nations, a symbol of friendship and hospitality; and hence, to eat a man's salt, is to be bound to him by the ties of friendship. 

Ezr 4:15 That search may be made in the book of the records of thy fathers: so shalt thou find in the book of the records, and know that this city is a rebellious city, and hurtful unto kings and provinces, and that they have moved sedition within the same of old time: for which cause was this city destroyed. i.e. They were stirring up trouble for Judah. (It's true that the Jews were very independent. They had rebelled against the Assyrians in 701 BC, and against the Babylonians in 600 BC and 589 BC). The reason Jerusalem was destroyed by Babylon. "The troublemakers." (II Kings 24:20, 25:1). 

Ezr 4:16 We certify the king that, if this city be builded again, and the walls thereof set up, by this means thou shalt have no portion on this side the river. i.e. We fear that they will take back control of this land if the city is rebuilt.  

Ezr 4:17 Then sent the king an answer unto Rehum the chancellor, and to Shimshai the scribe, and to the rest of their companions that dwell in Samaria, and unto the rest beyond the river, Peace, and at such a time. So, the king sends a reply to Rehum, Shimshai, and their colleagues.

Ezr 4:18 The letter which ye sent unto us hath been plainly read before me. The letter you sent has been translated to me and I understand it completely. 

Ezr 4:19 And I commanded, and search hath been made, and it is found that this city of old time hath made insurrection against kings, and that rebellion and sedition have been made therein. I ordered the search of the records and found it to be true that Jerusalem has been a hotbed of insurrection against many kings.

Ezr 4:20 There have been mighty kings also over Jerusalem, which have ruled over all countries beyond the river; and toll, tribute, and custom, was paid unto them. Mighty kings such as David and Solomon have ruled over Jerusalem and the entire province west of the Euphrates, receiving tribute, customs and tolls. 

Ezr 4:21 Give ye now commandment to cause these men to cease, and that this city be not builded, until another commandment shall be given from me. So, now the king issued orders to have these men stop their work and the city not to be rebuilt except at his command. (God wanted it to proceed, He didn't care what they wanted).

Ezr 4:22 Take heed now that ye fail not to do this: why should damage grow to the hurt of the kings? In other words, they were saying; "we don't want you to get hurt in the pocket book, or we would be hurt also."  

Ezr 4:23 Now when the copy of king Artaxerxes' letter was read before Rehum, and Shimshai the scribe, and their companions, they went up in haste to Jerusalem unto the Jews, and made them to cease by force and power. Direct orders from the king of Persia to sees and assist.  

Ezr 4:24 Then ceased the work of the house of God which is at Jerusalem. So it ceased unto the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia. This verse picks up from back in verse 5, when the opposition to the building of the Temple was mentioned. So, the work on the Temple of God in Jerusalem had stopped, and remained at a standstill until the second year of the reign of King Darius of Persia. This was Darius Hystaspes, one of the seven princes who slew the usurper Smerdis. He ascended the throne of Persia, am 3483, bc 521, and reigned 36 years. (Ezra 5:5, Haggai 1:15). It was the enemy that wanted them to stop building. (Satan at work)! He will always try and confuse you through compromise as well as outright attack. (Just another one of Satan's method of operation).

Ezra 5

Ezr 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. This is God communication to the people through the prophets. These are the same Haggai and Zechariah, whose writings we have among the twelve minor prophets; and, as a great part of them refer to the events here recorded, the reader will find it very profitable to compare them with the history. (Haggai 1:1-15, Zachariah 1:1-21).

Ezr 5:2 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. Zerubbabel would be the leader of the government, a descendant of King David. Jeshua (Joshua) would be the high priest. (God used the message of the prophets to get things moving to finish the Temple).

Ezr 5:3 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? Tatnai was governor of the provinces which belonged to the Persian empire west of the Euphrates, comprehending Syria, Arabia Deserta, Phoenicia, and Samaria. He seems to have been a mild and judicious man, and to have acted with great prudence and caution, and without any passion or prejudice. (Ezra 6:6, Nehemiah 2:7-9). 

Ezr 5:4 Then said we unto them after this manner, What are the names of the men that make this building? After this manner: Verse 4 should be rendered "we told them what the names were, accordingly the names of the men." (It is not a question).

Ezr 5:5 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. God watching over them (Divine intervention), so the Jews were not prevented from building until a report was sent to Darius and he returned his decision.

Ezr 5:6 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 copy of the letter sent to King Darius by Tatnai and Shetharboznai and his companions the Apharsachites. (This would be a Medo-Persian tribe).

Ezr 5:7 They sent a letter unto him, wherein was written thus; Unto Darius the king, all peace. Greetings to King Darius.

Ezr 5:8 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. Wanted the King to know that when they went to the construction site of the Temple of God in the province of Judah, that it was being rebuilt with special prepared stones and that timber was being laid in its walls. i.e. the work is going forward as God instructed them.

Ezr 5:9 Then asked we those elders, and said unto them thus, Who commanded you to build this house, and to make up these walls? They wanted to know by what authority they were building the Temple? It was by God's authority.

Ezr 5:10 We asked their names also, to certify thee, that we might write the names of the men that were the chief of them. Who were your leaders that caused this work to proceed? 

Ezr 5:11 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. There answer was that "We are the servants of God of heaven and earth, and we are rebuilding the Temple that was built long ago by a great King of Israel. This great king would be King Solomon nearly 500 years ago. David originally wanted to build the house of God, but he was a warrior and God told him that it would be his son who would build the Temple. (I Kings 6:1-7). 

Ezr 5:12 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. The ancestors angered God and He abandoned them to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon who destroyed the Temple. (II Kings 21:12-15, Nehemiah 9:26-27). The well educated were taken to captivity. 

Ezr 5:13 But in the first year of Cyrus the king of Babylon the same king Cyrus made a decree to build this house of God. King of Persia and Babylon. Babylon included now with Persia. (Ezra 1:1-8, Nehemiah 13:6).

Ezr 5:14 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. It was King Cyrus that returned the gold and silver cups that Nebuchadnezzar took from the Temple of God. Delivered to Sheshbazzar the governor. (Ezra 1:7-10).

Ezr 5:15 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. The king instructed Sheshbazzar to return the cups to their place in Jerusalem and to rebuild the Temple in its original site.  

Ezr 5:16 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. Sheshbazzar came and laid the foundation of the Temple of God in Jerusalem. Zurubbabel held the plumb line. (Zechariah 4:10).  

Ezr 5:17 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. So, they requested that a search be made in the royal archives of Babylon to see if King Cyrus ever issued a decree to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem.

Ezra 6

Ezr 6:1 Then Darius the king made a decree, and search was made in the house of the rolls, where the treasures were laid up in Babylon. The order was given and the search was made in the archives. (The books were valued to these people).

Ezr 6:2 And there was found at Achmetha, in the palace that is in the province of the Medes, a roll, and therein was a record thus written: It was at the fortress of Ecbatana (the capital of ancient Media), that a scroll was found. The Latin vulgate reads this was a summer residence of the Persian monarchs.

Ezr 6:3 In the first year of Cyrus the king the same Cyrus the king made a decree concerning the house of God at Jerusalem, Let the house be builded, the place where they offered sacrifices, and let the foundations thereof be strongly laid; the height thereof threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof threescore cubits. Memorandum: In the first year of King Cyrus a decree was sent out concerning the Temple of God in Jerusalem. The Temple was to be rebuilt on the site where the Jews offered sacrifice. Its height would be 90 feet and width would be 90 feet.   

Ezr 6:4 With three rows of great stones, and a row of new timber: and let the expenses be given out of the king's house: The original letter from Cyrus told them that all the expenses would be paid by the royal treasury.

Ezr 6:5 And also let the golden and silver vessels of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took forth out of the temple which is at Jerusalem, and brought unto Babylon, be restored, and brought again unto the temple which is at Jerusalem, every one to his place, and place them in the house of God. The letter also read that all the gold and silver cups that were taken to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar were to be returned to Jerusalem and replaced back where they belonged. 

Ezr 6:6 Now therefore, Tatnai, governor beyond the river, Shetharboznai, and your companions the Apharsachites, which are beyond the river, be ye far from thence: So, Tatnai, Shetharboznai, and their companions the Apharsachites were instructed by King Darius to stay away from the Temple and leave them alone. (He wanted the Temple built).

Ezr 6:7 Let the work of this house of God alone; let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews build this house of God in his place. Do not disturb the construction of the Temple of God and do not hinder the governor of Judah and the elders of their Jews in their work. (Satan will always try to mess things up, but not here). 

Ezr 6:8 Moreover I make a decree what ye shall do to the elders of these Jews for the building of this house of God: that of the king's goods, even of the tribute beyond the river, forthwith expenses be given unto these men, that they be not hindered. Not only do I want you to leave them alone, but if they run out of funds, take it from the taxes that are owed to me so that the work will not be interrupted.

Ezr 6:9 And that which they have need of, both young bullocks, and rams, and lambs, for the burnt offerings of the God of heaven, wheat, salt, wine, and oil, according to the appointment of the priests which are at Jerusalem, let it be given them day by day without fail: Whatever the priests need, give them. (No doubt the Meads and Persians were not going to convert, because they worshipped many gods). They were just stirred up by Satan to cause trouble. 

Ezr 6:10 That they may offer sacrifices of sweet savours unto the God of heaven, and pray for the life of the king, and of his sons. They had their special days that they would pray for the King and the leaders of the nations just as we do today. (I Timothy 2:1-2), We are to pray for those who are in authority over us, or those in places of high responsibility. This way we can live in peace and quietness, spending our time learning and sharing God's Word.

Ezr 6:11 Also I have made a decree, that whosoever shall alter this word, let timber be pulled down from his house, and being set up, let him be hanged thereon; and let his house be made a dunghill for this. Darius gives them a warning. Those who violate this decree in any way will be punished. 

Ezr 6:12 And the God that hath caused his name to dwell there destroy all kings and people, that shall put to their hand to alter and to destroy this house of God which is at Jerusalem. I Darius have made a decree; let it be done with speed. At the end of the letter Darius says; May the God who has chosen the city of Jerusalem as the place to honor His name, destroy and king or nation that violates this command and destroys the Temple. (God is in control and the Temple will be completed).

Ezr 6:13 Then Tatnai, governor on this side the river, Shetharboznai, and their companions, according to that which Darius the king had sent, so they did speedily. Their was a change of heart with these fellows because of the letter from King Darius.

Ezr 6:14 And the elders of the Jews builded, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they builded, and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia. The Jewish elders continued their work along with the heathen gentiles to rebuild the Temple. The prophets Haggai and Zechariah were prophesying to them to keep them on the right track. (Haggai 1:12-14). 

Ezr 6:15 And this house was finished on the third day of the month Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king. It was a total of fifteen years to rebuild the Temple, and it was completed during the sixth year of King Darius's reign.

Ezr 6:16 And the children of Israel, the priests, and the Levites, and the rest of the children of the captivity, kept the dedication of this house of God with joy. The Temple of God was then dedicated with great joy by the people of Israel after 70 years of captivity. (Nehemiah 12:43). Having set up the worship of God in this dedication, they took care to keep it up, and made the book of Moses their rule, to which they had an eye in this establishment. Though the temple service could not now be performed with so much pomp and plenty as formerly, because of their poverty, yet no doubt it was performed with as much purity and close adherence to the Divine institutions as ever. No beauty is like the beauty of holiness.

Ezr 6:17 And offered at the dedication of this house of God an hundred bullocks, two hundred rams, four hundred lambs; and for a sin offering for all Israel, twelve he goats, according to the number of the tribes of Israel. Sin offerings for the twelve tribes of Israel. Though the tribes of Benjamin and Judah, with the priests and Levites, formed the bulk of the people, yet many from the other tribes had returned with them from captivity. (Ezekiel 37-38), tells when the two houses will be joined together in the future.

Ezr 6:18 And they set the priests in their divisions, and the Levites in their courses, for the service of God, which is at Jerusalem; as it is written in the book of Moses. They served in the temple of God in Jerusalem. (24 courses 48 weeks and 3 weeks when they all served). Passover, feats of tabernacles, and feast of trumpets.

Ezr 6:19 And the children of the captivity kept the passover upon the fourteenth day of the first month. The returned exiles celebrated Passover.

Ezr 6:20 For the priests and the Levites were purified together, all of them were pure, and killed the passover for all the children of the captivity, and for their brethren the priests, and for themselves. The priests and Levites had purified themselves and were ceremonially clean. They slaughtered the Passover lamb for all the returned exiles as well as themselves. (II Chronicles 35:11). We no longer need this sacrifice today because we have Christ who sacrificed Himself as the sacrificial lamb for one in all times. (Hebrews 7:27).

Ezr 6:21 And the children of Israel, which were come again out of captivity, and all such as had separated themselves unto them from the filthiness of the heathen of the land, to seek the LORD God of Israel, did eat. The Passover meal was eaten by the people of Israel who returned from exile. "Christ became our Passover." (I Corinthians 5:7-8).

Ezr 6:22 And kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with joy: for the LORD had made them joyful, and turned the heart of the king of Assyria unto them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel. The celebration continued for seven days (Festival of Unleavened Bread). There was great joy throughout the land. "This is how you come out of confusion." They started pleasing God and He caused the king of Assyria to be favorable to them, so that he helped them to rebuild the Temple of God.

Ezra 7

Ezr 7:1 Now after these things, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra the son of Seraiah, the son of Azariah, the son of Hilkiah. During the reign of King Artaxerxes: i.e. Darius (Hystaspis), came Ezra, brother to Jehozadak and uncle to the high priest Joshua. Ezra was deported with Zedekiah. 

Ezr 7:2 The son of Shallum, the son of Zadok, the son of Ahitub,

Ezr 7:3 The son of Amariah, the son of Azariah, the son of Meraioth,

Ezr 7:4 The son of Zerahiah, the son of Uzzi, the son of Bukki,

Ezr 7:5 The son of Abishua, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the chief priest: Through Aaron and Eleazar the high priesthood would come.

Ezr 7:6 This Ezra went up from Babylon; and he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which the LORD God of Israel had given: and the king granted him all his request, according to the hand of the LORD his God upon him. Ezra was a scribe well versed in the Law of Moses. The king gave him everything needed to complete the Temple.

Ezr 7:7 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. Some of the people of Israel, the priests, Levites, singers, gatekeepers and temple servants (the Nethinims), traveled up to Jerusalem. (Nehemiah 10:28).

Ezr 7:8 And he came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which was in the seventh year of the king. Ezra arrived in Jerusalem in the fifth month: Nisan (March-April). See appendix 51 III 4.

Ezr 7:9 For upon the first day of the first month began he to go up from Babylon, and on the first day of the fifth month came he to Jerusalem, according to the good hand of his God upon him. It took four months to make this trip from Babylon to Jerusalem. (God was with them).

Ezr 7:10 For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments. Ezra kept the law and taught it to the people. (You must be a hearer and a doer of the Word of God). Try your best to live as a Christian at all times. (Can your pastor teach the law as it is written). The laws of God still stand, but the ordinances were done away with when Christ was crucified.

Ezr 7:11 Now this is the copy of the letter that the king Artaxerxes gave unto Ezra the priest, the scribe, even a scribe of the words of the commandments of the LORD, and of his statutes to Israel. The king gives a letter to Ezra.

Ezr 7:12 Artaxerxes, king of kings, unto Ezra the priest, a scribe of the law of the God of heaven, perfect peace, and at such a time. The God of Israel. (Keep in mind that the Persians had more than one god).

Ezr 7:13 I make a decree, that all they of the people of Israel, and of his priests and Levites, in my realm, which are minded of their own freewill to go up to Jerusalem, go with thee. Those who volunteered to go home to Jerusalem. (Many did not want to go back because things were tough there).

Ezr 7:14 Forasmuch as thou art sent of the king, and of his seven counsellors, to enquire concerning Judah and Jerusalem, according to the law of thy God which is in thine hand; The seven princes of Persia. (Kind of like a supreme court), having conspired against and slain the usurper Smerdis, and thus made way for the family of Darius, which afterwards filled the throne, the Persian kings of this race had always seven chief princes as their counselors, who possessed peculiar privileges, were his chief assistants in the government, and by whose advice all the public affairs of the empire were transacted. The names of these counselors are given in the parallel place of the book of Esther. (Esther 1:14).

Ezr 7:15 And to carry the silver and gold, which the king and his counsellors have freely offered unto the God of Israel, whose habitation is in Jerusalem. Commissioned to take silver and gold, which they would freely present as an offering to the God of Israel. 

Ezr 7:16 And all the silver and gold that thou canst find in all the province of Babylon, with the freewill offering of the people, and of the priests, offering willingly for the house of their God which is in Jerusalem: Take any silver and gold that you may obtain from the province of Babylon as well as free will offerings from the people.

Ezr 7:17 That thou mayest buy speedily with this money bullocks, rams, lambs, with their meat offerings and their drink offerings, and offer them upon the altar of the house of your God which is in Jerusalem. These donation are to be used for the purchase of food offerings for the Temple of God.

Ezr 7:18 And whatsoever shall seem good to thee, and to thy brethren, to do with the rest of the silver and the gold, that do after the will of your God. Anything left over can be used for other needs.

Ezr 7:19 The vessels also that are given thee for the service of the house of thy God, those deliver thou before the God of Jerusalem. The cups we are intrusting to you for the service of the Temple of your God.

Ezr 7:20 And whatsoever more shall be needful for the house of thy God, which thou shalt have occasion to bestow, bestow it out of the king's treasure house. Here we have a heathen king offering them any similar needs from the royal treasury. (As you can see, God is in control).

Ezr 7:21 And I, even I Artaxerxes the king, do make a decree to all the treasurers which are beyond the river, that whatsoever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, shall require of you, it be done speedily. The king decrees that you give Ezra whatever he requests of you, and do it quickly. (i.e. don't beat around the bush).

Ezr 7:22 Unto an hundred talents of silver, and to an hundred measures of wheat, and to an hundred baths of wine, and to an hundred baths of oil, and salt without prescribing how much. A lot of goods that he gave them. (Salt was a important commodity at this time).

Ezr 7:23 Whatsoever is commanded by the God of heaven, let it be diligently done for the house of the God of heaven: for why should there be wrath against the realm of the king and his sons? Lets not make God angry by holding back what they need to worship their God. (There was no conversion here, but he had the respect for the living God).

Ezr 7:24 Also we certify you, that touching any of the priests and Levites, singers, porters, Nethinims, or ministers of this house of God, it shall not be lawful to impose toll, tribute, or custom, upon them. i.e. Anyone who works in or near the house of God would be exempt from taxes.

Ezr 7:25 And thou, Ezra, after the wisdom of thy God, that is in thine hand, set magistrates and judges, which may judge all the people that are beyond the river, all such as know the laws of thy God; and teach ye them that know them not. And you Ezra are to use the wisdom your God has given you to appoint magistrates and judges who know your laws to govern the people. Again we have a heathen king that was telling them to do this. (Showing us that God was in control of Darius and Cyrus).

Ezr 7:26 And whosoever will not do the law of thy God, and the law of the king, let judgment be executed speedily upon him, whether it be unto death, or to banishment, or to confiscation of goods, or to imprisonment. Those who refuse to obey the law of the living God and the king will be banished or put to death. (This is a lot of power given to Ezra by Darius). The Hebrews never had that kind of authority as was give to Ezra.

Ezr 7:27 Blessed be the LORD God of our fathers, which hath put such a thing as this in the king's heart, to beautify the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem: Praise the Lord (Ezra would say), who made the king want to beautify the Temple of the God in Jerusalem. There is a most amiable spirit of piety in these reflections. Instead of expatiating on the praises of his munificent patron, or boasting of his own services, he blesses God for "putting such a thing in the king's heart;" and for all the assistance and favor shown him by the king and his counselors. (Only God can control the minds of men, and He shows it even in today’s world.)

Ezr 7:28 And hath extended mercy unto me before the king, and his counsellors, and before all the king's mighty princes. And I was strengthened as the hand of the LORD my God was upon me, and I gathered together out of Israel chief men to go up with me. In what the king decreed he saw the hand of God. He therefore gave Him the praise, and took courage. (Ezra has quite a job ahead of him, but always thanked the Father).

Ezra 8

Ezr 8:1 These are now the chief of their fathers, and this is the genealogy of them that went up with me from Babylon, in the reign of Artaxerxes the king. Here is the list of the head of the families who came out of Babylon.

Ezr 8:2 Of the sons of Phinehas; Gershom: of the sons of Ithamar; Daniel: of the sons of David; Hattush. Some who claim to be suitable for the prieshood. (We will skip down to verse 15 to continue).

Ezr 8:3 Of the sons of Shechaniah, of the sons of Pharosh; Zechariah: and with him were reckoned by genealogy of the males an hundred and fifty.

Ezr 8:4 Of the sons of Pahathmoab; Elihoenai the son of Zerahiah, and with him two hundred males.

Ezr 8:5 Of the sons of Shechaniah; the son of Jahaziel, and with him three hundred males.

Ezr 8:6 Of the sons also of Adin; Ebed the son of Jonathan, and with him fifty males.

Ezr 8:7 And of the sons of Elam; Jeshaiah the son of Athaliah, and with him seventy males.

Ezr 8:8 And of the sons of Shephatiah; Zebadiah the son of Michael, and with him fourscore males.

Ezr 8:9 Of the sons of Joab; Obadiah the son of Jehiel, and with him two hundred and eighteen males.

Ezr 8:10 And of the sons of Shelomith; the son of Josiphiah, and with him an hundred and threescore males.

Ezr 8:11 And of the sons of Bebai; Zechariah the son of Bebai, and with him twenty and eight males.

Ezr 8:12 And of the sons of Azgad; Johanan the son of Hakkatan, and with him an hundred and ten males.

Ezr 8:13 And of the last sons of Adonikam, whose names are these, Eliphelet, Jeiel, and Shemaiah, and with them threescore males.

Ezr 8:14 Of the sons also of Bigvai; Uthai, and Zabbud, and with them seventy males.

Ezr 8:15 And I gathered them together to the river that runneth to Ahava; and there abode we in tents three days: and I viewed the people, and the priests, and found there none of the sons of Levi. When Ezra assembled the exiles at the Ahava Canal he went over the list of people and found that none of the sons of Levi had volunteered to come along. (The Levites became lazy and that is how the Nethinim slipped in).

Ezr 8:16 Then sent I for Eliezer, for Ariel, for Shemaiah, and for Elnathan, and for Jarib, and for Elnathan, and for Nathan, and for Zechariah, and for Meshullam, chief men; also for Joiarib, and for Elnathan, men of understanding. These were wise and prudent men, especially for teaching.

Ezr 8:17 And I sent them with commandment unto Iddo the chief at the place Casiphia, and I told them what they should say unto Iddo, and to his brethren the Nethinims, at the place Casiphia, that they should bring unto us ministers for the house of our God. Iddo was a leader of the Levites. (He was not a Nethinim). However, the Nethinim were the ministers of the Levites. (Originally Gibeonites).   

Ezr 8:18 And by the good hand of our God upon us they brought us a man of understanding, of the sons of Mahli, the son of Levi, the son of Israel; and Sherebiah, with his sons and his brethren, eighteen; There was a total of twenty Levites.

Ezr 8:19 And Hashabiah, and with him Jeshaiah of the sons of Merari, his brethren and their sons, twenty; Now a total of forty Levites to go with him. (40 means probation, and the Levites were on probation by God). 

Ezr 8:20 Also of the Nethinims, whom David and the princes had appointed for the service of the Levites, two hundred and twenty Nethinims: all of them were expressed by name. Also, 220 Temple servants (the Nethinims), servants to the Levites. (Doing the work in the Temple).

Ezr 8:21 Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance. Ezra prayed to God to lead them the right way and give them a safe journey.

Ezr 8:22 For I was ashamed to require of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way: because we had spoken unto the king, saying, The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek him; but his power and his wrath is against all them that forsake him. Ezra did not want to ask King Darius for an escort because it would show lack of faith in their God.

Ezr 8:23 So we fasted and besought our God for this: and he was intreated of us. God granted them a safe trip back to Judah.

Ezr 8:24 Then I separated twelve of the chief of the priests, Sherebiah, Hashabiah, and ten of their brethren with them, Ezra chose 12 priests and 12 Levites.

Ezr 8:25 And weighed unto them the silver, and the gold, and the vessels, even the offering of the house of our God, which the king, and his counsellors, and his lords, and all Israel there present, had offered: They were in charge of transporting the silver and gold and the other items that the king, his officials, and the other people of Israel who did not make the trip. 

Ezr 8:26 I even weighed unto their hand six hundred and fifty talents of silver, and silver vessels an hundred talents, and of gold an hundred talents; The treasure weighed around 24 tons of silver, 7,500 pounds of silver articles, 7,500 pounds of gold,

Ezr 8:27 Also twenty basons of gold, of a thousand drams; and two vessels of fine copper, precious as gold. Also 20 gold bowls, equal in value to 1,000 gold coins, and fine articles of polished bronze. (Most of this was stolen by Nebuchadnezzar). We are talking a lot of silver and gold here.

Ezr 8:28 And I said unto them, Ye are holy unto the LORD; the vessels are holy also; and the silver and the gold are a freewill offering unto the LORD God of your fathers. You and these treasures are set apart as holy to the Lord. (Sanctified when offered to the Lord).

Ezr 8:29 Watch ye, and keep them, until ye weigh them before the chief of the priests and the Levites, and chief of the fathers of Israel, at Jerusalem, in the chambers of the house of the LORD. Guard these treasures well. (Two treasury’s in the house of the Lord).

Ezr 8:30 So took the priests and the Levites the weight of the silver, and the gold, and the vessels, to bring them to Jerusalem unto the house of our God. The priests and the Levites took the responsibility for transporting the treasure.

Ezr 8:31 Then we departed from the river of Ahava on the twelfth day of the first month, to go unto Jerusalem: and the hand of our God was upon us, and he delivered us from the hand of the enemy, and of such as lay in wait by the way. They broke camp and started off to Jerusalem. Ezra and his company had now entered upon a journey of several hundred miles through the desert, which they were nearly four months in completing, encumbered with families and possessions, and carrying large treasures with them, which would invite the attempts of the Arabian hordes, and others, that infested that neighborhood; yet, having declared to the king, "that the hand of God was upon all them for good that seek him, and that his power and wrath were against all them that forsook him," (Ezra 8:22), he determined to travel without a guard, except that of the Almighty, being ashamed to ask any other, after his former avowed confidence in Him. Having, therefore, humbled themselves before the Lord, and besought his guidance and protection, he was entreated by them, their enemies were restrained or disabled, and they arrived unmolested at Jerusalem. (i.e. God protected them from the enemies and bandits along the way).

Ezr 8:32 And we came to Jerusalem, and abode there three days. They rested for three days (Spiritual completeness), after they arrived safely in Jerusalem.

Ezr 8:33 Now on the fourth day was the silver and the gold and the vessels weighed in the house of our God by the hand of Meremoth the son of Uriah the priest; and with him was Eleazar the son of Phinehas; and with them was Jozabad the son of Jeshua, and Noadiah the son of Binnui, Levites; The treasure were weighed at the Temple and were entrusted to these people. (Churches today should follow this example when dealing with their finances, having several people watching after the money).  

Ezr 8:34 By number and by weight of every one: and all the weight was written at that time. Everything was all present and accounted for.

Ezr 8:35 Also the children of those that had been carried away, which were come out of the captivity, offered burnt offerings unto the God of Israel, twelve bullocks for all Israel, ninety and six rams, seventy and seven lambs, twelve he goats for a sin offering: all this was a burnt offering unto the LORD. The fourth of the ten Sedarim (or cycle of the public reading), begins here and goes to (Nehemiah 2:10), where it ends; uniting the two books. (Ezra and Nehemiah). (Hebrews 9:13-14), no animal sacrifice, but the blood of Christ is what saves us now. 

Ezr 8:36 And they delivered the king's commissions unto the king's lieutenants, and to the governors on this side the river: and they furthered the people, and the house of God. They all cooperated, supported, and lifted up the children of God and the Temple.

Ezra 9

Ezr 9:1 Now when these things were done, the princes came to me, saying, The people of Israel, and the priests, and the Levites, have not separated themselves from the people of the lands, doing according to their abominations, even of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. They were mixing with the heathens. Many of these were the Canaanites. Many of them were of the ones who mixed with the fallen angels. (Exodus 34:12-16).

Ezr 9:2 For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons: so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands: yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass. The men of Israel married women from these people and have taken wives for their sons. (Exodus 34:16). (Intermixing with the heathen and their gods). "God wanted the seed-line kept pure." 

Ezr 9:3 And when I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my mantle, and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down astonied. When Ezra heard these things he was shocked. 

Ezr 9:4 Then were assembled unto me every one that trembled at the words of the God of Israel, because of the transgression of those that had been carried away; and I sat astonied until the evening sacrifice. Those who feared God came and sat with Ezra and were outraged because of what the returned exiles were doing. (They knew what the punishment was for such acts).

Ezr 9:5 And at the evening sacrifice I arose up from my heaviness; and having rent my garment and my mantle, I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto the LORD my God, Ezra stood up at the evening sacrifice, with his torn clothes he was ready to tell God what was going on with the people, as he fell to his knees.

Ezr 9:6 And said, O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens. Our guiltiness is great and I am utterly ashamed Ezra explains to God. (Even the priest have taken foreign wives). They were suppose to take a wife from the house of Aaron.

Ezr 9:7 Since the days of our fathers have we been in a great trespass unto this day; and for our iniquities have we, our kings, and our priests, been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, and to a spoil, and to confusion of face, as it is this day. From the days of our ancestors until now, we have been steeped in sin. (The reason they went into captivity, and they still are breaking the law).

Ezr 9:8 And now for a little space grace hath been shewed from the LORD our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a nail in his holy place, that our God may lighten our eyes, and give us a little reviving in our bondage. It was God who has given us security in Jerusalem, a few of us who survive as a small remnant. Granting us relief from our slavery. (Just as God gives us relief from bondage to other religions today). The truth in Gods Word will always set you free.

Ezr 9:9 For we were bondmen; yet our God hath not forsaken us in our bondage, but hath extended mercy unto us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to give us a reviving, to set up the house of our God, and to repair the desolations thereof, and to give us a wall in Judah and in Jerusalem. We were slaves, but God did not abandon us in our slavery. God caused the kings of Persia to give us what we needed to complete the Temple. He gave us a protective wall in Judah and Jerusalem. (Ezekiel 38:11), God is that protective wall, even today.

Ezr 9:10 And now, O our God, what shall we say after this? for we have forsaken thy commandments, What can I say now, once again, we have broken your commandments.

Ezr 9:11 Which thou hast commanded by thy servants the prophets, saying, The land, unto which ye go to possess it, is an unclean land with the filthiness of the people of the lands, with their abominations, which have filled it from one end to another with their uncleanness. We were warned by the prophets that the land we were entering (referring to the promise land), is defiled (filled with corruption), by the practices of these people living there. (The Canaanites were really into sin and other gods). 

Ezr 9:12 Now therefore give not your daughters unto their sons, neither take their daughters unto your sons, nor seek their peace or their wealth for ever: that ye may be strong, and eat the good of the land, and leave it for an inheritance to your children for ever. They did the exact opposite of what they were suppose to do. (They intermixed with the heathens).

Ezr 9:13 And after all that is come upon us for our evil deeds, and for our great trespass, seeing that thou our God hast punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and hast given us such deliverance as this; Being punished, but letting the people know that the punishment should have been greater than it was. (They wanted forgiveness).

Ezr 9:14 Should we again break thy commandments, and join in affinity with the people of these abominations? wouldest not thou be angry with us till thou hadst consumed us, so that there should be no remnant nor escaping? They knew that even their remnant should have been wiped out completely because of their intermixing with other races. (Again, God wanted the seed-line kept pure).

Ezr 9:15 O LORD God of Israel, thou art righteous: for we remain yet escaped, as it is this day: behold, we are before thee in our trespasses: for we cannot stand before thee because of this. Not worthy to stand in God's presence. No one to blame but themselves. (This came about because of the Nethinim). Beware of what or who can slip into your life spiritually as well as physically. Do not be deceived by false religions, teachers, or traditions of men.

Ezra 10

Ezr 10:1 Now when Ezra had prayed, and when he had confessed, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, there assembled unto him out of Israel a very great congregation of men and women and children: for the people wept very sore. Ezra prayed and made confession in front of the Temple of God, and a large crowd of people from Israel gathered and wept with him.

Ezr 10:2 And Shechaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, answered and said unto Ezra, We have trespassed against our God, and have taken strange wives of the people of the land: yet now there is hope in Israel concerning this thing. Shecaniah said to Ezra, "We have been unfaithful to our God by marrying these pagan women of the land." Maybe if we put away our foreign wives, God will forgive us.  

Ezr 10:3 Now therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives, and such as are born of them, according to the counsel of my lord, and of those that tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law. Lets make a covenant with God to divorce our pagan wives and send them away with their children. (A woman's child from adultery or a mixed race is a Mamzer). Shechaniah's counsel, which he was then so clear in, will not hold now. Such marriages, it is certain, are contrary to the will of God, and ought not to be made; but they are not null. Our rule under the gospel is Quod fieri non debuit, factum valet, "That which ought not to have been done must, when done, abide." (I Corinthians 7:12-13).

Ezr 10:4 Arise; for this matter belongeth unto thee: we also will be with thee: be of good courage, and do it. Shecaniah tells Ezra to get up off your knees, it is your duty to tell us how to proceed in setting things straight. "We are behind you." (By the decree of Artaxerxes, Ezra was authorised to do every thing that the law of God required).

Ezr 10:5 Then arose Ezra, and made the chief priests, the Levites, and all Israel, to swear that they should do according to this word. And they sware. Ezra stands up and demands that the princes of the priests, the Levites, and all the people of Israel to do what the Word of God says. (II Chronicles 36:14).

Ezr 10:6 Then Ezra rose up from before the house of God, and went into the chamber of Johanan the son of Eliashib: and when he came thither, he did eat no bread, nor drink water: for he mourned because of the transgression of them that had been carried away. Ezra left the front of the Temple and went to the room of Jehohanan and spent the night there. Still morning because of the unfaithfulness of the returned exiles. 

Ezr 10:7 And they made proclamation throughout Judah and Jerusalem unto all the children of the captivity, that they should gather themselves together unto Jerusalem; This was a serious matter that needed to be dealt with now.  

Ezr 10:8 And that whosoever would not come within three days, according to the counsel of the princes and the elders, all his substance should be forfeited, and himself separated from the congregation of those that had been carried away. Those who failed to come within three days would need to forfeit all his positions to the temple and would be expelled out of the congregation.

Ezr 10:9 Then all the men of Judah and Benjamin gathered themselves together unto Jerusalem within three days. It was the ninth month, on the twentieth day of the month; and all the people sat in the street of the house of God, trembling because of this matter, and for the great rain. Within three days they gathered in Jerusalem. This took place some time in December, which is the coldest and most rainy time of the year in Palestine.

Ezr 10:10 And Ezra the priest stood up, and said unto them, Ye have transgressed, and have taken strange wives, to increase the trespass of Israel. Ezra lays it right on the line!

Ezr 10:11 Now therefore make confession unto the LORD God of your fathers, and do his pleasure: and separate yourselves from the people of the land, and from the strange wives. "Confess your sins to God." (not any man). "Divorce your foreign wives and send them away."

Ezr 10:12 Then all the congregation answered and said with a loud voice, As thou hast said, so must we do. They all resolved to do what Ezra had commanded; and they did put away their wives, even those by whom they had children (Ezra 10:44), each of whom doubtless received a portion according to the circumstances of her husband, and was not turned away desolate. Humanity must have dictated this, and no law of God is contrary to humanity.

Ezr 10:13 But the people are many, and it is a time of much rain, and we are not able to stand without, neither is this a work of one day or two: for we are many that have transgressed in this thing. This was during the rainy season and will take some time to correct.

Ezr 10:14 Let now our rulers of all the congregation stand, and let all them which have taken strange wives in our cities come at appointed times, and with them the elders of every city, and the judges thereof, until the fierce wrath of our God for this matter be turned from us. i.e. Set up a schedule and lets get this in motion to get rid of this problem.

Ezr 10:15 Only Jonathan the son of Asahel and Jahaziah the son of Tikvah were employed about this matter: and Meshullam and Shabbethai the Levite helped them. Put the matter into action. (Some scholars believe they were in opposition.)

Ezr 10:16 And the children of the captivity did so. And Ezra the priest, with certain chief of the fathers, after the house of their fathers, and all of them by their names, were separated, and sat down in the first day of the tenth month to examine the matter. Ten days have gone by so this was the plan they came up with as they sat down to investigate the matter.

Ezr 10:17 And they made an end with all the men that had taken strange wives by the first day of the first month. They finally finished with all the men who had married Pagan wives by March 27th. The cases brought before the council were either so many, or so complicated, that, though they separated themselves from other employments, yet they were three whole months in examining into their affairs, and making the necessary separations required by the law.

Ezr 10:18 And among the sons of the priests there were found that had taken strange wives: namely, of the sons of Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and his brethren; Maaseiah, and Eliezer, and Jarib, and Gedaliah. Yes, even the high priest took foreign wives with the rest of the priest and the people. (A title does not keep you from sinning, many times the clergy are the most guilty of sin).

Ezr 10:19 And they gave their hands that they would put away their wives; and being guilty, they offered a ram of the flock for their trespass. They bound themselves in the most solemn manner to do as the rest of the delinquents had done, and make and acknowledgment to God of their iniquity, by offering each a ram for a trespass offering. (Leviticus 5:14-19, 6:6). We will skip down to verse 44.

Ezr 10:20 And of the sons of Immer; Hanani, and Zebadiah.

Ezr 10:21 And of the sons of Harim; Maaseiah, and Elijah, and Shemaiah, and Jehiel, and Uzziah.

Ezr 10:22 And of the sons of Pashur; Elioenai, Maaseiah, Ishmael, Nethaneel, Jozabad, and Elasah.

Ezr 10:23 Also of the Levites; Jozabad, and Shimei, and Kelaiah, (the same is Kelita,) Pethahiah, Judah, and Eliezer.

Ezr 10:24 Of the singers also; Eliashib: and of the porters; Shallum, and Telem, and Uri.

Ezr 10:25 Moreover of Israel: of the sons of Parosh; Ramiah, and Jeziah, and Malchiah, and Miamin, and Eleazar, and Malchijah, and Benaiah.

Ezr 10:26 And of the sons of Elam; Mattaniah, Zechariah, and Jehiel, and Abdi, and Jeremoth, and Eliah.

Ezr 10:27 And of the sons of Zattu; Elioenai, Eliashib, Mattaniah, and Jeremoth, and Zabad, and Aziza.

Ezr 10:28 Of the sons also of Bebai; Jehohanan, Hananiah, Zabbai, and Athlai.

Ezr 10:29 And of the sons of Bani; Meshullam, Malluch, and Adaiah, Jashub, and Sheal, and Ramoth.

Ezr 10:30 And of the sons of Pahathmoab; Adna, and Chelal, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattaniah, Bezaleel, and Binnui, and Manasseh.

Ezr 10:31 And of the sons of Harim; Eliezer, Ishijah, Malchiah, Shemaiah, Shimeon,

Ezr 10:32 Benjamin, Malluch, and Shemariah.

Ezr 10:33 Of the sons of Hashum; Mattenai, Mattathah, Zabad, Eliphelet, Jeremai, Manasseh, and Shimei.

Ezr 10:34 Of the sons of Bani; Maadai, Amram, and Uel,

Ezr 10:35 Benaiah, Bedeiah, Chelluh,

Ezr 10:36 Vaniah, Meremoth, Eliashib,

Ezr 10:37 Mattaniah, Mattenai, and Jaasau,

Ezr 10:38 And Bani, and Binnui, Shimei,

Ezr 10:39 And Shelemiah, and Nathan, and Adaiah,

Ezr 10:40 Machnadebai, Shashai, Sharai,

Ezr 10:41 Azareel, and Shelemiah, Shemariah,

Ezr 10:42 Shallum, Amariah, and Joseph.

Ezr 10:43 Of the sons of Nebo; Jeiel, Mattithiah, Zabad, Zebina, Jadau, and Joel, Benaiah.

Ezr 10:44 All these had taken strange wives: and some of them had wives by whom they had children. All these men had pagan wives and some had children by these wives. "Even the Levites took foreign wives." (Sitting in the seat of Moses, were the Nethinim who slipped in). Ending the first part of the book "Ezra-Nehemiah, followed by the part, which is concerned mainly with the rebuilding of the city and the walls, instead of the Temple.

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