EZRA CHAPTER 1.
The End of the Captivity.
THE PROCLAMATION OF CYRUS. — V. 1. Now, in the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia, after the conquest of the Babylonian empire, the new empire, including Persia, Media, Babylonia, and Chaldea, having been founded in 536 B. C., that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, Jer. 25, 12. 13, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus, king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, by having special couriers cry out the message, and put it also in writing, saying, v. 2. Thus saith Cyrus, king of Persia, The Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth, his empire at that time being a world empire; and he hath charged me to build Him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah, either by direct revelation or through the instruction of the prophet Daniel, who may have informed him of the prophecies concerning him and his career as written down by Isaiah some two hundred years before, Is. 44, 28; 46, 1-4. V. 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, whom Cyrus acknowledged and worshiped as the one true God) which is in Jerusalem. V. 4. And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, having settled down according to the advice of the Lord by Jeremiah, Jer. 29, 4-7, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, for pack-animals and for traveling, giving such a one all possible assistance, beside the free-will offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem, thereby contributing liberally toward the rebuilding of the Temple. Thus God uses also the mighty ones of the earth in His service as He chooses, thereby bringing the days of tribulation upon His people to an end.
THE RETURN ARRANGED FOR. — V. 5. Then rose up the chief of the fathers, the heads of the divisions known as father-houses, of Judah and Benjamin, for these two tribes were chiefly concerned in this exile and the return, and the priests and the Levites, with all them whose spirit God had raised, those in whose hearts the Lord had wrought the willingness to return to the land of their fathers and build up the country anew from the depths of desolation, to go up to build the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem. A good many Jews of Babylon could not make up their minds to return to Judah, since they were unwilling to relinquish the property they had gained in the land of their captivity. V. 6. And all they that were about them, all their friends and neighbors, strengthened their hands with vessels of silver, with gold, with goods, and with beasts, and with precious things, showing great liberality toward the Jews in accordance with the king’s proclamation, beside all that was willingly offered, given for the rebuilding of the Temple. The Lord made the Babylonians favorably disposed toward the Jews, in order to further His plans. V. 7. Also Cyrus the king brought forth the vessels of the house of the Lord, those which had been used in the Sanctuary of Solomon’s Temple, which Nebuchadnezzar had brought forth out of Jerusalem, and had put them in the house of his gods, 2 Chron. 36, 7; v. 8. even those did Cyrus, king of Persia, bring forth by the hand of Mithredath, the treasurer, who had charge of all these treasures, and numbered them unto Sheshbazzar, the Persian name for Zerubbabel, the prince of Judah, appointed governor of the returning exiles. V. 9. And this is the number of them: thirty chargers of gold, baskets or containers of a peculiar kind, a thousand chargers of silver, nine and twenty knives, with chased or braided work, or they may have been sacrificial dishes serving for the pouring of the blood, v. 10. thirty basins of gold, covered vessels like large cups, silver basins of a second sort four hundred and ten, and other vessels a thousand. These larger and more costly vessels enumerated here amounted to a total of 2,499. V. 11. All the vessels of gold and silver, including those of minor value, were five thousand and four hundred. All these did Sheshbazzar bring up with them of the captivity, when the exiles returned with all their goods, that were brought up from Babylon unto Jerusalem. The exodus of the Jews from Babylon is rightly regarded as the type of another exodus which God has commanded the children of the New Covenant; for the Christians are under obligations to leave the corruptions of the world and the false churches, to go out from among them and be separate, 2 Cor. 6, 17-19.