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officer*, by the enitdty of the Samaritans, and their own great indolence, for which the firo/ihet Haggai re/iroved them. IS And the children of Israel, the priests, and the Levites, and the rest of the childrenof the captivity, keptthe dedication of this house
17 of God with joy, And offered at the dedication of this house of God an hundredbullocks, two hundred ranis, four hundred lambs,* this was a small number com/tared with what Solomon had offered at the dedication of 'the first temfite; but it was suitable to their circumstances, and equally acceptable; and for a sin offering for all Israel, twelve he goats, according to the number of the
18 tribes of Israel.* And they set the priests in their divisions, and the Levites in their courses, for the service of God, which
19 [is] at Jerusalem; as it is written in the book of Moses. And the children of the captivity kept the passover upon the fourteenth
20 [day] of the first month.- 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
21 the priests, and for themselves. And the children of Israel, . »¥ •which were come again out of captivity, and all such as had separated themselves unto them from the filthincss of the heathen
32 of the land, to seek the Lord God of Israel, did eat,t And kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days Svith joy : for the Lord had made them joyful; given them occasion of great joyr and quickened their s/iirils to rejoice in it, 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.
I. QEE how wonderfully God overrules the designs of hisli3 church's enemies for its benefit. The Samaritans probably instigated the governor to oppose the Jews and make this inquiry, and this turned out to their advantage; thus God takes the wise in their own craftiness. Many things, which seem at first threatening and alarming, tend to the furtherance of the gospel and the increase of the church-. Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness. Judges xiv. 14.
2. Let us Mess God for those laws and records-to which we owe the security of our public liberty. It does not depend upon the pleasure of our governors, or even of our king ; it is founded on the laws of the realm ; and the record is secured and can easily be applied to, when our liberties are attacked or threatened. These are mercies which demand gratitude to God. The lines are fallen unto us in pleasant places, and me have a goodly heritage.
* Some suppose that the hundred and forty^ixth, hundred and forty.seventh, and bundled and forty-eighth psaJms were composed and used on this occasion, as in the Seventy they aTC tailed the psalms of Haggai: this is Ml unlikely, as they are suitable enough to it.
t There were many proselytes among them, vrfio were cleansed from their pollutions. :intl become entirely subject to the law of Moses; and were probably influenced to th.s, by tile wonderful appearances of Providence for them, and the remarkable favour of toe king of Persia to them.
G Darius Is called the king of Assyria, because he ruled over these provinces, which formerly belonged to the king of Assyria. InNrhemlah he is called the king of Babylon for thesame reason. Both these kings and tiieir subj eas having been their greatest enemies,, theseCttt« might stUl be used.
3. Let us remember to pray for our king and his family, under whom we enjoy our liberty. Darius knew the Jews were a praying people, and had a great and powerful God, and therefore he desired their prayers. This is a duty we owe in honor and gratitude to them; and to which we are obliged by the laws of Christianity. I exhort therefore that first of all supplications, prayers, intercession* mid giving of thanks, be made for all men, for kings and fcr all that are in authority under them; that vie may lead quiet and peaceable hroes in all godliness and honesty. 1 Tim. ii. 1, 2.
4. There is reason for the greatest of kings to fear the God of heaven. Their lives and the happiness of them depend on his pleasure. Darius was a wise prince, and this was an instance of his wisdom. It is much to be wished that all kings and governors would follow his example, for their own sakes, and for the sake of their subjects.
5. Let us rejoice in God's goodness to us, though it should not he equal to what our fathers enjoyed. The Jews dedicated the temple with joy, though the building was inferior, their number less, and the sacrifices fewer, than in the first temple. We must not despise the day of small things, but give glory to God for what we see of his power and taste of his goodness, and be cartful to improve it.
6. When we approach to God in the solemnities of his worship, •we should be careful to purify ourselves; our lives from pollution, and our hearts from wickedness; so these Jews did. Let us also separate ourselves from the pollutions of others, and seek the Lord and serve him in his own appointed way ; then will our service be acceptable, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
7. Let us trace up all the benefits we enjoy by our fellow creatures to the turn God gives to their hearts, v. 22. An important truth, which we need to be frequently reminded of: the hearts of kings are in his hands. When we meet with a favourable reception from others, or good success in our business, or respect and kindness in the world, gratitude to those from whom we receive these favours is a duty; but let us trace the stream through the several channels to the fountain, to God, the author of every good and perfect gift, whose kingdom ruleth over all, and who does what he please* in the armies of heaven and among the inhabitants oftiiis lower world.
We have here tome account of Ezra; the commission of Artaxerxc* to him; and his reflections upon it.
1 "VTO W after these thing3, about eighty years after their first Jln going up, and about sixty years after the temple was finished, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, that is, Longima*
nut, the grandson of Darius,* Ezra the son of Seraiah, the son of
S Azariah, the son of Hilkiah, The son of Shallum, the son of
S Zadok, the son of Ahitub, The son of Amariah, the son of Л/,а
4 nah, the son of Meraioth, The son of Zerahiah, the sontof Uzzi,
Л the son of Bukki, The son of Abishua, the son of Phinehas, the
в son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the chief priest: This Ezra
went up from Babylon; and he [was] a re'ady scribe in the law
of Moses, which the Lord God of Israel had given; not a tran
»criber, but an expert, skilful teacher of the law: and the king
granted him all his request, according to the hand of the Lord
7 his God upon him. And, having information that the temple wat
built, and the worship regularly performed, there went up -with him
[some] of the children of Israel, and of the priests, and the Le
•vues, and the singers, and the porters, and the Nethinims, unto
• Jerusalem, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king. And
he came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, -which [was] in the
9 seventh year of the king. 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
I о hand of his God upon him. 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; this was taking the right method; he first taught and studied the law, then practised it, and then taught it to other».
I1 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
12 Israel. Artaxerxes, king of kings, that if, who fian other king* tributary to him, unto Ezra the priest, a scribe of the law of theGod
13 of heaven, perfect [peace,] and at such a time. I make a decree, that all they of the people of Israel, and [of] his priests and Levitesin my realm, which are mindedof their own free willtogoup to Jerusalem, go with thee; lest any should make a scruple of going, lest Cyrus' decree should be reversed, I make a decree, and give
14 them leave to go. Forasmuch as thou art sent of the king, and of his seven counsellors, by whose advice the decree vías made,to inquire concerning Judah and Jerusalem, according to the law of thy God which [is] in thine hand; to inquire whether every thing vías conformable to the Mosaic law, bqth the priests, the worship)
15 and the sacrifices; And to, carry the silver and gold, which the king and his counsellors have freely offered unto the God of
16 Israel, whose habitation [is] in Jerusalem, And all the silver and gold that thou canst find in all the province of Babylon, any way procure to be contributed by any of the king's heathen subjects^ •with the free will offering of the people and of the priests, who staun! behind, offering willingly for the house of their God
17 which [is] in Jerusalem: That thou may est buy speedily with
* From this time Daniel's seventy weeks brgan, or seven times seventy, or four hundred and ninety years. Let it alio be remembered, that this Artaxerxes was Esther's husband ) which may acco«nt in »omc measure for his great kiodnen to the Jew).
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this money bullocks, rams, lambs, with their meat oflermgij and their drink offerings, and offer them upon the altar of the
18 house of your God which [is] in Jerusalem. And whatsoever shall seem good to thee, and to thy brethren the priests, to do» with the rest of the silver and gold, that do after the will of your
19 God ; let it be applied to some sacred u*e> The vessels also that are given thee for the service of the house of thy God, [those] de
2Ç liver thou before the God of Jenisalem. And whatsoever more shall be needful for the house of thy God, which thou shall have occasion to bestow, bestow [it] out of the king's treasure
21 house. And I, [even] I Artaxerxes the king, do make a decree to all ihe treasurers which [are] beyond the river, that whatsoever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven,
22 shall require of you, it be done speedily, even Unto an hundred talents of silver, and toan hundred measures of %vheat, and to an hundred baths of wine, and to an hundred baths of oil, and salt
23 without prescribing [how much.*] 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 ? for the omission or performance
24 of any part of his worship, through the king's neglect. Also we certify you, that touching any of the priests and Lévites, singers, porters, Nethinims, or ministers of this house of God, it shall not be lawful to impose toll, tribute, or custom, upon them. This vías a privilege they had not enjoyed before since the captivity. It ivas a mise provision, as it prevented the priests from bring unreasonably burdened or diverted from their propir business.
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, within the province ofJudea, all such as know the laws of thy God; and teach ye them that know [them] not ; he had commission to- restore their ancient method in
26 judging and governing by their own lanes. 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, от to banishment; or to confiscation of goods, or to imprisonment.
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
28 of the Lord which [is] in Jerusalem: And hath extended mercy unto me before the king, and his counsellors, and before all th* 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.f
• This wan я remarkable and wonderful çrant in their favour ; but the king prudently liniited the quantity of provisions« that no difference might arise between them.
t The concluding ver*e shows that Етгл wrote this part of the book. Tbc eeeice is in t be Chalate U»íuJ¿;'< but these versa in the Hebrew.
1. "С1 ROM hence we are taught to acknowledge the provbJL dence of God in our safe and prosperous journies, г>. 9, in directing our way, preserving us from evil, and prospering our undertakings. His favour is to be sought when we are going out, and to be owned when coming in. The circumstances of our journies should be carefully recollected, that God may have the glory of all our mercies.
2. In Ezra we see a good example to Christians, and especially to ministers. He sought the law, made it his study ; formed his notions and sentiments from it, and reduced all to practice. He did not waste his days in trifling; especially not in hurtful things. Thus should we study the law of God, practise its precepts ourselves, be conformed to the rule, and then teach others ; ministers, their people, parents, their children, and chrisuan friends, one another, and be careful that they may see their own exhortations illustrated and enforced by a good example. For all this the heart roust be prepared, purified, quickened, and encouraged, and the spirit of God sought; for the /¡reparation of the heart, and the success of all our endeavours, are from the JLorct.
3. Learn of this heathen prince, diligently to do what the God of heaven commands ; out of gratitude to him, because it is our duty and our interest, and lest wrath should be against us, and our children. Let us do it diligently and with pleasure, for his command» are not grievous, and in kecfang ¡hem there is great reward. »
4. Our favour with others, and success in business, are te be ascribed to the good hand of God. Ezra talked like a wise and good man, like one who had studied and understood the law of his God, when he ascribed the king's encouragement to God's interposition; and concludes, instead of God save the king, with blessed be the Lord God of our fathers, which hath put such a thing as this in the king's heart. It is an honour to be employed for his service and to his glory ; and when he gives ability and opportunity, the favour should be gratefully owned. The first rise of good thoughts in our minds, Of in the minds of others, comes from him, and is to be escribed to the Lord our God, who putteth such a thing into our* beaits; even to him, from -whom cometh every goad and perfect gift.
We have ia t hie chapter the names of those who went u/i rjith Ezra ¡ their preservation in their journey, and arrival at Jerusalem.
1 T I ^HESE [are] now the chief of their fathers, and [this is]
JL the genealogy of them that went up with me from Babylon, in the reign of Artaxerxes the king. Their names are set
2 daim fo pretervg their memory to future generations. Of the