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Bible Commentaries

Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Ezra 7

Verse 1

After these things - The words mark an interval of 57 years; if, with most commentators, we take Artaxerxes to be Longimanus. See the introduction to the Book of Ezra. Three kings named Artaxerxes, the Greek rendering of the Hebrew Artakhshasta, and the Persian Artakhshatra, ruled over Persia, namely,: Longimanus, Mnemon, and Ochus. The evidence is in favor of the first being meant here: he was the grandson of Darius Hystaspis, Jeshua’s contemporary.

The genealogy of Ezra here is incomplete. The time between the Exodus and Ezra must have exceeded one thousand years, and cannot have been covered by 16 generations. One gap may be filled up from 1 Chronicles 6:7-10, which supplies six names between Meraioth and Azariah Ezra 7:3 : another gap probably occurs between Seraiah Ezra 7:1 and Ezra himself; since Seraiah appears to be the high priest of Zedekiah’s time (marginal reference), who lived at least 130 years before Ezra. Three or four names are probably missing in this place. Another name (Meraioth) may be supplied from 1 Chronicles 9:11, between Zadok and Ahitub Ezra 7:2. These additions would produce 27 generations - a number nearly sufficient - instead of 16 generations.

Verse 6

A ready scribe - Or, “a ready writer” Psalms 45:1. The professional scribe was well known in Egypt from an early date (see Genesis 39:4 note); and under David and his successors “scribes” were attached to the court as the king’s secretaries (2 Samuel 8:17; 2 Samuel 20:25; 2 Kings 12:10, etc.). It was scarcely, however, until the time of the captivity that the class to which Ezra belonged arose. The “scribes” of this time, and of later Jewish history, were students, interpreters, and copiers of the Law (see the marginal references and Jeremiah 8:8). They retained the knowledge of the old dialect, which was being rapidly superseded by a new one. The emphatic application of the title “the scribe” to Ezra marks the high honor in which the office was now held. Its glories eclipsed those of the priesthood.

The hand of the Lord ... upon him - The use of this phrase in a good sense is rare elsewhere (compare 1 Kings 18:46), but is a favorite one with both Ezra and Nehemiah (see the marginal references; Nehemiah 2:8, Nehemiah 2:18).

Verse 9

The direct distance of Babylon from Jerusalem is about 520 miles; and the circuitous route by Carchemish and the Orontes valley, which was ordinarily taken by armies or large bodies of men, is about 900 miles. The time occupied in the journey is long, and is perhaps to be accounted for by the dangers alluded to in Ezra 8:22, Ezra 8:31.

Verse 12

The title, “king of kings,” is assumed by almost all the persian monarchs in their inscriptions.

Perfect peace - “Peace” is not in the original, and the word translated “perfect” occurs only in this place. Some prefer to take it as an adjective descriptive of Ezra (see margin); others (Septuagint) as the opening word of the first paragraph of the letter, and give it the meaning, “it is completed.”

Verse 14

Seven counselors - Herodotus relates that there were seven families pre-eminent in Persia, those of the seven conspirators against the Pseudo-Smerdis (Ezra 4:7 note); and it is reasonable to suppose that the heads of these families formed the special council of the king; the “Achaemenidae,” or royal family, being represented by the head of the branch next in succession to that of the reigning monarch (see the marginal reference).

Verse 21

All the treasurers - The Persian system of taxing the provinces through the satraps involved the establishment in each province of at least one local treasury.

Verse 22

This verse assigns limits to the permission of Ezra 7:20. As the Persian tribute was paid partly in money and partly in kind (see Ezra 4:13 note), the treasuries would be able to supply them as readily as they could furnish money.

Verse 23

Literally, as in the margin, i. e., Whatsoever is commanded in the Law with respect to the temple service.

Verse 24

The decree of Artaxerxes was more favorable to the Jews than those of all previous Persian monarchs. We hear of a similar exemption of ecclesiastics from tribute, only to a less extent, under the Seleucidae.

Ministers - The rare word here used, which in Daniel has the sense of “worshippers,” appears to designate in this place the lowest class of persons employed in the service of the temple.

Verse 26

Banishment - literally, as in the margin. Separation from the congregation is probably intended (compare Ezra 10:8).

Verse 27

An abrupt transition from the words of Artaxerxes to those of Ezra. Compare a similar abrupt change in Ezra 6:6. The language alters at the same time from Chaldee to Hebrew, continuing henceforth to be Hebrew until the close of the book.

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Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Ezra 7". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/ezra-7.html. 1870.