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Bible Commentaries
Ezra 6

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-22

Ezra 6:2 . There was found at Achmetha, that is, Ecbatana, the capital of Media, as in the Vulgate, the city where the archives were kept; a roll of the parchment. Revelation 7:1. “(?)” [Revelation 5:1-8 ]

Ezra 6:10 . Pray for the life of the king and of his sons. This duty is everywhere enjoined in scripture. Cyrus was now advancing in years; and he had through life expressed great reverence for religion. Xenophon repeatedly mentions his giving the tenth of his spoils to the temple; and when dying he discovered the finest sentiments concerning the immortality of the soul, while delivering a valedictory address to his children.

“Do not imagine, my sons, that when I close this mortal career, I shall cease to be. Though you never saw my soul during the time that I have been with you, yet of its existence you have had the fullest demonstrations from its actions. To me, it has always appeared a most incredible notion, that the soul should exist no longer than while it exists in the perishable body, and be annihilated in the moment of dissolution, for the perishable body has no animation but what it derives from the soul. On the contrary, I cannot but regard it as a most revolting notion, that the soul should exercise its rational faculties less orderly and wisely when disencumbered of this insipient body. I should think rather, that when the soul is secreted as a pure and perfect intelligence, it is more analogous to reason that it should acquire a far greater perfection of wisdom. In the dissolution of the body, all its component substances are resolved to their original elements, but the incorporeal essence of the soul is alike imperceptible when embodied, and when disembodied.” Hist. Xenop. de Cyri. lib. 8. p. 186. Ed. Basil. 1569.

Ezra 6:15 . The sixth year of Darius. The canons of Ptolemy, so much resorted to in calculating the era of the Persian empire, and of the weeks of Daniel, are in substance as follow. Cyrus took Babylon in the year of the world, according to Usher, and the chronology of the French and English Bibles, 3526, and reigned to the year, 3535: the two years of Darius are of course included in the nine years of Cyrus’s reign. Cyrus had left Babylon under his son Cambyses, and gone to reign in Persia; for he is said to have reigned in all thirty years. Cambyses reigned eight years, and to the year 3543. Darius 1. called Hystaspes, reigned thirty six years, and to 3579. Xerxes reigned twenty one years, and to 3600. Artaxerxes 1. surnamed Longhand, reigned forty one years, and to 3641. Darius 2. who was called Nothus, reigned nineteen years, and to 3660. Artaxerxes 2. called Mnemon, because of his retentive memory, reigned forty six years, and to 3706. Ochus reigned twenty one years, and to 3727. Arog, or Arses, reigned two years, and to 3729. Lastly, Darius 3. called Codoman, was slain by Alexander the Great about the fourth year of his reign, and when the Persian empire had existed about 198 years. Now if the Darius who issued the decree to finish the temple, reigned the next after Cambyses, then the temple was finished about twenty years after Cyrus’s decree to build it. But we are told that the temple was forty six years in building. Here lies the grand difficulty in calculating the chronology of those times. Hence there is somewhere an error, or an interregnum, which learned men cannot now settle. But the Jews were perfectly satisfied, as well as the christians, that the weeks of Daniel were accomplished about the time of our Saviour’s crucifixion. Hence there were dwelling at Jerusalem, on the day of Pentecost, Jews and proselytes, devout men out of every nation under heaven. Acts 2:5. Those who wish for critical information on this subject, are referred to Dr. Allix, Archbishop Usher, Joseph Scaliger, Bishop Montague, Dr. Prideaux, Poole’s Synopsis, &c. See note on Daniel 9:0.

Ezra 6:17 . Twelve goats according to the number of the tribes. See on Genesis 15:9, and Leviticus 16:0., where the goat in particular bore the sins of Israel.

Ezra 6:22 . For the Lord had turned the heart of the king of Assyria. This empire is here named, being greater than Persia and Media. It was usual for conquerors to assume the name of the countries they had subdued.


When a nation seek God, he soon appears to save: and thus while the poor Jews were exposed to the scoffs of Samaria, we see the hand of God stretched out in their favour. The impartial letter of Tatnai, on the one hand, and the fasting and praying of the people on the other, mutually contributed to their salvation. The Lord, the faithful Lord, kept his eye on the grand promise of human redemption, and would by this despised and afflicted people prepare the way for the advent and kingdom of the Lord Christ. See what a noble spirit was excited in the breast of this great prince. The decree of Cyrus being found in the archives, he emulated him in bounty and gratitude to the God of heaven. He not only commanded the temple to be finished, but accompanied his decree by a liberal assortment of sacrifices and gifts; and went so far as even to curse, and pass the sentence of death on the man, who should dare to molest or retard the work. His motives were equally noble, and proceeded not from mean and selfish policy. Conscious that he held his vast empire at the pleasure of the God of heaven, he solicited no returns, but the prayers of the people for himself and his sons. He saw that the poor Jews in every part of his empire conducted themselves as quiet, peaceable, and industrious people; and he revered them for the interest they had with God. Christians, here are models for you. You are not to lose the mild and heaven-born spirit of religion in the poisonous breath of political factions; for your kingdom and ultimate hopes are not of this world. You are called to pray for the king and his sons, and for all that are in authority under him; for this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour. Hence, the daily whizzing in our ears, concerning the incapacity of ministers to conduct public affairs, must be to you a strange voice. It proceeds principally from selfish factions, who wish to succeed those ministers. Keep your independence as citizens and men; be what you profess to be, a pious, praying people. Then all factions will revere you, because you stand in the divine counsel; then God will defend you; nay, he will do more, he will make your enemies defend you; and that Sanballat, and that Tobias, by their calumnies, shall cause the simplicity of your piety to shine forth with new charms, and procure you additional favour both with God and man.

Of the dedication of the temple, reflections have been made before in the reign of Solomon, of Hezekiah, and of Josiah: but it should here be remarked, that twelve goats were offered for the sins of the twelve tribes of Israel. Many of Manasseh and Ephraim were with Judah and Benjamin, and some scattered fragments of all the other tribes. But alas, the body of them, by a long and heavy visitation, God had removed out of his sight. Hence in the worst of times there is an atonement and a deliverance for them that seek the Lord. Let us put away our sins, and purify ourselves like these Jews, and the God of our covenant and of all our mercies will build us up a sure habitation for his glory.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Ezra 6". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/ezra-6.html. 1835.
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