Bible Commentaries

Coke's Commentary on the Holy BibleCoke's Commentary

Ezra 5



Zerubbabel and Jeshua, incited by the prophets Haggai and Zechariah, set forward the building of the temple. The letter sent to Darius upon this occasion.

Before Christ 519.

Verse 1

Ver. 1. Haggai—and Zechariah Concerning these prophets, see the books which bear their names. They are both thought to have been born at Babylon during the captivity, and both with united zeal encouraged the people to go on with the work of the temple. Upon the accession of Darius to the throne, Haggai in particular, by reproaching the people with their indolence and insensibility; by telling them, that they were careful enough to lodge themselves very commodiously, while the house of the Lord lay buried in its ruins; and by putting them in mind, that the calamities of drought and famine, wherewith God had afflicted them since their return, were owing to their neglect in building the temple, prevailed with them to set about the work in good earnest; so that, by virtue of these reproofs, as well as some encouragements which God occasionally authorized him to give them, they brought the whole to a conclusion in a short time.

Verse 5

Ver. 5. But the eye of their God, &c.— i.e. The peculiar favour, good providence, and protection of God. Houbigant renders the last clause of the preceding verse thus: these are the names of the men who have undertaken this building.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, About fifteen years the building seems to have continued at a stand, till God by his prophets roused the people to the work.

1. They prophesied unto them, or against them; reproved them for their lukewarmness, and provoked them to renew the building. Note; (1.) Ministers must be faithful reprovers, and urge the sluggish builders to their work. (2.) When God raises up zealous preachers of his word, then there is hope that the wall will be built.

2. The effect of their prophesy was soon evident. Zerubbabel and Jeshua immediately set themselves to the work, and the prophets helped them; so that the people once more began with vigour to build. Note; (1.) They who are first in station, should be first to promote every good work. (2.) The help of the prophets is the most essential part towards the establishment of the spiritual church: though a good magistrate can do much, a good minister can do more.

2nd, No sooner began the work to revive, than the jealousy of their neighbours began to appear.
1. The governors of Samaria, who had succeeded the former in their office, probably at the beginning of the new reign of Darius, immediately inquired into the authority on which the Jews proceeded. They were not, however, afraid or ashamed to produce their charter, and to give in the names of the principal authors of this good work; God encouraging them, and strengthening them to persevere, till the matter came before Darius, to whom they appealed. Note; (1.) If God's eye be upon us for good, we need not fear what man can do unto us. (2.) The comfortable presence of God should quicken and enliven us to greater diligence in his service.

2. The governors Tatnai and Shethar-boznai hereupon dispatched a letter to the king, informing him of what was doing, and desiring his directions; and herein they acted with much greater candour and honesty than their predecessors, representing the true state of the fact. After wishing the king prosperity and all earthly happiness, they inform him, that they had visited the province of Judea, and observed there a magnificent structure raising to the great God whom the Jews worshipped, which was carried on with assiduity and zeal; that, on inquiring into the authority on which they presumed thus to act, they received for answer, That this house, which a great king among them had formerly erected, and for their sins God had suffered Nebuchadnezzar to destroy, Cyrus had given them a commission to rebuild; and restored to them withal the vessels which had been carried to Babylon: in consequence of which, they had proceeded under the direction of Sheshbazzar, their prince; and that they had ever since been at work upon it, though, by reason of the interruptions they had met with, it was not yet finished. They beg therefore, if the king pleased, that search might be made in the records, respecting the truth of this decree in their favour; and that he would inform them of his pleasure in the matter. Note; (1.) We should ever reflect with shame on the sins that have provoked God's visitations. (2.) If the people of God can but obtain a fair hearing, they need not fear for their cause. (3.) Many an unjust sentence has gone forth against the faithful, not so much from malice in the magistrate, as from the misinformation of their enemies. (4.) Truth, though long suppressed, will usually at last prevail.

Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Ezra 5". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.