Bible Commentaries
Ezra 5

Whedon's Commentary on the BibleWhedon's Commentary

Verse 1


1. Haggai… Zechariah These prophets were contemporary, and both were probably among those exiles who returned from Babylon with Zerubbabel. Prophecies of both of them are extant in the books which bear their names among the minor prophets. It is noticeable that while both are called prophets, yet Haggai is emphatically the prophet, and Zechariah is called here, and at Ezra 6:14, the son of Iddo. In the book of his prophecy Zechariah calls himself “the son of Barachiah, the son of Iddo,” from which it appears that Iddo was his grandfather rather than his father. The word son is, therefore, to be understood here, as often elsewhere, in the sense of descendant, either grandson or great grandson. The prophet naturally mentions his own father, but the historian, perhaps because Barachiah had died early, or was little known, calls Zechariah the son of Iddo, who was well known as one of the priests who returned from Babylon with Zerubbabel. Nehemiah 12:4; Nehemiah 12:16. And as this prophet was of priestly origin, it may be that he is designated by his grandfather’s name rather than his prophetic office to enhance his influence and authority among the Jews. Here would seem to be prophet and priest combined, to rouse and inspire the Jews to action.

Unto them Rather, upon them; that is, upon these prophets. The name of the God of Israel was upon these prophets, inasmuch as they spake by Divine inspiration and authority. Compare Jeremiah 15:16.

Verse 2

2. Then rose up It seems from Haggai 1:2, that the people had become discouraged at the opposition they met in rebuilding the temple, and after being hindered by royal authority, they concluded that the time for rebuilding the Lord’s house had not yet come. But when the Magian usurper was deposed, and Darius began to restore the Zoroastrian temples and worship, of which he speaks in his great Behistun inscription, the prophets discerned that things had changed, and the people should feel encouraged to resume their work again.

The prophets… helping them Urging and inspiring them to action by such exhortations and appeals as are found in the first chapter of Haggai.

Verse 3


3. Tatnai Probably the successor of Rehum “the chancellor.” Chapter Ezra 4:8.

Governor on this side the river Literally, Governor of beyond the river. Compare note on Ezra 4:10, and on beyond Jordan at Joshua 1:14. The country beyond the river in the Persian usus loquendi comprised especially Syria and Palestine, and seems to have been one of the satrapies of the Persian empire. According to Herodotus (iii, 89) Darius Hystaspes “established twenty governments of the kind which the Persians call satrapies, assigning to each its governor, and fixing the tribute which was to be paid him by the several nations. And generally he joined together in one satrapy the nations that were neighbours, but sometimes he passed over the nearer tribes, and put in their stead those that were more remote.” Tatnai seems to have been the governor of one of the subdivisions of the satrapy west of the Euphrates, commonly called beyond the river, as above described. The Hebrew word for governor is פחה , pechah, a term of Persian origin, and kindred to the Sanscrit paksha and Turkish pasha. See note on 2 Kings 18:24.

Shethar-boznai He was probably the secretary or scribe of Tatnai, sustaining to him the same relation that Shimshai did to Rehum. Ezra 4:8.

Their companions Compare Ezra 4:9.

Verse 4

4. Then said we The elders of the Jews. From the use of the first person here, it is evident that this account was written by an eye-witness.

What are the names of the men Not to be taken interrogatively, but thus, what the names of the men were. Literally, who they were the names of the men. The whole verse should be translated thus: Then thus told we them who they were the names of the men who this building were building.

Verse 5

5. Could not cause them to cease Rather, did not cause them to cease. Tamai and his companions had power to stop the work, but they waited till they might hear from the king Darius.

Till the matter came to Darius Rather, till the decree of Darius went forth.

And then Upon the issuing of Darius’s decree.

They returned answer by letter That is, Darius and his court officers in Persia returned answer. It is better to render the verb impersonally, and then was answered the letter concerning this matter. The letter concerning this matter is immediately added in vers.

6-17; the answer containing Darius’s decree is given in Ezra 6:1-12.

Verse 6

6. The Apharsachites This one tribe and class of the colonists are here put for all those mentioned in Ezra 4:9, just as the Hittites are apparently named for all the Canaanites in Joshua 1:4. See note there.

Verse 7

7. Written thus “This official letter of the Persian governor is quite a model of exactness, moderation, and truth, and gives a very favourable idea of the administrative part of the Persian government.” Kitto.

Verse 13

13. Cyrus the king of Babylon So called because he ruled over Babylon as the principal province of his empire. Compare Ezra 6:22, note.

Verse 14

14. Sheshbazzar See on Ezra 1:8.

Verse 16

16. Since that time even until now hath it been in building It seems that in some way the building had been going on all through those years of trouble, and the year or a little more that it had entirely ceased, after the order of the pseudo-Smerdis, (Ezra 4:24, note,) was not of sufficient importance to be noticed in this letter.

Verse 17

17. The king’s treasure-house Where important records would be carefully preserved.

There at Babylon Where the official documents of Cyrus were supposed to be still remaining. But they were found at Achmetha. Ezra 6:2.

Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Ezra 5". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.