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Ezra Seven

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

Ezra 7:1 Now after these things, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra the son of Seraiah, the son of Azariah, the son of Hilkiah,

Artaxerxes king of Persia. This Artaxerxes commissioned Ezra to go to Jerusalem and then, about thirteen years later, also sent Nehemiah (Ezra 7:8; Nehemiah 2:1). Since “Artaxerxes,” as well as “Ahasuerus”—and even “Cyrus” and “Darius”—are believed by some scholars to be titles (like “Pharaoh”) rather than personal names, he may or may not be the same man mentioned in Ezra 4:8. The temple was evidently completed about sixteen years after its foundations were laid, whereas there seems to be a much larger interval, sixty years or so, between the completion of the post-exilic temple and the period of Ezra and Nehemiah. The precise identifications of these Persian kings has long been controversial, even among conservative historians and Biblical scholars.

Ezra. Ezra was both a scribe (Ezra 7:6) and a priest, being a direct descendant of “Aaron the chief priest” (Ezra 7:5).

Hilkiah. Hilkiah, who was Ezra's great-grandfather, had been the high priest (2 Kings 22:4) who led the pre-exilic revival under King Josiah.

Ezra 7:2 The son of Shallum, the son of Zadok, the son of Ahitub,

Ezra 7:3 The son of Amariah, the son of Azariah, the son of Meraioth,

Ezra 7:4 The son of Zerahiah, the son of Uzzi, the son of Bukki,

Ezra 7:5 The son of Abishua, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the chief priest:

Ezra 7:6 This Ezra went up from Babylon; and he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which the LORD God of Israel had given: and the king granted him all his request, according to the hand of the LORD his God upon him.

the hand of the Lord. A variation of the striking clause, “the hand of the Lord his God upon him,” occurs six times in Ezra (Ezra 7:6, 9, 28; 8:18, 22, 31) and twice in Nehemiah (Nehemiah 2:8, 18). Both writers emphasize that their own remarkable accomplishments were by the protecting and enabling grace of God.

Ezra 7:7 And there went up some of the children of Israel, and of the priests, and the Levites, and the singers, and the porters, and the Nethinims, unto Jerusalem, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king.

Ezra 7:8 And he came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which was in the seventh year of the king.

Ezra 7:9 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 hand of his God upon him.

Ezra 7:10 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.

prepared his heart. It was no accident that God used Ezra so mightily, not only in leading the people in the great work of restoration, but even of writing a significant portion of the Holy Scriptures himself and possibly even organizing the canon of the entire Old Testament. He was a “ready scribe” (Ezra 7:6)—that is, a skillful recorder of facts and communicator of truth. Furthermore, as a priestly descendant of Aaron (Ezra 7:5) he had wholeheartedly devoted his life to the study and exposition of God's revealed word.

Ezra 7:11 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 Israel.

king Artaxerxes. This king was the successor to king Ahasuerus, who was king at the time of Esther and Mordecai (Esther 1:1). Thus the events described in the book of Esther took place in the approximate sixty years between Ezra 6, when the temple is completed, and Ezra 7, when Ezra himself first comes on the scene.

scribe of the words. One of the functions of Ezra, and no doubt of other scribes, was to “inscribe,” or copy, the revealed Scriptures, to make them continually available generation after generation, to God's people.

Ezra 7:12 Artaxerxes, king of kings, unto Ezra the priest, a scribe of the law of the God of heaven, perfect peace, and at such a time.

God of heaven. It is noteworthy that great Artaxerxes, calling himself “king of kings,” nevertheless recognized that the God of Ezra was “the God of heaven,” as indeed Cyrus also had before him (Ezra 1:2, 3). It is possible that Artaxerxes was either a son or stepson of Queen Esther; if so, she and Mordecai had no doubt instructed him concerning the true God.

Ezra 7:13 I make a decree, that all they of the people of Israel, and of his priests and Levites, in my realm, which are minded of their own freewill to go up to Jerusalem, go with thee.

Ezra 7:14 Forasmuch as thou art sent of the king, and of his seven counsellors, to inquire concerning Judah and Jerusalem, according to the law of thy God which is in thine hand;

Ezra 7:15 And to carry the silver and gold, which the king and his counsellors have freely offered unto the God of Israel, whose habitation is in Jerusalem,

Ezra 7:16 And all the silver and gold that thou canst find in all the province of Babylon, with the freewill offering of the people, and of the priests, offering willingly for the house of their God which is in Jerusalem:

Ezra 7:17 That thou mayest buy speedily with this money bullocks, rams, lambs, with their meat offerings and their drink offerings, and offer them upon the altar of the house of your God which is in Jerusalem.

Ezra 7:18 And whatsoever shall seem good to thee, and to thy brethren, to do with the rest of the silver and the gold, that do after the will of your God.

that do. The temple, having been completed under the leadership of Zerubbabel several decades previously, had fallen into disrepair despite the prophetic preaching of Haggai and Zechariah (Ezra 5:1, 2; 6:15). The offerings and sacrifices were being neglected and the general moral character of the people had deteriorated. Therefore God, through Artaxerxes, sent Ezra and Nehemiah, as well as the prophet Malachi, to stir up their hearts.

Ezra 7:19 The vessels also that are given thee for the service of the house of thy God, those deliver thou before the God of Jerusalem.

Ezra 7:20 And whatsoever more shall be needful for the house of thy God, which thou shalt have occasion to bestow, bestow it out of the king's treasure house.

Ezra 7:21 And I, even I Artaxerxes the king, do make a decree to all the treasurers which are beyond the river, that whatsoever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, shall require of you, it be done speedily,

Ezra 7:22 Unto an hundred talents of silver, and to an hundred measures of wheat, and to an hundred baths of wine, and to an hundred baths of oil, and salt without prescribing how much.

Ezra 7:23 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?

Ezra 7:24 Also we certify you, that touching any of the priests and Levites, singers, porters, Nethinims, or ministers of this house of God, it shall not be lawful to impose toll, tribute, or custom, upon them.

Ezra 7:25 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, all such as know the laws of thy God; and teach ye them that know them not.

set magistrates and judges. Ezra was even given royal authority to set up a governmental and judicial system over “all the people that are beyond the river,” as based on God's revealed laws, with power to punish disobedience (Ezra 7:26; also Ezra 10:7-8).

Ezra 7:26 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, or to banishment, or to confiscation of goods, or to imprisonment.

Ezra 7:27 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 of the LORD which is in Jerusalem:

Ezra 7:28 And hath extended mercy unto me before the king, and his counsellors, and before all the 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.