And in the days of Artaxerxes
The same with Ahasuerus, in the preceding verse; and who also is Cambyses, which is his name in Heathen authors, Artaxerxes being a common name to the kings of Persia; though some F6 think this was Smerdis, the magician and impostor, who was between Cambyses and Darius; but as he reigned but seven months, it is not very likely that he should be wrote unto, and an answer received from him; besides he sent to every nation he ruled over F7, and so to the Jews, and proclaimed to them freedom from tribute and the militia for three years, to ingratiate himself to them:
wrote Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and the rest of their companions;
or his company; for Jarchi thinks only one person is meant; that Mithredath Tabeel is the name of one of the adversaries of Judah; and that Bishlam is an appellative, and signifies that he wrote in peace, or in a way of salutation and greeting; but they seem to be the names of governors in the cities of Samaria under the king of Persia: these wrote
to Artaxerxes king of Persia;
instigated by the Samaritans:
and the writing of the letter was written in the Syrian tongue, and
interpreted in the Syrian tongue;
or Chaldee, of which Ezra gives a copy in the Chaldee language; the meaning either is, that it was written both in Syriac letters, and in the Syriac language; for sometimes words are written in one language and in the character of another, as the Syriac is sometimes written in, Hebrew characters, and the Hebrew in Roman; or else there was a postscript added to this letter, explaining some things in it, which also was written in the same language: some take F8 the word "nishtevan", rendered "written", to be the name of a province on the borders of the country beyond Euphrates, whose figure and characters were in high esteem, and fit to write in to kings; but the words and language were Syrian, and needed interpretation.
F6 Prideaux's Connect. par. 1. p. 175. Authors of the Uersal History, vol. 5. p. 199, 203. So Vitringa, Hypotypos. Hist. Sacr. p. 108.
F7 Herodot. Thalia, sive, l. 3. c. 67. Justin. l. 1. c. 9.
F8 Praefat. Arugas Habbosem apud Buxtorf. de liter. Heb. add.