Ezra 3:13 WYC
and no man might know the voice of cry of the men being glad, and the voice of weeping of the people; for the people cried together with [a] great cry, and the voice of them was heard afar. (and no one could distinguish between the sound of the people being glad, and the sound of the people weeping; for the people cried out with such a great shout, or with such noise, and their sound was heard afar off.)
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The altar and festivals. (1-7) The foundations of the temple laid. (8-13)
Verses 1-7 From the proceedings of the Jews on their arrival, let us learn to begin with God, and to do what we can in the worship of God, when we cannot do what we would. They could not at once have a temple, but they would not be without an altar. Fear of danger should stir us to our duty. Have we many enemies? Then it is good to have God our Friend, and to keep up communion with him. Our fears should drive us to our knees. The sacrifices for all these solemnities were a heavy expense for so poor a company; yet besides those expressly appointed, many brought free-will offerings to the Lord. And they made preparation for the building of the temple without delay: whatever God calls us to do, we may depend upon his providence to furnish us with the needful means.
Verses 8-13 There was a remarkable mixture of affections upon laying the foundation of the temple. Those that only knew the misery of having no temple at all, praised the Lord with shouts of joy. To them, even this foundation seemed great. We ought to be thankful for the beginnings of mercy, though it be not yet perfect. But those who remembered the glory of the first temple, and considered how far inferior this was likely to be, wept with a loud voice. There was reason for it, and if they bewailed the sin that was the cause of this melancholy change, they did well. Yet it was wrong to cast a damp upon the common joys. They despised the day of small things, and were unthankful for the good they enjoyed. Let not the remembrance of former afflictions drown the sense of present mercies.
Ezra 3:1-13 . THE ALTAR SET UP.
1. when the seventh month was come--The departure of the returning exiles from Babylon took place in the spring. For some time after their arrival they were occupied in the necessary work of rearing habitations to themselves amid the ruins of Jerusalem and its neighborhood. This preliminary work being completed, they addressed themselves to rebuild the altar of burnt offering. As the seventh month of the sacred year was at hand--corresponding to the latter end of our September--when the feast of tabernacles ( Leviticus 23:34 ) fell to be observed, they resolved to celebrate that religious festival, just as if the temple had been fully restored.
2. Jeshua--the grandson of Seraiah, the high priest, put to death by Nebuchadnezzar at Riblah ( 2 Kings 25:18-21 ). His father, Josedech, had been carried captive to Babylon, and died there, some time before this.
Zerubbabel--was, according to the order of nature, son of Pedaiah ( 1 Chronicles 3:17-19 ); but having been brought up by Salathiel, he was called his son.
builded the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings thereon--This was of urgent and immediate necessity, in order, first, to make atonement for their sins; secondly, to obtain the divine blessing on their preparations for the temple, as well as animate their feelings of piety and patriotism for the prosecution of that national work.
3. they set the altar upon his bases--They reared it upon its old foundation, so that it occupied as nearly as possible the site on which it had formerly stood.
they offered burnt offerings . . . morning and evening--Deeming it their duty to perform the public rites of religion, they did not wait till the temple should be rebuilt and dedicated; but, at the outset, they resumed the daily service prescribed by the law ( Exodus 29:38 Exodus 29:39 , Leviticus 6:9 Leviticus 6:11 ), as well as observed the annual seasons of solemn observance.
Ezra 3:4-7 . OFFERINGS RENEWED.
4, 6. They kept also the feast of tabernacles . . . From the first day of the seventh month--They revived at that time the daily oblation, and it was on the fifteenth day of that month the feast of tabernacles was held.
7. They gave . . . meat . . . drink, and oil, unto them of Zidon--They opened negotiations with the Tyrians for workmen, as well as for timber, on the same terms and with the same views as Solomon had done ( 1 Kings 5:11 , 2 Chronicles 2:15 2 Chronicles 2:16 ).
Ezra 3:8-13 . THE FOUNDATION OF THE TEMPLE LAID.
8. appointed the Levites . . . to set forward the work--that is, to act as overseers of the workmen, and to direct and animate the laborers in the various departments.
9. Jeshua with his sons--not the high priest, but a Levite ( Ezra 2:40 ). To these, as probably distinguished for their mechanical skill and taste, the duty of acting as overseers was particularly committed.
12. But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers . . . wept with a loud voice--Those painful emotions were excited by the sad contrast between the prosperous circumstances in which the foundations of the first temple had been laid and the desolate, reduced state of the country and city when the second was begun; between the inferior size and less costliness of the stones used in the foundations of the second ( 1 Kings 7:9 1 Kings 7:10 ), and the much smaller extent of the foundation itself, including all the appurtenances of the building ( Haggai 2:3 ); between the comparative smallness of their present means and the immense resources of David and Solomon. Perhaps, however, the chief cause of grief was that the second temple would be destitute of those things which formed the great and distinguishing glory of the first; namely, the ark, the shekinah, the Urim and Thummim, &c. Not that this second temple was not a very grand and beautiful structure. But no matter how great its material splendor was, it was inferior in this respect to that of Solomon. Yet the glory of the second far outshone that of the first temple in another and more important point of view, namely, the receiving within its walls the incarnate Saviour ( Haggai 2:9 ).
13. the people could not discern the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people--Among Eastern people, expressions of sorrow are always very loud and vehement. It is indicated by wailing, the howl of which is sometimes not easily distinguishable from joyful acclamations.