Ezra 1

Permission to return to Jerusalem

1 In the first year of King Cyrus of Persia's rule, to fulfill the LORD's word spoken by Jeremiah, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Persia's King Cyrus. The king issued a proclamation throughout his kingdom (it was also in writing) that stated:
2 Persia's King Cyrus says: The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth. He has commanded me to build him a house at Jerusalem in Judah.
3 If there are any of you who are from his people, may their God be with them! They may go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the house of the LORD, the God of Israel—he is the God who is in Jerusalem.
4 And as for all those who remain in the various places where they are living, let the people of those places supply them with silver and gold, and with goods and livestock, together with spontaneous gifts for God's house in Jerusalem.[a]

Preparing to return

5 Then the heads of the families of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and the Levites—everyone whose spirit God had stirred up—got ready to go up and build God's house in Jerusalem.
6 All their neighbors assisted them with silver equipment, with gold, with goods, livestock, and valuable gifts, in addition to all that was freely offered.
7 King Cyrus brought out the equipment of the LORD's house—those items that Nebuchadnezzar brought from Jerusalem and placed in the house of his gods.
8 Persia's King Cyrus handed them over to Mithredath the treasurer, who counted them out to Sheshbazzar the prince of Judah.
9 This was the count: thirty gold dishes, one thousand silver dishes, twenty-nine knives,[b]
10 thirty gold bowls, four hundred ten larger[c] silver bowls, and one thousand other objects.
11 The total of the gold and silver objects numbered five thousand four hundred. Sheshbazzar brought up all of these when the exiles went up from Babylonia to Jerusalem.

Ezra 1 Commentary

Chapter 1

The history of this book is the accomplishment of Jeremiah's prophecy concerning the return of the Jews out of Babylon. From its contents we especially learn, that every good work will meet with opposition from enemies, and be hurt by the misconduct of friends; but that God will make his cause to prevail, notwithstanding all obstacles and adversaries. The restoration of the Jews was an event of the highest consequence, tending to preserve religion in the world, and preparing the way for the appearance of the Great Deliverer, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The proclamation of Cyrus for the rebuilding of the temple. (1-4) The people provide for their return. (5-11)

Verses 1-4 The Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus. The hearts of kings are in the hand of the Lord. God governs the world by his influence on the spirits of men; whatever good they do, God stirs up their spirits to do it. It was during the captivity of the Jews, that God principally employed them as the means of calling the attention of the heathen to him. Cyrus took it for granted, that those among the Jews who were able, would offer free-will offerings for the house of God. He would also have them supplied out of his kingdom. Well-wishers to the temple should be well-doers for it.

Verses 5-11 The same God that raised up the spirit of Cyrus to proclaim liberty to the Jews, raised up their spirits to take the benefit. The temptation was to some to stay in Babylon; but some feared not to return, and they were those whose spirits God raised, by his Spirit and grace. Whatever good we do, is owing to the grace of God. Our spirits naturally bow down to this earth and the things of it; if they move upward in any good affections or good actions, it is God who raises them. The calls and offers of the gospel are like the proclamation of Cyrus. Those bound under the power of sin, may be made free by Jesus Christ. Whosoever will, by repentance and faith, return to God, Jesus Christ has opened the way for him, and raises him out of the slavery of sin into the glorious liberty of the children of God. Many that hear this joyful sound, choose to sit still in Babylon, are in love with their sins, and will not venture upon a holy life; but some break through all discouragements, whatever it cost them; they are those whose spirit God has raised above the world and the flesh, whom he has made willing. Thus will the heavenly Canaan be filled, though many perish in Babylon; and the gospel offer will not have been made in vain. The bringing back the Jews from captivity, represents the redemption of sinners by Jesus Christ.

Footnotes 3

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK OF EZRA

This book, in the Vulgate Latin and Arabic versions, is called the "First" Book of Ezra, Nehemiah being reckoned the "second"; but with the Jews both were accounted but one book {a}; in the Syriac version, it is called the Writing or Book of Ezra the Prophet; and this title is given him, both by Jews {b} and Christians {c}; in the Arabic version, it is called the First Book of Ezra the Priest, skilful in the Law; and that he was a priest is clear, since he was the son of Seraiah the high priest, who was slain by Nebuchadnezzar, and the younger brother of Josedech, who succeeded his father as high priest, and uncle to Joshua that succeeded him; and he was also a ready scribe in the law of Moses, see Ezr 7:1,6,10-12. That Ezra was the writer of this book is believed by the Jews {d}, and by the generality of Christians; only Huetius {e} thinks that the six first chapters were written by another hand, but his reasons are not satisfactory; and it has been universally received as canonical by all; it agrees with the prophecies of Haggai and Zechariah, and serves to illustrate them; it is of use for the continuation of the sacred history, to point at the fulfilment of prophecies concerning the return of the Jews from captivity, and the rebuilding of the temple; and to give us an account of the state of the church in those times, the troubles and difficulties it met with, and what care was taken to keep the tribes and families distinct, that it might be known from whom the Messiah sprung; this book contains an history of seventy years, according to the calculation of Bishop Usher {f}, from A. M. 3468, to A. M. 3538.

{a} Origen apud Euseb. Hist. Eccl. l. 6. c. 25. Hieron. Opera, tom. 3. Epist. ad Paulin. fol. 6. B. & ad Domnion. & Rogat. fol. 7. G. {b} Seder Olam Zuta, p. 108. {c} Lactant. Institut. l. 4. c. 11. {d} T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 15. 1. {e} Demonstr. Evangel. prop. 4. p. 208, 209. {f} Annal. Vet. Test. p. 146, 193.

\\INTRODUCTION TO EZRA 1\\

This chapter informs us of the proclamation of Cyrus king of Persia, for the Jews to return to their own country, and rebuild their temple, Ezr 1:1-4, and that, upon it, the chief of them rose up for that purpose, whose hands were strengthened and supplied by those about them, Ezr 1:5,6 and particularly by Cyrus, who gave orders that the vessels belonging to the temple should be delivered to them, Ezr 1:7-11.

Ezra 1 Commentaries