About Jesus Steve Sweetman
This Chapter - Chapter 1
Commentary On The Book Of Ezra
commentary is based on the 1984 edition of the New International Bible.
Chapter titles in this commentary are based on the chapter titles
of the NIV for easy study purposes.
was a Jewish priest. He is the writer of this historical account.
He wrote this little book around 450 B.C..
He was a contemporary with Nehemiah, who also wrote a book.
He was also a contemporary of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah.
The book of Ruth was also written about the same time.
The prophet Malachi wrote his prophetic book about 80 to 100
there is any question that Ezra didn’t write this account, chapter 7
verse 28 makes it clear that he did. It
is also likely that Ezra wrote first and second Chronicles as well,
along with putting together the Psalms.
So he was an pretty important person in Jewish history and in the
had come from Babylon
once King Cyrus allowed the Jews to return to their homeland from exile.
About 50,000 Jews made the trip home.
Most Jews decided to stay in Babylon. Seventy years of captivity
had transpired as the prophets prophesied would happen.
must remember that many of these Jews who were living in Babylon
were born in captivity. They
did not know Jerusalem
on a first hand basis. They
would have only been told the stories of Jerusalem
by their parents. Babylon
was a very beautiful city. It
they were going to return to
noted above, Cyrus was the King who gave the edict to allow the Jews to
return to their homeland. He
and the Persian armies
defeated the Babylonians and became the next world super-power. If you
read Isa. 44:24 to 28 you will see that Isaiah prophesied that Cyrus
would release the Jews some two hundred years before it actually
happened. Isaiah even mentions Cyrus by name.
This clearly shows us the power of Biblical prophecy.
is thus clear that God does work behind the scenes with world leaders
even though the leaders may not be godly or devoted to Him.
This is still the case today.
50,000 Jews returned to Jerusalem
to rebuild the city and to rebuild the temple.
They found it a very difficult task and got distracted from their
mission. They strayed from
following the precepts of their God as they had in the past, and as we
still do today as Christians. This
is the setting in which Ezra and Nehemiah was written.
You might well want to consider the church as being very similar
to the state of the Jews back then.
Like the Jews, Christians tend to wander from their Lord and get
side-tracked from their mission at hand.
How God felt about the Jews in Ezra’s day, He might well feel
about the church in our day.
first phrase of Ezra’s account says, “in the first year of Cyrus,
put a proclamation in writing for all to see.
Ezra says that the Lord moved on the heart of Cyrus to do this.
Once again, it is clear that God works with leaders of nations,
even though they may not be godly people.
We can see about God moving in Cyrus’ heart that was prophesied
by Isaiah in chapter 44 verse one. God
calls Cyrus, who was a Gentile, “His anointed”.
Cyrus was truly
called and moved by God to be an instrument of God.
gives the specific reason why Cyrus made this decree. It was to fulfill
the prophecy spoken of by Jeremiah. (Jeremiah 25:11-12, 29:10-14) I
believe from what Cyrus says in that he knew very well the God of the
Jews had called him to be king of the known world, and that it was his
job to set the Jews free. Daniel
was still alive in Cyrus’ first year of reign, and might well have
spoken to Cyrus about Jeremiah’s and Isaiah’s prophecy to free the
see the contents of Cyrus’ decree in verse 2 to 4.
In verse 2 Cyrus claims that God has given him all the kingdoms
of the world. We should note
that the world here means “known world”.
Cyrus was in charge of the known world of that day.
But what about his claim that it was God who gave him the power,
even though he was a Gentile pagan?
believe Scripture is pretty clear on the answer. I do believe that God
gave all the kingdoms of the world to Cyrus.
As noted before in Isaiah 44:24 to 28 and 45:13 and 45:13, it clearly
states this to be so in the case of Cyrus. Yet beyond this, I think
there are sufficient passages in the Bible that shows us that God is
behind the rise and fall of nations.
Cyrus says that God “has appointed him” to build the temple for the
verse 3 we see that Cyrus didn’t actually go and help build the
temple. Instead, he allowed
or set free those Jews who felt the need to go and rebuild the temple.
By this, Cyrus played a big role in the return of the Jews to
rebuild God’s temple.
did not demand or decree that every Jew had to leave
in verse 3 we see that Cyrus recognizes the God of Israel.
He calls God, the God of Israel.
He also personalizes this by saying “his God”, which refers
to the individual Jew who would make the trip back to Jerusalem. God is both the God to an
individual, and also to the nation of Israel.
verse 4 we see part of the decree that states how the trip to Jerusalem
and the building project would be financed.
Those who remained behind in Jerusalem
were told to help those leaving with silver, goods, and livestock.
Beyond this, they were to give a free will offering for the
building of the temple.
verse 5 we clearly see that those who went on the trip to
though the text says that these people
went “up to the house of the Lord”, they did not go up
actually more down and across. The
Bible always refers to Jerusalem
as up, but in the sense of elevation, not direction.
is situated on hills, and therefore it is up.
6 confirms that which Cyrus decreed for the remaining Jews to help the
leaving Jews. The remaining
Jews helped with money and material as they were told to do.
7 also tells us that Cyrus himself helped out.
King Nebuchadnezzar of
verse 9 we see the name “Sheshbazzar”.
He was prince of
11 tells us that there were 5400
articles carried back to Jerusalem
for the temple that had been stored in the Babylonian pagan temple.