About Jesus Steve Sweetman
This Chapter - Chapter 7
We see King Anaxerses.
He was king of Persia
from 404 to 358 B. C.. So we have a bit of a time frame here. Between
Ezra chapter 6 and 7 there is roughly a 58 year period of time.
Ezra gives us his
genealogy that shows us that
his lineage was from Aaron. This
would make him a Levite and that would make him a priest.
In verse 6 we see that
Ezra was a teacher of the Law of Moses.
He was clearly well versed in the Law of God and therefore would
be an important man in
Concerning this second
group of exiles that went to
Also in verse 6 we learn
“that the hand of the Lord was on Ezra”.
Ezra was called by God to perform a certain task.
This is important for anything we do as a person of the Lord.
Our Lord’s hand must be on us as we go about His work.
He calls us to individual and collective tasks.
The problem is that we often neglect His calling and do what we
feel is best, or worse, just wander away from God as Israel did.
The king gave Ezra all he
needed for the trip to
In verse 1 we see King
Anaxerxes. In verse 7 we see king Artaxerxes, who reigned from 358 to
338 B. C..
Verse 8 tells us that
Ezra arrived in
Verse 9 tells us that the
trip for Ezra took four months because the hand of the Lord was on them.
This suggests that the trip could have easily taken longer, but
it would appear that God made it easy on them so they arrived in good
time. Sometimes God makes
things easy for us and sometimes He doesn’t.
One can’t really gage the Lord being with a person by observing
how things are going. Just
because things are going bad doesn’t mean the Lord is not with that
person. The same works in
Verse 10 begins with the
word “for”. The reason
why God was with Ezra was because of three things.
He had devoted himself to study the Law of God, he obeyed it, and
he taught the Law of God to others.
This is what needs to be done if you want God to be with you.
Verses 11 and 12
introduces the letter that King Artaxerxes gave Ezra “the priest and
teacher”. We see
here, as we saw in the last chapter, that Ezra was a teacher, a man who
understood the Law of God and was able to teach it to others.
It’s interesting to
note that we’ve seen two prophets, Haggai and Zechariah in the last
couple of chapters. Here we
see Ezra the teacher. It
Verse 13 tells us that
this is more than a letter from the king to Ezra.
It’s a decree of the king.
It states that any Jew who wanted to return to Jerusalem
with Ezra could legally return. They
were free to leave Babylon.
Verse 14 says that the
king is actually decreeing the Ezra leave for Jerusalem
to enquire about the temple and see how things are going.
Clearly, it was in Ezra’s heart to go, but as in the case with
Cyrus, God moved on king Artaxerxes that Ezra must go to Jerusalem.
The specific thing that
Ezra was to see when arriving in Jerusalem
was to see the progress of the temple n relation to how the Word of God
says it should be built. And
this word, “was in Ezra’s hand”, as the letter states
Ezra truly was a man of the Word of God and even a Gentile king
understood its importance in relation to the building of the temple.
The same is true today concerning the church.
We pattern the church after the Word of God, just as the Jews
patterned the temple after the Word of God, but that is not always the
case in today’s world.
In verse 15 the king
decrees that Ezra takes the silver and gold the he gives him for his
trip and for the temple. The
rebuilding of this temple was truly God’s will.
For Cyrus, and now for Artaxerxes to help the Jews in such a way
The king recognizes that
he is not simply giving the money to Ezra, but to the God of Israel, as
he puts it, who lives in Jerusalem. Now this is something. A
Gentile king coming up with such words.
Verse 16 seems to suggest
that others would contribute in giving as well.
The free will offering spoken of here, and those in
Verse 17 is a bit funny
to me. Artaxerxes sounds a
bit like a father speaking to his son when he says, “don’t
reminding Ezra not to forget to buy the animals, grain and drink for all
the offerings the Jews will need at the temple. I’m not sure that Ezra
would forget such a thing, but the king was committed to the Jews, and
he wanted Ezra to know this for sure.
Ezra needed to know this for sure because many people in the land
Verse 18 seems to suggest
that all the money that was given to Ezra was way more than enough to
buy the needed things for their sacrifices.
Whatever money was left over, the king told Ezra to spend as God
would suggest. Ezra was
given freedom concerning all this money, and the freedom was based on
the fact that the king knew that Ezra was a man of the Word of God and
would spend the money properly.
The king in verse 19
tells Ezra to deliver all that he has received “to the God of
Jerusalem”. The king knew
something that many people don’t know, not even today, and that is,
“God is the God of Jerusalem”. Jerusalem
is God’s holy city. It was
in the beginning and it will be at the end when we see that New
Jerusalem come down from heaven.
Verse 20 goes one step
further. Basically the king
says that if you need more money, more of anything, you can have it from
the royal treasury. That is
really something. This is a
In verses 21 to 23 the
kings gives a decree directly written to the governor of
Trans-Euphrates. The decree states that the province must give Ezra all
that He needs for the practice of the Jews in worship at their temple.
The king actually acknowledges the fact that the God that the
Jews serve is the God of heaven, meaning the supreme God of all god’s,
or better stated in Christian terms, the only God of which there are no
The last phrase in verse
23 shows that the king has some fear of the God of the Jews.
The king says, “why should there be wrath against the realm of
the king…” Clearly, the
king is decreeing these things because he is afraid that if he doesn’t
God will be angry at him and his kingdom.
The king does put some
limits on what his state will give, but these limits are very high.
For example, the state would give Ezra “up to a hundred talents
of silver”. That’s about
three and three quarter tons of silver.
That’s a lot of silver.
Verse 24 gets worse for
the governor of Trans-Euphrates. The
king decrees that he must not tax or receive any kind of financial
remuneration from the priests, or anyone else who works at the temple.
Besides giving money to the Jews, the state can’t collect any
money from them.
In verses 25 and 26 we
note that the king gave great authority to Ezra. He put him in charge of
all the people in Trans-Euphrates. I’m
not sure that means, all the Jews, or all the people. The king put great
confidence in Ezra. He said
he had the wisdom of God. O
that people would see the wisdom of God in His people today.
The king also gave Ezra the authority to punish any one who did
not obey the law of God.
Once again we see the
civil and religious community working in tandem. Over the centuries men
have tried to unite the civil and the religious.
But this is only something that God can do.
Man cannot do such a thing. We’ve
tried with drastic results. God
Himself will unite the civil and religious when Jesus comes to earth.
Ezra, in verse 27 gives
praise to God for putting in the king’s heart this graciousness
towards the Jews and their temple.
The chapter ends with
verse 28 where Ezra acknowledges that the “hand of God was upon
him”, and for this reason he was bold to choose the best men of