Ezra 7:1 - 8:36

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016

Ezra 7

INTRODUCTION:

 

Some major changes have taken place between chapters 6 and 7.

 

The ministries of both Haggai and Zechariah who urged the Jews in 520 B.C. to complete the rebuilding of the temple are over.

 

The temple was completed in 515 B.C.

 

Darius who ordered the political leaders in Jerusalem to stop harassing the Jews and hindering the construction of the temple has died and passed from the scene.

 

Ahasuerus (also known as Xerxes) became king of Persia in 485 B.C.; and according to Ezra 4:6 , the political leaders in Jerusalem wrote an accusation to him against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem. We do not know the result of this letter.

 

Esther became queen in 479 B.C., and the Book of Esther has taken place.

 

In 464 B.C. Artaxerxes became king and the political leaders in Jerusalem wrote a letter to him which is recorded in Ezra 4:7-23 . This letter resulted in a forced stoppage in the rebuilding of Jerusalem until such time as he ordered differently.

 

Ezra comes on the scene in 458 B.C., 57 years after the completion of the temple.

 

 

 III.     Reforms Under Ezra, 7:1 - 10:44

 

The second return and reform under Ezra (chaps. 7-10) (BKC)

 

These chapters describe a second return of exiles from Babylon, this time under Ezra in 458 B.C. (7:7). Here Ezra often wrote in the first person (“I” and “we”). Ezra, a priest who knew the Scriptures knew the importance of having the people back where the sacrificial system was being practiced (BKC).

 

            A.  The second return of exiles, 7:1 - 8:36

 

The return to the land (chaps. 7-8) (BKC)

 

The emphasis in these chapters is on the character of Ezra, which sets the scene for chapters 9 and 10 where sin is uncovered in the postexilic community. Ezra is presented as a man who was strongly motivated by the Law of God (BKC).

 

The introduction of Ezra (7:1-10) (BKC)

 

The events which transpire in this section of the narrative occurred during the reign of Artaxerxes who was introduced earlier in the book (4:8-23; 6:14). The return occurred in the king’s seventh year, which was 458 B.C. (BKC).

Ezra 7:1 Now after these things [57 years after the events of chap. 6], in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra the son of Seraiah [Seraiah was the high priest at the time of deportation in 586 B.C.], the son of Azariah, the son of Hilkiah,

Ezra 7:2 The son of Shallum, the son of Zadok, the son of Ahitub,

Ezra 7:3 The son of Amariah, the son of Azariah, the son of Meraioth,

Ezra 7:4 The son of Zerahiah, the son of Uzzi, the son of Bukki,

Ezra 7:5 The son of Abishua, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the chief priest:

 

7:5 – (RSB) Ezra’s abbreviated genealogy is traced back to Aaron.

Ezra 7:6 This Ezra went up from Babylon; and he was a ready scribe [i.e. a scribe skilled] in the law of Moses, which the LORD God of Israel had given: and the king [i.e. Artaxerxes] granted him all his request, according to the hand of the LORD his God upon him.

Ezra 7:7 And there went up some of the children of Israel, and of the priests, and the Levites, and the singers, and the porters [i.e. gatekeepers], and the Nethinims [i.e. temple servants], unto Jerusalem, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king.

 

7:7 – (RSB) Nethinims (temple servants). Descendants of the Gibeonites, they served in the Temple. See note on Josh. 9:20-2l.

 

The Gibeonites were an Amorite people who should have been killed. However, they came to Joshua and pretended to have come from a great distance. Joshua and the elders swore that they would not be killed. A few days later it was learned that they were Amorites who were supposed to be killed; but they were permitted to live because of the oath. As a result, they became slaves and were made wood choppers and water carriers for the tabernacle. By their involvement with the tabernacle, they were exposed to the worship of the true God at the tabernacle.

Ezra 7:8 And he came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which was in the seventh year of the king.

Ezra 7:9 For upon the first day of the first month began he to go up from Babylon [i.e. he began his journey from Babylon] , and on the first day of the fifth month came he to Jerusalem, according to the good hand of his God upon him.

 

7:8-9 – (RSB) The journey covered 900 mi . . . and lasted four months, from Nisan 1 (Mar.-Apr.) to Ab 1 (July-Aug.) 458 B.C.

Ezra 7:10 For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments [i.e. ordinances].

 

The circumstances prompting the return (7:11-28) (BKC)

Ezra 7:11 Now this is the copy of the letter that the king Artaxerxes gave unto Ezra the priest, the scribe, even a scribe of [i.e. an expert in] the words of the commandments of the LORD, and of his statutes to Israel.

 

7:11 – (RSB) Artaxerxes’s letter (which continues through v. 26) extended generous support to the Jews, a small price to pay for peace in that part of his empire (v. 23).

 

No reason for the decree was given. It can be surmised that Ezra had asked for permission to take a group back and that this decree was the official granting of his request. The decree was sent to Ezra personally (BKC).

Ezra 7:12 Artaxerxes, king of kings, unto Ezra the priest, a scribe of the law of the God of heaven, perfect peace, and at such a time [i.e. perfect peace and so forth, perfect peace etc.].

Ezra 7:13 I make [i.e. issue] a decree, that all they of the people of Israel, and of his priests and Levites, in my realm, which are minded of their own freewill [i.e. who are willing, who volunteer] to go up to Jerusalem, go with thee [i.e. with you, Ezra].

Ezra 7:14 Forasmuch as thou [i.e. you, Ezra] art sent of the king, and of his seven counsellors [i.e. by the king and by his seven counselors], to enquire concerning Judah and Jerusalem, according to [i.e. with regard to] the law of thy God which is in thine hand [i.e. your God which is in your hand, Ezra];

 

7:14 – (RSB) his seven counsellors. A group especially close to the king mentioned in Est. 1:14.

 

Esther 1:14 And the next unto him was Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan, the seven princes of Persia and Media, which saw the king’s face, and which sat the first in the kingdom.

Ezra 7:15 And to carry the silver and gold, which the king and his counsellors have freely offered unto the God of Israel, whose habitation is in Jerusalem,

Ezra 7:16 And [i.e. together with] all the silver and gold that thou [i.e. that you, Ezra] canst find in all the province of Babylon, with the freewill offering of the people, and of the priests, offering willingly for the house of their God which is in Jerusalem:

Ezra 7:17 That thou mayest buy speedily [i.e. that you, Ezra, may be careful to buy] with this money bullocks [i.e. bulls], rams, lambs, with their meat offerings [i.e. with their grain offerings] and their drink offerings, and offer them upon the altar of the house of your God which is in Jerusalem.

Ezra 7:18 And whatsoever shall seem good to thee, and to thy brethren [i.e. whatever will seem good to you, Ezra, and to your brothers], to do with the rest of the silver and the gold, that do after the will of your God.

Ezra 7:19 The vessels [i.e. utensils, articles] also that are given thee [i.e. you, Ezra] for the service of the house of thy God, those deliver thou [i.e. you, Ezra, deliver in full] before the God of Jerusalem.

Ezra 7:20 And whatsoever [i.e. whatever] more shall be needful [i.e. may be needed] for the house of thy God, which thou shalt have occasion to bestow [i.e. to provide], bestow it out of the king’s treasure house [i.e. pay for it out of the king’s treasury].

Ezra 7:21 And I, even I Artaxerxes the king, do make a decree to all the treasurers which are beyond the river, that whatsoever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, shall require of you [i.e. may ask of you], it be done speedily [i.e. let it be done diligently],

Ezra 7:22 Unto [i.e. up to] an hundred talents of silver, and to an hundred measures of wheat, and to an hundred baths of wine, and to an hundred baths of oil, and salt without prescribing how much [i.e. and salt without limit].

 

7:22 – (RSB) an hundred talents of silver = 120,000 oz (3.75 tons. . .). an hundred measures of wheat = 600 bushels. . . . One bath was equivalent to six gal.

 

This morning the price of silver was $17.71 per ounce. 120,000 ounces of silver would have a market value today of $2,125,200.00.

Ezra 7:23 Whatsoever [i.e. whatever] is commanded by the God of heaven, let it be diligently done for the house of the God of heaven: for why should there be wrath against the realm of the king and his sons?

Ezra 7:24 Also we certify you [i.e. inform you], that touching [i.e. that on] any of the priests and Levites, singers, porters, Nethinims, or ministers of this house of God, it shall not be lawful to impose toll [i.e. taxes], tribute, or custom, upon them.

 

7:24 – (RSB) All those who ministered in the Temple were now exempted from taxation.

Ezra 7:25 And thou, Ezra, after the wisdom of thy God, that is in thine hand [i.e. according to your God-given wisdom], set magistrates and judges, which may judge all the people that are beyond the river [i.e. that are on the west side of the Euphrates River], all such as know the laws of thy God; and teach ye them that know them not [i.e. and teach those who do not know them].

Ezra 7:26 And whosoever will not do the law of thy God, and the law of the king, let judgment be executed speedily upon him, whether it be unto death, or to banishment, or to confiscation of goods, or to imprisonment.

Ezra 7:27 Blessed be the LORD God of our fathers, which hath put such a thing as this in the king’s heart, to beautify [i.e. to adorn] the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem:

Ezra 7:28 And hath extended mercy unto me before the king, and his counsellors, and before all the king’s mighty princes. And I [i.e. Ezra] was strengthened [i.e. and I was encouraged] as the hand of the LORD my God was upon me, and I gathered together out of Israel chief men [i.e. leading men] to go up with me.

Ezra 8

 

 III.     Reforms Under Ezra (continued), 7:1 - 10:44

            A.  The second return of exiles (continued), 7:1 - 8:36

 

The last of the returnees (8:1-14) (BKC)

 

This list consists of the major men (family heads) who returned as well as the numbers of those who accompanied them. Most of the people listed were related to the families who had returned previously under Zerubbabel (537 B.C.) 79 years earlier (chap. 2) (BKC).

Ezra 8:1 These are now the chief [i.e. the heads] of their fathers, and this is the genealogy of them that went up with me from Babylon, in the reign of Artaxerxes the king.

 

Ezra 8:2 Of the sons [i.e. descendants] of Phinehas; Gershom: of the sons [i.e. descendants] of Ithamar; Daniel: of the sons [i.e. descendants] of David; Hattush.

 

Ezra 8:3 Of the sons [i.e. descendants] of Shechaniah, of the sons [i.e. descendants] of Pharosh; Zechariah: and with him were reckoned by genealogy of the males an hundred and fifty [i.e. and with him were registered one hundred and fifty males].

 

8:3 – (RSB) These are names of families, not individuals. . . . The total (vv. 3-14) is 1,496.

 

Ezra 8:4 Of the sons [i.e. descendants] of Pahathmoab; Elihoenai the son of Zerahiah, and with him two hundred males.

 

Ezra 8:5 Of the sons [i.e. descendants] of Shechaniah; the son of Jahaziel, and with him three hundred males.

 

Ezra 8:6 Of the sons [i.e. descendants] also of Adin; Ebed the son of Jonathan, and with him fifty males.

 

Ezra 8:7 And of the sons [i.e. descendants] of Elam; Jeshaiah the son of Athaliah, and with him seventy males.

 

Ezra 8:8 And of the sons [i.e. descendants] of Shephatiah; Zebadiah the son of Michael, and with him fourscore [i.e. eighty] males.

 

Ezra 8:9 Of the sons [i.e. descendants] of Joab; Obadiah the son of Jehiel, and with him two hundred and eighteen males.

 

Ezra 8:10 And of the sons [i.e. descendants] of Shelomith; the son of Josiphiah, and with him an hundred and threescore males.

 

Ezra 8:11 And of the sons [i.e. descendants] of Bebai; Zechariah the son of Bebai, and with him twenty and eight males.

 

Ezra 8:12 And of the sons [i.e. descendants] of Azgad; Johanan the son of Hakkatan, and with him an hundred and ten males.

 

Ezra 8:13 And of the last sons [i.e. descendants] of Adonikam, whose names are these, Eliphelet, Jeiel, and Shemaiah, and with them threescore males.

 

Ezra 8:14 Of the sons [i.e. descendants] also of Bigvai; Uthai, and Zabbud, and with them seventy males.

 

The details of the journey and arrival (8:15-36) (BKC)

 

Levites recruited for the journey (8:15-20) (BKC)

Ezra 8:15 And I gathered [i.e. assembled] them together to the river that runneth to Ahava; and there abode we in tents [i.e. and we camped there] three days: and I viewed the people [i.e. and I checked among the people], and the priests, and found there none of the sons of Levi.

 

8:15 – (RSB) Ahava. Possibly a tributary of the Euphrates River, though the location is uncertain. . . .

 

Ryrie note on Ezra 2:40 Only 74 Levites had chosen to return, in contrast to 4,289 priests (vv. 36-39). Ezra found the same reluctance on the part of the Levites in his day (8:15), probably due to their inferior status in comparison to ministering priests.

Ezra 8:16 Then sent I for Eliezer, for Ariel, for Shemaiah, and for Elnathan, and for Jarib, and for Elnathan, and for Nathan, and for Zechariah, and for Meshullam, chief men [i.e. leading men]; also for Joiarib, and for Elnathan, men of understanding [i.e. men of learning, men of discernment].

Ezra 8:17 And I sent them with commandment unto Iddo the chief [i.e. the leading man, the leader] at the place Casiphia, and I told them what they should say unto Iddo, and to his brethren the Nethinims [i.e. the temple servants], at the place Casiphia, that they should bring unto us ministers [i.e. servants] for the house of our God.

 

8:17 – (RSB) Casiphia. Unidentifiable, though a colony of Levites and Nethinim (Temple servants) must have been there. Thirty-eight Levites and 220 servants responded to Ezra’s call to enlist (vv. 18-20).

 

Ezra 8:18 And by the good hand of our God upon us they brought us a man of understanding, of the sons of Mahli, the son of Levi, the son of Israel; and Sherebiah, with his sons and his brethren, eighteen;

 

Ezra 8:19 And Hashabiah, and with him Jeshaiah of the sons [i.e. descendants] of Merari, his brethren and their sons, twenty;

 

Ezra 8:20 Also of the Nethinims [i.e. temple servants], whom David and the princes had appointed for the service of the Levites, two hundred and twenty Nethinims: all of them were expressed by name.

 

Preparations made for the journey (8:21-30) (BKC)

Ezra 8:21 Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves [i.e. humble ourselves] before our God, to seek of him a right way [i.e. the right way, a safe journey] for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance [i.e. possessions].

Ezra 8:22 For I was ashamed to require [i.e. to request] of the king a band of soldiers [i.e. an escort of soldiers] and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way [i.e. on the way, on the road]: because we had spoken unto the king, saying, The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek him; but his power and his wrath is against all them that forsake him.

 

8:22 – (RSB) Ezra showed complete trust in the Lord by not asking for a military escort (though this would not necessarily have been wrong; cf. Neh.2:9).

 

Nehemiah 2:9 Then I came to the governors beyond the river, and gave them the king’s letters. Now the king had sent captains of the army and horsemen with me.

Ezra 8:23 So we fasted and besought our God for this: and he was intreated of us [i.e. and He answered our prayer].

Ezra 8:24 Then I separated twelve of the chief of the priests, Sherebiah, Hashabiah, and ten of their brethren [i.e. ten of their brothers] with them,

Ezra 8:25 And weighed unto them [i.e. unto the 24 men listed in verse 24] the silver, and the gold, and the vessels [i.e. utensils, articles], even the offering of the house of our God, which the king, and his counsellors, and his lords, and all Israel there present [i.e. all Israel who were present], had offered:

Ezra 8:26 I even weighed unto their hand [i.e. unto the hand of the 24 men listed in verse 24] six hundred and fifty talents of silver, and silver vessels an hundred talents, and of gold an hundred talents;

 

8:26 – (RSB) Of silver, 780,000 oz (24.4 tons . . .); of silver vessels and of gold, the equivalent of 120,000 oz (3.75 tons . . .).

 

This morning the price of gold was $1,270.77 per ounce. This means that the 120,000 ounces of gold had a value of $15,492,400.00. This gold, coupled with 780,000 ounces of silver at $17.71 per ounce, a value of $12,813,800, had a combined value of $29,306,200.00; and this did not count the value of the of silver and gold vessels.

Ezra 8:27 Also twenty basons [i.e. basins, bowls] of gold, of a thousand drams [i.e. darics]; and two vessels of fine copper [i.e. polished bronze], precious as gold [i.e. equal in value to gold, desirable as gold].

 

8:27 – (RSB) 1,000 drams. Equivalent value of 297 oz (18.6 lb . . .) of gold.

 

Ryrie note on Ezra 2:69 drams (lit., darics). Thick, gold Persian coins, each weighing 46 oz (130 gm).

 

At today’s rate these would have a value of $377,418.69.

Ezra 8:28 And I said unto them [i.e. unto the hand of the 24 men listed in verse 24], Ye are holy unto the LORD; the vessels [i.e. articles, utensils] are holy also; and the silver and the gold are a freewill offering unto the LORD God of your fathers.

Ezra 8:29 Watch ye, and keep them, until ye weigh them before the chief of the priests [i.e. the leading priests] and the Levites, and chief of the fathers [i.e. the heads of the fathers’ households] of Israel, at Jerusalem, in the chambers of the house of the LORD.

 

8:29 – (RSB) Ezra expected the 24 men (v. 24) among whom the treasure was divided to give an accounting when they reached Jerusalem.

 

Each of the 24 men would be responsible for approximately $1,250,000.00.

Ezra 8:30 So took the priests and the Levites [i.e. so the priests and the Levites received (accepted)] the weight of the silver, and the gold, and the vessels [i.e. articles, vessels], to bring them to Jerusalem unto the house of our God.

 

The people journeyed and arrived (8:31-36) (BKC)

Ezra 8:31 Then we departed from the river of Ahava on the twelfth day of the first month, to go unto Jerusalem: and the hand of our God was upon us, and he delivered us from the hand of the enemy, and of such as lay in wait by the way [i.e. and from the ambushes along the road].

Ezra 8:32 And we came to Jerusalem, and abode there three days.

Ezra 8:33 Now on the fourth day was the silver and the gold and the vessels weighed in the house of our God by the hand of Meremoth the son of Uriah the priest; and with him was Eleazar the son of Phinehas; and with them was Jozabad the son of Jeshua, and Noadiah the son of Binnui, Levites;

Ezra 8:34 By number and by weight of every one: and all the weight was written at that time.

 

8:33-34 – (RSB) Notice how carefully the accounting was done. . . .

Ezra 8:35 Also the children of those that had been carried away [i.e. the exiles who had returned from the captivity], which were come out of the captivity, offered burnt offerings unto the God of Israel, twelve bullocks [i.e. bulls] for all Israel, ninety and six rams, seventy and seven lambs, twelve he goats for a sin offering: all this was a burnt offering unto the LORD.

Ezra 8:36 And they delivered the king’s commissions [i.e. edicts, orders] unto the king’s lieutenants [satraps = subordinates], and to the governors on this side the river [i.e. on this west side of the Euphrates River]: and they furthered the people [i.e. gave support to the people], and the house of God.

Scriptures
Series

This sermon is the 5th part of the series, Study of Ezra. Other sermons in this series are: