Ezra 1:5
Then rose up the chief of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests, and the Levites, with all them whose spirit God had raised, to go up to build the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem.
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(5-11) Immediate result of the decree.

(5) With all them whose spirit God had raised.Namely, all is the more exact rendering. The same influence that prompted the decree of Cyrus was necessary to overcome the inertness of the captives: many preferred to remain in Babylon.—The people were enumerated as tribes, families, and fathers’ houses; the second and third orders of classification are not here distinguished from each other.

(6) Precious things.—The Hebrew equivalent is a rare word, which, when it occurs, is connected only with the precious metals.

Willingly offered.—Although it is not so said, the people of Cyrus were stirred up” like himself: how much he gave, and how much he valued the worship of the Temple, we shall hereafter see.

(7) His gods.—Rather, his god. Merodach, to wit, whom he called “his lord” (Daniel 1:2). From 2Kings 25:13-17 it appears that much had been taken away which Cyrus had not been able to find.

(8) Mithredath.—“Dedicated to Mithra,” the sun god of the Persians, whose worship among the Vedic Indians had thus early reached Persia.

Sheshbazzar.—The Chaldee name of Zerubbabel, whose title, however, as Prince of Judah is given him from the Hebrew side. He was the legal heir of Jehoiachin, being the son of Pedaiah (1Chronicles 3:19), who possibly married the widow of Salathiel or Shealtiel. And the title “Prince of Judah,” or “Prince of the captivity,” was specially given to him in common with a very few others.

(9) Chargers and knives.—Rare words in the original, perhaps on the whole best rendered as here.

(10) Of a second sort.—Of inferior quality.

(11) Five thousand and four hundred.—The total of the several sums should be in round numbers, such as are frequently used, two thousand and five hundred. Obviously, therefore, the writer, whom we must needs suppose to have his own previous numbers before him, here includes vessels not before enumerated as chargers and basons.

Bring up.—They were not, as sometimes said, the freewill offering of Cyrus. Sheshbazzar brought these rich vessels “with them of the captivity,” and they were sent as already belonging to God, who vindicated by His judgment on Babylon their desecration at the feast of Belshazzar.

Ezra 1:5. Then rose up the chief of the fathers, &c. — Eminent and experienced men, from whom it might justly be expected, that, as they were above their brethren in dignity, so they should go before them in duty. Of Judah and Benjamin — And with them some of the other tribes, as appears from 1 Chronicles 9:3; but these only are named, because they were most considerable for number and quality. And the priests and Levites — Who, as became them, were among the first that set their faces toward Zion. If any good work is to be done, let ministers take the lead in it. With all whose spirit God had raised, to go up — Whom he had inspired with reverence and love for himself as the God of Israel, and a deep concern for the restoration of his worship at Jerusalem, and with that resolution and fortitude which were requisite to enable them to break through the difficulties and discouragements which were in their way. These were undoubtedly great and many; such as their present penury; the length, and hazards, and expenses of the journey; their being dispersed in several and distant places, which prevented the conjunction of their counsels and actions; the multitude of their enemies; the actual possession of their country by others; the ruinous state of Jerusalem, and the other cities and towns of Judea; and the great backwardness of many of their own brethren to go with them. Add to this, the temptation was strong to some of them to stay in Babylon, being conveniently and comfortably settled there, and having contracted an acquaintance with their neighbours, such as was agreeable and pleasing to them. By these and such like considerations, many were induced to remain where they were, or at least not to go with the first that went. But there were some that broke through these difficulties, and they were those whose spirits God had raised up: whom by his Spirit he had inspired with a generous desire of liberty, and a gracious affection to their own land, the land God had given them, and a desire for the free and public exercise of their religion. Had God left them to themselves, and to the counsels of flesh and blood, they would have stayed in Babylon: but, as he had raised up the spirit of Cyrus to proclaim this liberty, so he raised up their spirits to take the benefit of it, and set their faces toward Zion, as strangers asking the way thither, Jeremiah 50:5. For, being a new generation, they went out, like their father Abraham, from this land of the Chaldees, not knowing whither they went.

1:5-11 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.Only a portion of the Israelites took advantage of the permission of Cyrus. Many remained in Babylon, since they were disinclined to relinquish their property. They who returned were persons whom God had especially stirred up to make sacrifices for His glory. 5, 6. Then rose up the chief of the fathers, &c.—The paternal and ecclesiastical chiefs of the later captivity, those of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, with some also from other tribes (1Ch 9:3), who retained their attachment to the pure worship of God, naturally took the lead in this movement. Their example was followed by all whose piety and patriotism were strong enough to brave the various discouragements attending the enterprise. They were liberally assisted by multitudes of their captive countrymen, who, born in Babylonia or comfortably established in it by family connections or the possession of property, chose to remain. It seems that their Assyrian friends and neighbors, too, either from a favorable disposition toward the Jewish faith, or from imitation of the court policy, displayed hearty good will and great liberality in aiding and promoting the views of the emigrants. The chief of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin; and with them some of other tribes, as appears from 1 Chronicles 9:3; but these only are named, because they were most considerable for number and quality.

Whose spirit God had raised to go up; to whom God had given that pious disposition, and that fortitude and resolution, which it required to break through their difficulties, which were great and many, such as their present penury, the length, and hazards, and costliness of the journey, their settlements in comfortable habitations, their dispersion in several and distant places, which hindered the conjunction of their counsels and actions, the multitude of their enemies, the actual possession of their country by others, the great backwardness of many of their own brethren to go with them, and many other discouragements.

Then rose up the chief of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin,.... Princes of these tribes, and heads of families in them, and of some other tribes too, though chiefly of these, as appears from 1 Chronicles 9:3,

and the priests and the Levites: whose presence was necessary both to direct in the building of the temple, and to animate to it, and to set the vessels in their proper places; and particularly to assist in the setting up of the altar, and to offer sacrifices on it, which was the first thing done when come to Jerusalem, Ezra 3:2

with all them whose spirit God raised to go up, to build the house of the Lord, which is in Jerusalem; God, who "works" in men "both to will and to do", wrought powerfully by his Spirit on their hearts, inclined their minds, and made them willing to go up, and set about this work; and such a divine, powerful, and efficacious operation upon them, was necessary to engage them in it, since the embarrassments, difficulties, discouragements, and objections, were many: some of them were well settled, and had contracted a pleasing acquaintance with many of their neighbours, and indeed to most of them it was their native place; and as for Judea and Jerusalem, they knew nothing of but what their fathers had told them; the way to it unknown, long, and dangerous, at least fatiguing and troublesome to their wives and children; and Judea and Jerusalem desolate and in ruins, and in the hands of enemies, from whom they had reason to expect trouble.

Then rose up the chief of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests, and the Levites, with all them whose spirit God had raised, to go up to build the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem.
5–11. The Return of the Jews under Sheshbazzar: a brief summary of events

5. the chief of the fathers] R.V. the heads of fathers’ houses. Literally rendered, the term would be ‘the heads of the fathers’. Cf. the Latin ‘principes patrum’. See Exodus 6:14. For the subdivision into (1) tribe, (2) family, (3) household, compare especially Joshua 7:16-18.

with all them] R.V. even all. The construction in the original is peculiar. The preposition ‘to’ or ‘for’ stands before ‘all’, and the relative is omitted. The A.V. takes the clause to briefly summarize ‘the rest’ (i.e. the supplementary list of them) who, not being classed under (a) the heads of fathers’ houses of Judah and Benjamin, (b) priests, (c) Levites, formed a fourth division of the people. By comparison with other passages such as 1 Chronicles 13:1-2, 2 Chronicles 5:12, where the same or a similar construction in the original is found, we see that the R.V. is correct. The preposition does not supplement, it defines. All included under the three groups mentioned in the verse, ‘rose up’. The whole community is summed up under these three heads, cf. Ezra 6:16; Ezra 6:20.

whose spirit God had raised] R.V. had stirred up. The same phrase as in Ezra 1:1. Ezra 1:5 follows as the direct result of Ezra 1:1. It is important therefore that the same words should be used to translate the same phrase.

‘God’ here is ‘ha-Elohim’, the God = Jahveh of Ezra 1:1 who also stirred up the spirit of Cyrus. The wonder of the Return is shown to be wholly due to Divine overruling. The will of the sovereign to proclaim the decree and the will of the subject to avail himself of it are alike controlled by Him.

to go up to build] Observe the punctuation. In the A.V. these words are by the punctuation connected with the main verb ‘rose up’. The R.V. connects the words with the last clause alone, and thus (a) avoids collocation of ‘rose up’ with to ‘go up’; (b) divides the verse into two balanced sentences, the general statement and its closer definition.

Verse 5. - Then rose up the chief of the fathers. The "chief of the fathers" are the hereditary heads of the families recognized as distinct and separate (see Ezra 2:3-19). Ezra 1:5In consequence of this royal summons, the heads of the houses of Judah and Benjamin, of the priests and Levites, - in short, all whose spirit God stirred up, - rose to go up to build the house of God. The ל in לכל serves to comprise the remaining persons, and may therefore be rendered by, in short, or namely; comp. Ewald, 310, a. The relative sentence then depends upon כּל without אשׁר. The thought is: All the Jews were called upon to return, but those only obeyed the call whom God made willing to build the temple at Jerusalem, i.e., whom the religious craving of their hearts impelled thereto. For, as Josephus says, Antt. xi. 1: πολλοὶ κατέμειναν ἐν τῇ Βαβυλῶνι τὰ κτήματα καταλιπεῖν οὐ θέλοντες.
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