Ezra 5:11
And thus they returned us answer, saying, We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and build the house that was built these many years ago, which a great king of Israel built and set up.
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(11) And thus they returned us answer.—The elders of the Jews take the Syrian satrap into their confidence, and give, in a few most pathetic words the record of their national honour, their national infidelity, and their national humiliation. Every word is true to the history, while the whole exhibits their deep humility and holy resolution.

Ezra 5:11. We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth — The God we worship is not a local deity; and therefore we cannot be charged with making a faction, or forming a sect in building this temple to his honour. But we pay our homage to the God on whom the whole creation depends, and therefore ought to be protected and assisted by all, and hindered by none. It is the wisdom as well as duty of kings to countenance the servants of the God of heaven. And build the house that was builded — Or rather, rebuild the house that was first built many years ago.5:3-17 While employed in God's work, we are under his special protection; his eye is upon us for good. This should keep us to our duty, and encourage us therein, when difficulties are ever so discouraging. The elders of the Jews gave the Samaritans an account of their proceedings. Let us learn hence, with meekness and fear, to give a reason of the hope that is in us; let us rightly understand, and then readily declare, what we do in God's service, and why we do it. And while in this world, we always shall have to confess, that our sins have provoked the wrath of God. All our sufferings spring from thence, and all our comforts from his unmerited mercy. However the work may seem to be hindered, yet the Lord Jesus Christ is carrying it on, his people are growing unto a holy temple in the Lord, for a habitation of God through the Spirit.Great stones - literally, as in the margin; i. e., stones so large that they were rolled along, not carried. Others translate "polished stones." 8. the house of the great God, which is builded with great stones—literally, "stones of rolling"; that is, stones of such extraordinary size that they could not be carried—they had to be rolled or dragged along the ground. No text from Poole on this verse. And thus they returned us answer,.... To the purpose and in the manner following:

saying, we are the servants of the God of heaven and earth; signifying that they were doing his work, in obedience to his will, and to whom they were accountable:

and build the house that was builded these many years ago; even five hundred years ago, or thereabout; so that they were not erecting a building where there was none before, but were rebuilding what was in ruins:

which a great king of Israel builded and set up; King Solomon, who was a great king for wisdom, honour, riches, peace, prosperity, and extent of his kingdom.

And thus they returned us answer, saying, We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and build the house that was builded these many years ago, which a {d} great king of Israel builded and set up.

(d) That is, Solomon.

11. We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth] The words of this profession are very emphatic in the original.

the God of heaven and earth] i.e. the God not of one kingdom only, but of the whole world, not of terrestrial supremacy alone, but of heavenly as well: see on chap. Ezra 1:2.

build the house that was builded &c.] i.e. we restore the house which having been built in remote times stood as the temple of our God for centuries.

a great king of Israel] i.e. Solomon. The expression here used shows that Tattenai like Artaxerxes (Ezra 4:20), had heard the rumour either from the Jews themselves or from those acquainted with them, that there had been ‘mighty kings over Jerusalem’. Solomon’s temple was built 1014–1007, nearly 500 years before the reign of Darius.

and set up] R.V. finished.Verse 11. - We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth. Instead of doing as they were requested, and giving in a long list of names and titles of office, the elders merge their individuality in this general phrase; as though they would say, "As individuals, we are nothing; as men of mark in our nation, we are nothing; what we do, we do simply as servants of God, directed by him (Haggai 1:8), bound to obey him, answerable only to him for our conduct." They speak of God as "the God of heaven and earth" - a very rare title - partly in humble acknowledgment of his universal and absolute dominion, as Christians speak when they call God "the Maker of heaven and earth;" partly to impress favourably those to whom they speak, persons accustomed to regard God primarily as the Being who "gave mankind earth and heaven" (Rawlinson's 'Cuneiform Inscriptions of Persia,' vol. 1. pp. 285, 291, 319, 324, etc.). And build. That is "rebuild." The house that was builded these many years ago. The old house, begun more than 400, finished nearly 400 years previously, and only just beginning to rise again from its ruins, after lying waste for nearly seventy years. Which a great king of Israel builded and set up. Solomon, the greatest of the Jewish monarchs, if we consider the extent and prosperity of his kingdom, and the position that it occupied among the other kingdoms of the earth - a "great king" under whatever aspect we view him, though one who sowed the seeds of that corruption which ultimately sapped the national life, and provoked God to bring the monarchy to an end. Tatnai and Shethar-Boznai had power to prohibit them from proceeding; they allowed them, however, to go on with their work till the arrival of an answer from the king, to whom they had furnished a written report of the matter. In these dealings, the historian sees a proof of the divine protection which was watching over the building. "The eye of their God was over the elders of the Jews, that they should not restrain them (from building) till the matter came to Darius; and they should then receive a letter concerning this matter." Bertheau incorrectly translates יהך לד עד־טעמא: until the command of King Darius should arrive. ל is only used as a paraphrase of the genitive in statements of time; otherwise the genitive, if not expressed by the status construc., is designated by דּ or דּי. יהך, fut. Peal of הלך, formed by the rejection of ל, construed with ל, signifies to go to a place (comp. Ezra 7:13), or to come to a person. טעמא (טעם) does not here mean commandment, but the matter, causa, which the king is to decide; just as פּתגּן, Ezra 6:11, means thing, res. The clause יתיבוּן ואדין still depends upon עד: and till they (the royal officials) then receive a letter, i.e., obtain a decision.
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