Ezra 5:16
Then came the same Sheshbazzar, and laid the foundation of the house of God which is in Jerusalem: and since that time even until now hath it been in building, and yet it is not finished.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(16) Since that time.—No account is taken of the long interruption. Whether these words are part of the answer given to Tatnai by the Jewish leaders, or his own statement to Darius, it is evident that the unfinished building of a house decreed to be built by Cyrus is regarded as demanding investigation as to the nature and validity of the decree itself.

Ezra 5:16. Then came the same Sheshbazzar, and laid the foundation, &c. — The building was begun according to this order, as soon as ever we were returned, so that we have not forfeited the benefit of the order, for want of pursuing it in time; still it has been in building; but because we have met with opposition, it is not finished. But observe, they mention not the falsehood and malice of the former governors, nor make any complaint of that, (though they had cause enough,) to teach us not to render bitterness for bitterness; nor the most just reproach for that which is most unjust; but to think it enough if we can obtain fair treatment for the future, without an invidious repetition of former injuries. Let us learn hence, with meekness and fear to give a reason of the hope that is within us, 1 Peter 3:15; rightly to understand, and then readily to declare what we do in God’s service, and why we do it.

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.Since that time even until now - Sixteen years - from 536 B.C. to 520 B.C. The adversaries of the Jews here overstep the truth; since, in point of fact, the work had been suspended for a while Ezra 4:24. 16. Then came … Shesh-bazzar … since that time even until now hath it been in building—This was not a part of the Jews' answer—they could not have said this, knowing the building had long ceased. But Tatnai used these expressions in his report, either looking on the stoppage as a temporary interruption, or supposing that the Jews were always working a little, as they had means and opportunities. Even until now; allowing for some interruptions.

Then came the same Sheshbazzar, and laid the foundation of the house of God which is in Jerusalem,.... Which makes it clear, that by Sheshbazzar is meant Zerubbabel; for he it was that laid the foundation of the temple, or at least by whose order it was laid, see Zechariah 4:9

and since that time even until now; from the first of Cyrus to the second of Darius, a space of about eighteen years, and just seventy from the destruction of the temple:

hath it been in building, and yet it is not finished; the work going on slowly, not without interruption and intermission, through the enmity of the Samaritans unto them, who had made false representations of them; but these men, Tatnai and those with him, as the Jews gave them a very particular account of things, as above, so they fairly and fully related them in this their letter to the king.

Then came the same Sheshbazzar, and laid the foundation of the house of God which is in Jerusalem: and since that time even until now hath it been in building, and yet it is not finished.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
16. Then came the same Sheshbazzar] The work here ascribed to Sheshbazzar is evidently that over which Zerubbabel presided in chap. 3.

the foundation] R.V. ‘the foundations’; so the Aramaic and Ezra 4:12.

since that time &c.] A sentence showing that the cessation of the work mentioned in Ezra 4:5; Ezra 4:24 must not be taken perfectly literally. Building was carried on from time to time, but no longer on any effective scale. The interval of time was from 536 to 520.

finished] R.V. completed. A different word in the original from that rendered ‘finish’ in Ezra 5:3; Ezra 5:9; Ezra 5:11, Ezra 6:14.

Verse 16. - Since that time even until now hath it been in building. It is not quite clear whether these words are part of the answer given by the Jews to Tatnai, which he reports to Darius (see ver. 11), or Tatnai's own statement of what he believes to have been the fact. Perhaps the latter view is the more probable; and we may suppose Tatnai not to have been aware that from the second year of Cyrus to the commencement of the reign of Smerdis, and again during the latter part of this reign and the first eighteen months of the reign of Darius, the work had been suspended. Ezra 5:16In virtue of this command of Cyrus, this Sheshbazzar came (from Babylon to Jerusalem), and laid then the foundations of the house of God, and from that time till now it has been building, and is not (yet) finished. שׁלים, part. pass. of שׁלם, often used in the Targums and in Syriac for the Hebrew תּמם; hence in Daniel 5:26 the Aphel, in the meaning of to finish, and Ezekiel 7:19, to restore. This statement does not exclude the cessation from building from the last year of Cyrus to the second of Darius, narrated Ezra 4-6:7, as Bertheau and others suppose, but only leaves the unmentioned circumstance which had been the cause of the delay. If the section Ezra 4:6-23 does not refer to the building of the temple, then neither is a "forcible interruption" of the building spoken of in Ezra 4; but it is only said that the adversaries frustrated the purpose of the Jews to rebuild the temple till the time of Darius, and weakened the hands of the people, so that the work of the house of God ceased.
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