Also we certify you, that touching any of the priests and Levites, singers, porters, Nethinims, or ministers of this house of God, it shall not be lawful to impose toll, tribute, or custom, on them.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)We certify you.—The exemption of so large a number as the entire ministry of the Temple from all kinds of taxation is emphatically introduced.Ezra 7:24. It shall not be lawful to impose tolls, &c. — Thus he discharged all the ministers of religion, from the greatest of the priests to the least of the Nethinims, from paying taxes to the government, and made it unlawful for the king’s officers to impose any taxes on them. This was putting a great honour upon them, as free denizens of the empire, and would gain them respect as favourites of the crown, at the same time that it gave them liberty to attend on their ministry with freedom and cheerfulness.Ezra 7:7,
it shall not be lawful to impose toll, tribute, or custom, upon them; that they might be the less encumbered with the affairs of life, and be more at leisure to attend divine service, and do it the more readily and freely; it was usual with the Heathens to except ecclesiastics from taxes, tributes, and imposts; so the priests in Egypt (w), and the Druids here in Britain (x).Also we certify you, that touching any of the priests and Levites, singers, porters, Nethinims, or ministers of this house of God, it shall not be lawful to impose toll, tribute, or custom, upon them.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)24. Nethinims] R.V. Nethinim, cf. Ezra 2:43.
ministers] R.V. servants. The word in the original connected with that rendered “service” (Ezra 7:19). The expression “or servants” would cover any other branch (e.g. Solomon’s servants, Ezra 2:55) of attendants on the Temple.
toll, tribute, or custom] R.V. tribute, custom, or toll. See on Ezra 5:13.
Compare immunity from all taxation described by Josephus as having been granted to the priests and Levites by Antiochus the Great (Ant. XII. 3. 3), “And let the senate and the priests and the scribes of the Temple and the sacred singers be discharged from all poll-money and he crown tax, and other taxes also.” (Tran. Whiston.)Verse 24. - We certify you. The use of the plural is curious. Hitherto the king has made every permission and command to rest on his own sole authority (see vers. 12, 13, 21). Now that he reaches the most important point in the whole of his decree - the permanent exemption of a large part of the people from liability to taxation of any kind, his style changes, and he says, "We certify you." Perhaps he speaks in the name of himself and his successors; or possibly he means to say that in this matter he has asked and obtained the assent and consent of his council (compare ver. 28). Or ministers. Rather, "and ministers." It is generally allowed that the word here translated "ministers" is not applied to the Nethinim, but to that still lower grade of attendants in the sanctuary called "Solomon's servants" in Ezra 2:55-58, and Nehemiah 7:57-60. It shall not be lawful to impose toll, tribute, or custom upon them It may be suspected from this proviso that the Persians exempted from taxation their own (Magian) priests, though of this there is no other evidence. But they would scarcely have placed a foreign priesthood on a higher level of favour than their own. Numbers 15:1, etc., to the sacrifices), and offer them upon the altar ... The Pael תּקרב instead of the Aphel, Ezra 6:10, Ezra 6:17. The distribution and collection were thus chiefly destined for the support of public worship, but were larger and more abundant than was necessary for this purpose. Hence the further injunction, Ezra 7:18 : "And whatsoever shall seem good to thee and to thy brethren to do with the rest of the gold and the silver, that do after the will of your God," i.e., according to the precept of the law in which the will of God is expressed. "Thy brethren" are the priests, to whom was committed the care of the temple and its worship.
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