Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
Then Darius the king made a decree, and search was made in the house of the rolls, where the treasures were laid up in Babylon.CHAPTER 6
1. The search of the king and the result (Ezra 6:1-5)
2. The command of Darius (Ezra 6:6-12)
3. The king’s command obeyed (Ezra 6:13)
4. The house finished (Ezra 6:14-15)
5. The dedication of the house (Ezra 6:16-18)
6. The feast of Passover and unleavened bread (Ezra 6:19-22)
Ezra 6:1-5. King Darius had a search made in the place where the records of the empire were kept, “in the house of the rolls.” The word “rolls” is “books” and these consisted of clay tablets on which the cuneiform inscriptions were preserved. Neither the Aramaic nor the Hebrew language has a word for clay tablets. Whole libraries of such clay tablets were found at Nineveh and elsewhere, and can now be seen in different museums. The searchers found the desired record at Achmetha (the Ecbatana of Greek writers, the capital city of Media, which is the modern Hamadan). Divine providence had preserved this interesting command of Cyrus, and the same providence guided the searchers to the place where it was kept. From it we learn interesting details. Cyrus gave instructions concerning the foundations, the height and the breadth of the building, the expenses were to be met from the King’s house, i.e., the royal treasure house. Persian Kings controlled the religious affairs of the nation; but Cyrus acted under divine guidance of the LORD (1:1).
Ezra 6:6-12. Darius answered the communication of Tatnai and Shethar-boznai at once. He commands, “Be ye far from hence,” do not hinder the work, let the work of this house of God alone. And furthermore he directed that the Jews were to be assisted in the building of the house by the paying of the expenses. Darius was anxious that the house should be built and speedily completed. The material mentioned was for the sacrifices and offerings. Young bullocks, rams and lambs for the burnt offerings. Wheat, oil and salt for the meal offering, and wine for the drink offering. All these things were to be given to the priests without fail day by day. “That they may offer sacrifices of sweet savour unto the God of heaven, and pray for the life of the King and of his sons.” God was working again, and used Darius as His instrument for the accomplishment of His own purposes. All the enemy was doing to hinder the work turned out to its furtherance. How often this has been in the history of Israel and the Church. The decree of Darius demanded the death penalty for all who altered the command he had given. “And the God that hath caused his name to dwell there destroy all kings and peoples that shall put their hand to alter and to destroy this house of God which is at Jerusalem. I Darius have made a decree; let it be done with speed.” These words warrant a belief that Darius had knowledge of the God of heaven. The events which transpired during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar in the Babylonian Empire, when Daniel was there, as well as the things which happened under the reign of the other Darius (Daniel 6) may have been fully known to Darius Hystaspis who gave this decree. And solemn were his words that God would destroy all kings and people who alter or destroy this house of God. How this came repeatedly to pass history tells us. (Antiochus Epiphanes, Herod and the Romans defiled and destroyed the house, and God’s wrath came upon them for it.)
Ezra 6:13. What Darius commanded was speedily done. All opposition ended and the enemies were completely defeated. God had undertaken in behalf of His trusting people, whose faith had been revived through the messages of Haggai and Zechariah.
Ezra 6:14-15. With revived zeal the elders builded, and they prospered, through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet, and Zechariah the son of Iddo. Haggai’s ministry stirred up the conscience of the people, exhorting them to consider their ways, which must have led them to seek His face. Zechariah is the prophet of glory. The vision of glory, the ultimate victory of God’s people, the coming of the King and setting up of His kingdom, the future overthrow of all their enemies--this vision of the coming glory became an inspiration for them. God’s people need this twofold ministry which is so abundantly supplied in the Word of God. They builded and finished the house according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the decree of the great Kings Cyrus and Darius. (“And Artaxerxes, King of Persia,” some claim should be omitted from the text.) The house was finished on the third day of the month of Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the King.
Ezra 6:16-18. Then the dedication of the house took place. It was a feast of great joy. “The feast of dedication” which the Jews keep (Chanukah) does not commemorate the dedication of this house, but the cleansing of the temple from the defilement of Antiochus Epiphanes. Tradition claims that Psalms 138, 146, and 148 were composed by Haggai and Zechariah, and used in the dedication ceremony. But what a contrast with the magnificent dedication of the Solomonic temple! Here they offered a hundred bullocks, two hundred rams, four hundred lambs, and for a sin offering twelve he-goats. At the dedication of the first temple Solomon offered 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep (2Chronicles 7:7). And the greatest contrast with Solomon’s temple, the glory cloud; the visible sign of Jehovah’s presence which filled the house; was absent. No glory came to manifest the fact that Jehovah dwelt in the midst of His people. In the future another temple will stand again in Jerusalem, and into that temple the glory of the LORD will enter once more (Ezekiel 43:1-3). It is the millennial temple which will be erected by converted Israel after the King has come back. Of this glorious event Zechariah bore witness: “Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion, for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the LORD. And many nations shall be joined unto the LORD in that day, and shall be my people; and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto thee” (Zechariah 2:10-11). These prophetic words were certainly not fulfilled in the dedication of the second temple, nor have they been fulfilled since. Perhaps this prophecy was the prophecy of hope and comfort for the godly then, as well as Haggai’s prediction (Haggai 2:7-9). But note well the obedience to God’s Word manifested in the dedication service--”as it is written in the book of Moses.”
Ezra 6:19-22. The feast of Passover and unleavened bread was kept also by the children of the captivity. Those who had separated themselves from the filthiness of the heathen were not proselytes, Gentiles who turned to Israel; they were Jews who had married heathen women (10:11). They were true to the written Word. As to the meaning of this feast see our annotations on Exodus 12, Leviticus 23 and 1 Corinthians 5.
The connection is exceedingly beautiful. The house of their God finished, His people celebrated the memorial of their redemption from the land of Egypt, and thus remind themselves, to the praise of Jehovah, of the ground on which they stood, and of the fact that the foundation of all their blessing, of all God’s actings in grace towards them was the blood of the slain Lamb. This, according to the word of Moses, was “a night to be much observed unto the LORD for bringing them out from the land of Egypt: this is that night of the LORD to be observed of all the children of Israel in their generations” (Exodus 12:42). Nothing could show more distinctly that these children of the captivity were at this moment in possession of the mind of the LORD than their observance of the Passover. Passing by the glories of the kingdom, they travelled upward until they reached the charter of all they possessed, whether in title or in prospect, and there confessed God as the God of their salvation. They thus built on what God was for them on the ground of the blood of the Passover lamb, and they found in that, as individual souls ever find, a rock which is both immutable and immovable. Their hearts were in this feast; “for,” as we read, “the priests and the Levites were purified together, all of them were pure.” (See Numbers 9:10-14.) They discerned what was due to Him whose feast they kept (E. Dermett).