Matthew Poole's Commentary
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.Darius answereth the former letter, Ezra 6:1-7; and maketh a new decree, Ezra 6:8-12. By the help of the adversaries, and the directions of the prophets, the temple is finished, Ezra 6:13-15. The feasts of the dedication, Ezra 6:16-18, and of the passover, are kept, Ezra 6:19-22.
Darius made a decree; either,
1. To search the rolls. Or rather,
2. To permit and promote the building of the temple. And so the following words may be rendered, after search was made, &c., the Hebrew particle vau being oft so used, as hath been noted before. In Babylon; either,
1. In the kingdom or empire of Babylon, which he now possessed; or rather,
2. In the city of Babylon, where search was first made, supposing that this edict, which was made presently after Cyrus had taken Babylon, was kept there; but not finding it there, they searched in Achmetha, and found it there.
And there was found at Achmetha, in the palace that is in the province of the Medes, a roll, and therein was a record thus written:Here the king’s answer may seem to begin, and this following account he sends to them, and after that lays down his commands.
Achmetha; the royal city of the Medes and Persians.
In the first year of Cyrus the king the same Cyrus the king made a decree concerning the house of God at Jerusalem, Let the house be builded, the place where they offered sacrifices, and let the foundations thereof be strongly laid; the height thereof threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof threescore cubits;He did not command them to make it so large, for he left the ordering of the proportions of the building to their skill and choice; but he restrained them that they should make it no larger, lest they should hereafter make use of it to other purposes against himself: but those proportions differ much from those of Solomon’s temple, which was but thirty cubits high, only the porch was one hundred and twenty cubits high, and but twenty cubits in breadth. Either therefore Solomon’s cubits were sacred cubits, which were larger than the other, and these were but common cubits; or the sixty cubits of height are meant only of the porch, which he would not have to be so high and magnificent as that of Solomon’s was, lest they should be puffed up with it, and by degrees arrive at their former height and insolence. And the word rendered
breadth, may be, and is by some, rendered more generally, the extension, or amplitude, or the length of it; it being improbable that the king should give orders about the breadth, and none about the length of it.
With three rows of great stones, and a row of new timber: and let the expences be given out of the king's house:With three rows of great stones, and a row of new timber; as Solomon’s temple was built, 1 Kings 6:36; whereof Darius was informed by some of the Jews, who also desired that it might be done in this manner.
And also let the golden and silver vessels of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took forth out of the temple which is at Jerusalem, and brought unto Babylon, be restored, and brought again unto the temple which is at Jerusalem, every one to his place, and place them in the house of God.Be restored to Sheshbazzar; for this is part of Cyrus’s decree, (which is here recited,) and not Darius’s, which does not begin till the next verse.
Now therefore, Tatnai, governor beyond the river, Shetharboznai, and your companions the Apharsachites, which are beyond the river, be ye far from thence:i.e. From hindering or discouraging the work.
Let the work of this house of God alone; let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews build this house of God in his place.No text from Poole on this verse.
Moreover I make a decree what ye shall do to the elders of these Jews for the building of this house of God: that of the king's goods, even of the tribute beyond the river, forthwith expences be given unto these men, that they be not hindered.From proceeding in their work for want of money.
And that which they have need of, both young bullocks, and rams, and lambs, for the burnt offerings of the God of heaven, wheat, salt, wine, and oil, according to the appointment of the priests which are at Jerusalem, let it be given them day by day without fail:No text from Poole on this verse.
That they may offer sacrifices of sweet savours unto the God of heaven, and pray for the life of the king, and of his sons.No text from Poole on this verse.
Also I have made a decree, that whosoever shall alter this word, let timber be pulled down from his house, and being set up, let him be hanged thereon; and let his house be made a dunghill for this.No text from Poole on this verse.
And the God that hath caused his name to dwell there destroy all kings and people, that shall put to 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.No text from Poole on this verse.
Then Tatnai, governor on this side the river, Shetharboznai, and their companions, according to that which Darius the king had sent, so they did speedily.No text from Poole on this verse.
And the elders of the Jews builded, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they builded, and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia.They prospered through the prophesying of Haggai: this is a seasonable intimation that this great and unexpected success was not to be ascribed to chance, nor to the kindness or good humour of Darius; but unto God only, who by his prophets had required and encouraged them to proceed in the work, and by his mighty power disposed Darius’s heart to such kind and noble purposes and actions.
Artaxerxes; who is thought to be either,
1. Xerxes, Darius’s son and successor, who is called also Artaxerxes, and Ahasuerus, who is here joined with his father Darius, possibly because he favoured the Jews, and promoted their cause with his father, and saw to the execution of his father’s decree, and was his father’s viceroy, if not made co-emperor with his father in his lifetime, which was not unusual. Or,
2. Artaxerxes Longimanus, the son of Xerxes, who was best known by the name of Artaxerxes; who is here joined with Cyrus and Darius, because though the temple was finished, as to the substance of the work, in Darius’s reign, Ezra 6:15, yet it was afterwards more fully completed and adorned by Artaxerxes, as is evident from Ezra 7:20,27, by whom Nehemiah was sent to Jerusalem with a large commission and full power to take care about the building of the city, and all other things concerning the Jewish nation and religion.
And this house was finished on the third day of the month Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king.No text from Poole on this verse.
And the children of Israel, the priests, and the Levites, and the rest of the children of the captivity, kept the dedication of this house of God with joy,No text from Poole on this verse.
And offered at the dedication of this house of God an hundred bullocks, two hundred rams, four hundred lambs; and for a sin offering for all Israel, twelve he goats, according to the number of the tribes of Israel.No text from Poole on this verse.
And they set the priests in their divisions, and the Levites in their courses, for the service of God, which is at Jerusalem; as it is written in the book of Moses.No text from Poole on this verse.
And the children of the captivity kept the passover upon the fourteenth day of the first month.No text from Poole on this verse.
For the priests and the Levites were purified together, all of them were pure, and killed the passover for all the children of the captivity, and for their brethren the priests, and for themselves.No text from Poole on this verse.
And the children of Israel, which were come again out of captivity, and all such as had separated themselves unto them from the filthiness of the heathen of the land, to seek the LORD God of Israel, did eat,From the filthiness of the heathen, i.e. such as had forsaken that filthy and idolatrous religion of the heathens, and were proselyted to the Jewish religion; for such were allowed to eat the passover, Exodus 12:48 Numbers 9:14.
And kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with joy: for the LORD had made them joyful, and turned the heart of the king of Assyria unto them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.The heart of the king of Assyria, i.e. of the king of Persia, which was now king of Assyria also, or emperor of that vast and famous Assyrian empire; which was first subdued by the king of Babylon, who therefore is somewhere called the Assyrian; and for the same reason the Persian monarch is here so called emphatically, to note the great power and goodness of God in turning the hearts of these great monarchs, whose predecessors had been the chief persecutors and oppressors of God’s people.