The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Ezra 7

Ezr 7:1

Note: The events of Esther fit chronologically between Ezra 6 and Ezra 7.

Vv 1-5: 15 generations from Aaron (v 5).

Ezr 7:7

TEMPLE SERVANTS: Or "Nethinim" (AV). They are said specifically to be those "whom David and the princes had appointed for the service of the Levites" (Ezr 8:20), thus indicating both their realm of activity and their historical origin. In most of the occurrences they are listed with and after the Levites (cf 1Ch 9:2; Ezr 7:7; Neh 7:73). Because of this reference to the activity of David and their being joined with Solomon's servants (Ezr 2:58; Neh 7:60; cf 1Ki 9:21) and the foreign names that they bear, it has been thought that they were foreigners, mostly captives of war, put into this service. For example, Mehunim (Ezr 2:50; Neh 7:52) may refer to those overcome by Uzziah (2Ch 26:7). Nephusim (Ezr 2:50; Neh 7:52) may refer to the Hagarite clan of Naphish (Gen 25:15; 1Ch 5:19). Because of the similarity of duty, some have sought their background in the Gibeonites, "hewers of wood and drawers of water for the house of my God" (Jos 9:23,27) and also in the Midianites (Num 31:30,47). The correlation is probably no more than that of similarity of service, not direct relationship. Whatever may be the roots of their origin, they were treated as part of the people of God, at least as proselytes (Neh 10:28...). They are mentioned by name in the OT in post-Exilic times. From Babylon 612 returned, 392 with Zerubbabel (Ezr 2:58: Neh 7:60) a count which includes "the children of Solomon's servants") and 220 with Ezra (Ezr 8:20) as "ministers for the house of our God" from the place Casiphia (Ezr 8:17) "in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king (Ezr 7:7). Like other sacred ministers, they were exempted from taxation (Ezr 7:24).

Ezr 7:22

SALT WITHOUT LIMIT: "Salt was used in every offering made by fire unto the Lord, and from its preserving and purifying properties it was the emblem of divine grace. It is worthy of our attentive regard that, when Artaxerxes gave salt to Ezra the priest, he set no limit to the quantity, and we may be quite certain that when the King of kings distributes grace among his royal priesthood, the supply is not cut short by him. Often are we straitened in ourselves, but never in the Lord. He who chooses to gather much manna will find that he may have as much as he desires. There is no such famine in Jerusalem that the citizens should eat their bread by weight and drink their water by measure. Some things in the economy of grace are measured; for instance our vinegar and gall are given us with such exactness that we never have a single drop too much, but of the salt of grace no stint is made, 'Ask what thou wilt and it shall be given unto thee.' Parents need to lock up the fruit cupboard, and the sweet jars, but there is no need to keep the salt-box under lock and key, for few children will eat too greedily from that. A man may have too much money, or too much honour, but he cannot have too much grace. When Jeshurun waxed fat in the flesh, he kicked against God, but there is no fear of a man's becoming too full of grace: a plethora of grace is impossible. More wealth brings more care, but more grace brings more joy" (CHS).

Ezr 7:28

WHO HAS EXTENDED HIS GOOD FAVOR TO ME BEFORE THE KING AND HIS ADVISERS: "Ezra may have been the agent, but he understood that the work was really God's. This is an attitude all God's servants should attempt to adopt: thankfulness that God in His mercy has allowed human involvement in the working out of His great plan and purpose" (AEx).

THE HAND OF THE LORD MY GOD WAS ON ME: "This can be discovered and proved true by experience. Work done for God and not for selfish motives brings its own reward: peace of mind and contentment. As the Apostle wrote, 'Godliness with contentment is GREAT GAIN' (1TI 6:10).

Undoubtedly it was as a result of Ezra's deep pre-occupation with study and meditation in the word of God's law that he was able to see with great clarity 'the hand of God' in many aspects of the events in which he played his part. This perception was to give him great comfort and confidence in the difficult times he faced when he reached Jerusalem, and the phrase is therefore found often on his lips: Ezr 7:6,9; 8:18,22,31" (AEx).

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