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The Book of EZRA.
AT the close of the last Book we had an account of the Jews being in captivity at Babylon; and have no further historical account of them. The behaviour of many of them there was very bad, as appears by Ezekiel; yet they were reformed from idolatry, and never, fell into it again. Their captivity in Babylon was a means of spreading the knowledge of God there, as appears from the history of Daniel, who, with several others, were promoted to considerable posts in the kingdom; and this was the dawning of their deliverance. This Book is generally supposed to have been written by Ezra. The latter part undoubtedly was; but, I think, not the former; for Ezra, as aphears from chap. vii. 1. did not come to Jerusalem till several years after. The whole Book shows the liberty granted by Cyrus to the Jews, after seventy years captivity, to return to their own country ; whereupon there returned above forty thousand, most of whom were of the two tribes, but many also of the ten. In the first place they restore the worship of God: and for that end build the altar of burnt offerings that so they might make daily expiation for their sins, and intercession for their wants; and also laid the foundation of the temple; wherein being opposed by the Samaritans, and slanderously aceused to the king of Persia, they are commanded to desist for the present; but afterward, being encouraged by the prophets Haggai and Zechariah, they advance in their former work, obtain a new commission and authority, and proceed to the finishing of it. After this Ezra is sent by Artaxerxes with a large commission to manage and govern all things for the welfare and interest of the Jews; who was attended by many others, and they carried great treasures along with them, and offerings to the temple. When they were come to Jerusalem, the princes inform Ezra of great abuses both among priests and people, by marrying heathen, idolatrous wives, contrary to the law, which Ezra bewails in frayer to God, and reforms.
In this chapter we have the proclamation of Cyrus for the building of the temple; the people provide for the return, and Cyrus restores the vessels of the temple to Sheshbazzar.
TOW in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia,