All the vessels - were five thousand and four hundred - This place is without doubt corrupted; here it is said the sum of all the vessels, of every quality and kind, was five thousand four hundred; but the enumeration of the articles, as given in Ezra 1:9, Ezra 1:10, gives the sum of two thousand four hundred and ninety-nine only. But we can correct this account from 1 Esdras 2:13, 14.
I shall set both accounts down, that they may be compared together.
Ezra 1:9, Ezra 1:11; 1 Esdras 2:13, 14 Golden chargers 30 Golden cups 1000 Silver chargers 1000 Silver cups 1000 Knives 29 Silver censers 29 Golden basons 30 Golden vials 30 Silver basons, second sort 410 Silver vials 2410 Other vessels 1000 Other vessels 1000 Said to be 5400 - only 2499 Total 5469 Difference of the first account from itself: 2901 Difference of the second account from the first: 69
According, therefore, to the sum total in Ezra, the sum total in Esdras is only 69 different. See the next chapter, Ezra 2 (note).
It may be said that the vessels did actually amount to 5400, and that the chief of them only were intended to be specified; and these happen to amount to 2499; but that it was not the design of Ezra to insert the whole; and that the ninth verse should be considered as stating, And of the chief of them, that is, the gold and silver articles, this is the number. But the expression in Ezra 1:10, other vessels, sets this conjecture aside: the place is most manifestly corrupted.
5958 15 2 1 1
These are the children of the province - That is, of Judea; once a kingdom, and a flourishing nation; now a province, subdued, tributary, and ruined! Behold the goodness and severity of God! Some think Babylon is meant by the province; and that the children of the province means those Jews who were born in Babylon. But the first is most likely to be the meaning, for thus we find Judea styled, Ezra 5:8. Besides, the province is contradistinguished from Babylon even in this first verse, The children of the province - that had been carried away unto Babylon.
The sum of the numbers as they stand in the present Hebrew text is 2,499, instead of 5,400. In the Apocryphal Book of Esdras the sum given is 5,469, and with this sum the items in that place exactly agree (1 Esdras 2:13,14). Most commentators propose to correct Ezra by the passage of Esdras; but the items of Esdras are improbable. Probably the sum total in the present passage has suffered corruption.
“When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion,
We were like them that dream.
Then was our mouth filled with laughter,
And our tongue with singing:
Then said they among the heathen,
The Lord hath done great things for them.
The Lord hath done great things for us;
Whereof we are glad.” PK 559.1
Psalm 126:1-3. PK 559
“The chief of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests, and the Levites, with all them whose spirit God had raised”—these were the goodly remnant, about fifty thousand strong, from among the Jews in the lands of exile, who determined to take advantage of the wonderful opportunity offered them “to go up to build the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem.” Their friends did not permit them to go empty-handed. “All they that were about them strengthened their hands with vessels of silver, with gold, with goods, and with beasts, and with precious things.” And to these and many other voluntary offerings were added “the vessels of the house of the Lord, which Nebuchadnezzar had brought forth out of Jerusalem; ... even those did Cyrus king of Persia bring forth by the hand of Mithredath the treasurer, ... five thousand and four hundred” in number, for use in the temple that was to be rebuilt. Ezra 1:5-11. PK 559.2Read in context »
“Ho, ho, come forth, and flee from the land of the north,” was the message given the scattered tribes of Israel who had become settled in many lands far from their former home. “I have spread you abroad as the four winds of the heaven, saith the Lord. Deliver thyself, O Zion, that dwellest with the daughter of Babylon. For thus saith the Lord of hosts; After the glory hath He sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of His eye. For, behold, I will shake mine hand upon them, and they shall be a spoil to their servants: and ye shall know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me.” Zechariah 2:6-9. PK 599.1
It was still the Lord's purpose, as it had been from the beginning, that His people should be a praise in the earth, to the glory of His name. During the long years of their exile He had given them many opportunities to return to their allegiance to Him. Some had chosen to listen and to learn; some had found salvation in the midst of affliction. Many of these were to be numbered among the remnant that should return. They were likened by Inspiration to “the highest branch of the high cedar,” which was to be planted “upon an high mountain and eminent: in the mountain of the height of Israel.” Ezekiel 17:22, 23. PK 599.2
It was those “whose spirit God had raised” (Ezra 1:5) who had returned under the decree of Cyrus. But God ceased not to plead with those who voluntarily remained in the land of their exile, and through manifold agencies He made it possible for them also to return. The large number, however, of those who failed to respond to the decree of Cyrus, remained unimpressible to later influences; and even when Zechariah warned them to flee from Babylon without further delay, they did not heed the invitation. PK 599.3Read in context »
The deliverance of Daniel from the den of lions had been used of God to create a favorable impression upon the mind of Cyrus the Great. The sterling qualities of the man of God as a statesman of farseeing ability led the Persian ruler to show him marked respect and to honor his judgment. And now, just at the time God had said He would cause His temple at Jerusalem to be rebuilt, He moved upon Cyrus as His agent to discern the prophecies concerning himself, with which Daniel was so familiar, and to grant the Jewish people their liberty. PK 557.1
As the king saw the words foretelling, more than a hundred years before his birth, the manner in which Babylon should be taken; as he read the message addressed to him by the Ruler of the universe, “I girded thee, though thou hast not known Me: that they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside Me;” as he saw before his eyes the declaration of the eternal God, “For Jacob My servant's sake, and Israel Mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known Me;” as he traced the inspired record, “I have raised him up in righteousness, and I will direct all his ways: he shall build My city, and he shall let go My captives, not for price nor reward,” his heart was profoundly moved, and he determined to fulfill his divinely appointed mission. Isaiah 45:5, 6, 4, 13. He would let the Judean captives go free; he would help them restore the temple of Jehovah. PK 557.2
In a written proclamation published “throughout all his kingdom,” Cyrus made known his desire to provide for the return of the Hebrews and for the rebuilding of their temple. “The Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth,” the king gratefully acknowledged in this public proclamation; “and He hath charged me to build Him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all His people? His God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, ... and build the house of the Lord God of Israel, (He is the God,) which is in Jerusalem. And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, beside the freewill offering.” Ezra 1:1-4. PK 558.1Read in context »