The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Ezra 1

Ezr 1:1

See Lesson, Post-exile period, dates.

THE LORD MOVED THE HEART OF CYRUS: Cp 2Ch 36:22. There are a number of occasions when the LORD stirred up individuals -- sometimes for good, and sometimes for ill: 1Sa 26:19; 1Ki 11:14; 2Ch 21:16; Hag 1:14. Especially does this seem to be true of rulers: "The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases" (Pro 21:1).

Rather than wondering or speculating as to how He does this, we should appreciate that, in the case of faithful men who listen to His word, He is willing to work to encourage those who first respond to him. "Come near to God and he will come near to you" (Jam 4:8).

In this case of Cyrus, specifically, comparison with the book of Daniel suggests that it was the work of certain angels to move the heart of Cyrus in the desired direction (Dan 10:12,13).

Ezr 1:2

The decree of Cyrus is in Hebrew -- apparently an erroneous translation of the original Aramaic decree of Ezr 6: see Ezr 6:2n.

Ezr 1:5

EVERYONE WHOSE HEART GOD HAD MOVED: Let us pray that God might raise the spirit within us also that we might go forward and do our bit towards the building of the spiritual temple to which we belong (2Co 5:1).

Ezr 1:8

SHESHBAZZAR: The prince of Judah. Even as Daniel was known in Babylon officially as Belteshazzar (Dan 1:7), so Zerubbabel was probably known as Sheshbazzar. We know that Zerubbabel laid the foundation of the Temple (Ezr 3:8; 5:2; Zec 4:9); but in an official letter to Darius, "Sheshbazzar" is said to have done this (Ezr 5:16). Zerubbabel was a grandson of King Jehoiachin (Jeconiah: 1Ch 3:17-19) and an ancestor of Joseph (Mat 1:12). The fact that 1Ch 3:19 calls him the son of Pedaiah instead of Shealtiel (Ezr 3:2) suggests that Shealtiel died childless and Pedaiah contracted a levirate marriage with his brother's widow.

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