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The Pulpit Commentary One Ezra to Esther

The Pulpit Commentary One Ezra to Esther

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Published by GLENN DALE PEASE
EDITED BY THE

VERY REV. H. D. M. SPENCE, D.D.,

DEAN OF GLOUCESTER;
AND BY THE

REV. JOSEPH S. EXELL, M.A.
EDITED BY THE

VERY REV. H. D. M. SPENCE, D.D.,

DEAN OF GLOUCESTER;
AND BY THE

REV. JOSEPH S. EXELL, M.A.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Apr 25, 2014
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THE PULPIT COMMETARY OE EZRA TO ESTHER EDITED BY THE VERY REV. H. D. M. SPECE, D.D., DEA OF GLOUCESTER; AD BY THE REV. JOSEPH S. EXELL, M.A. There are no known copyright restrictions in the United States on the use of the text. WITH ITRODUCTIOS BY THE, VE. ARCHDEACO F. W. FARRAR, D.D., F.R.S.— RT. REV. H. COTTERILL, D.D., F.R.S E. VERY REV. PRICIPAL J. TULLOCH, D.D.-REV. CAO G. RAWLISO, M.A. REV. A. PLUMMER, M.A., D.D. FUK & WAGALLS COMPAY ew York and Toronto, EZRA. (Ejcposition : Bt EEV. GEOEGE RAWLISO, M.A., OAMDEH PROFESSOR OF ACIET HISTORY I THE UIVERSITY OF
 
OXFORD; AD CAO 01 CATERBURY. IgomileticB : By REV. W. S. LEWIS, M.A., VICAR OF ST. GEORGE'S, WORTHIG. i|omilics bg tJariotts ^Autljors : REV. J. A. MACDOALD; REV. A. MACKEAL, B.A.5 REV. W. CLARKSO, B.A. ; REV. J. S. EXELL. FUK & WAGALLS COMPAY ew York akd Toronto. EZRA. ITRODUCTIO. § 1. Subject of the Book. The Book of Ezra ia a work of so simple a character as acarcely to require an "Introduction." It is a plain and straightforward account of one of the most important events in Jewish history — the return of the people of God from the Bahylonian captivity. This return had two stages. It commenced under Zeruhbahel, the lineal descendant of the kings of Judah, in the first year of Cyrus the Great in Babylon, which was b.o. 538 ; and it was continued, and in a certain sense completed, under Ezra, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes Longimanus, which was B.o. 458. The Book contains an account of both these periods, and is thus, primarily, divisible into two portions — the history of the first, and the history of the second return. The former occupies the first six, the latter the last four chapters. A close harmony may be observed between the two narratives. The origin of the movement in either case is traced up to a sentiment of goodwill in the mind of the reigning Persian monarch; the sentiment gives birth to a decree, which is recited at length.; then a commission to conduct the captives back to their own land issues ; the number of those who returned, and the names of the leading men, are given ; the exact weight of
 
the sacred vessels which the exiles brought back on each occasion is put on record, and the exact number and character of the offerings which they severally made to the God of Israel The history is also carried on in either case to the main result which followed the return. And here again there is a parallelism. On the first occasion the zeal of the exiles raised up with difficulty, and after much opposition, the material church of God — the temple — which the Chaldaeans had destroyed; on the second, they raised up and restored to its pristine glory the spiritual Church, or congregation of the people of Israel, which had sunk into a low and miserable condition through the influence of the neighbouring heathen. As history does not ever exactly repeat itself, there is of course much diversity combined with this resemblance. The rebuilding of the temple occupied a long term of years ; the religious reformation was accomplished in a few months. The one was the work of the established civil ruler ; the other of a mure scribe and priest, holding a temporary commission. To effect the one it ITBODUCTIO TO was necessary to struggle with adversaries, and make appeals to the Persian king ; prayer was the means by which the other was brought about, and a single appeal to the King of heaven su£Sced. § 2. Authorship. It ia maintained by many that the Book of Ezra is the work of several di£ferent hands, and that such unity as it possesses has been given to it by a compiler. The compiler is by some believed to have been Ezra, by others an unknown Jew contemporary with him. This latter theory rests upon the fact of the curious transitions from the third to the first person, and back, which occur in the later chapters (Ezra vii. 28 j x. 1). Ezra, it is thought, would have kept to one person or the other ; and, as the parts where the first person is used are manifestly his, those where he is spoken of in the third person (ch. viL 1 — 26 J and x.) are ascribed to a difierent hand. In the earlier portion of the Book it is supposed that different styles may be traced ; and here some have even ventured to name the authors of certain chapters.* But it may be questioned whether these views do not spring from over-refinement, and assume a keenness of critical discernment which cannot be claimed without arrogance. The simple view, that Ezra, who is admitted to have written at least one section, really composed the whole, using for the most part his own words, but in places inserting documents, is to the full as tenable as any other hypothesis. Tho general harmony of the whole Book alreaily noticed, and the real uniformity of its style, are in favour of this view. The oljjection from the changes of person is of no great importance, changes of this kind often occurring in works admitted