Ezra 1:1-11


The theme of the book of Ezra is restoration.  It gives aspects of the two groups of returnees from Babylon.  The first returned in 537 B.C. and the second group was in 458 B.C.  The traditional date of Ezra’s return to Jerusalem is 458 B.C. but is not a definite date but the book was definitely written by 440 B.C.  Nehemiah was in Jerusalem about seven months when the great reading of the law took place by Ezra.  The book of Ezra reveals how God cares for his people in the presence of hostile enemies, it shows the importance of wisdom and obedience, and the refutation of ungodly practices especially when the Israelites married strange or foreign wives which would have polluted the pure lineage of Israel.


EZRA 1:1

¶ Now 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, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying,


The first year spoken of here is not the first year of his reign over Persia but it is speaking about his first year of Cyrus reigning over Babylon.  The title “king of Persia” is used nine times in the book of Ezra.  The word of the LORD which was spoken of by Jeremiah might be fulfilled.  And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the LORD, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations. (Jeremiah 25:12)  The LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus and caused him to make a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and so he put it in writing so there would be no confusion in understanding it.


EZRA 1:2

Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.


Cyrus may not have been a born again believer but his proclamation gave credit to the LORD God that it was he who had given him such a vast kingdom.  What a difference between his proclamation and the arrogant mind of Nebuchadnezzar who took credit for the building of Babylon.  Cyrus knew that God had given him the task of building the temple in Jerusalem in Judah by acknowledging that it was God who was the one who gave him the command to build.


EZRA 1:3

Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem.


He poses a question to the people, calling them “God’s people.”  Then within his proclamation he is now giving freedom to God’s people to leave and to return to Jerusalem and to build the house or the temple.  He then pronounces a blessing upon them that those who go may God be with them.  As with all proclamations of freedom there will be some people who will take advantage of it and this will be seen in chapter 4.


EZRA 1:4

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 for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.


Then in the proclamation of Cyrus, he instructs the people that there will be those who will want to return to Jerusalem but because of their financial situation they are unable to go and will have to remain.  Then he instructs the returning people to give help to them in the form of money or goods or beasts to help them travel.  These were not to be taken from the freewill offerings which were made for the building of the temple but were to be in addition to those donations for the temple.  There is a principle revealed here.  Let’s say we want to give $50 for world missions but a friend has a need.  We are to help them but we are not to take it from the $50 dedicated to that mission. Instead, the help must come in addition to that ministry donation and not instead of.


EZRA 1:5

¶ Then rose up the chief of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests, and the Levites, with all them whose spirit God had raised, to go up to build the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem.


Then in conjunction with the proclamation, the LORD also stirred up the spirits of the chief fathers of Judah and Benjamin.  The tribe of Benjamin was located within the tribe of Judah but to the south.  The chief fathers would have been the heads of families and probably princes.  Then the spirits of the priests and Levites were also stirred up as they would accompany the people on their journey and watch over their spiritual lives.  The Levites would teach the law and the priests would prepare themselves to perform ministry functions in the temple.  They would also be helpers in the building of the temple as they would guide the workers as to what would be placed where.


EZRA 1:6

And all they that were about them strengthened their hands with vessels of silver, with gold, with goods, and with beasts, and with precious things, beside all that was willingly offered.


Then the people had brought to the priests and Levites many donations which were to be used for the building and the work of the temple.  Their hands were strengthened because they did not have to go out and look for the things they needed nor did they have to beg for them as all they needed was being supplied.  These gifts were above and beyond all that was previously willingly offered for the building of the temple.  Some of the Jews had stayed behind in Babylon and sent gifts for the building of the temple.  Not all of them returned at once.


EZRA 1:7

Also Cyrus the king brought forth the vessels of the house of the LORD, which Nebuchadnezzar had brought forth out of Jerusalem, and had put them in the house of his gods;


Then Cyrus brought out the vessels of the temple which Nebuchadnezzar had taken from Jerusalem which were the same ones that Belshazzar defiled in one of his drunken feasts.  This prompted the hand of God on the wall to prophesy the end of his reign and the end of the kingdom of Babylon.  Nebuchadnezzar placed them in the house of his gods but Belshazzar defiled them.


2 Belshazzar, whiles he tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem; that the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, might drink therein. 3 Then they brought the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of God which was at Jerusalem; and the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, drank in them. (Daniel 5:2-3)


EZRA 1:8

Even those did Cyrus king of Persia bring forth by the hand of Mithredath the treasurer, and numbered them unto Sheshbazzar, the prince of Judah.


Then Cyrus ordered those vessels to be brought out and given to the priests for the work in the temple.  The name “Mithredath” means “given by Mithra or animating spirit of fire.”  The name comes from “Mithra” which was the sun god of the Persians.  The man “Sheshbazzar” may be referring to Zerubbabel which would be the one that headed up the building of the temple.  The name “Sheshbazzar” means “O sun god protect the son.”  It seems at this point that Zerubbabel was appointed a prince or governor of Judah as he will oversee not only the temple being built but also the return to Judah.


EZRA 1:9

And this is the number of them: thirty chargers of gold, a thousand chargers of silver, nine and twenty knives,


Then an exact count was given of the utensils which were given to Zerubbabel.  Since there was much silver and gold, they counted them to make sure they all arrived in Jerusalem.  The chargers were basins which were used to catch the blood of the sacrifices animals at the altar.  The 29 knives here are the big ones which were used in the animal sacrifices.


EZRA 1:10

Thirty basons of gold, silver basons of a second sort four hundred and ten, and other vessels a thousand.


The basons or basins were large bowls which held the sprinkling water or sprinkling of the blood.  And thou shalt slay the ram, and thou shalt take his blood, and sprinkle it round about upon the altar. (Exodus 29:16)  Then there were thirty bowls made out of gold.  Then there were 410 basins made of silver.  Then there were other unnamed vessels which amount to a thousand.  This would have made up a tremendous caravan going back to Jerusalem.


EZRA 1:11

All the vessels of gold and of silver were five thousand and four hundred. All these did Sheshbazzar bring up with them of the captivity that were brought up from Babylon unto Jerusalem.


The totality of the vessels which were given back to Zerubbabel amounted to 5400.  All of the vessels which were brought to Babylon were now brought to Jerusalem to once again be used in the temple.  And all the vessels of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king, and of his princes; all these he brought to Babylon. (2 Chronicles 36:18)