Ezra 1 Bible Commentary

John Darby’s Synopsis

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The return of a little remnant from captivity

But God now brings back a little remnant, that the true King might be presented to them, and causes the temple to be rebuilt in its place, according to the promises given by the mouth of Jeremiah, and at the request of His servant Daniel.

The latter, indeed, still at Babylon, had a deeper sense of the real condition of the people, than they had who were rebuilding the temple, and received also much more extensive information as to the future destiny of Israel and the intentions of God respecting it. But a due appreciation of this return from captivity also is not without importance, since it is evident that the understanding of God's dealings with respect to the restoration of Israel, and the coming amongst them upon earth of Messiah Himself is connected with this event. It was the will of God that there should be some respite. The current of His purposes, however, concerning the times of the Gentiles, and the position of His people, was unaltered. They were still in subjection to the Gentiles. [1]

Cyrus called of Jehovah to fulfil His word

It is Cyrus, king of Persia, who commands the people to return to Jerusalem, and to rebuild the temple. A type himself in some respects, of a far more glorious deliverer, he confesses Jehovah, the God of Israel, to be the true God. He is "the righteous man, raised up from the east, who treads down the princes like mortar." Called of Jehovah by name for this purpose, he favours Israel and honours Jehovah. Distinguished and blessed by the favour of the mighty God, a man whose conduct was certainly under the guidance of God, his personal character did not interfere with its being the times of the Gentiles, notwithstanding that God had put it into the heart of one of these Gentiles to favour His people. The word of God, by Jeremiah, is fulfilled. Babylon is judged, a characteristic event of all importance. But, in fact, that which still exists is a prolongation of its power. The seat of the royal authority which God bestows on man is a city which is not the city of God, which is neither the earthly Jerusalem nor the heavenly. The house of David no longer holds the sceptre entrusted to it.

The rod of the tribe of Judah preserved

It is true that the rod of the tribe of Judah is preserved, in order that "the Branch" of the root of Jesse may be presented to this tribe. But the power of the Gentiles still continues; it existed even when the Messiah was on the earth, and the Jews had to be commanded to render unto Caesar the things that were Caesar's. The presentation of Jesus, the true Messiah, was but the occasion of fully demonstrating this in the cry, "We have no king but Caesar."

[1] The coming of Christ did not change this. The restoration of the remnant gave occasion to the presentation of Christ to the people according to the promises; but His rejection left their house desolate to see Him no more till their repentance in the last days. Meanwhile, during His lifetime on earth, not only have we, in Luke, the epoch divinely dated by the reigns of Gentile rulers, but, pressed on the point, the Lord refers to their position and baffles their hypocrisy, which would have profited by what was the fruit and wages of their own sin to put Him in an inextricable difficulty, by telling them to give to Caesar what was Caesar's, and to God what was God's. Meanwhile deeper and more blessed counsels were accomplished.