Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, , at sacred-texts.com
Haggai and Zechariah stirred up Zerubbabel and Joshua Ezr 5:2; Hag 1:14, and warned the people against neglecting the building of the temple, in order to give themselves to the beautifying of their own houses (see Hag 1:4, Hag 1:9). Zechariah was the son of Berechiah, and grandson of Iddo (see the marginal reference; Mat 23:35). Compare a similar application of "son" in the case of Jehu (see the Kg2 9:20 note).
In the name of the God of Israel, even unto them - Rather, "in the name of the God of Israel, which was upon them." The two prophets addressed the Jews, in respect of their being God's people, or, in Hebrew phrase (see the Jer 15:16 margin), "having God's name called upon them."
Began to build - i. e., "made a second beginning" - recommenced the uncompleted work.
Helping them - By infusing zeal into the people (see Hag 1:12).
Governor on this side the river - Compare Ezr 4:10 note. Tatnai was apparently satrap of Syria, which included the whole tract west of the Euphrates from Cilicia to the borders of Egypt. Zerubbabel must have been, to some extent, under his authority.
Who hath commanded you to build? - There was no doubt a formal illegality in the conduct of Zerubbabel and Jeshua: since all edicts of Persian kings continued in force unless revoked by their successors. But they felt justified in disobeying the decree of the Pseudo-Smerdis (see the Ezr 4:7 note), because the opposition between his religious views and those of his successor was matter of notoriety.
Then said we - The Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions have "Then said they," which brings this verse into exact accordance with Ezr 5:10.
Apharsachites, like Apharsites, and Apharsathchites Ezr 4:9, are thought by some to be forms of the word "Persians," which is applied here generally to the foreign settlers in Samaria. (Others identify the first and the third names with the "Paretaceni," a people on the Medo-Persian border.)
Great stones - literally, as in the margin; i. e., stones so large that they were rolled along, not carried. Others translate "polished stones."
Since that time even until now - Sixteen years - from 536 B.C. to 520 B.C. The adversaries of the Jews here overstep the truth; since, in point of fact, the work had been suspended for a while Ezr 4:24.
Let there be search made ... at Babylon - They perhaps doubted whether proof of the decree of Cyrus remained in the archives. The Pseudo-Smerdis had had the records in his power for seven months; and, when he reversed the policy of his predecessors, might have been expected to destroy their edicts. The decree was not found at Babylon, the most natural place for it, but in the provincial capital of Ecbatana, which Tatnai and his friends had not asked Darius to have searched (see Ezr 6:2).