Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke, , at sacred-texts.com
Haggai and Zechariah the prophets encourage Zerubbabel and Jeshua to proceed with the building of the temple, Ezr 5:1, Ezr 5:2. Tatnai, the governor of the provinces on this side the Euphrates, and his companions, inquire by what authority they do this, Ezr 5:3-5. They write to Darius; a copy of the letter, Ezr 5:6-16. They request to know how they are to proceed, Ezr 5:17.
Haggai - and Zechariah - These are the same whose writings we have among the twelve minor prophets.
The son of Iddo - That is, the grandson of Iddo; for Zechariah was the son of Barachiah, the son of Iddo. See his prophecy, Zac 1:1 (note).
Then rose up Zerubbabel - Here we find three classes of men joining in the sacred work: Zerubbabel the civil governor; Jeshua the high priest or ecclesiastical governor; and Haggai and Zechariah the prophets. How glorious it is when we see the civil government joining with the sacerdotal and prophetic for the establishment and extension of true religion!
Tatnai, governor - He was governor of the provinces which belonged to the Persian empire on their side of the Euphrates, comprehending Syria, Arabia Deserta, Phoenicia, and Samaria. He seems to have been a mild and judicious man; and to have acted with great prudence and caution, and without any kind of prejudice. The manner in which he represented this to the king is a full proof of this disposition.
What are the names - It is most evident that this is the answer of the Jews to the inquiry of Tatnai, Ezr 5:3, and the verse should be read thus: Then said we unto them after this manner: These are the names of the men who make this building.
The eye of their God was upon the elders - The watchful care of God was upon the elders. They were assured of his favor; and they found his especial providence working in their behalf.
With great stones - They are making a very strong and a very costly building.
We are the servants of the God of heaven - How simple, plain, and ingenuous is this confession! They were the servants of the God of heaven. How came they then into bondage! Why, they provoked the God of heaven - repeatedly sinned against him, and then he gave them into the hands of their enemies.
Sheshbazzar - Probably the military officer that conducted the people from Babylon, and had the oversight of the work; but some think that Ezra is meant.
The - treasure house - גנזיא ginzaiya. This is a Persian word, gunji, a treasury.
There is a great deal of good sense and candour in this letter. Nothing of passion or prejudice appears in it. They laid before the king a fair statement without any attempt to prejudice his mind, and gave him those directions which were most likely to lead him to the truth, and to form a correct judgment on a business which, however it issued, must be of considerable importance to the state. God was in all this business; he was now giving an additional proof of his continued regard for a disobedient people, whom, though he had punished in his justice, he had spared in his mercy.