Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke, , at sacred-texts.com
Darius orders search to be made for the edict of Cyrus, Ezr 6:1. It is found at Achmetha, Ezr 6:2. A transcript of this edict, Ezr 6:3-5. Darius confirms it, Ezr 6:6-12. Tatnai encourages the Jews to proceed; and they finish the temple in the sixth year of Darius, Ezr 6:13-15. They dedicate the temple, Ezr 6:16-18; keep the Passover, Ezr 6:19-21, and the feast of unleavened bread, Ezr 6:22.
In the house of the rolls - בית ספריא beith siphraiya, the house of the books, the king's library. This is the first time we hear of a library.
At Achmetha - Ecbatana in India, whither it is probable all the records of Cyrus had been carried. This was a sort of summer residence for the kings of Persia.
The height thereof threescore cubits - This was much larger than the temple of Solomon. This was sixty cubits high, and sixty cubits broad; whereas Solomon's was only twenty cubits broad, and thirty cubits high.
Three rows of great stones, and a row of new timber - We have noticed this kind of building before, three courses of stones, and then a course of strong balk; and this continued to the square of the building.
And let the expenses be given - Cyrus had ordered wood to be cut at Libanus, and conveyed to Joppa at his expense; but it does not appear that he furnished the other expenses of the building, for we have already seen that the Jews contributed for the defraying of all others. But it appears that he provided at his own expense the sacrifices and offerings for the temple. See Ezr 6:9.
Be ye far from thence - Do not interrupt the Jews in their building; but, on the contrary further them all in your power.
And pray for the life of the king, and of his sons - Even heathens believed that offerings made in their behalf to the God of the Jews would be available. And this principle has had considerable influence in certain states where there was even a form of religion established by the law, to induce them to tolerate other forms, that the state might have the benefit of their prayers.
Let timber be pulled down - Whether this refers to the punishment of hanging and gibbeting of whipping at a post, or of empaling, is not quite clear. In China they tie culprits to posts; and the executioner cuts them open while alive, takes out their bowels, etc. Empaling, thrusting a sharp stake through the body till it comes out at the side of the neck, or hanging, seems to be intended here.
Let his house be made a dunghill - Let it be reduced to ruins, and never more used, except for the most sordid and unclean purposes.
According to the commandment of the God of Israel - He first gave the order, and stirred up the hearts of the following Persian kings to second that order.
Of Cyrus - This sovereign gave his orders for the rebuilding of the temple about A.M. 3468.
And Darius - Darius Hystaspes confirmed the above orders, A. M. 3485.
And Artaxerxes - Artaxerxes Longimanus sent Ezra to Judea with new privileges, A.M. 3547. With the permission of the same king, Nehemiah came to Judea in 3550. The writer recapitulates the different sovereigns who favored the Jews after the Babylonish captivity. See Calmet.
This house was finished - The sixth year of Darius mentioned here was about A.M. 3489, twenty years after the foundation had been laid by Zerubbabel, under the reign of Cyrus.
Twelve he-goats - This was a sin-offering for every tribe.
And they set the priests - With this verse the Chaldee or Aramitic part of this chapter ends.
The Levites were purified together - They were all ready at one time to observe the proper rites and ceremonies, and had no need of having a second passover, which was appointed by the law for those who had been accidentally defiled, or were at a distance from the tabernacle. See Ch2 30:3.
And all such as had separated themselves - These were the proselytes who had embraced the Jewish religion by having mingled with the Jews in their captivity. This proves that there the poor captives had so acted according to the principles of their religion, that the heathens saw it, and walked in the light of the Lord with them. A good example is very persuasive; and particularly so when founded on pure principles.
Turned the heart of the king of Assyria - I am of Calmet's mind, that king of Assyria is here put for king of Persia. Cyrus and his successors possessed all the rights and estates of the ancient kings of Assyria, and therefore the same monarch may be styled king of Assyria as well as king of Persia.
Darius had a very high character, as a wise, just, and merciful prince. To strengthen his title to the crown, he married two of the daughters of Cyrus, and, no doubt, to show his affection to this family, he the more cheerfully confirmed the edict which Cyrus had made in favor of the Jews.