Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke, , at sacred-texts.com
The genealogy of the chief persons who went with Ezra from Babylon, Ezr 8:1-14. He gathers them together at Ahava; and finding among them no Levites, he sends confidential persons to the river of Ahava, who return with many Levites and Nethinim, Ezr 8:15-20. He proclaims a fast at Ahava for Divine protection on their journey, Ezr 8:21-23. He delivers to the care of the priests etc., the silver, gold, and sacred vessels, that they might carry them to Jerusalem, and deliver them to the high priest, Ezr 8:24-30. They depart from Ahava, and come to Jerusalem, Ezr 8:31, Ezr 8:32. The vessels are weighed and the weight registered, Ezr 8:33, Ezr 8:34. They offer burnt-offerings to God, Ezr 8:35; deliver the king's commissions to his lieutenants, by whom they are furthered in their work, Ezr 8:36.
Gershom - One of the descendants of Phinehas, son of Eliazar.
Of the sons of Shechaniah - There were three of this name; the second is mentioned Ezr 8:6, and the third Ezr 10:2. They were all different persons, as may be seen from their fathers' houses.
The river that runneth to Ahava - Ahava was a river itself, which is supposed to be the same that is called Diava or Adiava, in the province of Adiabene; and perhaps the place whence the people of Ava came who were brought by the king of Assyria to Palestine, Kg2 17:24.
None of the sons of Levi - None that were simply Levites. He found priests, and they were sons of Levi; but no Levites that were not priests.
At the place Casiphia - The most judicious commentators are agreed that by Casiphia, the Caspian mountains, between Media and Hyrcania, are intended; where, probably, the Nethinim were employed in working silver mines: כסף keseph, from which the word comes, signifies silver.
I was ashamed to require - a band - He had represented God, the object of his worship, as supremely powerful, and as having the strongest affection for his true followers: he could not, therefore, consistently with his declarations, ask a band of soldiers from the king to protect them on the way, when they were going expressly to rebuild the temple of Jehovah, and restore his worship. He therefore found it necessary to seek the Lord by fasting and prayer, that they might have from Him those succours without which they might become a prey to their enemies; and then the religion which they professed would be considered by the heathen as false and vain. Thus we see that this good man had more anxiety for the glory of God than for his own personal safety.
Silver vessels a hundred talents - That is, The weight of all the silver vessels amounted to one hundred talents; not that there were one hundred vessels of silver, each a talent in weight.
Reckoning in round sums, 650 talents of silver at 450 the talent, amount to 292,500 sterling. Silver vessels, 100 talents, amount to 45,000; gold, 100 talents, at 7,000 per talent, amount to 700,000 independently of the 20 basons of gold, amounting to 1000 drachms. Now the golden drachm or daric was worth about 1. 2s., therefore these basons were worth 1100; the whole amounting to 1,038, 600 sterling. But these different weights and coins are variously computed; some making the silver talent only 353 11s. 10 1/2 d., and the talent of gold 5057 15s. 1 1/2 d., calculations which I have elsewhere introduced.
Two vessels of fine copper, precious as gold - What these were we cannot tell. The Syriac translates nechoso corinthio toba, to be vessels of the best Corinthian brass; so called from the brass found after the burning of Corinth by Lucius Mummius, which was brass, copper, gold, and silver, all melted together, as is generally supposed. But it was probably some factitious metal made there, that took the polish and assumed the brightness of gold, and because of its hardness was more durable. There is still a certain factitious metal of this kind, made among the Asiatics. I have seen this metal often made; it is as bright and fine as gold, takes a most exquisite polish, and will scarcely tarnish. I have kept this exposed to every variation of the air, even among old iron, brass, copper, etc., for twenty years together, without being scarcely at all oxidized. It requires much art in the making, but the constituent materials are of small value. Vessels of this metal, because of their lustre and durability for ornamental and domestic uses, are in many respects more valuable than gold itself. The only difficulty is to get at first the true color, which depends on the degree of heat, and the time employed in fusion; but there are, however, proper rules to ascertain them. This metal is widely different from the or molu of France and England, is less expensive, and much more valuable.
Twelve bullocks for all Israel - Though of tribes there were only Judah and Benjamin, yet they offered a bullock for every tribe, as if present. There can be little doubt that there were individuals there from all the twelve tribes, possibly some families of each; but no complete tribe but those mentioned above.
The king's lieutenants - אחשדרפני achashdarpeney: this is generally understood to mean lieutenant or deputy, and is probably of Persian origin, though here greatly corrupted. The Vulgate renders it regis satrapis, to the satraps of the king, which is the Persian satrab. A viceroy in Persian is soubah-dar; viceroys, soubahdaran. Darafreen signifies a person in whom one has confidence; and achi is an epithet of a vizir. These two words conjoined will make nearly that of the text. But I do not give any of these etymologies with confidence. Other words might be proposed as candidates, but where there is so little certainty, conjecture is useless. Were it necessary a dissertation might be written on the Persian words, and Persian forms of speech, in this and the two following books; but probably after my toil few of my readers would thank me for my pains.