Ezra 7:1-28


Verse 1-5, Now after these things, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra the son of Seraiah, the son of Azariah, the son of Hilkiah, {2} The son of Shallum, the son of Zadok, the son of Ahitub, {3} The son of Amariah, the son of Azariah, the son of Meraioth, {4} The son of Zerahiah, the son of Uzzi, the son of Bukki, {5}, The son of Abishua, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the chief priest:


I.    It is obvious that this Artaxerxes is not the Artaxerxes of Ezra 4

A.  The Artaxerxes of chapter 4 stopped the building of the temple.

B.   This is another Artaxerxes who helps the Jews in their worship of God.

C.   The time is about 57 years later than the last verse of chapter 6.


II.   It is obvious why Ezra is raised up.

A.  Matt. 23:34 - Christ said He raised up prophets and scribes to preach to Israel the truth of worship.

1.   Ezra is just one of the many scribes God raised up to help Israel.

2.   The Artaxerxes of this day is a king whom God laid on the heart to allow Israel to learn all about how they ought to worship God.

3.   I am glad God sets up kings and takes them down, according to His good will.

B.   God sees that true worship has fallen out of favor with the Jews.

1.   The Jews in Babylon were generally not worshipping God.

2.   The Jews living in Israel were also not following the precepts of God's Word.

3.   It is during times like this that God is merciful in raising up people to teach the people the true service of God.


III. The genealogy of Ezra.

A.  This genealogy is incomplete because the generations are too few to fit into such a long time period between Aaron and Ezra.

B.   The list of men.

1.   the son of Seraiah - This could very possible be the Seraiah of II Kings 25:18, whom Nebuchadnezzar put to death.  It is not likely, however, that this Seraiah is Ezra's dad, but his grandad or great grandad.

2.   the son of Azariah

3.   the son of Hilkiah

4.   The son of Shallum

5.   the son of Zadok

6.   the son of Ahitub

7.   The son of Amariah

8.   the son of Azariah

9.   the son of Meraioth

10.  The son of Zerahiah

11.  the son of Uzzi

12.  the son of Bukki

13.  The son of Abishua

14.  the son of Phinehas

15.  the son of Eleazar

16.  the son of Aaron the chief priest


Verse 6, This Ezra went up from Babylon; and he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which the LORD God of Israel had given: and the king granted him all his request, according to the hand of the LORD his God upon him.

I.    This verse tell of Ezra's position as God sees him.

A.  God considered Ezra a valuable servant because he was a "ready" scribe.

1.   A ready scribe is a person who is very familiar with the Old Testament scriptures, able to expound their truths to others.

2.   We should all be "ready scribes" in God's Word, willing and able to expound their truths to those around us.

B.   There is an acknowledgement that God inspired the Old Testament.

1.   If they didn't believe in the verbal inspiration of the scriptures, there is no use in trying to live by them, or teach them to others.

2.   Knowing that God inspired the Word gives a person an undying zeal to obey that precious Word.


II.   The king granted all his request.

A.  This tells us that Ezra had to go before the king and make supplication to him for all that God had laid on his heart.

B.   There is evidence that Ezra did this with an open Bible in his hand, for Artaxerxes remarks that Ezra had the Word of God in his hand.

C.   Artaxerxes granted the requests according to the will of God.

1.   It will do very little good to make a request if the hand of God is not upon the other person.

2.   But if God's hand is on both, there is no limit to the good that can be done.


Verse 7, And there went up some of the children of Israel, and of the priests, and the Levites, and the singers, and the porters, and the Nethinims, unto Jerusalem, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king.

I.    Some of the Israelites living in Babylon went with Ezra.

A.  All of the Israelites didn't want to go.

1.   There are various reasons why.

2.   See the comments on  verse 13 for a fuller explanation of why some didn't go.

B.   Those who went.

1.   Children of Israel - This would include all the people of Israel, regardless of which tribe they were a member of.

2.   Priests - This would include only those members of the tribe of Levi who were priests.

3.   Levites - This would include all the members of the tribe of Levi except those who were priests.

4.   Singers - This is those special singers who are involved in temple worship.

5.   Porters - These are actually janitors, or doorkeepers.

a.   This may seem to be a lowly occupation to some, but they job is absolutely necessary.

b.   Things would certainly be in a mess without them.

c.   Our houses would certainly be in a mess if we didn't clean them up every now and then.

d.   If men think their wives have a lowly job because she takes care of their house, then they need to rethink their priorities.

6.   Nethinims - These are temple servants, or those that give themselves to that service.  Anna, Luke 2:36-38, would be an example of that servant.


II.   The seventh year of the king.

A.  This is the seventh year the king Artaxerxes reigned over Israel.

B.   Not the seventh year of his reign over Persia.

C.   Time is reckoned from Israel's perspective.


Verse 8-10, And he came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which was in the seventh year of the king. {9} For upon the first day of the first month began he to go up from Babylon, and on the first day of the fifth month came he to Jerusalem, according to the good hand of his God upon him. {10} For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.

I.    The trip from Babylon took five months.

A.  This teaches us that doing things for God often takes longer than we would like for it to take.

1.   This time is very necessary, for it proves our stedfastness in the cause God has laid upon us.

2.   If things went as quick and as easily as it appears in our mind, we might not learn as much on the way.

B.   The start of a journey is often harder than the ending.

1.   If Ezra could have started work in Jerusalem without spending five months traveling it would seem easier.

2.   God so arranged this time so Ezra would have time for prayful study and contemplation of the task before him.


II.   Ezra had prepared his heart to do God's will.

A.  This made him stedfast in spending the time in the trip.

1.   He had spend much time already in seeking the face of God for himself.

2.   He was not trying to get somebody else to do something he had not already done.

3.   He knew what he had learned and practiced had been good for him, therefore he wants it for others.

B.   If we have studied, practiced what we have learned, and found it good, we will want that message to be shared with others.


Verse 11, Now this is the copy of the letter that the king Artaxerxes gave unto Ezra the priest, the scribe, even a scribe of the words of the commandments of the LORD, and of his statutes to Israel.

I.    This letter gives proof that God is with both Ezra and Artaxerxes.

A.  Any stranger stopping Ezra on his trip would not only have to answer to God in eternity for delaying Ezra, he would also have to answer to Artaxerxes in this life.

B.   This would make any person think twice about being against Ezra and the work God gave him to do.


II.   This verse tells of Ezra's position before God, while verse 12 tells of Ezra's position before Artaxerxes.

A.  It is very good when these two agree.

B.   If there was any disagreement, the man would be wrong.


Verse 12, Artaxerxes, king of kings, unto Ezra the priest, a scribe of the law of the God of heaven, perfect peace, and at such a time.

I.    This verse tells of Ezra's position as seen from Artaxerxes eyes.

A.  It is interesting to note that Artaxerxes believes Ezra is a servant of God.

1.   This sovereign king submits himself to the scribe as having a position above his.

2.   It is very good to have kings like this.

3.   Some kings believe they control everything, and God doesn't control anything.


Verse 13, I make a decree, that all they of the people of Israel, and of his priests and Levites, in my realm, which are minded of their own freewill to go up to Jerusalem, go with thee.

I.    This signifies the King Artaxerxes has a good balance between his job and God's job.

A.  He understands that God in control of the world, but He has given men limited authority.

1.   Note that Artaxerxes declares that his authority in the matter of the Jews returning to Jerusalem is limited to those "in my realm".

2.   Other kings will have to make a decree concerning those under their authority, Artaxerxes will not make that decree.


II.   The Jews are not forced to go to Jerusalem, but can use their own freewill to decide what they will do.

A.  We might think that all Jews will immediately jump at the chance to return to the promised land, but this isn't so.

1.   Some Jews won't return because they will stay and care for their elderly parents, or grandparents.

2.   Some of the Jews won't have any hindrance, they just don't want to go.

3.   When God gives them the desire, they will return to Israel.


Verse 14, Forasmuch as thou art sent of the king, and of his seven counsellors, to inquire concerning Judah and Jerusalem, according to the law of thy God which is in thine hand;

I.    Artaxerxes isn't alone in sending Ezra.

A.  His seven counselors are in full agreement with the plan.

1.   There is some agreement that these seven counselors are the heads of the seven families that removed Smerdis from the throne.

2.   The evidence that supports this claim seems to be rather slim.

3.   Regardless of who they were, it is good to note that both King Artaxerxes and all his counselors agree that everything ought to be done to further the worship of God.

B.   The plan is to treat Israel right so that God will treat their kingdom right.

1.   Verse 23 states that King Artaxerxes desires God's blessings upon himself and his sons.

2.   This is a desire for the well being of the country.


II.   The law of thy God which is in thine hand.

A.  Ezra has shown King Artaxerxes God's Word.

1.   It is in the form of a scroll or book that is visible.  Artaxerxes, Ezra, or the Israelites do not worship the scroll or book.

2.   They worship the God of the Word, by obeying the precepts God set down in that book.


Verse 15, And to carry the silver and gold, which the king and his counsellors have freely offered unto the God of Israel, whose habitation is in Jerusalem,

I.    The people that go with Ezra are to be a help, not a burden.

A.  They have a job to do.

1.   They have the task of carrying the wealth that has been given for the offerings of God.

2.   They also have the responsibility of taking care of that which has been assigned to them.

B.   Ezra has enough to do without having to worry about those people going with him.

1.   They are going of their own free will.

2.   They are not being forced by anybody.

3.   They ought to have enough energy and ambition to not only take care of themselves, and their families, but also the wealth for the purchase of sacrifices.


II.   The king and his counselors have freely offered silver and gold, showing their support for Ezra and the true religion of God.

A.  I am glad to see that there are freewill offerings in the Old Testament.

B.   Many people believe free will offerings are only in the New Testament.

1.   This only shows their lack of understand of the Old Testament scriptures.

2.   There are many examples of free will offerings in the Old Testament.

3.   Anybody who wants to know will enjoy that short study.


III. Artaxerxes knows where God dwells; Jerusalem.

A.  This doesn't mean that Ezra has taught Artaxerxes that God lives in Jerusalem, but that Jerusalem is the place God has chosen to place his name.

B.   God lives everywhere, but has concentrated his works in Jerusalem. 


Verse 16, And all the silver and gold that thou canst find in all the province of Babylon, with the freewill offering of the people, and of the priests, offering willingly for the house of their God which is in Jerusalem:

I.    Artaxerxes doesn't intend that Babylon be "spoiled", but he wants to make it clear that anybody who wants to give to the religion of Israel can feel free to do so.


II.   Ezra and his followers should not feel bad about taking a vast amount of money from the Babylonians.

A.  This money is actually not going to them, but to the God they serve.

B.   It is a blessing to the Babylonians to give this money.

1.   They are unable to travel to Jerusalem to take care of the sacrifices themselves.

2.   They will enjoy giving to others, so others can worship God in their place.

3.   God sees and understand this situation, and I believe he will accept the free will offerings and worship of the Babylonians.

C.   It will be amazing to some that God accepts this Gentile worship.

1.   It was not amazing to the Jews of that day.

2.   It should not be amazing to us.

3.   God accepted Gentiles into Israel during the Old Testament, and will just as readily accept Jews into His local churches during the New Testament.


Verse 17, That thou mayest buy speedily with this money bullocks, rams, lambs, with their meat offerings and their drink offerings, and offer them upon the altar of the house of your God which is in Jerusalem.

I.    This money was to be used to purchase the necessary offerings to offer to God for the people who donated the money.

A.  There is nothing wrong with doing this.

1.   The people wanted to have a part in worship, but couldn't go to Jerusalem to offer the appropriate sacrifice.


II.   There is a great deal of trust put in Ezra with this vast amount of money.

A.  Those who minister in God's stead, whether minister or lay person, should have such integrity that they can be trusted with material possessions.

B.   Note: the money is not the king's or Ezra's.

1.   It belongs to the Lord.

2.   Any wrong spending of this money will be accounted to by God Himself.

3.   It is very important to dispense of God's money God's way!


Verse 18, And whatsoever shall seem good to thee, and to thy brethren, to do with the rest of the silver and the gold, that do after the will of your God.

I.    There is a certain amount of leeway given to Ezra after he has purchased and offered the necessary offerings.

A.  The king cannot be in Jerusalem to oversee the other things that will be necessary to buy, therefore they give the necessary authority to Ezra to do as he and the people with him seem fit.

1.   The king is in the habit of dispensing authority and responsibility because he can't personally take care of every detail of running his kingdom.

2.   There would normally be an accountability to the king, but not in this case.

3.   There is an explicit trust between King Artaxerxes and Ezra that Ezra will do only what God wants.

4.   This is good enough for Artaxerxes.

B.   It is mentioned explicitly, and it is assumed that Ezra will do only what the Lord directs him to do.

1.   There will be no accounting for the money except that it is disposed of as God directs.

2.   This actually makes Ezra more accountable, not to men, but to God.


Verse 19, The vessels also that are given thee for the service of the house of thy God, those deliver thou before the God of Jerusalem.

I.    These are the vessels King Artaxerxes and his people have given.

A.  There is probably no need to give this command, but it is given so that all will understand that Artaxerxes is also obeying the commands of God.

1.   It is good that all the people say "Amen" at the giving of thanks and praise that others may know they also believe the same thing.

2.   May God help us to accept, believe, and say that we believe all His commands.

B.   These vessels are to be used in the house of God.

1.   They are not for the personal use of any Israelite, or Gentile.

2.   We must be very careful to use those things dedicated to God, for God, and not for personal use.


II.   There is indication that there should be a special ceremony at Jerusalem for the giving of these vessels to the house of God.


Verse 20, And whatsoever more shall be needful for the house of thy God, which thou shalt have occasion to bestow, bestow it out of the king's treasure house.

I.    This is a "blank check" for those things necessary in temple worship, not a blanket authorization to purchase anything Ezra or the people wanted.

A.  It is absolutely amazing how much confidence Artaxerxes has placed in Ezra.

B.   Artaxerxes is desiring a blessing from God.

1.   This is one thing he can do to further the cause of Christ.

2.   There are those called to be ministers - they receive a particular reward.

3.   There are those not called to be a minister, but they can receive the rewards of a minister if they accept that minister as the servant of God.

C.   There is no doubt in my mind that this act shows the faith of Artaxerxes toward God and Ezra, and he will receive the appropriate reward.


Verse 21-22,  And I, even I Artaxerxes the king, do make a decree to all the treasurers which are beyond the river, that whatsoever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, shall require of you, it be done speedily, {22} Unto an hundred talents of silver, and to an hundred measures of wheat, and to an hundred baths of wine, and to an hundred baths of oil, and salt without prescribing how much.

I.    Artaxerxes himself makes this decree.

A.  Those people in charge of the kings treasurers would surely want to make sure they were obeying the king, not Ezra.

B.   This command in no way means that Israel should depend on that offering instead of giving to God themselves.

1.   These offerings should be considered as being given by the inhabitants of the land through King Artaxerxes.

2.   We shouldn't stop giving because somebody else gave.

3.   Our responsibility is to give so the "storehouse" will be full, regardless of how much is already in the "storehouse".


II.   Artaxerxes places a limit on how much Ezra can call on the inhabitants of Israel and the surrounding country to pay.

A.  100 talents of silver = If the talent is measured in Jewish currency, each silver talent is worth about $384,000.00.  100 talents = $38,400,000.00

B.   100 measures of wheat = a measure means " a deep round vessel" measuring about 6.52 bushels.  100 measures = about 652 bushels.

C.   100 baths of wine     = Almost 800 gallons

D.  100 baths of oil      = Almost 800 gallons

E.   unlimited salt


III. This doesn't mean that government ought to support the church.

A.  Israel isn't the church and the church isn't Israel.

1.   Israel is an Old Testament institution.

2.   The local churches are a New Testament institution.

B.   It must be understood that Israel is not depending upon this government support.

1.   They love God and will to support the work whether the government gives anything or not.

2.   The government is supporting Israel because they want to be blessed by God.

3.   When a government fails to support the local churches, (even if it's by leaving them alone so they can do the work God directs them to do) it shows they don't understand the importance of their work in the community.

4.   God will judge all governments for any oppression against His bodies.


Verse 23, Whatsoever is commanded by the God of heaven, let it be diligently done for the house of the God of heaven: for why should there be wrath against the realm of the king and his sons?

I.    The only requirement is that the things be commanded by the God of heaven.

A.  This is a spiritual check and balance placed by Artaxerxes upon the Jews.

1.   God demands certain things of them, and he trusts them to demand no more than God demands.

2.   He also trusts them to demand of the other inhabitants of the land no more than God demands of them.

3.   There would be a great deal demanded of the Jews in their worship, and the Jews would demand of the gentiles only those things demanded by God.

4.   Some greedy religionists might take this scripture to declare that they have the right to demand all kinds of ridiculous things from lost people.

5.   But this is not what the passage is teaching.


II.   Wrath against the Persians.

A.  God will rightly judge all those government who oppress His Work.

B.   It is amazing that the Persians learned what God would do to those who oppress His work and His people.

1.   They may have learned from history.

2.   They did have the opportunity to study from their own records what God did to the Babylonian kingdom, even though that nation was used of God to punish Israel.


Verse 24, Also we certify you, that touching any of the priests and Levites, singers, porters, Nethinims, or ministers of this house of God, it shall not be lawful to impose toll, tribute, or custom, upon them.

I.    It would be unlawful to force anyone working in the temple services to pay taxes or any sort of money for the support of the government.

A.  It was considered that these people were helping to support the government through their prayers and teaching the people to love, pray for, and support their government, instructing them to lead quiet and peaceable lives and to pray for government officials.

B.   It is not supposed that these people were in the business of making money for themselves like the common citizens were.

1.   Their business was serving God.

2.   All they needed for their daily living was food, clothing, and shelter.


II.   The abuse of tax exempt privileges.

A.  There is nothing said here, but it might be assumed that if the temple workers began to quit their daily worship and leading the people in correct living and began to live for themselves, using their position to gain wealth, power and prestige for themselves, that this privilege would be revoked.

B.   This is what is happening in our nation today.

1.   Many "religions" people have stopped trying to lead other to a closer walk with God.

2.   They are in the money making business instead.

3.   Many churches now own businesses, getting the bulk of their income from those businesses, not from the tithes and offerings of the people.

4.   Since they are doing this, the government is stepping in and removing some of the privileges the ministry once had.

C.   There was a time when a minister would never be stopped for speeding if the law enforcement officer knew he was a minister.

1.   It was assumed all ministers were law abiding citizens, and the only reason a minister would be speeding would be to rush to the aid of some sufferer.

2.   But this privilege has been abused by many ministers, until now a minister will be stopped and given a ticket.

D.  There was a time when churches preached the gospel, surviving on the tithes and offerings of its followers.

1.   Many churches once had as their goal the preaching and teaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

2.   But now many churches have gone into other lines of work, making their money in other ways.

3.   The IRS has saw this, and has stepped in, demanding tax money from the churches because they are competing with private enterprise.


III. It should be noted at this point that the United States Government appears to be against those gospel preachers, and gospel churches.

A.  They are presently revising all their tax laws so they can get more tax money from these churches and ministers.

1.   There is no doubt in my mind that many churches and ministers have misled the government in their tax exempt statue.

2.   Their bad actions will make it very hard on God fearing, law abiding churches and ministers.

B.   Property tax laws are being revised to get real estate and property taxes from churches.

1.   Many churches have misused their tax exempt privileges, thus have brought some of this upon us all.

2.   In some cases, government control of our lives have intruded into the ministry of churches, destroying some, and severely limiting others.

3.   I pray God will allow us to continue worshipping according to the scriptures in this nation.

C.   The judgment of God could work something like this:

1.   The individuals who claim to be "Christian" have forsaken the right way, thus God uses government to judge them.

2.   God then will judge government because they have hurt God's people.

3.   This may seem unfair to some who are not acquainted with the Bible principles of judgment.

a.   Israel disobeyed God.

b.   God sent Babylon against Israel.

c.   God caused Babylon to fall and set up the Medes and Persians over the Babylonians and Israel.


Verse 25, And thou, Ezra, after the wisdom of thy God, that is in thine hand, set magistrates and judges, which may judge all the people that are beyond the river, all such as know the laws of thy God; and teach ye them that know them not.

I.    Ezra is given the command to set up judges and teachers for the law of God.

A.  He is to set up these judges and teachers according to the wisdom of God, not according to his own wisdom.

B.   The wisdom of God is in his hand, not in his head, or heart.

1.   The wisdom of God is contained in the Bible which is in Ezra's hand.

2.   The real wisdom we have is also contained in the Bible in our hands.

3.   May God help us to take wisdom from his word and put it in our hearts, minds, and life.


Verse 26, And whosoever will not do the law of thy God, and the law of the king, let judgment be executed speedily upon him, whether it be unto death, or to banishment, or to confiscation of goods, or to imprisonment.

I.    Here is a very widespread command for judgment upon those that disobey the laws of God.

A.  This law is good and right.

B.   Israel is almost a nation once again, therefore she has the right to punish those who disobey the laws of God. 


II.   The Catholics have taken verses such as this one and proclaimed they have the heavenly right to judge, even to death, those that don't believe like they do.

A.  The difference is:

1.   Israel is God's nation and God's people.

a.   The Catholic religion is not a religion of God, or of His Word, but a religion of man made origin.

b.   Israel is a sovereign nation, ordained by God, for God, and of God.

2.   The Catholic religion is not a nation, but a (false) religion.

a.   They do not have the right to punish anybody except as God gives the right in His own Holy Word.

b.   They have erroneously taken this right, but one of these days, God will require it of them.


III. Some might wonder if Israel ever had the necessity of carrying out this punishment upon believers.

A.  There is no record, as far as I can tell that Israel ever carried this command out.

B.   They had enough trouble keeping themselves straight, much less trying to keep somebody else straightened out.


Ezra gives God glory for what He has done.


Verse 27,28, Blessed be the LORD God of our fathers, which hath put such a thing as this in the king's heart, to beautify the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem: {28} And hath extended mercy unto me before the king, and his counsellors, and before all the king's mighty princes. And I was strengthened as the hand of the LORD my God was upon me, and I gathered together out of Israel chief men to go up with me.

I.    For putting the desire into the kings heart.

A.  He does not give the glory to Artaxerxes for he has done only that which God put in his heart.

1.   I know Ezra is thankful for what Artaxerxes has done, but he doesn't give him the glory.

2.   God holds the kings heart in his hand.

B.   It is good for us to thank God for the freedoms we have in this country.

1.   The only reason we have this freedom is because God laid on the hearts of our forefathers to form a country where they could worship as God demanded.

2.   God held the hearts of our forefathers in His hand and they did as He bid them do.

3.   They might have thought that they were doing what they wanted, but they got that "want to" from God.


II.   Ezra is also thankful that mercy has been extended to him.

A.  Notice that Ezra understands the power of the people he has received permission from.

1.   He mentions the king, his counselors, and the king's mighty princes.

2.   The only way Ezra could go before these people with his request was with the power of God.

3.   There is no doubt in my mind that he went with much prayer for himself and for the king and his counselors and princes.

B.   He also understands the source of his personal strength.

1.   His strength didn't come from within himself, as he mustered his strength to accomplish that which God laid on his heart.

a.   In any task, true strength comes from God, not from the personal strength of the individual.

b.   Many people expect a pastor to be physically, mentally, and emotionally strong enough to build a church whether God is there or not.

c.   When that pastor leaves, the church fails because their strength was in the wrong place.

2.   His strength came from God.

a.   The stronger God's hand was upon him, the more strength he had.

b.   As God removed his hand of strength from him, he became weaker and more afraid.

3.   Those that followed Ezra.

a.   God gave Ezra the strength to speak to the chief men of Israel and persuade them to go to Jerusalem with him.

b.   This is a very serious move, for these people would be uprooting their entire families, leaving their position in Babylon and beginning a new life in Jerusalem.

c.   On the other hand, Ezra could not have persuaded them to do anything if God had not first laid his hand on them and given them the desire to dwell in the promised land.

C.   The beginning, middle, ending, and success of any venture lays in God's hand.