2 Esdras ii.
Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Year. It seems the Persians began the year with Tizri, since both Casleu (the third) and Nisan (the seventh month of the civil year) fall on the twentieth of the king. — Wine. These kings drunk only that of Syria. (Strabo xv.) — People of distinction were appointed cup-bearers; and even the children of kings did not esteem the office beneath them. (Herodotus iii. 34.) (Athen. x. 6.) (Homer, &c.) (Calmet) — I was. Protestants, “I had not been before-time sad in his presence.” (Haydock) — Hebrew literally, “I was not evil.” Septuagint, “an enemy, or stranger.” Arabic, “disagreeable.” Syriac, “sorrowful.” Septuagint also, “there was not another (ouk en eteros) present,” chap. v. 6. St. Jerome seems not to have read the negation. (Haydock)
Ver. 2. Is not. Hebrew, “nothing but sorrow of heart;” (Syriac; Calmet; Protestants) or rather, thou art meditating only treason. Septuagint, “This is nothing but wickedness of heart,” (Haydock) which often shews itself on the countenance. The king might suspect that he was giving him poison. (Menochius) — Hence Nehemias feared, (Calmet) dreading such suspicions, (Haydock) and aware lest the company might frustrate his good design, as contrary to the interests of the crown. (Tirinus)
Ver. 3. Live; an usual salutation, Daniel iii. 9., and v. 10. So Ælian (var. i. 32.) says, “O king Artaxerxes, mayst thou reign for ever.” — Father, ver. 5. He knew that the Persians shewed great regard to the dead, (Calmet; Tirinus) whose bodies they sometimes cover with wax, and keep in their house, (Cic.[Cicero?] Tusc. i.; Alex. Genial iii. 2.) or inter. (Herodotus i. 140.)
Ver. 4. Heaven, a fervent ejaculation, in secret, (Tirinus) to touch the king’s heart, (Calmet) and to enable me to speak in a proper manner. (Menochius)
Ver. 6. And, &c. In private the queen might dine with her husband, but not in public, Esther i. (Calmet) — Queen; probably Esther, if she were married to this king. (Menochius) — But this is uncertain. (Haydock) — Usher thinks it was Damaspia, mentioned by Ctesias. (Calmet) — Time, when I should return. Some say a year (Tirinus) or two afterwards; but it is generally believed that he begged to be absent twelve years. He then waited on the king eight or ten years, and returned into Judea towards the end of the reign of Artaxerxes, chap. xiii. 6. (Calmet) — He perhaps asked permission to visit Jerusalem for only a short period, at first, but his presence being deemed necessary, he was permitted to continue there as governor full twelve years. (Menochius)
Ver. 7. Over; give me a guard, (Haydock) or accompany me to Jerusalem. (Menochius)
Ver. 8. Forest. Hebrew pordes, “paradise,” or garden planted with trees. Pliny ([Natural History?] v. 23.) mentions a “paradise,” in Cœlosyria. (Grotius) — But Nehemias might petition to be supplied with cedars from Libanus, (Tirinus) as they had been given for the temple, 1 Esdras iii. 7. (Haydock) — Tower. Hebrew bira, means also “a palace or temple.” It may designate the porch of the temple, which was 120 cubits high; (2 Paralipomenon iii. 4.; Calmet) though that had been lately repaired by Esdras. (Menochius) — Others think the doors of the courts are meant, as they were as strong as those of towers. (Vatable) — They were not yet finished, chap. x. 9. Many believe that (Calmet) Nehemias speaks of the royal palace, which had been almost contiguous to the temple, (Menochius) where he intended to build one for himself, while he should reside in the city. (Tirinus) — But this might give umbrage to the king. (Calmet) — He could not, however, intend his favourite to remain without a suitable palace; and the latter seems to have designed not only to repair that which Solomon had founded, but also to erect another house for the governor. (Haydock) — Good hand; favour, (Menochius) and powerful aid. (Haydock)
Ver. 10. Horonite, a native, not (Calmet) a petty king (Grotius) of Horonaim, in the country of Moab, Jeremias xlviii. 3. He must have been very old, if he lived till the temple was built at Garizim: (Josephus and Scaliger) but Petau supposes that there were two of the name. — Servant; an officer appointed over the Samaritans, as well as Sanaballat. The Persian monarchs styled all their subjects servants or slaves. (Calmet) — Grieved. Thus unbelievers repine when any one endeavours to propagate the truth, (Haydock) or to establish the Church. (Worthington)
Ver. 12. Any man, at Jerusalem, (ver. 16.) though he had informed the king, ver. 8. (Haydock) — No beast; that none might be alarmed.
Ver. 13. Valley of Cedron, on the east, (Calmet) or west, near Calvary. (Menochius) (Tirinus) — Dragon. Hebrew Tannin, or “great fish,” which might be kept there, unless the fountain was famous for the appearance of some dragon, or the water proceeded from the mouth of a brazen one. Septuagint have read thanim, “figs.” The fountain of Siloe might have many names. (Calmet) — Viewed. Septuagint, “I walked upon the wall of Jerusalem, which these men are demolishing or clearing away,” &c. (Haydock)
Ver. 14. Aqueduct, or reservoir, made by Ezechias, 2 Paralipomenon xxxii. 30.
Ver. 15. Torrent of Cedron, having gone round the city. (Calmet)
Ver. 16. Magistrates. Septuagint, “guards.” Seganim denotes various officers. (Calmet) — Work, or to any workmen. (Haydock) — None were now employed. (Tirinus)
Ver. 18. Hand. God had manifested his goodness and power, at the court of Persia. (Worthington)
Ver. 19. Arabian governor. He afterwards accuses Nehemias, chap. vi. 6. (Calmet)
Ver. 20. Answered. Septuagint, “returned them an account (logon) ….we are his pure servants, and we will build.” (Haydock) — Part, or business, 1 Esdras iv. 4. — Justice, or right to the city. (Calmet) — You may mind your own affairs. (Tirinus) — Remembrance. It was esteemed a high honour to be a citizen of Jerusalem, Psalm lxxxvi. 5.
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Nehemias, with commission from king Artaxerxes, cometh to Jerusalem: and exhorteth the Jews to rebuild the walls.
1 And *it came to pass in the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes, the king: that wine was before him, and I took up the wine, and gave it to the king: and I was as one languishing away before his face.
2 And the king said to me: Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou dost not appear to be sick? this is not without cause, but some evil, I know not what, is in thy heart. And I was seized with an exceedingly great fear:
3 And I said to the king: O king, live for ever: why should not my countenance be sorrowful, seeing the city of the place of the sepulchres of my fathers is desolate, and the gates thereof are burnt with fire?
4 Then the king said to me: For what doest thou make request? And I prayed to the God of heaven.
5 And I said to the king: If it seem good to the king, and if thy servant hath found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldst send me into Judea, to the city of the sepulchre of my father, and I will build it.
6 And the king said to me, and the queen that sat by him: For how long shall thy journey be, and when wilt thou return? And it pleased the king, and he sent me: and I fixed him a time.
7 And I said to the king: If it seem good to the king, let him give me letters to the governors of the country beyond the river, that they convey me over, till I come into Judea:
8 And a letter to Asaph, the keeper of the king’s forest, to give me timber, that I may cover the gates of the tower of the house, and the walls of the city, and the house that I shall enter into. And the king gave me according to the good hand of my God with me.
9 And I came to the governors of the country beyond the river, and gave them the king’s letters. And the king had sent with me captains of soldiers, and horsemen.
10 And Sanaballat, the Horonite, and Tobias, the servant, the Ammonite, heard it, and it grieved them exceedingly, that a man was come, who sought the prosperity of the children of Israel.
11 And I came to Jerusalem, and was there three days.
12 And I arose in the night, I and some few men with me, and I told not any man what God had put in my heart to do in Jerusalem, and there was no beast with me, but the beast that I rode upon.
13 And I went out by night, by the gate of the valley, and before the dragon-fountain, and to the dung gate, and I viewed the wall of Jerusalem, which was broken down, and the gates thereof, which were consumed with fire.
14 And I passed to the gate of the fountain, and to the king’s aqueduct, and there was no place for the beast on which I rode to pass.
15 And I went up in the night by the torrent, and viewed the wall, and going back, I came to the gate of the valley, and returned.
16 But the magistrates knew not whither I went, or what I did: neither had I as yet told any thing to the Jews, or to the priests, or to the nobles, or to the magistrates, or to the rest that did the work.
17 Then I said to them: You know the affliction wherein we are, because Jerusalem is desolate, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire: come, and let us build up the walls of Jerusalem, and let us be no longer a reproach.
18 And I shewed them how the hand of my God was good with me, and the king’s words, which he had spoken to me, and I said: Let us rise up, and build. And their hands were strengthened in good.
19 But Sanaballat, the Horonite, and Tobias, the servant, the Ammonite, and Gossem, the Arabian, heard of it, and they scoffed at us, and despised us, and said: What is this thing that you do? are you going to rebel against the king?
20 And I answered them, and said to them: The God of heaven he helpeth us, and we are his servants: let us rise up and build: but you have no part, nor justice, nor remembrance in Jerusalem.
1: Year of the World 3550, Year before Christ 454