New Defender's Study Bible Notes
7:1 Artaxerxes king of Persia. This Artaxerxes commissioned Ezra to go to Jerusalem and then, about thirteen years later, also sent Nehemiah (Ezra 7:8; Nehemiah 2:1). Since “Artaxerxes,” as well as “Ahasuerus”—and even “Cyrus” and “Darius”—are believed by some scholars to be titles (like “Pharaoh”) rather than personal names, he may or may not be the same man mentioned in Ezra 4:8. The temple was evidently completed about sixteen years after its foundations were laid, whereas there seems to be a much larger interval, sixty years or so, between the completion of the post-exilic temple and the period of Ezra and Nehemiah. The precise identifications of these Persian kings has long been controversial, even among conservative historians and Biblical scholars.
7:1 Ezra. Ezra was both a scribe (Ezra 7:6) and a priest, being a direct descendant of “Aaron the chief priest” (Ezra 7:5).
7:1 Hilkiah. Hilkiah, who was Ezra’s great-grandfather, had been the high priest (II Kings 22:4) who led the pre-exilic revival under King Josiah.
7:6 the hand of the LORD. A variation of the striking clause, “the hand of the LORD his God upon him,” occurs six times in Ezra (7:6,9,28; 8:18,22,31) and twice in Nehemiah (2:8,18). Both writers emphasize that their own remarkable accomplishments were by the protecting and enabling grace of God.
7:10 prepared his heart. It was no accident that God used Ezra so mightily, not only in leading the people in the great work of restoration, but even of writing a significant portion of the Holy Scriptures himself and possibly even organizing the canon of the entire Old Testament. He was a “ready scribe” (Ezra 7:6)—that is, a skillful recorder of facts and communicator of truth. Furthermore, as a priestly descendant of Aaron (Ezra 7:5) he had wholeheartedly devoted his life to the study and exposition of God’s revealed word.
7:11 king Artaxerxes. This king was the successor to king Ahasuerus, who was king at the time of Esther and Mordecai (Esther 1:1). Thus the events described in the book of Esther took place in the approximate sixty years between Ezra 6, when the temple is completed, and Ezra 7, when Ezra himself first comes on the scene.
7:11 scribe of the words. One of the functions of Ezra, and no doubt of other scribes, was to “inscribe,” or copy, the revealed Scriptures, to make them continually available generation after generation, to God’s people.
7:12 God of heaven. It is noteworthy that great Artaxerxes, calling himself “king of kings,” nevertheless recognized that the God of Ezra was “the God of heaven,” as indeed Cyrus also had before him (Ezra 1:2,3). It is possible that Artaxerxes was either a son or stepson of Queen Esther; if so, she and Mordecai had no doubt instructed him concerning the true God.
7:18 that do. The temple, having been completed under the leadership of Zerubbabel several decades previously, had fallen into disrepair despite the prophetic preaching of Haggai and Zechariah (Ezra 5:1,2; 6:15). The offerings and sacrifices were being neglected and the general moral character of the people had deteriorated. Therefore God, through Artaxerxes, sent Ezra and Nehemiah, as well as the prophet Malachi, to stir up their hearts.
7:25 set magistrates and judges. Ezra was even given royal authority to set up a governmental and judicial system over “all the people that are beyond the river,” as based on God’s revealed laws, with power to punish disobedience (Ezra 7:26; also Ezra 10:7-8).