1:1 1 In the first 2 year of King Cyrus of Persia, in order to fulfill the Lord’s message 3 spoken through 4 Jeremiah, 5 the Lord stirred the mind 6 of King Cyrus of Persia. He disseminated 7 a proclamation 8 throughout his entire kingdom, announcing in a written edict 9 the following: 10
1:2 “Thus says King Cyrus of Persia:
“‘The Lord God of heaven has given me all the kingdoms of the earth. He has instructed me to build a temple 11 for him in Jerusalem, 12 which is in Judah. 1:3 Anyone from 13 his people among you (may his God be with him!) may go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and may build the temple of the Lord God of Israel – he is the God who is in Jerusalem. 1:4 Anyone who survives in any of those places where he is a resident foreigner must be helped by his neighbors 14 with silver, gold, equipment, and animals, along with voluntary offerings for the temple of God which is in Jerusalem.’”
1 sn In addition to the canonical books of Ezra and Nehemiah, there are two deuterocanonical books that are also called “Ezra.” Exactly how these books are designated varies in ancient literature. In the Septuagint (LXX) canonical Ezra is called Second Esdras, but in the Latin Vulgate it is called First Esdras. Our Nehemiah is called Third Esdras in some manuscripts of the LXX, but it is known as Second Esdras in the Latin Vulgate. (In the earliest LXX manuscripts Ezra and Nehemiah were regarded as one book, as they were in some Hebrew manuscripts.) The deuterocanonical books of Ezra are called First and Fourth Esdras in the LXX, but Third and Fourth Esdras in the Latin Vulgate. The titles for the so-called books of Ezra are thus rather confusing, a fact that one must keep in mind when consulting this material.
2 sn The first year of Cyrus would be ca. 539
3 tn Heb “the word of the Lord.”
4 tc The MT reads מִפִּי (mippi, “from the mouth of”), but this should probably be emended to בְּפִי (bÿfi, “by the mouth of”), which is the way the parallel passage in 2 Chr 36:22 reads. This is also reflected in the LXX, which is either reflecting an alternate textual tradition of בְּפִי or is attempting to harmonize Ezra 1:1 in light of 2 Chronicles.
tn Heb “from the mouth of.”
5 sn Cf. Jer 29:10; 25:11-14. Jeremiah had prophesied that after a time of seventy years the Jews would return “to this place.” How these seventy years are to be reckoned is a matter of debate among scholars. Some understand the period to refer to the approximate length of Babylon’s ascendancy as a world power, beginning either with the fall of Nineveh (612
6 tn Heb “spirit.” The Hebrew noun רוּחַ (ruakh, “spirit”) has a broad range of meanings (see BDB 924-26 s.v.). Here, it probably refers to (1) “mind” as the seat of mental acts (e.g., Exod 28:3; Deut 34:9; Isa 29:24; 40:13; Ezek 11:5; 20:32; 1 Chr 28:12; cf. BDB 925 s.v. 6) or (2) “will” as the seat of volitional decisions (e.g., Exod 35:5, 22; Pss 51:12, 14; 57:8; 2 Chr 29:31; cf. BDB 925 s.v. 7). So also in v. 5.
7 tn Heb “caused to pass.”
8 tn Heb “a voice.” The Hebrew noun קוֹל (qol, “voice, sound”) has a broad range of meanings, including the metonymical (cause – effect) nuance “proclamation” (e.g., Exod 36:6; 2 Chr 24:9; 30:5; 36:22; Ezra 1:1; 10:7; Neh 8:15). See BDB 877 s.v. 3.a.2.
9 sn For an interesting extrabiblical parallel to this edict see the Cyrus cylinder (ANET 315-16).
10 tn Heb “in writing, saying.”
11 tn Heb “house.” The Hebrew noun בַּיִת (bayit, “house”) is often used in reference to the temple of Yahweh (BDB 108 s.v. 1.a). This is also frequent elsewhere in Ezra and Nehemiah (e.g., Ezra 1:3, 4, 5, 7; 2:68; 3:8, 9, 11, 12; 4:3; 6:22; 7:27; 8:17, 25, 29, 30, 33, 36; 9:9; 10:1, 6, 9).
13 tn Heb “from all.”
14 tn Heb “the men of his place.”