(1-2) Now occurs the intervention of the two prophets, Haggai and Zechariah, whose testimonies and predictions should at this point be read. They reveal a state of apathy which Ezra does not allude to; such a state of things, in fact, as would have thwarted the whole design of Providence had it not been changed. Hence the abrupt return of the spirit of prophecy, some of the last utterances of which provoked or “stirred up “—as Cyrus had been stirred up—the spirit of the two leaders and of the heads of the families.
The prophets of God helping them.—In these two prophets we can read the invigorating sayings that encouraged the people almost from day to day and from stage to stage of their work.
(3) Tatnai, governor on this side the river.—Satrap, or Pechah, of the entire province of Syria and Phœnicia, and therefore with a jurisdiction over Judaea, and over Zerubbabel its Pechah or sub-Satrap. What Shimshai was to the Samaritan Pechah, Rehum, Shethar-boznai seems to be to Tatnai—his secretary.
Who hath commanded you?—It is obvious that the overthrow of Smerdis, the Magian hater of Zoroastrianism and destroyer of temples, had encouraged the builders to go on without fearing molestation from the Court of Darius. Moreover, the two prophets had made their duty too plain to be deferred. Still, the decree of the preceding chapter had never been expressly revoked.
What are the names of the men . . .?—It is clear that this graphic account is much compressed. We must understand (see Ezra 5:10) that the authorities demanded the names of the chief promoters of the building in order to make them responsible.
Apharsachites.—Probably here the same as the Apharsites before, and suggesting some kind of Persian guard. But the reason of their introduction specifically here is obscure.