Ezra 2
Pulpit Commentary
Now these are the children of the province that went up out of the captivity, of those which had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away unto Babylon, and came again unto Jerusalem and Judah, every one unto his city;
Verse 1. - These are the children of the province. i.e. of Judaea, which was a province of Persia, distinguished here from Babylon, which was one of the capitals - a mode of speech indicating the foreign standpoint of Ezra. Unto Jerusalem and Judah, every one unto his city. Jerusalem was not the only site occupied by the people on their return. Many took up their abodes in the neighbouring towns and villages, such as Jericho, Tekoah, Gibeon, Mizpah, Zanoah, etc. (see Nehemiah 3:2-19, and Nehemiah 7:20-35). These were chiefly persons whose families had belonged to those places.
Which came with Zerubbabel: Jeshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispar, Bigvai, Rehum, Baanah. The number of the men of the people of Israel:
Verse 2. - Zerubbabel, Jesbua, etc. In the corresponding verse of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 7:7) there are twelve names, one of which (it is probable) has accidentally fallen out here. The twelve are reasonably regarded as either the actual heads of the twelve tribes, or at any rate as representing them. Notwithstanding the small number among the returned exiles who belonged to other tribes than those of Judah, Benjamin, and Levi, there was a manifest wish on the part of the chiefs to regard the return as in some sort that of all the tribes (see Ezra 2:70; Ezra 6:17; Ezra 8:35, etc.). The number of the men. The lists in Nehemiah and the apocryphal Esdras differ in many details, and furnish strong evidence of the corruption to which numbers are liable from the mistakes of copyists, and the facility of error when there is no check from the context. Of the forty-two numbers here given by Ezra (vers. 3-60), as many as eighteen differ from the corresponding numbers in Nehemiah. The difference, however, is mostly small; and even the sum of the differences is trivial (see comment on ver. 64).
The children of Parosh, two thousand an hundred seventy and two.
The children of Shephatiah, three hundred seventy and two.
The children of Arah, seven hundred seventy and five.
The children of Pahathmoab, of the children of Jeshua and Joab, two thousand eight hundred and twelve.
The children of Elam, a thousand two hundred fifty and four.
The children of Zattu, nine hundred forty and five.
The children of Zaccai, seven hundred and threescore.
The children of Bani, six hundred forty and two.
The children of Bebai, six hundred twenty and three.
The children of Azgad, a thousand two hundred twenty and two.
The children of Adonikam, six hundred sixty and six.
The children of Bigvai, two thousand fifty and six.
The children of Adin, four hundred fifty and four.
The children of Ater of Hezekiah, ninety and eight.
The children of Bezai, three hundred twenty and three.
The children of Jorah, an hundred and twelve.
The children of Hashum, two hundred twenty and three.
The children of Gibbar, ninety and five.
Verse 20. - The children of Gibbar. For "Gibbar" we should probably read "Gibeon," which occurs in the corresponding passage of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 7:25). The writer at this point passes from persons to places, making the latter portion of his list topographical. Gibeon was a well-known town in Benjamin (Joshua 18:25). Other Benjamite towns in the list are Anathoth, Ramah, Gabs, Michmas, Bethel, and Jericho. It would seem that the descendants of the captives carried off from these places retained a traditional knowledge of the locality to which they belonged.
The children of Bethlehem, an hundred twenty and three.
The men of Netophah, fifty and six.
The men of Anathoth, an hundred twenty and eight.
The children of Azmaveth, forty and two.
The children of Kirjatharim, Chephirah, and Beeroth, seven hundred and forty and three.
The children of Ramah and Geba, six hundred twenty and one.
The men of Michmas, an hundred twenty and two.
The men of Bethel and Ai, two hundred twenty and three.
The children of Nebo, fifty and two.
The children of Magbish, an hundred fifty and six.
The children of the other Elam, a thousand two hundred fifty and four.
The children of Harim, three hundred and twenty.
The children of Lod, Hadid, and Ono, seven hundred twenty and five.
The children of Jericho, three hundred forty and five.
The children of Senaah, three thousand and six hundred and thirty.
The priests: the children of Jedaiah, of the house of Jeshua, nine hundred seventy and three.
Verse 36. - The priests. Four priestly families went up with Zerubbabel. Of these, three traced their descent to persons who had been heads of the priestly courses in the reign of David, viz., Jedaiah, Immer, and Hardin (1 Chronicles 24:7, 8, 14). The other family had for founder a priest named Pashur, who was not otherwise distinguished. The numbers assigned to the priests by Ezra are identical with those in Nehemiah (Nehemiah 7:39-42). Jedaiah, of the house of Jeshua. To whose house, that is, Jeshua, the existing high priest, belonged. Hence, no doubt, the precedency given to the house of Jedaiah, which numerically was the least important.
The children of Immer, a thousand fifty and two.
The children of Pashur, a thousand two hundred forty and seven.
The children of Harim, a thousand and seventeen.
The Levites: the children of Jeshua and Kadmiel, of the children of Hodaviah, seventy and four.
Verse 40. - The Levites. The non-priestly Levites are divided into three classes: -

1. Ordinary Levites (ver. 40);

2. Choral Levites (ver. 41);

and Levites descended from those who had had the charge of the temple gates (ver. 42). Compare 1 Chronicles 24:20-31; 1 Chronicles 25, and 1 Chron 26:1-19. Of the first class, only two families seem to have returned - those of Jeshua and Kadmiel, both of which traced their descent to a certain Hodaviah, or Judah (Ezra 3:9).
The singers: the children of Asaph, an hundred twenty and eight.
Verse 41. - The singers, the children of Asaph. See 2 Chronicles 25:1. It is remarkable that no descendants of either Heman or Jeduthun (ibid.) took part in the return.
The children of the porters: the children of Shallum, the children of Ater, the children of Talmon, the children of Akkub, the children of Hatita, the children of Shobai, in all an hundred thirty and nine.
Verse 42. - The porters. Six families of doorkeepers returned; three of which bear old names, those of Shallum, Talmon, and Akkub (1 Chronicles 9:17), while the other three have names that are new to us. One hundred and thirty-nine. The smallness of this and the two preceding numbers is remarkable. While the returning priests numbered 4289, the returning Levites of all classes were no more than 341 (350, Nehemiah). It would seem as if some jealousy of the priests, like that which animated Korah and his followers (Numbers 16:1-10), must have grown up during the captivity (comp. below, Ezra 8:15).
The Nethinims: the children of Ziha, the children of Hasupha, the children of Tabbaoth,
Verse 43. - The Nethiaims. See note on 1 Chronicles 9:2.
The children of Keros, the children of Siaha, the children of Padon,
The children of Lebanah, the children of Hagabah, the children of Akkub,
The children of Hagab, the children of Shalmai, the children of Hanan,
The children of Giddel, the children of Gahar, the children of Reaiah,
The children of Rezin, the children of Nekoda, the children of Gazzam,
The children of Uzza, the children of Paseah, the children of Besai,
The children of Asnah, the children of Mehunim, the children of Nephusim,
The children of Bakbuk, the children of Hakupha, the children of Harhur,
The children of Bazluth, the children of Mehida, the children of Harsha,
The children of Barkos, the children of Sisera, the children of Thamah,
The children of Neziah, the children of Hatipha.
The children of Solomon's servants: the children of Sotai, the children of Sophereth, the children of Peruda,
Verse 55. - Solomon's servants. Solomon formed the remnant of the Canaanitish population which survived at his day into a separate servile class, which he employed in forced labours (1 Kings 9:20, 21). It would seem that the descendants of these persons, having been carried into captivity by the Chaldaeans, continued to form a distinct class, and had become attached to the sacerdotal order, as a body of hieroduli inferior even to the Nethinims. We may account for their special mention at this time by the importance of their services, when such a work as that of rebuilding the temple was about to be taken in hand.
The children of Jaalah, the children of Darkon, the children of Giddel,
The children of Shephatiah, the children of Hattil, the children of Pochereth of Zebaim, the children of Ami.
All the Nethinims, and the children of Solomon's servants, were three hundred ninety and two.
And these were they which went up from Telmelah, Telharsa, Cherub, Addan, and Immer: but they could not shew their father's house, and their seed, whether they were of Israel:
Verse 59. - Tel-melah is probably the Thelme of Ptolemy ('Geograph.,' 5:20), a city of Lower Babylonia, situated in the salt tract near the Persian Gulf. Hence the name, which means "Hill of Salt." Cherub is no doubt Ptolemy's Chiripha, which was in the same region. The other places here mentioned are unknown to us, but probably belonged to the same tract of country. Tel-Harsa means "Hill of the Wood." They could not show their father's house. It is more surprising that so many of the returning exiles had preserved their genealogies than that a certain number had omitted to do so. Considering the duration of the exile, its hardships, and the apparent improbability of a restoration, there could have been no cause for wonder if the great majority had forgotten their descent.
The children of Delaiah, the children of Tobiah, the children of Nekoda, six hundred fifty and two.
And of the children of the priests: the children of Habaiah, the children of Koz, the children of Barzillai; which took a wife of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite, and was called after their name:
Verse 61. - Of the children of the priests. Some of those who claimed to be descendants of Aaron, and therefore priests, had also lost the evidence of their descent. This loss was held to disqualify them from the exercise of the priestly office (ver. 62).
These sought their register among those that were reckoned by genealogy, but they were not found: therefore were they, as polluted, put from the priesthood.
And the Tirshatha said unto them, that they should not eat of the most holy things, till there stood up a priest with Urim and with Thummim.
Verse 63. - The Tirshatha. As "Shesh-bazzar" was the Babylonian name of Zerub-babel (Ezra 1:8), so "the Tirshatha" seems to have been his Persian title. The word is probably a participial form from tars or tarsa, "to fear," and means literally "the Feared." It is used only by Ezra and Nehemiah (Nehemiah 7:65; Nehemiah 8:9). Haggai calls Zerubbabel uniformly pechah, "governor (Haggai 1:1, 14; Haggai 2:2, 21). They should not eat of the most holy things. The priests' portion of the offerings, called "most holy" in Leviticus 2:2, 10, is intended. Of this no "stranger" might eat (ibid. 22:10). Till there stood up a priest with Urim and Thummim. Zerubbabel evidently expected that the power of obtaining direct answers from God by means of the Urim and Thummim, whatever they were (see note on Exodus 28:30), which had existed in the pre-captivity Church, would be restored when the Church was re-established in its ancient home. The doubt whether the families of Habaiah and Coz (or Haccoz) belonged to the priestly class or no might then be resolved. But Zerubbabel's expectation was disappointed. The gift of Urim and Thum-mira, forfeited by disobedience, was never recovered.
The whole congregation together was forty and two thousand three hundred and threescore,
Verse 64. - The whole congregation together was forty and two thousand three hundred and threescore. Ezra's numbers, as given in detail (vers. 3-60), produce when added together a total of only 29,818; Nehemiah's items (Nehemiah 7:8-62) give a total of 31,089; those of the apocryphal Esdras a total of 33,950. The three authorities agree, however, in their summation, all alike declaring that the actual number of those who returned with Zerubbabel was 42,360. Esdras adds that children under twelve years of age are not included. If this were so, the entire number must have exceeded 50,000 - an enormous body of persons to transport a distance of above a thousand miles, according to Western experience, but one which will not surprise those acquainted with the East. In the East caravans of from ten to twenty thousand souls often traverse huge distances without serious mishap, and migrations frequently take place on a much grander scale. In the year 1771, 50,000 families of Torgouths, reckoned to number 300,000 souls, arrived on the frontiers of China, after a journey of 10,000 leagues through a most difficult country, and were given lands in the Chinese empire. They were followed in the next year by 180,000 Eleuths and others, who had accomplished a similar distance (see De Hell, 'Travels,' pp. 228, 229). Jenghis Khan is said to have forced 100,000 artisans and craftsmen to emigrate in a body from Khiva into Mongolia (Howarth's 'History of the Mongols,' p. 85). The transplantation of entire nations was an established practice among the Assyrians, Babylonians, and Persians. THE NUMBER OF THE SLAVES, HORSES, MULES, CAMELS, AND ASSES OF THOSE WHO RETURNED (vers, 65-67). It may seem strange that matters of this trivial character should be recorded with such exactness in Holy Writ; but enumerations similar in character are not unfrequent (see Genesis 23:14, 15; 2 Chronicles 17:11; Job 42:12). They may perhaps be viewed as teaching the lesson that with God nothing is too trivial for exact knowledge, even "all the hairs of our head" being "numbered" (Matthew 10:30). In the present passage the enumeration is not altogether without a further historical value, since it is indicative of the general poverty and low estate of the returning exiles, who had but one slave and one ass to every six of their number, one horse to every sixty, one camel to every hundred, and one mule to every one hundred and seventy-five.
Beside their servants and their maids, of whom there were seven thousand three hundred thirty and seven: and there were among them two hundred singing men and singing women.
Verse 65. - Two hundred singing men and singing women. Nehemiah says two hundred and forty-five, and so the apocryphal Esdras. Perhaps, in the great default of Levites, the services of these persons may have been used to swell the sacred choruses of the time (Ezra 3:10). Hence, it may be, the mention of this otherwise unimportant fact.
Their horses were seven hundred thirty and six; their mules, two hundred forty and five;
Their camels, four hundred thirty and five; their asses, six thousand seven hundred and twenty.
Verse 67. - Their asses. The ass (we see) is still, as in the earlier times, the chief beast of burden employed by the Israelites. Horses are rare, camels and mules still rarer; but most emigrant families had, it would seem, one ass (comp. 1 Samuel 8:16; 1 Chronicles 27:30; Isaiah 30:6).

CHAPTER 2:68-70 THE OFFERINGS MADE BY THE RETURNED EXILES ON THEIR ARRIVAL AT JERUSALEM (vers. 68-70). It has been customary among the pious of all ages and countries to make thank-offerings to the Almighty on the accomplishment of any important or dangerous work. The long journey of the exiles from Babylonia to Jerusalem involved considerable risk (see Ezra 8:22, 31), and its successful termination naturally called forth their gratitude. The character of the offerings made is indicative of the fact, otherwise probable, that the exiles had turned all that they possessed into money, and had brought to Jerusalem a considerable amount of coin.
And some of the chief of the fathers, when they came to the house of the LORD which is at Jerusalem, offered freely for the house of God to set it up in his place:
Verse 68. - Some of the chief of the fathers. That is, "Some of the heads of families." Each family went up under a recognized head or chief, the number of such heads being, as it would seem, nearly a hundred (vers. 3-61). When they came to the house of the Lord. No doubt considerable ruins of Solomon's temple existed when the exiles returned, and were easily to be recognized, both by their situation and by the size of the stones employed (1 Kings 5:17). The place occupied by these rums was that whereto the emigrants flocked, and about which they, in the first instance, located themselves. Offered freely for the house of God, to set it up in its place. The first object of the returned exiles was the rebuilding of the temple, and their offerings were consequently given expressly towards the expenses of this costly work.
They gave after their ability unto the treasure of the work threescore and one thousand drams of gold, and five thousand pound of silver, and one hundred priests' garments.
Verse 69. - After their ability. As each was able; the richer more, the poorer less. Threescore and one thousand drams of gold. The word translated "dram" is darkemon, which appears to be the Hebrew representative of the Persian word which the Greeks rendered by dareikos, or "daric." This was a gold coin, stamped with the figure of a Persian king, wearing his crown, and armed with a bow and arrow. According to the most exact computation, each such coin contained somewhat more pure gold than an English guinea, and was worth £1 1s. 10.5d. of our money. The 61,000 darics would therefore have been equal to £66,718 15s. Five thousand pounds of silver. The word translated "pound" is maneh, an equivalent of the Greek tuna and the Latin mind. In Greece the silver mind was worth a little more than £4 of our money. The value of the Hebrew silver munch is uncertain, but probably was not very different from the Greek. Thus the sum contributed in silver may be estimated at above £20,000, and the entire contribution at nearly £90,000. It must be noted, however, that Nehemiah's estimate (Nehemiah 7:71, 72) is less. One hundred priests' garments. Nehemiah says ninety-seven (ibid. vers. 70, 72), whence we may conclude that Ezra uses a round number.
So the priests, and the Levites, and some of the people, and the singers, and the porters, and the Nethinims, dwelt in their cities, and all Israel in their cities.
Verse 70. - In their cities. Not in Jerusalem only, but in the neighboring towns also, e.g. Bethlehem, Anathoth, Ramah, Gaba, Michmash, Bethel, Ai, Nebo, and Jericho (see above, comment on ver. 1). All Israel. Ezra very determinately puts forward this aspect of the return - that it was participated in by all the tribes (see 2:2; 3:1; 6:16, 17; 7:13; 8:29, 35, etc.). He does not, however, exclude the other aspect, that it was especially a return of Judah, or "Judah and Benjamin" (see Ezra 5:1; Ezra 10:9).

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