Scriptures

Ezra 2

Introduction

‘Now these are the people of the province who came up from the captivity of the exiles, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had taken captive to Babylon (they returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to their own town, in company with Zerubbabel, Joshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispar, Bigvai, Rehum and Baanah): The list of the men of the people of Israel: the descendants of Parosh 2,172 of Shephatiah 372 of Arah 775 of Pahath-Moab (through the line of Jeshua and Joab) 2,812 of Elam 1,254 of Zattu 945 of Zakkai 760 of Bani 642 of Bebai 623 of Azgad 1,222 of Adonikam 666 of Bigvai 2,056 of Adin 454 of Ater (through Hezekiah) 98 of Bezai 323 of Jorah 112 of Hashum 223 of Gibbar 95 the men of Bethlehem 123 of Netophah 56 of Anathoth 128 of Azmaveth 42 of Kiriath Jearim, Kephirah and Beeroth 743 of Ramah and Geba 621 of Mikmash 122 of Bethel and Ai 223 of Nebo 52 of Magbish 156 of the other Elam 1,254 of Harim 320 of Lod, Hadid and Ono 725 of Jericho 345 of Senaah 3,630. The priests: the descendants of Jedaiah (through the family of Jeshua) 973 of Immer 1,052 of Pashhur 1,247 of Harim 1,017. The Levites: the descendants of Jeshua and Kadmiel (of the line of Hodaviah) 74 The musicians: the descendants of Asaph 128 The gatekeepers of the temple: the descendants of Shallum, Ater, Talmon, Akkub, Hatita and Shobai 139 The temple servants: the descendants of Ziha, Hasupha, Tabbaoth, Keros, Siaha, Padon, Lebanah, Hagabah, Akkub, Hagab, Shalmai, Hanan, Giddel, Gahar, Reaiah, Rezin, Nekoda, Gazzam, Uzza, Paseah, Besai, Asnah, Meunim, Nephusim, Bakbuk, Hakupha, Harhur, Bazluth, Mehida, Harsha, Barkos, Sisera, Temah, Neziah and Hatipha. The descendants of the servants of Solomon: the descendants of Sotai, Hassophereth, Peruda, Jaala, Darkon, Giddel, Shephatiah, Hattil, Pokereth-Hazzebaim and Ami. The temple servants and the descendants of the servants of Solomon 392. The following came up from the towns of Tel Melah, Tel Harsha, Kerub, Addon and Immer, but they could not show that their families were descended from Israel: The descendants of Delaiah, Tobiah and Nekoda 652. And from among the priests: The descendants of Hobaiah, Hakkoz and Barzillai (a man who had married a daughter of Barzillai the Gileadite and was called by that name). These searched for their family records, but they could not find them and so were excluded from the priesthood as unclean. The governor ordered them not to eat any of the most sacred food until there was a priest ministering with the Urim and Thummim. The whole company numbered 42,360, besides their 7,337 male and female slaves; and they also had 200 male and female singers. They had 736 horses, 245 mules, 435 camels and 6,720 donkeys. When they arrived at the house of the LORD in Jerusalem, some of the heads of the families gave freewill offerings toward the rebuilding of the house of God on its site. According to their ability they gave to the treasury for this work 61,000 darics of gold, 5,000 minas of silver and 100 priestly garments. The priests, the Levites, the musicians, the gatekeepers and the temple servants settled in their own towns, along with some of the other people, and the rest of the Israelites settled in their towns.’ Ezra 2:1-70

The List Of The Exiles Who Returned

After reading through this list of names, we find there are seven distinct groups of people mentioned.

1. The leaders. 2. The men of Israel. 3. The priests. 4. The Levites. 5. The temple servants. 6. The sons of Solomon’s servants. 7. Those of uncertain genealogy.

These were the religious leaders of those who had returned from captivity, Nehemiah 7:6-73.

Zerubbabel, whose name means ‘seed of Babylon’, possibly because he was born there, appears as the leader of the return to Jerusalem. He’s usually described as the son of Shealtiel, Ezra 3:2, but 1 Chronicles 3:19 describes him as the son of Shealtiel’s brother Pedaiah.

It’s probable that Shealtiel died childless, whereupon a Levirate marriage, Deuteronomy 25:5-10, resulted in the birth of Zerubbabel, who was thus the actual son of Pedaiah but the legal son of Shealtiel.

Notice the name Nehemiah, this isn’t the same Nehemiah who returned to the land in order to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, Nehemiah 1:1-13. Also notice the name Mordecai, this isn’t the same Mordecai who was the cousin of Esther, Esther 2:5-6. The event which is taking place here happened before the events of Esther and the later coming of Nehemiah.

Although we may find genealogies very boring to read, to the Jew they were vitally important, especially when it comes to possession of land.

The Levites are mentioned not for the purpose of owning land, because God was their inheritance, Deuteronomy 10:8-9, they are mentioned in order to prove that they were from the tribe of Levi so that they could serve as priests in God’s temple and minster to God’s people, Numbers 3:3-37 / Numbers 4:3.

The total number of Levites was actually less than the number of priests that returned. This means that a remarkably small percentage of the Levites returned from Babylon. The priests were the descendants of Aaron and they were blessed to work in God’s temple, 2 Chronicles 31:19. Most of the priests stayed behind in Babylon.

The temple servants are called the ‘Nethinim’ is some translations. They were the descendants of the Gibeonites, who were made special servants of the Levites and the priests at the temple. The descendants of Solomon were those employed by Solomon who came from other people groups. They came into Israel as foreign proselytes.

The Urim and the Thummim were kept inside the ephod of the priests, Exodus 28:30 / Leviticus 8:8 / Judges 20:18-28 / Nehemiah 7:65. Urim means ‘lights’ and Thummim means ‘perfections’. They were probably two jewels and although no one really knows how they worked, it appears they simply gave ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers to specific questions.

The size of this entire group is here stated to be about 50,000. However, this was only the first wave of repatriation to Israel from the Babylonian captivity and includes only the heads of families. This was only a small percentage of those who had been exiled and their descendants, the great majority stayed behind in Babylon.

There’s no doubt these first people who returned to Jerusalem were very generous. Their aim is simply to rebuild the altar so that they can begin sacrificing to the Lord. It’s clear that their offering was more than enough to get the job done.

Go To Ezra 3

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

John 16:33

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