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Wednesday, June 12th, 2024
the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10
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Bible Commentaries
Ezra 2

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-70

Chapter 2

So here they are returning to Jerusalem, as I said, some fifty thousand. And in chapter two it gives you the names of the people and the families that came and the numbers that came with them. Beginning in, or in verse thirty-six to thirty-nine, you have the priests that returned. Then beginning with verse forty, the Levites that returned. Then Solomon's servants that returned.

Now in verse sixty-one, there were some of the Levites that were returning who could not find their names in the register. Among those that were reckoned by genealogy, they just could not find their names there. That is, they could not accurately trace their family history. They could not trace themselves back to the tribe of Levi.

Therefore they were as polluted, and they were put out of the priesthood ( Ezra 2:62 ).

They were not allowed to minister or to function as a priest or to receive the offerings, the tithes, or the dues that were given to the priests in those days, because they could not prove their pedigree. They could not trace their names in the records. And they were kept out of the priesthood until such a time as they could find a priest with the Urim and the Thummim in order that they might inquire of the Lord and determine if these men really belonged to the priesthood or not.

Now the Urim and the Thummim are the thing that the high priest wore upon his chest, and the words mean light and perfections. Just what they were, we really don't know. But they would use the Urim and the Thummim to inquire of the will of God. Now the common theory is that it was a little pouch with a black stone and a white stone. And they would ask a question and the priest would say, "Lord, give us a perfect lot." You know, and he would reach in to the little bag and pull out a stone. If it was the black stone, then the answer was no. If it was the white stone, the answer was yes. And they used this method to ascertain the will of God in certain things. Keep asking questions, keep pulling out the stones, and if you pulled out the white stone, that answer yes. If you pulled out the black stone, the answer no. And so this is what some have theorized the Urim and the Thummim to be. Just what it was, we don't know. It was a method by which the high priest received God's answer for the people and God's directions for the people. It was some type of device by which divine guidance was given to the people.

Now, though we don't know exactly what it was, I do know exactly what it wasn't. It wasn't a pair of glasses that Joseph Smith found with the twelve golden tablets that when he put them on, he could magically decipher the hieroglyphics by putting on these glasses, which he said were the Urim and the Thummim. That is not so. During the time of Moses they didn't even know how to make glass. And it wasn't a magic pair of spectacles to read the hieroglyphics on the golden tablets. But as I say, what it was, I don't know. But I do know what it wasn't.

So there were about fifty thousand who returned at this first repatriation under Cyrus. And going back to build the temple, plus they had seven hundred and thirty-six horses, and two hundred and forty-five mules, and four hundred and thirty-five camels and all.

And some of the chief fathers, when they came to the house of the LORD which is at Jerusalem, they offered freely for the house of God to set it up in his place: and they gave after their ability unto the treasure of the work threescore and one thousand drams [or sixty-one thousand drams] of gold, five thousand pounds of silver, and one hundred priests' garments. So the priests, the Levites, and some of the people, and all the singers, and the porters, and the Nethinims, dwelt in their cities, and all Israel in their cities ( Ezra 2:68-70 ).

So they returned and they took up an offering. Some of the wealthier families and all gave as was their ability for the rebuilding of the temple there in Jerusalem. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Ezra 2". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/ezra-2.html. 2014.
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