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Bible Commentaries
Ezra 8

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

These are now the chief of their fathers, and this is the genealogy of them that went up with me from Babylon, in the reign of Artaxerxes the king.

This is the genealogy of them that went up with me from Babylon. The number given here amounts to 1,754. But this is the register of adult males only, and as there were women and children also (Ezra 8:21), the whole caravan may be considered as comprising between 6,000 and 7,000. The name of Zathi, some of whose descendants accompanied Ezra, is omitted in this list, though it is inserted in the catalogue of the first caravan (see Ezra 2:8; Nehemiah 7:13: cf. Ezra 10:27).

Verses 2-14

Of the sons of Phinehas; Gershom: of the sons of Ithamar; Daniel: of the sons of David; Hattush.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 15

And I gathered them together to the river that runneth to Ahava; and there abode we in tents three days: and I viewed the people, and the priests, and found there none of the sons of Levi.

I gathered them together to the river that runneth to Ahava [ 'Ahªwaa' (H163); Septuagint, ho Eui; Alexandrine, Euei] - called in later times Ihi. Ezra here speaks in the first person. In general the sacred historians write of their own doings in the third person, as did Xenophon, Cesar, and many other eminent historians of antiquity. But the present is an exceptional case, and the reason why Ezra relates this narrative in the first person seems to be that he is giving a report of the execution of his public commission-he is not here relating the procedure of God to His people, but the performance of a responsible trust committed to him by the king.

This river has not been ascertained. The probability is that the Ahava was one of the streams or numerous canals of Mesopotamia communicating with the Euphrates ('Cyclopaedia of Biblical Literature'). But it was certainly in Babylonia, on the banks of that stream; and perhaps in the neighborhood of a town of the same name was the place appointed for general rendezvous, generally believed to be identical with the modern Hit, direct east of Damascus (see Winer, 'Realworterbuch;' also Rosenmuller, 'Biblical Geography,' 2:, p. 121). The emigrants encamped there for three days, according to Oriental custom, while the preparations for the departure were being completed, and Ezra was arranging the order of the caravan.

I ... found there none of the sons of Levi - i:e., the ordinary Levites. Notwithstanding the privilege of exemption from all taxes granted to persons engaged to the temple service, none of the Levitical tribes were induced to join the settlement in Jerusalem; and it was even not without difficulty Ezra persuaded some of the priestly families to accompany him.

Verse 16

Then sent I for Eliezer, for Ariel, for Shemaiah, and for Elnathan, and for Jarib, and for Elnathan, and for Nathan, and for Zechariah, and for Meshullam, chief men; also for Joiarib, and for Elnathan, men of understanding.

Then sent I for Eliezer ...

Verse 17

And I sent them with commandment unto Iddo the chief at the place Casiphia, and I told them what they should say unto Iddo, and to his brethren the Nethinims, at the place Casiphia, that they should bring unto us ministers for the house of our God. With commandment unto Iddo the chief. Ezra sent this deputation, either by virtue of authority, which by his priestly character he had over the Levites, or of the royal commission with which he was invested. The deputation were despatched to Iddo, who was a prince or chief of the Nethinims-for the Persian government allowed the Hebrews, during their exile, to retain their ecclesiastical government by their own chiefs, as well as to enjoy the privilege of free worship, Iddo's influence procured and brought to the camp at Ahava thirty-eight Levites and 220 Nethinims, and descendants of the Gibeonites, who performed the servile duties of the temple.

Verses 18-20

And by the good hand of our God upon us they brought us a man of understanding, of the sons of Mahli, the son of Levi, the son of Israel; and Sherebiah, with his sons and his brethren, eighteen;

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 21

Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance.

Then I proclaimed a fast there. The dangers to traveling caravans from the Bedouin Arabs that prowl through the desert were in ancient times as great as they still are; and it seems that travelers usually sought the protection of a military escort. But Ezra had spoken so much to the king of the sufficiency of the divine care of his people that he would have blushed to apply for a guard of soldiers; and therefore he resolved that his followers should, by a solemn act of fasting and prayer, commit themselves to the Keeper of Israel. Their faith, considering the many and constant perils of a journey across the Bedouin regions, must have been great, and it was rewarded by the enjoyment of perfect safety during the whole way.

Verses 22-23

For I was ashamed to require of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way: because we had spoken unto the king, saying, The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek him; but his power and his wrath is against all them that forsake him. No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 24

Then I separated twelve of the chief of the priests, Sherebiah, Hashabiah, and ten of their brethren with them,

Then I separated twelve of the chief of the priests ...

Verse 25

And weighed unto them the silver, and the gold, and the vessels, even the offering of the house of our God, which the king, and his counsellors, and his lords, and all Israel there present, had offered:

And weighed unto them the silver ... The custody of the contributions and of the sacred vessels was, during the journey, committed to twelve of the chief priests, who, with the assistance of ten of their brethren, were to watch closely over them by the way, and deliver them into the house of the Lord in Jerusalem. The treasures in silver and gold, according to the value of the Babylonian talent, amounted to about 515,000 British pounds sterling.

Verse 26

I even weighed unto their hand six hundred and fifty talents of silver, and silver vessels an hundred talents, and of gold an hundred talents;

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 27

Also twenty basons of gold, of a thousand drams; and two vessels of fine copper, precious as gold.

Also twenty basons of gold, of a thousand drams, [ la'ªdarkoniym (H150)] - darics, a Persian coin, familiar to the Jews while resident within the Persian dominions.

Two vessels of fine copper, precious as gold, [ nªchoshet (H5178) mutsªhaab (H6668) Towbaah (H2896)] - of good yellow (glittering) brass. Almost all commentators agree in maintaining that the vessels referred to were not made of copper, but of an alloy capable of taking on a bright polish, which we think highly probable, as copper was then in common use among the Babylonians, and would not be as precious as gold. This alloy, much esteemed among the Jews, was composed of gold and other metals, which took on a high polish, and was not subject to tarnish (Noyes; see also note from Chardin's 'Travels,' quoted by Harmer, 4:, p. 419).

Verses 28-30

And I said unto them, Ye are holy unto the LORD; the vessels are holy also; and the silver and the gold are a freewill offering unto the LORD God of your fathers.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 31

Then we departed from the river of Ahava on the twelfth day of the first month, to go unto Jerusalem: and the hand of our God was upon us, and he delivered us from the hand of the enemy, and of such as lay in wait by the way.

We departed from the river of Ahava on the twelfth day of the first month. Computing from the time of their setting out to the period of their arrival, they occupied about four months on the way. Their health and security were marvelous during so long a journey. The pilgrim-caravans of the present day perform long journeys through the wildest deserts of the East under the protection of a firman from the Porte, and an escort of soldiers. But for a large body-composed, as that of Ezra, of some thousands of men, women, and children, unaccustomed to travel, undisciplined to order, and without military strength, and with so large an amount of treasure tempting the cupidity of the marauding, plundering tribes of the deserts-to accomplish journey so long and so arduous in perfect safety, is one of the most astonishing events recorded in history. Nothing but the vigilant care of a superintending Providence could have brought them securely to their destination.

Verse 32

And we came to Jerusalem, and abode there three days.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 33

Now on the fourth day was the silver and the gold and the vessels weighed in the house of our God by the hand of Meremoth the son of Uriah the priest; and with him was Eleazar the son of Phinehas; and with them was Jozabad the son of Jeshua, and Noadiah the son of Binnui, Levites;

Now on the fourth day was the silver ... weighed in the house of our God. They devoted the first-three days after their arrival in Jerusalem to repose; on the next, the treasures were weighed and handed over to the custody of the officiating priests of the temple. The returned exiles offered burnt offerings, and Ezra delivered the royal commission to the satraps and [ pachªowt (H6347)] (cf. Ezra 5:3; Ezra 6:6; Nehemiah 3:7) inferior magistrates westward of the Euphrates - i:e., between that river and Judea, apparently the very locality where this provincial term is first found in use (1 Kings 10:15; 1 Kings 20:24; 2 Kings 18:24; 2 Kings 18:34; 2 Chronicles 9:14); while the Levitical portion of them lent all the assistance they could in performing the additional work, which the arrival of so many new worshippers occasioned.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Ezra 8". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/ezra-8.html. 1871-8.
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