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Ezr 2:1 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;
Ver. 1. Now these are the children of the province ] That is, of Judaea, now a province, though formerly a princess; now solitary and tributary that was once populous and great among the nations, Lamentations 1:1 . Medinah, the word here rendered province, sometimes signifieth Metropolis, aliis ius dicens, a place that giveth laws to other places, and so Judaea in her flourish had been. See Ezra 4:20 . But now it was otherwise, and so it is at this day, not only with Judaea, but with other renowned empires and kingdoms not a few, all which (together with most of those Churches and places so much mentioned in Scripture) are swallowed up in, the greatness of Turkish Empire. That Medina, a city in Arabia (where Mahomet lieth buried, and where his sepulchre is no less visited than is Christ’s sepulchre at Jerusalem), holdeth this Medina in hard subjection; making her children pay for the very heads they wear; and so grievously afflicting them, that they have cause enough to take up anew Jeremiah’s elegy over their doleful captivity.
That went up out of the captivity ] That lifted themselves in Babylon, to go up. Which if any failed to do (as by comparing Ezr 2:5 of this chapter with Nehemiah 7:10 , it appeareth some did), it was because either they changed their minds or their lives before they came there. When that noble Marquis Galeacius Caracciolus set forward for Geneva, some of his most familiar friends promised and vowed to accompany him there (His Life by Crashaw); but various of them, when they came to the borders of Italy, turned back again, &c.; and so might many of these engagers, magis amantes mundi delicias, quam Christi divitias, et graviorem ducentes iacturam regionis, quam religionis.
Which had been carried away ] But had God’s promise that they should return, be built up, planted, and not rooted out, Jeremiah 24:6 , and his command to marry and beget children, Jeremiah 29:6 , which should inherit the promises: for they are good surehold.
Whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon ] That Metus Orbis, et Flagellum Dei, as Attilas, king of Huns, proudly styled himself, that is, the terror of the world, and scourge in God’s hand. See Isaiah 10:5 . That Ira Dei et Orbis Vastitas as Tamerlane loved to be called: The wrath of God and ruin of the world (Bucholc.).
Had carried away unto Babylon ] As to his lions’ den, Nahum 2:11 , but God sent from heaven and saved them with such a mighty salvation, as eclipsed that deliverance out of Egypt, Jeremiah 23:7-8 .
Every one unto his city ] Appointed him by the present governors. For during their abode in Babylon Judaea lay utterly waste and uninhabited. The land kept her sabbaths, resting from tillage, and God, by a wonderful providence, kept the room empty till the return of the natives.
Ezr 2:2 Which came with Zerubbabel: Jeshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispar, Bigvai, Rehum, Baanah. The number of the men of the people of Israel:
Ver 2. That came with Zerubbabel ] That famous prince of Judah, Ezra 1:8 , governor of Judah, Haggai 1:1 , who was born in Babylon, and accordingly had a Babylonian name. His hands laid the foundation of the second temple, his hands also finished, Zechariah 4:9 , whence some conclude that the Lord gave him a life much longer than ordinary. His children shall not to bed till their work be done.
Jeshua ] This was that Jehoshuah the high priest, the great assistant of Zerubbabel in building the Temple, Ezra 5:2 Haggai 1:14 . These were those faithful witnesses of God in their generation, as before them had been Moses and Aaron, Elijah and Elisha, and as after them Paul and Barnabas, Luther and Melancthon, Oecolampadius and Zwinglius, &c. Christ sent out his disciples by two and two: for two is better than one; and why? see Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 .
Nehemiah, Saraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai ] Not that famous Nehemiah nor that renowned Mordecai so much spoken of in the Book of Esther but others of the same name. Reasons see in Mr Pemble’s Period of the Persian Monarchy, pp. 30, 31.
Bilshan, Mizpar, Bigvai, Rehum, Baanah ] These were all of them guides and governors to the rest, eminent and eximious. To whom in Nehemiah is added a twelfth man, Nahumani by name, who better bethought himself belike; and having answered with that young man in the Gospel, and said, I will not, yet afterwards repented and went. Nunquam sere, si serio. This was better than those many that answered and said, We go, sir, and yet went not, Matthew 21:29-30 .
The number of the men of the people of Israel ] The former were names, men of renown in the congregation. confer Acts 1:15 Rev 3:3 The rest that follow are but numbers, Nos numeri sumus, &c., men of common condition, the many, οι πολλοι , who are set down in the sequel of the chapter.
Ezr 2:3 The children of Parosh, two thousand an hundred seventy and two.
Ver. 3. The children of Parosh ] Question is here made by some, whether this and other like chapters, that are nothing but names and numbers, should be read in course, since they may seem to be of no great use to us? To this Chrysostom answereth, In sacris libris nihil contemnatur aut obiter praetereatur, etiamsi nomina recenseantur, that is, let no part of the Holy Scripture be slighted or skipped over, no, though we meet with nothing but names only. But forasmuch as there is never a leaf, nay, line, nay, letter in God’s book, that is not pure, precious, and profitable, Pro 30:5 Psalms 12:6 2 Timothy 3:16 (the Rabbins have a saying that there is a mountain of sense hanging upon every apex or tittle of the word of God); therefore must we read all, in obedience to him, who hath written for us these excellent things in counsel and knowledge, Proverbs 22:20 , and if anything be yet hid, God shall reveal even this unto us, Philippians 3:15 . Joseph understood not his own dreams at first, till he saw his brethren prostrate before him; then Joseph remembered the dreams that he dreamed of them, Genesis 42:9 . The disciples conceived not, believed not, many things done by and to their Master, till he was glorified, and they further enlightened, John 2:22 ; John 12:6 . Surely if Hippocrates could say of medicine, that there was nothing to be accounted little in it, nothing contemptible ( ουδεν μικρον, ουδεν καταφρονητεον ); how much more may we say the same of divinity and of the Scriptures!
Ezr 2:43 The Nethinims: the children of Ziha, the children of Hasupha, the children of Tabbaoth,
Ver. 43. The Nethinims ] i.e. Deodati, men given to God, devoted to the service of his house. These were those Gibeonites that, having saved their lives by a lie, were made drawers of water to the temple for a punishment. God made this cross a mercy: for the nearer they were to the Church the nearer to God. Their employment was to minister to the Levites, as the Levites did to the priests, Joshua 9:21 ; and this gave them occasion to partake of the things of God, and to behold his face in righteousness.
Ezr 2:55 The children of Solomon’s servants: the children of Sotai, the children of Sophereth, the children of Peruda,
Ver. 55. The children of Solomon’s servants] These also were strangers, that had been employed by Solomon, and becoming proselytes, were incorporated into the commonwealth of Israel. God is no respecter of persons, Acts 10:34 . He takes where he likes; strangers shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, when the children of the kingdom shall be cast out, Matthew 8:11-12 ; Solomon’s servants may have a name and a nail in God’s house, when his sons may be excluded; Jether, an Ishmaelite, 1 Chronicles 7:38 , may become an Israelite, 2 Samuel 17:25 , and Araunah the Jebusite an exemplary prosalyte, Zechariah 9:7 .
Ezr 2:59 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:
Ver. 59. And these were they which went up from Telmelah, Telharsa, Cherub, &c. ] Places in Chaldaea where these Jews were scattered; as at this day their posterity are up and down in Turkey, and some parts of Christendom, a dejected and despised people.
Ezr 2:61 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:
Ver. 61. And was called after their name ] After the name of his wife’s father, that noble Gileadite; as holding it a greater honour to be allied to Barzillai than to be looked upon as a priest. It was therefore just upon such proud and insolent people, that as they had once scorned the priesthood, so the priesthood should now scorn them.
Ezr 2:62 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.
Ver. 62. But they were not found ] They could not prove themselves to be of the seed of Aaron; and were therefore worthily turned off. So shall all be at the last day that are not written among the living in Jerusalem, that are not registered in the Lamb’s book of life, that have been ashamed of Christ and of his words, Mark 8:38 .
Ezr 2:63 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.
Ver. 63. And the Tirshatha said unto them ] i.e. Zerubbabel, the chief magistrate, a man of great power and no less courage, who would not be guilty of passive injustice.
That they should not eat of the most holy things ] Make a gain of the priesthood, which they had slighted when nothing was to be obtained by it. Now they should neither do the work nor have the means. Caietan commenting upon Matthew, then when the French soldiers brake into Rome, and made a scorn and prey of the Popish clergy, acknowledged that it was a just hand of God upon them, because they were grown unsavoury salt, good for little else but to look after the rights and revenues of the Church.
Till there stood up a priest with Urim and Thummim ] That is, never, or not in haste. Some faint hopes the governor might have that such an ephod with Urim and Thummim, as was now burnt or otherwise lost, might be had again, but it seemed not very likely. The great High Priest was now at hand, and the ceremonials to cease shortly.
Ezr 2:64 The whole congregation together [was] forty and two thousand three hundred [and] threescore,
Ver. 64. Forty and two thousand ] Ten or twelve thousand whereof seem to be of the ten tribes that were first carried captive, and, together with Judah and Benjamin, made up that Dωδεκαφυλον St Paul speaketh of, Acts 26:7 .
Ezr 2:65 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.
Ver. 65. Beside their servants, &c. ] Their masters’ necessary instruments, και ολως εκεινων , saith Aristotle, and wholly at their command. See Proverbs 12:9 .
Two hundred singing men and singing women. ] That sang at feasts and funerals. See Ecclesiastes 2:8 . These perhaps might have been as well spared. Nam ad quod prosunt eiusmodi artes (saith one), et quis eiusmodi hominum eas profitentium usus, nisi ut aliis sint oneri, et cibum potumque egenorum, sicut locustae, praerodant atque consumaut? (Funccius).
Ezr 2:68 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:
Ver. 68. And some of the chief ] And but some. All were not alike enlarged or enabled.
Ezr 2:69 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.
Ver. 69. They gave after their ability ] Men must take heed they stretch not beyond the staple, and so mar all. But few are herein faulty; few Macedonians, that, to their power and beyond, are willing of themselves, &c., 2 Corinthians 8:8 . Rari quippe boni.
Threescore and one thousand drams of gold ] That is, nineteen thousand sixty-two pounds ten shillings.
And five thousand pound of silver ] i.e. Fifteen thousand pounds sterling. These sums of money, together with the costly priests’ garments, though they fall far short of what was provided and given in David’s days, 1 Chronicles 22:1-19 1 Chronicles 29:1-30 , towards the building of the first temple; yet, considering the mind of this poor people, and their small ability, this gift was as great in God’s account. See Luke 21:1-2 . The widow’s mite was beyond the rich man’s magnificence, because it came out of a richer mind.
Ezr 2:70 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.
Ver. 70. And some of the people ] For not half of them, as may be probably thought, returned; but condemned the rest of rashness and weakness, to their no small prejudice.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Ezra 2". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent