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Bible Commentaries
Ezra 2

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

Verses 1-70


Ezra 2:1-67. (Comp. Nehemiah 7:6-73.)

I. The catalogue of the families and households of the people. Ezra 2:1-35

1Now 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; 2Which came with Zerubbabel: Jeshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mizpar, Bigvai, Rehum, Baanah. The number of the men of the people of Israel: 3The children of Parosh, two thousand a hundred seventy and two. 4The children of Shephatiah, there hundred seventy and two. 5, 6The 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. 7, 8The children of Elam, a thousand two hundred fifty and four. The children of Zattu, nine hundred forty and five. 9The children of Zaccai, seven hundred and 10, threescore. 11The children of Bani, six hundres forty and two. The children of Bebai, six hundred twenty and three. 12The children of Azgad, a thousand two hundred twenty and two. 13The children of Adonikam, six hundred sixty and six.

14the children of Bigvai, two thousand fifty and six. 15The children of Adin, four hundred fifty and four. 16The children of Ater of Hezekiah, ninety and eight. 17The children of Bezai, three hundred twenty and three. 18The children of Jorah, a hundred and twelve. 19The children of Hashum, two hundred twenty and 20 three. The children of Gibbar, ninety and five. 21The children of Beth-lehem, 22a hundred twenty and three. 23The men of Netophah, fifty and six. The men of Anathoth, a hundred twenty and eight. 24The children of Azmaveth, forty and two. 25The children of Kirjath-arim, Chephirah, and Beeroth, seven hundred and forty and three. 26The children of Ramah and Gaba, six hundred twenty and one. 27The men of Michmas, a hundred twenty and two. 28The men of Beth-el and 29Ai, two hundred twenty and three. 30The children of Nebo, fifty and two. The children of Magbish, a hundred fifty and six. 31The children of the other Elam, a thousand two hundred fifty and four. 32The children of Harim, three hundred and twenty. 33The children of Lod, Hadid, and Ono, seven hundred twenty and five. 34The children of Jericho, three hundred forty and five. 34The children of Senaah, three thousand and six hundred and thirty.

II. The catalogue of the Priests, Levites, and Servants of the Temple Ezra 2:36-58

36The priests: the children of Jedaiah, of the house of Jeshua, nine hundred seventy 37and three. 38The children of Immer, a thousand fifty and two. The children of Pashur, a thousand two hundred forty and seven. 39The children of Harim, a thousand and seventeen. 40The Levites: the children of Jeshua and Kadmiel, ofthe children of Hodaviah, seventy and four. 41The singers: the children of Asaph, a hundred twenty and eight. 42The children of the porters: the children of Shallum, the children of Ater, the children of Talmon, the children of Akkub, the children 43of Hatita, the children of Shobai, in all a hundred thirty and nine. The Nethinim: 44the children of Ziha, the children of Hasupha, the children of Tabbaoth, The children of Keros, 45the children of Siaha, the children of Padon, The children of Lebanah, 46the children of Hagabah, the children of Akkub, The children of Hagab, thechildren of Shalmai, 47the children of Hanan, The children of Giddel, the children of Gahar, 48the children of Reaiah, The children of Rezin, the children of Nekoda, 49the children of Gazzam, The children of Uzza, the children of Paseah, the children of Besai, 50The children of Asnah, the children of Mehunim, the children of Nephusitn, 51The children of Bakbuk, the children of Hakupha, the children of Harhur, 52The children of Bazluth, the children of Mehida, the children of Harsha, 53, 54 The children of Barkos, the children of Sisera, the children of Thamah, The children of Neziah, 55the children of Hatipha. The children of Solomon’s servants:56the children of Sotai, the children of Sophereth, the children of Peruda, The childrenof Jaalah, 57the children of Darkon, the children of Giddel, The children of Shephatiah, the children of Hattil, the children of Pochereth of Zebaim, the children 58of Ami. All the Nethinim, and the children of Solomon’s servants, were three hundred ninety and two.

III. The members of the People and the Priests without Genealogy Ezra 2:59-64

59And these were they which went up from Tel-melah, Tel-harsa, Cherub, Addan, and Immer: but they could not shew their father’s house, and their seed, whether they were of Israel: 60The children of Delaiah, the children of Tobiah, the children of Nekoda, six hundred fifty and two. 61And 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: 62These sought their register among those that were reckoned by genealogy, but they were not found: therefore were they, as polluted, put from the priesthood. 63And 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.

IV. Sum total of those who returned, their Servants and Beasts of Burden. Ezra 2:64-67

64The whole congregation together was forty and two thousand three hundred and 65 threescore, Besides their servants and their maids, of whom there were seven thousand three hundred thirty and seven: and there were among them two hundred singing 66men and singing women. Their horses were seven hundred thirty and six; their mules, two hundred forty and five; 67Their camels, four hundred thirty and five; their asses, six thousand seven hundred and twenty.

V. Contributions for the Building of the Temple, and Closing Remarks Ezra 2:68-70

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: 69They gave after their ability unto the treasure of the work threescore and one thousand drams of gold, and five thousand pounds of silver, and one hundred priests’ garments. 70So the priests, and the Levites, and some of the people, and the singers, and the porters, and the Nethinim, dwelt in their cities, and all Israel in their cities.


The same catalogue as that here given is likewise found in Nehemiah 7:6-73. The two texts differ, to some extent, in the names, and especially in numbers. This is not so remarkable, considering the long list; at the bottom these differences are insignificant enough. This is clear from the notes made in connection with the translation. We have passed over some very trifling deviations, which are manifestly to be regarded as due to oversight of the copyist. The peculiarities of Esdras are scarcely anywhere of such a character that we can find in them an evidence of the original reading. This catalogue of the constituents of the new community may be placed in parallelism with that of the constituents of the ancient community, Numbers 1:5 sq.

Verses 1 and 2 give the individual members connected with the names of their heads.—And these are the children of the province,etc.מְדִינָה, from דִּין, properly, judicial or official district, is here the province given in charge to the judge or governor of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 11:3), just as in Ezra 5:8; Nehemiah 1:2. [“ The children of the province are the Israelites who returned to Palestine, as distinct from those who remained in Babylon or Persia” (Rawlinson).—Tr.] Instead of the usual form Nebuchadnezzar (with a in the last syllable), the Kethib has Nebuchadnezzor (with o), a form which, to a certain extent, is nearer to the Chaldee pronunciation of the name. Another approximation is the form Nebuchadrezzar (with r in the penult) in Jeremiah 21:2; Jeremiah 21:7; Jeremiah 32:1; Jeremiah 35:11; Jeremiah 39:11, etc.; Ezekiel 26:7; Ezekiel 29:18 sq.; Ezekiel 30:10,—and both approximations are combined in that of Nebuchadrezzor. The name in Chaldee, according to Ménant, Grammaire Assyrienne, 1868, p. 327, is nabu kadurri usur; according to Schrader, die Keilinschriften, etc., S. 235, is Nabiuvkudurrinsur and means “Nebo protect, or protect the crown.” That in Hebrew a נ is usual in the penult, instead of ר is connected with the fact that the primitive form of usur is nasar.—Every one unto his city.—אִישׁ לְעִירוֹ is apparently used from the subsequent standpoint of the author of the document. It certainly does not mean, according to the city, which was already theirs from the time of the fathers—for only a small portion of the former southern kingdom was taken possession of by the new community. Thus many did not return to the cities where their ancestors had dwelt, but to the city which subsequently was their own when this catalogue was prepared (with Bertheau against Keil [Rawlinson]). Comp. 5:70.

Ezra 2:2. Which came with Zerubbabel.—Whilst וַיָּשׁוּבוּ in Ezra 2:1 is conceived as merely a continuation of אֱשֶׁר בָּאוּ אֱשֶׁר הֶגְלָה is in Ezra 2:2, a parallel, co-ordinate clause. Hence it again has the preterite. Nehemiah in Ezra 2:1 uses the participle בָּאִים corresponding with the הָעֹלִים in Ezra 2:1.—Zerubbabel, now זְרוּבָבֶל, and sometimes זְרֻבָּבֶל is formed not from זְרוּי (scattered), as would seem at first sight, but from זְרוּעַ (sowed) and בָּבֶל(that is born in Babylon). Comp. also Ezra 1:11 Jeshua—יֵשׁוּעַ (later form of יְהוֹשׁוּעַ comp. Nehemiah 8:17) is here the first high-priest of the new community, the son of Jehozadak, the grandson of the high-priest Seraiah, 1 Chronicles 6:14, whom Nebuchadnezzar put to death at Riblah, in the land of Hamath, 2 Kings 25:18 sq. Comp. Ezra 3:2, and Ezra 5:2. In Haggai 1:2; Haggai 1:14, and Zechariah 3:1, we find the older form of his name Jehoshua. The other men here named who come into consideration as chiefs are unknown to us. For Nehemiah and Mordecai are not at all to be identified with the later persons who bore these names. Instead of Seraiah, Nehemiah 7:0. gives Azariah; but in Nehemiah 10:2 both names are found alongside of one another as names of families of priests in the time of Nehemiah, so that we may conjecture that both names were then favorites and in frequent use in the families of the priests, and therefore would be easily interchanged. If we count here the name of Nahamani, who is named in Nehemiah 7:7, but is missing here, we have just twelve heads which, without doubt, refers to a new division of the community into twelve divisions. That the idea at the basis of this catalogue was that the new community represented entire Israel and its twelve tribes, is clear from the title that directly follows—number of the men of the people of Israel—especially however from the twelve sin-offerings in Ezra 6:1. Notwithstanding this fact it may be that the twelve were all from the three tribes to which almost all those that returned belonged, Judah, Benjamin, and Levi. The last words of the verse, “the number of the men of the people of Israel,” constitute the special title of the first section of the catalogue after the analogy of Ezra 2:36; Ezra 2:40; Ezra 2:43; Ezra 2:55.

Ezra 2:3-35. The families and households of the people. Many of the names mentioned in Ezra 2:3-19 and Ezra 2:32 meet us again in the register of the times of Ezra and Nehemiah, thus the children Parosh, Pahath-Moab, Adin, Elam, Shephatiah, Joab, Bebai, Azgad, Adonikam, Bigvai, and according to the original reading, the children of Zattu and Bani, in Ezra 8:0, in the catalogue of those returning with Ezra; so likewise men of the sons of Parosh, Elam, Zattu, etc., in Ezra 10:0, among these, who had strange wives, and also in Nehemiah 10:15 sq., “from which we see, a) that of many families only a part returned with Zerubbabel and Jeshua; another part followed under Ezra; b) that heads of the fathers’ houses are not mentioned for the sake of their personal names, but for the names of the houses of which they were fathers originating without doubt from more ancient times” (Keil). Since in vers, 30–35 the inhabitants of the other cities are mentioned according to the names of their localities, so probably the most or all which bear the names of their fathers’ houses are to be regarded as inhabitants of Jerusalem.

The names in Ezra 2:3-19 are beyond question names of families or households, and those in Ezra 2:20-29; Ezra 2:33-35 are just as surely names of cities. This order seems, however, to be interrupted by Ezra 2:30-32, in that perhaps Harim, according to Ezra 10:21, the other Elam, after the analogy of Ezra 2:7, and perhaps also Magbish, are names of persons, not of places. Yet Ezra 10:21 is not entirely decisive for Harim as the name of a person, since in Nehemiah 10:15 sq., likewise, names of places, as for example Anathoth, occur in Ezra 2:19 in the middle among names of families. Besides it is possible that the text in Ezra 2:30-32 may have been corrupted; it seems strange that with the other Elam here the same number, 1254, occurs as with the Elam of Ezra 2:8, and that the name Magbish is not found either in Nehemiah or Esdras. In Esdras the other Elam is passed over, and instead of the children of Harim three hundred and twenty, there is (Ezra 5:16) in the corresponding place, that is, among the names of families, ὐιόι ’ Aρόμ, thirty-two. The cities mentioned in Ezra 2:20-35 occur for the most part in other parts of the Old Testament: Gibeon, which, according to Nehemiah 7:25, is to be read for Gibbah, already in Joshua 9:3; Bethlehem in Ruth 1:2; Micah 5:1; Netopha (apparently in the vicinity of Bethlehem) in 2 Samuel 23:38 sq.; 2 Kings 25:23; 1 Chronicles 2:54; Anathoth in Joshua 21:18; Jeremiah 1:1; Kirjath arim, Chephira and Beeroth as cities of the Gibeonites, Joshua 9:17; Rama and Geba already in Joshua 9:25 sq., and then especially in the history of Samuel and Saul; Michmas in 1 Samuel 13:23; Isaiah 10:28; Bethel and Ai in Joshua 7:2 and Jericho in Joshua 5:13, etc.; all situated in the vicinity of Jerusalem, and first of all taken possession of by those who returned. On the other hand Azmaveth or Bethazmaveth, Nehemiah 7:28, occurs besides only in Nehemiah 12:29. Accordingly it was situated apparently in the neighborhood of Geba. It has not yet been discovered. Ritter’s conjecture (Erdk. 16. S. 519) that it is El-Hizme in the vicinity of Anata has nothing in its favor. Nebo, which has nothing to do with the mountain of this name, Numbers 32:32, has been identified with Nob, or Nobe, 1 Samuel 21:2, whose situation would certainly suit, especially as in Nehemiah 11:31 sq., among many other places named here Nob, but not Nebo, is mentioned. Besides the sons of Nebo occur again in Ezra 10:43. Bertheau thinks of Nuba or Beit-Nuba (Robinson, New Biblical Researches, III. page 144). Lod is Lydda, where Peter healed the paralytic (Acts 9:32 sq.), at present Ludd, comp. 1 Chronicles 8:12. Ono, which occurs again in Nehemiah 11:35 and 1 Chronicles 8:12, must have been situated in the vicinity of Lydda. There also we must seek Hadid, now El Haditheh (Robinson, B. R., p. 143), according to 1Ma 12:38; 1Ma 13:13. Senaah was regarded by the more ancient interpreters as Σεννὰ νῦν Μαγδαλσεννά‚ which, according to Jerome, was situated as terminus Judæ in septimo lapide Jerichus contra septentrionalem plagam (Onom. ed. Lars, et Parth., p. 332), and which is hardly to be identified, as Robinson (b. r. III. p. 295), with Mejdel, which is too far distant, four German miles north of Jericho, situated on a lofty mountain-top. At the building of the walls of the city, Nehemiah 3:0., there are mentioned besides the men of Jericho, Senaah and Gibeon, inhabitants also of Tekoah, Zanoah, Bethhaccerem, Mizpah, Bethsur and Keilah, and a still greater number of cities occurs in Nehemiah 11:25-35. From this it is clear that gradually the cities of Judah and Benjamin were taken possession of, and more and more of them inhabited.

Ezra 2:36-39. The priest-classes. Of the four names mentioned here three agree with the names of three classes of priests, which were among the twenty-four classes introduced by David, 1 Chronicles 24:7 sq.; Jedaiah was the second, Immer the sixteenth, Harim the third class. It is very probable, therefore, that the divisions here are connected with such classes. For additional remarks upon this subject, vid. notes upon Nehemiah 12:1 sq. The house of Jeshua, however, may very properly refer to the house of the high-priest Jeshua, to which the children of Jedaiah belonged. This view is favored by the fact that among those who returned, in all probability, this family was more numerously represented perhaps by a class of priests belonging to it. It is true the high-priest Jeshua belonged to the line of Eleazar; the class of Jedaiah, on the other hand, it is supposed, we must seek as the second in the line of Ithamar, and yet the order of classes was determined by lot, 1 Chronicles 24:0., and it is a very natural supposition, since there is some uncertainty in the passage as to the method of the lot, that the second class was of Eleazar’s line. Else Jeshua might also be the name of an ancient head of the family; in 1 Chronicles 24:11 it is the name of the ninth class of priests.—The children of Pashur constitute a new class, which does not occur in 1 Chronicles 24:0., as a class of priests, and this name does not occur among the nine classes subsequent to the exile, Nehemiah 12:0. They occur again, however, in Ezra 10:18-22 among the priests who had married strange wives, alongside of the sons of Jeshua, Immer and Harim. The name Pashur is besides found even in more ancient times, 1 Chronicles 9:12; Nehemiah 11:12 Jeremiah 20, 21.

Ezra 2:40-58. The Levites, servants of the temple (Nethinim), and servants of Solomon The Levites fall into three divisions according to their different official duties; the first was the Levites in the narrower sense, the assistants of the priests in the divine worship, the second was the singers, the third the porters, 1 Chronicles 24:20-31; 1 Chronicles 25:0 and 1 Chronicles 26:1-19. The children of Jeshua and Kadmiel are mentioned in Ezra 2:40 as Levites in the narrower sense. The additional clause: of the children of Hodaviah, belongs probably only to the last family, the children of Kadmiel, comp. notes on Ezra 3:9; the name is not found in the lists of Levites in Chronicles.—Of the singers (Ezra 2:41) only the members of the choir of Asaph returned with the first company. Yet in Nehemiah 11:17 three classes are mentioned again as in times before the exile.—Of the six classes of porters (Ezra 2:42) three, Shallum, Talmon and Akkub, are mentioned 1 Chronicles 9:17 as those who dwelt in Jerusalem already before the exile. Thirty-five families of the Nethinim are mentioned (Ezra 2:43-54), of the servants of Solomon ten families (Ezra 2:55-57). In Nehemiah the children of Akkub, Hagab and Asnah have fallen out, and some names are written differently, partly through oversight, partly on account of another method of writing them. The most of the families of the Nethinim may have descended from the Gibeonites, Joshua 9:21-27. The children of Mehunim, however, in Ezra 2:50, belonged, as the plural form of the name shows, to the tribe or people of the Mehunim, and were probably prisoners of war,—perhaps after the victory of the king Uzziah over that people (2 Chronicles 26:7) they had been given to the sanctuary as bondsmen. The children of Nephusim might have been prisoners of war from the Ishmaelite tribe of נָפִישׁ, Genesis 25:15. The children of the servants of Solomon, who are mentioned again in Nehemiah 11:3, elsewhere connected with the Nethinim, with whom they are here arranged in the enumeration, were certainly not the descendants of those Amorites, Hethites, etc., whom Solomon, 1 Kings 9:20 sq.; 2 Chronicles 8:7 sq., had made tributary and bondsmen [Rawlinson], but apparently prisoners of war from tribes that, were not Canaanites. The name פֹּכֶרֶת הַצְּבָיִם in Ezra 2:57 probably denotes: catcher of gazelles.

Ezra 2:59-60. Fellow-countrymen, who could not show their ancestry. They went up from Tel Melah (salt-hill), Tel Harsa (bush or wood-hill), Cherub, Addan and Immer. The last three words are probably not names of persons, they are first mentioned in Ezra 2:60, but still as names of places. Like Tel Harsa, they might likewise be connected without מִן. Perhaps they may designate one district, that is, three places situated close to one another in the same district. We have then perhaps three districts for the three families named in Ezra 2:60.—[Rawlinson regards these as villages of Babylonia, at which the Jews here spoken of had been settled. The first and third he regards as really identified with the Thelmé and Chiripha of Ptolemy.—Tr.]—They could not show their fathers’ house, that is, could not prove to which of the fathers’ houses of Israel their forefathers, after whom they were called, Delaiah, Tobiah and Nekoda, belonged.—And their seed, that is, their family-line, whether they were of Israelite origin or not. Clericus properly remarks: Judaicam religionem dudum sequebantur, quamobrem se Judæos censebant: quamvis non possent genealogicus tabulas ostendere, ex quibus constaret, ex Hebræis oriundos esse. It is possible that there was a doubt whether the children of Nekoda here mentioned did not belong to the Nethinim family of the same name in Ezra 2:48, and with respect to the other two families, there were similar doubts (Bertheau). Since we do not find any of these names again in the enumeration of the heads of the people and fathers’ houses in Nehemiah 10:15-28, or in the list of Ezra 10:25-43, it seems that although they were not expelled, yet the right of citizenship was withheld from them.

Ezra 2:61-63. Priests who could not show that they belonged to the priesthood, the children of Habaiah, Hakkoz and Barzillai. Whether these children of Hakkoz claimed to belong to the seventh class of priests of the same name, 1 Chronicles 24:10, is uncertain. The name occurs also elsewhere, comp. Nehemiah 3:4.—The children of Barzillai were descended from a priest who properly bore another name, but who married a daughter of the Gileadite Barzillai, well-known in the history of David (2 Samuel 17:27; 2 Samuel 19:32-39; 1 Kings 2:7). It is conjectured that she was an heiress (Numbers 36:0), and to obtain possession of her inheritance, he assumed her name. Comp. Numbers 27:4. The name Barzillai and membership in a family of Gilead might have subsequently rendered the priestly origin of his posterity doubtful, although they would by no means have lost the right of the priesthood, if they could have proved in any way their priestly origin. The suffix with שְׁמָם must be referred back to בָּנוֹת. For the masc. form for the fem., comp. Gesen., § 121, Anmerk. 1. Their register in Ezra 2:62 is their סֵפֶר הַיַּחַשׂ , Nehemiah 7:5, their writing of genealogy, their register of their descent; this writing had the title of הַמִּתְיַחֲשִׂים, those registered as to genealogy; for this word is in apposition with כְּתָבָם, and נִמְצָאוּ refers back to this plural, for which in Nehemiah 7:64 the sing., נִמְצָא, referring back to כְּתָבָם, is found, as we say in Germany, not to be able to find their forefathers, instead of the register of their forefathers.—They were as polluted put from the priesthood.—וַיְגֹאֲלוּ is a pregnant term=they were declared polluted, so that they were excluded from the priesthood. The more definite decision respecting them was given according to Ezra 2:63 by the Tirshatha, the civil governor of the community, according to Nehemiah 7:65, comp. with Ezra 2:70, Zerubbabel, who, Haggai 1:1; Haggai 1:14; Haggai 2:2; Haggai 2:21, is called פַּחַת יְהוּדָה. In Nehemiah 8:9; Nehemiah 10:2 Nehemiah bears this title, who besides in Nehemiah 12:26 likewise has the title פֶּחָה, Tirshatha is without doubt the Persian designation of the governor. It is probably not connected with taras, fear = the one feared [Rawlinson, who regards it as the Persian tarsata, past part, of tars=to fear=the feared, a title which well might be given to one in authority. He compares the German gestrenger Herr and our title of “Reverend.”—Tr.], or with tarash, acer, auster=the severe lord, but is from the Zend thuorestar (nom. thuoresta)=præfectus, penes quem est imperium, Gesen., Thes., p. 1521; Benfey, die Monatsnamen, S. 196. The reason why the name of Zerubbabel is not added, and why he is not mentioned in Nehemiah 7:65-70 in connection with this title, is that there is no importance to be ascribed here to the person, but only to the position expressed by the title. It is not strange that the civil governor made this decision with reference to the priesthood, because of the close connection between the civil and religious affairs of the community at Jerusalem. Their prohibition from eating of the most holy things, that is, of those that were consecrated to the Lord, of which none but the priests could partake, and these only of certain prescribed parts in the holy place (comp. Leviticus 2:3), excluded them from participation in those revenues that were immediately connected with priestly occupations, and therefore without doubt likewise from the priestly occupations themselves. The children of Habaiah, etc., were not to come near the most holy things, e. g. the altar of burnt-offerings (Exodus 29:37; Exodus 30:10), and especially were not to enter the most holy places (Numbers 28:10). A portion of the general fees which were offered to the priests was not denied them, since their right to the priesthood was not expressly denied, but left in suspensoTill there stood up a priest with Urim and Thummim.—עָמַד is according to later usage for קוּם (comp. Daniel 8:23; Daniel 11:2, etc.). The question arises why the high-priest Jeshua could not have given the desired decision by means of Urim and Thummim, for the use of which we are to compare Exodus 28:30. The reason could hardly have been of such a personal and external character as Ewald, Gesch. Isr. 4:95 conjectures, as if Jeshua was perhaps not the eldest son of his father, and therefore not entirely suited to the high-priesthood. It is probable that in the times subsequent to the exile there was no longer as formerly any more decisions by means of Urim and Thummim. Little importance is to be given to the opinion of Josephus Arch. 3, 8, 9, that its use had not ceased till two hundred years before his time, since he acts upon the opinion that it had been used for the purpose of predicting victory. The Rabbins reckon this method of divine revelation among the five things which from the beginning were lacking in the second temple. Comp. Buxtorf, exercitt. ad historiam Urim et Thummim, cap. 5, and Vitringa observatt., s. VI., cap. 6, p. 324 sq. We are rather to suppose that they believed that they must wait until such a time when the high-priest would again be able to fulfil his entire calling. The temple must first arise again, and the Lord must declare His presence again in some special practical and unmistakable manner, without which indeed a revelation through Urim and Thummim was inconceivable.

Ezra 2:64-67. The sum-total of those that returned, their servants and maid-servants and beasts of burden. The sum of 42,360 is given in our passage in Nehemiah and Esdras, for the whole congregation together (so manifestly here כְּאֶחָד, (it is otherwise in Ezra 3:9; Ezra 6:20); a number which is not gained by adding the detailed numbers together, either here or in Neh. or Esdras, for the sum total is much too great for the detailed numbers, which amount to only 29,818 here, in Nehemiah 31,089, in Esdras 30,143. How then did this difference arise? Even Keil is convinced that it is due only to mistakes of copyists. “Any attempt to explain them (the differences) in any other way cannot be justified.” But if this were really so, there would be greater differences between the detailed numbers as they are given here and in Nehemiah; and reckoned together they would, in accordance with one or the other texts, approximately make out the sum total of 42,360. If such essential mistakes as these occurred in copying, then the fact that the result of reckoning together the numbers agrees, at least in the main, and that each text is about the same number behind the sum total of 42,360, could not be possible unless the mistakes were above all in this sum total, which however is inconceivable in connection with the exact agreement which everywhere prevails. It is certainly clear that the sum total was not meant to embrace any others, such as those who returned of the ten tribes (Seder Olam, Raschi, Usserius, J. H. Mich., et al.) but only the constituent parts contained in the previous verses. But perhaps it was understood of itself according to the fundamental notions and ideas of the time that there were others still belonging to the 2172 sons of Parosh, etc., who properly were not reckoned with them, but who yet united with them in constituting the “entire congregation,” כָּל־הַקָּהָל, and were given with them in summing it up. It depends upon the idea of כָּל־הַקַהָל. Possibly if the number of the children of Parosh, etc., were to be given, only the independent people, especially the heads of families, came into consideration; whilst in the “entire congregation” there were, counted perhaps likewise the larger sons, who had reached the age of discretion, Nehemiah 8:2-3. If in Esdras 5:41 our Ezra 2:64 reads “all of Israel from twelve years old and upwards, besides the servants and maid-servants, were 42,360,” this addition, “from twelve years and upward,” is indeed critically worthless, yet it might rest upon a correct knowledge of ancient customs, although perhaps the age of twelve years corresponds only with latter circumstances. If the servants and maid-servants were reckoned to the כָּל־הַקָּהָל, whose number is given in Ezra 2:65, they might have been counted in the sum total, although they were not taken into consideration in the detailed, numbers.

Ezra 2:65. Besides their servants and maids.—אֵלֶּה, which is properly connected with the subsequent words by the accents, is explained as referring to the following sum, 7337=besides their servants, etc., who make out the following numbers. The additional clause: And they had two hundred singing men and women, can only mean: and they who returned—for the suffix לָהֶם, certainly refers to those to whom the suffix of עַבְדֵיהֶם, etc., also refers,—had singing men and women, who because they were hired and paid, stood upon the same footing as the servants and maids, and since they were probably not of Israelite origin, did not belong to the congregation. They served, however, doubtless to increase the joy of the feasts, and for singing dirges in connection with sorrowful events, comp. Ecclesiastes 2:8; 2 Chronicles 35:25. At any rate these singing people are to be distinguished from the Levitical singers and musicians who took part in divine worship. J. D. Mich. would change these singing men and women into oxen and cows (as if מְשֹׁרְרִים were for שְׁוָרִים) since we would rather expect these here, after the domestics, and in connection with the horses, mules, camels, and asses. But it may be that the returning exiles only took with them beasts of burden, or at least chiefly of these, and obtained their cattle rather on their arrival in Canaan. If animals were intended here, we would not have לָהֶם, but the suffix as in the following verse.

Ezra 2:68-70. Contributions for the building of the temple and closing remarks.

Ezra 2:68. And of the heads of the people = some of them. Comp. וּמִן־הָעָם in Ezra 2:70. Neh. uses instead וּמִקְצָת, a part, as Daniel 1:2, etc., הִתְנַדְּבוּ they freely offered gifts, and indeed for the house of God. Comp. notes upon Ezra 1:6. לְהַעֲמִידוֹ, = in order to erect it, rebuild it=לְהָקִימוֹ, comp. Ezra 2:63.

Ezra 2:69. They gave to the treasure of the work, that is, into the treasure that was collected for the work of the temple 61,000 darics of gold, (דַּרְכְּמוֹן here and Nehemiah 7:70 sq., for which אֲדַרְכּוֹן, with א, prosthetic. 1 Chronicles 29:7, and Ezra 8:27, the Greek, δαρεικός, a Persian gold coin worth twenty-two German marks, [shillings, English] or seven and a half German thalers [five and a half American dollars], comp. 1 Chronicles 29:7) = 457,500 German thalers, and 5,000 pounds of silver (above 200,000 German thalers) and 100 priests’ garments. It seems that our author has here abbreviated the list that was before him, and given the figures in round numbers. We recognize here, as Bertheau properly points out, expressions peculiar to the author: “house of Jehovah, which is in Jerusalem,” comp. chapter Ezra 1:4; Ezra 3:8; הִתְנַדֵּב comp. chapter Ezra 1:6; Ezra 3:5 :1 Chronicles 29:5-6; לְהַעֲמִיד, comp. 1Ch 16:16; 2 Chronicles 9:8; Ezra 9:9; כְּכֹחָם, comp. 1 Chronicles 29:2; “they gave into the treasure,” comp. 1 Chronicles 29:8, etc. In Nehemiah the text of the document has been more faithfully retained.—In accordance with this some of the heads of fathers’ houses contributed to the work, viz., the Tirshatha (who comes into consideration as the first of these heads, and is mentioned by himself, with his contribution, which was probably especially large) gave to the treasure 1000 darics of gold, 50 sacrificial bowls, and 30 priests’ garments, and 500, probably pounds, of silver). It cannot mean 530 priests’ garments, for then the hundreds should stand first. Perhaps the things numbered have fallen away before the 500, in all, probably, וְכֶסֶף מָנִים. Some (viz., others besides the Tirshatha) heads of fathers’ houses gave 20,000 darics of gold, 2200 pounds of silver, and the rest of the people gave 20,000 darics of silver, 2000 pounds of silver, and 67 priests’ garments. Accordingly the sum total amounted to 41,000 darics of gold, 4700 pounds of silver, 97 priests’ garments, and 50 sacrificial bowls. An important difference between these statements and our text of the book of Ezra is found in 41,000 darics, for which Ezra has 61,000. Since this cannot be balanced by the 50 sacrificial bowls, which are passed over in our text, the 61,000 must be ascribed to a copyist’s error.

Ezra 2:70. Here, in the closing remarks, the hand of our author may be recognized. The original text read somewhat thus: And the priests and Levites and some of the people and entire Israel dwelt in their cities.—But the author would in his own way specify the persons who took part in the divine worship, and adds therefore after those of the people, the singers and door-keepers and temple servants, and in connection therewith perhaps also that which directly followed the former, in their cities, which is missing in Nehemiah. In Nehemiah this statement is improved in this way, that he lets the Levitical singers and porters follow immediately after the Levites, and indeed the porters first, notwithstanding their office was less honorable than that of the singers, because he is not concerned with the dignity of their office, but with their membership among the Levites. It is true he had the disadvantage of being obliged to separate the Nethinim, whom he could not very well place “before those of the people,” by וּמִן הָעָם from the porters and singers. וּמִן הָעָם at any rate does not mean “some,” “many of the people;” the meaning cannot be that at first only some of them took possession of their cities, against which is the concluding statement “and all Israel were in their cities,”1 but the others of the people, besides the priests and Levites. Respecting the in their cities, comp. remarks on Ezra 2:1. Our author in a similar manner, as in the closing verse of the first chapter, passes over many things that would have seemed worthy of mention under other circumstances, as in what condition they found the cities, where they settled, whether they contended with the inhabitants of the laud for them, how they accomplished their organization and the like. The reason is the same as that adduced in our notes upon Ezra 1:11.


Ezra 2:2. Since the people formed the new congregation no longer as a nation, or according to their external membership in the nation,—since all depended upon the free choice of particular families,—there is no longer any mention of the ancient distinction of tribes which was based on merely natural laws. But the congregation, notwithstanding, again has its heads, and indeed again exactly twelve, as the people in the times before the exile had had twelve elders of tribes. Doubtless they needed them still just as much, if not even still more, since indeed the Persian king and his officers did not occupy themselves so immediately, and in so many ways, in their affairs as the previous royal government had done. The restoration of the temple and its worship was imposed directly and pre-eminently upon them, and they certainly had pre-eminently to take care that the law of God should prevail as thoroughly as possible in the life of the congregation. Hence there is sufficient reason that they should be placed foremost here just as the twelve elders of tribes had been in the time of Moses, Numbers 1:15-16. There must always be office-holders, ranks, and a corresponding subordination in the congregation of God, as surely as it ever needs guidance and training. And if the officials are no longer given by natural rank, or appointed by the state, if the relation to them is thus a more tender one, then they ought to meet them as those who have been freely chosen to positions of trust, with all the more respect, yea, reverence.

Ezra 2:36-39. The priests were disproportionately numerous in the new congregation. They made up about the seventh part of the whole. If in consequence of this they were obliged to be all the more discreet to maintain themselves, since the offerings falling to them hardly sufficed for their support,—if therefore it could not be permitted them to acquire land for themselves, work them, or to learn trades and practice them, then it was without doubt the very reverse of what they ought to have done, when they, in consequence of this, became conformed to the world and helped to favor the mingling with heathenism, as we observe to be the case even in the high priestly family itself. Comp. Ezra 10:18. They ought, owing to their great numbers, to have offered to the congregation all the greater support against the worship of idols and apostasy from the law, and at any rate they should have been a living, practical reminder of their most appropriate and highest tasks. They should have more and more impressed upon the entire congregation a priestly, spiritual character. The universal priesthood, which the worldly Christians claim, in a false sense, should be imparted more and more decidedly to the true congregation in the true sense.

Ezra 2:64-67. The new congregation must have appeared to themselves extraordinarily small and weak, when they compared themselves with the first beginnings in the time of Moses, when the men of war were about 600,000. (Comp. Numbers 1:46; Numbers 26:51.) It was all the more incumbent upon them to maintain themselves as far as possible in unity with those who remained behind in exile, and cultivate the bond of communion with them, accordingly widen their views, and keep themselves from narrow-heartedness,—or, if their relation to them proved again to be only a loose one, to consider themselves as a mere remnant, that had been preserved from the divine judgment by grace, accordingly to let themselves be reminded by their weakness of the divine holiness as well as compassion. The weaker they were in themselves, the more were they prompted, at all events, to seek their strength in the Lord, and expect their help from Him. Moreover we may conclude from their small numbers that it is not the great multitude to which the development of the church leads; rather those by whom God’s thoughts of redemption are to realize themselves chiefly and most immediately, constitute naturally only a small minority. Besides, we may conclude from Ezra 2:65-67 that among those who returned there were likewise men who were quite wealthy, that therefore the idea is not at all correct that only those had sought out Jerusalem again who had nothing to lose in Chaldea (Talm. bab. tract. Kidduschim). Without doubt God was able already in the Old Testament times to awaken a living zeal for His cause, not only among the poorer, but also, at the least, of making here and there also the rich, with their possessions, serviceable to His cause.

Ezra 2:68-69. By offering gold and the other gifts which had reference to the restoration of worship, the new congregation showed their earnest desire to really become what was incumbent upon them to be. Christianity should never fall behind them; but although its task is mainly the internal and spiritual offerings, they should be ready to prove the truth of their spirituality, where it is necessary, by external offerings likewise.


Ezra 2:1-2. Take care that thou and thy house above all belong to those who constitute the congregation of the Lord. Only they are named and numbered in the book of life.

Ezra 2:68-69. Let not thy house, but God’s house, be thy chief care. With reference to the statements respecting the riches of the returned exiles in Ezra 2:65 sq. Brentius appropriately remarks: Ejecti erant Judæi e Hierusalem propter scelera sua. Nihilominus fovit eos inter gentes et locupletavet eos. Unde Jereæm vigesimo nono dicilur: Ego scio cogitationes, quas cogito super vos, cogitationes pacis et non afflictionis, ut dem vobis finem. With the same appropriateness Starke: “The Lord killeth and maketh alive, leadeth into Sheol and again out of it, 1 Samuel 2:6. Let no one, therefore, utterly lose courage in enduring crosses, suffering, poverty and misery, persecution and imprisonment. God extends His church amidst crosses and persecutions all the more, and causes it to bloom as a palm-tree, Psalms 92:13; Matthew 16:18; Acts 11:19-21.” Upon Ezra 2:68 : “Whatever we give to the glory of God, we should give willingly, for God loveth a cheerful giver.” Upon Ezra 2:70 : “My God, if Thou wilt redeem me some day out of this body in the world, then remove me likewise to the eternal and true fatherland and Canaan, the right to which our first parents lost by their disobedience for themselves and all men, but which, Christ has regained for us.” [Scott: Our gracious Lord will carry us through those under takings which are entered on according to His will with an aim to His glory, and in dependence on His assistance; and then we shall be made superior to all difficulties, hardships and dangers.—Henry: ’Tis an honor to belong to God’s house, though in the meanest office there.—Let none complain of the necessary expenses of their religion, but believe that when they come to balance the account, they will find it quit cost—Tr.


[1][“All Israel” is interpreted by Rawlinson as referring to representatives of the ten tribes.—Tr.]

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Ezra 2". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/ezra-2.html. 1857-84.
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