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Bible Commentaries
Ezra 2

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

Introduction

Ezra Chapter 2

Ezra 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;"

The Babylonian captivity lasted 70 years. This does not mean that every person was in captivity for the entire 70 years. Just as the captivity took place in stages, the release took place in stages, too. It appears, that God did not want them to lose contact with their heritage. Each person went back to his city. The Hebrews put much importance on the genealogy of their families.

Ezra 2:2 "Which came with Zerubbabel: Jeshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mizpar, Bigvai, Rehum, Baanah. The number of the men of the people of Israel:"

This is a listing of the leaders of the families. Even though we see the names Nehemiah and Mordecai, this does not mean that they are the same as the prominent men with that name. The names given above are just a listing of the chief, or prince, of each family.

Ezra 2:3 "The children of Parosh, two thousand an hundred seventy and two."

Ezra 2:4 "The children of Shephatiah, three hundred seventy and two."

Ezra 2:5 "The children of Arah, seven hundred seventy and five."

Ezra 2:6 "The children of Pahath-moab, of the children of Jeshua [and] Joab, two thousand eight hundred and twelve."

Ezra 2:7 "The children of Elam, a thousand two hundred fifty and four."

Ezra 2:8 "The children of Zattu, nine hundred forty and five."

Ezra 2:9 "The children of Zaccai, seven hundred and threescore."

Ezra 2:10 "The children of Bani, six hundred forty and two."

Ezra 2:11 "The children of Bebai, six hundred twenty and three."

Ezra 2:12 "The children of Azgad, a thousand two hundred twenty and two."

Ezra 2:13 "The children of Adonikam, six hundred sixty and six."

The number of descendents of Adonikam that go back into the land were 666. There are only two other Scriptures in the Bible on Adonikam.

Ezra 8:13 "And of the last sons of Adonikam, whose names [are] these, Eliphelet, Jeiel, and Shemaiah, and with them threescore males."

Putting these two Scriptures together, there is a message in it for the believers in the Lord. The latter sons, in a spiritual sense, are speaking of the believers in Christ. The two Scriptures combined seem to be a message for the believers about the mark of the beast. "Adonikam" means my Lord has arisen. "Eliphelet" means God is deliverance. "Jeiel" means carried away of God. "Shemaiah" means Jehovah hath heard. It appears from the combination of these names, that those who believe in the resurrection of the Lord will be carried away, because God has heard and He is our Deliverance. To me, this is saying believers will be saved from the mark of the beast by their catching away to God.

Ezra 2:14 "The children of Bigvai, two thousand fifty and six."

Ezra 2:15 "The children of Adin, four hundred fifty and four."

Ezra 2:16 "The children of Ater of Hezekiah, ninety and eight."

Ezra 2:17 "The children of Bezai, three hundred twenty and three."

Ezra 2:18 "The children of Jorah, an 6 hundred and twelve."

Ezra 2:19 "The children of Hashum, two hundred twenty and three."

Verses 3 through 19, above, are listing the families, and how many of each of them came back into the land.

Ezra 2:20 "The children of Gibbar, ninety and five."

Ezra 2:21 "The children of Beth-lehem, an hundred twenty and three."

Ezra 2:22 "The men of Netophah, fifty and six."

Ezra 2:23 "The men of Anathoth, an hundred twenty and eight."

Ezra 2:24 "The children of Azmaveth, forty and two."

Ezra 2:25 "The children of Kirjath-arim, Chephirah, and Beeroth, seven hundred and forty and three."

Ezra 2:26 "The children of Ramah and Gaba, six hundred twenty and one."

Ezra 2:27 " The men of Michmas, an hundred twenty and two."

Ezra 2:28 "The men of Beth-el and Ai, two hundred twenty and three."

Ezra 2:29 "The children of Nebo, fifty and two."

Ezra 2:30 "The children of Magbish, an hundred fifty and six."

Ezra 2:31 "The children of the other Elam, a thousand two hundred fifty and four."

Ezra 2:32 "The children of Harim, three hundred and twenty."

Ezra 2:33 "The children of Lod, Hadid, and Ono, seven hundred twenty and five."

Ezra 2:34 "The children of Jericho, three hundred forty and five."

Ezra 2:35 "The children of Senaah, three thousand and six hundred and thirty."

This was a listing of the number of people who settled in each town. Gibbar, in verse 20 above, was speaking of Gibeon. Beth-lehem is a city that is just 4 or 5 miles out of Jerusalem. Anathoth was the birthplace of Jeremiah. It had been a city of refuge. Azmaveth was on the northern outskirts of Jerusalem. Kirjath-arim was in a very wooded area. At one time or the other, it had belonged to Judah and Benjamin. It appears, that the fathers, or grand-fathers, had told the younger generation where they were to return to after the captivity. Chephirah was about 8 miles from the outskirts of Jerusalem and was occupied by Benjamin’s tribe. Beeroth was a city of Benjamin, as well. Ramah and Gaba were, also, Benjamite cities. Michmas was a town between Bethel and Jerusalem. It was of the Benjamites. Ai and Beth-el are joining cities about 12 miles from Jerusalem. All of these towns are near Jerusalem and seem to be surrounding her. We will not go into anymore of them, as we have received the picture.

Ezra 2:36 "The priests: the children of Jedaiah, of the house of Jeshua, nine hundred seventy and three."

Ezra 2:37 "The children of Immer, a thousand fifty and two."

Ezra 2:38 "The children of Pashur, a thousand two hundred forty and seven."

Ezra 2:39 "The children of Harim, a thousand and seventeen."

This, above, is a listing of the priests according to their families. The high priest was from the house of Jeshua. These are all in the service of the LORD in the temple worship.

Ezra 2:40 "The Levites: the children of Jeshua and Kadmiel, of the children of Hodaviah, seventy and four."

Ezra 2:41 "The singers: the children of Asaph, an hundred twenty and eight."

Ezra 2:42 "The children of the porters: the children of Shallum, the children of Ater, the children of Talmon, the children of Akkub, the children of Hatita, the children of Shobai, [in] all an hundred thirty and nine."

These were Levites in the service of the LORD, who functioned in other areas than the priests. We see a distinction of Asaph’s family as singers. The porters were keepers of the gates and doors.

Ezra 2:43 "The Nethinims: the children of Ziha, the children of Hasupha, the children of Tabbaoth,"

"Nethinims" were those who were set aside to do menial work in the sanctuary.

Ezra 2:44 "The children of Keros, the children of Siaha, the children of Padon,"

Ezra 2:45 "The children of Lebanah, the children of Hagabah, the children of Akkub,"

Ezra 2:46 "The children of Hagab, the children of Shalmai, the children of Hanan,"

Ezra 2:47 "The children of Giddel, the children of Gahar, the children of Reaiah,"

Ezra 2:48 "The children of Rezin, the children of Nekoda, the children of Gazzam,"

Ezra 2:49 "The children of Uzza, the children of Paseah, the children of Besai,"

Ezra 2:50 "The children of Asnah, the children of Mehunim, the children of Nephusim,"

Ezra 2:51 "The children of Bakbuk, the children of Hakupha, the children of Harhur,"

Ezra 2:52 "The children of Bazluth, the children of Mehida, the children of Harsha,"

Ezra 2:53 "The children of Barkos, the children of Sisera, the children of Thamah,"

Ezra 2:54 "The children of Neziah, the children of Hatipha."

All of these served in the menial work connected with the temple service. This was an extremely important task.

Ezra 2:55 "The children of Solomon’s servants: the children of Sotai, the children of Sophereth, the children of Peruda,"

Ezra 2:56 "The children of Jaalah, the children of Darkon, the children of Giddel,"

Ezra 2:57 "The children of Shephatiah, the children of Hattil, the children of Pochereth of Zebaim, the children of Ami."

This is so strange that this group of people would have remained in a class of servants even during their captivity in Babylon. They had been the forced laborers in the time of Solomon.

Ezra 2:58 "All the Nethinims, and the children of Solomon’s servants, [were] three hundred ninety and two."

The Nethinims and the servants were, probably, grouped together, because in a sense, they were all servants. The Hebrews were very class conscious.

Ezra 2:59 "And these [were] they which went up from Tel-melah, Telharsa, Cherub, Addan, [and] Immer: but they could not shew their father’s house, and their seed, whether they [were] of Israel:"

Ezra 2:60 "The children of Delaiah, the children of Tobiah, the children of Nekoda, six hundred fifty and two."

Ezra 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:"

Ezra 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."

Ezra 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."

These were people who could not trace their ancestry back to the Hebrews. They were, possibly, of mixed blood. We see in one instance where some children of the priests were grouped along with these because of mixed marriages that keep them from having distinct genealogies. This 70 year captivity had caused some of them to lose track of their family heritage. The priest who wore the Urim and the Thummim spoke as an oracle of God. God spoke to the people through the Urim and Thummim worn by the high priest.

Ezra 2:64 "The whole congregation together [was] forty and two thousand three hundred [and] threescore,"

This number is more than the numbers added together here, but this is just a listing of specific people, and there were many more who went.

Ezra 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."

These singers were not of the Levites. They were servants. Just because a person is a servant, does not mean that he cannot sing.

Ezra 2:66 "Their horses [were] seven hundred thirty and six; their mules, two hundred forty and five;"

Ezra 2:67 "Their camels, four hundred thirty and five; [their] asses, six thousand seven hundred and twenty."

This was the number of animals they took with them. This would be a tremendous help on this journey of approximately 1,000 miles. This trip would take several months at the very best. The animals would have helped in carrying their belongings. In case someone could not walk for some reason, they would ride. They were mostly used as beasts of burden, however.

Ezra 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:"

This was like a thank offering to God for their safe return to their homeland. Each family had a leader, or a chief. He represented his entire family, when he gave.

Ezra 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."

Being in captivity for so many years, they would not have great wealth to give. They gave as they were able. The dram was, possibly, a Persian gold coin. A dram was, probably, about 1/3 the weight of a shekel. That would be 1/6 of an ounce. This meant that altogether they brought approximately 160 ounces of gold. At $400.00 per ounce, that would be approximately $64,000.00 worth of gold. The silver would be 60,000 ounces. At $5.00 per ounce, there was $300,000.00 worth. This seems like a large amount to an individual, but we must take into consideration that there were thousands of people who offered this. The priests garments were made of linen.

Ezra 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."

They were back to re-establish their homeland, and to build the temple in Jerusalem.

Ezra 2 Questions

1. How long did the Babylonian captivity last?

2. The release was done in _________.

3. Who had carried them into Babylon?

4. How did they know where to return?

5. Verse 2 is a listing of what?

6. How many were the descendents of Adonikam that went back into the land?

7. What is unusual about that number?

8. What were the names of Adonikam’s sons?

9. Who are the latter sons speaking of, spiritually?

10. What does "Adonikam" mean?

11. What does "Eliphelet" mean?

12. What does "Jeiel" mean?

13. What does "Shemaiah" mean?

14. What does the author believe is the message in their names collectively?

15. What are the lists of verses 3 through 19 showing?

16. What are verses 20 through 35 showing about those who return?

17. What do these towns have in common?

18. Verses 36 through 39 list whom?

19. What is different about the Levites in verses 40 through 42, from those in the previous verses?

20. "Nethinims" are who?

21. Verses 44 through 54 list who?

22. What is strange about those listed in verses 55 through 57?

23. Why were the Nethinims and Solomon’s servants counted together?

24. What was different about those listed in verse 59 through 63?

25. Who were the singers in verse 65?

26. How many animals did they take with them?

27. How long would the journey be?

28. Who were the chief of the fathers?

29. How much gold did they give in thanks?

30. How much silver did they give?

31. How many priestly garments did they give?

Verse 1

Ezr 2:1

Introduction

THE REGISTER OF THE RETURNED EXILES

Very little comment is needed on this chapter. The purpose of the sacred author was that of establishing the continuity of the nation of God’s chosen people; and, just as the return itself was presented by him as a "Second Exodus," so this list of names was designed to link the present company of returnees with the glorious names of their previous history, with the implied teaching that they were still the Chosen People and that God would continue to bless them.

"This same list of names appears in Nehemiah 7:6-73 and in Ezra 5:4-17. It is not easy to account for the discrepancies." In fact, we have never seen any attempt by any scholar to harmonize the lists. They satisfied the people who returned from Babylon; and that is really all that matters.

"Seven distinct groups of people are mentioned." These are: (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; and (7) those of uncertain genealogy.

The return from exile was not an "all at once" experience. It went on somewhat gradually over a period of years; and this list might have been revised or corrected from time to time; and some scholars believe that it included some who had never been in captivity at all, "but who were in full sympathy with the returnees."

It is amazing that Sheshbazzar to whom Cyrus’ treasurer counted out the sacred vessels is not mentioned here; and it is not at all impossible, as suggested by Hamrick, that the author of Ezra here identified him and Zerubbabel as the same person.

Regardless of our questions, many of which are impossible of any perfect solution, these names are of abiding interest in their own right. These are the names of those who kept alive the sacred hope, who did not give up, even when it seemed that all was lost, and whose children lived to turn their backs upon their shameful humiliation in Babylon, cross the burning sands of the desert, and return to that sacred elevation in Jerusalem where they built again the altar of Jehovah and faithfully resumed the worship of the God of their fathers.

"This chapter is certainly among the most uninviting portions of the Bible for the modern reader both because of its tedious nature and because of its overtones of racial exclusivism and pride." However, the importance of the chapter lies in the evidence it presents concerning the development of that priestly heirarchy that came to be, in time, the total ruin of Israel.

Ezra 2:1

THE LIST OF THE LEADERS

"Now these are the children of the province, that went up out of the captivity of those that had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezar the king of Babylon had carried away into Babylon, and that returned unto Jerusalem and Judah, everyone into his city; who came with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispar, Bigvai, Rehum, Baanah."

"The children of the province" (Ezra 2:1). "This expression indicates that the Jewish exiles, although now released from captivity and allowed to return to their own land, were nevertheless still under the sovereignty of Cyrus, occupying a tributary province of the Persian empire." This was a dramatic contrast with the glory days of David and Solomon.

"Who came with Zerubbabel" (Ezra 2:2). "Here Zerubbabel appears as the leader of the return to Jerusalem. The name means seed of Babylon, indicating that he was born there. He is usually described as the son of Shealtiel (Ezra 3:2); but 1 Chronicles 3:19 shows him to have been the son of Shealtiel’s brother Pedaiah. Probably Shealtiel died childless, whereupon a Levirate marriage (Deuteronomy 25:5 ff) resulted in the birth of Zerubbabel, who was thus the actual son of Pedaiah but the legal son of Shealtiel.

E.M. Zerr:

Ezra 2:1. Province is from MEDIYNAH, and Strong defines it, "properly a judgeship, i, e. jurisdiction; by implication a district (as ruled by a judge); generally a region." The land of Judah had been taken over by the Babylonians, and they in turn had lost it to the Persians, who had the "jurisdiction" over it at the time of which we are studying. That is why it is referred to as a "province." The statement means that the "children" or people who are about to be named, belonged to the province of Judah. A record was kept of births, making a notation of the city where the birth was registered. And when this exodus of former citizens took place out of the land of their captivity, each man returned unto his city.

Verses 2-35

Ezr 2:2-35

Ezra 2:2-35

A LIST OF WHAT MAY BE CALLED "THE LAITY"

"The number of the men of the people of Israel: the children of Parosh, two thousand a hundred seventy and two. The children of Shephatiah, three hundred seventy and two. The children of Arah, seven hundred seventy and five. The children of Pahath-moab, of the children of Jeshua and Joab, two thousand eight hundred and twelve. The children of Elam, a thousand two hundred fifty and four. The children of Zattu, nine hundred and forty and five. The children of Zaccai, seven hundred and threescore. The children of Bani, six hundred forty and two. The children of Babai, six hundred twenty and three. The children of Azgab, a thousand two hundred twenty and two. The children of Adonikam, six hundred sixty and six. The children of Bigvai, two thousand fifty and six. The children Adin, four hundred fifty and four. The children of Ater, of Hezekiah, ninety and eight. The children of Bezai, three hundred twenty and three. The children of Jorah, one hundred twelve. The children of Hashum, two hundred twenty and three. The children of Gibbar, ninety and five. The children of Bethlehem, a hundred twenty and three. The men of Netophah, fifty and six. The men of Anathoth, a hundred twenty and eight. The children of Azmaveth, forty and two. The children of Kiriath-arim, Chephirah, and Beeroth, seven hundred and forty three. The children of Ramah and Geba, six hundred twenty and one. The men of Michmas, a hundred twenty and two. The men of Bethel and Ai, two hundred three. The children of Nebo, fifty and two. The children of Magbish, a hundred fifty and six. The children of the other Elam, a thousand two hundred fifty and four. The children of Harim, three hundred and twenty. The children of Lod, Hadid, and Ono, seven hundred and twenty and five. The children of Jericho, three hundred forty and five. The children of Senaah, three thousand and six hundred and thirty."

"The children of Bethlehem, a hundred twenty and three" (Ezra 2:21). "Thus without any warning or transition, the list ceases to identify families by ancestors and begins to identify them by hometowns." "Why this was done remains most uncertain."

E.M. Zerr:

Ezra 2:2. Came with Zerubbabel is so worded because he was the chief man in that group, and the one who took the lead in rebuilding the temple. Nehemiah was not the one in the book of that name. It was common for more than one man to have the same name. Smith’s Bible Dictionary says of this man: "One of the leaders of the first expedition from Babylon to Jerusalem under Zerubbabel." Mordecai. This is another name that might have referred to more than one man. Some authors make it mean the same as the one in the book of Esther, others say it was a different man. Either view could be correct since the events connected with the history of the two all happened within the possible span of a lifetime. The men named in this verse were leaders in the expedition. The number of the men who came with them will be given in several following verses. The ones named in the beginning of the several verses were family heads, and their descendants through several branches of the family "tree" are enumerated. It will not be necessary in every case to assign a paragraph to MO.

Ezra 2:3-35. This long group of verses is what was meant by the remarks at the close of the preceding paragraph. No information would be given were I to make separate comments on each verse. The ones that will be made will be more or less general. Children. The first impression this word makes on us is that it refers to a man’s bodily offspring. It is proper that it should be so taken. However, let it not be forgotten that it may, and frequently does have a less definite meaning. I believe it will not be amiss to copy the definition of the original word that is in the lexicon. It is from the Hebrew word BEN, and Strong defines it thus: "a son (as a builder of the family name), in the widest sense (of literal and figurative relationship, including grandson, subject, nation, quality, or condition, etc." In the A. V. it has been translated by arrow, bough, branch, breed, calf, children, colt, foal, man, one born, people, son, them of, whelp, youth and others. The way it is used in these verses it means all of the members of the family tree whose head is the man named in the beginning of the verse. The Jews had a rule of being listed in the registers on file in their particular "home town." See Luke 2:3-4. Following that rule, these various family groups settled in their own proper city upon their return from their captivity.

Verses 36-39

Ezr 2:36-39

Ezra 2:36-39

THE LIST OF THE PRIESTS WHO RETURNED

"The priests: the children of Jedaiah, of the house of Jeshua, nine hundred seventy and three. The children of Immer, a thousand fifty and two. The children of Pashhur, a thousand two hundred forty and seven. The children of Harim, a thousand and seventeen."

It is very significant that the priests listed here numbered 4,287, a tenth of the entire number who returned. Why was this? "It reflects the fact that they had most to gain from it." Furthermore, "In the post-exilic period, there was a steady development of the priestly hierarchy," resulting finally in that godless concentration of evil men who controled and exploited the temple and all who worshipped there, who engineered the crucifixion of the Son of God, rebelled against Rome, and brought total ruin upon Jerusalem and their entire system.

E.M. Zerr:

Ezra 2:36-39. Any man who was a lineal descendant of Aaron was eligible for the priesthood. It had been so many centuries since the time of starting said priesthood that many branches of the family had come into existence. The men named in this paragraph were some of those branches.

Verses 40-42

Ezr 2:40-42

Ezra 2:40-42

THE LEVITES WHO RETURNED

"The Levites: The children of Jeshua and Kadmiel, of the children of Hodaviah, seventy and four. The singers: the children of Asaph, a hundred twenty and eight. The children of the porters: the children of Shallum, the children of Ater, the children of Talmon, the children of Akkub, the children of Hatita, the children of Shobai, in all a hundred thirty and nine."

Only 341 Levites returned to Palestine. Evidently, something important had happened during the closing years of the monarchy and during the captivity that had resulted in the wholesale discouragement and disaffection of the Levites. Rawlinson explained this as due to the, "Jealousy of the priests, like that which animated Korah (Numbers 16:1-10), must have grown up during the captivity." The priestly conclave had also succeeded in reducing the importance and significance of the Levites and their office, By the times of Christ, the High Priest and his hierarchy had seized complete control over the whole nation, except that of the secular government; and shortly after the crucifixion of Christ they would rebel against Rome in their vain attempt to make their control total. Right here we can detect the tap root of that priestly conspiracy that led to the final ruin of Israel.

Why then did so few Levites return? "It was because of the decrease in their significance during this period and because of their lower status."

E.M. Zerr:

Ezra 2:40. All priests were Levites, but not all Levites were priests. Hence the registers would be filed in separate classes. Some men who would not be permitted to act as priests, even though they were of the tribe of Levi, yet were authorized to perform certain special services; for that reason they were noted in the list.

Ezra 2:41. Smith’s Bible Dictionary says there was a school or group of musical composers that was founded by Asaph, and they are the ones meant in this verse. When the more elaborate services were formed in the days of David and Solomon, these professional singers were enlisted for the exercises.

Ezra 2:42. The porters were janitors or gatekeepers. Their work was considered necessary and they were given a place on the recorded program.

Verses 43-54

Ezr 2:43-54

Ezra 2:43-54

THE NETHINIM WHO RETURNED

"The Nethinim: the children of Ziha, the children of Hasupha, the children of Tabbaoth, the children of Keilos, the children of Siaha, the children of Padon, the children of Lebanah, the children of Hagabah, the children of Akkub, the children of Hagab, the children of Shamlai, the children Hanan, the children of Gibbel, the children of Gahar, the children of Reaiah, the children of Rezin, the children of Nekoda, the children of Gazzam, the children of Uzza, the children of Paseah, the children of Besai, the children of Asnah, the children of Meunim, the children of Nephisim, the children of Bakbuk, the children of Hakupha, the children of Harhur, the children of Bazluth, the children of Mehida, the children of Harsha, the children of Barkos, the children of Sisera, the children of Temah, the children of Nezeiah, the children of Hatipha."

"The Nethinim" (Ezra 2:43). "The name comes from a Hebrew expression which means, `given as helpers,’ that is, bondmen of the temple."[14] Cook also referred to these as, "The sacred slaves given to assist the Levites." However, Williamson believed that, "The name might mean no more than devoted." To this writer, the more likely meaning is that given by Cook. This is supported by the prominence of foreign names in the list, names connected with the ancient Canaanites, and also by their being classified with the "children of Solomon’s servants" (Ezra 2:55), who were most certainly slaves. A plausible theory, supported by the considerable number of foreign names, is that they were prisoners of war allocated to the temple for the more mundane tasks."

E.M. Zerr:

Ezra 2:43-54. The Nethinims were a class of servants given over for the rougher work about the temple. They had no official status, but waited on the men who were conducting the service of the house of God. There must have been a considerable number of them, for this paragraph lists the descendants of 35 men who were classed in that service. We do not have any definite statement of the tasks they performed. A fair example of the kind of service they did is the case of the Gibeonites in Joshua 9:21-23. I do not mean these people were put in the same rank as the Nethinims. They were of a foreign blood while the Nethinims were Israelites. But the nature of service that was exacted of them will serve as an illustration of the kind of work done by this particular class of servants that happened to be called Nethinims.

Verses 55-58

Ezr 2:55-58

Ezra 2:55-58

THE REST OF THE NETHINIM

"The children of Solomon’s servants: the children of Sotai, the children of Hassophereth, the children of Peruda, the children of Jaalah, the children of Darkon, the children of Giddel, the children of Shephatiah, the children of Hattil, the children of Pochereth-hazebaim, the children of Anti. All the Nethinim, and the children of Solomon’s servants, were three hundred ninety and two."

E.M. Zerr:

Ezra 2:55-57. The persons mentioned here were distant descendants of the individual servants of Solomon. The Nethinims were generally required to render service wherever and however needed about the temple. But Solomon had appropriated a number of them for his use as king, and the classification was continued to be recognized.

Ezra 2:58. The special servants for the king were named above, but the number was reserved to be given in this verse.

Verses 59-63

Ezr 2:59-63

Ezra 2:59-63

SOME WERE PUT OUT OF THE PRIESTHOOD

"And these were they that went up from Tel-melah, Tel-harsha, Cherub, Addan, and Immer; but they could not show their fathers’ houses, and their seed, whether they were of Israel: the children of Delaiah, the children of Tobiah, the children of Nekoda, six hundred fifty and two. And the children of the priests: the children of Ha-baiah, the children of Kakoz, the children of Barzillai the Gileaditc, and was called after their name. These sought their register among those that were reckoned by genealogy, but they were not found: therefore were they deemed polluted and put from the priesthood. And the governor said unto them, that they should not eat of the most holy things, till there stood up a priest with Urim and Thummin."

"The children of Barzillai the Gileadite" (Ezra 2:61). Barzillai, of course, was the famous friend of David who aided him during the rebellion of Absalom, a man of great wealth. Barzillai was not a priest; but his children, probably by his daughters who had married priests, and who therefore were indeed true sons of the priests; but they had retained the famous name of their distinguished ancestor. The priests, of course, intent on restricting everyone possible from joining their company, rejected their claims. The governor decided against them.

It is not exactly clear what the governor meant. There is no proof whatever that the Urim and Thummin survived the captivity, or for that matter, even the repeated sack of the temple; so what he might have meant was, that it would take a direct act of God to put the sons of Barzillai in the priesthood.

The heartless pride and arrogance of the Jewish priesthood are dearly visible here. "Concern for pedigree and purity can easily turn to pride and superiority; and this trend was tragically exemplified by many of the community’s later descendants."

The Sadducees and Pharisees of the times of Christ prided themselves upon the purity of their descent from Abraham, supposing that their kinship with the patriarch alone would assure them of eternal life. How wrong they were! John the Baptist had warned them that God was "Able of these stones to raise up children to Abraham" (Matthew 3:9); and Paul thundered the verdict in the ears of the nation that, "They are not all Israel who are of Israel" (Romans 9:6); but, alas, pride and arrogance can blind the eyes and harden the hearts of all who thus delude themselves.

E.M. Zerr:

Ezra 2:59-60. These towns w ere in the country of Babylon, and some of the Jews had been stationed there, but they were not able to prove their relation to Israelite blood. However, they were at least given the "benefit of the doubt" to the extent of being given what is popularly called "honorable mention" in our language.

Ezra 2:61-62. It had been established that no one should be allowed to have part in the priesthood but those in the blood line of Aaron. The Lord was very particular about this; so much so that he afflicted an otherwise good king with that most loathsome of diseases, leprosy, because he presumed to participate in the rights of the priesthood when he was not in that class. (2 Chronicles 26:18.) There were certain persons who the inspired writer says were children of the priests. Yet they could not show their "birth certificate" and consequently were excluded from the group that would be allowed to act in the priestly service. As polluted does not mean that they were considered as actually polluted. But the dignity of the priesthood was so great and the Lord was so particular about it, that people whose blood relation was doubtful were as objectionable for that office as if they were literally polluted.

Ezra 2:63. Tirshatha is the original word, spelled out with English letters. The definition in Strong’s lexicon is, "of foreign derivation; the title of a Persian deputy or governor." But that would not mean that this man was a Persian by blood. We recall that while the period of the captivity was over, all the people were still the subjects of the Persian Empire the same as other citizens of a country would be. That would account for the fact that the man authorized to take the lead in the movements would be called by the name used in the text. The evidence is, however, that he was of Jewish blood and understood the principles of the Mosaic law. The Urim and Thummim were the objects placed in the garments worn by the priest. See Exodus 28:30. They were used in some supernatural manner in receiving communications from God (Hebrews 1:1), but were useless except when in the hands of the priest. (Numbers 27:21.) The persons mentioned in the preceding verse were excluded from the priesthood because of uncertain birth. Now the governor appointed by Cyrus to supervise the operations was not going to authorize any performance of the services until the lawful men showed up. They would be the men having the right to the priesthood; to handling the Urim and Thummim, which would be impotent in any other hands but those of a priest.

Verses 64-67

Ezr 2:64-67

Ezra 2:64-67

A SUMMARY OF ALL THOSE WHO RETURNED

"The whole assembly together was forty and two thousand three hundred and threescore, besides their men-servants and their maid-servants, of whom there were seven thousand three hundred thirty and seven: and they had two hundred singing men and singing women. Their horses were seven hundred thirty and six; their mules two hundred forty and five; their camels, four hundred thirty and five; their asses, six thousand seven hundred and twenty."

"The numbers given earlier in the chapter add up to twelve thousand less than the total of 42,380 given in this verse. Reckoning up the smaller numbers we have 29,818 as given here and 31,089 as given in the parallel in Nehemiah. Ezra mentions 491 not mentioned by Nehemiah; and Nehemiah mentions 1765 not given in Ezra. If we add Ezra’s 491 to Nehemiah’s total and Nehemiah’s 1765 to Ezra’s total, they both equal 31,583, which is a deficiency of exactly 10,777."

They may have been left out, either because they were not members of Abraham’s posterity, and from the Jewish viewpoint therefore did not count. There is also the possibility that these were women, the wives of the returnees.

"Two hundred singing men and singing women" (Ezra 2:65). "These were not singers appointed for use in the worship but musicians retained by the wealthy for their entertainment."[21] Significantly, they were not listed as part of the assembly but along with other properties, the horses, mules and camels. Whitcomb thought that these singers were, "Hired by the Israelites for festivities and lamentations." However, Hamrick, and others, insist that, "They were slaves maintained for the entertainment of the rich."

"This catalogue of the property that Israel brought back to Palestine indicates the general poverty and low estate of the returnees. They had but one slave and one ass for every six of their number, one horse to every sixty, one camel to every hundred, and one mule to every one hundred and seventy and five."

E.M. Zerr:

Ezra 2:64. It must be understood that the number of the whole congregation means the leaders or heads, similar to the numbering in Numbers 1:46; Numbers 26:51. What I mean is, the comparison between these various numbers will give a fair estimate of the size of the congregation at the different times referred to. By such a comparison it is evident that the population was considerably reduced in course of the captivity. The ravages that were made into the personnel as well as the population in general accounts for this cutting down of the list. This was to be regretted, but at the same time the fact fulfilled several predictions or the subject. More than once the Lord had predicted that his people would be exposed to the hardships of captivity, which would destroy their sons and daughters, as well as their old men and women. But in connection with such warning and predictions, he also gave them the assurance that a remnant would be salvaged out of the wreck of the years. On this subject, which is a mixture of joy and sadness, see 2 Kings 19:30-31; Isaiah 1:9; Isaiah 10:20-21; Jeremiah 23:3; Ezekiel 6:8; Micah 2:12. This prediction is written in many other places which will be noted in the studies of the prophetic books, to be considered in a later volume of this Commentary.

Ezra 2:65-67. The whole congregation mentioned in the preceding verse was independent of these secondary persons. But the large number of such, as well as the goodly number of animals, all shows the prosperous state of the Israelites in spite of their long exile in a heathen land. Another point is in evidence, and that is the kindness of the nation that had the jurisdiction over them. Instead of cutting them down to a mere token, and driving them out with a be-gone-and-the-soonerthe-better attitude. Cyrus sent them out with his blessing, and with financial aid.

Verses 68-70

Ezr 2:68-70

Ezra 2:68-70

CONTRIBUTIONS MADE TOWARD REBUILDING THE TEMPLE

"And some of the heads of fathers’ houses, when they came to the house of Jehovah which is in Jerusalem, offered willingly for the house of God to set it up in its place: they gave after their ability into the treasury of the work threescore and one thousand darics of gold, and five thousand pounds of silver, and one hundred priests garments. So 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."

"Threescore and one thousand darics of gold" (Ezra 2:69). During the years when this writer was in college, the radical critics were shouting to high heaven that, "The daric was a Greek coin that could not possibly have been current in Palestine until after the conquests of Alexander the Great. And upon the basis of their false allegations declared that Ezra, Nehemiah and the Chronicles could not possibly have been written prior to 250 B.C."

"Archaeological evidence now shows that the Attic (Greek) drachma (the daric of this passage) was in use as a standard coin in Palestine from the middle of the fifth century B.C. and afterward. Archaeologists have actually unearthed specimens of these coins near Jerusalem; and this daric became the official Jewish coinage, and specimens inscribed with the Aramaic name of Judah have been discovered."

E.M. Zerr:

Ezra 2:68. Gratitude at least would have prompted these fathers to make this contribution for the Lord’s work. They had been treated very kindly by the Persian government, and the materials furnished them were in order that the Lord’s work in Jerusalem could be advanced

Ezra 2:69. The amount of these offerings is stated which is great. However, that would not entitle them to any special credit were it not for the fact that it was after their ability. That is the basis upon which all of the offerings in the New Testament are to be made. See 1 Corinthians 16:2; 2 Corinthians 8:12.

Ezra 2:70. After turning over the possessions in their hands to the work for which they had been given them, they retired to their homes. It is interesting to note that the several ranks and grades of the nation respected the assignments belonging to them as to residence, for it says they dwelt in their cities.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Ezra 2". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/ezra-2.html.
 
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