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Bible Commentaries

Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament
Ezra 2




List of Those Who Returned from Babylon with Zerubbabel and Joshua - Ezra 2

The title (Ezra 2:1 and Ezra 2:2) announces that the list which follows it (vv. 3-67) contains the number of the men of the people of Israel who returned to Jerusalem and Judah from the captivity in Babylon, under the conduct of Zerubbabel, Joshua, and other leaders. It is composed of separate lists: of the families of the people, vv. 3-35; of the priests and Levites,Ezra 2:36-42; of the Nethinims and servants of Solomon, vv. 43-58; of families who could not prove their Israelite descent, and of certain priests whose genealogy could not be found, Ezra 2:59-63; and it closes with the sum-total of the persons, and of their beasts of burden, Ezra 2:64-67. This is followed by an enumeration of the gifts which they brought with them for the temple (Ezra 2:68 and Ezra 2:69), and by a final statement with regard to the entire list (Ezra 2:70). Nehemiah also, when he desired to give a list of the members of the community at Jerusalem, met with the same document, and incorporated it in the book which bears his name (Neh 7:6-73). It is also contained in 1 Esdr. 5:7-45. The three texts, however, exhibit in the names, and still more so in the numbers, such variations as involuntarily arise in transcribing long lists of names and figures. The sum-total of 42,630 men and 7337 servants and maids is alike in all three texts; but the addition of the separate numbers in the Hebrew text of Ezra gives only 29,818, those in Nehemiah 31,089, and those in the Greek Esdras 30,143 men. In our elucidation of the list, we shall chiefly have respect to the differences between the texts of Ezra and Nehemiah, and only notice the variations in 1 Esdras so far as they may appear to conduce to a better understanding of the matter of our text.

Verse 1-2

The title . - “These are the children of the province that went up out of the captivity, of the carrying away (i.e., of those which had been carried away), whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had carried away unto Babylon, and who returned to Jerusalem and Judah, every one to his city.” In Nehemiah 7:6 לבבל is omitted, through an error of transcription caused by the preceding בּבל ; and וליהוּדה stands instead of ויהוּדה , which does not, however, affect the sense. המּדינה is the province whose capital was Jerusalem (Nehemiah 11:3), i.e., the province of Judaea as a district of the Persian empire; so Ezra 5:8; Nehemiah 1:2. The Chethiv נבוכדנצור is similar to the form Nebucadrezor, Jeremiah 49:28, and is nearer to the Babylonian form of this name than the usual biblical forms Nebucadnezzar or Nebucadrezzar . For further remarks on the various forms of this name, see on Daniel 1:1. They returned “each to his city,” i.e., to the city in which he or his ancestors had dwelt before the captivity. Bertheau, on the contrary, thinks that, “though in the allotment of dwelling-places some respect would certainly be had to the former abode of tribes and families, yet the meaning cannot be that every one returned to the locality where his forefathers had dwelt: first, because it is certain (?) that all memorial of the connection of tribes and families was frequently obliterated, comp. below, Nehemiah 7:61-64; and then, because a small portion only of the former southern kingdom being assigned to the returned community, the descendants of dwellers in those towns which lay without the boundaries of the new state could not return to the cities of their ancestors.” True, however, as this may be, the city of each man cannot mean that “which the authorities, in arranging the affairs of the community, assigned to individuals as their domicile, and of which they were reckoned inhabitants in the lists then drawn up for the sake of levying taxes,” etc. (Bertheau). This would by no means be expressed by the words, “ they returned each to his own city.” We may, on the contrary, correctly say that the words hold good à potiori , i.e., they are used without regard to exceptions induced by the above-named circumstance. אשׁר־בּאוּ , Ezra 2:2, corresponds with the העלים of Ezra 2:1; hence in Nehemiah 7:7 we find also the participle בּאים . They came with Zerubbabel, etc., that is, under their conduct and leadership. Zerubbabel ( Ζοροβάβελ , זרבּבל or זרוּבבל , probably abbreviated from בּבל זרוּע , in Babylonia satus seu genitus ) the son of Shealtiel was a descendant of the captive king Jehoiachin (see on 1 Chronicles 3:17), and was probably on account of this descent made leader of the expedition, and royal governor of the new settlement, by Cyrus. Jeshua ( ישׁוּע , the subsequently abbreviated form of the name Jehoshua or Joshua, which is used Nehemiah 8:17 also for Joshua the son of Nun, the contemporary of Moses) the son of Josedech (Hagg. Joshua 1:1), and the grandson of Seraiah the high priest, who was put to death by Nebuchadnezzar at Riblah, was the first high priest of the restored community; see on 1 Chronicles 6:15. Besides those of Zerubbabel and Joshua, nine (or in Nehemiah more correctly ten) names, probably of heads of families, but of whom nothing further is known, are placed here. 1. Nehemiah, to be distinguished from the well-known Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah, Nehemiah 1:1; 2. Seraiah, instead of which we have in Nehemiah 7:7 Azariah; 3. Reeliah, in Nehemiah, Raamiah; 4. Nahamani in Nehemiah, Εὐηνέος in 1 Esdras 5:8, omitted in the text of Ezra; 5. Mordecai, not the Mordecai of the book of Esther ( Esther 2:5.); 6. Bilshan; 7. Mispar, in Nehemiah Mispereth; 8. Bigvai; 9. Rehum, in 1 Esdras Ροΐ́μος ; 10. Baanah. These ten, or reckoning Zerubbabel and Joshua, twelve men, are evidently intended, as leaders of the returning nation, to represent the new community as the successor of the twelve tribes of Israel. This is also unmistakeably shown by the designation, the people of Israel, in the special title, and by the offering of twelve sin-offerings, according to the number of the tribes of Israel, at the dedication of the new temple, Ezra 6:16. The genealogical relation, however, of these twelve representatives to the twelve tribes cannot be ascertained, inasmuch as we are told nothing of the descent of the last ten. Of these ten names, one meets indeed with that of Seraiah, Nehemiah 10:3; of Bigvai, in the mention of the sons of Bigvai, Ezra 8:14; of Rehum, Nehemiah 3:17; Nehemiah 12:3; and of Baanah, Nehemiah 10:28; but there is nothing to make the identity of these persons probable. Even in case they were all of them descended from members of the former kingdom of Judah, this is no certain proof that they all belonged also to the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, since even in the reign of Rehoboam pious Israelites of the ten tribes emigrated thither, and both at and after the destruction of the kingdom of the ten tribes, many Israelites might have taken refuge and settled in Judah. The last words, Ezra 2:2, “The number of the men of the people of Israel,” contain the special title of the first division of the following list, with which the titles in Ezra 2:36, Ezra 2:40, Ezra 2:43, and Ezra 2:55 correspond. They are called the people of Israel , not the people of Judah, because those who returned represented the entire covenant people.

Verses 3-35

List of the houses and families of the people. Comp. Neh 7:8-38. - To show the variations in names and numbers between the two texts, we here place them side by side, the names in Nehemiah being inserted in parentheses.

Ezra II Ezra II Neh. VII 1. The Sons of Parosh 2172 2172 2. The Sons of Shephatiah 372 372 3. The Sons of Arah 775 652 4. The Sons of Pahath Moab, of the sons of Joshua and Joab 2812 2818 5. The Sons of Elam 1254 1254 6. The Sons of Zattu 945 845 7. The Sons of Zaccai 760 760 8. The Sons of Bani (Binnui) 642 648 9. The Sons of Bebai 623 628 10. The Sons of Azgad 1222 2322 11. The Sons of Adonikam 666 667 12. The Sons of Bigvai 2056 2067 13. The Sons of Adin 454 655 14. The Sons of Ater of Hezekiah 98 98 15. The Sons of Bezai 323 324 16. The Sons of Jorah (Harif) 112 112 17. The Sons of Hashum 223 328 18. The Sons of Gibbar (Gibeon) 95 95 19. The Sons of Bethlehem 123 123 20. The Men of Netophah 56 56 21. The Men of Anathoth 128 128 22. The Sons of Azmaveth (men of Beth-azmaveth) 42 42 23. The Sons of Kirjath-arim, Chephirah, Beeroth 743 743 24. The Sons of Ramah and Gaba 621 621 25. The Men of Michmas 122 122 26. The Men of Bethel and Ai 223 123 27. The Sons of Nebo (Acher) 52 52 28. The Sons of Magbish 156 wanting 29. The Sons of other Elam 1254 1254 30. The Sons of Harim 320 320 31. The Sons of Lod, Hadid, Ono 725 721 32. The Sons of Jericho 345 345 33. The Sons of Senaah 3630 3930 Total 24,144 25,406

The differences in the names are unimportant. In Ezra 2:6 the ו copulative inserted between the names ישׁוּע and יואב , both in Nehemiah and 1 Esdras, is wanting; the name בּני (Ezra 2:10) is written בּנּוּי in Nehemiah (Nehemiah 7:15); for יורה (Ezra 2:18), Nehemiah 7:24 has חריף , evidently another name for the same person, Jorah having a similarity of sound with יורה , harvest-rain, and חריף with חרף , harvest; for נּבּר (Ezra 2:20), Nehemiah 7:25 more correctly read גּבעון , the name of the town; and for ערים קרית (Ezra 2:25), Nehemiah 7:29 has the more correct form יערים קרית : the sons of Azmaveth (Ezra 2:24) stands in Nehemiah as the men of Beth-azmaveth; while, on the other hand, for the sons of Nebo (Ezra 2:29), we have in Nehemiah (Nehemiah 7:33) the men of Nebo Acher, where אחר seems to have been inserted inadvertently, Elam Acher so soon following.

(Note: This view is more probable than the notion of Dietrich, in A. Merx, Archiv für wissensch. Forschung des A. T., No. 3, p. 345, that by the addition אחר in Nehemiah, the Nebo in Judah is distinguished from the Nebo in Reuben.)

The names Bezai, Jorah, and Hashum (Ezra 2:17-19) are transposed in Nehemiah (Nehemiah 7:22-24) thus, Hashum, Bezai, and Harif; as are also Lod, etc., and Jericho, (Ezra 2:33, Ezra 2:34) into Jericho and Lod, etc. (Nehemiah, vv. 36, 37). Lastly, the sons of Magbish (Ezra 2:30) are omitted in Nehemiah; and the sons of Bethlehem and the men of Netophah (Ezra 2:21 and Ezra 2:22) are in Nehemiah (Nehemiah 7:26) reckoned together, and stated to be 188 instead of 123 + 56 = 179. A glance at the names undoubtedly shows that those numbered 1-17 are names of races or houses: those from 18-27, and from 31-33, are as certainly names of towns; there, therefore, inhabitants of towns are named. This series is, however, interrupted by Nos. 28-30; Harim being undoubtedly, and Magbish very probably, names not of places, but of persons; while the equality of the number of the other, Elam 1254, with that of Elam (No. 6), seems somewhat strange. To this must be added, that Magbish is wanting both in Nehemiah and 2 Esdras, and the other Elam in 1 Esdras; while, in place of the sons of Harim 320, we have in 1 Esdr. 5:16, in a more appropriate position, υἱοὶ Ἀρομ 32. Hence Bertheau infers that Nos. 28 and 29, sons of Magbish and sons of Elam Acher (vv. 30 and 31), are spurious, and that Harim should be written Ἀρώμ , and inserted higher up. The reasons for considering these three statements doubtful have certainly some weight; but considering the great untrustworthiness of the statements in the first book of Esdras, and the other differences in the three lists arising, as they evidently do, merely from clerical errors, we could not venture to call them decisive.

Of the names of houses or races (Nos. 1-17 and 30), we meet with many in other lists of the time of Ezra and Nehemiah;

(Note: In the list of those who went up with Ezra (Ezra 8), the sons of Parosh, Pahath-Moab, Adin, Elam, Shephatiah, Joab, Bebai, Azgad, Adonikam, Bigvai, and, according to the original text (Ezra 8:8, Ezra 8:10), also the sons of Zattu and Bani. In the lists of those who had taken strange wives (Ezra 10) we meet with individuals of the sons of Parosh, Elam, Zattu, Bebai, Bani, Pahath-Moab, Harim, Hashum, and of the sons of Nebo. Finally, in the lists of the heads of the people in the time of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 10:15.) appear the names of Parosh, Pahath-Moab, Elam, Zattu, Bani, Azgad, Bebai, Bigvai, Adin, Ater, Hashum, Bezai, Harif, Harim, Anathoth, together with others which do not occur in the list we are not treating of.)

whence we perceive, (1) that of many houses only a portion returned with Zerubbabel and Joshua, the remaining portion following with Ezra; (2) that heads of houses are entered not by their personal names, but by that of the house. The names, for the most part, descend undoubtedly from the time anterior to the captivity, although we do not meet with them in the historical books of that epoch, because those books give only the genealogies of those more important personages who make a figure in history. Besides this, the genealogies in Chronicles are very incomplete, enumerating for the most part only the families of the more ancient times. Most, if not all, of these races or houses must be regarded as former inhabitants of Jerusalem. Nor can the circumstance that the names given in the present list are not found in the lists of the inhabitants of Jerusalem (1 Chron 9 and Neh 11) be held as any valid objection; for in those lists only the heads of the great races of Judah and Benjamin are named, and not the houses which those races comprised. The names of cities, on the other hand (Nos. 18-33), are for the most part found in the older books of the Old Testament: Gibeon in Joshua 9:3; Bethlehem in Ruth 1:2; Micah 5:1; Netophah, 2 Samuel 23:28 - see comm. on 1 Chronicles 2:54; Anathoth in Joshua 21:18; Jeremiah 1:1; Kirjath-jearim, Chephirah, and Beeroth, as cities of the Gibeonites, in Joshua 9:17; Ramah and Geba, which often occur in the histories of Samuel and Saul, also in Joshua 18:24-25; Michmash in 1 Samuel 13:2, 1 Samuel 13:5; Isaiah 10:28; Bethel and Ai in Joshua 7:2; and Jericho in Joshua 5:13, and elsewhere. All these places were situate in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem, and were probably taken possession of by former inhabitants or their children immediately after the return. Azmaveth or Beth-azmaveth (Nehemiah 7:28) does not occur in the earlier history, nor is it mentioned out of this list, except in Nehemiah 12:29, according to which it must be sought for in the neighbourhood of Geba. It has not, however, been as yet discovered; for the conjecture of Ritter, Erdk . xvi. p. 519, that it may be el-Hizme, near Anâta, is unfounded. Nor can the position of Nebo be certainly determined, the mountain of that name (Numbers 32:3) being out of the question. Nob or Nobe (1 Samuel 21:2) has been thought to be this town. Its situation is suitable; and this view is supported by the fact that in Nehemiah 11:31., Nob, and not Nebo, is mentioned, together with many of the places here named; in Ezra 10:43, however, the sons of Nebo are again specified. As far as situation is concerned, Nuba, or Beit-Nuba (Robinson's Biblical Researches , p. 189), may, as Bertheau thinks, correspond with this town. Magbish was by many older expositors regarded as the name of a place, but is certainly that of a person; and no place of such a name is known. The localities Lod, Hadid, and Ono (Ezra 2:33) first occur in the later books of the Old Testament. On Lod and Ono, see comm. on 1 Chronicles 8:12. חדיד is certainly Ἀδιδά (1 Macc. 12:28, 13:13), not far from Lydda, where there is still a place called el-Hadithe, Arab. ' l - hdı̂th (Robinson's Biblical Researches , p. 186). סנאה , Ezra 2:35, is identified by older expositors with Σεννά, ν͂ν Μαγδαλσεννά , which Jerome describes as terminus Judae, in septimo lapide Jerichus contra septentrionalem plagam ( Onom. ed. Lars. et Parth. p. 332f.); in opposition to which, Robinson, in his above-cited work, identifies Magdal-Senna with a place called Mejdel, situate on the summit of a high hill about eighteen miles north of Jericho. The situation, however, of this town does not agree with the distance mentioned by Eusebius and Jerome, and the name Mejdel, i.e., tower, is not of itself sufficient to identify it with Magdal-Senna. The situation of the Senaah in question is not as yet determined; it must be sought for, however, at no great distance from Jericho. Of the towns mentioned in the present list, we find that the men of Jericho, Senaah, and Gibeon, as well as the inhabitants of Tekoa, Zanoah, Beth-haccerem, Mizpah, Beth-zur, and Keilah, assisted at the building of the walls of Jerusalem under Nehemiah (Nehemiah 3:2-3, Nehemiah 3:7). A larger number of towns of Judah and Benjamin is specified in the list in Nehemiah 11:25-35, whence we perceive that in process of time a greater multitude of Jews returned from captivity and settled in the land of their fathers.

Verses 36-39

The list of the priests is identical, both in names and numbers, with that of Nehemiah 7:39-42. These are:

The sons of Jedaiah, of the house of Jeshua 973 The sons of Immer 1052 The sons of Pashur 1247 The sons of Harim 1017 Total 4289

Jedaiah is the head of the second order of priests in 1 Chronicles 24:7. If, then, Jedaiah here represents this order, the words “of the house of Jeshua” must not be applied to Jeshua the high priest; the second order belonging in all probability to the line of Ithamar, and the high-priestly race, on the contrary, to that of Eleazar. We also meet the name Jeshua in other priestly families, e.g., as the name of the ninth order of priests in 1 Chronicles 24:11, so that it may be the old name of another priestly house. Since, however, it is unlikely that no priest of the order from which the high priest descended should return, the view that by Joshua the high priest is intended, and that the sons of Jedaiah were a portion of the house to which Joshua the high priest belonged, is the more probable one. In this case Jedaiah is not the name of the second order of priests, but of the head of a family of the high-priestly race. Immer is the name of the sixteenth order of priests, 1 Chronicles 24:14. Pashur does not occur among the orders of priests in 1 Chron 24; but we find the name, 1 Chronicles 9:12, and Nehemiah 11:12, among the ancestors of Adaiah, a priest of the order of Malchijah; the Pashur of Jer 20 and Jeremiah 21:1-14 being, on the contrary, called the son of Immer, i.e., a member of the order of Immer. Hence Bertheau considers Pashur to have been the name of a priestly race, which first became extensive, and took the place of an older and perhaps extinct order, after the time of David. Gershom of the sons of Phinehas, and Daniel of the sons of Ithamar, are said, Daniel 8:2, to have gone up to Jerusalem with Ezra, while the order to which they belonged is not specified. Among the priests who had married strange wives (Ezra 10:18-22) are named, sons of Jeshua, Immer, Harim, Pashur; whence it has been inferred “that, till the time of Ezra, only the four divisions of priests here enumerated had the charge of divine worship in the new congregation” (Bertheau). On the relation of the names in Ezra 2:36-39 to those in Nehemiah 10:3-9 and 12:1-22, see remarks on these passages.

Verses 40-58

Levites, Nethinim, and Solomon's servants. Comp. Neh. 7:43-60.

Ezra Neh. Levites: the sons of Jeshua and Kadmiel, of the sons of Hodivah 74 74 Singers: sons of Asaph 128 148 Sons of the door-keepers; sons of Shallum, Ater. Etc. 139 138 Nethinim and servants of Solomon, in all 392 392 Total 733 752

The Levites are divided into three classes: Levites in the stricter sense of the word, i.e., assistants of the priests in divine worship, singers, and door-keepers; comp. 1 Chronicles 24:20-31, 1 Chronicles 24:25, and 26:1-19. Of Levites in the stricter sense are specified the sons of Jeshua and Kadmiel of the sons of Hodaviah ( וקדמיאל , and הודויה of our text are evidently correct readings; and לקדמיאל and הודיה , Keri להודיּה , Nehemiah 7:43, errors of transcription). The addition, “of the sons of Hodaviah,” belongs to Kadmiel, to distinguish him from other Levites of similar name. Jeshua and Kadmiel were, according to Ezra 3:9, chiefs of two orders of Levites in the times of Zerubbabel and Joshua. These names recur as names of orders of Levites in Nehemiah 10:10. We do not find the sons of Hodaviah in the lists of Levites in Chronicles.

Ezra 2:41

Of singers, only the sons of Asaph, i.e., members of the choir of Asaph, returned. In Nehemiah 11:17 three orders are named, Bakbukiah evidently representing the order of Heman.

Ezra 2:42

Of door-keepers, six orders or divisions returned, among which those of Shallum, Talmon, and Akkub dwelt, according to 1 Chronicles 9:17, at Jerusalem before the captivity. Of the sons of Ater, Hatita and Shobai, nothing further is known.

Ezra 2:43-58

The Nethinim, i.e., temple-bondsmen, and the servants of Solomon, are reckoned together, thirty-five families of Nethinim and ten of the servants of Solomon being specified. The sum-total of these amounting only to 392, each family could only have averaged from eight to nine individuals. The sons of Akkub, Hagab and Asnah (Ezra 2:45, Ezra 2:46, and Ezra 2:50), are omitted in Nehemiah; the name Shalmai (Ezra 2:46) is in Nehemiah 7:48 written Salmai; and for נפיסים , Ezra 2:50, Nehemiah 7:52 has נפושׁסים , a form combined from נפוּסים and נפישׁים . All other variations relate only to differences of form. Because Ziha ( ציהא , Ezra 2:43) again occurs in Nehemiah 11:21 as one of the chiefs of the Nethinim, and the names following seem to stand in the same series with it, Bertheau insists on regarding these names as those of divisions. This cannot, however, be correct; for Ziha is in Nehemiah 11:21 the name of an individual, and in the present list also the proper names are those of individuals, and only the sons of Ziha, Hasupha, etc., can be called families or divisions. Plural words alone, Mehunim and Nephisim, are names of races or nations; hence the sons of the Mehunim signify individuals belonging to the Mehunim, who, perhaps, after the victory of King Uzziah over that people, were as prisoners of war made vassals for the service of the sanctuary. So likewise may the sons of the Nephisim have been prisoners of war of the Ishmaelite race נפישׁ . Most of the families here named may, however, have been descendants of the Gibeonites ( Joshua 9:21, Joshua 9:27). The servants of Solomon must not be identified with the Canaanite bond-servants mentioned 1 Kings 9:20., 2 Chronicles 8:7., but were probably prisoners of war of some other nation, whom Solomon sentenced to perform, as bondsmen, similar services to those imposed upon the Gibeonites. The sons of these servants are again mentioned in Nehemiah 11:3. In other passages they are comprised under the general term Nethinim, with whom they are here computed. Among the names, that of הצּבים פּכרת (Ezra 2:57), i.e., catcher of gazelles, is a singular one; the last name, אמי , is in Nehemiah 7:59 אמון .

Verse 59-60

Those who went up with, but could not prove that they pertained to, the nation of Israel. Comp. Nehemiah 7:61 and Nehemiah 7:62. - Three such families are named, consisting of 652, or according to Nehemiah of 642, persons. These went up, with those who returned, from Tel-melah (Salthill) and Tel-harsa (Thicket or Forest Hill), names of Babylonian districts or regions, the situations of which cannot be ascertained. The words also which follow, אמּר אדּן כּרוּב , are obscure, but are certainly not the names of individuals, the persons who went up not being specified till Ezra 2:60. The words are names of places, but it is uncertain whether the three are used to express one or three places. In favour of the notion that they designate but one locality, may be alleged that in Ezra 2:60 only three races are named, which would then correspond with the districts named in Ezra 2:59 : Tel-melah, Tel-harsa, and Cherub-Addan-Immer; a race from each district joining those who went up to Jerusalem. The three last words, however, may also designate three places in close proximity, in which one of the races of Ezra 2:60 might be dwelling. These could not show their father's house and their seed, i.e., genealogy, whether they were of Israel. הם , as well as the suffixes of זרעם and בּית־אבותם , refers to the persons named in Ezra 2:60. They could not show that the houses of Delaiah, Tobiah, and Nekoda, after which they were called, belonged to Israel, nor that they themselves were of Israelitish origin. Cler. well remarks: Judaicam religionem dudum sequebantur, quam ob rem se Judaeos censebant; quamvis non possent genealogicas ullas tabulas ostendere, ex quibus constaret, ex Hebraeis oriundos esse . One of these names, Nekoda, Ezra 2:48, occurring among those of the Nethinim, Bertheau conjectures that while the sons of Nekoda here spoken of claimed to belong to Israel, the objection was made that they might belong to the sons of Nekoda mentioned Ezra 2:48, and ought therefore to be reckoned among the Nethinim. Similar objections may have been made to the two other houses. Although they could not prove their Israelite origin, they were permitted to go up to Jerusalem with the rest, the rights of citizenship alone being for the present withheld. Hence we meet with none of these names either in the enumeration of the heads and houses of the people, Nehemiah 10:15-28, or in the list Ezra 10:25-43.

Verse 61-62

Priests who could not prove themselves members of the priesthood. Comp. Nehemiah 7:63-65. - Three such families are named: the sons of Habaiah, the sons of Hakkoz, the sons of Barzillai. These could not discover their family registers, and were excluded from the exercise of priestly functions. Of these three names, that of Hakkoz occurs as the seventh order of priests; but the names alone did not suffice to prove their priesthood, this being also borne by other persons. Comp. Nehemiah 3:4. The sons of Barzillai were the descendants of a priest who had married a daughter, probably an heiress (Num), of Barzillai the Gileadite, so well known in the history of David (2 Samuel 17:27; 2 Samuel 19:32-39; 1 Kings 2:7), and had taken her name for the sake of taking possession of her inheritance (the suffix שׁמם refers to בּנות ; see on Numbers 27:1-11). That by contracting this marriage he had not renounced for himself and his descendants his priestly privileges, is evident from the fact, that when his posterity returned from captivity, they laid claim to these privileges. The assumption, however, of the name of Barzillai might have cast such a doubt upon their priestly origin as to make it necessary that this should be proved from the genealogical registers, and a search in these did not lead to the desired discovery. כּתבם is their ספר יחשׂ , Nehemiah 7:5, the book or record in which their genealogy was registered. The title of this record was המּתיחשׁים , the Enregistered: the word is in apposition to כּתבם , and the plural נמצאוּ agrees with it, while in Nehemiah 7:64 the singular נמצא agrees with כתבם . They were declared to be polluted from the priesthood, i.e., they were excluded from the priesthood as polluted or unclean. The construction of the Pual יגאלוּ with מן is significant.

Verse 63

The Tirshatha, the secular governor of the community, i.e., as is obvious from a comparison of Nehemiah 7:65 with Nehemiah 7:70, Zerubbabel, called Haggai 1:1 יהוּדה פּחת . תּרשׁתא , always used with the article, is undoubtedly the Persian designation of the governor or viceroy. Nehemiah is also so called in Nehemiah 8:9 and Nehemiah 10:2, and likewise הפּחה , Nehemiah 12:26. The meaning of the word is still matter of dispute. Some derive it from the Persian trsı̂dn , to fear, and trs , fear = the feared or respected one (Meier, Wurzelb. p. 714); others from Persian trš , acer, auster , the strict ruler; others, again (with Benfey, die Monatsnamen , p. 196), from the Zend. thvôrestar (nom. thvôresta ), i.e., praefectus, penes quem est imperium : comp. Gesenius, thes . p. 1521. The Tirshatha decided that they were not to eat of the most holy things till there should arise a priest with Urim and Thummim, i.e., to give a final decision by means of Urim and Thummim. עמד , according to the later usage of the language, is equivalent to קוּם , comp. Daniel 8:3; Daniel 11:2, and other places. The prohibition to eat of the most holy things (comp. on Leviticus 2:3) involved the prohibition to approach the most holy objects, e.g., the altar of burnt-offering (Exodus 29:37; Exodus 30:10), and to enter the most holy place, and thus excludes from specific priestly acts: without, however, denying a general inclusion among the priestly order, or abolishing a claim to the priestly revenues, so far as these were not directly connected with priestly functions. On Urim and Thummim, see on Exodus 28:30. From the words, “till a priest shall arise,” etc., it is evident that the then high priest was not in a position to entreat, and to pronounce, the divine decision by Urim and Thummim. The reason of this, however, need not be sought in the personality of Joshua (Ewald, Gesch . iv. 95), nor supposed to exist in such a fact as that he might not perhaps have been the eldest son of his father, and therefore not have had full right to the priesthood. This conjecture rests upon utterly erroneous notions of the Urim and Thummim, upon a subjectivistic view, which utterly evaporates the objective reality of the grace with which the high priest was in virtue of his office endowed. The obtainment of the divine decision by Urim and Thummim presupposes the gracious presence of Jahve in the midst of His people Israel. And this had been connected by the Lord Himself with the ark of the covenant, and with its cherubim-overshadowed mercy-seat, from above which He communed with His people (Exodus 25:22). The high priest, bearing upon his breast the breastplate with the Urim and Thummim, was to appear before Jahve, and, bringing before Him the judgment of Israel, to entreat the divine decision (Exodus 28:30; Numbers 27:21). The ark of the covenant with the mercy-seat was thus, in virtue of the divine promise, the place of judgment, where the high priest was to inquire of the Lord by means of the Urim and Thummim. This ark, however, was no longer in existence, having been destroyed when Solomon's temple was burned by the Chaldeans. Those who returned with Zerubbabel were without the ark, and at first without a temple. In such a state of affairs the high priest could not appear before Jahve with the breastplate and the Urim and Thummim to entreat His decision. The books of Samuel, indeed, relate cases in which the divine will was consulted by Urim and Thummim, when the ark of the covenant was not present for the high priest to appear before (comp. 1 Samuel 23:4, 1 Samuel 23:6, 1 Samuel 23:9, etc., 1 Samuel 14:18); whence it appears that the external or local presence of the ark was not absolutely requisite for this purpose. Still these cases occurred at a time when the congregation of Israel as yet possessed the ark with the Lord's cherubim-covered mercy-seat, though this was temporarily separated from the holy of holies of the tabernacle. Matters were in a different state at the return from the captivity. Then, not only were they without either ark or temple, but the Lord had not as yet re-manifested His gracious presence in the congregation; and till this should take place, the high priest could not inquire of the Lord by Urim and Thummim. In the hope that with the restoration of the altar and temple the Lord would again vouchsafe His presence to the returned congregation, Zerubbabel expected that a high priest would arise with Urim and Thummim to pronounce a final decision with regard to those priests who could not prove their descent from Aaron's posterity. This expectation, however, was unfulfilled. Zerubbabel's temple remained unconsecrated by any visible token of Jahve's presence, as the place where His name should dwell. The ark of the covenant with the cherubim, and the Shechinah in the cloud over the cherubim, were wanting in the holy of holies of this temple. Hence, too, we find no single notice of any declaration of the divine will or the divine decision by Urim and Thummim in the period subsequent to the captivity; but have, on the contrary, the unanimous testimony of the Rabbis, that after the Babylonian exile God no longer manifested His will by Urim and Thummim, this kind of divine revelation being reckoned by them among the five things which were wanting in the second temple. Comp. Buxtorf, exercitat. ad historiam Urim et Thummim , c. 5; and Vitringa, observat. ss. Lib. vi. c. 6, p. 324f.

Verses 64-67

The whole number of those who returned, their servants, maids, and beasts of burden. Comp. Nehemiah 7:66-69. - The sum-total of the congregation ( כּאחד , as one, i.e., reckoned together; comp. Ezra 3:9; Ezra 6:20) is the same in both texts, as also in 1 Esdras, viz., 42,360; the sums of the separate statements being in all three different, and indeed amounting in each to less than the given total. The separate statements are as follow: -

According to Ezra According to Nehemiah According to 1 Esdras Men of Israel 24,144 25,406 26,390 Priests 4,289 4,289 2,388 Levites 341 360 341 Nethinim and servants of Solomon 392 392 372 Those who could not prove their Israelitish origin 652 642 652 Total 29,818 31,089 30,143

These differences are undoubtedly owing to mere clerical errors, and attempts to reconcile them in other ways cannot be justified. Many older expositors, both Jewish and Christian (Seder olam, Raschi, Ussher, J. H. Mich., and others), were of opinion that only Jews and Benjamites are enumerated in the separate statements, while the sum-total includes also those Israelites of the ten tribes who returned with them. In opposing this notion, it cannot, indeed, be alleged that no regard at all is had to members of the other tribes (Bertheau); for the several families of the men of Israel are not designated according to their tribes, but merely as those whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken away to Babylon; and among these would certainly be included, as Ussher expressly affirms, many belonging to the other tribes who had settled in the kingdom of Judah. But the very circumstances, that neither in the separate statements nor in the sum-total is any allusion made to tribal relations, and that even in the case of those families who could not prove their Israelitish origin the only question was as to whether they were of the houses and of the seed of Israel, exclude all distinction of tribes, and the sum-total is evidently intended to be the joint sum of the separate numbers. Nor can it be inferred, as J. D. Mich. conjectures, that because the parallel verse to Ezra 2:64 of our present chapter, viz., 1 Esdr. 5:41, reads thus, “and all of Israel from twelve years old and upwards, besides the servants and maids, were 42,360,” the separate statements are therefore the numbers only of those of twenty years old and upwards, while the sum-total includes those also from twelve to twenty years of age. The addition ”from twelve years and upwards” is devoid of critical value; because, if it had been genuine, the particular “from twenty years old and upwards” must have been added to the separate statements. Hence it is not even probable that the author of the 1st book of Esdras contemplated a reconciliation of the difference by this addition. In transcribing such a multitude of names and figures, errors could scarcely be avoided, whether through false readings of numbers or the omission of single items. The sum-total being alike in all three texts, we are obliged to assume its correctness.

Ezra 2:65

“Besides these, their servants and their maids, 7337.” אלּה is, by the accent, connected with the preceding words. The further statement, “And there were to them (i.e., they had) 200 singing men and singing women,” is striking. The remark of Bertheau, that by להם the property of the community is intended to be expressed, is incorrect; להם denotes merely computation among, and does not necessarily imply proprietorship. J. D. Mich., adopting the latter meaning, thought that oxen and cows originally stood in the text, and were changed by transcribers into singing men and singing women, “for both words closely resemble each other in appearance in the Hebrew.” Berth., on the contrary, remarks that שׁורים , oxen, might easily be exchanged for שׁררים or משׁררים , but that שׁור has no feminine form for the plural, and that פּרות , cows, is very different from משׁררות ; that hence we are obliged to admit that in the original text שׁורים stood alone, and that after this word had been exchanged for משׁררים , משׁררות was added as its appropriate complement. Such fanciful notions can need no serious refutation. Had animals been spoken of as property, להם would not have been used, but a suffix, as in the enumeration of the animals in Ezra 2:66. Besides, oxen and cows are not beasts of burden used in journeys, like the horses, mules, camels, and asses enumerated in Ezra 2:66, and hence are here out of place. וּמשׁררות משׁררים are singing men and singing women, in 1 Esdras ψάλται καὶ ψαλτῳδοί , who, as the Rabbis already supposed, were found among the followers of the returning Jews, ut laetior esset Israelitarum reditus . The Israelites had from of old employed singing men and singing women not merely for the purpose of enhancing the cheerfulness of festivities, but also for the singing of lamentations on sorrowful occasions; comp. Ecclesiastes 2:8; 2 Chronicles 35:25 : these, because they sang and played for hire, are named along with the servants and maids, and distinguished from the Levitical singers and players. In stead of 200, we find both in Nehemiah and 1 Esdras the number 245, which probably crept into the text from the transcriber fixing his eye upon the 245 of the following verse.

Ezra 2:66-67

The numbers of the beasts, whether for riding or baggage: horses, 736; mules, 245; camels, 435; and asses, 6720. The numbers are identical in Nehemiah 7:68. In 1 Esdr. 5:42 the camels are the first named, and the numbers are partially different, viz., horses, 7036, and asses, 5525.

Verses 68-70

Contributions towards the rebuilding of the temple, and concluding remarks. Comp. Nehemiah 7:70-73. - Some of the heads of houses, when they came to the house of Jahve, i.e., arrived at the site of the temple, brought free-will offerings ( התנדּב ; comp. 1 Chronicles 29:5) to set it up in its place ( העמיד , to set up, i.e., to rebuild; identical in meaning both here and Ezra 9:9 with הקים ). After their ability ( כּכוחם ; comp. 1 Chronicles 29:2) they gave unto the treasure of the work, i.e., of restoring the temple and its services, 61,000 darics of gold = £68,625, and 5000 mina of silver, above £30,000, and 100 priests' garments. The account of these contributions is more accurately given in Nehemiah 7:70-72, according to which some of the heads of houses gave unto the work ( מקצת as Daniel 1:2 and elsewhere); the Tirshatha gave to the treasure 1000 darics of gold, 50 sacrificial vessels (see on Exodus 27:3), 30 priests' garments, and 500 ... This last statement is defective; for the two numbers 30 and 500 must not be combined into 530, as in this case the hundreds would have stood first. The objects enumerated were named before 500, and are omitted through a clerical error, מנים וכסף “and silver (500) mina.” And some of the heads of houses (others than the Tirshatha) gave of gold 20,000 darics, of silver, 2200 mina; and that which the rest of the people gave was-gold, 20,000 darics, silver, 2000 mina, and 67 priests' garments. According to this statement, the Tirshatha, the heads of houses, and the rest of the people, gave together 41,000 darics in gold, 4200 mina in silver, 97 priests' garments, and 30 golden vessels. In Ezra the vessels are omitted; and instead of the 30 + 67 = 97 priests' garments, they are stated in round numbers to have been 100. The two other differences have arisen from textual errors. Instead of 61,000 darics, it is evident that we must read with Nehemiah, 41,000 (1000 + 20,000 + 20,000); and in addition to the 2200 and 2000 mina, reckon, according to Nehemiah 7:70, 500 more, in all 4700, for which in the text of Ezra we have the round sum of 5000. The account of the return of the first band of exiles concludes at Ezra 2:70, and the narrative proceeds to the subsequent final statement: “So the priests, etc ... .dwelt in their cities.” העם וּמן , those of the people, are the men of the people of Israel of Ezra 2:2, the laity as distinguished from the priests, Levites, etc. In Nehemiah the words are transposed, so that העם מן stand after the Levitical door-keepers and singers. Bertheau thinks this position more appropriate; but we cannot but judge otherwise. The placing of the people, i.e., the laity of Israel, between the consecrated servants of the temple (the priests and their Levitical assistants in the sacrificial service) and the singers and door-keepers, seems to us quite consistent; while, on the other hand, the naming of the שׁוערים before the משׁררים in Nehemiah seems inappropriate, because the performance of the choral service of the temple was a higher office than the guardianship of the doors. Neither can we regard Bertheau's view, that בּעריהם , which in the present verse follows והנּתינים , should be erased, as a correct one. The word forms a perfectly appropriate close to the sentence beginning with ויּשׁבוּ ; and the sentence following, “And all Israel were in their cities,” forms a well-rounded close to the account; while, on the contrary, the summing up of the different divisions by the words כל־ישׂראל in Nehemiah, after the enumeration of those divisions, has a rather heavy effect.

(Note: In 1 Esdr. 5:46, this verse, freely carrying out the texts of Ezra and Nehemiah, with regard also to Nehemiah 12:27-30, runs thus: ”And so dwelt the priests, and the Levites, and the people, in Jerusalem and in the country, the singers also and the porters, and all Israel in their villages.”)


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The Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.

Bibliography Information
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Ezra 2:4". 1854-1889.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, November 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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