Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Ezra 8:15

Now I assembled them at the river that runs to Ahava, where we camped for three days; and when I observed the people and the priests, I did not find any Levites there.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Ahava;   Genealogy;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Rivers;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Ahava;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Levite;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Ahava;   Ivah;   Synagogue;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Ahava;   Ivah;   Levites;   Nethinim;   Synagogue;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Ahava;   Exile;   Ezra, Book of;   Meshullam;   Nathan;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Ahava;   Ezra;   Johanan;   Nathan;   Samaias;   Zechariah;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Ahava ;   Census;   Ivah ;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Aha'va;   Synagogue;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Ahava;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Babylonish Captivity, the;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Ahava;   Ezra;   Law in the Old Testament;   Priests and Levites;   Solomon's Servants;   Tithe;   Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia - Ahava;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Captivity;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

The river that runneth to Ahava - Ahava was a river itself, which is supposed to be the same that is called Diava or Adiava, in the province of Adiabene; and perhaps the place whence the people of Ava came who were brought by the king of Assyria to Palestine, 2 Kings 17:24.

None of the sons of Levi - None that were simply Levites. He found priests, and they were sons of Levi; but no Levites that were not priests.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Ezra 8:15". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/ezra-8.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Ahava was both a town and a river Ezra 8:21. The modern name of the place is Hit. It is famous for its bitumen springs, and is situated on the Euphrates, at a distance of about 80 miles from Babylon, toward the northwest.

None of the sons of Levi - The Levites appear to have been disinclined to return to Jerusalem (see Ezra 3:8 note).

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Ezra 8:15". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/ezra-8.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

A SECOND BEGINNING OF THE JOURNEY AT AHAVA

"And I gathered them together at the river that runneth to Ahava; and there we encamped three days; and I viewed the people, and the priests, and found there none of the sons of Levi. Then sent I for Eliezer, for Ariel, for Shemaiah, and for Elnathan, and for Jarib, and for Elnathan, and for Nathan, and for Zechariah, and for Meshullam, chief men; also for Joiarib, and for Elnathan, who were teachers. And I sent them forth unto Iddo the chief of the place Casiphia; and I told them what they should say unto Iddo, and his brethren the Nethinim, at the place Casiphia, that they should bring unto us ministers for the house of God. And according to the good hand of our God upon us, they brought us a man of discretion, of the sons of Mahli the son of Levi the son of Israel; and Sherebiah with his sons and his brethren, eighteen; and Hashabiah, and with him Jeshaiah of the sons of Merari, his brethren and their sons, twenty; and of the Nethinim, whom David and the princes had given for the service of the Levites, two hundred and twenty Nethinim: all of them were mentioned by name."

"I gathered them together to the river than runneth to Ahava" (Ezra 8:15). Ezra's company had already left Babylon on the first day of the month; and they were delayed here until the twelfth day when the journey was resumed. Some time had elapsed in their journey to this station, and there was more delay while Ezra recruited the Levites and the Nethinim.

"The river that runneth to Ahava" (Ezra 8:15) Several current scholars insist that this place is unknown; but Rawlinson wrote that, "It is now generally identified with the place IS in Herodotus (i. 179), a small stream flowing into the Euphrates from the east, some eight days' journey from Babylon. This place is mentioned under the slightly variant names of Ava and Ivah in 2 Kings 17:24; 19:13, and in the Septuagint (LXX) under the name Aba ... the modern name is Hit.[7] This information fully explains why the departure from Ahava was on the twelfth day of the month. Eight days had been required for their journey to that place, and the other four days were for recruiting the Levites.

Casiphia, also unknown, was evidently quite near this first way-station, otherwise, more time would have been required for enlisting the Levites. "Ezra knew of a settlement of Levites nearby at a place called Casiphia (the location of which is unknown to us)."[8]

"I found there none of the sons of Levi" (Ezra 8:15). The difficulty in recruiting Levites was probably due to the reduction of their status by the encroaching activities of the post-exilic priesthood, whose criminal activity was so dramatically exposed in the Book of Malachi, so terrible, in fact, that God even cursed them (Malachi 2:1-2). The disaffection of the Levites is demonstrated by the fact that, "Only 341 returned with Zerubbabel, compared with 4,289 priests."[9]

Regarding Ezra's determination to include Levites in his migration, Williamson pointed out that, "Ezra regarded his company as `an ideal Israel,"[10] which of course required the presence of Levites. "And as presented in the Book of Ezra, it was a second exodus."[11]

"And of the Nethinim ... two hundred twenty" (Ezra 8:20). The original Nethinim were the Gibeonites (Joshua 9:23).

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
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Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Ezra 8:15". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/ezra-8.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And I gathered them together to the river that runneth to Ahava,.... From whence also the river bore the same name; or that from the river, see Ezra 8:21, and may be the same with Adiabene, a country in Assyria, which had its name from the river Adiava:

and there abode we in tents three days; or pitched their camp; this was the place of their rendezvous:

and I viewed the people and the priests; mustered them, took the number of them, and what tribe and families they were of:

and found there none of the sons of Levi; excepting the priests.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Ezra 8:15". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/ezra-8.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

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

(c) To that place of Euphrates, where the Ahava river enters it.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Ezra 8:15". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/ezra-8.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Ezra 8:15-20. He sends to Iddo for ministers for the Temple sevice.

I gathered them together to the river that runneth to Ahava — This river has not been ascertained. It is probable that the Ahava was one of the streams or numerous canals of Mesopotamia communicating with the Euphrates [Cyclopaedia of Biblical Literature]. But it was certainly in Babylonia on the banks of that stream; and perhaps the place appointed for general rendezvous was in the neighborhood of a town of the same name. The emigrants encamped there for three days, according to Oriental custom, while the preparations for the departure were being completed and Ezra was arranging the order of the caravan.

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

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This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Ezra 8:15". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/ezra-8.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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

Of Levi — None who were simple Levites, and not the priests. And therefore the Levites mentioned, chap7:7, by anticipation were not yet come to him.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Ezra 8:15". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/ezra-8.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Ezra 8:15 And I gathered them together to the river that runneth to Ahava; and there abode we in tents three days: and I viewed the people, and the priests, and found there none of the sons of Levi.

Ver. 15. And I gathered them together to the river] There was their first rendezvous, at the meeting of two rivers; whereof that country was full, Psalms 137:1, and therefore fertile as the garden of the Lord, whereof it was a part, as most geographers are of opinion.

And there abode we in tents] Glad we had our faces set toward Zion (going weeping, &c., Jeremiah 50:4-5), and our backs upon Babylon; of which we might well say, as the philosopher afterwards did of Athens, that it was a pleasant place to travel through, but not safe to dwell in.

And found there none of the sons of Levi] None but what he afterwards sent for, no volunteers; this was lamentable, that Levites should be so backward to so good a business. Here was nomen inane, crimen immane. missing name, enormous crime.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Ezra 8:15". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/ezra-8.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Ver. 15. Ahava This was a river of Assyria, and, very probably, that which ran along the Adiabene, where the river Diava, or Adiava, is known to be, and upon which Ptolemy places the city of Abane, or Avano. Here, as some imagine, was the country which, in the 2nd book of Kings, 2 Kings 17:24 is called Ava, whence the king of Assyria translated the people called Avites into Palestine, and in their room settled some of the captive Israelites. It was a common thing for those who travelled from Babylon to Jerusalem, in order to avoid the scorching heat of the desart of Arabia, to shape their course northward at first, and then, turning westward, to pass through Syria into Palestine. But Ezra had a further reason for taking this route; for, as he intended to get together as many Israelites as he could, to carry along with him to Jerusalem, he took his course this way, and made a halt in the country of Ava, or Ahava, from which place he might send emissaries into the Caspian mountains, to invite such Jews as were there to come and join them. See Calmet.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Ezra 8:15". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/ezra-8.html. 1801-1803.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

The pause that Ezra made before his departure, no doubt, was with a view to begin his journey in prayer. Carry us not up hence, is, or should be, the language of every truly regenerated believer, when like Moses we are about to set forth on any expedition; unless thy presence goeth with us. Exodus 33:15. Is it not a matter of great astonishment, that none of God's ministers, the Levites, should, unasked, have been forward to go, especially as Artaxerxes had granted free permission? But, Reader, do not overlook the pious conduct of Ezra on this occasion, in his anxiety to have the ministers with him for the service of the house of God.

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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Ezra 8:15". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/ezra-8.html. 1828.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

The river that runneth to Ahava; or,

the river of Ahava, as it is called, Ezra 8:21,31. By comparing of these places, it seems that Ahava was the name both of the river, and of the town or place by which it ran. Either this was that river which other writers call Adiava, which runs to Assyria, which thence is called Adiabene; or some other river running into Euphrates.

None of the sons of Levi, to wit, who were simple Levites, and not priests. And therefore the Levites, mentioned Ezra 7:7, by anticipation, were not yet come to him.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Ezra 8:15". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/ezra-8.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

THE GATHERING AND PREPARATIONS AT THE RIVER THAT RUNNETH TO AHAVA, Ezra 8:15-20.

15.The river that runneth to Ahava — So that Ahava was not the name of the river, but the place to which or near which the river ran. It was probably the same as the Ava or Ivah of 2 Kings 17:24; 2 Kings 18:34; and the river is to be understood of the Euphrates at that spot, or, what is more probable, some canal or small stream that flowed into the Euphrates at that place. Ahava, or Ava, was situated in the northern part of Babylonia, and is represented by the modern Hit. See note on 2 Kings 17:24.

None of the sons of Levi — That is, none of the Levites as distinguished from the priests. All the priests were sons of Levi, but all the sons of Levi were not priests. The priests were confined to the descendants of Aaron, (through Phinehas and Ithamar of Ezra 8:2.) The Levites proper were descendants of other sons of Levi. See the genealogy of 1 Chronicles 6.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Ezra 8:15". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/ezra-8.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Ezra 8:15. To the river that runneth to Ahava — Or the river of Ahava, as it is called, Ezra 8:21; Ezra 8:31. By comparing of these places, it seems that Ahava was the name both of the river and of the town or place by which it ran. Either this was that river of Assyria, which other writers call Adiava, or Diava, which ran along the Adiabene, upon which Ptolemy places the city of Abane, or Aavane; or some other river which ran into the Euphrates. Here, some imagine, was the country which (2 Kings 17:24) is called Ava, from whence the king of Assyria translated the people called Avites into Palestine, and in their room settled some of the captive Israelites. It was a common thing for those who travelled from Babylon to Jerusalem, in order to avoid the scorching heat of the desert of Arabia, to shape their course northward at first, and then turning westward, to pass through Syria into Palestine. But Ezra had a further reason for his taking this route; for, as he intended to get together as many Israelites as he could, to carry along with him to Jerusalem, he took his course this way, and made a halt in the country of Ava, or Ahava, from whence he might send emissaries, to a place afterward mentioned, to invite such Jews as were there to come and join him. See Calmet’s Dict. on the word Ahava. And found there none of the sons of Levi — To wit, who were simple Levites, and not priests; and therefore the Levites mentioned Ezra 7:7, by anticipation, were not yet come to him.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Ezra 8:15". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/ezra-8.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ahava. This river (ver. 21., and 31.) runs through the territory of the same name, called Hava; (4 Kings xvii. 24.) the people of which exchanged places with the Israelites. Esdras makes a circuit to prevail on some of the latter to return with him, unless he began his journey from Susa. Babylon comprises all that country. (Calmet) --- None there, who were not priests, ver. 2. (Lyranus) (Menochius)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Ezra 8:15". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/ezra-8.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

together = out.

Ahava. Ahava. The name of the river, and of the city. Compare Ezra 8:21.

abode = encamped.

none of the sons of Levi. Only priests and laymen. The Levites were slack. Compare Ezra 2:40. Only a small number accompanied Zerubbabel (Ezra 2:36). Not so the priests (Ezra 2:36-39).

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Ezra 8:15". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/ezra-8.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

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

I gathered them together to the river that runneth to Ahava [ 'Ah

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Ezra 8:15". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/ezra-8.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(15) Ahava.—Both river and town. Nine days’ journey brought them thither; and there is a place now called Hit, about eighty miles from Babylon, which has been identified with it.

None of the sons of Levi.—Only seventy-four had returned with Zerubbabel (Ezra 2:40); and hero we have evidence that the disinclination continued. The importance of Levitcal service in the Temple accounts for the anxiety of Ezra.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Ezra 8:15". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/ezra-8.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And I gathered them together to the river that runneth to Ahava; and there abode we in tents three days: and I viewed the people, and the priests, and found there none of the sons of Levi.
the river that runneth
Ahava is supposed to be the river Adiava, which, with the Diava, is said by Ammianus to have given name to Adiabene, a province of Assyria, through which they flowed into the Tigris. These rivers were also called respectively, Anzabas and Zabas, the Caprus and Lycus of Ptolemy; the former of which he places, at its source, in long. 79 degrees, lat. 39® degrees, and at its junction with the Tigris, in long. 79® degrees, lat. 36 degrees 6'; and the latter, at its source, in long 78 degrees, lat. 39 degrees; and where it falls into the Tigris, in long. 79 degrees, lat. 36® degrees. They are now called the Great and Little Zab, or the Zabein, i.e., the two Zabs, which, says Ibn Haukal, "are considerable streams, each about half as large as the Dejleh (or Tigris). They rise among the mountains of Azerbaijan: of these, the larger is that which runs towards Haditheh. These streams form part of the Tigris, and water the district of Semerah."
Psalms 137:1; Ezekiel 1:1; 3:15; Acts 16:13
Ahava
21,31
abode
Heb. pitched. and found.
2; 7:7,24
Reciprocal: Nehemiah 12:27 - out;  Jeremiah 31:6 - Arise

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Ezra 8:15". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/ezra-8.html.