Ezra 2

EZRA CHAPTER 2

The List of Exiles Who Returned

        • ESV Study Bible writes, “This long chapter documents the exiles’ return from Babylon to resettle in their former homes in Jerusalem and Judah. (The information from ch 2 is given again in Neh 7:6-73 in connection with a covenant renewal under Nehemiah.) It shows that the exiled Judeans responded to Cyrus’s decree and took it as a fulfillment of prophecy. The return is not just the end of the exile but also a reoccupation of the ancient homeland.”

        • NET Bible notes, “The list of names and numbers in this chapter of Ezra has a parallel account in Neh 7:6-73. The fact that the two lists do not always agree in specific details suggests that various textual errors have crept into the accounts during the transmission process.”

      • These are the people of the province who went up, from the captives of the exile whom Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar had forced into exile in Babylon. They returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to his own city. They came with the following: Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispar, Bigvai, Rehum, and Baanah.

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible explains, “This chapter is the first of Ezra’s major digressions from the main story line. The returning exiles needed to keep track of who the true Jews were so that the community could maintain its identity (by knowing whom they could marry) and theological purity (by knowing who could worship at the Temple). This list is not an initial list (cp Neh 7:6-73) of all the Jews who returned to Jerusalem but a slightly later list (after Sheshbazzar had died) of people who settled in their towns. Jeshua (a variant spelling of Joshua), son of Jehozadak (3:2, 8), from the line of Aaron, was the high priest (Hagg 1:1; Zech 3:1). The Nehemiah mentioned here is not the person who later built the walls of Jerusalem, nor is this Mordecai the famous relative of Esther.”

        • Guzik adds, “Here are eleven names mentioned, yet the list probably should contain twelve names (comparing with Nehemiah 7:7 and noting the twelve sacrificial bulls of Ezra 8:35).” He then cites Kidner, “There are eleven names here, but Nehemiah’s copy of the list preserves one more, that of Nahamani (Nehemiah 7:7), which has evidently dropped out of this verse in the course of copying. The choice of twelve, like that of the twelve apostles, was a tacit declaration that the community they led was no mere rump or fragment by the embodiment of the people of Israel.”

        • ESV Archaeological Study Bible says, “The use of this expression [the people of the province] evidences the writer’s familiarity with the political situation of that time. Zerubbabel, grandson of Jehoiachin, heir to the Davidic throne, and governor of Judah, was a royal choice. Jeshua, the high priest and son of Jehozadak, was one whose line is traced through Zadok to Aaron. The choice by Cyrus of these two key leaders to lead the restoration- one a political choice, the other a spiritual one- would commend him to the Jews…”

        • HCSB remarks, “As some people debate the appropriateness of the Jewish presence in Israel, it is important to remember that God promised this land to Abraham and his descendants (Gn 17:1-8). This passage is used by some to lend support to the Jewish claim to the land of Israel. The returnees traced their ancestry to this land. No other identifiable group can claim a more ancient relationship to the Holy Land.”

      • The number of the Israelite men was as follows:

          • On the following verses (2b-70) ESV Study Bible notes, “Those who returned are divided into ordinary Israelites (vv. 2b-35) and servants of the temple, including priests and Levites (vv. 36-58). (The same division recurs in vv. 59-63, regarding legitimacy.) The balance shows a clear interest in the temple and its staffing. This return is about reestablishing the worship of Yahweh here.”

        • the descendants of Perosh………………………….2,172

        • the descendants of Shephatiah…………………….. 372

        • the descendants of Arah …………………………….. 775

        • the descendants of Pahath-Moab (through

                the line of Jeshua and Joab)………………………. 2, 812

        • the descendants of Elam…………………………….1, 254

        • the descendants of Zattu …………………………….. 945

        • the descendants of Zakkai ………………………….. 760

        • the descendants of Bani ………………………………642

        • the descendants of Bebai …………………………….623

        • the descendants of Azgad ………………………….1,222

        • the descendants of Adonikam ……………………….666

        • the descendants of Bigvai …………………………..2,056

        • the descendants of Adin ……………………………….454

        • the descendants of Ater (through Hezekiah)………98

        • the descendants of Bezai ……………………………..323

        • the descendants of Jorah ……………………………..112

        • the descendants of Hashum ………………………….223

        • the descendants of Gibbar ………………………………95

          • Regarding the phrase “the descendants of,” which precedes the names in the list in the verses above (vv. 3-20), NLT Illustrated Study Bible says, “In the ancient Near East, an individual’s identity was closely connected to the question, ‘Who are your father and your family?’ Ultimately, the priests were identified as the sons of Aaron. If this link could not be verified, they were barred from service (2:61-62). Others were identified by a well-known elder in their group.”

      • the men of Bethlehem…………………………………….123

      • the men of Netophah ………………………………………56

      • the men of Anathoth ………………………………………128

      • the men of Azmaveth’s family …………………………..42

        • NET Bible notes here, “Heb “the men of the house of Azmaveth”; some regard …(bet, ‘house of’) as a part of the place name: NAB, NLT ‘Beth Azmaveth.’ The translation follows the suggestion in BHS and read… (ʾanshe bet, ‘men of the house of’) here rather than the reading …(bne, ‘the sons of’) found in the MT. And see H. G. M. Williamson, Ezra, Nehemiah (WBC), 25.”

      • the men of Kiriath Jearim, Kephirah, and Beeroth..743

      • the men of Ramah and Geba …………………………..621

      • the men Mikmash …………………………………………..122

      • the men of Bethel and Ai …………………………………223

      • the citizens of Nebo ………………………. ………………..52

      • the citizens of Magbish ……………………………………156

      • the citizens of the other Elam ………………………….1254

      • the citizens of Harim ……………………………………….320

      • the citizens of Lod, Hadid, and Ono ………………….725

      • the citizens of Jericho ……………………………………..345

      • the citizens of Senaah …………………………………..3630

        • Regarding the phrases “the men of” and “the citizens of” which precedes the names in the list in the verses above (vv. 21-35), NLT Illustrated Study Bible notes, “Some of the returnees were identified by their towns of origin. Apparently, not all knew their genealogical histories or had large families with renowned leaders. Most of the cities mentioned were concentrated in a relatively small area in the vicinity of Jerusalem.”

      • The priests:

        • the descendants of Jedaiah (through the

          family of Jeshua)…………………………………………….973

        • the descendants of Immer …………………………….1052

        • the descendants of Pashhur ………………………….1247

        • the descendants of Harim ……………………………..1017

      • The Levites:

        • the decendants of Jeshua and Kadmiel (through

          the line of Hodaviah) ………………………………………..74

      • The singers:

        • the descendants of Asaph ……………………………….128

      • the gatekeepers:

        • the descendants of Shallum, the descendants

                of Ater, the descendants of Talmon, the

                descendants of Akkub, the descendants of

                Hatita, and the descendants of Shabai……………….139

      • the temple servants:

        • the descendants of Ziha;

        • the descendants of Hasupha;

        • the descendants of Tabbaoth;

        • the descendants of Keros;

        • the descendants of Siaha;

        • the descendants of Padon;

        • the descendants of Lebanah;

        • the descendants of Hagabah;

        • the descendants of Akkub;

        • the descendants of Hagab;

        • the descendants of Shalmai;

        • the descendants of Hanan;

        • the descendants of Giddel;

        • the descendants of Gahar;

        • the descendants of Reaiah;

        • the descendants of Rezin;

        • the descendants of Nekoda;

        • the descendants of Gazzam;

        • the descendants of Uzza;

        • the descendants of Paseah;

        • the descendants of Besai;

        • the descendants of Asnah;

        • the descendants of Meunim;

        • the descendants of Nephusim;

        • the descendants of Bakbuk;

        • the descendants of Hakupha;

        • the descendants of Harhur;

        • the descendants of Bazluth;

        • the descendants of Mehida;

        • the descendants of Harsha;

        • the descendants of Barkos;

        • the descendants of Sisera;

        • the descendants of Temah;

        • the descendants of Neziah

        • and the descendants of Hatipha.

      • The descendants of Solomon’s servants:

        • the descendants of Sotai;

        • the descendants of Hassophereth;

        • the descendants of Peruda;

        • the descendants of Jaala;

        • the descendants of Darkon;

        • the descendants of Giddel;

        • the descendants of Shephatiah;

        • the descendants of Hattil;

        • the descendants of Pokereth-Hazzebaim;

        • and the descendants of Ami.

      • In all, the temple servants and the

        descendants of Solomon’s servants………………………..392

        • On the verses above (vv. 36-58) ESV Study Bible writes, “The temple officials are divided according to function, headed by the priests and Levites. The priests (vv. 36-39) are the most important group, for they are set apart for worship at the altar; the Levites are attendants, some of them singers and gatekeepers (vv. 40-42; see also 1 Chron 6:33-43; 9:17-18). Three of the priestly names given here (Jedaiah, Immer, Passhur) also appear in 1 Chron 9:10-13 in that list of those who returned from the exile (cf also Jer 20:1-6). The number of Levites is surprisingly low compared to the priests. The temple servants (Hb netinim, a term appearing only in Ezra, Nehemiah, and 1 Chron 9:2) were a further, lower class of officials appointed by King David to help the Levites (cf Ezra 8:20). There may be a connection between them and the Gibeonites, whom Joshua made servants of the sanctuary (Josh 9:23, 27). Here, however, they are apparently not slaves, and in Neh 10:28 they are named among those who take the covenant oath.” The descendants of Solomon’s servants, the same source continues. “…may be connected with foreigners whom Solomon originally drafted for building the temple (1 Kings 9:20-21). They are numbered here along with the temple servants (Ezra 2:43), and like them are not regarded as slaves. Presumably they all returned voluntarily from Babylon.”

      • The following came up from the cities of Tel Melah, Tel Harsha, Kerub, Addon, and Immer, but they were unable to prove that their families and ancestry were from Israel:

        • the descendants of Delaiah, the descendants

          of Tobiah, and the descendants of Nekoda ……………..652

      • And from among the priests:

        • the descendants of Hobaiah;

        • the descendants of Hakkoz;

        • and the descendants of Barzillai (a man who had married a daughter of Barzillai the Gileadite and was called by their name).

        • These searched for their entries in the genealogical records, but they could not be found. So they were disqualified from the priesthood. The governor instructed them not to partake of the holy food until there was a priest who could consult the Urim and Thummim.

          • ESV Study Bible: “This section considers the legitimacy of claims to citizenship and membership in the priesthood. It was important in this returning community to establish credentials. People were coming back after a long exile to claim inheritance and property. In the case of priests, it was paramount that only those with the correct pedigree should officiate at the altar. Such claims needed evidence, and the record inevitably contained gaps. The claims entered here are not permanently refused, but held over, pending further inquiry.”

          • NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible: “Of the exiles who returned, members of three lay families and three priestly families were unable at this time to prove their descent. Some may have derived from proselytes; others may have temporarily lost access to their genealogical records. Genealogies, which occur prominently in Chronicles and Ezra-Nehemiah, were important for many reasons, but especially for priests and Levites…The case of a man taking his name from his father-in-law is unique in the OT, but it is attested in Mesopotamia as a so-called erebu marriage; it is also attested in many other cultures (such as the Japanese), where a family has daughters but no sons.”

          • NLT Illustrated Study Bible: “They were excluded from priestly privileges or responsibilities until the high priest received divine direction through the use of the Urim and Thummim to determine the will of God (see Exod 28:30; Num 27:21). Although using the Urim and the Thummim resembled throwing dice or drawing straws, when done by the priest, the result was a divine decision rather than blind chance.”

      • The entire group numbered 42,360, not counting: their male and female servants which totaled 7,337, and their male and female singers which totaled 200. They also had 736 horses, 245 mules, 435 camels, and 6,720 donkeys.

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible notes, “This number, which does not match the total of individuals (28,774) listed in 2:3-42, might include children. The large number of servants and animals shows that some of the Jews who returned were wealthy.”

      • When they arrived at the house of Yahweh in Jerusalem, some of the family leaders offered freewill offerings to go toward rebuilding the house of God on its site. According to their ability, they gave 61,000 gold coins, 6,250 pounds of silver, and 100 priests’ garments to the treasury for the project.

        • There is variation in how translations render the word given for the gold coins. NET Bible explains, “The meaning of the Hebrew word …(darkmonim, cf. Neh 7:69, 70, 71) is uncertain. It may be a Greek loanword meaning ‘drachmas’ (the view adopted here and followed also by NAB, NASB, NIV) or a Persian loanword ‘daric,’ referring to a Persian gold coin (BDB 204 s.v. …HALOT 232 s.v. …cf. ASV, NRSV). For further study, see R. de Vaux, Ancient Israel, 206-9.”

        • ESV Study Bible adds, “The crucial importance of the temple project to the whole returning enterprise is signaled in vv. 68-69, where some heads of families (i.e., key people in the community, give of their own substance to initiate the rebuilding (cf Ex 36:2-7). The location of the former temple is regarded as a holy place, such that it can already be called the house of the Lord that is in Jerusalem.”

        • The same source continues, “A daric was a gold coin used throughout the Persian Empire. Introduced by Darius I at the end of the sixth century BC, it weighed about .3 ounces. Beginning in the second half of the fifth century BC, these coins with Hebrew letters on them appear in Judah. Several of them bear the name of the Persian province Yehud (i.e., Judah), which probably indicates that the province had some freedom to mint its own coins.”

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible adds, “Each of the gold coins…was worth a month’s wages for a professional soldier. 6,250 pounds (Hebrew 5,000 minas): Each mina weighed 20 ounces and was equal to 60 shekels of silver; each shekel was worth an average worker’s monthly wages.”

      • The priests, Levites, singers, gatekeepers, temple servants, and some of the people settled in their towns, and all the rest of the Israelites settled in their towns.

Judea under Persian Rule 538-332 BC; map via Biblemapper

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