Ezra 8

EZRA CHAPTER 8

The Leaders Who Returned with Ezra

      • These are the family leaders and those enrolled with them by genealogy who came up with me from Babylon during the reign of King Artaxerxes:

        • From Phinehas’ descendants: Gershom;

        • From Ithamar’s descendants: Daniel;

        • From David’s descendants: Hattush, a descendant of Shekaniah;

          • NET Bible points out an issue here, “The MT reads here ‘from the sons of Shecaniah’ with no descendant identified in what follows, contrary to the pattern of the context elsewhere. However, it seems better to understand the first phrase of v. 3 with the end of v. 2; the phrase would then modify the name ‘Hattush.’ This understanding requires emending the reading…(mibbne, ‘from the sons of’) in the MT to …(ben, ‘[the] son of’). Cf. NAB, TEV, CEV, NLT.”

        • From Parosh’s descendants: Zechariah, and with him were 150 men who were registered by genealogy;

        • From Pahath-Moab’s descendants: Eliehoenai, who was Zerahiah’s son, and 200 men with him;

        • From Zattu’s descendants: Shekaniah, who was Jahaziel’s son, and 300 men with him;

          • NET Bible points out, “The MT lacks ‘of Zattu.’ The translation adopted above follows the LXX in including the words.”

        • From Adin’s descendants: Ebed, who was Jonathan’s son, and 50 men with him;

        • From Elam’s descendants: Jeshaiah, who was Athaliah’s son, and 70 men with him;

        • From Shephatiah’s descendants: Zebadiah, who was Michael’s son, and 80 men with him;

        • From Joab’s descendants: Obadiah, who was Jehiel’s son, and 218 men with him;

        • From Bani’s descendants: Shelomith, who was Josiphiah’s son, and 160 men with him;

          • NET Bible points out, “The MT lacks ‘Bani.’ It is restored on the basis of certain LXX MSS.”

        • From Bebai’s descendants: Zechariah, who was Bebai’s son, and 28 men with him;

        • From Azgad’s descendants: Johanan, who was Hakkatan’s son, and 110 men with him;

        • From Adonikam’s descendants: those who came later whose names were Eliphelet, Jeuel, and Shemaiah, and 60 men with them;

          • NET Bible points out an issue here, “The exact meaning of this Hebrew phrase is uncertain. It may refer to the last remaining members of Adonikam’s family who were in Babylon. So, for example, H. G. M. Williamson, Ezra, Nehemiah (WBC), 108; cf. NASB, NIV, NCV. The phrase has also been taken to mean ‘the younger sons’ (so NAB), or the ones who ‘returned at a later date’ (so TEV).”

        • From Bigvai’s descendants: Uthai and Zakkur, and 70 men with them.

        • On the verses above, ESV Study Bible writes, “The party that returned with Ezra was a considerable addition to the community in Judah. It is numbered here according to the heads of their fathers’ houses, i.e., heads of families…Their genealogy refers to their formal registration in the list of those returning (as in v. 3, registered, which translates the same Hb word). There are two priestly divisions, namely, Phinehas (v. 2; son of Eleazar, Num 25:7) and Ithamar (Ezra 8:2; see Ex 28:1). These were the remaining sons of Aaron following the judgment on Nadab and Abihu (Lev 10:1-7). Ezra himself was of the line of Phinehas (Ezra 7:5). Daniel (8:2) is otherwise unknown, and is not the Daniel who was carried off to Babylon in 605 BC (see Dan 1:1,6…) for this is now 458…A third division is a line of David (8:2; for Hattush, see 1 Chron 3:22). Ezra’s party therefore aims to replenish the priesthood, and perhaps also to renew the claims of the Davidic house to rule in Judah.”

        • ESV Archaeology Study Bible adds, “The list of exiles in these verses parallels that of 2:3-19, repeating for the most part the same family names, though not in the exact same order. The numbers here in each case are smaller, but Ezra was accompanied to Jerusalem in large part by members of the same families as those who came back with Zerubbabel some 80 years before. An estimate of Ezra’s group is approximately 8,000…By this time Jews had been in Babylon a century and a half, so many would have been reluctant to accompany him back to Jerusalem. We know from excavations at Nippur that many wealthy Jews lived there in the time of Artaxerxes I.”

Ezra Sends for Levites

      • I had them assemble at the canal that flows toward Ahava and we camped there for three days. When I checked among the people and the priests, I found that there were no Levites there. So I sent for Eliezer, Ariel, Shemaiah, Elnathan, Jarib, Elnathan, Nathan, Zechariah, and Meshullum, who were leaders, and Joiarib and Elnathan, who were teachers. I sent them to Iddo, who was the leader in the place called Kasiphia. I told them what to say to Iddo and his relatives, who were the temple servants at Kasiphia, so they would bring us ministers for our God’s house.

        • ESV Study Bible says, “The party camps outside Babylon at the river that runs to Ahava, no doubt one of the networks of canals extending from the Euphrates. Ezra discovers that, though he had priests with him, there were none of the sons of Levi, i.e., the lower order of clergy, the Levites (see 2:40).”

        • ESV Archaeology Study Bible writes, “Nothing is known of this place where Levites and temple servants apparently could be expected to be found, and perhaps trained for the day when there would be a temple again in Jerusalem. The name is related to the word for ‘silver,’ and thus Casiphia was perhaps named after a guild of silversmiths. Since the place is used to refer to the temple (Deut 12:5; 1 Kings 8:29), some have suggested that the Jews in Mesopotamia, as in Elephantine, may have had a temple there as well.”

        • On the men who were identified as “teachers,” NLT Illustrated Study Bible notes, “The Hebrew term…refers to those who could interpret and explain the Torah. These men were probably respected because of their expertise in Scripture (cp. Neh 8:8-9). Ezra commissioned them to use their influence to recruit more Levites.”

      • Because the gracious hand of our God was on us, they sent us Sherebiah, who was accompanied by 18 of his sons and relatives. He was a capable man from Mahli’s descendants. Mahli was Levi’s son, and Levi was Israel’s son. They sent Hashabiah together with Jeshaiah, who were Merari’s descendants, along with his brothers and their sons- 20 men in all. They also sent 220 temple servants, who had been established by David and his officials to assist the Levites. They were all designated by name.

        • ESV Study Bible notes, “Mahli and Merari belong to the same Levitical family, Merari being a son of Levi (Num 3:33). The number of those who respond to Ezra’s call is small, but symbolically important for the nation’s future.”

      • NLT Illustrated Study Bible adds, “Only thirty-eight Levites (including the leaders) and 220 Temple servants responded.” On the group of Temple assistants established by David, the same source cites 1 Chr 24-26.

Fasting and Prayer for Protection

      • There by the Ahava Canal, I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask Him for a safe journey for us, our children, and all our possessions. I did this because I was ashamed to request soldiers and horsemen to protect us against enemies on our journey, since we had told the king, “The gracious hand of our God is on all who seek Him, but His power and wrath are against all who abandon Him.” So we fasted and implored our God for this, and He answered our prayer.

        • ESV Study Bible says that, “The custom of fasting grew in importance in the exile as part of a spirit of penitence (see Neh 9:1; Est 4:3). [Humbling themselves] implied a deliberate penitential attitude, as in the Day of Atonement (Lev 16:31)…”

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible adds, “Ezra had openly proclaimed his faith in God’s ability to protect the Israelites on their journey. Asking the king for help now would suggest that Ezra did not really believe in God’s ability to provide.”

Priests to Guard Offerings

      • Then I set apart 10 of the leading priests, along with Sherebiah, Hashabiah, and 10 of their relatives, and I weighed out to them the offering of silver, gold, and the vessels that the king, his counselors, his officials, and all of the Israelites present there had contributed for the house of our God. I weighed out to them: 24 tons of silver, silver vessels weighing 7,500 pounds, 7,500 pounds of gold, 20 gold bowls valued at 1,000 gold coins, and 2 vessels of fine gleaming bronze which were as valuable as gold. Then I said to them, “You and these vessels have been set apart as holy to Yahweh. The silver and gold are a freewill offering to Yahweh, the God of your ancestors. Guard them carefully until you weigh them out before the leading priests, Levites, and leaders of the Israelite families in Jerusalem, in the chambers of Yahweh’s house.” Then the priests and the Levites took charge of the silver, gold, and the vessels that had been weighed out, to transport them to our God’s house in Jerusalem.

        • ESV Archaeology Study Bible notes, “The amount of silver and gold in bars or ingots is extraordinarily large…However, in comparison to the total revenues of the empire given by Herodotus (History 3.94-95), the treasure carried by Ezra is not excessive.”

        • ESV Study Bible remarks, “The priests themselves are holy to the Lord (Ex 29:1), namely, set aside for this service, and the precious metals and vessels have been donated into the holy sphere, and so they are also holy (see Ex 30:26-29 for consecrated utensils). The holy vessels are rightly entrusted to the priests; they remain in priestly possession until handed over to their counterparts in the temple itself.”

Arrival in Jerusalem

      • We set out from the Ahava Canal to go to Jerusalem on the 12th day of the 1st month. The hand of our God was on us, and He protected us from enemies and bandits along the way. We arrived in Jerusalem and rested there for 3 days. On the 4th day we weighed out the silver, gold, and vessels in the house of our God into the care of Uriah’s son Meremoth, the priest, and Phinehas’ son Eleazar, who were accompanied by the following Levites: Jeshua’s son Jozabad, and Binnui’s son Noadiah. Everything was accounted for by number and weight, and the total weight was recorded at that time.

        • ESV Study Bible writes, “The group sets out on the twelfth day of the first month (Nisan, March/April); the plan to leave on the first day (7:9) had been delayed by the need to send for more Levites. Whether there were actual attacks on the group is not said, but God’s protection on this journey makes this departure from Babylon resemble the ancient exodus of Israel from Egypt (e.g., Ex 17:8-13…). [They came to Jerusalem] on the first day of the fifth month (Ab, July/August; cf 7:9), so the journey of roughly 900 miles…lasted for nearly four months…After a three day rest, the treasures for the temple are handed over to the priests as planned…”

        • ESV Archaeology Study Bible includes the following information on the reference to Meremoth, the son of Uriah, “Israeli archaeologist Nahman Avigad reported that the Jericho seal of British archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon bears the name of this Uriah, active in the second quarter of the fifth century BC.”

      • Then the exiles who had returned from the captivity offered burnt offerings to the God of Israel: 12 bulls for all Israel, 96 rams, 77 lambs, along with 12 male goats as a sin offering. All this was a burnt offering to Yahweh. Then they presented the king’s decrees to the royal satraps and to the governors of the province Beyond the River, who then assisted the people and the house of God.

        • ESV Study Bible notes, “For these exiles it is a first chance to see and worship at the rebuilt temple, and their sacrifices resemble those made at its first dedication (see 6:16-17).”

        • ESV Archaeology Study Bible adds, “A ‘satrap’ was a governor of a ‘satrapy’ (province), such as Beyond the River. The double expression here (satraps, governors) is a loose way of referring to the governing officials in general, who continue to have good relations with the community in Judah.”

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