Ezra 2 RETURNING TO THEIR HOMELAND.

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INTRODUCTION TO EZRA CHAPTER  2

This chapter will list the family names of the exiles who returned from Babylon.  Remember that they were slaves in Babylon and after the war were taken to Persia and now are allowed to return to the land of their ancestors.
Three families had lost their genealogical records so until they had God’s approval was not allowed to officiate in priestly duties.  A total of 49,897 people, including servants and singers return to their homeland of Israel.  You are now invited to join with me in a verse by verse exposition.

EXPOSITION OF EZRA CHAPTER  2

1 Now these are the people of the province who came up from the captivity of the exiles, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had taken captive to Babylon (they returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to his own town,

There are two registers compiled of the captives, one is by Ezra and the other by Nehemiah.  There is a slight difference and probably the following explanation would account for the difference.  I believe that the account by Era was the census taken when he led the contingent from Persia and other census by Nehemiah taken some years later in Jerusalem.  Cf. Neh. 7:4-73 with the list provided by Ezra.

2 in company with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispar, Bigvai, Rehum and Baanah):
       The list of the men of the people of Israel:

The eleven men mentioned in this verse 4 were leaders of the expedition.  The fact that Israel is used shows that all twelve tribes were represented and not just the two tribes of Judah.

3 the descendants of Parosh 2,172

4 of Shephatiah 372

5 of Arah 775

6 of Pahath-Moab (through the line of Jeshua and Joab) 2,812

7 of Elam 1,254

8 of Zattu 945

9 of Zaccai 760

10 of Bani 642

11 of Bebai 623

12 of Azgad 1,222

13 of Adonikam 666

14 of Bigvai 2,056

15 of Adin 454

16 of Ater (through Hezekiah) 98

17 of Bezai 323

18 of Jorah 112

19 of Hashum 223

20 of Gibbar 95

The census information collected will serve several sources.  1.  Military draft.  2.  Tax revenue.  3.  Property rights.  4.  To determine who was a priest or Levite.  4.  Collecting of monies for the temple.  5.  To determine who would live in Jerusalem and who would live in nearby cities.

21 the men of Bethlehem 123

22 of Netophah 56

23 of Anathoth 128

24 of Azmaveth 42

25 of Kiriath Jearim,  Kephirah and Beeroth 743

26 of Ramah and Geba 621

27 of Micmash 122

28 of Bethel and Ai 223

29 of Nebo 52

30 of Magbish 156

31 of the other Elam 1,254

32 of Harim 320

33 of Lod, Hadid and Ono 725

34 of Jericho 345

35 of Senaah 3,630

Note that the registry is focused on Bethlehem because as previously stated Jerusalem was in the first registry.

36 The priests:
       the descendants of Jedaiah (through the family of Jeshua) 973

37 of Immer 1,052

38 of Pashhur 1,247

39 of Harim 1,017

The priest that return number 4,289 or about 10% of the total captives to return under Ezra.

40 The Levites:
       the descendants of Jeshua and Kadmiel (through the line of Hodaviah)74

Levites number 74 and are the priest assistants.  Nehemiah tells us what the Levites did in Nehemiah 8:7-9.  The book of I Chr. 2:3,4 tells us that in David’s day there were 38,000 Levites and list a job classification as supervisors over the construction of the temple, government  officials, judges, gatekeepers, and musicians.  The Babylonians had nearly wiped out the Levites in an effort to destroy all the political and religious apparatus of the Jews.

41 The singers:
       the descendants of Asaph 128 

This group of singers number 128 and are from the Asaph clan.  More singers are mentioned in verse 65.  A roster containing 288 sons of Asaph, Heman and Jeduthan for the ministry of prophesying, accompanied with harps, lyres and cymbals is listed in I Chron. 25

42 The gatekeepers of the temple:
       the descendants of
       Shallum, Ater, Talmon,
       Akkub, Hatita and Shobai 139

Gatekeepers number 139 and they are responsible for security of the city gates.  In I Chron. 23:5 we have 4,000 gatekeepers in the days of David and Solomon.

 

43 The temple servants:
       the descendants of
       Ziha, Hasupha, Tabbaoth,

44 Keros, Siaha, Padon,

45 Lebanah, Hagabah, Akkub,

46 Hagab, Shalmai, Hanan,

47 Giddel, Gahar, Reaiah,

48 Rezin, Nekoda, Gazzam,

49 Uzza, Paseah, Besai,

50 Asnah, Meunim, Nephussim,

51 Bakbuk, Hakupha, Harhur,

52 Bazluth, Mehida, Harsha,

53 Barkos, Sisera, Temah,

54 Neziah and Hatipha

55 The descendants of the servants of Solomon:
       the descendants of
       Sotai, Hassophereth, Peruda,

56 Jaala, Darkon, Giddel,

57 Shephatiah, Hattil,
       Pokereth-Hazzebaim and Ami

58 The temple servants and the descendants of the servants of Solomon 392

Nethinims and descendants of Solomon’s servants number 392.  This group is called temple servants.  I suppose their responsibilities were ground maintenance, cleaning and all menial tasks that servants normally perform.

59 The following came up from the towns of Tel Melah, Tel Harsha, Kerub, Addon and Immer, but they could not show that their families were descended from Israel:

60 The descendants of
       Delaiah, Tobiah and Nekoda 652

61 And from among the priests:
       The descendants of
       Hobaiah, Hakkoz and Barzillai (a man who had married a daughter of Barzillai the Gileadite and was called by that name).

62 These searched for their family records, but they could not find them and so were excluded from the priesthood as unclean.

63 The governor ordered them not to eat any of the most sacred food until there was a priest ministering with the Urim and Thummim.

This group number 652 and returned from captivity but lacked a genealogy record.  They were staking claim to the priesthood without proper identification.  So Governor Zerubbabel orders an investigation that will be confirmed with Urim and Thummin.

64 The whole company numbered 42,360,

The total here in Ezra is 42,360.  Looking back at the various lists and adding up the numbers we come up with 29,818.  I suppose this larger number would include women and children not named in the previous list.

65 besides their 7,337 menservants and maidservants; and they also had 200 men and women singers.

200 singers however verse 41 lists 128 singers.  There is no discrepancy since verse 41 names the descendants of Asaph and this group would also include other singers not of that clan.

66 They had 736 horses, 245 mules,

736 Horses—used to pull wagons, plows, transportation and war.

245 Mules —Used as pack animals and coronation ceremonies.

 67  435 camels and 6,720 donkeys.

The camels were used in caravans as pack animals and for milk.  6720 Donkeys.  These animals were used for beast of burden and riding.

68 When they arrived at the house of the LORD in Jerusalem, some of the heads of the families gave freewill offerings toward the rebuilding of the house of God on its site.

The returnees were so grateful to get back to their homeland that they wanted to contribute to the rebuilding fund.

69 According to their ability they gave to the treasury for this work 61,000 drachmas of gold, 5,000 minas  of silver and 100 priestly garments.

Nehemiah and Ezra have two different amounts of the offering.  I suppose we could account for this as meaning that a contribution was taken up at two different times thus two different amounts.  Compare Nehemiah 7:70-72

70 The priests, the Levites, the singers, the gatekeepers and the temple servants settled in their own towns, along with some of the other people, and the rest of the Israelites settled in their towns.

The re-settling was done according to family origin, that is, where their family had lived before the captivity.

 

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Ezra 1 GOD STIRS THE HEART OF CYRUS

Cyrus allows the exiles to return—this kingdom stretched all the way from India to Ethiopia. The first year of his reign was BC 538. The Lord fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah and stirred the heart of Cyrus to issue a public notice and it was posted in all 127 provinces. The notice begins by saying that God was behind the project and that he was acting in his behalf. He empties the museum and crates up the entire artifact and lets Ezra take it back to its rightful owner. Then God stirred the hearts of priests, Levites, and tribal leaders to pack for moving. Cyrus was a “hands on king” and orders his treasurer to turn over to Sheshbazzar (the new governor appointed by the king) all 5400 items. Keep reading for more details as I explore this book verse by verse chapter by chapter.

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Ezra 2 RETURNING TO THEIR HOMELAND.

This chapter will list the family names of the exiles who returned from Babylon. Remember that they were slaves in Babylon and after the war were taken to Persia and now are allowed to return to the land of their ancestors.
Three families had lost their genealogical records so until they had God’s approval was not allowed to officiate in priestly duties. A total of 49,897 people, including servants and singers return to their homeland of Israel. You are now invited to join with me in a verse by verse exposition.

Read Online »

Ezra 3 DREAMS THAT FUELED THEIR PASSION.

It was the dreams that fueled the passion of the exiles.  This book shows us that God will supply the desire as he moves in our heart.  This chapter begins with building an altar according to the instruction in the Law of Moses.  It was built on the old site and sacrifices were offered.  They also observed the festival of tabernacles.  All of this occurred before the foundation of the temple was laid.  They hired masons and carpenters from Tyre to help in preparing and transporting materials for the temple.  The work force had supervisors which were under the direction of Jeshua the General Foreman.  They dug the footers and laid the foundation stones and upon completion of the foundation a religious gathering occurred and a band played music—singers sang—it was a joyous occasion—and shouting could be heard in a far distance.

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Ezra 4 SHUTTING THE TEMPLE BUILDING PROJECT DOWN.

As the exiles rebuild they were approached by their enemies who volunteered to help them with their project. But Zerubbabel and the leaders told them that they had neither part nor lot in the matter. These same people did everything possible to stop the work. First they tried to frighten them and then tried bribery. This went on during the administration of Cyrus and Darius. Later after Cyrus is dead and Xerxes came to the throne the enemies tried to get the new king to shut the project down. We are told that the letter was in Aramaic language and the king responded by shutting the job down. The work had stopped and would not resume for the next sixteen years.

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Ezra 5 A DECREE TO STOP BUILDING THE TEMPLE

This chapter introduces us to Haggai and Zechariah two of the prophets of that era.  Zerubbabel the Governor of Judea re-starts the building project which had been stopped years earlier.  However, Tattenai (a regional Governor of Trans-Euphrates in the Persian empire {there was 20 such Governors which had control over the 127 provinces of the empire} also called Satraps.)  This regional Governor and his staff pay a visit to Jerusalem and did not like what they saw.  Their regional report was sent to Darius with a request to look up the original decree and issue a ruling to block all efforts to rebuild the temple.  A full examination of the letter is reserved for the commentary.

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Ezra 6 . DISCOVERING THE ORIGINAL DECREE.

At Ecbatana in the fortress a copy of the original decree was found in the archives. All the specs were in the original decree including height and width. It was to be built on the original site and the royal treasury of Persia was to pay all expenses and the museum pieces were to be returned. So, Darius sent the following official letter to Tattenai: Stay away—Do not disturb—keep your mouth shut—allow the work to proceed. You must pay all construction costs from taxes collected in your province, supply all sacrifices plus wheat, salt, wine, and olive oil fro daily needs. Any violations of my decree will result in beatings, and confiscation of property. Darius issued the decree and it must be obeyed with all diligence. This commentary will illuminate the text and move you to be an Ezra to someone.

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Ezra 7 A NATIONAL PASSION FOR THE WORD

Dramatic change is about to occur—the crowd is electrified—Ezra is weeping—confessing their national sins and begging for forgiveness. The fire of revival can be felt from priest to peasant. They had never heard such a passionate preacher. He loses no time in getting to the point. He opens the old book and the sweet flow of the love of God and his word flows like a river. There was a passion for God and a hunger for getting right with the Lord. May God stir our hearts today for a national response to have the fervor and emotion that would transport us into a spiritual ecstasy and rapture like that of the Protestant Reformation. May God lift us out of our apathy, indifference and coldness. Pray for God to awake us.

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Ezra 8 CAMPING AT THE AHAVA CANAL

They are on their 900 mile journey to the homeland of their fathers when the roster was looked at and Ezra saw that no Levites were among them. Ezra realized that the worship would be hamstrung without these men. So, they remained camping at Ahava Canal for 3 days while Ezra sent some of his staff to Iddo in Casiphia to help find some Levites. They prayed and fasted for a safe journey which would take a little more than 3 months. God heard their prayer. Twelve leaders from among the priests were in charge of the safe arrival of silver and gold etc. They were to guard it with their life. On the 8th. of April BC 458 they broke camp and started the long journey from the Ahava Canal, upon arrival they rested 3 days and on the 4th. day deposited the valuables in the temple and entrusted it with those in charge. The exiles sacrificed burnt offerings and a copy of the king’s decrees was delivered to Governors in Trans-Euphrates, upon reading the decree these Governors then cooperated by supplying the aforementioned materials. The commentary section will provide additional information.

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Ezra’s 9 EZRA LAYS THE SCRIPTURES ON THEM

Some of the Israelites had intermarried with the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians and Amorites. So the holy race was being polluted with the detestable practices of the heathen and to make matters worse, the officials and leaders are some of the worst offenders. Ezra flies into a rage, he is appalled, enraged, incensed, furious and irate. Ezra realized that these priests and leaders are not fit to associate with the common folk. He lays the scripture on them and then sat down appalled till the evening sacrifice. At 3 O’clock he stood up, his clothes were torn and he lifted his hands in prayer and said he was ashamed, he said that their sins were piled higher than their heads that their guilt had reached to heaven. Ezra recounts God’s grace in their history and claims that they have polluted the land. He claims that they are an escaped remnant and that none of them could face God in such a condition. He resented what was happening like a new broom in an old mess. The answer to Ezra’s prayer will come in the next chapter.

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Ezra 10 BOILING WITH INDIGNATION.

Ezra prayed, wept, confessed and was in an ecstasy of rage.  He resented what was happening like a new broom in an old mess.  Boiling with indignation he threw himself on the ground and a group came and wept with him.  Shecaniah suggested the following plan:  Make a covenant with God and then divorce the heathen women.  He encourages Ezra to take courage and that all is not lost.  So Ezra stood up and made them swear with a solemn oath that they would keep the law of God.  A proclamation was issued for all exiles to come to Jerusalem.  Three days later on the 19th. Of December sitting or standing in a soaking rain they confessed their sins and promised to separate themselves from the pagan women.  However, this required some time for the judicial system to hear the cases and issue judgment.  The plan was followed and beginning on December 29th. Court was in session and concluded by March 27th. Priests were named—gatekeepers were named—everyone guilty had his name published.  Without an Ezra the nation would have repeated their sinful excesses.  Pray that God will send us an Ezra!

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