Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Chap. 2. The Register of the Return
Chap. 2. contains the register or list of those who returned to Jerusalem, with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and their companions. The register gives the names in the following order, (1) ‘the men of the people of Israel’ (3–35), (2) the Priests (36–39), (3) the Levites, Singers, Porters, Nethinim, ‘children of the servants of Solomon’ (40–58), (4) miscellaneous (59–63), (5) the sum total, &c. (64–67).
The same list is to be found in Nehemiah 7:6-73, and 1Es 5:7-45. Certain variations occur both in the names and in the figures, the most important of which will come under notice in the following notes.
Now these are the children of the province that went up out of the captivity, of those which had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away unto Babylon, and came again unto Jerusalem and Judah, every one unto his city;1. Now these are the children of the province] ‘Now’, as in chap. Ezra 1:1 : the beginning of a new document. ‘The province’ here and in Nehemiah 1:3; Nehemiah 11:3, is the same as ‘the province of Judah’ (Ezra 5:8), i.e. the particular district of which Jerusalem was the centre and of which Zerubbabel was governor or ‘pekhah’. ‘The children of the province’ are the Jews inhabiting Jerusalem and its vicinity as distinct from the Jews that were left in Babylon. The phrase is perhaps an indication of the register having been transcribed at Babylon.
out of the captivity, of those which had been carried away] The comma in the A.V. tends to confuse the meaning. The R.V. better, out of the captivity of those which had been carried away. The English fails to give the sense of the passage. The words ‘those which had been carried away’ translate the one Hebrew word rendered in chap. Ezra 1:11 and elsewhere ‘the captivity’ (hag-gôlah). This was the technical abstract noun used to designate the Jews that had been carried away into foreign lands. The words here used are more nearly reproduced in the Greek version ἀπὸ τῆς αἰχμαλωσίας τῆς ἀποικίας. ‘From the captivity of the Gôlah’ means therefore ‘out of the condition and scene of captivity which was the lot of ‘the deportation’, i.e. of those who had been forcibly removed from their homes’. Cf. Ezra 1:11, Ezra 6:20.
Nebuchadnezzar] R.V. margin, ‘Heb. Nebuchadnezzor’. This spelling represents the preferable reading of the original in this verse. It again indicates the different origin of this section from chap. Ezra 1:7, where the Hebrew has ‘Nebuchadnezzar’ without any variant spelling. ‘Nebuchadnezzor’ attempts more nearly to reproduce the final syllable of the Assyrian ‘Nabû-kudur-uṣur’ i.e. ‘Nebo, defend the crown’. He is called ‘Nebuchadrezzar’ in several places. Once in Jeremiah 49:28 (C’thib) ‘Nebuchadrezzor’.
The great king of Babylon reigned 43 years (605–562). The two chief ‘deportations’ took place (1) in 598, when Nebuchadnezzar carried away king Jehoiachin and all the principal inhabitants of Jerusalem; (2) in 587–6, when the city was destroyed.
every one unto his city] It is impossible to take these words as literally applicable to the year of the Return. The Jews on their return to their own land at first only occupied Jerusalem and the country immediately adjacent. The work of settling into their own cities was the work of years. But the process was complete at the time when this heading was attached to the register of names. The writer summarizes the movement, which in his own time was long past, cf. Ezra 2:70, Ezra 3:1.
Which came with Zerubbabel: Jeshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispar, Bigvai, Rehum, Baanah. The number of the men of the people of Israel:2. which came with Zerubbabel:] Better punctuate as R.V. ‘with Zerubbabel,’. Those referred to are the main subject of Ezra 2:1, ‘the children of the province, &c.’, and are here described as coming with Zerubbabel and his companions.
Zerubbabel] (i.e. ‘begotten in Babylon’, or ‘the seed of Babylon’) is said to be an Assyrian name. The grandson of Jehoiachin, Zerubbabel was the representative of David’s dynasty (see 1 Chronicles 3:16 &c.). He is generally called ‘the son of Shealtiel’ (see note on 1 Chronicles 3:2), but the genealogy in 1 Chron. (1 Chronicles 3:19) represents him as the son of Pedaiah. He is called ‘the son of Shealtiel’ either as Shealtiel’s nephew and heir, or as Shealtiel’s legal son, Pedaiah having contracted a Levirate marriage with Shealtiel’s widow.
On the identity of Zerubbabel and Sheshbazzar see note on Ezra 1:8.
Jeshua] is a shortened form of Jehoshua or Joshua, used in Nehemiah 8:17 for the name of ‘the son of Nun’. The Jeshua here spoken of (and Ezra 3:2; Ezra 3:8; Ezra 4:3) is the Joshua mentioned in Haggai 1:1; Haggai 1:12; Haggai 1:14; Haggai 2:2; Haggai 2:4; Zechariah 3:1; Zechariah 3:3; Zechariah 3:6; Zechariah 6:2. He is the High-priest of the Return from the Captivity, being the son of Jehozadak, and grandson of the Seraiah whom Nebuchadnezzar put to death at Riblah after the destruction of Jerusalem, cf. 2 Kings 25:18-21; Jeremiah 52:24-27 (b.c. 586). See the genealogy of ‘the sons of Levi’ in 1 Chronicles 6:1-15.
Nehemiah] not to be confounded with the better known Nehemiah, who rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem 90 years later, 445 b.c.
Seraiah] = Azariah, Nehemiah 7:7.
Reelaiah] = Raamiah, Nehemiah 7:7.
Mordecai] not to be identified with the Mordecai of the book Esther.
Mizpah] A.V. transliterates incorrectly, making the form of the word to resemble the common Hebrew name of a place. R.V. Mispar correctly; for which compare ‘Mispereth’, Nehemiah 7:7.
Rehum] = Nehum, Nehemiah 7:7.
The names (including Zerubbabel) here recorded are 11 in number. The parallel passage in Nehemiah gives 12 names, that of Nahamani occurring between Reelaiah and Mordecai, and this is supported by the mention of 12 names in 1Es 5:8, where Euenius corresponds to Nahamani.
Nehemiah 7:7 (A.V.)
1Es 5:8 (A.V.)
Mizpah (Mispar, R.V.)
It is most probable that the name of Nahamani has dropped out of our text by an early error of transcription. The mention then of 11 names along with that of Zerubbabel suggests the idea that the attempt was made to revive the old subdivision of the people and to group the members of two tribes under twelve representative princes in the same way as four classes of priests were afterwards re-divided into twenty-four. The idea of the twelve tribes conveyed the thought of Israel’s totality and unity (a) in the days of the divided monarchy, cf. Elijah, 1 Kings 18:31; (b) at the dedication of the second Temple, Ezra 6:17; (c) at the return of Ezra and his company, cf. Ezra 8:35; (d) in the later days of Judaism, e.g. Acts 26:7; James 1:1; Revelation 7:4-8.
The number of the men of the people of Israel] These words form a heading for the register of names to the close of Ezra 2:35. They point forward and not back. It was an awkward mistake of arrangement to include the sentence in Ezra 2:2. It should commence Ezra 2:3; compare the headings in Ezra 2:36; Ezra 2:40-43; Ezra 2:55. Observe the name ‘the people of Israel’ applied here to the laity as a class distinct from ‘priests’ and ‘Levites’, cf. Ezra 6:16.
(a) It will be seen that the most important variations in the figures occur with the children of Arah (Ezra 2:5), Zattu (Ezra 2:8), Azgad (Ezra 2:12), Adin (Ezra 2:15), Hashum (Ezra 2:19), Bethel and Ai (Ezra 2:28), Senaah (Ezra 2:35); while ‘the children of Magbish’ (Ezra 2:30) are not mentioned in Nehemiah. The variations in the figures are probably due to errors of transcription from the original copy of the register.
(b) The text of Ezra seems to be purer than that of Nehemiah, while that of Esdras is inferior to both.
Upon the text of Ezra 2:31-32 see below.
The children of Parosh, two thousand an hundred seventy and two.3. The children of Parosh] A strange proper name, meaning a ‘flea’. A special branch of this family, called after Shechaniah, returned with Ezra (Ezra 8:3). Members of the family are mentioned as having married ‘strange wives’ (Ezra 10:25) and as assisting in the rebuilding of the walls (Nehemiah 3:25).
3–19. Names of households or families. Many of these names occur again in other lists, e.g. Ezra 8:1-14; Ezra 10:18-44; Nehemiah 10:1-27, and in connexion with much later events in the lifetime of Ezra and Nehemiah. These names therefore are not to be regarded as the names of the leading men of the various families who accompanied Zerubbabel, but as the titles of the families or clans into which the people were divided. These titles were probably taken from the founders of the families and were many of them of great antiquity. The mention of the same names of the ‘families’ at the return of Ezra (Ezra 8:1-14) merely shows that, though a certain number of a household had accompanied Zerubbabel, many members of it remained in Babylon, of whom some returned with Ezra, e.g. Parosh, Pahath-moab, Adin, Shephatiah, Elam, Bebai, Azgad, Adonikam, Bigvai, &c., cf. Nehemiah 10:14 ff.
The children of Shephatiah, three hundred seventy and two.
The children of Arah, seven hundred seventy and five.
The children of Pahathmoab, of the children of Jeshua and Joab, two thousand eight hundred and twelve.6. The children of Pahath-moab, of the children of Jeshua and Joab] Pahath = ruler of. We must suppose that the founder of this family had exercised rule over some portion of the Moabite territory. We learn from 1 Chronicles 4:22 that certain members of the tribe of Judah ‘had the dominion in Moab’. Probably this family belonged to the tribe of Judah. The word Pahath was commonly in use in Assyria, and is similar to the term for ‘governor’. Part of this family returned with Ezra (Ezra 8:4): certain members of it are mentioned in Ezra 10:30; Nehemiah 3:11.
Jeshua and Joab] In the original ‘Jeshua Joab’. These were special branches of the main family.
The children of Elam, a thousand two hundred fifty and four.7. Elam] Some would identify with the Elam mentioned 1 Chronicles 8:24—a Benjamite.
The children of Zattu, nine hundred forty and five.
The children of Zaccai, seven hundred and threescore.
The children of Bani, six hundred forty and two.
The children of Bebai, six hundred twenty and three.
The children of Azgad, a thousand two hundred twenty and two.12. The children of Azgad, a thousand two hundred twenty and two] The most serious discrepancy in the list (Neh. gives 2322, Esdras 3222), arising from error in the transcription of numbers. The smallest figure is intrinsically the most probable. The highest figure, given in 1 Esdr., attempts to combine the two other readings.
The children of Adonikam, six hundred sixty and six.13. Adonikam] This name appears in Nehemiah 10:16 as Adonijah.
The children of Bigvai, two thousand fifty and six.
The children of Adin, four hundred fifty and four.
The children of Ater of Hezekiah, ninety and eight.16. The children of Ater of Hezekiah] i.e., the family of Ater was represented by one branch called by the name of Hezekiah, cf. Ezra 2:6.
The children of Bezai, three hundred twenty and three.
The children of Jorah, an hundred and twelve.18. Jorah] called in Nehemiah (Ezra 7:24, Ezra 10:19) Hariph, with which may be compared Hareph (1 Chronicles 2:51) of the sons of Caleb. The interchange of names is the more strange when we remember that the Hebrew word ‘Joreh’ means ‘autumn-rain’ while the Hebrew ‘Horeph’ means ‘the autumn-season’.
The children of Hashum, two hundred twenty and three.
The children of Gibbar, ninety and five.20. Gibbar] Nehemiah 7:25 ‘Gibeon’ (for which our text is probably an early error), the famous scene of Joshua’s victory (Joshua , 10), of the battle between David’s and Ishbosheth’s men (2 Samuel 2), of Joab’s murder of Amasa (2 Samuel 20:8), the abode of the tabernacle (1 Kings 3:4; 1 Chronicles 16:39; 1 Chronicles 21:29; 2 Chronicles 1:3), the high-place at which the Lord appeared unto Solomon in a dream (1 Kings 3:4).
The false prophet Hananiah (Jeremiah 28:1) came from Gibeon. The modern ‘El-Jib,’ distant about 5 miles N.W. from Jerusalem, in the territory of Benjamin.
20–35. Names of towns and places. It is possible that the register dealt first with the dwellers in Jerusalem. The inhabitants of the towns and places nearest to Jerusalem and best known are mentioned next: last of all, the inhabitants of the less known or more remote places. The numbers are much smaller than those of the households (3–19).
The children of Bethlehem, an hundred twenty and three.21. Beth-lehem] or ‘the house of bread’: sometimes called Bethlehem of Judah to distinguish it from the Bethlehem in Zebulon (Joshua 19:15). Its name implies the fruitfulness of the soil. The name of Ephrath or Ephratah by which it was known in earlier times has also the meaning of plenty (cf. Genesis 35:19; Micah 5:1; Ruth 1:2). The story of Ruth lies in Bethlehem. Ibzan the Judge was a native of Bethlehem (Jdg 12:8). Its greatest fame in the O. T. is derived from its having been the birthplace of David (1 Samuel 17:12) and of the sons of Zeruiah (2 Samuel 2:32). It was only a village, but the prophet predicted its glory in the Messianic future (Micah 5:1), in words, of which the literal fulfilment is recorded in Matthew 2:1 &c.; Luke 2:1 &c.; cf. John 7:42.
It is situated about 5 miles S. of Jerusalem on high ground, some 2500 ft. above the level of the sea.
The men of Netophah, fifty and six.22. Netophah] According to 1 Chronicles 9:16 a town inhabited by priests, the birthplace of two of David’s heroes, Mahari and Haled, 2 Samuel 23:28-29, and of Seraiah, one of Gedaliah’s supporters, 2 Kings 25:23; Jeremiah 40:8 (Ephai). It has been identified by some with Beit Nettîf, 20 miles W. of Bethlehem. But its place in the list between Bethlehem and Anathoth does not favour this theory. In the map of Palestine issued by the Pal. Explor. Fund it is placed due S. of Jerusalem, on the road to Bethlehem, between Mar Elias and Rachel’s Tomb.
The men of Anathoth, an hundred twenty and eight.23. Anathoth] One of the towns assigned to the priests (Joshua 21:18; 1 Chronicles 6:60), the dwelling-place of Abiathar the high-priest (1 Kings 2:26) and of the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:1; Jeremiah 29:27). See Isaiah 10:28; Isaiah 10:30.
It is situated about 4 miles N.E. of Jerusalem, the modern Anata.
The name shows that the place in prehistoric times was a centre for the worship of the goddess Anath or Anta.
The children of Azmaveth, forty and two.24. Azmaveth] Cf. Nehemiah 12:29 : called Beth-Azmaveth Nehemiah 7:28; has been conjecturally identified with El-Hizmeh, a height N. of Anathoth. The name of Azmaveth occurs in the register of the tribe of Benjamin (1 Chronicles 8:36).
The children of Kirjatharim, Chephirah, and Beeroth, seven hundred and forty and three.25. Kirjath-arim, Chephirah, and Beeroth] Gibeonite cities, see Josh, Joshua 9:17 ‘Now their cities were Gibeon, and Chephirah, and Beeroth, and Kiriath-jearim’ (R.V.) ‘Kirjath-arim’ (Kiriath-arim R.V.) called in Nehemiah 7:29 Kiriath-jearim, or ‘the city of the woods’. The spelling in our verse is probably due to an early error in the text. Its former name was Baalah (Joshua 15:9). It was assigned to Judah and lay on the border of Judah and Benjamin. The ark rested here after it had been restored by the Philistines (1 Samuel 6:21; 1 Samuel 7:1), and David brought it from here to Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 13:5-6; 2 Chronicles 1:4; 2 Samuel 6:2, ‘Baale Judah,’ cf. Joshua 18:14). From the description given in Joshua 15:8-11 it must have been situate about 9 miles N.W. of Jerusalem. Chephirah, modern Kefireh, a little N. of Kiriath.
Beeroth] = ‘wells’, the native place of the two Benjamite assassins of Ishbosheth, Baanah and Rechab (2 Samuel 4:2), now known as Bireh 12 miles N. of Jerusalem on the road to Nablûs. It is here that according to tradition the child Jesus was first missed by Joseph and Mary (Luke 2:44).
The children of Ramah and Geba, six hundred twenty and one.26. Ramah] the dwelling-place of Samuel (1 Samuel 7:17) and afterwards a frontier-fortress on the borders of the Northern and Southern Kingdoms (1 Kings 15:17; 1 Kings 15:22); the modern Er-râm about 6 miles N. of Jerusalem.
Gaba] R.V. Geba. One of the priestly towns in the tribe of Benjamin (cf. Joshua 18:24 with Joshua 21:17 :1 Chronicles 8:6 with 1 Chronicles 6:60), on the frontiers of the Northern and Southern Kingdoms, 2 Kings 23:8; fortified by Asa out of material obtained from Ramah, 1 Kings 15:22 : distant some 8 miles N. of Jerusalem, modern Jeba.
The men of Michmas, an hundred twenty and two.27. Michmas] in the tribe of Benjamin, on a hill overlooking the gorge of the same name, which was the scene of Jonathan’s victory over the Philistines (1 Samuel 13:23; 1 Samuel 13:14). It was evidently a strong situation (cf. 1 Samuel 13:2; 1 Samuel 13:5; 1 Samuel 13:16). Geba was on the S., Michmash on the N. side of the gorge. This agrees with the passage in Isaiah 10:28-29 where the march of an invading Assyrian army from the N. is described, ‘At Michmash he layeth up his baggage: they are gone over the pass; they have taken up their lodging at Geba: Ramah trembleth’.
The men of Bethel and Ai, two hundred twenty and three.28. Beth-el] one of the most ancient towns in the country (cf. Joshua 12:9), called Luz ‘at the first’ and famous in the history of the Patriarch Jacob (Genesis 28:19; Genesis 35:15), captured from the Canaanites by Ephraim (Jdg 1:22-26), situated on the borders of Ephraim and Benjamin (Joshua 16:1; Joshua 18:13; Joshua 18:22). It was reputed of special sanctity. We find the ark at Beth-el (Jdg 20:18; Jdg 20:26-27). It was included in Samuel’s circuit (1 Samuel 7:16). It was the home of one of ‘the schools of the prophets’ (2 Kings 2:3). It was selected by Jeroboam as the southern sanctuary for the calf-worship which he instituted (1 Kings 12:28 &c.). Thenceforth its name chiefly occurs in connexion with the sins of idolatry (Amos 3:14; 2 Kings 23:15).
It is about 2½ miles N.E. of Beeroth. Its site is generally identified with the extensive ruins of Beitin.
Ai] E. of Beth-el (Genesis 12:8; Joshua 7:2), an ancient royal town (Joshua 12:9) destroyed by Joshua (Joshua 7, 8), but afterwards rebuilt. It is called Aiath in Isaiah 10:28, in which passage its position shows that it lay to the N. of Michmash. In Nehemiah 11:31 it appears as Aija. The name denotes ‘ruinous heaps’ and thus corresponds with Tell-el-Ḥajar (‘mound of stones’), a place about 2⅓ miles S. E. of Bethel, on the S. side of the Wadi-el-Mat-yâ, from which the path leads through the hills to Jericho. In the Pal. Expl. map it is identified with Khan Haiyan, 2570 ft. high, E. of Beeroth, and S. of Dêr Diwân.
The children of Nebo, fifty and two.29. Nebo] not to be confused with the Moabite town (Numbers 32:3; Numbers 32:38), to distinguish it from which it is perhaps called in Nehemiah 7:33 ‘the other Nebo’. Its situation has not been accurately determined. Some identify it with Nob, the well-known priestly town (see 1 Samuel 21:1; 1 Samuel 22:9 &c.), and in favour of this view it may be noticed that while Nob is mentioned along with Geba, Michmash, Ai, Bethel and Anathoth in Nehemiah 11:31-32, and after Ai, Michmash, Geba, Ramah and Anathoth in Isaiah 10:28-32, Nebo is not mentioned in either passage. The position of Nob is still uncertain.
Nebo and Nob have been recognised in Beit Nuba, a village on a hill about 16 miles N. W. N. of Jerusalem, but certainly erroneously. The site must be looked for on, or near Mt. Scopus, on the N. of Jerusalem; by some identified with the modern village Isâwiyeh.
Nebo is the name of a well-known Assyrian deity. The name of the place perhaps indicates that in a prehistoric time the worship of this god was maintained here (see note on ‘Anathoth’ Ezra 2:23).
The children of Magbish, an hundred fifty and six.30. Magbish] The name of this place is omitted in the parallel passages and does not occur elsewhere. Presumably another town in the territory of Benjamin.
The children of the other Elam, a thousand two hundred fifty and four.31. the other Elam] This title apparently refers back to the Elam mentioned in Ezra 2:7. The fact that the ‘Elam’ of Ezra 2:7 is probably the name of a person and that the Elam here mentioned is found in connexion with the names of towns renders the expression ‘the other’ very strange. Another strange circumstance is the exact correspondence of the numbers in each case, i.e. 1254. The text is not free from suspicion.
The children of Harim, three hundred and twenty.32. Harim] not to be confounded with the Harim of Ezra 2:39. The family name mentioned in this verse occurs again in chap. Ezra 10:31.
The three Ezra 2:30-32 call for special remark. (a) Magbish does not occur in the parallel lists: (b) ‘Elam’ and ‘Harim’ are names of people not of towns: (c) the list in 1Es 5:21-22 passes at once from Nephis (= Nebo) to Calamolus (= Lod, Hadid and Ono): (d) the name of ‘Harim’ apparently is inserted as ‘Arom’ in 1Es 5:16, with 32 instead of 320 persons.
We have here the traces of an early confusion in the text. It is not improbable that Ezra 2:31 is an accidental repetition of Ezra 2:7 and that Ezra 2:32 has been detached from its place in the first portion of the register (3–19).
The children of Lod, Hadid, and Ono, seven hundred twenty and five.33. Lod, Hadid, and Ono] These names occur also in Nehemiah 11:34-35. Lod and Ono built by Shemed a Benjamite (1 Chronicles 8:12). The name of ‘Lod’ does not elsewhere occur in the history before the Captivity. It is the same as Lydda, familiar to us in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 9:32 &c.). It stands on the great road leading down to Egypt, about 7 miles S. E. of Joppa.
Hadid, probably the same as Adida (1Ma 12:38; 1Ma 13:13), a fortress on the E. of the Shephêlah, the modern ‘el Chadîtheh’, commanding one of the valleys leading up from the plain to Jerusalem.
Ono] has been identified with the modern Kefr Ana, about 6 miles N. of Lydda. Ono and Lod are mentioned as included in Benjamite territory 1 Chronicles 8:12.
The children of Jericho, three hundred forty and five.34. Jericho] or the city of palms (Deuteronomy 34:3; Jdg 1:16; 2 Chronicles 28:15), destroyed by Joshua (Joshua 6), rebuilt by Hiel the Bethelite in the days of Ahab (1 Kings 16:34) and apparently included in the Northern Kingdom. It was the home of one of the schools of the prophets (2 Kings 2:5).
It is now called Rîcha or Ericha. It is distant about 18 miles E. from Jerusalem, and 1½ W. from the Jordan.
The children of Senaah, three thousand and six hundred and thirty.35. Senaah] The name of this place occurs elsewhere only in the lists of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 3:3, Nehemiah 7:38). It was identified by Eusebius and Jerome with ‘Megdalsenna’ or ‘Magdalsenna’ about 5 miles N. of Jericho.
three thousand and six hundred and thirty] Neh. gives a larger number by 300. The numbers here mentioned are surprisingly great considering that the town is quite unknown to us.
The difficulty has been met by a variety of explanations. (a) It has been said that we need not attach much importance to the figures, which may easily have suffered from corruptions in the text. (b) It is suggested that the numbers comprise the population of a considerable adjoining district. (c) It was even conjectured by one commentator (Michaelis) that Senaah was a title (= “the hated one”) given to Jerusalem with reference to its idolatry before the Captivity. (d) Perhaps the number here given includes the population of other places, e.g. Hebron, whose names have been accidentally omitted.
The priests: the children of Jedaiah, of the house of Jeshua, nine hundred seventy and three.36. the children of Jedaiah, of the house of Jeshua] In the 24 Priestly houses enumerated in 1 Chronicles 24:7-18, the house of Jedaiah stands second.
The words ‘of the house of Jeshua’ have been differently explained. (a) It has been considered to refer to a very ancient house from which sprang two branches, the family of Jedaiah mentioned here and 1 Chronicles 24:7, and the family of Jeshua mentioned as the ninth priestly house in 1 Chronicles 24:11. (b) The Jeshua here spoken of is considered to be the High-priest; ‘the sons of Jedaiah were a portion of the house to which J. the high-priest belonged … Jedaiah is not the name of the second order of priests, but of the head of a family of the high-priestly race (Keil).
(c) But as the name of Jedaiah is followed by that of Immer, the sixteenth priestly house (1 Chronicles 24:14), it is more natural to suppose that ‘the children of Jedaiah’ were members of the second priestly house. The explanation of the passage is supplied by the similar twofold genealogical reference given in Ezra 2:6; Ezra 2:16. The house is mentioned first and then follows its limitation to a special branch or family.
Here the house is the priestly house of Jedaiah; the branch or family is that of Jeshua. This Jeshua belonged probably to some former generation, but gave his name to a particular branch of the house of Jedaiah.
The difficulty occasioned by this verse has arisen from the desire to identify this Jeshua with the High-priest and from the mistake of supposing that the names of the heads of families were necessarily the companions of Zerubbabel instead of being rather the distinctive names of clans.
36–39. The names and numbers of the houses of the priests correspond exactly in the three registers.
The children of Immer, a thousand fifty and two.37. Immer] The sixteenth priestly house (1 Chronicles 24:14). Pashur, the enemy of Jeremiah, is mentioned as a member of this house (Jeremiah 20:1). See also Nehemiah 3:29.
The children of Pashur, a thousand two hundred forty and seven.38. Pashur] This name does not occur among the 24 priestly houses. But a Pashur is mentioned 1 Chronicles 9:12; Nehemiah 11:12 as the son of Malchiah, and the name of ‘Malchiah’ is given to the fifth priestly house (1 Chronicles 24:9). Either Pashur the son of Malchiah, a prominent man in the court of king Zedekiah (Jeremiah 21:1; Jeremiah 38:1), gave his name to the branch of the house of Malchiah which returned with Zerubbabel: or the whole priestly house of Malchiah became known by the name of its distinguished member, Pashur.
The children of Harim, a thousand and seventeen.39. Harim] The name of Harim appears in 1 Chronicles 24:8 as that of the third priestly house.
The Levites: the children of Jeshua and Kadmiel, of the children of Hodaviah, seventy and four.40. the children of Jeshua and Kadmiel, of the children of Hodaviah] The occurrence of these names in Nehemiah 10:9 shows that, as throughout this list, we have here the titles of families, not necessarily the names of Zerubbabel’s contemporaries. In chap. Ezra 3:9 Jeshua and Kadmiel are mentioned as leading Levites.
of the children of Hodaviah] ‘Hodaviah’ appears as ‘Judah’ in Ezra 3:9 and as ‘Hodevah’ in Nehemiah 7:43.
Some apply these words, ‘of the children of Hodaviah’, to both Jeshua and Kadmiel, making them both branches of the more ancient but otherwise unknown family of Hodaviah: others to ‘Kadmiel’ alone, in order to distinguish this Kadmiel from others of the same name. The decision must turn upon our explanation of Ezra 3:9 (see note),—and on the whole it seems best to regard the clause as belonging to Kadmiel especially, and as signifying a closer limitation of that family. Thus the Levites comprised the family of Jeshua and those members of the Kadmiel family who belonged to the Hodaviah branch.
40–42. The Levites are here arranged in the same way as in the 1st Book of Chronicles, i.e. into (1) Levites proper (cf. 1 Chronicles 24:20-31). (2) Singers (cf. 1 Chronicles 25). (3) Doorkeepers (cf. 1 Chronicles 26:1-19. See Introduction, § 7.
The small number (i.e. 431 in all) of the Levites is very striking by the side of the 4289 priests. Upon the backwardness of the Levites to return to Jerusalem compare note on chap. Ezra 8:15, and see Introduction.
The singers: the children of Asaph, an hundred twenty and eight.41. The singers] The Levitical order of singers was instituted in David’s time (1 Chronicles 15:17-24). There seem to have been 24 classes of singers (1 Chronicles 25:9-31). But the three great guilds of singers were called after the names of Heman the Kohathite, Asaph the Gershomite, and Jeduthun the Merarite (1 Chronicles 6:33-47; 1 Chronicles 25:1-7).
Asaph] No members of the Heman and Jeduthun guilds seem to have returned. Four of the 24 classes of singers were called after the sons of Asaph, i.e. the first, Joseph: the third, Zaccur: the fifth, Nethaniah: the seventh, Jesharelah (1 Chronicles 25:2; 1 Chronicles 25:9-10; 1 Chronicles 25:12; 1 Chronicles 25:14). Asaph himself enjoyed a great reputation as a Psalmist (cf. 2 Chronicles 29:30, Nehemiah 12:46). The inscriptions of certain Psalms attribute their composition to Asaph (Psalms 50, 73-83).
The children of the porters: the children of Shallum, the children of Ater, the children of Talmon, the children of Akkub, the children of Hatita, the children of Shobai, in all an hundred thirty and nine.42. the porters] so also R.V.; although it is noteworthy that having substituted ‘door-keepers’ for ‘porters’ (A.V.) in 1 Chronicles 26:1, the R.V. has not for the sake of consistency made a similar alteration here, the word in Hebrew being the same in both instances. The door-keepers mentioned here and in 1 Chronicles 26:1-19 are Levites: possibly the name ‘porters’ was preserved to distinguish the Levitical attendants from the priestly door-keepers (or more literally ‘keepers of the threshold’) mentioned in 2 Kings 25:18, Jeremiah 35:4. Compare Psalm 84:10 ‘I had rather be a doorkeeper in (marg.: ‘stand at the threshold of’) the house of my God’.
The names are clearly the names of households or courses, since Shallum, Akkub and Talmon are mentioned in 1 Chronicles 9:17, and Akkub and Talmon are referred to in Nehemiah 11:19.
The Nethinims: the children of Ziha, the children of Hasupha, the children of Tabbaoth,43. Nethinims] R.V. Nethinim. The termination ‘-im’ is the sign of the plural. In the same way the R.V. corrects the inaccurate form ‘Cherubims’ to ‘Cherubim’ (Genesis 3:24), ‘Anakims’ to ‘Anakim’, ‘Horims’ to ‘Horites’, ‘Emims’ to ‘Emim’, ‘Zanzummims’ to ‘Zanzummim’, ‘Avims’ and ‘Caphtorims’ to ‘Avvim’ and ‘Caphtorim’ (Deuteronomy 2:10-12; Deuteronomy 2:20-23).
43–54. Nethinim. This class is mentioned in the books Ezra and Nehemiah (Ezra 2:43; Ezra 2:58; Ezra 2:70; Ezra 7:7; Ezra 7:24; Ezra 8:17; Ezra 8:20; Nehemiah 3:26; Nehemiah 3:31; Nehemiah 7:46; Nehemiah 7:60; Nehemiah 7:73; Nehemiah 10:28; Nehemiah 11:3; Nehemiah 11:21) and only once elsewhere (1 Chronicles 9:2). From these passages it is evident that the Nethinim were a class subordinate to the Levites but ranking before ‘the servants of Solomon’ (Ezra 2:55) in the services of the Temple. Their origin is hid in great obscurity. The name denotes ‘given’. Jewish tradition identified them mainly with the Gibeonites, who had been assigned by Joshua to the Levites to assist them in the discharge of the more menial tasks (Joshua 9:3-27). Their numbers were also, according to this supposition, increased by the captives taken in war, of whom a certain proportion were given over to the priests and Levites as their share in the booty of a campaign (Numbers 31:28 &c.). Thus in Ezra 8:20 we find a mention of certain of this class ‘whom David and the princes had appointed (lit. ‘given’) for the service of the Levites’.
The later Jewish tradition of the Talmud spoke of the Nethinim with great contempt and forbade intermarriage between them and the Jews. It is not improbable that these expressions were employed long after this distinctive class had been lost to view, and merely reflected the tradition which ascribed their origin to the Gibeonites and the Canaanites who fell under the special ban of the Law (Exodus 34:12-16; Deuteronomy 7:1 &c.).
A recent theory, coupling the strong terms of Jewish hatred with the numerous feminine terminations in -a and -ah to be found in the genealogy of the Nethinim, supposes them to be the descendants of those who during the monarchy had led infamous lives in the precincts and vicinity of the Temple as devotees of Astarte and of Ashera (see Babyl. and Orient. Record, Feb., March 1888). But even if it were granted that the very odium of their origin would thus account for the mystery in which it is veiled, it does not seem probable that the strict notions which prevailed at the time of the Return would have admitted such a class to participate in the ministrations, however lowly, of the Temple.
The peculiar termination of the names derives a natural explanation from their foreign extraction.
The children of Keros, the children of Siaha, the children of Padon,44. Siaha] called ‘Sia’ in Nehemiah 7:47.
The children of Lebanah, the children of Hagabah, the children of Akkub,
The children of Hagab, the children of Shalmai, the children of Hanan,46. Shalmai] R.V. Shamlai. Called ‘Salmai’ in Nehemiah 7:48.
The children of Giddel, the children of Gahar, the children of Reaiah,
The children of Rezin, the children of Nekoda, the children of Gazzam,48. Nekoda] see the same name Ezra 2:60.
The children of Uzza, the children of Paseah, the children of Besai,
The children of Asnah, the children of Mehunim, the children of Nephusim,50. the children of Mehunim] R.V. Meunim. These have been identified with the Maonites who oppressed the children of Israel in the days of the Judges (Jdg 10:12). It is very possible that the Meunim were leagued with the Moabites and Ammonites against Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20:1). Uzziah obtained the mastery over the Meunim (2 Chronicles 26:7). Very possibly it is the descendants of the Meunim whom Uzziah made prisoners, to whom the verse refers.
If this be so, the Meunim were the people of Maon, Bedouins like the Midianites, having their headquarters south of the Dead Sea, not far from Petra.
the children of Nephusim] R.V. Nephisim. Both readings are found. The LXX. has Νεφουσὶμ. ‘Nephisim’ seems the most probable, since we naturally incline to identify the name with the clan of Naphish, the Israelite or Arab mentioned in Genesis 25:15; 1 Chronicles 1:31. From another passage, 1 Chronicles 5:18-22, we learn that they with others belonged to the tribe of Hagrites (A.V. Hagarites) and experienced defeat, followed by wholesale massacre and captivity, at the hands of the Transjordanic tribes Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh.
In Nehemiah 7:52 they are called ‘Nephushesim’.
The children of Bakbuk, the children of Hakupha, the children of Harhur,
The children of Bazluth, the children of Mehida, the children of Harsha,52. Bazluth] called ‘Bazlith’ in Nehemiah 7:54.
The children of Barkos, the children of Sisera, the children of Thamah,53. Sisera] possibly from the inhabitants of Northern Canaan (cf. Jdg 4:2).
Thamah] R.V. Temah, possibly referring to an Arabian clan (cf. Genesis 25:15; 1 Chronicles 1:30). Whether we should look for this Tema in the N. of Arabia or identify it with Taima in the Hauran is still uncertain. See Job 6:19; Isaiah 21:14.
The children of Neziah, the children of Hatipha.
The children of Solomon's servants: the children of Sotai, the children of Sophereth, the children of Peruda,55. Sophereth] R.V. Hassophereth. The A.V. gives the name as it appears in Nehemiah 7:57.
Peruda] appears in Nehemiah 7:57 as ‘Perida’.
55–58. Solomon’s servants, a class similar to the Nethinim, with whom they are also found in conjunction Nehemiah 7:60; Nehemiah 11:3. They are apparently included under the more general term Nethinim in such passages as Nehemiah 10:28. They have been traditionally understood to be the descendants of those inhabitants of the land ‘that were left of the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites’ of whom Solomon had hired ‘bondservants’ for the work of building his temple (1 Kings 5:13).
The children of Jaalah, the children of Darkon, the children of Giddel,
The children of Shephatiah, the children of Hattil, the children of Pochereth of Zebaim, the children of Ami.57. Pochereth of Zebaim] R.V. Pochereth-hazzebaim. The name denotes ‘the gazelle hunter’. The LXX., quite misunderstanding the title, gives two names, ‘the children of Pacherad, the children of Aseboim’ (νἱοὶ Φαχεράδ, υἱοὶ Ἀσεβωίμ).
Ami] appears in Nehemiah 7:59 as ‘Amon’
All the Nethinims, and the children of Solomon's servants, were three hundred ninety and two.
And these were they which went up from Telmelah, Telharsa, Cherub, Addan, and Immer: but they could not shew their father's house, and their seed, whether they were of Israel:59–63. Israelites and Priests of uncertain genealogy
59. Tel-melah, Tel-harsa] R.V., Tel-melah, Tel-harsha i.e. Salthill and Forest-hill, probably names of localities in Babylonia.
Cherub, Addan, and Immer] These are names not of people, but, in all probability, of three villages in one district of Babylonia. Rawlinson suggests that Cherub is the Cheripha of Ptolemy, and that Tel-melah is Telme.
There are then three districts, Tel-melah, Tel-harsa, and Cherub-Addan-Immer, from which came the three families Delaiah, Tobiah and Nekoda.
Addan] appears in Nehemiah 7:59 ‘Addon’.
their fathers’ house] their fathers’ houses R.V. They were able to show their recent ancestry, but not their descent from the great clans or households into which the tribes were divided. They could not prove either of the two greatest essentials in a Jewish genealogy, their place in the household or their membership in a tribe.
This technical failure to produce their genealogy probably deprived them of the full rights of citizenship. They were not refused participation in the Return. But the names do not appear in later lists, Ezra 10:25-43; Nehemiah 10:1-27.
The children of Delaiah, the children of Tobiah, the children of Nekoda, six hundred fifty and two.60. Nekoda] See Ezra 2:48. The occurrence of the same name in two places may be accidental. But it is possible that the family of Nekoda which ranked among the Nethinim sought to establish a claim to a place among the free-born Israelites.
And of the children of the priests: the children of Habaiah, the children of Koz, the children of Barzillai; which took a wife of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite, and was called after their name:61. Habaiah] This name appears in Nehemiah 7:63 as ‘Hobaiah’. R.V.
Koz] R.V. ‘Hakkoz’. This name appears as that of the seventh priestly course in 1 Chronicles 24:10.
of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite] Barzillai, the rich and noble Gileadite who assisted David during his flight from his son Absalom. Barzillai’s son Chimham accompanied David to Jerusalem on his return (2 Samuel 17:27; 2 Samuel 19:32 ff.; 1 Kings 2:7). Chimham probably founded a family called after his own name, which resided at Bethlehem (Jeremiah 41:17). Barzillai’s position and estates in Gilead were inherited by his daughters, through whom their father’s name was preserved. One of them was married to a priest, who thereupon received the family name. His descendants however were unable to make out their claim to belong to the priesthood; possibly on account of the confusion resulting from the altered name.
The R.V. places a full stop at the close of this verse.
These sought their register among those that were reckoned by genealogy, but they were not found: therefore were they, as polluted, put from the priesthood.62. these sought their register &c.] Literally ‘These sought their writing (LXX. γραφὴν αὐτῶν), the enrolled’, i.e. they searched for their genealogy in the priestly book, which went by the name of ‘The Enrolled’, or as we should now call it ‘The Register’. Compare ‘the writing (mrg. ‘register’) of the house of Israel’ in Ezekiel 13:9, where the same word is used in the original.
therefore were they, as polluted, put from the priesthood] R.V. therefore were they deemed polluted and put from the priesthood. The margin Heb. ‘they were polluted from the priesthood’ gives the literal, rendering. To be declared polluted was equivalent to being excluded from any active part in the office and administration of the priesthood. They were to be accounted ‘polluted’, until their claim could be established.
The importance attached to the genealogical accuracy of the claims preferred to the priesthood is not only a symptom of the legal spirit which animated the Jews of the Return. It goes back to the abolition of the High Places firstly by Hezekiah and afterwards by Josiah, in consequence of which a sharp distinction was drawn between those who had ministered at the High Places and those who were engaged in the Temple worship at Jerusalem. This point is illustrated by the writings of Ezekiel, himself a priest, who writing during the Captivity distinguishes between ‘the priests the Levites that be of the seed of Zadok’ (Ezekiel 43:19; cf. Ezekiel 40:46, Ezekiel 44:14, Ezekiel 48:11) and the ‘Levites that went astray’ (Ezekiel 44:10; Ezekiel 44:13; Ezekiel 44:15, Ezekiel 48:11).
And the Tirshatha said unto them, that they should not eat of the most holy things, till there stood up a priest with Urim and with Thummim.63. the Tirshatha] This title is here and in Nehemiah 7:65; Nehemiah 7:70 apparently applied to Zerubbabel: Haggai his contemporary calls him ‘Pekhah’ (= Governor), see Haggai 1:1; Haggai 1:14; Haggai 2:2; Haggai 2:21. In the same way Nehemiah, who is called the Tirshatha, Nehemiah 8:9; Nehemiah 10:1, is also spoken of as ‘Pekhah’ in Nehemiah 12:26. ‘Pekhah’ was the Babylonian, ‘Tirshatha’ the Persian title for a local or provincial governor. The governors were subject to the satraps, the satraps were responsible to the king.
The word ‘Tirshatha’ is said to be the same as the Persian ‘tarsâta’, from ‘tars’ to fear, and to denote complimentarily the awe which the office inspired.
That the ‘Tirshatha’ here mentioned was Zerubbabel is rendered probable by the nature of the prohibition contained in this verse, which none but a native Governor or the High-priest himself would have issued.
that they should not eat of the most holy things] The priests were especially required to eat of the ‘meal-offering’ (Leviticus 2:3; Leviticus 2:10; Leviticus 6:18), the sin offering (Leviticus 6:26), the guilt offering (Leviticus 7:6), and of the peace offering (Leviticus 7:31-34). Certain portions were set aside for the sons of Aaron. The prohibition therefore refers to the ceremonial rules already in force. ‘The most holy things’ is a phrase which can best be illustrated from Numbers 18:9-11.
The consecration of a priest was accompanied by the sacrifice of a ram which Aaron and his sons should eat. Exodus 29:33-37.
A priest excluded from eating of ‘the most holy things’ was therefore only a priest by title and lineage. He could not be consecrated (see Exodus 29), he could not offer sacrifices, he could not enter the holy place.
He was excluded apparently more rigidly than the priest ‘that hath a blemish’, who was forbidden to ‘come nigh to offer the bread of his God. He shall eat the bread of his God, both of the most holy, and of the holy. Only he shall not go in unto the veil, nor come nigh unto the altar’ (Leviticus 21:21-23).
The distinction here made between the ‘most holy’ and the ‘holy’ is important. ‘The most holy’ included the shewbread, the incense, the sin and guilt offering, the drink offering. ‘The holy’ comprised the thank-offering, the firstlings of herd and flock, the first-fruits, the tithe. Of ‘the holy’ things members of the priests’ families might partake. But ceremonial cleanness was in all cases needed.
The declaration of ‘defilement’ excluded those who were defiled from a source of priestly income as well as from the dignity of priestly occupation.
till there stood up a priest with Urim and with Thummim] In former times the High-priest had enquired of the Lord by Urim and Thummim. After the Captivity, the High-priest had no Urim and Thummim. The Urim and Thummim, along with the Ark, the Shechinah, the Holy Fire, the Spirit of Prophecy, the Oil of Anointing constituted the chief points, for the absence of which the Jews of later times deplored the deficiency of Zerubbabel’s Temple as compared with that of Solomon.
The passages in which enquiry by Urim and Thummim is mentioned are Exodus 28:30; Leviticus 8:8; Numbers 27:21; Deuteronomy 33:8; 1 Samuel 28:6. In none of these do we find any explanation of what the Urim and Thummim were. They have been identified with (a) stones in the High-priest’s breastplate, (b) sacred dice, (c) little images of ‘truth’ and ‘justice’ such as are found hung round the neck of an Egyptian priest’s mummy.
The writers of the Scriptures have abstained from explanation either because they shrank from making generally known what was regarded with mystery and awe, or because they presupposed their readers’ familiarity with the thing referred to.
The want of Urim and Thummim is not, as Ewald supposed, due to any technical defect in Jeshua’s claim to High-priestly dignity (such as that he was not his father’s eldest son). And this passage tacitly contradicts the assertion of Josephus, that the Urim and Thummim only first failed in the Maccabean era.
The Tirshatha indefinitely postponed the decision. Where documentary proofs were wanting, none but one favoured with Divine perception could pronounce sentence. The words are of importance because they testify to the feeling that the people felt the need of revelation from God, and that they looked forward to the coming of some great High-priest to whom God should make Himself known. They point forward to the coming of the High-Priest ‘full of grace and truth’.
Compare 1Ma 4:46 ‘Until there should come a prophet to show what should be done with them’, 1Ma 14:41 ‘Until there should arise a faithful prophet.’
The words ‘Urim’ and ‘Thummim’ mean ‘Light’ and ‘Perfection.’ The LXX renders them in this passage by τοῖς φωτίζουσιν καὶ τοῖς τελείοις; more generally by δήλωσις or δῆλοι and ἀλήθεια.
The whole congregation together was forty and two thousand three hundred and threescore,64. The same total i.e. 42,360 is given in Ezra, Nehemiah and 1 Esdras. The items however fail in all three lists to produce this figure.
Men of the people of Israel
Nethinim and Solomon’s servants
other MSS. 30,678
These remarkable discrepancies from the sum total in which there is so much agreement have been variously accounted for. (a) Jewish interpreters have supposed that the sum total comprised members of the ten tribes who have not been enumerated: (b) 1Es 5:41 adds the words ‘of twelve years old and upward’, and the unlikely suggestion has been made that the numbers of the totals include all over 12 years of age, although the numbers of the items included all over 20 years of age. (c) The disagreement is considered to be due to the corruptions in the text arising from copyists’ errors in transcription of numbers and signs for numbers.
Of these explanations the last seems the most probable. But it is undoubtedly strange that the three disagreeing sum totals should come within 2000 of one another and yet should fall so far short of the total figure which each text has preserved.
Beside their servants and their maids, of whom there were seven thousand three hundred thirty and seven: and there were among them two hundred singing men and singing women.65. their servants and their maids] R.V. their menservants and their maidservants, which is more accurate.
and there were among them] R.V. and they had. The R.V. is certainly right. The meaning is not that singing men and women were included among the servants, but that ‘the whole congregation’ (Ezra 2:64) had in attendance, besides their servants, their troop of singers.
singing men and singing women] The mention of these has caused some difficulty. (1) Singers have already been mentioned (Ezra 2:41). (2) It has been thought that mention of cattle would be expected by the side of the other beasts. The suggestion has been made that we ought to read ‘oxen’ (sh’vârim) for ‘singing men’ (shôr’rim), that the latter word having been introduced by a copyist’s error, the words ‘and singing women’ were added to give completeness to the verse. The conjecture is ingenious but is based on a misapprehension. (1) The singers mentioned in Ezra 2:41 are a Levitical guild, set apart for the Temple services. The singers mentioned here are professionals employed at banquets, feasts &c., or funerals (2 Chronicles 35:25). Such ‘singing men and singing women’ often belonged to the most degraded class. There is nothing strange then in their being mentioned after the menservants and maidservants. A passage in Ecclesiastes 2:7-8 exemplifies their position ‘I bought menservants and maidens …; also I had great possessions of herds and flocks …: I gathered me also silver and gold …: I gat me men singers and women singers and the delights of the sons of men, concubines very many.’ The possession of professional singers was clearly a sign of luxury (cf. 2 Samuel 19:35). The mention of them shows that there were several very wealthy men among the ‘congregation’. But it is only natural that their place in the list should follow after the mention of the ordinary servants. (2) There is no need here to introduce ‘cattle’. The animals mentioned in the context are beasts of burden (see chap. Ezra 1:4; Ezra 1:6). ‘Oxen’ would be out of place in the list. We are told nothing of the flocks and herds, which the people brought with them. And if it be objected that oxen were used as beasts of burden, it may fairly be answered (a) that they would scarcely be mentioned first in the list, (b) that where they are found in a list (1 Chronicles 12:40) they are mentioned last and by a different name. The number of singers here mentioned is 200. In Nehemiah 7:67 and 1Es 5:42 it is 245, in all probability a copyist’s error whose eye had caught the number ‘245’ in the verse following.
Their horses were seven hundred thirty and six; their mules, two hundred forty and five;66. horses] The number mentioned here (736) appears in 1Es 5:43 as 7036, a fair sample of the way in which figures could easily undergo alteration by accident or intention.
Before this time we do not find mention of the use of the horse among the Israelites for peaceful purposes. Hitherto the horse had been used for war and for pomp. The considerable number here mentioned is another proof of the presence of considerable wealth. The horse was the possession of the rich and well armed.
mules] About one-third the number of the horses. During the monarchy the mule is the royal animal (1 Kings 1:33; 1 Kings 1:38; 1 Kings 1:44). The mule was scarce and precious like the horse (1 Kings 18:5). To be carried by a mule is classed with being carried by a horse or on a litter or in a chariot (Isaiah 66:20). They were not bred in Palestine. Solomon imported them (1 Kings 10:25; 2 Chronicles 9:24). The mules here mentioned were probably ridden by the richest class. In the O.T. we do not read of the mule carrying loads.
Their camels, four hundred thirty and five; their asses, six thousand seven hundred and twenty.67. camels] The camel is mentioned in the O.T. chiefly as the beast of burden of nomad families and races, e.g. Ishmaelites (Genesis 37:25), Midianites and Amalekites (Jdg 6:5; 1 Samuel 30:17). It would be the most serviceable of all beasts for the long journey from Babylon, on account of its great endurance and its capacity for carrying heavy weights.
The camel here spoken of is probably of Arabian breed. It is what we should call the ‘dromedary’ or one-humped camel.
Camels would be in frequent use in Babylon. Several Assyrian sculptures have been preserved in which we may see that the camel then as now was the favourite beast both of merchants and of robbers (Job 1:17).
asses] Here and in Nehemiah the number is 6720, in 1Es 5:43 it is 5525. The ass was the commonest best of burden. Unlike the horse, mule and camel, it seems from the earliest times to have been bred in Palestine. Its endurance for a long journey is greater than that of the horse. But it is not so serviceable for work in waterless regions as the mule or the camel. Asses are mentioned along with camels and horsemen in Isaiah’s prophecy of the fall of Babylon (Isaiah 21:7).
These four beasts of burden are mentioned in the same order in Zechariah 14:15. The horses and mules would be ridden by the wealthier, asses by the poorer classes. The camels and asses would carry the baggage.
And some of the chief of the fathers, when they came to the house of the LORD which is at Jerusalem, offered freely for the house of God to set it up in his place:68. some of the chief of the fathers] R.V. some of the heads of fathers’ houses, see note on Ezra 1:5.
when they came to the house of the Lord which is at Jerusalem] i.e. on their arrival at Jerusalem, where they were to rebuild the Temple. ‘The house of the Lord’, the site and the building are identified by the writer; if still in ruins, the house was about to be rebuilt, cf. Ezra 1:4-5, Ezra 3:8-9. In the writer’s mind ‘the house of the Lord’ is always standing at Jerusalem.
offered freely] R.V. offered Willingly. There was no reason for the A.V. to alter the rendering given in Ezra 1:6. The freewill offering was offered willingly (see Ezra 3:5); the adverb ‘freely’ introduces an ambiguity.
to set it up] lit. ‘to cause it to stand’ = to restore; the expression recurs chap. Ezra 9:9.
68, 69. This passage is given in greater accuracy of detail in Nehemiah 7:70-72.
They gave after their ability unto the treasure of the work threescore and one thousand drams of gold, and five thousand pound of silver, and one hundred priests' garments.69. they gave &c.] There is a slight discrepancy between the sums mentioned in this verse and the sums recorded in greater detail in Nehemiah. The figures stand thus—
Heads of fathers’ houses 61,000
darics of gold
pounds of silver
darics of gold
Heads of fathers’houses
Rest of people
The contributions as described in Ezra are all placed to the credit of the heads of fathers’ houses; in Nehemiah we find a considerable portion contributed by the Tirshatha and by the rest of the people.
(a) The 61,000 darics of gold appear to consist of the Tirshatha’s 1000+other contributions of which we are able to identify 40,000 (i.e. 20,000 given by heads of fathers’ houses+20,000 given by the rest of the people). Perhaps the value of 50 basons and of the other gifts amounted to a figure which could be described in round numbers as 20,000.
(b) The 5,000 pounds of silver express in round numbers the 2,200 contributed by the heads of fathers’ houses+the 2,000 by the rest of the people+500 pounds silver given by the Tirshatha (the probable reading of Nehemiah 7:70).
(c) The 100 priests’ garments represent the 30 given by the Tirshatha (probable reading of Nehemiah 7:70), and the 67 given by the rest of the people.
after their ability] literally ‘strength’ or ‘power’ as in Daniel 1:4 : not elsewhere of ‘wealth’. The word rendered ‘ability’ in Nehemiah 5:8 is different and denotes ‘sufficiency’.
unto the treasure] R.V. into the treasury.
drams] R.V. darics. The A.V. translation ‘dram’ seems to suppose that the coin spoken of was the Greek ‘drachma’. It is in reality the well-known Persian gold coin ‘daric’. The name has commonly been derived from the Darius who was said to have first had the piece coined. But this is far from certain. The word ‘daric’ more probably refers to the emblem on the coin, and is to be derived either from a Persian word meaning ‘a bow’, or from ‘dara’ = ‘a king’, cf. our ‘sovereign’. The obverse side of the coin has the figure of a crowned king, kneeling, holding in his right hand a sceptre or spear and in his left a bow; for the sake possibly of securing a good impression, the reverse of the coin was left rough.
The ‘daric’ is transliterated into Hebrew as ‘Adarcon’ in chap. Ezra 8:27; 1 Chronicles 29:7 : but in this verse and in Nehemiah 7:70-72 it appears as ‘Darcemon’ with a various reading ‘Adarcemon’.
Its value was as nearly as possible equivalent to our sovereign. The coin is by some identified with the gold stater of Crœsus, the last king of Lydia. This is the first mention of coined money in the Old Testament, as the reference to ‘darics’ in David’s reign (1 Chronicles 29:7) is strictly an anachronism.
pound] Hebr. ‘maneh’. We do not find in the Old Testament any mention of Persian silver coinage. Before the Persian period, Hebrew money had for the most part been calculated by weight upon something akin to the Babylonian system, by ‘talent’, ‘maneh’, ‘shekel’.
A ‘talent’ of Hebrew money consisted of ‘50 manim’, one maneh of 60 shekels.
priests’ garments] The priests differed from the Levites in having special garments ‘in which they ministered’ and which they put off as being holy, as soon as they had ceased from their ministrations (Leviticus 6:10; Ezekiel 42:14; Ezekiel 44:19). The priestly garments are briefly enumerated in Exodus 28:40; Exodus 39:27. They consisted of (1) a long coat or tunic, (2) a mitre or turban, (3) breeches or nether garments, (4) a girdle. The material was fine linen, and the colour white. These garments the priest appears to have laid aside and deposited in one of the chambers at the entrance of the inner court of the Temple, before passing into the people’s court.
So the priests, and the Levites, and some of the people, and the singers, and the porters, and the Nethinims, dwelt in their cities, and all Israel in their cities.70. This verse runs more smoothly as it appears in Nehemiah 7:73 ‘So the priests and the Levites, and the porters, and the singers, and some of the people, and the Nethinim, and all Israel dwelt in their cities’.
The verse sums up the whole list.
The words ‘and some of the people’ seem to be in the wrong place between ‘the Levites’ and ‘the singers’; but the mention of ‘the singers’ before ‘the porters’ agrees more closely with the order of the list given in the present chapter than the order given in Nehemiah 7:73.
An awkwardness is presented by the words ‘in their cities’ occurring twice, especially as the distinction drawn between ‘some of the people with the priests and Levites’ and ‘all Israel’ is not obvious. Some have seen in the words ‘all Israel’ an expression intended to combine those who had returned from captivity in Babylon with those who had remained behind in Palestine and had never been carried away captive. Others have seen in it an allusion to representatives of the 10 Tribes who were to be found among the new community, and compare it with the mention of the 12 leaders of the people in Ezra 2:2 (cf. 1 Chronicles 9:3).
Perhaps the most probable explanation is that the text has suffered corruption and that the verse originally ran ‘So the priests, and the Levites, and the singers, and the porters, and the Nethinims, and some of the people, even all Israel, dwelt in their cities’, or as 1Es 8:45.
dwelt in their cities. Cf. ‘returned … every one unto his city’ Ezra 2:1. The document from which this list was extracted contemplates the work of settling into their cities, which must have been a slow and gradual process, as one that had been for some time accomplished. At first only Jerusalem and the towns in the immediate neighbourhood could thus have been occupied.