Ezra 8:18
And by the good hand of our God on us they brought us a man of understanding, of the sons of Mahli, the son of Levi, the son of Israel; and Sherebiah, with his sons and his brothers, eighteen;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(18) A man of understanding.—Probably a proper name, Ishsekel. This is required by the “and” before “Sherebiah,” who was a Levite, referred to by Nehemiah (Ezra 8:7).

Ezra 8:18. By the good hand of our God — That is, by the blessing of God upon us, they brought us a man of understanding, &c. — They did not return without their errand; but, though the warning was short, they brought about forty Levites to attend Ezra. By this it appears they were not averse to go, but were slothful, and only wanted to be called upon to go.8:1-20 Ezra assembles the outcasts of Israel, and the dispersed of Judah. God raised up the spirits of a small remnant to accompany him. What a pity that good men should omit a good work, for want of being spoken to!And Sherebiah - Either a name has fallen out before the words "a man of understanding," or the "and" here has crept into the text by accident. Sherebiah appears among the most earnest of the Levites under Nehemiah (see the marginal references). 16-20. then sent I for Eliezer … with commandment unto Iddo the chief—Ezra sent this deputation, either by virtue of authority which by his priestly character he had over the Levites, or of the royal commission with which he was invested. The deputation was despatched to Iddo, who was a prince or chief of the Nethinims—for the Persian government allowed the Hebrews during their exile to retain their ecclesiastical government by their own chiefs, as well as to enjoy the privilege of free worship. Iddo's influence procured and brought to the camp at Ahava thirty-eight Levites, and two hundred twenty Nethinims, the descendants of the Gibeonites, who performed the servile duties of the temple. No text from Poole on this verse. And by the good hand of our God upon us,.... Favouring their designs and orders, protecting those that were sent, and inclining those they were sent to use their interest and authority with those that were under them, and making them willing also to agree to what was proposed to them:

they brought us a man of understanding of the sons of Mahli, the son of Levi, the son of Israel; an Israelite, of the tribe of Levi, in the line of Mahli a son of Merari, the third son of Levi:

and Sherebiah; or rather "even Sherebiah"; so Aben Ezra; for he is the understanding man that is meant, and described by his pedigree:

with his sons and his brethren, eighteen; all together made this number.

And by the good hand of our God upon us they brought us a man of understanding, of the sons of Mahli, the son of Levi, the son of Israel; and Sherebiah, with his sons and his brethren, eighteen;
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
18. And by the good hand] R.V. And according to the good hand. For the phrase see on chap. Ezra 7:6.

a man of understanding] R.V. a man of discretion. Marg. Or Ish-sechel. Discretion (sechel). Cf. 1 Chronicles 22:12; 2 Chronicles 2:12; Proverbs 19:11 : = understanding, Proverbs 3:4; Proverbs 13:15; Proverbs 16:22; Psalm 111:10 : = wisdom Proverbs 12:8; Proverbs 23:9 : = policy Daniel 8:25. The fact that we find in the following clause “And Sherebiah”, &c. favours the supposition that we ought to have the name of the individual mentioned who was “of the sons of Mahli”. Either, as is most probable, this proper name has dropped out of the text before the words “a man of discretion”, or as is possible ‘Ish-sechel’ (LXX. ἀνὴρ Σαχὼν) is a proper name (cf. Ishbosheth, Ish-tob, 2 Samuel 10:6; Ish-hod, 1 Chronicles 7:18). But such names are rare, and the name Ish-sechel does not occur elsewhere. The view that the ‘and’ before Sherebiah has been carelessly inserted, and that Sherebiah himself is the man of discretion, fails to account for the order of the Hebrew words.

Mahli, the son of Levi, &c.] Cf. Exodus 6:16; Exodus 6:19; 1 Chronicles 6:19. Mahli was son of Merari, and therefore a grandson of Levi.

Sherebiah] Cf. Ezra 8:24; Nehemiah 8:7; Nehemiah 9:4; Nehemiah 10:12; Nehemiah 12:24.Verse 18. - By the good hand of our God upon us. This is Ezra's usual mode of acknowledging the good providence and favour of Almighty God (see Ezra 7:6, 9, 27; and Ezra 8:31). Similar expressions occur also in Nehemiah (Nehemiah 2:8, 18), but not elsewhere in Scripture. A man of understanding. In the Hebrew Ish-sekel, which some take for a proper name, but without any necessity. No such name is known to have existed; and the real name of "the man of understanding" appears to have been "Sherebiah," who is mentioned more than once in Nehemiah (Nehemiah 8:7; Nehemiah 9:4, 5) as a chief Levite. And Sherebiah should be simply "Sherebiah." The preposition "and" (Hebrew ן) has been inserted by a careless copyist. Twelve lay houses are named both in the present text and in 1 Esdr. 8:30-40. In ten cases the names of the races, which are uniformly introduced with מבּני, are identical in both texts, viz., Parosh, Pahath-Moab, Adin, Elam, Shephatiah, Joab, Bebai, Azgad, Adonikam, and Bigvai. On the other hand, it appears surprising, 1st, that in the first house mentioned, before the name זכריה, besides "of the sons of Parosh," we have also שׁכניה מבּני (Ezra 8:3), while before all the other names we find only "of the sons of" one individual; 2ndly, that in Ezra 8:5, after שׁכניה בּני, instead of a name of the head of a house, only Ben Jahaziel follows; 3rdly, that in Ezra 8:10 also, after שׁלומית וּמבּני, we have merely Ben Josiphiah, the names themselves being apparently omitted in these two last cases. This conjecture is corroborated by a comparison with the lxx and 1 Esdr. 8, which shows, moreover, that it is not the personal name of the head of the house, but the name of the race, which has been lost. For מבני שׁכניה בן יחזיאל, Ezra 8:5, we find in the lxx ἀπὸ τῶν υἱῶν Ζαθόης Ζεχενίας υἱὸς Ἀζιήλ, and in 1 Esdr. 8:32, ἐκ τῶν υἱῶν Ζαθόης Σεχενίας Ἰεζήλου; and for ומבני שׁלומית בן יוספיה, Ezra 8:10, in the lxx καὶ ἀπὸ τῶν υἱῶν Βαανί Σελιμοὺθ υἱὸς Ἰωσεφία, and in 1 Esdr. 8:36, ἐκ τῶν υἱῶν Βανίας Σαλιμὼθ Ἰωσαφίου. In Ζαθόης and Βαανί (Βανίας) we recognise זתּוּא and בּני of Ezra 2:8 and Ezra 2:10. Hence the text of Ezra 8:5 needs emendation, and should run שׁכניה זתּוּא מבּני, and that of Ezra 8:10, שׁלומית בני וּמבּני. It is more difficult to decide concerning שׁכניה מבּני of Ezra 8:3, though undoubtedly we have here too a corruption of the text. For, first, there is no other instance in the whole list of the sons of two men being cited before the proper name of the house; and then, too, the absence of the ו copulative before מבּני פ is opposed to the notion that the house of Zechariah was formed by a union of the sons of Shecaniah and Parosh, since in this case the and could not be omitted. It is true that we have in the lxx ἀπὸ υἱῶν Σαχανία καὶ ἀπὸ υἱῶν Φόρος; but in this case the καὶ is certainly derived from the translator, who was thus seeking to make sense of the words. In 1 Esdr. 8 we read Δαττοὺς τοῦ Σεχευίου; and Δαττοὺς corresponding with חטּוּשׁ, the words בני שׁכניה (or בן) are taken into the preceding verse. This treatment of the words Bertheau considers correct, because Hattush in 1 Chronicles 3:22 is reckoned among the descendants of Shecaniah. This conjecture is, however, a very doubtful one. For, first, in 1 Chronicles 3:22 Hattush is said to be of the sons of Shemaiah, and Shemaiah of the sons of Shecaniah; then we should as little expect any further statement in the case of Hattush as in the cases of Daniel and Gershom; and further, if he had been thus more precisely designated by naming his father, we should undoubtedly read שׁכניה בּן, not שׁ מבּני, and thus the Masoretic text would at any rate be incorrect; and finally, 1 Esdras, where it differs from the lxx, is, generally speaking, no critical authority upon which to base safe conclusions. Under these circumstances, we must give up the hope of restoring the original text, and explaining the words מבני שׁבניה. התיחשׂ עמּו, "and with Zechariah, his genealogy of 150 males," i.e., with him his race, consisting of 150 males, registered in the genealogy of the race. In the case of the names which follow, the number only is given after the briefer expression עמּו.

A review, then, of the twelve races, according to the restoration of the original text in Ezra 8:5 and Ezra 8:10, presents us with names already occurring in the list of the races who came from Babylon with Zerubbabel, Ezra 2:3-15, with the exception of the sons of Joab, Ezra 8:9, who are wanting in Ezra 2, where, on the other hand, several other races are enumerated. Bertheau seeks to identify the sons of Joab, Ezra 8:9, with the sons of Joab who in Ezra 2:6 are reckoned with the sons of Pahath-Moab, and to explain their special enumeration in the present list, by the conjecture that the one house subsequently separated into the two houses of Pahath-Moab and Joab, This is, indeed, possible; but it is quite a probable that only one portion or branch of the sons (descendants) of Joab was combined with the race of the sons of Pahath-Moab, and that the rest of the bne Joab formed a separate house, no family of which returned with Zerubbabel. The occurrence of the other races in both lists is to be explained by the circumstance that portions of them returned with Zerubbabel, and that the rest did not follow till Ezra's departure.

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