Ezra 2:1, 2
Now these are the children of the province that went up out of the captivity, of those which had been carried away…
This is an important subject. Great portion of Scripture occupied with it. Events of the utmost moment connected with it.
I. AS THE SCATTERING OF ISRAEL WAS GRADUAL, SO MAY HIS GATHERING BE.
1. His tribes became distributed into two kingdoms.
(1) United until the evil days of Rehoboam (see 1 Kings 12:20).
(2) Thence distinguished as Judah and Israel. Under the name of Judah is comprehended also the small tribe of Benjamin, with priests and others of the tribe of Levi.
2. The ten tribes were first carried captive by the Assyrians. This was in two detachments.
(1) By Tiglath-pileser, B.C. 739 (see 2 Kings 15:29).
(2) By Shalmaneser eighteen years later, when the deportation was complete (see 2 Kings 17:6, 18).
3. The Jews were afterwards carried away to Babylon. This was 130 years later, and was also accomplished in two detachments, viz. -
(1) That, B.C. 599, when Nebuchadnezzar removed the principal people (see 2 Kings 24:14).
(2) That eleven years later, when the remnant was removed (see 2 Kings 25:11).
(3) Then, six centuries later, came the dispersion by the Romans. Prophecy views the scattering as a whole, without breaking it up into its details, and so it views the restoration; and as the scattering was accomplished at long intervals by instalments, so may the gathering be.
II. THIS RESTORATION BY EZRA WAS NOT THE FULL ACCOMPLISHMENT OF THE PROPHECIES.
1. The ten tribes were not included in it.
(1) They were the "children of the province." Not of Babylon, as some think, for Babylon is contrasted with it here. But of Judaea, now a province of the Persian empire (see Ezra 5:8). Behold the goodness and severity of God!
(2) Further specified as "those whom Nebuchadnezzar carried away." No mention made of those before carried into Assyria.
(3) Further, as "the number of the men of the people of Israel." Given in detail in this chapter. Here we find children of Judah, of Benjamin, of Levi and the priests, and even of the Gibeonites, but no mention of Ephraim and his associates.
(4) But the restoration of the ten tribes is promised (see Ezekiel 11:15-17). (What a rebuke to those who repeat this conduct of Judah in exclusively claiming for themselves as Christians the promises made to Israel!) Therefore there is yet a grand restoration for Israel.
2. This restoration did not reunite the divided nation.
(1) This fact already shown.
(2) But prophecy requires this (see Ezekiel 37:21, 22). "Therefore," etc.
3. This restoration was not permanent.
(1) Even the Jews were subsequently scattered by the Romans. Have since been kept scattered by Romanists and Mahomedans.
(2) But prophecy requires this (see Jeremiah 31:10; Ezekiel 34:27, 28; Amos 9:14, 15). "Therefore," etc.
III. THIS RESTORATION WAS A PLEDGE OF THE GREATER EVENT.
1. It answered great purposes of prophecy.
(1) Those connected with the incarnation. To take place while the tribe-rod was yet with Judah (see Genesis 49:10). (See Julius Bate on 'The Blessing of Judah by Jacob.') While the family of David yet had their genealogies; while yet they dwelt near Bethlehem (see Micah 5:2).
(2) Those connected with the atonement. Jerusalem the place of sacrifices. Zion the place from whence the gospel law should issue (see Isaiah 2:3; Joel 2:32).
2. There is a prophecy in accomplished predictions.
(1) The preservation of the Jews amongst the nations. Without a parallel in history. What for (see Jeremiah 30:11)? "Full end" of Assyria, Babylon, Rome. Anti-christian nations doomed.
(2) History of the land as remarkable as that of the people. No permanent settlers. Romans, Greeks, Saracens, Papists, Turks!
3. The Jews expect their restoration.
(1) Good reason, for the word is sure.
(2) Their faith is patient. Centuries of disappointment. Is our faith so patient under trials? - J.A.M.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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;
WEB: Now these are the children of the province, who went up out of the captivity of those who had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away to Babylon, and who returned to Jerusalem and Judah, everyone to his city;