Number of the People That Turned.
1. children of the province—that is,
5:8), so called as being now
reduced from an illustrious, independent, and powerful kingdom to an
obscure, servile, tributary province of the Persian empire. This name
is applied by the sacred historian to intimate that the Jewish exiles,
though now released from captivity and allowed to return into their own
land, were still the subjects of Cyrus, inhabiting a province dependent
came again unto Jerusalem and Judah, every one
unto his city—either the city that had been occupied by his
ancestors, or, as most parts of Judea were then either desolate or
possessed by others, the city that was rebuilt and allotted to him
2. Which came with Zerubbabel—He was the
chief or leader of the first band of returning exiles. The names of
other influential persons who were associated in the conducting of the
caravans are also mentioned, being extracted probably from the Persian
archives, in which the register was preserved: conspicuous in the
number are Jeshua, the high priest, and Nehemiah.
3. The children—This word, as used
throughout this catalogue, means "posterity" or "descendants."
5. children of Arah, seven hundred seventy and
five—The number is stated in Ne 7:10 to have been only six hundred fifty-two.
It is probable that all mentioned as belonging to this family repaired
to the general place of rendezvous, or had enrolled their names at
first as intending to go; but in the interval of preparation, some
died, others were prevented by sickness or insurmountable obstacles, so
that ultimately no more than six hundred fifty-two came to
23. The men of Anathoth—It is pleasant
to see so many of this Jewish town returning. It was a city of the
Levites; but the people spurned Jeremiah's warning and called forth
against themselves one of his severest predictions (Jer 32:27-35). This prophecy was fulfilled in
the Assyrian conquest. Anathoth was laid waste and continued a heap of
ruins. But the people, having been brought during the captivity to a
better state of mind, returned, and their city was rebuilt.
36-39. The priests—Each of their
families was ranged under its prince or head, like those of the other
tribes. It will be remembered that the whole body was divided into
twenty-four courses, one of which, in rotation, discharged the
sacerdotal duties every week, and each division was called after the
name of its first prince or chief. It appears from this passage that
only four of the courses of the priests returned from the Babylonish
captivity; but these four courses were afterwards, as the families
increased, divided into twenty-four, which were distinguished by the
names of the original courses appointed by David [1Ch 23:6-13]. Hence we find the course of
Abijah or Abia (1Ch 24:10)
subsisting at the commencement of the Christian era (Lu 1:5).
55. The children of Solomon's
servants—either the strangers that monarch enlisted in the
building of the temple, or those who lived in his palace, which was
deemed a high honor.
61, 62. the children of Barzillai—He
preferred that name to that of his own family, deeming it a greater
distinction to be connected with so noble a family, than to be of the
house of Levi. But by this worldly ambition he forfeited the dignity
and advantages of the priesthood.
63. Tirshatha—a title borne by the
Persian governors of Judea (see also Ne 7:65-70; 8:9; 10:1). It is derived from the Persian
torsh ("severe"), and is equivalent to "your severity," "your
64. The whole congregation together was forty and
two thousand three hundred and threescore—This gross amount
is twelve thousand more than the particular numbers given in the
catalogue, when added together, come to. Reckoning up the smaller
numbers, we shall find that they amount to 29,818 in this chapter, and
to 31,089 in the parallel chapter of Nehemiah [see Ne 7:66-69]. Ezra also mentions four hundred
ninety-four persons omitted by Nehemiah, and Nehemiah mentions 1765 not
noticed by Ezra. If, therefore, Ezra's surplus be added to the sum in
Nehemiah, and Nehemiah's surplus to the number in Ezra, they will both
become 31,583. Subtracting this from 42,360, there will be a deficiency
of 10,777. These are omitted because they did not belong to Judah and
Benjamin, or to the priests, but to the other tribes. The servants and
singers, male and female, are reckoned separately (Ezr 2:65), so that putting all these items
together, the number of all who went with Zerubbabel amounted to fifty
thousand, with eight thousand beasts of burden [Alting, quoted in Davidson's Hermeneutics].
68. some of the chief of the fathers, when they
came to the house of the Lord offered freely for the house of God,
&c.—The sight of a place hallowed by the most endearing and
sacred associations, but now lying in desolation and ruins, made the
wellsprings of their piety and patriotism gush out afresh. Before
taking any active measures for providing accommodation to themselves
and their families, the chief among them raised a large sum by
voluntary contributions towards the restoration of the temple.
69. drams of gold—rather, "darics," a
Persian coin (see on 1Ch 29:7).
priests' garments—(compare Ne 7:70). This—in the
circumstances—was a very appropriate gift. In general, it may be
remarked that presents of garments, or of any other usable commodities,
however singular it may seem to us, is in harmony with the established
notions and customs of the East.