The Book of Ezra, Chapter 2, The Jewish People Returned

beemanlee's picture

Most of Chapter 2 of Ezra gives The Family Name and the number returning to Judah.

"Usually" in Semitic culture, only the males are recorded in the number given. So we can probably figure that the number can be then multiplied by the average family size of the day and come somewhat close to the exact number of people going back to Judah.

"Women and children" were never counted in amount of numbers, but just referenced to. Some women never marry, and some do not have children.

Most Jewish Males were expected to marry and have children. Even those in Religious service were expected to have one wife. But that usually is not and exact Science.

Lee Ostrander, Group Manager, The Minor Prophets's picture

Djacque's query

Dear Lee,

I would like to respond in part to Djacque's query; provided I'm allowed some leeway (absolutely no pun intended).

Ezr 2:66 Their horses were seven hundred thirty and six; their mules, two hundred forty and five;
Ezr 2:67 Their camels, four hundred thirty and five; their asses, six thousand seven hundred and twenty.

Djacque said: "Would some provisions for the animals be made by carrying them from
Babylon (e. g. price, availibility) while other provisions would be met
through purchase along the way? (Grazing along the route would
naturally be the mainstay if available--but that is a question mark with
all the animals passing and the possibility of having been overgrazed.)
If this were true, might some animals be unneeded after a certain
portion of the trip and sold?

Does anyone know of a reference book that might cover this?


"Because there was safety in numbers, travellers joined caravans when possible. Some of the caravans, with as many as 1500 camels, stretched for miles. Led by a rider on a donkey, they moved at approximately 3 miles per hour". (Reader's Digest ABC's of the Bible. RDA, Pleasantville, 1991, page 174.)

"Israelites depended for transport almost exclusively on camels. Asses were of very limited value for long treks". (Everyday Life in Old Testament Times. EW Heaton. Batsford Ltd., London, page 171.)

Lets say for argument's sake, we class all those animals as one large stock unit (a LSU weighs 450 kg, consumes 10 kg of roughage per day with a digestible quotient of 55 to 65 %); I can provide exact LSU values for all the classes of stock mentioned. A digestibility of 55 to 65 is that of lush green grass. This means that if I made my calculations correctly, the animal group would need something like 18 000 kilogrammes of roughage, per day. That is 18 tonnes. There weren't enough pack animals to carry that. Remember all household and temple paraphernalia were loaded onto the pack animals. The animals would have had to be "out-spanned" and their packs lifted every day to allow them to graze to meet their feed requirements.
At three miles per hour, during an eight hour day, they would cover 24 miles, the distance from Babylon to Jerusalem very roughly is 700 miles (The Westminster Historical Atlas to the Bible, SCM press, London, 1975, page 79). No driver would let his animals trek for eight hours per day. They also would be in no position to stop more often. Remember the removal of the packs to allow the animals to graze, the whole pack would slip off the camel's back should they be allowed to graze. To meet the animals grazing requirements, the drivers would have to select an area of 12 hectares at a minimum per day, provided the vegetation was lush, for the animals to graze. Remember some animals needed larger areas, some rather less. So my guess would be that they never moved more than about 10 miles per day.

I would say the trek took the people roughly three months or longer.

Blessings of the Lord,


PS: donkey mares 1.15
donkey jacks 1.45

horses (draft) mares 0.85
horses (draft) stallions 0.80

mules ? females 1.10 (cross donkey jack on horse mare)
mules ? males 1.05 (cross horse stallion on donkey mare)

camels a bit of a problem, I've compared them to a giraffe of approximately the same weight, cows 0.70 to 0.75


I would love to be part of the gospael of John study group