Home » Various Sermons » Ezra 2.36-70 Zerubbabel’s Return Part II

Ezra 2.36-70 Zerubbabel’s Return Part II


“The priests: the sons of Jedaiah, of the house of Jeshua, 973. The sons of Immer, 1,052. The sons of Pashhur, 1,247. The sons of Harim, 1,017. ”36-39 The Returning Priest

36 Of the returning Priest, there are four families, three of whom could trace their descent to leaders during the age of David.[1] The Priest, also formed about a tenth of the all the returning Exiles.[2] Of the families listed, we are told that Jeshua comes from the family o f Jedaiah, which also happened to be the smallest family.[3] The family name of Pashhur is likely of Egyptian Origin.[4] It may have been a “branch of the house of Malchijah,” which is seen in  Chronicles 9.12.[5]

The writer has now moved to the religious leaders of the return and mentions that a significant amount of them have returned, coming from four families. Our Religious leaders should be the ones leading. They should not be standing by, suggesting that we ought to do this or ought to do that and yet are not doing anything themselves. Like the Priest here, they ought to stand ready to not only say we need to return, but have returned as well.

If we have a leader who merely stands there and does no action it is time to take a step back and ponder that leader. When looking for a leader it is also important to see if they are someone who does something or merely suggests.

 “The Levites: the sons of Jeshua and Kadmiel, of the sons of Hodaviah, 74. The singers: the sons of Asaph, 128. The sons of the gatekeepers: the sons of Shallum, the sons of Ater, the sons of Talmon, the sons of Akkub, the sons of Hatita, and the sons of Shobai, in all 139.”40-42 The Levites

While a large number of Priest return (4,000), only about 74 Levites returned to the land.[6] This may have to do with the fact that Ezekiel had “downgraded their functions,” and that they therefore had less to do and so gave a muted response.[7]  This small number will be a problem later in the book (chapter 8).[8] For those 74, however, who did return shows a “genuine commitment<’ for they had an even more uncertain future than most in the land.[9]

Of these, the Levites could be split into three groups, the ordinary, the singers, and those whose ancestors had charge over the temple gate.[10]

41, of the Singers, it is of interest that the only the descendents of the famous Asaph return, but not those of Heman or Jeduthun.[11] The exact function and origin of the singers is uncertain, although many have thought that perhaps David set up the first temple singers.[12] The gater keeprs, would have locked and unlock the temple gate and would have also been in charge of the treasury.[13]

Comment: Looking at the returning Levites, there is not many, and that those who had come do so out of sense of true commitment and desire to follow God. Many had stayed behind where it comfortable and easy. Not, where God would have wanted them.

It is important to realize that the religious leaders who are worth the time, are those who stand ready to do the will of the Lord. Those who will get up and leave comfortable lives to do what God wants them to do, who are not only striving to be a pastor or a deacon because it gained some cultural prestige, but do it because they have been called by God and are following that call.

Whenever we enter our churches and look at the leaders in there, it is sometimes important to ask what does the motivations behind this person seem to be? Is it genuine commitment or not? If not, perhaps it is time to find a different place to go

“The temple servants: the sons of Ziha, the sons of Hasupha, the sons of Tabbaoth, the sons of Keros, the sons of Siaha, the sons of Padon, the sons of Lebanah, the sons of Hagabah, the sons of Akkub, the sons of Hagab, the sons of Shamlai, the sons of Hanan, the sons of Giddel, the sons of Gahar, the sons of Reaiah, the sons of Rezin, the sons of Nekoda, the sons of Gazzam, the sons of Uzza, the sons of Paseah, the sons of Besai, the sons of Asnah, the sons of Meunim, the sons of Nephisim, the sons of Bakbuk, the sons of Hakupha, the sons of Harhur, the sons of Bazluth, the sons of Mehida, the sons of Harsha, the sons of Barkos, the sons of Sisera, the sons of Temah, the sons of Neziah, and the sons of Hatipha.

The sons of Solomon’s servants: the sons of Sotai, the sons of Hassophereth, the sons of Peruda, the sons of Jaalah, the sons of Darkon, the sons of Giddel, the sons of Shephatiah, the sons of Hattil, the sons of Pochereth-hazzebaim, and the sons of Ami. All the temple servants and the sons of Solomon’s servants were 392. ”43-58 The Foreigners

The Nethinims or temple servants may have been Gibeonites, but this is uncertain, they may have also been war prisoners, in either case this is a group of non-israelites who had been entrusted in the past with certain temple functions.[14] For example, Me-unim in verse 50, would fit the Inhabitants of Maon who were a “people subjugated by Uzziah, king of Judah” 2 Chr. 26.7.[15]

The  servants of Solomon were other foreigners.[16] Quickly likely a subdivision of the Nethinims. [17]Their exact origin is unclear, they’re connected with Solomon.[18] Some scholars think The servants of Solomon specifically were composes of those Canaanites who had survived up to this day and who in his reign he had separated into a servant class (cf. 1 Kings 9.20,21).[19] For whatever reason, even in the Exile they had remained a separate class of people and now were returning the to the land.[20]

Comment: We now have looked at the returning non-Israelites who had been connected to the temple. While these men and women would have limited function in the temple and at one point likely were a specific social caste in Israel they have retained this and more importantly retained a commitment to Yahweh, for they would certainly have been well enough off in their former homes and yet return.

God does truly prefer that true faith regardless of who we are. These people had a chance to return, a chance not given to the rest of the tribes because they had remained committed to God. Whatever the backgrounds we come from, be it Christian home or not, God desires the same level of commitment is and is pleased when it is shown.

“The following were those who came up from Tel-melah, Tel-harsha, Cherub, Addan, and Immer, though they could not prove their fathers’ houses or their descent, whether they belonged to Israel:  the sons of Delaiah, the sons of Tobiah, and the sons of Nekoda, 652.  Also, of the sons of the priests: the sons of Habaiah, the sons of Hakkoz, and the sons of Barzillai (who had taken a wife from the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite, and was called by their name). These sought their registration among those enrolled in the genealogies, but they were not found there, and so they were excluded from the priesthood as unclean. The governor told them that they were not to partake of the most holy food, until there should be a priest to consult Urim and Thummim.”59-63 Those who could not prove their ancestry

Aside, from all the others mention, there were those, who though faithful, could not prove their ancestry. The priest, in particular, had need to prove their ancestry, to be able to serve in the temple.[21] It should be noted that it is actually more surprising the amount who had been able to keep hold of the knowledge and record of their ancestry than those who could not, especially with the turbulent time that led to the Exile.[22]

59-60 appears to refer to laymen in this group, while 61-63 would instead be referring to the priest of the group. While the laymen are seen as important for not knowing their lineage, it is the priest who are of more concern in this passage.[23] The Priest were the bigger problem befause if they could not prove their purity it would disbar them from service in the temple, and so Zerubbabbel takes action.[24]

Firstly he prohibited ht priest from eating of the most holy things, that this food that would be left over after certain acts of worship, secondly that they would in time use the Urim and Thummim to try and figure this stuff out.[25] Likely what he was waiting for was the completion of the temple. The Urim and Thummim are an uncertainty in the OT, but from 1 Sam. 14.41, we known that somehow it was seen that God’s will was discovered through them, perhaps by process of elimination.[26]

Comment: There were certain rules regarding who could and could not be priest in Ancient Israel, but it was in keeping the religious role they played pure. In many ways we need to realize that there are rules regarding who should and should not be a religious leader in the church. We shouldn’t care bout whether they can prove their ancestry or not, but we should care whether they have a firm grasp of biblical truths. That they can show readily that they are part of the family, but knowledge and deed.

Our leaders must be those who when they say I have been called, that they can back that up with the gifts that God has given them, we the desires that he has placed in their lives that, and a commitment that lets them stand ready to follow him.

“The whole assembly together was 42,360, besides their male and female servants, of whom there were 7,337, and they had 200 male and female singers. Their horses were 736, their mules were 245, their camels were 435, and their donkeys were 6,720.”64-67 Total Number

65. The total number given here does not equal the number that one would get if they tallied up the numbers given previously, but this number likely has counted women and children.[27]While the total number given here would have been a large group to travel across the desert to reach Judea, it would not have been a large group to take up residence in the land.[28]

67/67 The animals of this group, show that the people who had traveled back were not the wealthiest.[29] Horses would have been ridden by wealthier people, but the donkey by poorer.[30] They had returned and one can returned Psalm 126(1-3) to see their song of praise.[31]

“When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy;  then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad.”

“Some of the heads of families, when they came to the house of the Lord that is in Jerusalem, made freewill offerings for the house of God, to erect it on its site. According to their ability they gave to the treasury of the work 61,000 darics of gold, 5,000 minas of silver, and 100 priests’ garments. Now the priests, the Levites, some of the people, the singers, the gatekeepers, and the temple servants lived in their towns, and all the rest of Israel in their towns.” 68-70 On Giving

68 Many upon returning gave freely of their wealth to try and restore the temple’s foundation and to suppose the work of the priests and Levites. The rebuilding of the temple was the first priority of the the people, upon seeing the ruins of Solomon’s temple, the leaders had no other desire than to return the House of Yahweh.[32] Those who gave, did so freely, did not do so out of “pressure,” nor because of a tax.[33] As one commentator writes, “This is the only way to give , and the only kind of giving that God rewards.”[34]

69 Secondly, the people only gave “after their ability,” God does not expect us, nor demand that we give what we are unable to do, while many do not have the problem of giving beyond their means, some do and it needs to be realized that God only wants what we can do.[35] The size of the gift, matters not, it is the intention and heart behind it.

70 This verse finishes with the fact that had returned and lived in their cities. I.e. that the people lived not in Jerusalem only, but also other cities in Judea.[36]



[1] Pulpit, 18.

[2] Fensham, 52.

[3] Fensham, 52.

[4] Fensham, 52.

[5] Simson, 385.

[6] Barber, 12.

[7] Barber, 12.

[8] Fensham, 53.

[9] Barb er, 12.

[10] Pulpit, 18.

[11] Pulpit, 18.

[12] Fensham,, 53.

[13] Fensham, 53.

[14] Fensham, 54.

[15] Simoson, 385.

[16] Butler, 16.

[17] Simson, 385.

[18] Fensham, 55.

[19] Pulpit, 18.

[20] Pulpit, 18.

[21] Butler, 16-17.

[22] Puplit, 18.

[23] Fensham, 55.

[24] Fensham, 55-56.

[25] Fensham, 56.

[26] Fensham, 56.

[27] Simson, 385.

[28] Butler, 17.

[29] Butler, 17.

[30] Simson, 385.

[31] Barber, 12.

[32] Pulpit, 24.

[33] Butler, 18.

[34] Butler, 18.

[35] Butler, 18.

[36] Pulpit, 24.


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