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Ezra Chapter 2 Notes

Ezra 2 Notes

By Ken Yeo



1.      Chapter 2 Division

a)      Intro (2:1)

b)      Names of those who returned (2:2-63)

                  i.           2:2 leaders

                 ii.           2:3-35 Men of Israel

1.      2:3-20 based on family

2.      2:21-35 based on hometown

                iii.           2:36-42 Priests and Levites

1.      2:36-39 Priests

2.      2:40-42 Levites

                iv.           2:43-58 Servants

1.      2:43-54 Temple servants

2.      2:55-58 Sons of Solomon’s servants

                 v.           2:59-63 people without proper genealogies

c)      Conclusion(2:64-70)

                  i.           2:64-67 total

                 ii.           2:68-69 offerings of the people

                iii.           2:70 people live in their towns

2.      2:1 Intro

a)      Own towns

                  i.           See 2:70; it is an inclusio. The Israelites remembered the land given by God as part of the Abraham and Sanai covenant.

                 ii.           Chapter 2 tells us who lives in the towns to prepare for chapter 3(3:1).

b)      They are called captives (2:1) but later called Israelites (2:70).

3.      2:2 leaders

a)      11 civil and religious leaders, Also found in Neh 7:7, 12 names there.

b)      Zerubbabel and Joshua are the first two names: the most important leaders

                  i.           Zerubbabel: grandson of King Jehoiachin (Matt 1). Maybe another name for Sheshbazzar (1:11), or maybe not.

                 ii.           Joshua: High priest (Zec 3:1)

4.      2:3-35 Men of Israel

a)      Total 24144, 33 families

b)      Some are names of the head of the family(3-20), some are names of places (21-35)

5.      2:36-39 Priests

a)      4289 priests (approx.. 10% of the return)

6.      2:40-42 Levites

a)      341 Levites (small compares to Priests, Ezra would have a similar experience (8:15). Initially, there was no Levi, and later he found 38 Levi.

7.      2:43-54 Temple servants (Nethinim)

a)      35 people/families

b)      Hebrew’s meaning: the giving ones or the dedicated ones.

c)      Nethinim only shows up in 1 Chr 9:2 and in Ezra and Neh.

d)      David set apart to attend the Levites (8:20).

e)      220 of them will return with Ezra (8:20).

f)       68% are foreign names

g)      Jewish tradition: these are decedents of Gibeonites based on Josh 9:23 you shall never be anything but servants.” But the connection is not convincingly clear.

h)      They are portrayed positively

                  i.           Along with Priests and Levites, and other temple servants, they were exampled from tax (Ezra 7:24).

                 ii.           Participated in rebuilding the wall (Neh 3:26)

                iii.           Signed Nehemiah’s covenant to walk in God’s Law (Ne 10:29)

i)        They were the lowest class in the temple service but a group of dedicated circumcised foreigners (Ex 12:48; Numb 15:14-16) who joined the Israelites to worship Yahweh.

8.      2:55-58 Sons of Solomons’ servants

a)      These are descendants of Canaanites who became servants of Solomons – 1 Kings 9:20-21

b)      40% are foreign names, compare to 10% of the rest of the exiles.

c)      10 people/families

d)      They have converted to worship Yahweh (6:21).

e)      Also mentioned in Neh 7:60; 11:3

f)       Temple servants + sons of Solomon’s slaves = 392, more than Levites (341).

9.      2:59-63 people without proper genealogies

a)      Three people/families were named (2:60), a total of 652 people

b)      Three priestly people/families were named (2:61)

c)      God has a higher standard for priests. While foreigners could join Israelites to worship Yahweh, only the decedents of Aaron could be priests (Lev 6:8; Ex 12:48; Numb 15:14-16).

d)      The sons of Hakkoz’s claim was upheld in the end (8:33; Neh 3:21; 21).

e)      The sons of Barzillai

                  i.           Especially mentioned, the head of the Barzillai family married a daughter of Barzillai the Gileadite and took on Barzillai’s name.

                 ii.           Barzillai was a wealthy Gileadite who provided supplies to David when he was running away from Absalom (2 Sam 17:27-20) and provided escort service for David back to Jordan (2 Sam 19:31-339).

                iii.           In return, David charged Solomon to show kindness to his sons (1 Kings 2:7).

                iv.           This family did not have the genealogy, plus they took the name of a foreigner. It is a double negative. Did that disqualify them as priests is the question.

f)       Priests were forbidden to eat most holy food

                  i.           However, that is not final. They were to seek God’s will through Urim and Thummim.

                 ii.           The point is, it is not clear whether they came from a legitimate priestly family line; therefore, they are to seek God’s will.

g)      The issue of bloodline will come up again in chapters 9 and 10 and Neh 13.

h)      They were still allowed to return with the rest and stayed.

10.   2:64-67 total       

a)      29829 is the total of v2-60. But 49897 is the total of v64-67, which could be due to 1) women and children, 2) uncertainty of those without genealogy in v49-63, 3) possibly some other tribes like Ephraim and Manasseh (1 Chr 9:3).

b)      It is different from Neh 7:66-67 (49942), possibly due to scribal error.

c)      It is not a high number compared to the number of exiles. It means not all people wanted to return. Regardless, God stirred the spirit of some, and they, no doubt, set out in faith, hoping in the promises of God.

d)      7337 were servants, 1 for every 6 freemen, a high number in ancient times. They were probably foreigners

e)      A lot of gold and silvers: 565-pound gold, 3-ton silver.

f)       Even animals are counted, mostly donkeys (6720/8136). It possibly includes sheep and cattle for sacrifices though not mentioned.

11.   2:68-69 offerings of the people

a)      Different from Neh 7:70-72, possibly due to scribal error.

b)      They are not forced. Instead, they give freely and according to their ability.

c)      Reminiscent of the giving of the leaders of Israel in building the original temple (1 Chr 29:1-9).

d)      This shows their dedication to Yahweh since they have incurred many expenses from the travel from Babylon to Israel.

12.   2:70 people live in their towns

a)      They are heirs of the land, promised by God to Abraham (Gen 12:1-3;15:18;17:8).

b)      There are called Israel instead of Judah, representing the unified country of God (1 Kings 12).

13.   Conclusion

a)      The point of this chapter is those who returned are descendants of Jacob, heirs of the land promised by God. Years of exile did not nullify God’s promised to Abraham.

b)      God has stirred the people’s hearts, and they responded in faith to return to the promised land to rebuild the temple, the country and restore their worship to Yahweh.

c)      Yahweh has chosen Israel as His people to receive the covenant, the prophecies, and the lineage of the Messiah. But foreigners could join them by dedicating their life to Yahweh.

14.   Applications

a)      Imagine you were a descendant of one of the Israelites named in Ezra 2. How will that encourage you?

b)      In the case of the sons of priests without genealogy, they are told to consult Urim and Thummim. Sometimes we cannot find explicit instruction in the bible when we face certain situations. We are to seek the Lord in our prayers for His will.

c)      The Israelites give freely and according to their ability. NT teaches the same principles for Christians (2 Cor 9:5-15). Examine your giving to God’s works and pray to improve in this area in your life.

d)      Gentiles who were once foreigners of God’s covenants could believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to become members of the family of God. We as gentiles could believe in Jesus and become fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God. (Eph 2:11-22; Rom 4:13). Therefore, we ought to worship our God with a thankful heart.

e)      Only those who are descendants of Israel can inherit the land. Coming to church meetings, have a Christian spouse, hanging out with Christians does not make you a child of God. You need to believe in Jesus as your Savior and Lord to become the child of God, thus heirs of His inheritance. Paul called those who have faith like Abraham are the sons of Abraham (Gal 3:7), heirs according to the promised (Gal 3:29; Gal 4:7; Rom 8:17). What God has given to those who are in Christ is far more valuable than the promised land, for all the spiritual blessings in the heavenly places have been given to those in Christ (Eph 1:3).

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