In our study of Ezra chapter two, we look at the list of people who returned from bondage to Jerusalem for God' work. In chapter one, we saw that all of the people were authorized to return to Jerusalem but, as we see here, not every Jew went back.
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Now these are the people of the province who came up from the captivity of the exiles, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had taken captive to Babylon (they returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to his own town, in company with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispar, Bigvai, Rehum, and Baanah): The list of the men of the people of Israel:
There were three different returns of the people to Jerusalem from Babylon. This is the first and it is led by the political leader, Zerubbabel. He was the governor of the Persian province of Judah and he was the grandson of Jehoiachin who had been king of Judah. He is also listed in the family line of Jesus (see Matthew 1:13).
the descendants of Parosh 2,172 of Shephatiah 372 of Arah 652 of Pahath-Moab (through the line of Jeshua and Joab) 2,818 of Elam 1,254 of Zattu 845 of Zaccai 760 of Binnui 648 of Bebai 628 of Azgad 2,322 of Adonikam 667 of Bigvai 2,067 of Adin 655 of Ater (through Hezekiah) 98 of Hashum 328 of Bezai 324 of Hariph 112 of Gibeon 95 the men of Bethlehem and Netophah 188 of Anathoth 128 of Beth Azmaveth 42 of Kirith Jearim, Kephirah and Beeroth 743 of Ramah and Geba 621 of Micmash 122 of Bethel and Ai 123 of the other Nebo 52 of the other Elam 1,254 of Harim 320 of Jericho 345 of Lod, Hadid and Ono 721 of Senaah 3,930 The priests: the descendants of Jedaiah (through the family of Jeshua) 973 of Immer 1,052 of Pashur 1,247 of Harim 1,017 The Levites: the descendants of Jeshua (through Kadmiel through the line of Hodaviah) 74 The singers: the descendants of Asaph 148 The gatekeepers: the descendants of Shallum, Ater, Talmon, Akkub, Hatita and Shobai 138 The temple servants: the descendants of Ziha, Hasupha, Tabbaoth, Keros, Sia, Padon, Lebana, Hagaba, Shalmai, Hanan, Giddel, Gahar, Reaiah, Rezin, Nekoda, Gazzam, Uzza, Paseah, Besai, Meunim, Nephussim, Bakbuk, Hakupha, Harhur, Bazluth, Mehida, Harsha, Barkos, Sisera, Temah, Neziah and Hatipha the descendants of the servants of Solomon: the descendants of Sotai, Sophereth, Perida, Jaala, Darkon, Giddel, Shephatiah, Hattil, Pokereth-Hazzebaim and Amon The temple servants and the descendants of the servants of Solomon 392 The following came up from the towns of Tel Melah, Tel Harsha, Kerub, Addon and Immer, but they could not show that their families were descended from Israel: the descendants of Delaiah, Tobiah and Nekoda 642 And from among the priests: the descendants of Hobaiah, Hakkoz and Barzillai (a man who had married a daughter of Barzillai the Gileadite and was called by that name). These searched for their family records, but they could not find them and so were excluded from the priesthood as unclean. The governor, therefore, ordered them not to eat any of the most sacred food until there should be a priest ministering with the Urim and Thummim.
If we are honest, we will probably ask ourselves why God would include this list of people in the Bible. First of all, it is encouraging to know that God knows each and every one of His people by name. The second thing is that we see there are divisions based on their service to God and this is a picture of the judgment of rewards that we see in Revelation. God not only knows who we are but He also knows how we have served Him. Those that could not trace their family line back to Levi were excluded from the priesthood as that was the tribe set aside by God. Because they were excluded they were not allowed to eat the food that was brought to the temple for the priests. This was to be their fate until a priest could find the will of God by using the Urim and Thummim. Today, all who are in Christ are a part of the priesthood and we have access to the will of God by the Holy Spirit living inside of us.
The whole company numbered 42,360, besides their 7,337 menservants and maidservants; and they also had 245 men and women singers. There were 736 horses, 245 mules, 435 camels and 6,720 donkeys.
Here, we are given the number of people that returned to the land and we notice that it was significantly less than the total number of Jews.
When they arrived at the house of the Lord in Jerusalem, some of the heads of the families gave freewill offerings toward the rebuilding of the house of God on its site. According to their ability they gave to the treasury for this work 61,000 drachmas of gold, 5,000 minas of silver and 100 priestly garments.
We see that God spoke to the hearts of some of the families and used them to provide the money to rebuild the temple. We see that this was a "freewill" offering which means that it was done spontaneously and willingly as prompted by the Holy Spirit. Today, we have corrupted the concept of a freewill offering as many leaders badger people into giving instead of allowing God to speak to the hearts of men to provide for His work. As the saying goes: 'If it's His will, it's His bill" and so we can trust God to provide what is required for the building of His kingdom.
The priests, the Levites, the singers, the gatekeepers and the temple servants settled in their own towns, along with some of the other people, and the rest of the Israelites settled in their towns.
So, the people returned to their towns.