Ezra 2



The List of the Exiles Who Returned (2:1–70)

(Nehemiah 7:4–73)

1–2 In this chapter, Ezra lists the people of the province (verse 1)—that is, Judah—who were in the first group of exiles to return to Judah in about 536 B.C. Their main leader was Zerubbabel, who is listed first among the eleven leaders mentioned in verse 2. Second on the list is Jeshua, who served as high priest.10 The lists in this chapter are duplicated in Nehemiah 7:473; some of the numbers differ, however, for reasons unknown.

3–63 These verses list only the men among the returning exiles (verse 2).

Verses 59–61 list names of individuals who could not find their family records. Among them were some priests; since they couldn’t prove they were descendants of Aaron, they were excluded from the priesthood as ceremonially unclean11 (verse 62). The governor (either Sheshbazzar or Zerubbabel) refused to allow them to function as priests or to eat the sacred food12 until a known priest arrived who could minister with the Urim and Thummim (see Exodus 28:30) and thereby determine if these priests were true descendants of Aaron or not (verse 63).

64–70 The number of the whole company, including women and children, is given in verse 64. This number, plus the servants, comes to about fifty thousand.

When the exiles arrived in Jerusalem, they collected freewill offerings to aid in the construction of the temple (verse 68). The people gave a total of 61,000 drachmas (five hundred kilograms) of gold and 5,000 minas13 (a ton) of silver.