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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

Ezra 8

 

 

Verse 1

GENEALOGY OF EZRA’S COMPANIONS FROM BABYLON, Ezra 8:1-14.

1. Chief of their fathers — This is not a list of the names of Ezra’s companions, nor even of all the elders or chief fathers among them, but rather a record of their genealogy, showing what ancient houses of Israel were represented, and designating them by the names of distinguished ancestors of the remote past.


Verse 2

2. Phinehas, the grandson, and Ithamar, the son of Aaron were represented by a body of descendants whose number is not here given, for Gershom and Daniel were evidently not the only priests that went up with Ezra. In Ezra 8:24 mention is made of twelve of the chief priests who were set apart to take charge of the vessels and other freewill offerings to be carried up to Jerusalem, and these priests must have been descendants of either Phinehas or Ithamar. Hence we understand that the Gershom and Daniel here named were representatives of these ancient priestly houses, and were accompanied by many others of the same genealogy. Possibly the number has fallen out of the text. It is here worthy of remark that, notwithstanding the curse pronounced on the house of Eli, (1 Samuel 2:33-36,) descendants of Ithamar still remained.


Verse 3

3. Of the sons of Shechaniah — These words seem rather to belong to the preceding verse, and to be connected with Hattush, a descendant of David. So we should read: Of the sons of David, Hattush of the sons of Shechaniah. Compare 1 Chronicles 3:22, where Shechaniah and Hattush are both mentioned as descendants of David.

Pharosh — Probably the same as Parosh, Ezra 2:3. Zechariah is the first name in this list, which is immediately followed by the number of his father’s house who were with him among Ezra’s company.


Verse 4

4. Pahath-moab — Mentioned also in Ezra 2:6. So of a number of the families here named many members had previously returned to Jerusalem with Zerubbabel.


Verses 5-10

5, 10. In Ezra 8:5 the Septuagint inserts Zattu (Ezra 2:8) before Shechaniah, and in Ezra 8:10 Bani (Ezra 2:10) before Shelomith. Compare, also, apocryphal 1 Esdras 8:32; 1 Esdras 8:34.


Verse 13

13. The last sons of Adonikam — Other sons, to the number of six hundred and sixty-six, went up with Zerubbabel, (Ezra 2:13,) and some think the sons here mentioned are called the last in reference to those who had previously accompanied Zerubbabel. But it is, perhaps, better to understand the last sons to be Eliphelet, Jeiel, and Shemaiah, who were the latest born immediate sons of Adonikam, and thus distinguished from other sons of fathers mentioned in the list, who were not immediate sons, but grandsons, or still more remote descendants.


Verse 15

THE GATHERING AND PREPARATIONS AT THE RIVER THAT RUNNETH TO AHAVA, Ezra 8:15-20.

15. The river that runneth to Ahava — So that Ahava was not the name of the river, but the place to which or near which the river ran. It was probably the same as the Ava or Ivah of 2 Kings 17:24; 2 Kings 18:34; and the river is to be understood of the Euphrates at that spot, or, what is more probable, some canal or small stream that flowed into the Euphrates at that place. Ahava, or Ava, was situated in the northern part of Babylonia, and is represented by the modern Hit. See note on 2 Kings 17:24.

None of the sons of Levi — That is, none of the Levites as distinguished from the priests. All the priests were sons of Levi, but all the sons of Levi were not priests. The priests were confined to the descendants of Aaron, (through Phinehas and Ithamar of Ezra 8:2.) The Levites proper were descendants of other sons of Levi. See the genealogy of 1 Chronicles 6.


Verse 16

16. Eliezer… Ariel… chief men — These were principal men among Ezra’s companions who had already assembled at Ahava, and whom he used as chief assistants. The nine first named are called chief men, probably from being the most distinguished and influential elders among them; the last two are distinguished as men of understanding, being skilled, probably, in the law, as Ezra was, and competent to instruct the people.


Verse 17

17. Iddo the chief — This person was evidently the head man of a community of the Nethinim — descendants of the Gibeonites given to the service of the temple, (see 1 Chronicles 9:2,) who were dwelling at the place Casiphia. This place is now unknown, but seems, from the short time occupied in obtaining men from there, to have been not very far from Ahava.


Verse 18

18. Mahli — A Levite descended from Merari. 1 Chronicles 6:19.

And Sherebiah — We understand this to be the name of that man of understanding, of the sons of Mahli, whom Ezra’s delegation brought, though the English version seems to present him as another person. But render: And Sherebiah and his sons and his brethren were eighteen, and the meaning will be clearer. From this verse and the two following it appears that Ezra’s men succeeded not only in obtaining Nethinim from Iddo to the number of two hundred and twenty, but also in enlisting in their company thirty-eight Levites, who could show their genealogy from distinguished ancestors.


Verse 21

21. Proclaimed a fast — That by proper humiliation before God they might secure his blessing upon their journey.

Afflict ourselves — By abstinence and personal humiliation. Compare marginal references.

A right way for us — A course of righteousness and safety. Great and pressing dangers beset this expedition of Ezra. There was danger that transgressors might appear among these exiles to covet the treasures that had been given for the temple, and so, like Achan, be a curse to the whole camp. They were also in danger of robbers and perils by the way.


Verse 22

22. I was ashamed to require… soldiers — As is immediately explained, Ezra’s representations of the power and goodness of his God toward them that obey him made it appear inconsistent for him to ask the protection of human forces of the king. For it would expose him to the charge of being afraid to trust to the protection of the almighty Ruler, in whose name and honour he was undertaking this journey.


Verse 24

24. Twelve of the chief of the priests — Not high priests, but leading men, specially distinguished for age or wisdom, among the priests that were with Ezra.

Sherebiah, Hashabiah, and ten — According to the English version, which follows the Sept. and Vulg., these were the twelve priests just mentioned; but from Ezra 8:18-19, and elsewhere, it appears that Sherebiah and Hashabiah were not priests, but Levites. And as our author is so careful to distinguish between priests and Levites in Ezra 8:15, we can hardly suppose he confounds them here. The Hebrew literally reads: I separated from the chief of the priests twelve unto ( ל ) Sherebiah, etc. That is, he appointed twelve priests in addition to Sherebiah, Hashabiah, and their ten brethren, so that there were twenty-four persons in all to whom the treasures were intrusted — twelve priests and twelve Levites. Compare Ezra 8:30.


Verse 25

25. Weighed unto them — Took a careful inventory of all the offerings that had been given, and consigned them to their care, that it might be shown at Jerusalem that nothing had been lost or stolen by the way.


Verse 26

26. Six hundred and fifty talents — This amount of silver would be in weight about sixty-one thousand pounds avoirdupois, and in value over one million dollars.

A hundred talents — In weight nine thousand four hundred pounds; in value one hundred and sixty-six thousand dollars.

Gold a hundred talents — In weight eighteen thousand eight hundred pounds, and in value nearly five million six hundred and ninety thousand dollars.


Verse 27

27. A thousand drams — Worth about five thousand five hundred dollars. See on the word dram, or daric, at Ezra 2:69.

Fine copper — Or, rather, copper shining beautifully. The value of all these treasures, according to the above estimate, must have been nearly seven million dollars, an amount so great as to lead us to suspect some corruption or error in the numbers.


Verse 28

28. Ye are holy… vessels are holy — Both had been set apart and consecrated to holy services, so that holy treasures should be intrusted to holy persons.


Verse 29

29. Watch ye, and keep them — Treasures of such great value were in danger of being stolen. Hence the care to weigh them at the beginning and at the end of the journey.


Verse 30

30. The priests and the Levites — Twelve of each class. Ezra 8:24, note.


Verse 31

THE JOURNEY AND ARRIVAL AT JERUSALEM, Ezra 8:31-36.

31. On the twelfth day — They began to gather at Ahava on the first day, (Ezra 7:9,) but the fast and other events mentioned above (Ezra 8:15-30) occupied ten or eleven days.

The hand of our God was upon us — Providence favoured us, and delivered us from all enemies and dangers.


Verse 32

32. Abode there three days — That is, three days before proceeding to deliver over their treasures and the king’s letter. They seem to have taken this time for rest and deliberation before commencing their work. So Nehemiah waited three days before commencing his work. Nehemiah 2:11.


Verse 33

33. Meremoth… Eleazar… Jozabad… Noadiah — Two priests and two Levites. These were the chief priests and Levites who, according to Ezra 8:29, were to receive the new treasures in the chambers of the temple at Jerusalem. They were not members of Ezra’s company, but persons who had previously gone up to Jerusalem.


Verse 35

35. The children… which were come — That is, these who had just now coma up from Babylon with Ezra.

Twelve bullocks for all Israel — See note on Ezra 6:17. “The idea of offerings for all Israel pervades the entire sacrifice, with the exception of the lambs, whose number (77) is peculiar, and has not been accounted for.” — Rawlinson.


Verse 36

36. Lieutenants — Hebrew, achash-darpenim; satraps. “The genuine form of this name, which has lately been found in the inscriptions of ancient India, is ksatrapa, that is, warrior of the host.” — Gesenius. In the Behistun inscription it is written khshatrapava. These were among the highest officers of the Persian government, and in their several provinces were representatives of the king. Governors, like Tatnai, (see note on Ezra 5:3,) were rulers and superintendents of smaller districts under the satraps.

They furthered the people — Literally, lifted them, or as we say, gave them a lift. They not only gave them no opposition, but even showed them favour, and helped them in their work.

And the house of God — This had been finished and dedicated, (Ezra 8:15-17,) but doubtless needed still much in the way of beautifying and adorning.

 


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Ezra 8:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/ezra-8.html. 1874-1909.

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