Ezra 2






It has been argued that the whole of this chapter is out of place

here, and has been transferred hither from Nehemiah 7:6-73, where it occupies its

rightful position. According to this view, the list is one embodying the results of

the census made by Nehemiah, not a list of those who returned to Jerusalem with

Zerubbabel But it seems strange that such a theory should ever have been seriously

maintained, since not only does Ezra declare the list to be a catalogue of

those “which came with Zerubbabel (v. 2), but Nehemiah himself warns

us that it is “a register of the genealogy of them which came up at the first

(Nehemiah 7:5). The Jews, like other Semitic races, especially the Arabs, set

great store by their genealogies; and, to secure a sound basis for these in

the restored community, it was essential that a correct record should be

kept of the families by which the state was re-established. Already there

was a large number of Jews among the captives which could not show

their father’s house, or their pedigree, whether they were of Israel (v. 59).

It was essential, according to Jewish ideas, that such ignorance should,

at the least, be arrested, and not spread through the nation. Hence the

elaborate genealogies with which the first Book of Chronicles opens (chapters

1-8), and hence also the present list.  The list may be divided into ten parts:


1. Enumeration of the leaders (v. 2).

2. Numbers of those who returned, arranged according to families (vs. 3-19).

3. Numbers of those who returned, arranged according to localities (vs. 20-35).

4. Numbers of the priests, arranged according to families (vs. 36-39).

5. Numbers of the Levites, arranged similarly (vs. 40-42).

6. Families of the Nethinim (vs. 43-54).

7. Families of “Solomon’s servants” (vs. 55-57).

8. Number of these last two classes together (v. 58).

9. Account of those who could not show their genealogy (vs. 59-63).

10. General summation (v. 64).


1 “Now these are the children of the province that went up out of the

captivity, of those which had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar

the king of Babylon had carried away unto Babylon, and came again unto

Jerusalem and Judah, every one unto his city;  These are the children of the

province. i.e. of Judaea, which was a province of Persia, distinguished here from

Babylon, which was one of the capitals — a mode of speech indicating the foreign

standpoint of Ezra. Unto Jerusalem and Judah, every one unto his city. Jerusalem

was not the only site occupied by the people on their return. Many took up

their abodes in the neighboring towns and villages, such as Jericho,Tekoah, Gibeon,

Mizpah, Zanoah, etc. (see Nehemiah 3:2-19, and 7:20-35). These were chiefly

persons whose families had belonged to those places.


2 “Which came with Zerubbabel: Jeshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah,

Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mizpar, Bigvai, Rehum, Baanah. The

number of the men of the people of Israel:”  Zerubbabel, Jeshua, etc. In the

corresponding verse of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 7:7) there are twelve names, one

of which (it is probable) has accidentally fallen out here. The twelve are reasonably

regarded as either the actual heads of the twelve tribes, or at any rate as

representing them. Notwithstanding the small number among the returned

exiles who belonged to other tribes than those of Judah, Benjamin, and

Levi, there was a manifest wish on the part of the chiefs to regard the

return as in some sort that of all the tribes (see v.70; ch. 6:17; 8:35, etc.).

The number of the men. The lists in Nehemiah and the apocryphal

Esdras differ in many details, and furnish strong evidence of the corruption

to which numbers are liable from the mistakes of copyists, and the facility

of error when there is no check from the context. Of the forty-two

numbers here given by Ezra (vs. 3-60), as many as eighteen differ from

the corresponding numbers in Nehemiah. The difference, however, is

mostly small; and even the sum of the differences is trivial (see comment on

v. 64).




                                    The Restoration of Israel (vs. 1-2)


This is an important subject. Great portion of Scripture is occupied with it.

Events of the utmost moment connected are with it.



            HIS GATHERING BE.


Ø      His tribes became distributed into two kingdoms.

o       United until the evil days of Rehoboam (see I Kings 12:20).

o       Thence distinguished as Judah and Israel. Under the name of

      Judah is comprehended also the small tribe of Benjamin, with

      priests and others of the tribe of Levi.


Ø      The ten tribes were first carried captive by the Assyrians. This was in

                        two detachments.

o       By Tiglath-pileser, B.C. 739 (see II Kings 15:29).

o       By Shalmaneser eighteen years later, when the deportation was

                                    complete (Ibid. ch.17:6, 18).


Ø      The Jews were afterwards carried away to Babylon. This was 130

      years later, and was also accomplished in two detachments, viz.:

o       That, B.C. 599, when Nebuchadnezzar removed the principal

      people (Ibid. ch. 24:14).

o       That eleven years later, when the remnant was removed

      (Ibid. ch. 25:11).

o       Then, six centuries later, came the dispersion by the Romans.

      Prophecy views the scattering as a whole, without breaking it

      up into its details, and so it views the restoration; and as the

      scattering was accomplished at long intervals by installments,

      so may the gathering be.





Ø      The ten tribes were not included in it.

o       They were the “children of the province.” Not of Babylon, as

      some think, for Babylon is contrasted with it here. But of

      Judaea, now a province of the Persian empire (see ch.5:8).

      Behold the goodness and severity of God!

o       Further specified as “those whom Nebuchadnezzar carried

      away.” No mention made of those before carried into Assyria.

o       Further, as “the number of the men of the people of Israel.”

      Given in detail in this chapter. Here we find children of Judah,

      of Benjamin, of Levi and the priests, and even of the Gibeonites,

      but no mention of Ephraim and his associates.

o       But the restoration of the ten tribes is promised (see Ezekiel

      11:15-17 – Has not this been in the process of being fulfilled

      since 1948? – CY – 2015). (What a rebuke to those who repeat

      this conduct of Judah in exclusively claiming for themselves as

      Christians the promises made to Israel!) Therefore there is yet


      said, “….and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.”

      (Zechariah 3:9)


Ø      This restoration did not reunite the divided nation.

o       This fact already shown.

o       But prophecy requires this (see Ezekiel 37:21-22).

                                    “Therefore,” etc.

Ø      This restoration was not permanent.

o       Even the Jews were subsequently scattered by the Romans

     and have since been kept scattered by Romanists and


o       But prophecy requires this (see Jeremiah 31:10;

     Ezekiel 34:27-28;  Amos 9:14-15). “Therefore,” etc.





Ø      It answered great purposes of prophecy.

o       Those connected with the incarnation. To take place while the

                                    tribe-rod was yet with Judah (see Genesis 49:10). While the

                                    family of David yet had their genealogies; while yet they dwelt

                                    near Bethlehem (see Micah 5:2).

o       Those connected with the atonement. Jerusalem the place of

     sacrifices. Zion the place from whence the gospel law should

     issue (see Isaiah 2:3; Joel 2:32).


Ø      There is a prophecy in accomplished predictions.

o       The preservation of the Jews amongst the nations. Without

     a parallel in history. What for (see Jeremiah 30:11)? “Full end”

     of Assyria, Babylon, Rome. Anti-christian nations doomed.

o       History of the land as remarkable as that of the people. No

     permanent settlers. Romans, Greeks, Saracens, Papists, Turks!


Ø      The Jews expect their restoration.

o       Good reason, for THE WORD IS SURE!

o       Their faith is patient. Centuries of disappointment. Is our faith so

                                    patient under trials?


3 “The children of Parosh, two thousand an hundred seventy and two.”

4 “The children of Shephatiah, three hundred seventy and two.”

5 “The children of Arah, seven hundred seventy and five.”

6 “The children of Pahathmoab, of the children of Jeshua and Joab,

    two thousand eight hundred and twelve.”

7 “The children of Elam, a thousand two hundred fifty and four.

8 “The children of Zattu, nine hundred forty and five.

9 “The children of Zaccai, seven hundred and threescore.

10 “The children of Bani, six hundred forty and two.

11 “The children of Bebai, six hundred twenty and three.

12 “The children of Azgad, a thousand two hundred twenty and two.

13 “The children of Adonikam, six hundred sixty and six.

14  The children of Bigvai, two thousand fifty and six.

15 “The children of Adin, four hundred fifty and four.

16 “The children of Ater of Hezekiah, ninety and eight.

17 “The children of Bezai, three hundred twenty and three.

18 “The children of Jorah, an hundred and twelve.

19 “The children of Hashum, two hundred twenty and three.


20 “The children of Gibbar, ninety and five.”

    The children of Gibbar. For Gibbar we should probably

    readGibeon,” which occurs in the corresponding passage of Nehemiah

    (7:25). The writer at this point passes from persons to places, making the

    latter portion of his list topographical. Gibeon was a well-known town in

    Benjamin (Joshua 18:25). Other Benjamite towns in the list are

    Anathoth, Ramah, Gaba, Michmas, Bethel, and Jericho. It would seem that

   the descendants of the captives carried off from these places retained a

   traditional knowledge of the locality to which they belonged.


21 “The children of Bethlehem, an hundred twenty and three.”

22 “The men of Netophah, fifty and six.”

23 “The men of Anathoth, an hundred twenty and eight.”

24 “The children of Azmaveth, forty and two.”

25 “The children of Kirjatharim, Chephirah, and Beeroth, seven

     hundred and forty and three.”

26 “The children of Ramah and Gaba, six hundred twenty and one.”

27 “The men of Michmas, an hundred twenty and two.”

28 “The men of Bethel and Ai, two hundred twenty and three.”

29 “The children of Nebo, fifty and two.”

30 “The children of Magbish, an hundred fifty and six.”

31 “The children of the other Elam, a thousand two hundred fifty and four.”

32 “The children of Harim, three hundred and twenty.”

33 “The children of Lod, Hadid, and Ono, seven hundred twenty and five.”

34 “The children of Jericho, three hundred forty and five.”

35 “The children of Senaah, three thousand and six hundred and thirty.”


36 “The priests: the children of Jedaiah, of the house of Jeshua, nine

     hundred seventy and three.”  The priests. Four priestly families went up with

     Zerubbabel.  Of these, three traced their descent to persons who had been heads

     of the priestly courses in the reign of David, viz., Jedaiah, Immer, and Hardin

    (I Chronicles 24:7-8, 14). The other family had for founder a priest

    named Pashur, who was not otherwise distinguished. The numbers

    assigned to the priests by Ezra are identical with those in Nehemiah

    (Nehemiah 7:39-42). Jedaiah, of the house of Jeshua. To whose

    house, that is, Jeshua, the existing high priest, belonged. Hence, no doubt,

    the precedency given to the house of Jedaiah, which numerically was the

    least important.


37 “The children of Immer, a thousand fifty and two.”

38 “The children of Pashur, a thousand two hundred forty and seven.”

39 “The children of Harim, a thousand and seventeen.”

40 “The Levites: the children of Jeshua and Kadmiel, of the children of

    Hodaviah, seventy and four.” The Levites. The non-priestly Levites are divided

    into three classes:


Ø      Ordinary Levites (v. 40);

Ø      Choral Levites (v. 41); and

Ø      Levites descended from those who had had the charge of the temple

            gates (v. 42).


   Compare I Chronicles 24:20-31; 25:1-31; and 26:1-19. Of the first class, only two

   families seem to have returned — those of Jeshua and Kadmiel, both of which

   traced their descent to a certain Hodaviah, or Judah (Ezra 3:9).


41 “The singers: the children of Asaph, an hundred twenty and eight.”

  The singers, the children of Asaph. See II Chronicles 25:1. It is remarkable

  that no descendants of either Heman or Jeduthun (ibid.) took part in the return.


42“The children of the porters: the children of Shallum, the children of

   Ater, the children of Talmon, the children of Akkub, the children

   of Hatita, the children of Shobai, in all an hundred thirty and nine.”

  The porters. Six families of doorkeepers returned; three of

  which bear old names, those of Shallum, Talmon, and Akkub (I Chronicles

  9:17), while the other three have names that are new to us. One

  hundred and thirty-nine. The smallness of this and the two preceding

  numbers is remarkable. While the returning priests numbered 4289, the

  returning Levites of all classes were no more than 341 (350, Nehemiah). It

  would seem as if some jealousy of the priests, like that which animated

  Korah and his followers (Numbers 16:1-10), must have grown up

  during the captivity (comp. below, Ezra 8:15).


43 “The Nethinims: the children of Ziha, the children of Hasupha, the

     children of Tabbaoth,”  The Nethiaims. See note on I Chronicles 9:2.

44 “The children of Keros, the children of Siaha, the children of Padon,”

45 “The children of Lebanah, the children of Hagabah, the children of


46 “The children of Hagab, the children of Shalmai, the children of


47 “The children of Giddel, the children of Gahar, the children of


48 “The children of Rezin, the children of Nekoda, the children of


49 “The children of Uzza, the children of Paseah, the children of Besai,”

50 “The children of Asnah, the children of Mehunim, the children of


51 “The children of Bakbuk, the children of Hakupha, the children of


52 “The children of Bazluth, the children of Mehida, the children of


53 “The children of Barkos, the children of Sisera, the children of


54 “The children of Neziah, the children of Hatipha.

55 “The children of Solomon’s servants: the children of Sotai, the

children of Sophereth, the children of Peruda,  Solomon’s servants.

Solomon formed the remnant of the Canaanitish population which survived at

his day into a separate servile class, which he employed in forced labors (I Kings

9:20-21). It would seem that the descendants of these persons, having been

carried into captivity by the Chaldaeans, continued to form a distinct class, and

had become attached to the sacerdotal order, as a body of hieroduli inferior

even to the Nethinims. We may account for their special mention at this

time by the importance of their services, when such a work as that of

rebuilding the temple was about to be taken in hand.


56 “The children of Jaalah, the children of Darkon, the children of


57 “The children of Shephatiah, the children of Hattil, the children of

Pochereth of Zebaim, the children of Ami.”

58“All the Nethinims, and the children of Solomon’s servants, were

three hundred ninety and two.”

59 “And these were they which went up from Telmelah, Telharsa,

Cherub, Addan, and Immer: but they could not shew their father’s

house, and their seed, whether they were of Israel:”  Tel-melah is probably

the Thelme of Ptolemy (‘Geograph.,’ 5:20), a city of Lower Babylonia,

situated in the salt tract near the Persian Gulf. Hence the name, which means

“Hill of Salt.” Cherub is no doubt Ptolemy’s Chiripha, which was in the same

region. The other places here mentioned are unknown to us, but probably

belonged to the same tract of country. Tel-Harsa means “Hill of the Wood.”

They could not show their father’s house. It is more surprising that so many

of the returning exiles had preserved their genealogies than that a certain

number had omitted to do so. Considering the duration of the exile, its

hardships, and the apparent improbability of a restoration, there could have

been no cause for wonder if the great majority had forgotten their descent.


60 “The children of Delaiah, the children of Tobiah, the children of

Nekoda, six hundred fifty and two.”

61 “And of the children of the priests: the children of Habaiah, the

children of Koz, the children of Barzillai; which took a wife of the

daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite, and was called after their

name:”  Of the children of the priests. Some of those who claimed to

be descendants of Aaron, and therefore priests, had also lost the evidence

of their descent. This loss was held to disqualify them from the exercise of

the priestly office (v. 62).


62 “These sought their register among those that were reckoned by

genealogy, but they were not found: therefore were they, as

polluted, put from the priesthood.

63 “And the Tirshatha said unto them, that they should not eat of the

most holy things, till there stood up a priest with Urim and with

Thummim.”  The Tirshatha. As Shesh-bazzar was the Babylonian name

of Zerub-babel (Ezra 1:8), so “the Tirshatha seems to have been his

Persian title. The word is probably a participial form from tars or tarsa, “to

fear,” and means literally “the Feared.” It is used only by Ezra and

Nehemiah (Nehemiah 7:65; 8:9). Haggai calls Zerubbabel uniformly

pechah, “governor (Haggai 1:1, 14; 2:2, 21). They should not eat of

the most holy things. The priests’ portion of the offerings, called “most

holy in Leviticus 2:2, 10, is intended. Of this no “stranger” might eat

(ibid. 22:10). Till there stood up a priest with Urim and Thummim.

Zerubbabel evidently expected that the power of obtaining direct answers

from God by means of the Urim and Thummim, whatever they were (see

note on Exodus 28:30), which had existed in the pre-captivity Church,

would be restored when the Church was re-established in its ancient home.

The doubt whether the families of Habaiah and Coz (or Haccoz) belonged

to the priestly class or no might then be resolved. But Zerubbabel’s

expectation was disappointed. The gift of Urim and Thummin, forfeited

by disobedience, WAS NEVER RECOVERED!



                        The Privileges of the Priesthood (vs. 61-63)


We are here forcibly reminded:




Ø      They were sanctified to the service of God.

o       Distinguished from the tribes whose inheritance was in the soil

      (see Numbers 18:20).

o       Distinguished among the Levites. They were sons of Aaron.

      Were served by the Levites. While they served in the holy places,

      at the altar, within the veil (see (Ibid. v.7).


Ø      They ate of the most holy things.

o       As Levites, they had tithes from the nation.

o       As priests, they had tithes from the Levites (Ibid. vs. 20-21,


o       They partook of the altar (see Leviticus 6:16, 26; 7:6, etc.).

o       They ate the shew bread of the Presence, viz., of the Shekinah,

      the visible glory of God. All this symbolically expressed near

      fellowship with God.




Ø      In their birth, as sons of Aaron.

o       Aaron was a type of Christ. See arguments in Epistle to

      the Hebrews.

o       Christians are of the family of Christ (see Ephesians 3:14-15;

                                                                        Galatians 4:4-7). Have we the spiritual birth?


Ø      In their office, as priests of God.

o       Christians are a spiritual priesthood (see Isaiah 61:6; I Peter

                                    2:5, 9; Revelation 1:6).

o       They have a spiritual consecration (see II Corinthians 1:21;

      I John 2:20, 27).


Ø      They offer spiritual sacrifices. Themselves (Romans 12:1).

                        Sacrifices of prayer, of praise, of service (see Hosea 14:2;

                                                Hebrews 13:15).


Ø      In the privileges of their office.

o       They draw nigh to God. The law priest entered the holy place.

      We enter the most holy (see Hebrews 10:19-22).

o       They feast with God. This glorious fellowship is now expressed

      in the Lord’s Supper.



            TO SHOW A VALID TITLE,


Ø      As to the priesthood under the law.

o       Case of the children of Habai and Koz. These not elsewhere

      or otherwise mentioned. Here acknowledged as sons of Aaron.

      Their reputed descendants could not show their genealogy from


o       Case of the children of Barzillai’s daughter. Honorable mention

      made of Barzillai (see II Samuel 17:27-29;  “…he returned to

      his own place.” 19:31-39 ). This accounts for descendants of his

      daughter assuming his name rather than that of their father.

o       They were therefore excluded (Hebrews, polluted) from the

      priesthood.  Lost the sanctity; also the privileges.


Ø      As to the priesthood under the gospel.

o       As with the aspirants through Habai and Koz, the reputation of

      being of the family of Jesus will not avail. Have you evidence

      of spiritual birth?

o       As with the aspirants bearing the honorable name of Barzillai,

                                    respectability will not avail in place of a spiritual title. We

                                    must be real.

o       The Tirshatha will scrutinize our claims. We must all pass the

      scrutiny of the judgment.


Ø      But is it possible for us to make up a valid title?

o       What does the Tirshatha say (see v. 68)?

o       The Urim and Thummim were wanting then. These were used

      in the breastplate of the high priest for obtaining responses

      from the Shekinah of God in the temple. Neither these

      lights and perfections” (the traditional translation of Urim

      and Thummim) nor the SHEKINAH to illuminate them


o       We have an High Priest who stands up with these, even Jesus,

      who ministers in the grander temple. Through His glorious Spirit,

      THE TRUE SHEKINAH,  we have in our breasts the most

      perfect illuminations. By these we ascertain our spiritual birth

      with its titles. Have we this most sacred, this most indubitable



 64 “The whole congregation together was forty and two thousand three

hundred and threescore,”  Ezra’s numbers, as given in detail (vs. 3-60), produce

when added together a total of only 29,818; Nehemiah’s items (Nehemiah 7:8-62)

give a total of 31,089; those of the apocryphal Esdras a total of 33,950. The three

authorities agree, however, in their summation, all alike declaring that the actual

number of those who returned with Zerubbabel was 42,360. Esdras adds that

children under twelve years of age are not included. If this were so, the entire

number must have exceeded 50,000 — an enormous body of persons to

transport a distance of above a thousand miles, according to Western

experience, but one which will not surprise those acquainted with the East.

In the East caravans of from ten to twenty thousand souls often traverse

huge distances without serious mishap, and migrations frequently take

place on a much grander scale. In the year 1771, 50,000 families of

Torgouths, reckoned to number 300,000 souls, arrived on the frontiers of

China, after a journey of 10,000 leagues through a most difficult country,

and were given lands in the Chinese empire. They were followed in the

next year by 180,000 Eleuths and others, who had accomplished a similar

distance (see De Hell, ‘Travels,’ pp. 228, 229). Genghis Khan is said to

have forced 100,000 artisans and craftsmen to emigrate in a body from

Khiva into Mongolia (Howarth’s ‘History of the Mongols,’ p. 85). The

transplantation of entire nations was an established practice among the

Assyrians, Babylonians, and Persians.




ASSES OF THOSE WHO RETURNED (vs. 65-67). It may seem

strange that matters of this trivial character should be recorded with such

exactness in Holy Writ; but enumerations similar in character are not

unfrequent (see Genesis 23:14-15; II Chronicles 17:11; Job 42:12).

They may perhaps be viewed as teaching the lesson that with God nothing

is too trivial for exact knowledge, even “all the hairs of our head” being

numbered (Matthew 10:30). In the present passage the enumeration

is not altogether without a further historical value, since it is indicative of

the general poverty and low estate of the returning exiles, who had but one

slave and one ass to every six of their number, one horse to every sixty,

one camel to every hundred, and one mule to every one hundred and



65 “Beside their servants and their maids, of whom there were seven

thousand three hundred thirty and seven: and there were among

them two hundred singing men and singing women.”  Two hundred

singing men and singing women. Nehemiah says two hundred and forty-five,

and so the apocryphal Esdras. Perhaps, in the great default of Levites, the

services of these persons may have been used to swell the sacred choruses

of the time (ch.3:10). Hence, it may be, the mention of this otherwise

unimportant fact.


66 “Their horses were seven hundred thirty and six; their mules, two

hundred forty and five;

67 Their camels, four hundred thirty and five; their asses, six thousand

seven hundred and twenty.”  Their asses. The ass (we see) is still, as in the

earlier times, the chief beast of burden employed by the Israelites. Horses are

rare, camels and mules still rarer; but most emigrant families had, it would

seem, one ass (compare I Samuel 8:16; I Chronicles 27:30; Isaiah 30:6).



                                    The Muster-Roll (vs. 1-67)


The last chapter gave us a catalogue of the sacred vessels returned. In that

portion of the present chapter which concludes with the above verses we

have a similar catalogue of the sacred people returned.  The first verse

seems to show us where this catalogue was made out, viz., in the land

of their exile, where Judaea was constantly spoken of as “the province” (compare

ch. 5:8; Nehemiah 1:3; 11:3). If the nearly identical catalogue which Nehemiah

(Nehemiah 7:5) describes himself as having found at Jerusalem, about 103 years

afterwards, were the same catalogue as corrected and laid up after the

arrival of the exiles at Jerusalem, this might account for the various minor

differences which are discoverable between them. Many enrolled to start

might never start, or never arrive; some not enrolled to start might join

afterwards and be enrolled then. At any rate it is easier to suppose

something of this kind than to suppose, in connection with such careful and

formal documents of state, so many glaring “mistakes.”   We may take the

catalogue before us, therefore, very much as it stands.  Not improbably, according

to its own methods of interpretation, it is quite correct as it stands. Can we regard it

as being also instructive from a moral point of view? Perhaps if we merely regard it

in a general way, and as setting before our notice, first, the kind of men, and second,

the number of men, that came up, we shall find even this apparently barren Scripture

not without some sacred use to us. Some lessons can also be gathered from the

very names we find here.


  • THE KIND OF MEN THAT CAME UP. They appear to have been

            men, in the main, loving the old state of things. They were conservatives,

            e.g., in politics, keeping still, in the person of Zerubbabel as their chief civil

            ruler, to the ancient dynasty, that of David. They are also thought by some,

            comparing the names in v. 2 with the probably the more correct account in

                        Nehemiah 7:7, and with ch. 6:17 here; I Kings 18:31, to have

            shown the same spirit touching the ancient twelve-fold “constitution” of

            Israel. In Church matters, again, so to call them, the returning exiles

            showed their strong respect for precedents and the past by submitting to

            Jeshua as chief priest (see II Kings 25:18-21; I Chronicles 6:15;

                        Haggai 1:1, 14). Also we see another branch of this Church

            conservatism of theirs in the especial importance attached by them to the

            question of genealogy. While, further yet, on this last-mentioned matter,

            the only proposal made for settling the doubts that beset it was by an

            ancient method again (v. 63). Nor is it altogether unworthy of remark in

            this connection that they also appear to have been men showing great

            attachment to race and place, and assembling together for their proposed

            return to Jerusalem in family groups. In most cases these groups are

            described as “the children” of some one man. This is the case of vs. 1-17,

            and again of vs. 33-35. In other cases (vs. 18-33) the groups are

            described as being connected with particular towns, which, considering

            how necessarily near of kin all Israelitish fellow-townsmen had formerly

            been, comes to much the same thing (see Numbers 36:7; I Kings 21:3).

            All the priests also who returned amongst them are in similar

            groups, being all described as belonging to four “courses” or family lines

            (vs. 36-39). The same kind of thing, again, is true of the Levites (vs. 40-42),

            and even of those Nethinims and children of Solomon’s servants

            who appear to have been the “hewers of wood” and “drawers of water” for

            the congregation at large. A strong “clannish” spirit, a great desire to be

            and do as in” the old times before them,” seems to have prevailed among

            all; the same spirit which afterwards degenerated into that false

            conservatism, the conservatism of mere human traditions (compare

                        Jeremiah 6:16 and 18:15), found in Pharisaism and Rabbinism.

            Meanwhile, however, and while still uncorrupted, it made them just the

            men for their work: returned refugees, not colonists; men called upon

            merely to rebuild and restore, and not, like Moses before and the apostles

            of Christ after them, to devise and create.



      OF NOTE.  They were only a few, all told; some 50,000, of all sorts, including,

      so it would seem from comparing the items, about 10,000 souls of some kind

      not mentioned in the detailed catalogue. How different from the 600,000

      that were men,” beside women and children and many others, that had come

      up out of Egypt so many generations previously! How many others must have

            been left behind (as some indication of the state of things on this point, see

                        Esther 9:16)! Counting also by the number of families or groups that

            returned, what are thirty-five, the whole number mentioned here, out of the

            many thousands of Israel! Moreover, a comparison of this chapter with

            what we read in ch. 8. of such names as Pharosh, Pahath-Moab, Adin,

            Shephatiah, and others, shows that all the members even of these thirty-five

            families did not come back at the first. So also, although the proportion of

            priests returning was very considerable (about one tenth of the whole),

            only four courses out of the twenty-four (vs. 36-39; 1 Chronicles 24.)

            were represented among them; whilst some 341 Levites of all three

            descriptions, as against 38,000 in David’s time, and some 392 Nethinims

            and others, comprised in forty-five groups, complete the catalogue given,

            except of cases of doubt. Yet even these few appear to be many, viewed

            from a different point. Of beasts of burden of all kinds they had rather more

            than 9000 amongst them (about one to every six travelers); but of these

            only 736 were horses; and of camels, the animals so especially required by

            them in the desert journey before them, there were only 435 — a very

            different proportion indeed to that which we read of in Genesis 24:10,

            where ten camels appear to have been provided for one traveler’s use.

            Altogether it may well be questioned whether caravans of greater apparent

            importance in every way do not annually cross the deserts of the East

            without leaving any visible trace behind them on the history of the day. The

            secret of the difference was in the “blessing” THAT WENT WITH THEM!

             In those holy vessels, in the duty before them, and in the presence among

            them of the prophets and priests of Jehovah, and of the ancestor of the

            coming Saviour, they were indeed “bearing precious seed” (Psalm 126:6).

            That being so, their small number was just the proper one for God’s use;

            sufficient to form a nucleus and make a beginning, but not sufficient to give

            them the appearance of being more than instruments in His hands (compare

                        Judges 7:2, 4; and in connection with the very people and time we are

            speaking of, Zechariah 4:6).


  • THE SPECIAL NAMES WE FIND HERE.  It cannot surely be a mere

      coincidence that we find this second entrance into Canaan, this return from

      Babylonian captivity, headed (ecclesiastically) by one bearing the greatest

      of Jewish names. Are not such truths as we find in Psalm 68:18; Acts 7:45;

      Colossians 2:15, etc. pointed to here by this name of Jeshua? See further,

      as to the typical relation between this Jeshua and the man Christ “Jesus,”

            Isaiah 11:1; Jeremiah 23:5-6; Zechariah 3:8-9; 6:11-13, etc. Also let the name of

            Bethlehem in v. 21 of this chapter be noted. Was not the fact there

            recorded, the return, viz., of certain Bethlehemites to their ancestral home

            in Judah, one step in the many steps taken to fulfill the prophecy of

                        Micah 5:2, and to make this town of Bethlehem in after ages the exact

            spot WHERE HEAVEN CAME NEAREST TO EARTH?   When we

            remember, indeed, yet further, as before noted, that we have in the name

            of Zerubbabel the name of a direct ancestor of Messiah Himself (Matthew

            1:13,16), as also what we read in Hebrews 7:9-10, can we not, in these three

            names of Jeshua, Zerubbabel, and Bethlehem, prophetically see the Lord Jesus

            Himself leading His people back to their land? And can we not also, in the

            march of that little company, as it were, hear the very sound of His feet?

            How true, therefore, and how much to be remembered by us, what we read

            of as declared on this subject by apostles, by angels, by Himself (John

            5:39, 46; Acts 10:43; Revelation 19:10).



                                    Spiritual Significances (vs. 1-67)


What signifies to us, it may be asked, the exact number of the children of

Parosh and Shephatiah (vs. 3-4)? What does it signify to us that the

heads of the returning families bore such and such a name? Why record

this? What is:



            NUMBERS? The pains which the children of Israel took to keep a strict

            record of their families in Persia may have been


Ø      an act of faith: it may have been the expression of their belief that

                        God’s word of promise spoken by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:1;

                        II Chronicles 36:21) would be fulfilled, and that the hour would

                        come when they or their children would lay claim to their ancestral

                        inheritance. Or it may have been


Ø      a habit of obedience, which itself is suggestive enough. It was the will

                        of their Divine Sovereign that everything, however minute, which

                        pertained to His people should be scrupulously cared for. Nothing was

                        unimportant that pertained to the people of God. It was worth while

                        to chronicle every birth in every household of every family of every

                        tribe of the holy nation.   (God does!  Psalm 87:5-6, Revelation 20:

                        11-15 – CY – 2015)  It was important to count every head of every

                        division and rank of those who came out of Babylon, the “ransomed

                        of the Lord.” This striking particularity has no little interest to us.

                        Things which the great and good among men would overlook as

                        unimportant, are accounted not unworthy of regard by the Highest and

                        the Best One. He who redeems us from a worse captivity than that of

                        Babylon, and leads us to a better heritage than the earthly Jerusalem,

                        counts everything of consequence that relates to His redeemed ones.


    • He writes their names in the palms of His hand;  (Isaiah 49:16)
    • He counts their tears; (Psalm 56:8)
    • He hears their sighs; (Ibid. ch. 38:9; Romans 8:26)
    • He orders their steps. (Ibid. ch. 37:23; Proverbs 16:9)
    • Not one is overlooked; every name is entered in the book of life;
    •  every liberated soul has a place in the heart of the Redeemer.



            62-63). “These could not show their father’s house, and their seed,

            whether they were of Israel (v. 59). “These sought their register .... but

            they were not found: therefore were they, as polluted, put from the

            priesthood,” etc. (vs. 62-63).


Ø      Some of the Jews had not taken sufficient pains to prove that they

      were of the people of God.


Ø      Others, who believed themselves (rightly, no doubt) to be descendants

                        of Aaron had lost their register; perhaps some of these may have more

                        cared to claim and prove descent from the honourable house of

                        Barzillai (v. 61), esteeming such secular rank of greater value than the

                        more sacred lineage. The descendants of both of these classes suffered

                        through their neglect; the latter more particularly, for they were separated

                        from the priesthood for an uncertain and, as it turned out, an indefinitely

                        long period. The retention of our claim to be of the Israel of God,” or to

                        be of those who “minister in holy things” in the gospel of Jesus Christ,

                        does not depend on any documentary evidence; no revolutions here can

                        affect the roll that is “written in heaven;” but:

o       carelessness about our own spiritual life,

o       negligence in the worship of God,

o       inattention to the claims of our spirit,

o       indifference to the work and the want of other souls,

                        this may lead to our name being “blotted out from the book of life,”

                        or to our being counted all unworthy to speak in the temple the

                        words of this life” to others.



            (v. 64).The whole congregation together was forty and two thousand

            three hundred and three score.” Counting children they may have

            amounted to 50,000. This was but a small number compared with that of

            the exodus from Egypt, a feeble nucleus of a renewed nation! But the

            slenderness of their number was fitted

Ø      to bind them the more to the service of God, and

Ø      to knit them together in closer bonds of union.

            A small number, devoted to Christ and united to one another, is far more

            powerful than an undevout and inharmonious multitude.



            RESOURCES (vs. 65-67). Their “servants and maids,” and their

            singing men and singing women” (v. 65), their “horses and mules”

            (v. 66), their “camels and asses” (v. 67), made but a small show of

            property for the ransomed people. Doubtless there were amongst them

            men “well to do,” if not wealthy. But the greater part of the rich members

            of the community remained behind. They who had the most to lose were

            least likely to accept the invitation to go up to Jerusalem. They who had

            least to leave behind them were most easily convinced of the wisdom of

            returning.  Jesus said, “How hardly shall they that have riches enter into

            the kingdom of heaven”  (Mark 10:23).  “Blessed be ye poor, for yours

             is the kingdom of heaven.”   (Luke 6:20)




                 ON THEIR ARRIVAL AT JERUSALEM (vers. 68-70).


It has been customary among the pious of all ages and countries to make thank

offerings to the Almighty on the accomplishment of any important or dangerous

work. The long journey of the exiles from Babylonia to Jerusalem involved

considerable risk (see ch.8:22, 31), and its successful termination NATURALLY

CALLED THEIR GRATITUDE!   The character of the offerings made is

indicative of the fact, otherwise probable, that the exiles had turned all that they

possessed into money, and had brought to Jerusalem a considerable amount of coin.


68 “And some of the chief of the fathers, when they came to the house

of the LORD which is at Jerusalem, offered freely for the house of

God to set it up in his place:  Some of the chief of the fathers. That is,

“Some of the heads of families.” Each family went up under a recognized head

or chief, the number of such heads being, as it would seem, nearly a hundred

(vs. 3-61). When they came to the house of the Lord. No doubt considerable

ruins of Solomon’s temple existed when the exiles returned, and were

easily to be recognized, both by their situation and by the size of the stones

employed (I Kings 5:17). The place occupied by these ruins was that

whereto the emigrants flocked, and about which they, in the first instance,

located themselves. Offered freely for the house of God, to set it up in

its place. The first object of the returned exiles was the rebuilding of the

temple, and their offerings were consequently given expressly towards the

expenses of this costly work.


69 “They gave after their ability unto the treasure of the work

threescore and one thousand drams of gold, and five thousand

pound of silver, and one hundred priests’ garments.”

After their ability. As each was able; the richer more, the

poorer less. Threescore and one thousand drams of gold. The word

translated “dram” is darkemon, which appears to be the Hebrew

representative of the Persian word which the Greeks rendered by dareikos,

ordaric.” This was a gold coin, stamped with the figure of a Persian king,

wearing his crown, and armed with a bow and arrow. According to the

most exact computation, each such coin contained somewhat more pure

gold than an English guinea, and was worth £1 1s. 10.5d. of our money.

The 61,000 darics would therefore have been equal to £66,718 15s. Five

thousand pounds of silver. The word translated “pound” is maneh, an

equivalent of the Greek μνᾶ  - mna - and the Latin mina. In Greece the silver

mina was worth a little more than £4 of our money. The value of the Hebrew

silver maneh is uncertain, but probably was not very different from the

Greek. Thus the sum contributed in silver may be estimated at above

£20,000, and the entire contribution at nearly £90,000. It must be noted,

however, that Nehemiah’s estimate ( Nehemiah 7:71-72) is less. One hundred

priests’ garments. Nehemiah says ninety-seven (ibid. vs. 70, 72), whence we

may conclude that Ezra uses a round number.


70 “So the priests, and the Levites, and some of the people, and the

singers, and the porters, and the Nethinims, dwelt in their cities,

and all Israel in their cities.”  In their cities. Not in Jerusalem only, but in

the neighboring towns also, e.g. Bethlehem, Anathoth, Ramah, Gaba,

Michmash, Bethel, Ai, Nebo, and Jericho (see above, comment on v. 1).

All Israel.  Ezra very determinately puts forward this aspect of the return —

that it was participated in by all the tribes (see v. 2; ch. 3:1; 6:16-17; 7:13; 8:29,

35, etc.).  He does not, however, exclude the other aspect, that it was especially a

return of Judah, or “Judah and Benjamin” (see ch.5:1; 10:9).



                        Men Forsaking the Worldly Life (vs. 1-70)


We regard the people returning from Babylon as typical of men going out

of the worldly life into the life and work of the kingdom of God. Observe:



            Cyrus compelled no man to leave the land of captivity. The Jews left

            Babylon in the exercise of their own free will. Israel as a nation went out of

            Egypt; but as individuals they come out of Babylon. Heaven compels no

            man to forsake sin.


Ø      It was a good choice. It was better to build the temple than to work in

                        Babylon; the spiritual is better than the servile; it is good to serve God.


Ø      It was a wise choice. They would be honored as the heroic builders of

                        the second temple; and how would they be blessed in their holy toil!

                        It is wise to choose the unworldly life.


Ø      It was a self-denying choice. They had to leave friends and companions

                        behind; they had to forsake vested interests, and enter an unknown

                        future.  The unworldly life necessitates self-denial, but the reward is a



Ø      It was a believing choice. They believed that God would be with them,

                        and that His angel would go before them. There are great duties in the

                        pursuit of an unworldly life; there are many temples to erect, but God is

                        an infinite resource.





Ø      They have encouragements of a spiritual nature. “The priests” are with

                        them (v. 36). All that belongs to heaven’s priesthood goes along with the

                        unworldly life in its march from Babylon.


Ø      They have encouragements of a social nature (v. 64). The

                        companionships of the unworldly life are helpful.


Ø      They have encouragements of a joyful nature. “The singers” are

      with them (v. 41). And men who seek to live an unworldly life are

                        accompanied by many celestial joys.


Ø      They have encouragements of a varied nature. There were many to aid

                        in unnumbered ways the people in their new work.




            REALITY. “But they could not show their father’s house” (vs. 59-63).

            These were with the returning people, and to all appearance as loyal as any

            of them, but they could not prove their oneness with them.


Ø      There is a register within. Are the dispositions of a renewed life within

                        us? have we the testimony of a good conscience?


Ø      There is a register around us. Whom do men say that we are? Are our

                        lives such as become the builders of God’s temple?


Ø      There is a register above us. God’s witness is true. The register is soon

                        lost by sin. Let us not sacrifice it to temporal gain; (Let us never

                        sacrifice principle for temporary gain!)  let us not sacrifice it

                        by marriage (v. 61). If we lose it we shall be morally unclean, spiritually

                        depraved, and eternally cast out (vs. 62-63). We must prove our religion

                        as well as possess it.




            UPON THEM (vs. 68-70).


Ø      They came to the work. “They came to the house of the Lord which is

                        at Jerusalem.” Sight quickens activity. The ruined temple would awaken

                        a sense of duty.


Ø      They gave to the work. They gave after their ability.” Ability is the

                        universal law of service. Men who enter upon the unworldly life must be

                        ready for all the work of the Lord.



                                    The Arrival (vs. 68-70)


After the muster-roll, as described to us in vs. 1-67 of this chapter, the

next thing, naturally, is the expedition itself. In the present instance,

however, this is disposed of in a couple of syllables. “They came.” In these

modern days — so some one has noticed — in consequence of the great

comparative ease and rapidity of the means of locomotion, we speak rather

of arriving at than of traveling to our destinations. There is something

parallel here. Nothing is related of this journey except that it was duly

brought to an end. It does not follow from this, however, that it is

unworthy of note. Often, where little is said, all the more is implied. How

far this is the case in the present instance will be our first branch of inquiry.

What we are afterwards told of the doings of these pilgrims immediately on

their arrival at Zion will be our second and last.


  • BEFORE THE ARRIVAL. These travelers “came.” That is all. What

            does this show as to their method of coming? The route traversed, it must

            be remembered, was by no means a short one. Babylon was always

            considered a long way from Jerusalem (Isaiah 39:3). Ezra, afterwards

            (ch.7:9), was four months on the road, a time, in these days, more

            than sufficient to travel round the whole globe. The road also at that time,

            viz., during the subsequent reign of Artaxerxes, was by no means a safe

            one (ch.8:22; see also Nehemiah 2:9). On the other hand, such

            travelers as these were, returning with spoils which had evidently seemed

            precious even to Nebuchadnezzar in all his pride (Daniel 1:2), would be

            especially liable to attack; to say nothing of the fact that their very errand

            would rouse the hatred of not a few. At the same time, the character of

            their company, as being a collection of families intending to “settle” again

            in Palestine, would itself put very great difficulties, in their case, in the way

            of defense; as also in regard to progress, and commissariat too. It is not

            every man who could have conducted even an army in safety so far; much

            less so large a household, so mixed a multitude, a caravan at once so

            vulnerable, so feeble, and yet so rich. It is something to be able to say of

            such that they did arrive at Jerusalem. Perhaps we shall see the significance

            of this brevity more plainly still in the way of contrast. “When Israel came

            out of Egypt” and traveled to Canaan before, they had a very much shorter

            journey before them, and their numbers were so vastly larger that they

            were able in some measure, even at first, to defend themselves (Exodus

            17:8-13). Yet how much we are told, and how copiously, of their

            difficulties, their dangers, their deliverances, their many murmurings,

            rebellions, and judgments, and all the long succession of marvelous

            vicissitudes that befel them by the way (Numbers 20:14). That first

            journey of theirs to Canaan is the most adventurous journey on record.

            Never were any travelers so guided, so fed, so protected, so often so near

            to destruction and so triumphantly rescued from it. Nowhere, at any rate,

            are we told so much of any other journey on earth. The absolute silence of

            Scripture, therefore, respecting all the incidents of this second journey of

            the same people to the same land seems well worthy of note. We can only

            account for it by supposing that there was nothing notable to be told. But

            how much this implies, as we said. How much:


Ø      As to the character of the pilgrims. How unlike the Israelites in the

                        desert, how quietly persevering, how free from “murmurings and

                        disputings these Israelites must have been. Considering how many

                        occasions for disputing fellow travelers are known to find (Genesis

                        45:24; Mark 9:33), the fact that in this four months’ journey on the part

                        of 50,000 people there was nothing of the kind worth mentioning is not

                        without weight. Do we see in it one wholesome result of the heavy

                        discipline of their long captivity? Like the singular post-captivity

                        freedom of Israel from idolatry, that constant pre-captivity sin (Psalm

                        119:67)? How much:


Ø      As to Gods rule in this world. It was certainly by God’s “good

      hand upon them” (ch. 8:31-32; Psalm 107:7; James 4:13-15) that

                        they had come where they were, just as much so as in the case of

                        those addressed in Joshua 23:14. How complete, therefore, in both

                        cases, His faithfulness to His promise! How constant and effectual

                        His providence!  How all-ruling His power. Yet how exceedingly

                        opposite His modes of operation! In the one ease by a succession of

                        miracles which Israel never forgot. In the other case without a single

                        incident that left any trace of its path; unless, indeed, we consider

                        such consummate finish and ease of operation to be a kind of miracle

                        in itself THE STANDING MIRACLE OF HIS RULE (see Colossians

                        1:17; Hebrews 1:3: “upholding all things,” etc.).


  • AFTER THE ARRIVAL. The journey thus happily accomplished, what

            was first taken in hand? As far as possible, their first duty. They had come

            up specially to build the LORD’S house. It was necessary, of course, in

            order to do this, that they should have homes of their own. Before,

            however, they see to this second point in any way, they do all they can for

            the first. They cannot yet, whilst themselves homeless and unsettled,

            actually begin the LORD’S house. But they can lay aside of their substance

            for that purpose, and so show their desire; they can make their “offerings”

            (v. 68) and put them into the “treasury” (v. 69), adding thus to that

            which they had already collected in various ways (see ch.1:4, etc.)

            for that end. And this they do, it seems, first. Such is the Scriptural, such

            the politic, plan (see Deuteronomy 26:1-11; I Kings 17:13;

                        Matthew 6:33; Luke 11:41). It is also to be observed that they do

            so “freely”the Scriptural spirit (see Exodus 25:2; 35:5;

                        Deuteronomy 15:10; II Corinthians 9:7). And that they do so, once

            more, sufficiently — the Scriptural proportion. “They gave after their

            ability(see Mark 12:43-44; 14:8; II Corinthians 8:12). It would

            almost seem, indeed, as though (Ibid v. 2 had been fulfilled in

            this case; so large, considering their numbers and probable condition, is the

            computed value of their contributions. For example, if the 61,000 drams or

            dareics of gold = £66,718 15s., and the 5000 pounds or minae of silver =

            £20,000, we have a total contribution of about £90,000, which, for a

            congregation of not quite 50,000 (children and poor and servants included,

            as it would seem), is nearly two pounds per head. Well would it be if no

            other “congregations” ever did any less. This additional provision thus

            made for God’s house, they next see to their own; the result being as

            briefly summed up to us in v. 70. Comparing this verse with

                        Nehemiah 7:73, which seems to relate to the same transaction, we find

            that in both cases, with some diversity on other points, God’s ministers are

            named first. If this means that they were attended to first, it harmonizes

            well with what went before:

Ø      God’s house before their own houses;

Ø      God’s ministers before themselves.

            In any case we seem invited to notice that all His ministers of all ranks were

            attended to; not the “priests” only, but all the divisions of the “Levites”

            (Levites proper, singers and porters), and even their assistants, the

            Nethinims,” too. Indeed, however we are to understand the peculiar

            expression, found both in Ezra and Nehemiah, [some] of the people,”

            it would seem, from the special subsequent mention in both cases of

            all Israel as “dwelling” “in their cities,” that the laity also of all tribes,

            and probably also of all classes, including those mentioned in vs. 59-63,

            were duly provided for in like manner. And if so, the picture is one of a

            very beautiful kind. All these pilgrims, down to the humblest, were pilgrims

            no more. All these once banished ones both arrived now and settled. In their

            true country; in their proper “cities;” in their respective homes! In all which

            we may see an illustration of the wonderful variety, order, and completeness

            of God’s ways. In:

Ø      creation (Psalm 104:27; 136:25; 145:15, etc.).

Ø      providence (Acts 27:43-44).

Ø      grace (John 10:28; 17:12).

Ø      the “dispensation of the fulness of times” (Daniel 12:13, as

                        contrasted with Psalm 1:5; Luke 21:36, etc.).

            Happy, indeed, who can say, “We are journeying home to God”

            (Numbers 10:29).



                        Social and Spiritual Gradations (vs. 68-70)


The company that came out of Babylonian captivity was by no means a

disorderly or unorganized multitude. It was well officered, and was divided

and subdivided into ranks. It probably marched in regular order. Under the

TirshathaZerubbabel, Jeshua the high priest, and Mordecai (probably the

honored deliverer), with other natural leaders, came (v. 70), priests,

Levites (a singularly and disproportionately small number of these), the

people (typical Israelites — laymen, citizens), the singers, the porters, the

Nethinims. There were:



            priests, and Levites, and some of the people, and the singers, and the

            porters, and the Nethinims,” etc. Each man of the 42,000 had a part to play

            in this exodus as well as in the settlement and the building which should

            follow; but some had more difficult and responsible posts than others. No

            service was without value of its kind. They could not have carried their

            treasures without help from the porters, nor conveyed the sacred vessels

            without the Nethinims; nor could they well have spared the singing men

            and women, whose sweet songs of Zion must have beguiled the way and

            helped them on over rough places and up steep heights towards the site of

            the city of their hopes. Much less could they have spared the priests and

            the leaders, who by their clear head and commanding will were to do more

            than the others with their hand and tongue. One is our Master, even Christ:

            we all take the truth which we hold and teach from the words of the great

            Teacher Himself. But many are the parts we take, and varied the services

            we render, as we journey toward the heavenly Jerusalem, as we build the

            house and kingdom of the Lord. In our Christian ranks are great leaders,

            like Luther, and Calvin, and Knox, and Chalmers, and Wesley; great

            writers and apologists, like Augustine, and Butler, and Baxter; great

            preachers and missionaries whose name is legion; and below these in

            spiritual rank and influence are ministers, teachers, officers, “sweet

            singers,” and all the company of those that help in the service of the

            sanctuary, in the work of the Lord, down to the “doorkeeper of the

            house.” (The Psalmist said, “I had rather be a doorkeeper in the

            house of my God, than to dwell in the house of wickedness.”

            Psalm 84:10)  Each man in his place renders valued service: service which,

            if not marked “valuable” by the handwriting of man, is yet truly and really

            valued by the observant and discerning Master. He who does well, working

            conscientiously and devoutly, the work for which he is fitted, is rendering a

            service to his race and to his God which is not overlooked, and will never

            be forgotten. Its record is on high, and he who wrought it will hear of it

            again, when every man (who is anywise praiseworthy) shall have praise of

            God (At the judgment, “then shall every man have praise of God.”

            I Corinthians 4:5) and the blessed, heart-satisfying “Well done” shall be

            spoken by the Son of man.  (Matthew 25:23)



            narrative (vs. 68-69) anticipates the arrival in Judaea and the work to

            which they there addressed themselves. It states that some of the chief of

            the fathers “offered freely for the house of God,” and that they “gave after

            their ability unto the treasure of the work.” Here were two acceptable

            elements in all sacred service:


Ø      cheerfulness, which the Lord loveth (II Corinthians 9:7); and


Ø      fullness, according to ability, every one doing the best he can: not the

                        least that can be offered with decency, but the most that present

                        resources will allow. In building up the spiritual house of our Lord’s

                        kingdom — a work in which every Christian disciple is to be engaged —

                        we may bring silver and gold to the treasury, or we may bring manual

                        labor, or mental work, or spiritual exercises, or we may contribute the

                        services of the teacher or the organizer. We may help in one of a hundred

                        ways, more or less important. And not only is each one honorable and

                        valuable in its way, but each work admits of being done in varying degrees

                        of excellency more or less cheerfully, more or less efficiently. We must

                        aim at perfection in every department. When we realize that we are giving

                        to Him:

o       who “gave Himself for us,” (Titus 2:14)

o       who is giving His Spirit to us, and

o       who will give His glory to us, we shall give, not of our weakness,

      but our strength; not sluggishly and inefficiently, but “after our

      ability.”  The Lamb that was slain is worthy to receive riches,

      and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing.”

                                    (Revelation 5:12)





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