Yesterday we got details of who Ezra was, and his family position. Today Ezra talks to us in the first person. This is his personal account of his journey back to Jerusalem from Babylonian captivity. The first 14 verses of this book give the genealogy of the ones who returned with Ezra.
Ezra 8:1 These are now the chief of their fathers, and this is the genealogy of them that went up with me from Babylon, in the reign of Artaxerxes the king. 2 Of the sons of Phinehas; Gershom: of the sons of Ithamar; Daniel: of the sons of David; Hattush. 3 Of the sons of Shechaniah, of the sons of Pharosh; Zechariah: and with him were reckoned by genealogy of the males an hundred and fifty. 4 Of the sons of Pahathmoab; Elihoenai the son of Zerahiah, and with him two hundred males. 5 Of the sons of Shechaniah; the son of Jahaziel, and with him three hundred males. 6 Of the sons also of Adin; Ebed the son of Jonathan, and with him fifty males. 7 And of the sons of Elam; Jeshaiah the son of Athaliah, and with him seventy males. 8 And of the sons of Shephatiah; Zebadiah the son of Michael, and with him fourscore males. 9 Of the sons of Joab; Obadiah the son of Jehiel, and with him two hundred and eighteen males. 10 And of the sons of Shelomith; the son of Josiphiah, and with him an hundred and threescore males. 11 And of the sons of Bebai; Zechariah the son of Bebai, and with him twenty and eight males. 12 And of the sons of Azgad; Johanan the son of Hakkatan, and with him an hundred and ten males. 13 And of the last sons of Adonikam, whose names are these, Eliphelet, Jeiel, and Shemaiah, and with them threescore males. 14 Of the sons also of Bigvai; Uthai, and Zabbud, and with them seventy males. The names are similar to the list given of those who came back with Zerubbabel for good reason. There were families who did not remain together. Some came back with Zerubbabel, and some now return with Ezra. There are 12 families represented to imply a connection with the 12 tribes of Israel. This group numbered at 1,496 is small compared to the group that came with Zerubbabel in the first wave to return to Jerusalem.
15 And I gathered them together to the river that runneth to Ahava; and there abode we in tents three days: and I viewed the people, and the priests, and found there none of the sons of Levi. 16 Then sent I for Eliezer, for Ariel, for Shemaiah, and for Elnathan, and for Jarib, and for Elnathan, and for Nathan, and for Zechariah, and for Meshullam, chief men; also for Joiarib, and for Elnathan, men of understanding. 17 And I sent them with commandment unto Iddo the chief at the place Casiphia, and I told them what they should say unto Iddo, and to his brethren the Nethinims, at the place Casiphia, that they should bring unto us ministers for the house of our God. Ezra sends a group of messengers to Casiphia, a place where there was once a sanctuary in the captivity. He sought those who could be "ministers for the house of our God". The man listed as "chief" was named Iddo. This may or may not be the same Iddo we read about in chapter 5 as a progenitor of the prophet Zechariah. We are not told for certain. There at 6 people in the KJV with that unusual name that means Lively.
18 And by the good hand of our God upon us they brought us a man of understanding, of the sons of Mahli, the son of Levi, the son of Israel; and Sherebiah, with his sons and his brethren, eighteen; 19 And Hashabiah, and with him Jeshaiah of the sons of Merari, his brethren and their sons, twenty; 20 Also of the Nethinims, whom David and the princes had appointed for the service of the Levites, two hundred and twenty Nethinims: all of them were expressed by name. God had an active role in every detail of this journey. "Men of understanding" were found among them to serve in the priesthood and in the Temple service. They were "expressed by name" or in other words they were noteworthy men.
21 Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance. 22 For I was ashamed to require of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way: because we had spoken unto the king, saying, The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek him; but his power and his wrath is against all them that forsake him. 23 So we fasted and besought our God for this: and he was intreated of us. This procession was carrying a wealth of goods! Ezra had boasted so much about the hand of God being upon them that he was "ashamed" to ask for protection for the journey from the king. He did not want to seem as though he lacked faith in God or that His God was weak, but the road ahead could hold many dangers for them. Robbers were a real threat; especially if the cargo was known that they were carrying. So Ezra "proclaimed a fast" to seek the help and protection of God on their journey. I am sure with all that they had gone through up to this point that God would not have let the treasures for the Temple to be taken away again, but Ezra was a very spiritual man. He knew it was always best to seek the blessings of the Lord! The act of fasting is one of becoming humble before the Lord. The body is denied what it naturally wants, so that the mind and spirit can seek the will of God. Ezra tells us that the Lord "was intreated" and His blessing was given to them.
24 Then I separated twelve of the chief of the priests, Sherebiah, Hashabiah, and ten of their brethren with them, 25 And weighed unto them the silver, and the gold, and the vessels, even the offering of the house of our God, which the king, and his counsellors, and his lords, and all Israel there present, had offered: 26 I even weighed unto their hand six hundred and fifty talents of silver, and silver vessels an hundred talents, and of gold an hundred talents; 27 Also twenty basons of gold, of a thousand drams; and two vessels of fine copper, precious as gold. 28 And I said unto them, Ye are holy unto the Lord; the vessels are holy also; and the silver and the gold are a freewill offering unto the Lord God of your fathers. 29 Watch ye, and keep them, until ye weigh them before the chief of the priests and the Levites, and chief of the fathers of Israel, at Jerusalem, in the chambers of the house of the Lord. 30 So took the priests and the Levites the weight of the silver, and the gold, and the vessels, to bring them to Jerusalem unto the house of our God. Ezra chooses 12 priests and 12 Levites from among the people. The vessels and treasures are divided up between the men. The goods were "weighed" or some sort of inventory was taken of them. Ezra reminds them that "ye are holy" and their cargo was "holy also" or they were set apart for special service to the Lord. Special care was required to transport the articles of worship back to the "house of our God" in Jerusalem. One talent is said to weigh about 75 pounds, so imagine the great wealth these men were entrusted with!
31 Then we departed from the river of Ahava on the twelfth day of the first month, to go unto Jerusalem: and the hand of our God was upon us, and he delivered us from the hand of the enemy, and of such as lay in wait by the way. 32 And we came to Jerusalem, and abode there three days. 33 Now on the fourth day was the silver and the gold and the vessels weighed in the house of our God by the hand of Meremoth the son of Uriah the priest; and with him was Eleazar the son of Phinehas; and with them was Jozabad the son of Jeshua, and Noadiah the son of Binnui, Levites; 34 By number and by weight of every one: and all the weight was written at that time. 35 Also the children of those that had been carried away, which were come out of the captivity, offered burnt offerings unto the God of Israel, twelve bullocks for all Israel, ninety and six rams, seventy and seven lambs, twelve he goats for a sin offering: all this was a burnt offering unto the Lord. 36 And they delivered the king's commissions unto the king's lieutenants, and to the governors on this side the river: and they furthered the people, and the house of God. After a 3 day rest they journeyed on with the vessels all inventoried for official records. Those that returned with Ezra offered sacrifices of thanksgiving to their God for bringing them safely back to the land of their forefathers. The vessels were all accounted for and taken to the house of God. When Ezra came back to the people of Israel, the entire nation was "furthered" or encouraged. Things were indeed beginning to look up again for Israel. The Temple was rebuilt; and now they had a leader who could bring them back into service for God. Ezra would bring the Law back to the people; a Law written by the hand of God. We have an Author to our faith as well. One of His many names is Jesus.
An alphabetical list of the names given our Savior in Scripture: #8 Author.
Hebrews 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. The "cloud of witnesses" is referring to the 11th chapter of Hebrews or the Hall of Fame for the faithful of God. This life is compared to a race we are all running. The goal that we are running toward is a home in Heaven. We can obtain this goal only through the sacrifice of Jesus. He is the Author and Finisher of our faith. He took with joy our sinful state and nailed it to the cross. He took our shame, and now we wear a robe of righteousness! Praise His Holy Name(s)!
Take my word for nothing; go to the Source and read it for yourself. And as always to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ be all the Glory forever.
FAITH: Forsaking All