About Jesus     Steve Sweetman

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The Last Of The Exiles Who Returned (ch. 2:1 - 70)


Verses 1 and 2 is a short history lesson stating how the Jews were led away to Babylon in captivity, and now they were on there way home to Judah and Jerusalem.  Judah is one of the two southern tribes that still existed at this time, along with Benjamin.  Judah became a province under Roman rule in later years when Jesus was on  earth.  Of course Jerusalem is the city. 


Ezra actually gives numbers to how many people from various families and groups that made the trip home.  There were slightly under 50,000 people who returned to Jerusalem, which was a small number of Jews in Babylon at the time.  It is estimated that the number of Jews in exile had grown well into the millions.  They were in exile for 70 years.  Many of the original Jews would have died by this point and many children and grandchildren would have been born to the original exiles. 


Verse 41 even mentions that there were 128 singers that returned to Jerusalem.  Singers were part of worship, and it would appear to be a very important part of worship.


Verses 64 and 65 gives exact numbers of Jews, of servants, and of singers, and others who returned to their homeland.  It’s a little under 50,000 people. St5ill there were millions of Jews left in Babylon.  These 50,000 Jews might be seen as a remnant who were called by God for a specific purpose.       


Ezra must have been somewhat of a mathematician since he spends so much time with numbers.  In verse 66 he even states the number of horses, mules, camels, and donkeys that the Jews brought with them. 


Ezra’s account was clearly written for historical purposes for the Jews to keep and remember throughout their history.  We know that he was an historian since he also wrote the Chronicles.     


Verses 66 through 69 gives us some more numbers.  Once the Jews arrived in Jerusalem and at the site of the temple, they gave a “free will offering”.  This offering went into the treasury for the building of the temple.  You might call this a “building fund”, much like many churches have building funds today.


When you look at the amount of money and good that these Jews gave for the building of  the temple, it is an extremely impressive amount of money.  It is clear that these people were very dedication and commitment to the building of the temple.


Verse 70 states that the various groups of Jews, the Levites, the singers, and others all settled in their own towns.  A number of smaller communities of Jews were formed with the temple as being in the centre of these communities.  In Old Testament days, the temple was the centre of Jewish activity.  All things were to centre around the temple.  The temple was the focal point to their lives. 


In New Testament times, we don’t have a temple.  Yes, we have church buildings, but church buildings are not the replacement for the Old Testament temple.  The church, the Body of Christ is the replacement for the temple.  Therefore as the Old Testament temple was the centre of Jewish culture and community, so the church, the Body of Christ should be the centre for Christian culture today, but for the most part it’s not.

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