About Jesus     Steve Sweetman

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ch. 8:1-14    ch. 8:15-36

List Of Family Heads Returning To Jerusalem With Ezra (ch. 8 :1 - 14)


These 14 verses list the linage of the families that left Babylon with Ezra, roughly 1,514 people.  Besides noting this, I will make no further comment.


The Return To Jerusalem (ch. 8:15 - 36)


At this point Ezra and company began their trip to Jerusalem.  It was spring, (March) when armies began to make their moves in pursuit of enemies and expansion.  As the crow flies, itís about 500 miles from Babylon to Jerusalem, yet these people took the more traveled route.  They went north, then west, then south.  This is about a 900 miles trip.  


Verse 15 begins with the words ďI assembled themĒ.   The pronoun ďIĒ refers to Ezra.  He assembled the Jews who were going to go with him to Jerusalem at Ahava, just outside of Babylon.  This was basically a time of organization and planning for the trip ahead of them.  Ezra and the people were there for three days.  When Ezra checked the crowd out, he discovered there was no Levites in the crowd.  Apparently they had stayed in Babylon, deciding not to return.


Verses 16 to 21 tells us that Ezra gathered certain leaders and learned men from among the crowed to conscript Levites.  He was successful and in addition to those  Levites were 220 temple servants or workers who would help the Levites.  All this was done with the understanding that ďGodís hand was with these peopleĒ as they left for Jerusalem.  It is absolutely necessary that Godís hand be with us as we perform any service for our Lord.  As Mark said in the very last verse of his gospel, ďthe disciples went forth and preached, while Jesus went with them confirming their word with miraculous signsĒ.   We must pray for Godís direction on our lives.  We must also pray for his hand to be on us as we head out in the direction He has for us.


In verse 21 we see that Ezra proclaimed a fast.  He gives the reason for this fast, which is the reason for all fasts, and that is, that the people might humble themselves before the Lord.  Most of the time when you see fasting in the Old Testament it is requested by God in order for His people to humble themselves in repentance.  This is a voluntary fast, and it isnít for repentance.  It is a fast of humility, but also of one to request Godís help for their trip.


Verse 22 is quite interesting.  We see the humanness of Ezra.  He might well have been a man of God, a man of Godís word, but he said that he felt ashamed.  He had told the king that he did not need any of the kingís soldiers to accompany them on the trip because their God would be with them.  Ezra told the king that Godís favour is on those who obey Him, but His ďgreat angerĒ  is on the who do not obey.  We see here both Godís great love and His great anger.  We speak of Godís love often, but many reject the idea that He gets angry. 


Verse 23 sheds some light on Ezra being ashamed.  He said, ďfor this reason we petitioned our GodĒ. For what reason is Ezra talking about here.  The reason is that he did not take the king up and have his soldiers come along with them, and now he must be feeling a bit uncertain that he made the right decision.  So for this reason, he is seriously asking for Godís help and wants the rest of the Jews to do the same.


In verses 24 and 25 Ezra sets out all the things that had been donated by the king and other for the temple.  It was a lot, and was worth much, and thatís why he probably felt some nervousness. Thatís probably also why the king offered the Jews protection with soldiers.  The text speaks in terms of talents, but here is what was donated in terms of modern tons.  The list is; twenty five tons of silver,  three and three quarters tone of silver articles, and three and three quarters tons of gold.  Along with these things were 20 gold bowls and 2 finely polished articles of bronze.   This is quite a detailed list and once again shows us how detailed of a man Ezra was.  You will see later just why Ezra makes this list.  It is to keep a record of what they started out with. They do the same at the end of their trip to see if they have what they started with.  Itís a simple accounting procedure.       


In verse 28 Ezra says, ďyou as well as these articles...Ē  The ďyouĒ in this sentence refers to the leading men that Ezra sat down with in verse 24.   Ezra tells these men that both them and the articles just mentioned were consecrated to the Lord.  This means that both the men and the articles for the temple were set aside exclusively for the service of the Lord.  Yet really, if you look at the tenor of the whole of the Old Testament, all of Israel was to be set aside for the service of the Lord.  It was just that these men were set aside for a certain task.  Each one of us are set aside to perform a certain task in the Kingdom of God .


You must remember, here in verse 29,  the Jews had not yet left on their trip.  They are about to leave, but they havenít left as yet.  So Ezra tells these men to guard all of the articles for GodĎs house that they are taking on this long journey, until the day comes when these things are presented to the priests and Levites in Jerusalem.  Iím sure that day would be yet another one of those glorious days in the history of the Jews.


In verse 30 we see another group of priests and Levites mentioned.  We should not confuse these priests and Levites with the ones just mentioned in the last verse, who were in Jerusalem.  These priests and Levites are those who have been conscripted to take the trip with Ezra and the rest of the Jews.


In verse 31 Ezra states the facts of the trip.  Godís hand was on these people as they left for Jerusalem.  No bandits or robbers attacked, and Iím sure with all that they were taking with them, many robbers would liked to have attempted to rob the Jews.  We must always pray that the hand of the Lord be upon us as we go through our lives, and as we attempt to the our Lordís will.


Verse 32 simply says that that Ezra and the Jews finally arrived in Jerusalem and when they got there, they rested for three days.  Iím sure they appreciated the rest.  If they took the same route as the first fifty thousand exiles took, they would have first went north from Babylon, then west, and then south, instead of going directly southwest. 


Verses 33 and 34 tell us that all the articles of gold and silver were brought to the house of a certain priest.  All these things were weighed and accounted for.  You will remember that when they first left Babylon that they weighed and accounted for things at that time.  So the reason for doing this now was to show that what they started with at the beginning of the trip, they had with them at the end of the trip.  There was no theft by and Jew or and robber on the way to Jerusalem. 


Once the practicalities of the trip was complete, that is after they weighed and accounted for everything, in verse 35 the first thing that the Jews who made the trip was to offer sacrifices to their God.  This was exactly what the fifty thousand Jews did a number of years earlier.  The first thing that any Godly man does is to worship his God. 


Verse 36 ends this chapter.  After worshiping, that is after their religious duties were fulfilled, they then did their civil duties, and that was to take the kings decree to the governor of Trans-Euphrates. The governor read the decree and quickly understood that he and those in charge were to assist the Jews in the ways in which the king decreed, and that they did.  This must have been an irritation to the governor.  Much time, effort and money would be directed towards the Jews.  The Jews must have felt very grateful. Yet as time went on the same people began to wander in their thinking and practice.  They began to wander from their God, and that is why the prophet Malachi would come on the scene a few years later.


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