People who went with Ezra to Jerusalem…they camp for a few days outside of Babylon.
v. 1-14 contains a list of people who traveled with Ezra from Babylon to Jerusalem.
(Take the time to research each name when coming across lists or genealogies. It helps to clarify who the people are and also refreshes the time period in the mind while reading. Sometimes by looking them up in a Bible Dictionary, it can give you a heads up on what is going to take place.)
Vs 16 says Ezra couldn’t find any Levites among the group so he sent for …another list of names:
- Eliezer = he was a leader
- Ariel = name means “God’s Lion”, also a leader
- Shemaiah = another head of one of the families
- Elnathan = part of the delegation sent to bring the Levites to Jerusalem, as are all of these men.
- Jarib = Interestingly, the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, lists Jarib as a Levite…but several other sources just list him as “priest” (Naves Topical Bible, Easton’s Bible Dictionary, Smith’s Bible Dictionary). From Guzik commentary — “ii. A rabbinic midrash on Psalm 137 relates the legend that there were Levites in the caravan but that they were not qualified to officiate because when Nebuchadnezzar had ordered them to sing for him the songs of Zion, they refused and bit off the ends of their fingers, so that they could not play on the harps. (Yamauchi) ” http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/guz/ezra-8.html …. Whether or not there were some Levites in the group or not, if there were, they were certainly not enough, or they were not qualified in some way to serve.
- Zechariah and Meshullam = Men…nothing specific listed when I looked them up.
- Joiarib and the others mentioned, Elnathan and Nathan…some interpreters think these are copyists duplications of Jarib and Elnathan listed earlier.
Vs 17 Iddo = Head man during exile, someone of importance…could be governor or chief, not sure if he was elected or appointed or in what capacity. Head of the Levites maybe?
Casiphia = was the place in Babylon where the Levites settled during the exile (no other reference to this place is found but it was obviously known.)
Ezra told the group of messengers what to say to Iddo in order for him to send the needed number of Levites and temple servants.
**Many Israelites choose to stay on in Babylon after the exile because they had possessions and family there and were treated well.
21-23 Ezra called for a fast while at the river, humbling themselves before God to ask for a safe journey.
Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is
Put Up or Shut Up
In the following verses, we see Ezra in all his human glory. Ezra had already spoken to the king and talked about God, how God looks favorably on the Israelites and basically how strong and protective God is towards them and this journey.
Nothing wrong with having pride in God!
However, having spoken so confidently about God, Ezra couldn’t very well ask for soldiers to accompany them through enemy territory, now could he?
At the river, Ezra had time to contemplate the journey…this long journey of 900-1000 miles through enemy lands. Enemies that probably would have no problem wiping this group off the face of the earth. And Ezra had a bit of a reality check as a bit of doubt and fear began creeping in. Hello to all our human failings!
Ezra is forced to put his money where his mouth was, put up or shut up…he is in a situation where he has to trust fully on God’s Grace.
Ezra isn’t stupid. He was prideful and a bit arrogant but he isn’t going to assume that God will protect them just because. Shoot, they were exiled for 70 years! That’s more than a little “time out”. He respects God and fears God and isn’t above fasting and humbling himself (and calling for the entire group to do the same) if it means God’s favor on this journey.
I love it! God is truly amazing in the ways He turns this life around on us and gets us into these situations where we are all forced, at one point or another – to put up or shut up. It’s not enough to talk the talk…we have to walk the walk too. Sometimes, we take actions on our own to walk the walk, but sometimes I think God decides when we need a bit of a nudge and He forces the issue.
Vs 24-29 Ezra turns over the responsibility of the valuables and the temple utensils to the leading priests for the journey.
vs 31 12th of the 1st month (Nisan Mar/Apr) they set out for Jerusalem and God did protect them from the enemy and their ambushes. They arrived in Jerusalem and remained there 3 days. (Chapter 7 says they arrived in the 5th month).
…remained there 3 days… possible reasons could be to rest from the journey and clean up
…or for purification before attending to the temple
Vs 33 Treasure was turned over to the Levites in the Temple
Vs 35 Exiles then offered burnt offerings which were for the atonement of sins, 12 bulls – represents the 12 tribes of Israel, 96 rams, 77 lambs, 12 male goats = sin offering.
Burnt offerings restored the relationship to God and atoned for sins.
Only after attending to the Temple and God first, then they fulfilled their duties to the King of the land and delivered his messages.