II The leaders that returned, ver. 1, 2. The people, ver. 3-35 The priests, Levites and retainers to the temple, ver. 36-63. The sum total and their substance, ver. 64-67. Their offerings, ver. 68-70.
Verse 1. The province - Of Judah, called a province, chap. v, 8. And he calls it thus emphatically to mind himself and his brethren of that sad change which their sins had made among them, that from an illustrious, independent, and formidable kingdom, were fallen to be an obscure, servile, and contemptible province, first under the Chaldeans, and now under the Persians.
Verse 2. Who came, &c. - This catalogue, differs in some names and numbers from that Neh. vii, 6-64, which might be because several names were given to the same persons; and because of the many changes which might happen in the same families between the time of the first making of this catalogue by Ezra, and the making it anew so many years after.
Verse 3. The children - The posterity, as that word is constantly taken in this catalogue. Of Parosh - That descend either from Parosh, or from that family whereof Parosh was the chief. And so for the rest.
Verse 5. Seven hundred, &c. - In Neh. vii, 10, they were only six hundred and fifty two, it seems seven hundred and seventy five marched out of Babylon, but some of them died, others were hindered by sickness, or other casualties, and so there came only six hundred and fifty two to Jerusalem. And the like is to be said in the like differences: which it suffices to hint once for all.
21. Beth-lehem - And so these were the remainders of the inhabitants of that city. (And the like may be said of the two following names, Netophah and Anathoth, or others of the like nature.) So little was Beth-lehem among the thousands of Judah! Yet thence must the Messiah arise.
Verse 39. Harim - The head of one of the twenty four courses which David appointed, 1 Chron. xxiv, 8, of all which courses, some observe here are not above four or five that returned. There is another Harim mentioned above, ver. 32, but that was no priest, as this was ver. 36.
Verse 43. Nethinims - Persons devoted to the inferior services of the priests and Levites. Commonly supposed to be the Gibeonites, given, (so their name signifies) by Joshua first, and again by David, when Saul had expelled them, to the priests and Levites, for those services.
Verse 55. Servants - Who had lived in Solomon's family, and after his death, called themselves and their families by that name, esteeming it a great honour that they had been servants to so great a prince.
Verse 62. Genealogy - The Jews were generally very exact in their genealogies from their own choice and interest, that they might preserve the distinctions of the several tribes and families, which was necessary both to make out their titles to offices or inheritances, and to govern themselves thereby in the matter of marriages, and from the special providence of God, that so it might be certainly known of what tribe and family the Messiah was born.
Verse 63. Tirshatha - The governor, Zerubbabel. With Urim, &c. - That this point which could not be found out by humanskill, might be determined by Divine direction. Hereby it appears that the Urim and Thummim were lost in the destruction of the city and temple, tho' the Jews fed themselves with hopes of recovering them, but in vain. And by the want of that oracle, they were taught to expect the great oracle, the Messiah.
Verse 64. The whole, &c. - The particular sums here recited, come only to twenty and nine thousand eight hundred and eighteen. Unto whom are added in this total sum twelve thousand five hundred and forty two. Which, either were of the other tribes beside Judah and Benjamin: or were such as were supposed to be Israelites, but could not prove their pedigree by their genealogies.
Verse 68. The house - That is, to the ruins of the house; or to the place were it stood.
Verse 69. Sixty one thousand drams - Sixty one thousand drams of gold amount to something more than so many pounds of our money. So bishop Cumberland, who likewise supposes five thousand pounds of silver, to be about thirty seven thousand pounds sterling.
Verse 70. And all Israel in their cities - And they dwelt in peace, in perfect harmony, a blessed presage of their settlement, as their discord in the latter times of that state, was of their ruin.