Heads of Families Return With Ezra

In 1789, our nation’s first President, George Washington, issued the following proclamation: Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor, and … More


This chapter contains a list of those who returned with Ezra to Jerusalem (vv. 1-14). This was a much smaller group than the one that had returned with Zerubbabel earlier. Those returning with Ezra totaled 1496 males plus 18 heads of families. It is interesting to see how the names that appear in this list are similar to those that appear in the list of chapter 2. It seems that those who returned under Zerubbabel had left parts of their families behind in Babylon. Now many of these are returning under the leadership of Ezra.

Ezra holds a special gathering of the returning group at the river Ahava (vv. 15-20). At this time he discovers that they have no Levites in the group (v. 15) so he sends several of his leaders to recruit.  The result was that 40 of the Levites responded along with 220 helpers. Before they start out the 900 mile journey Ezra calls the people together for a day of fasting and prayers (vv. 21-23). This was to ask God to give them safety and prosperity on their journey. They were taking with them 650 talents of silver and gold (v. 26) which would be about 25 tons. As you can imagine this was a large amount of treasure to transport through the dangerous territory of robbers. Ezra had portrayed God as mighty and protective to King Artaxerxes so he didn’t want to ask for an army for protection (v. 22).


My journey’s today may not be as difficult and dangerous as Ezra’s but I should recognize my need to ask God for guidance and protection. I should always take time to pray before I get into my car for a journey?

Ezra 8:1-23 (English Standard Version)

These are the heads of their fathers' houses, and this is the genealogy of those who went up with me from Babylonia, in the reign of Artaxerxes the king: Of the sons of Phinehas, Gershom. Of the sons of Ithamar, Daniel. Of the sons of David, Hattush. Of the sons of Shecaniah, who was of the sons of Parosh, Zechariah, with whom were registered 150 men. Of the sons of Pahath-moab, Eliehoenai the son of Zerahiah, and with him 200 men. Of the sons of Zattu, Shecaniah the son of Jahaziel, and with him 300 men. Of the sons of Adin, Ebed the son of Jonathan, and with him 50 men. Of the sons of Elam, Jeshaiah the son of Athaliah, and with him 70 men. Of the sons of Shephatiah, Zebadiah the son of Michael, and with him 80 men. Of the sons of Joab, Obadiah the son of Jehiel, and with him 218 men. Of the sons of Bani, Shelomith the son of Josiphiah, and with him 160 men. Of the sons of Bebai, Zechariah, the son of Bebai, and with him 28 men. Of the sons of Azgad, Johanan the son of Hakkatan, and with him 110 men. Of the sons of Adonikam, those who came later, their names being Eliphelet, Jeuel, and Shemaiah, and with them 60 men. Of the sons of Bigvai, Uthai and Zaccur, and with them 70 men. I gathered them to the river that runs to Ahava, and there we camped three days. As I reviewed the people and the priests, I found there none of the sons of Levi. Then I sent for Eliezer, Ariel, Shemaiah, Elnathan, Jarib, Elnathan, Nathan, Zechariah, and Meshullam, leading men, and for Joiarib and Elnathan, who were men of insight, and sent them to Iddo, the leading man at the place Casiphia, telling them what to say to Iddo and his brothers and the temple servants at the place Casiphia, namely, to send us ministers for the house of our God. And by the good hand of our God on us, they brought us a man of discretion, of the sons of Mahli the son of Levi, son of Israel, namely Sherebiah with his sons and kinsmen, 18; also Hashabiah, and with him Jeshaiah of the sons of Merari, with his kinsmen and their sons, 20; besides 220 of the temple servants, whom David and his officials had set apart to attend the Levites. These were all mentioned by name. Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our goods. For I was ashamed to ask the king for a band of soldiers and horsemen to protect us against the enemy on our way, since we had told the king, "The hand of our God is for good on all who seek him, and the power of his wrath is against all who forsake him." So we fasted and implored our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty.

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