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Chapter two contains the register of those who, taking advantage f Cyrus’s decree, turned their faces toward Jerusalem. The list proceeds in a definite order, from the leaders downward. First, the names of those immediately associated with Zerubbabel ( Ezr 2:1-2 ). Then follow the names of families, with the numbers in each case ( Ezr 2:3-20 ) ; names of the members of the priesthood ( Ezr 2:36-39 ) ; following these the list and numbers of the Levites ( Ezr 2:40-42 ); after these the Nethinim ( Ezr 2:43-54 ); next the children of Solomon's servants ( Ezr 2:55-58 ) ; beside these, a number who had lost their genealogy ( Ezr 2:59-63 ). Verses Ezr 2:64-65 give the totals of the people, and then come the lists of the cattle. The whole ends with the statement of the gifts of the people, and the declaration of their settlement in the cities of the land.
An examination of this list is remarkable principally from the small number of Levites who returned. Nearly ten times as many priests as Levites went back to the land. This, of course, was an inversion of the original order. Dr. Ryle says that perhaps this may be explained by the Levites having been especially concerned in the worship at the high places, and the idolatrous forms of worship which the reformation of Josiah had sought to abolish. Another point of interest is the Nethinim. They seem to be prominent in these books of the return, for they are mentioned only once elsewhere. Their origin it is almost impossible to determine. In all probability they were of foreign extraction, but had been admitted to some of the minor forms of service in connection with Levitical work.
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Morgan, G. Campbell. "Commentary on Ezra 2". "Morgan's Exposition on the Bible". https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany