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Ezra 1:1--2:70

Context
The Decree of Cyrus

1:1 1 In the first 2  year of King Cyrus of Persia, in order to fulfill the Lord’s message 3  spoken through 4  Jeremiah, 5  the Lord stirred the mind 6  of King Cyrus of Persia. He disseminated 7  a proclamation 8  throughout his entire kingdom, announcing in a written edict 9  the following: 10 

1:2 “Thus says King Cyrus of Persia:

“‘The Lord God of heaven has given me all the kingdoms of the earth. He has instructed me to build a temple 11  for him in Jerusalem, 12  which is in Judah. 1:3 Anyone from 13  his people among you (may his God be with him!) may go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and may build the temple of the Lord God of Israel – he is the God who is in Jerusalem. 1:4 Anyone who survives in any of those places where he is a resident foreigner must be helped by his neighbors 14  with silver, gold, equipment, and animals, along with voluntary offerings for the temple of God which is in Jerusalem.’”

The Exiles Prepare to Return to Jerusalem

1:5 Then the leaders 15  of Judah and Benjamin, along with the priests and the Levites – all those whose mind God had stirred – got ready 16  to go up in order to build the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem. 17  1:6 All their neighbors assisted 18  them with silver utensils, 19  gold, equipment, animals, and expensive gifts, not to mention 20  all the voluntary offerings.

1:7 Then King Cyrus brought out the vessels of the Lord’s temple which Nebuchadnezzar had brought from Jerusalem and had displayed 21  in the temple of his gods. 1:8 King Cyrus of Persia entrusted 22  them to 23  Mithredath 24  the treasurer, who counted them out to Sheshbazzar 25  the leader of the Judahite exiles. 26 

1:9 The inventory 27  of these items was as follows:

30 gold basins, 28 

1,000 silver basins,

29 silver utensils, 29 

1:10 30 gold bowls,

410 other 30  silver bowls,

and 1,000 other vessels.

1:11 All these gold and silver vessels totaled 5,400. 31  Sheshbazzar brought them all along when the captives were brought up from Babylon to Jerusalem.

The Names of the Returning Exiles

2:1 32 These are the people 33  of the province who were going up, 34  from the captives of the exile whom King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had forced into exile in Babylon. They returned to Jerusalem 35  and Judah, each to his own city. 2:2 They came with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispar, Bigvai, Rehum, and Baanah.

The number of Israelites 36  was as follows: 37 

2:3 the descendants 38  of Parosh: 2,172;

2:4 the descendants of Shephatiah: 372;

2:5 the descendants of Arah: 775;

2:6 the descendants of Pahath-Moab (from the line 39  of Jeshua and 40  Joab): 2,812;

2:7 the descendants of Elam: 1,254;

2:8 the descendants of Zattu: 945;

2:9 the descendants of Zaccai: 760;

2:10 the descendants of Bani: 642;

2:11 the descendants of Bebai: 623;

2:12 the descendants of Azgad: 1,222;

2:13 the descendants of Adonikam: 666;

2:14 the descendants of Bigvai: 2,056;

2:15 the descendants of Adin: 454;

2:16 the descendants of Ater (through 41  Hezekiah): 98;

2:17 the descendants of Bezai: 323;

2:18 the descendants of Jorah: 112;

2:19 the descendants of Hashum: 223;

2:20 the descendants of Gibbar: 95.

2:21 The men 42  of Bethlehem: 43  123;

2:22 the men of Netophah: 56;

2:23 the men of Anathoth: 128;

2:24 the men of the family 44  of Azmaveth: 42;

2:25 the men of Kiriath Jearim, 45  Kephirah and Beeroth: 743;

2:26 the men of Ramah and Geba: 621;

2:27 the men of Micmash: 122;

2:28 the men of Bethel 46  and Ai: 223;

2:29 the descendants of Nebo: 52;

2:30 the descendants of Magbish: 156;

2:31 the descendants of the other Elam: 1,254;

2:32 the descendants of Harim: 320;

2:33 the men of Lod, Hadid, and Ono: 725;

2:34 the men of Jericho: 47  345;

2:35 the descendants of Senaah: 3,630.

2:36 The priests: the descendants of Jedaiah (through the family 48  of Jeshua): 973;

2:37 the descendants of Immer: 1,052;

2:38 the descendants of Pashhur: 1,247;

2:39 the descendants of Harim: 1,017.

2:40 The Levites: the descendants of Jeshua and Kadmiel (through the line of Hodaviah): 74.

2:41 The singers: the descendants of Asaph: 128.

2:42 The gatekeepers: 49  the descendants of Shallum, the descendants of Ater, the descendants of Talmon, the descendants of Akkub, the descendants of Hatita, and the descendants of Shobai: 139.

2:43 The temple servants: the descendants of Ziha, the descendants of Hasupha, the descendants of Tabbaoth, 2:44 the descendants of Keros, the descendants of Siaha, the descendants of Padon, 2:45 the descendants of Lebanah, the descendants of Hagabah, the descendants of Akkub, 2:46 the descendants of Hagab, the descendants of Shalmai, 50  the descendants of Hanan, 2:47 the descendants of Giddel, the descendants of Gahar, the descendants of Reaiah, 2:48 the descendants of Rezin, the descendants of Nekoda, the descendants of Gazzam, 2:49 the descendants of Uzzah, the descendants of Paseah, the descendants of Besai, 2:50 the descendants of Asnah, the descendants of Meunim, the descendants of Nephussim, 2:51 the descendants of Bakbuk, the descendants of Hakupha, the descendants of Harhur, 2:52 the descendants of Bazluth, the descendants of Mehida, the descendants of Harsha, 2:53 the descendants of Barkos, the descendants of Sisera, the descendants of Temah, 2:54 the descendants of Neziah, and the descendants of Hatipha.

2:55 The descendants of the servants of Solomon: the descendants of Sotai, the descendants of Hassophereth, the descendants of Peruda, 2:56 the descendants of Jaala, the descendants of Darkon, the descendants of Giddel, 2:57 the descendants of Shephatiah, the descendants of Hattil, the descendants of Pokereth-Hazzebaim, and the descendants of Ami.

2:58 All the temple servants and the descendants of the servants of Solomon: 392.

2:59 These are the ones that came up from Tel Melah, Tel Harsha, Kerub, Addon, and Immer (although they were unable to certify 51  their family connection 52  or their ancestry, 53  as to whether they really were from Israel):

2:60 the descendants of Delaiah, the descendants of Tobiah, and the descendants of Nekoda: 652.

2:61 And from among 54  the priests: the descendants of Hobaiah, the descendants of Hakkoz, and the descendants of Barzillai (who had taken a wife from the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite and was called by that 55  name). 2:62 They 56  searched for their records in the genealogical materials, but did not find them. 57  They were therefore excluded 58  from the priesthood. 2:63 The governor 59  instructed them not to eat any of the sacred food until there was a priest who could consult 60  the Urim and Thummim.

2:64 The entire group numbered 42,360, 61  2:65 not counting 62  their male and female servants, who numbered 7,337. They also had 200 male and female singers 2:66 and 736 horses, 245 mules, 2:67 435 camels, and 6,720 donkeys. 2:68 When they came to the Lord’s temple in Jerusalem, some of the family leaders 63  offered voluntary offerings for the temple of God in order to rebuild 64  it on its site. 2:69 As they were able, 65  they gave to the treasury for this work 61,000 drachmas 66  of gold, 5,000 minas 67  of silver, and 100 priestly robes. 68 

2:70 The priests, the Levites, some of the people, the singers, the gatekeepers, and the temple servants lived in their towns, and all the rest of Israel lived in their towns.

1 sn In addition to the canonical books of Ezra and Nehemiah, there are two deuterocanonical books that are also called “Ezra.” Exactly how these books are designated varies in ancient literature. In the Septuagint (LXX) canonical Ezra is called Second Esdras, but in the Latin Vulgate it is called First Esdras. Our Nehemiah is called Third Esdras in some manuscripts of the LXX, but it is known as Second Esdras in the Latin Vulgate. (In the earliest LXX manuscripts Ezra and Nehemiah were regarded as one book, as they were in some Hebrew manuscripts.) The deuterocanonical books of Ezra are called First and Fourth Esdras in the LXX, but Third and Fourth Esdras in the Latin Vulgate. The titles for the so-called books of Ezra are thus rather confusing, a fact that one must keep in mind when consulting this material.

2 sn The first year of Cyrus would be ca. 539 B.C. Cyrus reigned in Persia from ca. 539-530 B.C.

3 tn Heb “the word of the Lord.”

4 tc The MT reads מִפִּי (mippi, “from the mouth of”), but this should probably be emended to בְּפִי (bÿfi, “by the mouth of”), which is the way the parallel passage in 2 Chr 36:22 reads. This is also reflected in the LXX, which is either reflecting an alternate textual tradition of בְּפִי or is attempting to harmonize Ezra 1:1 in light of 2 Chronicles.

tn Heb “from the mouth of.”

5 sn Cf. Jer 29:10; 25:11-14. Jeremiah had prophesied that after a time of seventy years the Jews would return “to this place.” How these seventy years are to be reckoned is a matter of debate among scholars. Some understand the period to refer to the approximate length of Babylon’s ascendancy as a world power, beginning either with the fall of Nineveh (612 b.c.) or with Nebuchadnezzar’s coronation (605 b.c.) and continuing till the fall of Babylon to the Persians in 539 b.c. Others take the seventy years to refer to the period from the destruction of the temple in 586 b.c. till its rebuilding in 516 b.c.

6 tn Heb “spirit.” The Hebrew noun רוּחַ (ruakh, “spirit”) has a broad range of meanings (see BDB 924-26 s.v.). Here, it probably refers to (1) “mind” as the seat of mental acts (e.g., Exod 28:3; Deut 34:9; Isa 29:24; 40:13; Ezek 11:5; 20:32; 1 Chr 28:12; cf. BDB 925 s.v. 6) or (2) “will” as the seat of volitional decisions (e.g., Exod 35:5, 22; Pss 51:12, 14; 57:8; 2 Chr 29:31; cf. BDB 925 s.v. 7). So also in v. 5.

7 tn Heb “caused to pass.”

8 tn Heb “a voice.” The Hebrew noun קוֹל (qol, “voice, sound”) has a broad range of meanings, including the metonymical (cause – effect) nuance “proclamation” (e.g., Exod 36:6; 2 Chr 24:9; 30:5; 36:22; Ezra 1:1; 10:7; Neh 8:15). See BDB 877 s.v. 3.a.2.

9 sn For an interesting extrabiblical parallel to this edict see the Cyrus cylinder (ANET 315-16).

10 tn Heb “in writing, saying.”

11 tn Heb “house.” The Hebrew noun בַּיִת (bayit, “house”) is often used in reference to the temple of Yahweh (BDB 108 s.v. 1.a). This is also frequent elsewhere in Ezra and Nehemiah (e.g., Ezra 1:3, 4, 5, 7; 2:68; 3:8, 9, 11, 12; 4:3; 6:22; 7:27; 8:17, 25, 29, 30, 33, 36; 9:9; 10:1, 6, 9).

12 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

13 tn Heb “from all.”

14 tn Heb “the men of his place.”

15 tn Heb “the heads of the fathers.”

16 tn Heb “arose.”

17 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

18 tn Heb “strengthened their hands.”

19 tc The MT reads בִּכְלֵי־כֶסֶף (bikhley khesef, “with silver vessels”). However, part of the LXX manuscript tradition reads ἐν πᾶσιν ἀργυρίῳ (en pasin arguriw), which reflects an alternate Hebrew reading of בַּכֹּל־בַּכֶּסֶף (bakkol-bakkesef, “everywhere, with silver”). The textual variant involves (1) simple omission of yod (י) between two words, a common scribal mistake; (2) haplography of the preposition bet (בּ); and (3) an alternate vocalization tradition of the first term.

20 tn Heb “besides” or “in addition to.”

21 tn Heb “and he gave them.”

22 tn Heb “brought them forth.”

23 tn Heb “upon the hand of.”

24 sn A Persian name meaning “gift of Mithras.” See HALOT 656 s.v. מִתְרְדָת.

25 sn A Babylonian name with the probable meaning “Shamash protect the father.” See HALOT 1664-65 s.v. שֵׁשְׁבַּצַּר.

26 tn Heb “Sheshbazzar the prince to Judah”; TEV, CEV “the governor of Judah.”

27 tn Heb “these are their number.”

28 tn The exact meaning of the Hebrew noun אֲגַרְטָל (’agartal, which occurs twice in this verse) is somewhat uncertain. The lexicons suggest that it is related to a common Semitic root (the Hebrew derivative has a prosthetic prefixed א [aleph] and interchange between ג [gimel] and ק [kof]): Judean Aramaic and Syriac qartalla, Arabic qirtallat, Ethiopic qartalo, all meaning “basket” (BDB 173-74 s.v.; HALOT 11 s.v.). There is debate whether this is a loanword from Greek κάρταλλος (kartallo", “basket”), Persian hirtal (“leather bag”) or Hittite kurtal (“container”). The term is traditionally understood as a kind of vessel, such as “basket, basin” (BDB 173-74 s.v.; HALOT 11 s.v.); but some suggest “leather bag” or a basket-shaped container of some sort (P. Humbert, “En marge du dictionnaire hébraïque,” ZAW 62 [1950]: 199-207; DCH 1:118 s.v.). The LXX translated it as ψυκτήρ (yukthr, “metal bowl”). The precise meaning depends on whether the nouns כֶּסֶף (kesef, “silver”) and זָהָב (zahav, “gold”), which follow each use of this plural construct noun, are genitives of content (“containers full of silver” and “containers full of gold”) or genitives of material (“silver containers” and “gold containers” = containers made from silver and gold). If they are genitives of content, the term probably means “baskets” or “leather bags” (filled with silver and gold); however, if they are genitives of material, the term would mean “basins” (made of silver and gold). Elsewhere in Ezra 1, the nouns כֶּסֶף (“silver”) and זָהָב (“gold”) are used as genitives or material, not genitives of contents; therefore, the translation “gold basins” and “silver basins” is preferred.

29 tn Heb “knives.” The Hebrew noun מַחֲלָפִים (makhalafim, “knives”) is found only here in the OT. While the basic meaning of the term is fairly clear, what it refers to here is unclear. The verb II חָלַף (khalaf) means “to pass through” (BDB 322 s.v. חָלַף) or “to cut through” (HALOT 321 s.v. II חלף; see also Judg 5:26; Job 20:24); thus, the lexicons suggest מַחֲלָפִים means “knives” (BDB 322 s.v. מַחֲלָף; HALOT 569 s.v. *מַחֲלָף). The related noun חֲלָפוֹת (khalafot, “knife”) is used in Mishnaic Hebrew (HALOT 321 s.v. II חלף), and חֲלִיפוֹת (khalifot, “knives”) appears in the Talmud. The noun appears in the cognate languages: Ugaritic khlpnm (“knives”; UT 19) and Syriac khalofta (“shearing knife”; HALOT 321 s.v. II חלף). The Vulgate translated it as “knives,” while the LXX understood it as referring to replacement pieces for the offering basins. The English translations render it variously; some following the Vulgate and others adopting the approach of the LXX: “knives” (KJV, NKJV, NRSV), “censers” (RSV), “duplicates” (NASV), “silver pans” (NIV), “bowls” (TEV), “other dishes” (CEV). Verse 11 lists these twenty-nine objects among the “gold and silver vessels” brought back to Jerusalem for temple worship. The translation above offers the intentionally ambiguous “silver utensils” (the term מַחֲלָפִים [“knives”] would hardly refer to “gold” items, but could refer to “silver items”).

30 tn The meaning of the Hebrew term מִשְׁנִים (mishnim) is uncertain. The noun מִשְׁנֶה (mishneh) means “double, second” (BDB 1041 s.v.), “what is doubled, two-fold” (HALOT 650 s.v. מִשְׁנֶה 3). The translations reflect a diversity of approaches: “410 silver bowls of a second kind” (KJV, NASV, RSV margin), “410 other silver bowls” (NRSV) and “410 matching silver bowls” (NIV). BDB 1041 s.v. משׁנה 3.a suggests it was originally a numeral that was garbled in the transmission process, as reflected in the LXX: “two thousand” (so RSV: “two thousand four hundred and ten bowls of silver”). The BHS editor suggests revocalizing the term to מְשֻׁנִים (mÿshunim, “changed”).

31 sn The total number as given in the MT does not match the numbers given for the various items in v. 9. It is not clear whether the difference is due to error in textual transmission or whether the constituent items mentioned are only a selection from a longer list, in which case the total from that longer list may have been retained. The numbers provided in 1 Esdras come much closer to agreeing with the number in Ezra 1:9-11, but this does not necessarily mean that 1 Esdras has been better preserved here than Ezra. 1 Esdras 2:13-15 (RSV) says, “The number of these was: a thousand gold cups, a thousand silver cups, twenty-nine silver censures, thirty gold bowls, two thousand four hundred and ten silver bowls, and a thousand other vessels. All the vessels were handed over, gold and silver, five thousand four hundred and sixty-nine, and they were carried back by Shesbazzar with the returning exiles from Babylon to Jerusalem.”

32 sn The list of names and numbers in this chapter of Ezra has a parallel account in Neh 7:6-73. The fact that the two lists do not always agree in specific details suggests that various textual errors have crept into the accounts during the transmission process.

33 tn Heb “the sons of.”

34 tn The Hebrew term הָעֹלִים (haolim, “those who were going up” [Qal active participle]) refers to continual action in the past. Most translations render this as a simple past: “went up” (KJV), “came up” (RSV, ASV, NASV, NIV), “came” (NRSV). CEV paraphrases: “were on their way back.”

35 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

36 tn Heb “men of the people of Israel.”

37 tn The words “was as follows” are not in the Hebrew text but are used in the translation for clarity.

38 tn Heb “the sons of.”

39 tn Heb “to the sons of.” Cf. v. 40.

40 tc The MT reads יוֹאָב (yoav, “Joab”). However, syntax demands the reading וְיוֹאָב (vÿyoav, “and Joab”) which is reflected in the LXX and Syriac.

41 tn Heb “to.” So also in vv. 36, 40.

42 tc The translation follows the suggestion in BHS and reads אַנְשֵׁי (’anshe, “the men of”) here rather than the reading בְּנֵי (bÿne, “the sons of”) found in the MT. So also in vv. 25, 26, 33, 34.

43 map For location see Map5 B1; Map7 E2; Map8 E2; Map10 B4.

44 tc The translation follows the suggestion in BHS and reads אַשְׁנֵי בֵּית (’ashne bet, “men of the house of”) here rather than the reading בְּנֵי (bÿne, “the sons of”) found in the MT.

tn Heb “the men of the house of Azmaveth”; some regard בֵּית (bet, “house of”) as a part of the place name: NAB, NLT “Beth-azmaveth.”

45 tc The translation, with the support of many manuscripts, reads יְעָרִים (yÿarim) here rather than the reading עָרִים (’arim) of the MT.

46 map For location see Map4 G4; Map5 C1; Map6 E3; Map7 D1; Map8 G3.

47 map For location see Map5 B2; Map6 E1; Map7 E1; Map8 E3; Map10 A2; Map11 A1.

48 tn Heb “the house of.”

49 tc Here it is preferable to delete the reading בְּנֵי (bÿne, “the sons of”) found in the MT.

50 tc The translation follows the Qere reading “Shalmai” (so KJV, NASB, NIV, NLT) rather than the MT Kethib “Shamlai” (so ASV, NAB, NRSV).

51 tn Heb “relate.”

52 tn Heb “the house of their fathers.”

53 tn Heb “their seed.”

54 tc The translation reads וּמִן (umin, “and from”) rather than the reading וּמִבּנֵי (umibbÿney, “and from the sons of”) found in the MT.

55 tn Heb “their.”

56 tn Heb “these.”

57 tn Heb “their records were searched for in the genealogical materials, but were not found.” This passive construction has been translated as active for stylistic reasons.

58 tn Heb “they were desecrated.”

59 tn The Hebrew word תִּרְשָׁתָא (tirshata’) is an official title of the Persian governor in Judea, perhaps similar in meaning to “excellency” (BDB 1077 s.v.; HALOT 1798 s.v.; W. L. Holladay, Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon, 395).

60 tn Heb “to stand.”

61 sn The same total is given in Neh 7:66, but it is difficult to understand how this number is reached, since the numbers of people listed in the constituent groups do not add up to 42,360. The list in vv. 3-60 apparently is not intended to be exhaustive, but the basis of the selectivity is unclear.

62 tn Heb “besides” or “in addition to.”

63 tn Heb “the heads of the fathers.”

64 tn Heb “cause it to stand.”

65 tn Heb “according to their strength.”

66 tn The meaning of the Hebrew word דַּרְכְּמוֹנִים (darkÿmonim, cf. Neh 7:69, 70, 71) is uncertain. It may be a Greek loanword meaning “drachmas” (the view adopted here and followed also by NAB, NASB, NIV) or a Persian loanword “daric,” referring to a Persian gold coin (BDB 204 s.v. דַּרְכְּמוֹן; HALOT 232 s.v. נִים(וֹ)דַּרְכְּמֹ; cf. ASV, NRSV). For further study, see R. de Vaux, Ancient Israel, 206-9.

67 sn The מָנִים (manim, cf. Neh 7:71, 72) is a measuring weight for valuable metals, equal to 1/60 of a talent or 60 shekels (BDB 584 s.v. מָנֶה; HALOT 599 s.v. מָנֶה). For further study, see R. de Vaux, Ancient Israel, 203-6.

68 tn Or “garments.”



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