The Agora
Bible Commentary

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Ezra 8

Ezr 8:17

IDDO: Iddo, it appears, was the grandfather of the prophet Zechariah, being the father of Berechiah.

THE TEMPLE SERVANTS: Or "Nethinim" (AV). They are said specifically to be those "whom David and the princes had appointed for the service of the Levites" (Ezr 8:20), thus indicating both their realm of activity and their historical origin. In most of the occurrences they are listed with and after the Levites (cf 1Ch 9:2; Ezr 7:7; Neh 7:73). Because of this reference to the activity of David and their being joined with Solomon's servants (Ezr 2:58; Neh 7:60; cf 1Ki 9:21) and the foreign names that they bear, it has been thought that they were foreigners, mostly captives of war, put into this service. For example, Mehunim (Ezr 2:50; Neh 7:52) may refer to those overcome by Uzziah (2Ch 26:7). Nephusim (Ezr 2:50; Neh 7:52) may refer to the Hagarite clan of Naphish (Gen 25:15; 1Ch 5:19). Because of the similarity of duty, some have sought their background in the Gibeonites, "hewers of wood and drawers of water for the house of my God" (Jos 9:23,27) and also in the Midianites (Num 31:30,47). The correlation is probably no more than that of similarity of service, not direct relationship. Whatever may be the roots of their origin, they were treated as part of the people of God, at least as proselytes (Neh 10:28...). They are mentioned by name in the OT in post-Exilic times. From Babylon 612 returned, 392 with Zerubbabel (Ezr 2:58: Neh 7:60) a count which includes "the children of Solomon's servants") and 220 with Ezra (Ezr 8:20) as "ministers for the house of our God" from the place Casiphia (Ezr 8:17) "in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king (Ezr 7:7). Like other sacred ministers, they were exempted from taxation (Ezr 7:24).

Ezr 8:22

I WAS ASHAMED TO ASK THE KING FOR SOLDIERS AND HORSEMEN TO PROTECT US FROM ENEMIES ON THE ROAD: "A convoy on many accounts would have been desirable for the pilgrim band, but a holy shame-facedness would not allow Ezra to seek one. He feared lest the heathen king should think his professions of faith in God to be mere hypocrisy, or imagine that the God of Israel was not able to preserve His own worshippers. He could not bring his mind to lean on an arm of flesh in a matter so evidently of the Lord, and therefore the caravan set out with no visible protection, guarded by Him who is the sword and shield of His people. It is to be feared that few believers feel this holy jealousy for God; even those who in a measure walk by faith, occasionally mar the lustre of their life by craving aid from man. It is a most blessed thing to have no props and no buttresses, but to stand upright on the Rock of Ages, upheld by the Lord alone" (CHS).

"Ezra was not overconfident or boastful. He did not presume upon the providence of God. But he did not feel he could consistently ask the help of man when he had spoken of the limitless power of his God. Others may have regarded the matter differently, but to him, the situation raised again the same issue of allegiance and dependence -- God or man -- and whenever that issue arises in whatever form, the answer of faith must be the same.

"He well realized the responsibility he had assumed in leading his unprotected company through wild and hostile country. It is clear that this weighed heavily upon him. There were many other lives besides his own involved -- many who trusted him and depended upon him, and who were prepared to make the journey with him relying upon his judgment and wisdom.

"It would have been far easier to have asked for an armed guard, but he felt that the honour of his God was at stake, and so in prayerful hope, and with no armour but faith, they ventured forth. And no harm befell them" (GVG).

Previous Index Next