Verses 1–35

We may observe here, 1. That an account was kept in writing of the families that came up out of captivity, and the numbers of each family. This was done for their honour, as part of their recompence for their faith and courage, their confidence in God and their affection to their own land, and to stir up others to follow their good example. Those that honour God he will thus honour. The names of all those Israelites indeed that accept the offer of deliverance by Christ shall be found, to their honour, in a more sacred record than this, even in the Lamb’s book of life. The account that was kept of the families that came up from the captivity was intended also for the benefit of posterity, that they might know from whom they descended and to whom they were allied. 2. That they are called children of the province. Judah, which had been an illustrious kingdom, to which other kingdoms had been made provinces, subject to it and dependent on it, was now itself made a province, to receive laws and commissions from the king of Persia and to be accountable to him. See how sin diminishes and debases a nation, which righteousness would exalt. But by thus being made servants (as the patriarchs by being sojourners in a country which was theirs by promise) they were reminded of the better country, that is, the heavenly (Heb. 11:16), a kingdom which cannot be moved, or changed into a province. 3. That they are said to come every one to his city, that is, the city appointed them, in which appointment an eye, no doubt, was had to their former settlement by Joshua; and to that, as near as might be, they returned: for it does not appear that any others, at least any that were able to oppose them, had possessed them in their absence. 4. That the leaders are first mentioned, Ezra 2:2. Zerubbabel and Jeshua were their Moses and Aaron, the former their chief prince, the latter their chief priest. Nehemiah and Mordecai are mentioned here; some think not the same with the famous men we afterwards meet with of those names: probably they were the same, but afterwards returned to court for the service of their country. 5. Some of these several families are named from the persons that were their ancestors, others from the places in which they had formerly resided; as with us many surnames are the proper names of persons, others of places. 6. Some little difference there is between the numbers of some of the families here and in Neh. 7:5-73, where this catalogue is repeated, which might arise from this, that some who had given in their names at first to come afterwards drew back—said, I go, Sir, but went not, which would lessen the number of the families they belonged to; others that declined, at first, afterwards repented and went, and so increased the number. 7. Here are two families that are called the children of Elam (one Ezra 2:7; another Ezra 2:31), and, which is strange, the number of both is the same, 1254. 8. The children of Adonikam, which signifies a high lord, were 666, just the number of the beast (Rev. 13:18), which is there said to be the number of a man, which, Mr. Hugh Broughton thinks, has reference to this man. 9. The children of Bethlehem (Ezra 2:21) were but 123, though it was David’s city; for Bethlehem was little among the thousands of Judah, yet there must the Messiah arise, Mic. 5:2. 10. Anathoth had been a famous place in the tribe of Benjamin and yet here it numbered but 128 (Ezra 2:23), which is to be imputed to the divine curse which the men of Anathoth brought upon themselves by persecuting Jeremiah, who was of their city. Jer. 11:21, 23, There shall be no remnant of them, for I will bring evil upon the men of Anathoth. And see Isa. 10:30; O poor Anathoth! Nothing brings ruin on a people sooner than persecution.