Here is, I. The sum total of the company that returned out of Babylon. The particular sums before mentioned amount not quite to 30,000 (29,818), so that there were above 12,000 that come out into any of those accounts, who, it is probable, were of the rest of the tribes of Israel, besides Judah and Benjamin, that could not tell of what particular family or city they were, but that they were Israelites, and of what tribe. Now, 1. This was more than double the number that were carried captive into Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar, so that, as in Egypt, the time of their affliction was the time of their increase. 2. These were but few to begin a nation with, and yet, by virtue of the old promise made to their fathers, they multiplied so as before their last destruction by the Romans, about 500 years after, to be a very numerous people. When God says, “Increase and multiply,” a little one shall become a thousand.
II. Their retinue. They were themselves little better than servants, and therefore no wonder that their servants were comparatively but few (Ezra 2:65) and their beasts of burden about as many, Ezra 2:66, 67. It was not with them now as in days past. But notice is taken of 200 singing-men and women whom they had among them, who, we will suppose, were intended (as those 2 Chron. 35:25) to excite their mourning, for it was foretold that they should, upon this occasion, go weeping (Jer. 50:4), with ditties of lamentation.
III. Their oblations. It is said (Ezra 2:68, 69), 1. That they came to the house of the Lord at Jerusalem; and yet that house, that holy and beautiful house, was now in ruins, a heap of rubbish. But, like their father Abraham, when the altar was gone they came with devotion to the place of the altar (Gen. 13:4); and it is the character of the genuine sons of Zion that they favour even the dust thereof, Ps. 102:14. 2. That they offered freely towards the setting of it up in its place. That, it seems, was the first house they talked of setting up; and though they came off a journey, and were beginning the world (two chargeable things), yet they offered, and offered freely, towards the building of the temple. Let none complain of the necessary expenses of their religion, but believe that when they come to balance the account they will find that it clears the cost. Their offering was nothing in comparison with the offerings of the princes in David’s time; then they offered by talents (1 Chron. 29:7), now by drams, yet these drams, being after their ability, were as acceptable to God as those talents, like the widow’s two mites. The 61,000 drams of gold amount, by Cumberland’s calculation, to so many pounds of our money and so many groats. Every maneh, or pound of silver, he reckons to be sixty shekels (that is, thirty ounces), which we may reckon 7l. 10s. of our money, so that this 5000 pounds of silver will be above 37,000l. of our money. It seems, God had blessed them with an increase of their wealth, as well as of their numbers, in Babylon; and, as God had prospered them, they gave cheerfully to the service of his house. 3. That they dwelt in their cities, Ezra 2:70. Though their cities were out of repair, yet, because they were their cities, such as God had assigned them, they were content to dwell in them, and were thankful for liberty and property, though they had little of pomp, plenty, or power. Their poverty was a bad cause, but their unity and unanimity were a good effect of it. Here was room enough for them all and all their substance, so that there was no strife among them, but perfect harmony, a blessed presage of their settlement, as their discords in the latter times of that state were of their ruin.