Ezra 2:64
The whole congregation together was forty and two thousand three hundred and three score,
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(64) This sum total is the same in Nehemiah; but the several sums in Ezra make 29,818, and in Nehemiah 31,089. The apocryphal Esdras agrees in the total, but makes in the particulars 33,950, adding that children below twelve were not reckoned. Many expedients of reconciliation have been adopted; but it is better to suppose that errors had crept into the original documents.

Ezra 2:64. Forty and two thousand three hundred and threescore — This is more than double the number which were carried away captive by Nebuchadnezzar. But here occurs a small difficulty; (like that in the end of the foregoing chapter;) for if we put together the several sums before mentioned, they amount to no more than twenty-nine thousand eight hundred and eighteen; so there wants about twelve thousand to make up this number of forty-two thousand three hundred and sixty. Therefore, either these were of the rest of the tribes of Israel, who came up with those of Judah and Benjamin: or, they might be Levites or other Israelites, who could not make out their descent: or else, which is most probable, some mistake in the numbers has been made by transcribers, which might easily happen, even though in general very great care was taken.2:64-70 Let none complain of the needful expenses of their religion. Seek first the kingdom of God, his favour and his glory, then will all other things be added unto them. Their offerings were nothing, compared with the offerings of the princes in David's time; yet, being according to their ability, were as acceptable to God. The Lord will carry us through all undertakings entered on according to his will, with an aim to his glory, and dependence on his assistance. Those who, at the call of the gospel, renounce sin and return to the Lord, shall be guarded and guided through all perils of the way, and arrive safely at the mansions provided in the holy city of God.The sum total is given without any variation by Ezra, by Nehemiah (see the marginal reference), and by Esdras (1 Esdras 5:41), who adds, that in this reckoning only those of twelve years of age and upward were counted.

It is curious that the total 42,360, is so greatly in excess of the items. Ezra's items make the number 29,818; Nehemiah's 31,089, Esdras, 33,950. The original document was probably illegible in places, and the writers were forced to make omissions.

64. The whole congregation together was forty and two thousand three hundred and threescore—This gross amount is twelve thousand more than the particular numbers given in the catalogue, when added together, come to. Reckoning up the smaller numbers, we shall find that they amount to 29,818 in this chapter, and to 31,089 in the parallel chapter of Nehemiah [see Ne 7:66-69]. Ezra also mentions four hundred ninety-four persons omitted by Nehemiah, and Nehemiah mentions 1765 not noticed by Ezra. If, therefore, Ezra's surplus be added to the sum in Nehemiah, and Nehemiah's surplus to the number in Ezra, they will both become 31,583. Subtracting this from 42,360, there will be a deficiency of 10,777. These are omitted because they did not belong to Judah and Benjamin, or to the priests, but to the other tribes. The servants and singers, male and female, are reckoned separately (Ezr 2:65), so that putting all these items together, the number of all who went with Zerubbabel amounted to fifty thousand, with eight thousand beasts of burden [Alting, quoted in Davidson's Hermeneutics]. The particular sums here recited come only 29,818; unto whom are added in this total sum, 12,542; which either were of the other tribes beside Judah and Benjamin, or were such as were supposed by themselves and others to be Israelites, but could not prove their pedigree by their genealogies, and therefore could not be so punctually and particularly described as the former. The whole congregation together was forty and two thousand three hundred and threescore. But the sums before given make no more, with Zerubbabel, and the ten principal men, than 29,829, so that there are more than 12,000 wanting; wherefore, in answer to the question, where are the 12,000? the Jews say in their chronology (a) these are they of the other tribes, who set up the altar on its bases, and gave money to the masons, &c. Ezra 3:1, this was a much larger number than were carried captive; see 2 Kings 24:14, but not to be compared with the number that came out of Egypt, Exodus 12:37. An Arabic writer (b) makes them 50,000, but wrongly.

(a) Seder Olam Rabba, c. 29. p. 86. (b) Abulpharag. Hist. Dynast. Dyn. 5. p. 82.

The whole congregation together was forty and two thousand three hundred and threescore,
64. The same total i.e. 42,360 is given in Ezra, Nehemiah and 1 Esdras. The items however fail in all three lists to produce this figure.



  1 Esdr.

Men of the people of Israel




















Nethinim and Solomon’s servants












other MSS. 30,678

These remarkable discrepancies from the sum total in which there is so much agreement have been variously accounted for. (a) Jewish interpreters have supposed that the sum total comprised members of the ten tribes who have not been enumerated: (b) 1Es 5:41 adds the words ‘of twelve years old and upward’, and the unlikely suggestion has been made that the numbers of the totals include all over 12 years of age, although the numbers of the items included all over 20 years of age. (c) The disagreement is considered to be due to the corruptions in the text arising from copyists’ errors in transcription of numbers and signs for numbers.

Of these explanations the last seems the most probable. But it is undoubtedly strange that the three disagreeing sum totals should come within 2000 of one another and yet should fall so far short of the total figure which each text has preserved.Verse 64. - The whole congregation together was forty and two thousand three hundred and threescore. Ezra's numbers, as given in detail (vers. 3-60), produce when added together a total of only 29,818; Nehemiah's items (Nehemiah 7:8-62) give a total of 31,089; those of the apocryphal Esdras a total of 33,950. The three authorities agree, however, in their summation, all alike declaring that the actual number of those who returned with Zerubbabel was 42,360. Esdras adds that children under twelve years of age are not included. If this were so, the entire number must have exceeded 50,000 - an enormous body of persons to transport a distance of above a thousand miles, according to Western experience, but one which will not surprise those acquainted with the East. In the East caravans of from ten to twenty thousand souls often traverse huge distances without serious mishap, and migrations frequently take place on a much grander scale. In the year 1771, 50,000 families of Torgouths, reckoned to number 300,000 souls, arrived on the frontiers of China, after a journey of 10,000 leagues through a most difficult country, and were given lands in the Chinese empire. They were followed in the next year by 180,000 Eleuths and others, who had accomplished a similar distance (see De Hell, 'Travels,' pp. 228, 229). Jenghis Khan is said to have forced 100,000 artisans and craftsmen to emigrate in a body from Khiva into Mongolia (Howarth's 'History of the Mongols,' p. 85). The transplantation of entire nations was an established practice among the Assyrians, Babylonians, and Persians. THE NUMBER OF THE SLAVES, HORSES, MULES, CAMELS, AND ASSES OF THOSE WHO RETURNED (vers, 65-67). It may seem strange that matters of this trivial character should be recorded with such exactness in Holy Writ; but enumerations similar in character are not unfrequent (see Genesis 23:14, 15; 2 Chronicles 17:11; Job 42:12). They may perhaps be viewed as teaching the lesson that with God nothing is too trivial for exact knowledge, even "all the hairs of our head" being "numbered" (Matthew 10:30). In the present passage the enumeration is not altogether without a further historical value, since it is indicative of the general poverty and low estate of the returning exiles, who had but one slave and one ass to every six of their number, one horse to every sixty, one camel to every hundred, and one mule to every one hundred and seventy-five. The Nethinim, i.e., temple-bondsmen, and the servants of Solomon, are reckoned together, thirty-five families of Nethinim and ten of the servants of Solomon being specified. The sum-total of these amounting only to 392, each family could only have averaged from eight to nine individuals. The sons of Akkub, Hagab and Asnah (Ezra 2:45, Ezra 2:46, and Ezra 2:50), are omitted in Nehemiah; the name Shalmai (Ezra 2:46) is in Nehemiah 7:48 written Salmai; and for נפיסים, Ezra 2:50, Nehemiah 7:52 has נפושׁסים, a form combined from נפוּסים and נפישׁים. All other variations relate only to differences of form. Because Ziha (ציהא, Ezra 2:43) again occurs in Nehemiah 11:21 as one of the chiefs of the Nethinim, and the names following seem to stand in the same series with it, Bertheau insists on regarding these names as those of divisions. This cannot, however, be correct; for Ziha is in Nehemiah 11:21 the name of an individual, and in the present list also the proper names are those of individuals, and only the sons of Ziha, Hasupha, etc., can be called families or divisions. Plural words alone, Mehunim and Nephisim, are names of races or nations; hence the sons of the Mehunim signify individuals belonging to the Mehunim, who, perhaps, after the victory of King Uzziah over that people, were as prisoners of war made vassals for the service of the sanctuary. So likewise may the sons of the Nephisim have been prisoners of war of the Ishmaelite race נפישׁ. Most of the families here named may, however, have been descendants of the Gibeonites (Joshua 9:21, Joshua 9:27). The servants of Solomon must not be identified with the Canaanite bond-servants mentioned 1 Kings 9:20., 2 Chronicles 8:7., but were probably prisoners of war of some other nation, whom Solomon sentenced to perform, as bondsmen, similar services to those imposed upon the Gibeonites. The sons of these servants are again mentioned in Nehemiah 11:3. In other passages they are comprised under the general term Nethinim, with whom they are here computed. Among the names, that of הצּבים פּכרת (Ezra 2:57), i.e., catcher of gazelles, is a singular one; the last name, אמי, is in Nehemiah 7:59 אמון.
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