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Read Ezra 2

The List of the Exiles Who Returned

Now these are the people of the province who came up from the captivity of the exiles, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had taken captive to Babylon (they returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to their own town, in company with Zerubbabel, Joshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah,Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispar, Bigvai, Rehum and Baanah):

The list of the men of the people of Israel:

the descendants of Parosh2,172
of Shephatiah372
of Arah775
of Pahath-Moab (through the line of Jeshua and Joab)2,812
of Elam1,254
of Zattu945
of Zakkai760
10 of Bani642
11 of Bebai623
12 of Azgad1,222
13 of Adonikam666
14 of Bigvai2,056
15 of Adin454
16 of Ater (through Hezekiah)98
17 of Bezai323
18 of Jorah112
19 of Hashum223
20 of Gibbar95
21 the men of Bethlehem123
22 of Netophah56
23 of Anathoth128
24 of Azmaveth42
25 of Kiriath Jearim, Kephirah and Beeroth743
26 of Ramah and Geba621
27 of Mikmash122
28 of Bethel and Ai223
29 of Nebo52
30 of Magbish156
31 of the other Elam1,254
32 of Harim320
33 of Lod, Hadid and Ono725
34 of Jericho345
35 of Senaah3,630

36 The priests:

the descendants of Jedaiah (through the family of Jeshua)973
37 of Immer1,052
38 of Pashhur1,247
39 of Harim1,017

40 The Levites:

the descendants of Jeshua and Kadmiel (of the line of Hodaviah)74

41 The musicians:

the descendants of Asaph128

42 The gatekeepers of the temple:

the descendants of
Shallum, Ater, Talmon,
Akkub, Hatita and Shobai139

43 The temple servants:

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

55 The descendants of the servants of Solomon:

the descendants of
Sotai, Hassophereth, Peruda,
56 Jaala, Darkon, Giddel,
57 Shephatiah, Hattil,
Pokereth-Hazzebaim and Ami
58 The temple servants and the descendants of the servants of Solomon392

59 The following came up from the towns of Tel Melah, Tel Harsha, Kerub, Addon and Immer, but they could not show that their families were descended from Israel:

60 The descendants of
Delaiah, Tobiah and Nekoda652

61 And from among the priests:

The descendants of
Hobaiah, Hakkoz and Barzillai (a man who had married a daughter of Barzillai the Gileadite and was called by that name).

62 These searched for their family records, but they could not find them and so were excluded from the priesthood as unclean. 63 The governor ordered them not to eat any of the most sacred food until there was a priest ministering with the Urim and Thummim.

64 The whole company numbered 42,360, 65 besides their 7,337 male and female slaves; and they also had 200 male and female singers.66 They had 736 horses, 245 mules, 67 435 camels and 6,720 donkeys.

68 When they arrived at the house of the Lord in Jerusalem, some of the heads of the families gave freewill offerings toward the rebuilding of the house of God on its site. 69 According to their ability they gave to the treasury for this work 61,000 darics of gold, 5,000 minas of silver and 100 priestly garments.

70 The priests, the Levites, the musicians, the gatekeepers and the temple servants settled in their own towns, along with some of the other people, and the rest of the Israelites settled in their towns.

Go Deeper

This chapter of Ezra is a historical narrative listing the names and numbers of the families that returned to Israel after 70 years of exile in Babylon. Passages of Scripture like this typically elicit one sort of reaction to readers: boring. But before we skim past these 70 verses of Scripture and allow our eyes to cross from the long names and longer numbers, let’s remember who these people were and where they were coming from.

Ezra 2:1 tells us “Now these were the people of the province who came up out of the captivity…”. Seventy years earlier, God had punished the Israelites for their unfaithfulness and sent them into exile. These people returning included those who had experienced the exile firsthand as well as their offspring who had been told by their fathers and grandfathers where to return after their captivity. 

Verse 64 states that “The whole assembly together was 42,360…” so around 50,000 people are returning to Jerusalem and Judah. It’s important to note that this is a small number compared to the half a million people who once lived in Jerusalem. We will learn in later passages of Scripture that this was the first of 3 waves of people returning from captivity, but even so, there were tens of thousands of Israelites who never returned to the Promised Land. We can make assumptions about those who didn’t return: that they were too comfortable in their new surroundings or possibly too afraid of what might await them in their old surroundings. The names listed in this passage of Scripture, though, represent family after family who obediently returned to help rebuild the temple and properly restore worship in Israel and their names are eternally recorded as a result of their obedience.

This group of people is not only remembered for obedience in returning to the Promised Land, but they are also remembered for their contributions to the rebuilding of the temple. Ezra 2:68 says “… when they came to the house of the Lord that is in Jerusalem, (they) made freewill offerings for the house of God, to erect it on its site.” A freewill offering was given voluntarily and was given as the Lord moved the hearts of the Israelites. So these Israelites took a faithful first step of obedience by traveling hundreds of miles back to their homeland, and once they got there, they continued to be obedient in giving to the Lord of their resources for His glory.

So instead of labeling Ezra 2 as an irrelevant and boring genealogy, we can thank God for each of the names listed in this chapter because they are examples to us of obedience and sacrificial giving. They are heroes of our own faith. Glance back at one of the verses, pick a name, and praise God for their faithfulness. What a gracious God we serve that He has provided us with such precision and details!  


  1. Psalm 37:23 says “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.” Ezra 2 is an example of this. Spend some time thanking God that He cares about the details of your life!
  2. Is there a step of obedience that you need to take the first step in like the Israelites did in returning to the Promised Land?
  3. The Holy Spirit can move our hearts just as He moved the hearts of the Israelites to give freely. Ask God to help you be in tune with where to steward your time, money, and resources.  

Dig Deeper

The journey of the Israelites is quickly summed up in Ezra 2:1 by saying “They returned to Jerusalem…” but that was not as simple a journey as it sounds. That journey would have been close to 1,000 miles and would have taken several months. Here is a visual of the possible routes they may have taken to return to the Promised Land:


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8 thoughts on “Ezra 2”

  1. Lord, thank you for the genealogies and how they represent your faithfulness to your people and their obedience to you! May we live and continually remind ourselves that we live for you

  2. One of the most helpful resources I’ve found especially when reading a chapter filled with descendants and unfamiliar names is the Bible app that reads the chapter aloud. If it’s included in scripture, it has purpose & meaning that I don’t want to miss. Tucked into all the names was one I was familiar with, Mordecai. Remember he was the uncle of Esther who together God raised up to save the Israelites from being wiped out. I’m noticing the people did not return empty handed but gave freewill offerings of gold, silver, & clothing for rebuilding the house of God. Finally, seeing a list with names makes me think about the only one that truly matters, the Lamb’s Book of Life which records all who have eternal life through Christ. My name is written there, is yours?

  3. Once again, my infants mind reads a chapter and is left wondering how this affects my life. What does this mean? What is God saying to me here.
    And then, by the grace of God, someone has broken it down, in the big fat letters of a children’s book.
    43,000 obeyed the call but the rest….
    That’s been me! The rest! The one that stays because they “believe they are comfortable there!”
    I promise they are/were not.
    How easily we are drawn into the ways of the world and we live there, thinking all is great. But it’s hollow. It’s empty. That’s not where spirit is found.
    But then, when we obey, when we become one of the 43,000 that choose to follow the call, we discover, this is where true life happens.
    The Kingdom is fractured today and I can see how this story parallels with what we are living in. Babylonian times wrought with sin and disgust. I choose to be one of the few! I thank God for His grace and allowing me back into the army!
    May we collectively shine for You, a light so bright we cannot be dimmed!

  4. Today I was struck by those who “could not prove their father’s houses or their descent, whether they belonged to Israel”. It reminded me that in Christ we don’t have to fear “belonging” because we have been bought by the blood of Christ and belong to Him. No matter our geneology or any other thing that we think defines us, it is our adoption into God’s family that tells me who and Whose I am. Thankful that I have nothing to prove today but to rest in His provision. Now I am free to love and obey out of that reality! Such good news!!

  5. When I first started reading this, all I could think was “oh man this is BORING!” But how sweet is it that God delights in the details! He gave each name in this chapter a purpose. & I so admire their obedience to Him. This is such a beautiful example that I long to follow.

  6. Wow, incredible. Really, like if God can move in the hearts of about 50,000 people, he can move in my heart. And if about 50,000 people can be obedient, I can too. This moved my heart a lot. The questions are definitely questioned I needed to ask myself.

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