Scripture reading – Ezra 8

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Ezra received King Artaxerxes’ approval to lead a second delegation of Jews home to Jerusalem and Judah (Ezra 7:1-10). Incredibly, the king not only committed gold and silver vessels to be dedicated to the Temple but also gave gold and silver from the royal treasury as compensation for sacrifices to be offered in Jerusalem (Ezra 7:11-24). Ezra was also empowered to teach the people the law and commandments and execute judgment (Ezra 7:25-26).


Ezra 8

Members of the Delegation that Accompanied Ezra (Ezra 8:1-20)

With the king’s blessing and letters of authority, Ezra “gathered together out of Israel chief men to go up with [him]” to Jerusalem (Ezra 7:28). The prophet Jeremiah had urged the Jews to settle in Babylon during their captivity, and build homes and families (Jeremiah 29:1-7). Having lived in Babylon for over a generation, Ezra faced people who had set their roots there and were comfortable and influential. Nevertheless, he undertook the challenge to urge the Jews to leave behind the comforts of Babylon and return to their ancestral lands. Eighteen heads of Jewish households accepted the challenge and joined Ezra’s delegation (Ezra 8:1-14).

Members of the Delegation that Accompanied Ezra

Soon after departing Babylon for Jerusalem (a journey of 900 miles, which took four months), Ezra halted and took an assessment of those with him (Ezra 8:15). Incredibly, he realized “none of the sons of Levi” were among the people (Ezra 8:15b). Ezra then chose eleven leaders. He sent them to seek Levites willing to leave Babylon and go to Jerusalem as “ministers for the house of our God” (Ezra 8:17). Eighteen Levites were recruited (Ezra 8:18), along with 220 Nethinims (those who assisted the Levites with sacrifices at the Temple (Ezra 8:20).

Ezra’s Call for Fasting and Prayer (Ezra 8:21-23)

Before he continued the journey to Jerusalem, Ezra called for a time of fasting and prayer so that the people might prepare and dedicate themselves to seek the LORD and his protection (Ezra 8:21). Knowing they would encounter enemies in their journey, Ezra confessed he would be “ashamed to require of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help [them] against the enemy in the way” (Ezra 8:22). Though it was reasonable to request an armed escort for his delegation, Ezra recalled that he had boasted to the king, “The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek him; but his power and his wrath is against all them that forsake him” (Ezra 8:22). So, the people prayed, sought the LORD, and He heard their prayers (Ezra 8:23).

Ezra’s Responsibility for the Treasury (Ezra 8:24-30)

With a vast sum of gold and silver, Ezra chose “twelve of the chief of the priests” (Ezra 8:24), made an inventory of all that was in their possession, and charged them with the care and protection of all that they had (Ezra 8:25-30).

Ezra’s Responsibility for the Treasury

The LORD’s Protection and the Delegation’s Arrival in Jerusalem (Ezra 8:31-36)

The LORD answered Ezra’s prayer, and his delegation arrived in Jerusalem (Ezra 8:31-33). They rested three days, and on the fourth day gave a full account and inventory of “the silver and the gold, and the vessels…34By number and by weight of every one: and all the weight was written at that time” (Ezra 8:33-34). As a great sign of unity, all the people gathered to offer “burnt offerings unto the God of Israel” (Ezra 8:35).

Ezra then took the king’s commissions to Persian government officials (“lieutenants, and to the governors”), which gave him authority with the people and over “the house of God” (Ezra 8:36).


Questions to ponder:

1) Who was missing when Ezra assessed the members of his delegation? (Ezra 8:15)

2) Why did Ezra feel compelled to announce a fast and prayer? (Ezra 8:21)

3) Why was Ezra reluctant to request a military escort for his delegation to Jerusalem? (Ezra 8:22)

Copyright © 2024 – Travis D. Smith 

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