Those who came with Ezra (Ezra 8:1-8:14)

“These are the family heads. This is the genealogy of those who went up with me from Babylonia, in the reign of King Artaxerxes. There was the descendent of Phinehas, Gershom. There was the descendent of Ithamar, Daniel. There was the descendent of David, Hattush. There were the descendents of Shecaniah. There were the descendents of Parosh, Zechariah with one hundred fifty registered men. There were the descendents of Pahath-moab, Eliehoenai son of Zerahiah with two hundred men. There were the descendents of Zattu, Shecaniah son of Jahaziel with three hundred men. There were the descendents of Adin, Ebed son of Jonathan with fifty men. There were the descendents of Elam, Jeshaiah son of Athaliah with seventy men. There were the descendents of Shephatiah, Zebadiah son of Michael with eighty men. There were the descendents of Joab, Obadiah son of Jehiel with two hundred eighteen men. There were the descendents of Bani, Shelomith son of Josiphiah with one hundred sixty men. There were the descendents of Bebai, Zechariah son of Bebai with twenty-eight men. There were the descendents of Azgad, Johanan son of Hakkatan with one hundred ten men. There were the descendents of Adonikam, those who came later, their names being Eliphelet, Jeuel, and Shemaiah with sixty men. There were the descendents of Bigvai, Uthai and Zaccur with seventy men.”

Once again, we have the use of the singular personal pronoun “with me.” This no longer is a story about someone else but a personal eye witness account. It is the story of Ezra himself, or someone pretending to be him. These are the people who were with him, about 1,500 men. If you count women and children then this would be about 5,000, about a 10% the size of the group that set out under King Cyrus in 537 BCE, under the leadership of Zerubbabel and Jeshua. A number of these families seem to have only 1 person since there is no number given unlike the others with specific numbers. Thus the descendents of Phinehas, Ithamar, David, and Shecaniah have either one or no one listed. Phinehas and Ithamar were the son and grandson of Aaron. This Shecaniah is virtually unknown since a lot of biblical people had that name. Most of these people were the descendents of those who had come to Jerusalem in chapter 2 of this book 80 years earlier. Thus the descendents of Parosh only had 150 men instead of 2,172 men 80 years earlier. The descendents of Pahath-moab are only 200 instead of 2,800. The descendents of Zattu were 300 instead of 945. The descendents of Adin were 50 instead of 445. The descendents of Elam were 70 instead of 1,294. The descendents of Shephatiah were 80 instead of 372. The descendents of Bani were 160 instead of 642. The descendents of Bebai were 28 instead of 623. The descendents of Azgad were 110 instead of 1,222. The descendents of Adonikam were 60 instead of 666. The descendents of Bigvai were 70 instead of 2,256. There was no mention of the descendents of Arah, Zaccai, Ater, Bezai, Hashum, or Jorah that were in chapter 2. The only new group here was Joab with 218 men.

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The Levite cantor Asaph the Gershonite (1 Chr 6:39-6:43)

“The brother of Heman, Asaph, stood on his right hand, that is Asaph, son of Berechiah, son of Shimea, son of Michael, son of Baaseiah, son of Malchijah, son of Ethni, son of Zerah, son of Adaiah, son of Ethan, son of Zimmah, son of Shimei, son of Jahath, son of Gershom, son of Levi.”

Here we have a truncated reverse genealogy that goes back 15 generations to (1) Levi, but via (2) Gershom, not Kohath, even though Asaph was called a brother of Heman. There are 2 other people with the name of (15) Asaph. Some Psalms (73-83) are attributed to this Asaph as well as a group of singers who called themselves the sons of Asaph later in this book. Here we may be close to the genealogy of Gershom earlier in this chapter that mentioned Levi, Gershom, Libni, (3) Jahath, (4) Shimei and (5) Zimmah. (6) Ethan is the name of 3 people in the biblical literature including another singer from Merari. There were 8 people with the name of (7) Adaiah. (8) Zerah was the same name as Perez’s twin brother, the son of Judah. In fact there were 4 other biblical persons with the name of Zerah. (11) Baaseiah and (9) Ethni only appear here, but there were 13 biblical different people with the name of (10) Malchijah, a popular name. There are 11 people named (12) Michael, including an archangel. There were 4 people with the name of (13) Shimea in the biblical literature, including someone in the family of Merari. There were 7 different people with the name of (14) Berechiah in the biblical literature.

The sons of Levi (1 Chr 6:16-6:16)

“The sons of Levi were Gershom, Kohath, and Merari.”

This is an exact repetition of the sons of Levi as mentioned earlier in this chapter, Genesis, chapter 46, Exodus, chapter 3, and Numbers, chapter 3. There is no confusion about these names. Levi (the Levites) had 3 sons, (1) Gershom (Gershonites), (2) Kohath (Kohathites), and (3) Merari (the Merarites). We know nothing about their mother since nothing was written about any of the wives of Levi. However, we do know that his mother was Leah and his father Jacob. He had five blood brothers, Reuben (Jacob’s firstborn), Simeon, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun.   He also had 6 other step brothers from different mothers but the same father, Jacob. Somehow his family will become the priests of Yahweh, even though in his own life as portrayed in Genesis, chapter 34, there is nothing to indicate any concern for the worship of Yahweh. Instead he is seen as a violent man with a temper. He and his brother Reuben killed every man in the city of Shechem for the violation of their sister after an arrangement had been made.

The sons of Levi (1 Chr 6:1-6:1)

“The sons of Levi were Gershom, Kohath, and Merari.”

Here are the 3 sons of Levi as mentioned in Genesis, chapter 46, Exodus, chapter 3, and Numbers, chapter 3, so there is no confusion about these name. Levi (the Levites) had 3 sons, Gershom (Gershonites), Kohath (Kohathites), and Merari (the Merarites). We know nothing about their mother since nothing was written about any of the wives of Levi. However, we do know that his mother was Leah and father Jacob. He had five blood brothers, Reuben (Jacob’s firstborn), Simeon, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun. Somehow his family will become the priests of Yahweh, even though in his own life as portrayed in Genesis, chapter 34, there is nothing to indicate any concern for the worship of Yahweh. Instead he is portrayed as a violent man with a temper. Levi and his brother Reuben killed every man in the city of Shechem for the violation of their sister after an arrangement of peace had been made. Here there is a little confusion in the text, since the Bible of Jerusalem has this section as the last part of chapter 5. However the Oxford Bible has this as the beginning of chapter 6, which I will follow. They both sync up with the beginning of chapter 7.

The flight of Moses to Midian (Ex 2:11-2:22)

“One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and saw their forced labor.  He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his kinsfolk.  He looked this way and that, and seeing no one he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.  When he went out the next day, he saw two Hebrews fighting.   He said to the one who was in the wrong, ‘why do you strike your fellow Hebrew?  He answered, ‘Who made you a ruler and judge over us?  Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?’ Then Moses was afraid, and thought, ‘Surely the thing is known.’”

Moses had to learn about the Egyptian oppression, having never suffered it himself since he grew up as a prince of the Nile.  However, the turning point was when he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew he decided to take things into his own hands.   He then killed the Egyptian and hid his body in the sand.  However, the next day when he confronted a Hebrew for fighting with his fellow Hebrew, the response frightened Moses since it seems that people must have known what had happened the day before.  So now he feared that Pharaoh would kill him if he found out about it.  It is not clear if the Pharaoh knew Moses as the child of his sister or not.

“When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses.  But Moses fled from Pharaoh.  He settled in the land of Midian, and he sat down by a well.  The priest of Midian had seven daughters.  They came and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock.   But some shepherds came and drove them away.  Moses got up and came to their defense and watered their flock.  When they returned to their father Reuel, he said, ‘How is it that you have come back so soon today?’  They said, ‘An Egyptian helped us against the shepherds.  He even drew water for us and watered the flock.’  He said to his daughters, ‘Where is he? Why did you leave the man?  Invite him to break bread.’  Moses agreed to stay with the man.  He gave Moses his daughter Zipporah in marriage.  She bore a son, and he named him Gershom.   For he said, ‘I have been an alien residing in a foreign land.’”

Moses fled to the land of Midian. Midian had been the son of Abraham from his third wife Keturah, who had been sent away to the east country in Genesis, chapter 25.  There, 7 daughters of the priest of Midian brought their flock to a well, as was the custom.  Once again, here is the number 7.  However, shepherds drove them away, but Moses watered their animals anyway.  When the daughters got home, they told their father the story about the strange Egyptian.  He told them to invite him to break bread with them.  Moses stayed there and took Zipporah as his wife, the daughter of Reuel, the priest of Midian.  Reuel was also the name of one of Esau’s sons.  Reuel may have been the grandfather of Zipporah since Moses’ father-in-law is later referred to as Jethro.  They had a son named Gershom so that he is firstborn son of Moses.  So far, nothing outstanding, Moses was in exile from Egypt and started a family in Midian.