“I gathered them by the river that runs to Ahava. There we camped three days. As I reviewed the people and the priests, I found there none of the descendents of Levi. Then I sent for Eliezer, Ariel, Shemaiah, Elnathan, Jarib, Elnathan, Nathan, Zechariah, and Meshullam, who were leaders, and for Joiarib and Elnathan, who were wise. I sent them to Iddo, the leader at the place called Casiphia. I told them what to say to Iddo and his colleagues the temple servants at Casiphia. He should send us ministers for the house of our God. Since the gracious hand of our God was upon us, they brought us a man of discretion, of the descendents of Mahli son of Levi, son of Israel, namely Sherebiah, with his sons and kinsmen, eighteen. Also they brought Hashabiah and with him Jeshaiah of the descendents of Merari, with his kinsmen and their sons, twenty. Besides two hundred twenty of the temple servants, whom David and his officials had set apart to attend the Levites, also came. These were all mentioned by name.”
Once again, we have the use of the personal pronoun singular, “I gathered them.” Over and over again “I” appears. This is a personal first person account of what happened. The Ahava River is not known, but probably a tributary of the Euphrates River in Babylon. Ezra realized that he had no Levites. So he sent a group of people to Iddo who was the leader at Casiphia. There 4 or 5 different people with the name of Iddo, including Levites, and prophets. This one was a temple slave leader at Casiphia, which must have been an important place for a group of Israelite exiles because they had so many temple slaves. They may have had their own house of God there in northern Babylon. Interesting enough this Iddo sent 2 Levite families of 19 and 20 people from the Mahli and Merari branch of Levites. He also sent 220 Temple servants who were to help the Levites. There must have been a lot of them there.
“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.
“Shebuel’s brother from Eliezer, were his son Rehabiah, and then his son Jeshaiah, and then his son Joram, and then his son Zichri, and finally his son Shelomoth. This Shelomoth and his brothers were in charge of all the treasuries of the dedicated gifts which King David, and the heads of the heads of families, and the officers of the thousands and the hundreds, and the commanders of the army, had dedicated. From booty won in battles they dedicated gifts for the maintenance of the house of Yahweh. Also all that Samuel the seer, and Saul son of Kish, and Abner son of Ner, and Joab son of Zeruiah had dedicated, all dedicated gifts were in the care of Shelomoth and his brothers.”
This biblical author seems to give deference to the sons of Moses who were in charge of all the collected booty or spoils that were captured. Shebuel the grandson of Moses was the chief officer. However, it is through Eliezer, the brother of Gershom, that the chief officer of the spoils from the various battles is brought to the temple, as in Numbers, chapter 31. His lineage went through the grandson of Moses, Rehabiah. There were 3 other people with the name of Jeshaiah. This Joram was neither the king of Judah (848-841 BCE) or Israel (852-841 BCE). There were 11 different people with the name of Zichri. There were 2 other people with the name of Shelomoth. This Shelomoth and his brother were in charge of the booty from the various battles of Samuel, Saul, Abner, Joab, and David had brought to the temple. After each battle, Israelite officers would dedicate gifts to the Temple.
“The six sons of Jeduthun were Gedaliah, Zeri, Jeshaiah, Shimei, Hashabiah, and Mattithiah. They, under the direction of their father Jeduthun, prophesied with the lyre in thanksgiving and praise to Yahweh.”
Here Jeduthun represents the Merari Levites, instead of Ethan as in chapter 6 of this work. His 6 sons played the lyre and gave thanks and praise to Yahweh. There were 3 other people with the name of (1) Gedaliah, but (2) Zeri only appears here. There were a few others with the name of (3) Jeshaiah, mostly Levites. There were about 15 other people with the name of (4) Shimei. There were over 11 people with the name of (5) Hashabiah, mostly Levites. There were only 4 with the name of (6) Mattithiah in the biblical literature. They too were prophetic musicians, particularly the lyre.