The listeners of Jeremiah (Jer 38:1-38:1)

“Now Shephatiah,

The son of Mattan,

Gedaliah,

The son of Pashhur,

Jucar,

The son of Shelemiah,

With Pashhur,

The son of Malchiah,

Heard the words

That Jeremiah was saying

To all the people.”

People went to hear what Jeremiah had to say even while he was in prison. Shephatiah, Gedaliah, Jucar, and Pashhur were royal officials among the visitors who were listening to the words of Jeremiah.   Shephatiah is only mentioned here.   Gedaliah may be the son of Pashhur, who beat up Jeremiah in chapter 20. But he was a priest and not a royal official. Jucar is probably the same Jehucal mentioned in the preceding chapter as a messenger from the king to Jeremiah. Pashhur was the same royal messenger mentioned in chapter 21. Apparently while in the prison at the royal palace, Jeremiah could receive visitors. Like the preceding chapter, this is a different numbered chapter in the Greek translation of the Septuagint, chapter 45, not chapter 38 as here.

The descendents of Solomon’s servants returning (Neh 7:57-7:60)

“The descendents of Solomon’s servants were the descendents of Sotai, the descendents of Sophereth, the descendents of Perida, the descendents of Jaala, the descendents of Darkon, the descendents of Giddel, the descendents of Shephatiah, the descendents of Hattil, the descendents of Pochereth-hazzebaim, and the descendents of Amon. All the temple servants and the descendents of Solomon’s servants were three hundred ninety-two.”

There also were the descendents of the palace servants from the time of King Solomon. People must have considered this a big deal or a hereditary job. There were 10 named groups. 6 are exactly the same as in Ezra, chapter 2. 4 others have slight variations, Sophereth for Hassophereth, Perida for Peruda, Jaala for Jaalah, and Amon for Ami. Most of these names only appear here. The total number of Temple and palace servants or hereditary slaves was 392, the same as in Ezra. The big problem is that there was no king, palace, or Temple. What were they to do?

The number of people by ancestral families returning (Neh 7:8-7:24)

“The number of the Israelite people was as follows. The descendents of Parosh were two thousand one hundred seventy-two. The descendents of Shephatiah were three hundred seventy-two. The descendents of Arah were six hundred fifty-two. The descendents of Pahath-moab, namely the descendents of Jeshua and Joab, were two thousand eight hundred eighteen. The descendents of Elam were one thousand two hundred fifty-four. The descendents of Zattu were eight hundred forty-five. The descendents of Zaccai were seven hundred sixty. The descendents of Binnui were six hundred forty-eight. The descendents of Bebai were six hundred twenty-eight. The descendents of Azgad were two thousand three hundred twenty-two. The descendents of Adonikam were six hundred sixty-seven. The descendents of Bigvai were two thousand sixty-seven. The descendents of Adin were six hundred fifty-five. The descendents of Ater, namely of Hezekiah, were ninety-eight. The descendents of Hashum were three hundred twenty-eight. The descendents of Bezai were three hundred twenty-four. The descendents of Hariph were one hundred twelve.”

Here we have a listing of the heads of the families with the number of people that were returning with them. There was a similar list in Ezra, chapter 2. There were some minor differences, but nothing substantially different. Once again, these were the well to do leaders, not the poor who had stayed. They were listed by their important ancestors with very exact numbers, not rounded off. These groupings were large enough to form small towns or at least neighborhoods in cities. The Parosh folks had 2,172 people, exactly the same as in Ezra. The Shephatiah folks had exactly the same number, 372. However, the Arah folks had 652 instead of 775 people. The Pahath-moab folks were 2,818 instead of 2,812 people. The Elam group had 1,254 people, the same as in Ezra. The Zattu group had 845 and not 945 people. There was exactly the same amount of the Zaccai people, 760. The descendents of Binnui were 648 instead of the 642 descendents of Bani in Ezra. The Bebai people had 5more people, 628 instead of 623. There was a major difference with Azgad people, 2,322 instead of 1,222. Adonikam had 667 people here instead of the infamous number 666 people in Ezra. There were a lot of Bigvai people, 2,067 instead of 2,056. The descendents of Adin were 655 not 454. The Ater group was exactly the same, only 98 gatekeepers. The Hashum people had 328 instead of 223 people. 324 was 1 more than the 323 of Bezai people who returned in Ezra. The descendents of Hariph were 112, the same number of 112 descendents of Jorah in Ezra.

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.

The list of the sons of Solomon returning (Ezra 2:55-2:58)

“The descendents of King Solomon’s servants were the sons of Sotai, Hassophereth, Peruda, Jaalah, Darkon, Giddel, Shephatiah, Hattil, Pochereth-hazzebaim, and Ami. All the temple servants and the descendents of King Solomon’s servants were three hundred ninety-two.”

These were the descendents of the palace servants from the time of King Solomon. People must have considered this a big deal or a hereditary job. There are 10 named groups. All these names only appear here, except for Shephatiah. Shephatiah was the name of 8 different biblical people, including the son of King David. The total number of Temple and palace servants or hereditary slaves was 392. The big problem is that there was no king, palace, or Temple. What were they to do?

The list of the men returning by ancestral leaders (Ezra 2:3-2:19)

“Here is the number of the Israelite people returning. There were the descendents of Parosh, two thousand one hundred seventy-two. There were the descendents of Shephatiah, three hundred seventy-two. There were the descendents of Arah, seven hundred seventy-five. There were the descendents of Pahath-moab, namely the descendents of Jeshua and Joab, two thousand eight hundred twelve. There were the descendents of Elam, one thousand two hundred fifty-four. There were the descendents of Zattu, nine hundred forty-five. There were the descendents of Zaccai, seven hundred sixty. There were the descendents of Bani, six hundred forty-two. There were the descendents of Bebai, six hundred twenty-three. There were the descendents of Azgad, one thousand two hundred twenty-two. There were the descendents of Adonikam, six hundred sixty-six. There were the descendents of Bigvai, two thousand fifty-six. There were the descendents of Adin, four hundred fifty-four. There were the descendents of Ater, namely of Hezekiah, ninety-eight. There were the descendents of Bezai, three hundred twenty-three. There were the descendents of Jorah, one hundred twelve.  There were the descendents of Hashum, two hundred twenty-three.”

Here we have a listing of the heads of the families with the number of people that were returning with them. There is a similar list in Nehemiah, chapter 7. Once again, these were the well to do leaders, not the poor who had stayed. They were listed by their important ancestors with very exact numbers, not rounded off. These groupings were large enough to form small towns or at least neighborhoods in cities. There must have been a recording of these names and people as they left. The Parosh folks had 2,172 people. Shephatiah was the name of one of King David’s son, but I do not think that this is him since there were only 372 of them. The Arah folks had 775 people. Pahath-moab literally means a sheik of Moab with 2,812 people. Elam here, one group had 1,254 people. There also was a territory name Elam, but that was over by Persia. Zattu had 945 people. There were 760 of the Zaccai people. There were a lot of Levites with the name of Bani, as they had 642 people. The Bebai people had 623. There were 1,222 Azgad people. Adonikam had the infamous number 666 people. There were a lot of Bigvai people, 2,056, but there were only 454 Adin people. The Ater group was only 98 gatekeepers. 323 Bezai people returned. Jorah had only 112 people, while Hashum had 223 people.

King Jehoram (2 Chr 21:1-21:3)

“The son of King Jehoshaphat King Jehoram succeeded him. King Jehoram had six brothers named Azariah, Jehiel, Zechariah, Azariah, Michael, and Shephatiah. All these were the sons of King Jehoshaphat of Judah. Their father gave them many gifts, of silver, gold, and valuable possessions, together with fortified cities in Judah. However, he gave the kingdom to Jehoram, because he was the first-born.”

Although loosely based on 2 Kings, chapter 8, there was no mention of the six brothers of King Jehoram. (1) (4) Azariah is mentioned twice. There are a lot of biblical people with this name or something close to it. A child with the same name does not seem impossible. Ask George Foreman who named all his kids George. There were over 10 people with the same name as (2) Jehiel. There were over 27 people with the name of (3) Zechariah. There were only 11 people with the name of (5) Michael and 8 with the name of (6) Shephatiah. They had plenty of gifts from their father, plus they were in charge of fortified cities in Judah. However, Jehoram was the oldest and therefore became king.