Ezra 2: First Returns

Scriptures: Ezra 2:68
by Jacob Abshire on January 8, 2024
The returning exiled Jews comprise leaders, families, villagers, priests, Levites, temple servants, and some unlisted individuals, and total resettlement numbers.


“Some of the heads of families, when they came to the house of the Lord that is in Jerusalem, made freewill offerings for the house of God, to erect it on its site” (Ezra 2:68).


Ezra 2 chronicles the inaugural repatriation of the Jewish exiles from Babylon to Israel, honing in on Jerusalem, inspired and moved by the divine prompting of God’s Spirit (Ez. 1:5). The passage itemizes the returnees, categorizing them into several distinct groups: the foremost leaders are listed first (2:2a), followed by the enumeration of family units (2:2b-20), the residents of various villages (2:21-25), the priests (2:36-39), the Levites along with those serving in the temple (Ez. 2:40-42), the temple servants (Ez. 2:43-58), and also those whose Jewish lineage was uncertain due to the absence of genealogical records (Ez. 2:59-63). Ezra concludes the tally by summing up the total number of those under Zerubbabel’s leadership as 42,360, alongside a contingent of servants and singers. The patriarchs of the families displayed their profound gratitude and commitment to the divine by making freewill offerings for the temple’s reconstruction, after which they settled back into their ancestral dwellings.

This spontaneous outpouring of contributions from the family heads reflects an authentic spirit of thankfulness and consecration towards God, reminiscent of the generosity witnessed in Exodus 36:5-7. Within this group of returnees were individuals who still vividly remembered the temple before its demise. Others, born during the exile, had no such memories to draw upon. Nonetheless, a deep-seated reverence for God’s sanctuary and an enduring connection to their ancestral land was a common thread, likely nurtured and transmitted across generations within each family. Therefore, the fathers’ religious heritage had become their children’s living faith, as demonstrated by their palpable enthusiasm and unwavering commitment.


The heads of the households in Ezra 2 exemplified zeal, responsibility, and proactive dedication in re-establishing God’s house among them. This account provides a parallel for contemporary believers. Because of Jesus, our bodies are now temples of the Holy Spirit, and the collective gathering of believers forms the Church. In emulation of their example, I am reminded that my fervor should match theirs in tending to the spiritual welfare of myself and those in my sphere of influence.

As a spiritual leader, I must not only understand but embrace and enact my role in nurturing the house of God, which extends beyond physical walls to the hearts and minds of His people. This calls for active participation in fostering a church community, prioritizing not mere discussion but tangible action. Moreover, engaging in this sacred work with a joyful spirit is crucial, as our service is ultimately unto the Lord. In this, I also find a calling to inspire and guide others to adopt a similar stance, contributing to the body of Christ with eager hands and cheerful hearts. In this collective effort, the spirit of those early returnees can be revived in our day as we build and strengthen the spiritual house of God together.


Lord, grant me the fortitude and devotion needed to build Your house within my life and for my family. Stir a sense of urgency and connection to the spiritual responsibilities You entrusted to me. As the shepherd of my home, grant me the wisdom and strength to lead my family in words and through a life lived with faithful example. Light my path so that I may guide my family into sincerely worshiping You. Open my eyes to the importance of family and personal worship so we may draw nearer to You through our collective and individual praises. Instill in me the vigor to be a man of decisive action, especially in the spiritual realms that govern our household. May my actions inspire my wife and children, fostering an environment where Your love and joy are abundant. Help me nurture my children a heartfelt love for service in Your kingdom so that they may grow to be cheerful laborers. Bless our efforts that our home might reflect Your grace and our lives a testament to Your transformative power.

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