These are the children of the province - That is, of Judea; once a kingdom, and a flourishing nation; now a province, subdued, tributary, and ruined! Behold the goodness and severity of God! Some think Babylon is meant by the province; and that the children of the province means those Jews who were born in Babylon. But the first is most likely to be the meaning, for thus we find Judea styled, Ezra 5:8. Besides, the province is contradistinguished from Babylon even in this first verse, The children of the province - that had been carried away unto Babylon.
The province - Judaea was no longer a kingdom, but a mere “province” of Persia. “The children of the province” are the Israelites who returned to Palestine, as distinct from those who remained in Babylonia and Persia.
Every one unto his city - That is, to the city whereto his forefathers had belonged. Of course, in the few cases where this was not known Ezra 2:59-62, the plan could not be carried out.
Two other copies of the following list have come down to us - one in Nehemiah 7:7-69, and the other in 1 Esdras 5:8-43. All seem to have been taken from the same original document, and to have suffered more or less from corruption. Where two out of the three agree, the reading should prevail over that of the third.
“The chief of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests, and the Levites, with all them whose spirit God had raised”—these were the goodly remnant, about fifty thousand strong, from among the Jews in the lands of exile, who determined to take advantage of the wonderful opportunity offered them “to go up to build the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem.” Their friends did not permit them to go empty-handed. “All they that were about them strengthened their hands with vessels of silver, with gold, with goods, and with beasts, and with precious things.” And to these and many other voluntary offerings were added “the vessels of the house of the Lord, which Nebuchadnezzar had brought forth out of Jerusalem; ... even those did Cyrus king of Persia bring forth by the hand of Mithredath the treasurer, ... five thousand and four hundred” in number, for use in the temple that was to be rebuilt. Ezra 1:5-11. PK 559.2
Upon Zerubbabel (known also as Sheshbazzar), a descendant of King David, Cyrus placed the responsibility of acting as governor of the company returning to Judea; and with him was associated Joshua the high priest. The long journey across the desert wastes was accomplished in safety, and the happy company, grateful to God for His many mercies, at once undertook the work of re-establishing that which had been broken down and destroyed. “The chief of the fathers” led out in offering of their substance to help defray the expense of rebuilding the temple; and the people, following their example, gave freely of their meager store. See Ezra 2:64-70. PK 559.3Read in context »