1 Now these are the children of the province that went up out of the captivity, of those which had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away unto Babylon, and came again unto Jerusalem and Judah, every one unto his city;
The restoration from Babylon
The Commonwealth of Israel continued in vassalage to Babylon, Persia, Grecia, till B. C. 165, being 430 years from the desolation of the city, B. C. 595.
It then became independent under the Asmonean dynasty during 129 years, when it became subject to the Romans, who set up the Idumean, or Herodian race of kings. Under these the Shiloh was born.
Afterwards, Judea was converted into a procuratorship. The sceptre had departed from Judea and been transferred to the Romans.
The Levitical authorities arraigned the Christ before Pilate, and extorted the sentence of death against him. He was crucified, and in about 37 years after, the Romans took away the daily; cast down the place of its sanctuary; destroyed the city; cast down the truth to the ground; destroyed the mighty and the holy people; and carried them captive into all nations; where they still remain, waiting for 'the restitution of all things' belonging to their nation. Dan. 8:11, 22, 24: 9:26; Luke 21:24.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Mar 1851
2 Which came with Zerubbabel: Jeshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispar, Bigvai, Rehum, Baanah. The number of the men of the people of Israel:
When Zerubbabel began this first wave of the return, only the most zealous, the most committed, the most fervent, journeyed with him. The promise of the prophet had come to pass, 10 and with the advancing of the years, many of the captives had settled into the comfort and contentment of houses and gardens, families and fortunes, amidst the peace of Babylon.
It was easy to have every excuse why now was not a suitable time to leave and return to a land of uncertainty and doubt. Many found such reasons evidence enough to stay, and assuaged their guilt by generous gifts and bequests to those who decided to undertake the rigours of the journey. But only those who were passionate for the Truth, and who nurtured a clear sense of their spiritual purpose, would leave all behind to journey to the place of the sanctuary.
The House of Asaph would go. But then there was never any doubt. Their lives had never lost the spirit of pilgrimage. Their family had never forgotten that they were in a strange land. Their heart was always to return to the house of God. No singers from the houses of Heman or Jeduthun were recognised in the list of those who took this journey. 11 This family alone would fulfil the vow of the psalm of their captivity, never to forget "Jerusalem above [their] chief joy".
The House of Asaph were unique in their dedication as the singers. This was the family, and these were the ones, in whom the true worship ofYahweh would be preserved. They joined this aliyah of Zerubbabel, carrying in their bags the precious instruments and in their minds the precious words of the temple songs. When they were needed, they would be ready.
The entire company who journeyed might have been but a tithe of the captivity, but they represented the offering of the best to Yahweh. Poor in substance, 12 but rich in faith, they were true to the principle that, often, those least able to give will give the most, for this fervent band of the willing-hearted lost no time on arrival in immediately giving of their ability to set up the house of God in its place. 13
10 Jeremiah 29:5-7.
11 Note that, in the list of those who returned under Zerubbabel, the singers
were exclusively from the House of Asaph. No one of Heman or Jeduthun were mentioned, but Asaph alone (Ezra 2:41). That it was only this family who returned at this point is confirmed by the subsequent record (3:10).
12 A comparison of the numbers for the people and their beasts of burden gives the surprising result ofless than one animal for every six people (Ezra 2:64-67). Given that they were returning with all their possessions and over five thousand temple vessels, they were clearly not wealthy.
13 Ezra 2:68-70.
The House of Asaph Ch 10
62 These sought their register among those that were reckoned by genealogy, but they were not found: therefore were they, as polluted, put from the priesthood.
63 And the Tirshatha said unto them, that they should not eat of the most holy things, till there stood up a priest with Urim and with Thummim.
The second generation of Levi in the wilderness had observed the divine word, but the covenant referred to they have not yet kept.
Levi after the flesh has been in apostasy for ages, and will continue to be so until "Yahweh, the Messenger of the Covenant," shall come. When the time appointed arrives, he will suddenly come in, and proceed to the work of purifying the sons of Levi, that they may offer unto Yahweh an offering in righteousness (Mal. iii. 1-4). From this future time, "they will keep the covenant," even the New Covenant, of which Jesus, not Moses, is the Mediator.
Then, when Yahweh-Christ, the Branch of Righteousness, shall sit upon the throne of his father David, and execute judgment and righteousness in the land of Israel, "the priests the Levites shall not want a man before me," saith the Spirit by Jeremiah, "to offer burnt-offerings, and to kindle meat offerings, and to do sacrifice continually" (xxxiii. 15-18).
When Levi, then, is in this purified condition contemporary with the reign of the Lamb and the 144,000, Levi's Urim and Thummim will be, as Moses testifies, "of the Holy Man," who will then be their High Priest after the order of Melchisedec. He will not need to wear on his breast such Urim and Thummim as Aaron wore. The Lights and Fulnesses will be of himself, He being Deity Incarnately Manifested; for "it pleased the Father that in him all fulness dwell" (Col. i. 19).
Ezra and Nehemiah, doubtless, understood that a priest was to stand up, in and from whom the reality signified by the Aaronic Urim and Thummim should proceed. This appears from Ezra ii. 63; Neh. vii. 65. In these places we learn that certain priests sought their genealogy in the register, but it could not be found;
"therefore were they, as polluted, put from the priesthood; and the Tirshatha said to them, that they should not eat of the most holy things until there stood the Priest kakkohain, for Urim and Thummim."
Although they were thus excluded from the priesthood, yet, if they were Israelites of faith, when the Priest who shall himself be Urim and Thummim shall stand in the temple Ezekiel describes, they, having risen from the dead, will be permitted to eat of the most holy things in the Paradise or kingdom of the Deity.