New Defender's Study Bible Notes
8:1 them that went up with me. In Ezra 8:3-14 are listed 1496 males, to which were added the 258 Levites and Nethinims listed in Ezra 8:18-20. To this number should be added the women and children, so that the total number of people in the caravan could have been 7,000 or more. The journey ahead, from Babylon to Jerusalem, would occupy at least four months, including the twelve days they would spend in preparation before starting out. Compare Ezra 7:9; 8:31.
8:17 Nethinims. See note on Nehemiah 11:21.
8:22 I was ashamed. Ezra’s example here is worth noting in relation to the carrying out of Christian ministries today, relying not on secular influence or political enforcement for the accomplishment of his goal, but on God alone. After genuine submission to God, accompanied by fasting and prayer, and for the sake of a consistent spiritual testimony before the king, they proceeded in faith, and God honored this with His full protection during a long and dangerous journey (Ezra 8:31).
8:31 he delivered us. As a testimony to his confidence that God would protect them, Ezra deliberately declined to request a military escort for the journey (Ezra 8:22). They would be carrying a great amount of material wealth with them (Ezra 7:15-23; 8:25-30), and there was real danger of robbery along the way. Ezra therefore proclaimed a time of fasting and prayer before beginning the long journey (Ezra 8:21-23), and God did indeed protect them all the way.
8:35 twelve bullocks. The fact that twelve bullocks were offered “for all Israel” would indicate that all twelve tribes were represented among the exiles who returned from Babylon. Modern “Jews” descended from them, therefore, include all the tribes, not just Judah, Benjamin and Levi, as some think.