No question — as we saw yesterday, it was an amazing fulfillment of prophecy that brought the Jews back from Babylon.
But as with anything that involves humans, problems existed. And one of the big problems was that, despite all the wonderful promises of restoration after the exile, many of the Jews did not want to return to the land of their ancestors. That is, they preferred to stay in Babylon.
Why would that be?
Read Ezra 8:1-15. Focus specifically on verse 15. What was the big concern here, and why would it be a concern for someone who wanted to re-establish the nation of Israel in its former homeland?
The fact is, not all the Jews in Babylon, including some Levites, wanted to return. Several factors could have been involved. Many of them had been born and brought up in the new land, and that was all they knew. Many might not have wanted to make the long and unquestionably dangerous trip back to a land that they had never known to begin with. Eventually, though, we know that they brought along enough Levites to minister in the Temple (see Thursday’s lesson), despite the challenges.
“By now, the Jews who remained in the land of exile had been there for almost a century and a half. Excavations of Nippur have brought to light numerous documents that show that many wealthy Jews lived in that region of Mesopotamia during the reign of Artaxerxes I. Hence, it may have been a difficult task for Ezra and his fellow leaders to convince as many to return as did accompany him. These returning colonists could expect only a hard pioneering life in the old homeland, with far fewer comforts than in Babylonia. In view of these considerations it is surprising to find that Ezra succeeded in persuading almost 2,000 families to cast in their lot with their brethren in the old homeland” – The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 3, p. 376.
|“We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22, NKJV). What does this tell us about the reality of trials and hardships for those who want to serve the Lord faithfully?|