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©Kris Gerbrandt

Chapter 8:24-36 (ESV)

Posted on October 19, 2023  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 8:24-36 (ESV) - Then I set apart twelve of the leading priests: Sherebiah, Hashabiah, and ten of their kinsmen with them. And I weighed out to them the silver and the gold and the vessels, the offering for the house of our God that the king and his counselors and his lords and all Israel there present had offered. I weighed out into their hand 650 talents of silver, and silver vessels worth 200 talents, and talents of gold, 20 bowls of gold worth 1,000 darics, and two vessels of fine bright bronze as precious as gold. And I said to them, “You are holy to the Lord, and the vessels are holy, and the silver and the gold are a freewill offering to the Lord, the God of your fathers. Guard them and keep them until you weigh them before the chief priests and the Levites and the heads of fathers' houses in Israel at Jerusalem, within the chambers of the house of the Lord.” So the priests and the Levites took over the weight of the silver and the gold and the vessels, to bring them to Jerusalem, to the house of our God.

Then we departed from the river Ahava on the twelfth day of the first month, to go to Jerusalem. The hand of our God was on us, and he delivered us from the hand of the enemy and from ambushes by the way. We came to Jerusalem, and there we remained three days. On the fourth day, within the house of our God, the silver and the gold and the vessels were weighed into the hands of Meremoth the priest, son of Uriah, and with him was Eleazar the son of Phinehas, and with them were the Levites, Jozabad the son of Jeshua and Noadiah the son of Binnui. The whole was counted and weighed, and the weight of everything was recorded.

At that time those who had come from captivity, the returned exiles, offered burnt offerings to the God of Israel, twelve bulls for all Israel, ninety-six rams, seventy-seven lambs, and as a sin offering twelve male goats. All this was a burnt offering to the Lord. They also delivered the king's commissions to the king's satraps and to the governors of the province Beyond the River, and they aided the people and the house of God.

Question to consider: Why does Ezra divide the silver, gold and vessels among twelve of the leading priests?

The thing that sets scripture apart from every human philosophy or religion is the diagnosis of our sinful condition before God, and His remedy for it. The prevailing view of the world is that people are basically good, and if given the proper education and environment, we will generally seek to do what is “right” — even though the world rejects what God has called “right” and seems to redefine what “right” is according to whatever mood the current culture experiences. Because of this prevailing view, generations of people hold out hope that we can elect altruistic leaders who can rightly handle the power which has been given to them. To date, the idea of a benevolent dictator or oligarchy has yet to be anything other than a complete disaster.

I’d argue that our longing for a righteous king is put in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who wants us to come to Christ. However, the only governing model that can work in this sinful world is one which builds in checks and balances to keep those in authority accountable for their actions. Over the course of my life in the USA, I’ve witnessed the growing corruption of those who are supposed to be serving our country because they have found ways to circumvent the structures which were created to keep those checks and balances in place.

Ezra understood the corrupt nature of man, and so he assembled a group of leaders from among the most honorable of the priests and evenly distributed the responsibility of guarding the treasures entrusted to them. As an added check to this balance, Ezra weighed out the treasure before and after the trip to verify that nothing went missing along the way. In calling these men “holy to the Lord”, he meant that they had been set apart for the Lord’s task. Even though they were honored among the priests, the announcement that God had set them apart for this work brought a level of fear and reverence to the task, for they would know that they would have to give an account to God for how they carried out their calling.

Even though Ezra had faith that God would bring them safely to Jerusalem, the people took their assigned tasks seriously, and their response upon arrival was to offer sacrifices to the Lord. Though this is a descriptive text, I believe it to be a good example of how we are to carry out our assigned vocations in life. We trust God to keep us in our task, but we know and do our part in it, and ultimately live with a spirit of gratitude and praise. Once they were able to distribute the king’s edict, they could trust that the surrounding peoples would be there to assist them rather than sabotage or take advantage of them.


Dear heavenly Father, please help us to serve You with gratitude and praise as we carry out the vocations You have given us to the best of our ability. Thank You for giving us brothers and sisters in Christ and kind neighbors to help us along the way. Amen.