Ezra/Nehemiah list totals
Ezra 2:64—”Both Ezra 2:64 and Nehemiah 7:66 agree that the totals for the whole assembly was 42,360, yet when the totals are added, Ezra equals 29,818 and Nehemiah equals 31,089.”
[As stated above, Nehemiah is simply recording faithfully the numbers he found written on some genealogical register, not vouching for their accuracy ( .”.I found a register of the genealogy of those who had come up in the first return. This is what I found written there:” ). He is being a good historian in not trying to alter a direct quotation. So our primary focus is on the discrepancy in Ezra between the sum total of 29,818 and the “whole assembly together” number of 42,360.]
The obvious answer is that Nehemiah is including in his total 12,542 people whom he chose not to mention in categories or clans, for whatever reason. If the total were less than the sum, we would have a problem, but not as it stands. Nowhere does he claim that the “whole assembly together” figure of 42,360 represents specifically the sum of just the numbers he mentioned thus far. The missing 12,542 people may have been the male children not counted as “men” in the clan register. We know that the clan numbers refer only to the adult men over 12 years of age , as indicated by the use of the word “אישׁ” (“men, male”) in verse 2. The historian Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews, book 11, ch. 3, para. 10) also states that the populace returning from the Exile was counted “above the age of 12 years.” Another commentator suggests that the unmentioned 12,542 people were various other tribes of Israel who weren’t normally associated with the Southern Kingdom tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and Levi and so they were not broken down by number or clan. Whatever their identity, it is quite reasonable to assume that Nehemiah had a good reason not to mention them.
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