If 42,360 exiles returned to Judah, how many stayed in Babylon? (Ezra 2:64) 64 The whole company numbered 42,360, 65 besides their 7,337 male and female slaves; and they also had 200 male and female singers.
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I'm not sure that it's possible to definitively say how many members of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin remained in Babylon. The number mentioned by Ezra as returning was far less than the combined total of the men of military age from the two tribes mentioned in the second census in the book of Numbers, which was 122,100 (Numbers 26:22,41). (Of course, the tribe of Benjamin had also been nearly eradicated by the events described in Judges 19-21.) Even so, however, it would appear that many members of the two tribes chose to remain behind in Babylon, for which I can think of a number of possible motives, such as: 1) the fairly lengthy time of the Babylonian exile (seventy years, spanning multiple generations), which would have meant that the great majority of the exiles would never have known any other life or home, and thus might have been unwilling to leave just on that basis; 2) some of the Jews might have obtained status under Nebuchadnezzar, his successors, or the Medo/Persian kings who conquered and ruled Babylon (such as described in the book of Daniel), that would have led to their remaining behind; 3) the perils of the journey itself, and also the dangers and difficulty (plus the sheer amount of work) that they would face in re-building Judah and Jerusalem, might have discouraged many; and 4) some might have stayed behind as a continuation of the same spirit of disobedience to God that originally prompted God to send them into exile.
The Biblical tallies of Judeans exiled to Babylon (2 Kings 24:14-16; Jeremiah 52:28-30) total about 15,000. Nevertheless, the numbers might represent only men of a certain standing, or maybe heads of families. Most claim that the 42,360 who returned to Jerusalem were a minority. Many more chose to stay in Babylon.
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