“Here is the list of the Jewish exiles of the provinces who returned from their captivity. King Nebuchadnezzar had deported them to Babylon, but now they returned to Jerusalem and the other towns in Judah where they originally lived.” Ezra 2:1
This list names the heads of families, with the numbers of the men of those families. It means that the total number of people would be more, because they are listed and counted by heads of families. The thousands of home comers are not lumped together, but related to those local and family circles which humanize a society and orientate an individual. Such is God’s way, who ‘setteth the solitary in families’ “God places the lonely in families; he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy. But he makes the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.” (Psalm 68:6)
The long lists of names given in Scripture, including the genealogies, may not be interesting to the average reader, but they’re very important to the history of God’s people. Unless there’s an inheritance involved, most people today are more concerned about the behavior of their descendants than the bloodline of their ancestors, but that wasn’t true of the Old Testament Jews. It was necessary for them to be able to prove their ancestry for many reasons. To begin with, unless you could prove your ancestry, you couldn’t enter into the rights and privileges of the Jewish nation, of which there were many. The Israelites were a covenant people with an important God-given task to fulfill on earth, and they couldn’t allow outsiders to corrupt them. Furthermore, the Jews returning to Judah couldn’t reclaim their family property unless they could prove their lineage. Of course, it was especially important in the life of Jesus, because God promised that the Messiah would come out of the descendants of David and Abraham. “This is a record of the ancestors of Jesus the Messiah, a descendant of David and of Abraham:” (Matthew 1:1)
We have lost the importance of family in our society today. Most of us don’t know anything about our genealogies. I have lost most of my genealogies, but I do know that I had a praying grandmother and I don’t know where I would be without her prayers.