Ezra 6:17 MEANING

Ezra 6:17
(17) Twelve he goats.--The people are not now "Judah" or "Judah and Benjamin," but "all Israel." On the Day of Atonement, on the new moons, and on all the great feasts the kid was the sin-offering for the people. But only here is one offered for each tribe.

Verse 17. - And offered... an hundred bullocks, two hundred rams, four hundred lambs. A poor offering, if it be compared, not alone with Solomon's (1 Kings 8:63), but even with Hezekiah's (2 Chronicles 30:24), or Josiah's (ibid. 35:7). Hundreds now take the place of the thousands offered under the old monarchy. A sin offering for all Israel. See comment on ver. 16. We may assume that some of every tribe had returned with Zerubbabel, and that consequently it was possible to regard the re-established people as "Israel" (comp. Nehemiah 11:20; Zechariah 8:13; Malachi 1:1); though, since the great majority were Jews, they were more commonly spoken of as "Judah" (Ezra 4:1, 6, 23; Ezra 5:1, 5; Ezra 6:7, 14; Zechariah 8:15, etc.). Zerubbabel, desirous of emphasising the nobler and grander view, made this solemn sin offering of twelve he-goats, one for each of the tribes. Ezra acted similarly when he brought the second colony (infra, Ezra 8:35).

6:13-22 The gospel church, that spiritual temple, is long in the building, but it will be finished at last, when the mystical body is completed. Every believer is a living temple, building up himself in his most holy faith: much opposition is given to this work by Satan and our own corruptions. We trifle, and proceed in it with many stops and pauses; but He that has begun the good work, will see it performed. Then spirits of just men will be made perfect. By getting their sins taken away, the Jews would free themselves from the sting of their late troubles. Their service was with joy. Let us welcome holy ordinances with joy, and serve the Lord with gladness.And offered, at the dedication of this house of God, an hundred bullocks, two hundred rams, four hundred lambs,.... Hecatombs of various sorts, which were always reckoned grand sacrifices, even among Heathens, of which Homer sometimes speaks; some of these were for burnt offerings, and others peace offerings, by way of thankfulness to God for the finishing of the temple; part of which belonging to the offerers, they feasted upon it with great gladness of heart:

and for a sin offering for all Israel, twelve he goats, according to the number of the tribes of Israel; for though the ten tribes were carried captive by Shalmaneser, yet, as before observed, there were some of them that remained in the land, and others that went and returned with the two tribes; and therefore a sin offering was made for them all, for the typical expiation of guilt contracted since they had been in an Heathen land, and, temple service had ceased.

Courtesy of Open Bible