e-1 The Number of Hebrews Returning from the Exile in Babylon
Nehemiah 7:66 & Ezra 2:64
Skeptics note that the total number of Hebrews returning from exile in Babylon is the same in the two passages, 42,360 souls, but criticize differences in the numbers of the constituents of the total number that don’t add up to 42,360 in either verse. Well the clue to the problem is the very fact that the total is the same in both books, which tells us that constituents are noted in different ways. The truth of this appears on the web site, gracethrufaith.com (Solving the Ezra Nehemiah Controversy), in that Nehemiah lists 1765 people not listed in Ezra, and Ezra lists 494 people not listed in Nehemiah. Adding Nehemiah’s 1765 to Ezra’s total number of constituents and adding Ezra’s 494 to Nehemiah’s total number of constituents produces a total 31,583 in each book to further illustrate agreement of the two accounts. There are 10,777 souls that don't appear on either list, and agreement is further indicated in that every family name appears on both lists.
In many cases the number of souls belonging to each listed family varies somewhat between the two lists so that not all persons present were included in each list. Thus constituents were counted in different ways in each list, and a likely reason would be differences in roles that a family and its constituents would fulfill in rebuilding the nation. Certain persons would be listed according to those roles that Ezra and his associates specified as important to census takers, and those perceived by Nehemiah and his associates as important would add up to a greater number overall, and this is indicated by the lack of specifying the identity of 10,777 souls. This matter isn't a contradiction, but a difference in the way constituents were counted in the total.