(with apologies to Billy Joel)
“The sons of Elam, 1,254.”
Ezra 2:7 ESV
“The sons of the other Elam, 1,254.”
Ezra 2:31 ESV
Through the Bible: Ezra 1-3
Have you ever been “the other” in a group of people? James is a pretty common name, so I’m in lots of crowds with other Jameses. In fact, when I first came to the church I serve, an eight year old boy named James informed me that he was James the First because he had been there longer.
There are lots of “others” in the Bible. There was James the Lesser, one of the disciples (Mark 15:40). There was the other Mary in Luke 24:10. There was “Judas, Not Iscariot” in John 14:22. Tradition is this Judas began to go by Jude so the early church would not confuse him with the other Judas. Which then, of course, made him the other Jude–the one that didn’t write the book of Jude.
And here, among the list of exiles who returned to Jerusalem from the Babylonian captivity, is “the other Elam.”
I don’t know why he’s the other Elam. Why isn’t the other Elam the other Elam? They both had the exact same number of descendants. So who decided that one was Elam and one was “the other Elam.” We will never know.
This morning, I was meditating on Ezra 2, and inexplicably, an old Billy Joel song called “The Entertainer” popped into my head. So, with apologies to Billy Joel, I wrote this tribute to the other Elam. And for any of us that have ever felt like “the other,” maybe this will be our anthem.
I am the other Elam, Ezra two, verse thirty-one, I get one verse in the Bible, one moment in the sun. Another Elam's with me, he's higher on the list Maybe more respected, maybe better connected Guess I could go on back to Babylon Prob'ly not even be missed. I am the other Elam, and my family's just as large Twelve hundred fifty four of us in the entourage Never thrown into a furnace, never saw a lion's den Spent just as long back in Babylon It was seventy years and a thousand tears Now I'm finally going home. I am the other Elam, and why should I be sad? I'm mentioned in the Bible, so I can't be all that bad. You'll never see me in a lesson, I'll never get a second look But God remembered me by the Euphrates Said "Get up and gone out of Babylon" And I wound up in the Book. If you're another Elam, and you're not sure where you stand Another weary exile from another far-off land. Then let me be your champion, and listen to my song God knows your name, 'cause we're all the same Jerusalem's ahead, Babylon is dead 'Cause it's not where you belong.
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