The children of Jericho, three hundred forty and five.
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“All to their own towns,” because they certainly lived in each of their towns, as they all belonged to Jerusalem and Judah in general. Therefore Jerusalem signifies the universal state of the holy church, which is all over the world. The towns, which belong to Jerusalem, signify each of the virtues of the faithful, in which they are defended from the temptations and attacks of the evil spirits as in a fortress made of different towns. Finally the towns, in which lived those who had come to Jerusalem and Judah from the exile, may be interpreted as the different churches of Christ, by all of which together the one universal church is formed.
“Now these were the people of the province who came from those captive exiles.…” The text calls them children of the province of Judah, and not of Babylon. Indeed, not only those who had migrated from Judah to Babylon belonged to it, but also those who were born in Babylon from their stock. Even though they were bodily born in Babylon, they longed with all their heart for Judah and Jerusalem. And the one who represented them was their distinguished leader Zerubbabel, who showed with his name that he was born in Babylon but demonstrated with his intentions and actions that he was a citizen of Jerusalem. In a different sense, they are the children of the church, the children of the heavenly homeland, not only those who have been already imbued with the sacraments of the church but also those who have erred among the impious for a long time but have been chosen for life before the centuries by divine election and in time are to be consecrated to the mysteries of divine grace.