Nehemiah Chapter 11-12
Memory verses for this week: Psa 96:9 O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth.
Introduction: In chapter 10, we covered the list of all those who signed the covenant with God and in the later part of the chapter, the restoration of the scriptural practices. While Chapter 11 is not short, it is much like chapter 10 with a listing of a number of people. We are going to ready chapter 11 and make a few comments, and then move on into chapter 12 this week.
Overview of Nehemiah 11: In Nehemiah 11 is record of the Jews, who moved into Jerusalem,
I. Jerusalem Once Again Becomes a Viable City
Neh 11:1 And the rulers of the people dwelt at Jerusalem: the rest of the people also cast lots, to bring one of ten to dwell in Jerusalem the holy city, and nine parts to dwell in other cities.
Neh 11:2 And the people blessed all the men, that willingly offered themselves to dwell at Jerusalem.
As the wall was completed, Jerusalem was once again a viable city, able to protect itself.
To this point, the returned restoration Jews had lived in outlying areas. Jerusalem had been without walls with only the reconstructed Temple in the city. It was determined “to bring one of ten to dwell in Jerusalem the holy city, and nine parts to dwell in other cities.” Evidently, at least ten percent of the people volunteered to dwell in Jerusalem.
J. Vernon McGee made a good point about how the people accepted their lot in the matter about staying in Jerusalem or moving to other surrounding cities.
The people cast lots. One out of every ten persons would stay in Jerusalem. The other nine would move to other cities. I guess the person who drew the shortest straw stayed in Jerusalem, and the other nine went out to make their homes in other places. This could be a situation in which there would be a lot of complaining. It would be a perfect opportunity for people to say, “Why did God let this happen to me? I would rather live in a small town or in the country.”
And the people blessed all the men, that willingly offered themselves to dwell at Jerusalem [Neh. 11:2].
There were many people who wanted to move out to the suburban areas even in that day. But for those who were willing to dwell in Jerusalem, they just thanked God for them. These folk are strangers to us, but God knew each one; and He records their names because they had willing hearts.
Neh 11:3 Now these are the chief of the province that dwelt in Jerusalem: but in the cities of Judah dwelt every one in his possession in their cities, to wit, Israel, the priests, and the Levites, and the Nethinims, and the children of Solomon's servants.
Neh 11:4 And at Jerusalem dwelt certain of the children of Judah, and of the children of Benjamin. Of the children of Judah; Athaiah the son of Uzziah, the son of Zechariah, the son of Amariah, the son of Shephatiah, the son of Mahalaleel, of the children of Perez;
Neh 11:5 And Maaseiah the son of Baruch, the son of Colhozeh, the son of Hazaiah, the son of Adaiah, the son of Joiarib, the son of Zechariah, the son of Shiloni.
Neh 11:6 All the sons of Perez that dwelt at Jerusalem were four hundred threescore and eight valiant men.
Neh 11:7 And these are the sons of Benjamin; Sallu the son of Meshullam, the son of Joed, the son of Pedaiah, the son of Kolaiah, the son of Maaseiah, the son of Ithiel, the son of Jesaiah.
Neh 11:8 And after him Gabbai, Sallai, nine hundred twenty and eight.
Neh 11:9 And Joel the son of Zichri was their overseer: and Judah the son of Senuah was second over the city.
Neh 11:10 Of the priests: Jedaiah the son of Joiarib, Jachin.
Neh 11:11 Seraiah the son of Hilkiah, the son of Meshullam, the son of Zadok, the son of Meraioth, the son of Ahitub, was the ruler of the house of God.
Neh 11:12 And their brethren that did the work of the house were eight hundred twenty and two: and Adaiah the son of Jeroham, the son of Pelaliah, the son of Amzi, the son of Zechariah, the son of Pashur, the son of Malchiah,
Neh 11:13 And his brethren, chief of the fathers, two hundred forty and two: and Amashai the son of Azareel, the son of Ahasai, the son of Meshillemoth, the son of Immer,
Neh 11:14 And their brethren, mighty men of valour, an hundred twenty and eight: and their overseer was Zabdiel, the son of one of the great men.
Neh 11:15 Also of the Levites: Shemaiah the son of Hashub, the son of Azrikam, the son of Hashabiah, the son of Bunni;
Neh 11:16 And Shabbethai and Jozabad, of the chief of the Levites, had the oversight of the outward business of the house of God.
Neh 11:17 And Mattaniah the son of Micha, the son of Zabdi, the son of Asaph, was the principal to begin the thanksgiving in prayer: and Bakbukiah the second among his brethren, and Abda the son of Shammua, the son of Galal, the son of Jeduthun.
Neh 11:18 All the Levites in the holy city were two hundred fourscore and four.
Neh 11:19 Moreover the porters, Akkub, Talmon, and their brethren that kept the gates, were an hundred seventy and two.
A listing of those who chose to locate in Jerusalem is recorded as a memorial of those who made the sacrificial move into the otherwise desolate city. While these names may not seem important, God saw each one as a person worthy of mention in the book of ages. If you know Christ as your Lord and Savior, you have your name written in the Lamb's Book of Life. Over in Revelations, it speaks of this in regards to the New Jerusalem where the Lord has prepared a place for us.
Rev 21:27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.
Neh 11:20 And the residue of Israel, of the priests, and the Levites, were in all the cities of Judah, every one in his inheritance.
Neh 11:21 But the Nethinims dwelt in Ophel: and Ziha and Gispa were over the Nethinims.
Neh 11:22 The overseer also of the Levites at Jerusalem was Uzzi the son of Bani, the son of Hashabiah, the son of Mattaniah, the son of Micha. Of the sons of Asaph, the singers were over the business of the house of God.
Neh 11:23 For it was the king's commandment concerning them, that a certain portion should be for the singers, due for every day.
Neh 11:24 And Pethahiah the son of Meshezabeel, of the children of Zerah the son of Judah, was at the king's hand in all matters concerning the people.
Neh 11:25 And for the villages, with their fields, some of the children of Judah dwelt at Kirjatharba, and in the villages thereof, and at Dibon, and in the villages thereof, and at Jekabzeel, and in the villages thereof,
Neh 11:26 And at Jeshua, and at Moladah, and at Bethphelet,
Neh 11:27 And at Hazarshual, and at Beersheba, and in the villages thereof,
Neh 11:28 And at Ziklag, and at Mekonah, and in the villages thereof,
Neh 11:29 And at Enrimmon, and at Zareah, and at Jarmuth,
Neh 11:30 Zanoah, Adullam, and in their villages, at Lachish, and the fields thereof, at Azekah, and in the villages thereof. And they dwelt from Beersheba unto the valley of Hinnom.
Neh 11:31 The children also of Benjamin from Geba dwelt at Michmash, and Aija, and Bethel, and in their villages,
Neh 11:32 And at Anathoth, Nob, Ananiah,
Neh 11:33 Hazor, Ramah, Gittaim,
Neh 11:34 Hadid, Zeboim, Neballat,
Neh 11:35 Lod, and Ono, the valley of craftsmen.
Neh 11:36 And of the Levites were divisions in Judah, and in Benjamin.
A record is also made of “the residue of Israel.” Note is made of the Nethinims dwelling in Ophel, a ridge once used as a military fortification on the east edge of the city. In verse 23 note is made that the king had made a commandment concerning the singing Levites that they should receive a salary. Some take the position that the king in question was David, while others think it was the king of Persia, desiring proper worship at the Temple. Also a Pethahiah is mentioned in verse 24 as an apparent ambassador in Persia to the king on behalf of the Jews. Note is then made of where the residue of Israel lived across the land apart from Jerusalem.
Overview of Nehemiah 12: Record is made of the priests and Levites who had come back in the initial return with Zerubbabel. Record is also made of the dedication of the completion of the wall.
II. The Priests and Levites that Returned.
Neh 12:1 Now these are the priests and the Levites that went up with Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua: Seraiah, Jeremiah, Ezra,
Neh 12:2 Amariah, Malluch, Hattush,
Neh 12:3 Shechaniah, Rehum, Meremoth,
Neh 12:4 Iddo, Ginnetho, Abijah,
Neh 12:5 Miamin, Maadiah, Bilgah,
Neh 12:6 Shemaiah, and Joiarib, Jedaiah,
Neh 12:7 Sallu, Amok, Hilkiah, Jedaiah. These were the chief of the priests and of their brethren in the days of Jeshua.
In this initial list, chief priests representing twenty-two of the original twenty-four orders of Levites are enumerated as having returned with Zerubbabel. See also Nehemiah 7:39-42 and Ezra 2:36-39.
Twenty-two only are enumerated here, and no more than twenty in Nehemiah 12:12-21. It may be that two of the twenty-four orders had become extinct in Babylon; for none belonging to them are reported as having returned.
Neh 12:8 Moreover the Levites: Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Sherebiah, Judah, and Mattaniah, which was over the thanksgiving, he and his brethren.
Neh 12:9 Also Bakbukiah and Unni, their brethren, were over against them in the watches.
Those significant Levites who returned with Zerubbabel are listed here. God chose the ones that were faithful that he wanted listed. We know many faithful old testament saints are listed in the book of faith, Hebrews chapter 11. We won't read that chapter for sake of time, but I do want to read what God had to say in summary about those at the end of chapter 11.
Heb 11:36 And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:
Heb 11:37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;
Heb 11:38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
Heb 11:39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:
Heb 11:40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.
Neh 12:10 And Jeshua begat Joiakim, Joiakim also begat Eliashib, and Eliashib begat Joiada,
Neh 12:11 And Joiada begat Jonathan, and Jonathan begat Jaddua.
Neh 12:12 And in the days of Joiakim were priests, the chief of the fathers: of Seraiah, Meraiah; of Jeremiah, Hananiah;
Neh 12:13 Of Ezra, Meshullam; of Amariah, Jehohanan;
Neh 12:14 Of Melicu, Jonathan; of Shebaniah, Joseph;
Neh 12:15 Of Harim, Adna; of Meraioth, Helkai;
Neh 12:16 Of Iddo, Zechariah; of Ginnethon, Meshullam;
Neh 12:17 Of Abijah, Zichri; of Miniamin, of Moadiah, Piltai;
Neh 12:18 Of Bilgah, Shammua; of Shemaiah, Jehonathan;
Neh 12:19 And of Joiarib, Mattenai; of Jedaiah, Uzzi;
Neh 12:20 Of Sallai, Kallai; of Amok, Eber;
Neh 12:21 Of Hilkiah, Hashabiah; of Jedaiah, Nethaneel.
We find here a listing of the succession of the high priests in the second Temple. In the historical records found in the book of Josephus, Josephus claims that the list continues to the time when Alexander the Great invaded the land. If that be the case, then another inspired chronicler other than Nehemiah must have compiled the list. This would be a direct refutation as to the author of the book of Nehemiah. I believe when faced with such a decision, we need to believe God and forgot these other prognosticators.
Rom 3:4 God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.
Neh 12:22 The Levites in the days of Eliashib, Joiada, and Johanan, and Jaddua, were recorded chief of the fathers: also the priests, to the reign of Darius the Persian.
Neh 12:23 The sons of Levi, the chief of the fathers, were written in the book of the chronicles, even until the days of Johanan the son of Eliashib.
Neh 12:24 And the chief of the Levites: Hashabiah, Sherebiah, and Jeshua the son of Kadmiel, with their brethren over against them, to praise and to give thanks, according to the commandment of David the man of God, ward over against ward.
Neh 12:25 Mattaniah, and Bakbukiah, Obadiah, Meshullam, Talmon, Akkub, were porters keeping the ward at the thresholds of the gates.
Listed are Levites “in the days of Eliashib” the third high priest of the second Temple. These priests continued to the “reign of Darius the Persian,” whom Alexander conquered. The reference to the “book of chronicles” in verse 23 is thought by some to refer to I Chronicles 9:14.
1 Chr 9:14 And of the Levites; Shemaiah the son of Hasshub, the son of Azrikam, the son of Hashabiah, of the sons of Merari;
Other divisions of Levites of the second Temple are listed included those who were charged “to praise and to give thanks, according to the commandment of David the man of God, ward over against ward” (verse 24). These were Levitical singers, the rotating of whose shifts (i.e., orders) was organized by David before the first Temple was built. Levitical porters (i.e. guards) are also noted who served in the days of days of “Nehemiah the governor, and of Ezra the priest, the scribe.”
III. The Dedication of the Wall
Neh 12:26 These were in the days of Joiakim the son of Jeshua, the son of Jozadak, and in the days of Nehemiah the governor, and of Ezra the priest, the scribe.
Neh 12:27 And at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought the Levites out of all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem, to keep the dedication with gladness, both with thanksgivings, and with singing, with cymbals, psalteries, and with harps.
Neh 12:28 And the sons of the singers gathered themselves together, both out of the plain country round about Jerusalem, and from the villages of Netophathi;
Neh 12:29 Also from the house of Gilgal, and out of the fields of Geba and Azmaveth: for the singers had builded them villages round about Jerusalem.
Neh 12:30 And the priests and the Levites purified themselves, and purified the people, and the gates, and the wall.
The preparations for the dedication of the wall are recorded. Levites were brought from throughout Judah to sing and provide musical accompaniment for the festivities at hand. The priests and Levites therefore made themselves ceremonially clean.
Neh 12:31 Then I brought up the princes of Judah upon the wall, and appointed two great companies of them that gave thanks, whereof one went on the right hand upon the wall toward the dung gate:
Neh 12:32 And after them went Hoshaiah, and half of the princes of Judah,
Neh 12:33 And Azariah, Ezra, and Meshullam,
Neh 12:34 Judah, and Benjamin, and Shemaiah, and Jeremiah,
Neh 12:35 And certain of the priests' sons with trumpets; namely, Zechariah the son of Jonathan, the son of Shemaiah, the son of Mattaniah, the son of Michaiah, the son of Zaccur, the son of Asaph:
Neh 12:36 And his brethren, Shemaiah, and Azarael, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethaneel, and Judah, Hanani, with the musical instruments of David the man of God, and Ezra the scribe before them.
Nehemiah brought up onto the finished wall the princes of Judah. He split them into two companies. It is evident he placed half on the western section of the wall and the other half on the eastern section.
The dung gate was at the southern extremity of the city where the western wall and the eastern wall met in a “V” pointing southward. There a gate was built to take refuse out into the valley of Hinnom which was adjacent thereto. The dedication of the wall began at its southern extremity, which also was its lowest elevation. The wall rose upward on both sides of the city to the north. The wall evidently was wide enough at the top that the respective companies could walk as a group or in formation thereon.
Neh 12:37 And at the fountain gate, which was over against them, they went up by the stairs of the city of David, at the going up of the wall, above the house of David, even unto the water gate eastward.
Neh 12:38 And the other company of them that gave thanks went over against them, and I after them, and the half of the people upon the wall, from beyond the tower of the furnaces even unto the broad wall;
Neh 12:39 And from above the gate of Ephraim, and above the old gate, and above the fish gate, and the tower of Hananeel, and the tower of Meah, even unto the sheep gate: and they stood still in the prison gate.
Neh 12:40 So stood the two companies of them that gave thanks in the house of God, and I, and the half of the rulers with me:
The fountain gate was located on the eastern wall, not far from the dung gate. It was near the pool of Siloam. These assembled officials of Judah began to ascend up the wall in elevation northward toward the water gate which was on the east wall and north of the fountain gate. In verse 38, it says the other company of officials began their tour of the western wall, continuing northward and upward to the gate of the furnaces (i.e., baker’s ovens). The two companies of princes of Judah ascended northward and upward along the rebuilt eastern and western walls of Jerusalem until they met at the northeast corner thereof by the sheep and prison gates.
They then assembled into the adjacent Temple and gave thanks to God as is recorded in verse 40.
Neh 12:41 And the priests; Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Michaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah, and Hananiah, with trumpets;
Neh 12:42 And Maaseiah, and Shemaiah, and Eleazar, and Uzzi, and Jehohanan, and Malchijah, and Elam, and Ezer. And the singers sang loud, with Jezrahiah their overseer.
Neh 12:43 Also that day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced: for God had made them rejoice with great joy: the wives also and the children rejoiced: so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off.
In the official dedication service at the Temple, the priests and Levites sang aloud with great joy. Many sacrifices were offered and they openly rejoiced “for God had made them rejoice with great joy.” The entire congregation of Judah thus cheered and rejoiced to such a degree “that the joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off.” Their singing, rejoicing, and cheering was heard for miles around Jerusalem. No doubt their enemies heard them as well.
John Gill in his commentary made note of how many different Levites and singers came to praise the Lord.
And at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought the Levites out of all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem, to keep the dedication with gladness, both with thanksgivings, and with singing, with cymbals, psalteries, and with harps. And the sons of the singers gathered themselves together, both out of the plain country round about Jerusalem, and from the villages of Netophathi; Also from the house of Gilgal, and out of the fields of Geba and
Azmaveth: for the singers had builded them villages round about Jerusalem. And the priests and the Levites purified themselves, and purified the people, and the gates, and the wall.
IV. The Officers of the Temple Settled.
Neh 12:44 And at that time were some appointed over the chambers for the treasures, for the offerings, for the firstfruits, and for the tithes, to gather into them out of the fields of the cities the portions of the law for the priests and Levites: for Judah rejoiced for the priests and for the Levites that waited.
Neh 12:45 And both the singers and the porters kept the ward of their God, and the ward of the purification, according to the commandment of David, and of Solomon his son.
Neh 12:46 For in the days of David and Asaph of old there were chief of the singers, and songs of praise and thanksgiving unto God.
Neh 12:47 And all Israel in the days of Zerubbabel, and in the days of Nehemiah, gave the portions of the singers and the porters, every day his portion: and they sanctified holy things unto the Levites; and the Levites sanctified them unto the children of Aaron.
Further structuring and ordering of the Temple ministry was implemented. The financial support system of the Temple was also reinstituted under the leadership of Nehemiah. The priests and Levites were restored as best as could be re- established into their original ‘orders’ and divisions. Levitical choirs were again organized and gatekeepers (i.e., porters) were again organized into their respective shifts even as David and Solomon had organized them centuries earlier. Also the system of greater Israel, bringing material and financial support to the Temple for the support of the Levites and priests on duty, was again re-established. The Levites ceremonially cleansed themselves for service at the Temple, in serving the priests.
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