NEHEMIAH CHAPTER 12.
Lists of Priests and Levites. The Dedication of the Walls.
PRIESTS AND LEVITES WHO CAME UP WITH ZERUBBABEL. — V. 1. Now, these are the priests and the Levites that went up with Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua, in the preceding century, the names being taken from ancient records: Seraiah, Jeremiah, Ezra, v. 2. Amariah, Malluch, Hattush, v. 3. Schechaniah (or Shebaniah), Rehum (or Harim), Meremoth (or Meraioth), v. 4. Iddo, Ginnetho, Abijah, v. 5. Miamin, Maadiah, Bilgah, v.6. Shemaiah, and Joiarib, Jedaiah, v. 7. Sallu (or Sallai), Amok, Hilkiah, Jedaiah. These were the chief of the priests and of their brethren in the days of Joshua, the heads of the courses which remained of the twenty-four into which the priesthood was divided at the time of David, 1 Chron. 24, 1-20. The four courses which had returned from the captivity had either been increased by later additions or had been subdivided, those not appearing in the list being such as had become extinct during the exile. No significance should be attached to the names, since the identity with those of a later day is often accidental. V. 8. Moreover, the Levites: Joshua, Binnul, Kadmid, Sherebiah, ludah, and Mattaniah, which was over the thanksgiving, the choirmaster, or the leader in striking up the psalms of thanksgiving, as sung in the Temple services, he and his brethren. V. 9. Also Bakbukiah and Unni, their brethren, were over against them in the watches, either stationed opposite them in the Temple or alternating with them in the office of guarding the Temple entrances. V. 10. And Jeshua begat Joiakim, Joiakim also begat Eliashib, and Eliashib begat Joiada, v. 11. and Joiada begat Jonathan, and Jonathan begat Jaddua. V. 12. And in the days of Joia-kim, who was high priest at the time when Nehemiah was governor, were priests, the chief of the fathers, the heads of the priestly courses: of Seraiah, Meraiah; of Jeremiah, Hananiah; v. 13. of Ezra, Meshullam; of Amariah, Jehohanan; v. 14. of Melicu, called Malluch above, Jonathan; of Shebaniah, Joseph; v. 15. of Harim, called Rehum above, Adna; of Meraioth, Helkai; v. 16. of Iddo, Zechariah; of Ginnethon, Meshullam; v. 17. of Abijah, Zichri; of Miniamin, of Moadiah, Piltai; v. 18. of Bilgah, Shammua; of Shemaiah, Jehonathan; v. 19. and of Joiarib, Mattenai; of Jedaiah, Uzzi; v. 20. of Sallai, Kallai; of Amok, Eber; v. 21. of Hilkiah, Hashabiah; of Jedaiah, Nethaneel. It seems, then, that the course of Hattush became extinct, and that the name of the representative of Miniamin has dropped out. V. 22. The Levites in the days of Eliashib, Joiada, and Johanan (called Jonathan above), and Jaddua were recorded chief of the fathers, they were entered into the registers under the names of their chiefs until the time of Alexander the Great; also the priests, to the reign of Darius the Persian. V. 23. The sons of Levi, the chief of the fathers, were written in the book of the chronicles, the public registers in which the genealogical lists were kept, even until the days of Johanan, the son of Eliashib. V. 24. And the chief of the Levites: Hashabiah, Sherebiah, and Jeshua, the son of Kadmiel, with their brethren over against them, leaders of the singers among the Levites, to praise and to give thanks, according to the commandment of David, the man of God, 1 Chron. 23 to 26, ward over against ward, as in verse 9. V. 25. Mattaniah, and Bakbukiah, Obadiah, Meshullam, Talmon, Akkub, were porters, although the names of some singers are included, keeping the ward at the thresholds of the gates, at the chambers for storage attached to the various gates, where the people could immediately deposit their gifts. V. 26. These were in the days of Jehoiakim, the son of Joshua, the son of Jozadak, that is, when Jehoiakim was high priest, and in the days of Nehemiah, the governor, and of Ezra, the priest, the scribe. To hold office as priest or Levite it was necessary that a man could prove his descent from Levi. At the present time the call of the congregation is necessary in order that a man may officiate as preacher or teacher.
THE WALLS DEDICATED. — V. 27. And at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem, at the formal celebration following its completion, they sought the Levites out of all their places, since they were scattered throughout the province, chap. 11, 20. 36, to bring them to Jerusalem, to keep the dedication with gladness, both with thanksgivings and with singing, with cymbals, psalteries, and with harps, with psalms of praise accompanied by instruments, as used in the Temple orchestra. V. 28. And the sons of the singers, the guild, or company, of singers as taken from the Levitical families, gathered themselves together, both out of the plain country round about Jerusalem, that is, from the surrounding villages, and from the villages of Netophathi, a town near Bethlehem, where the singers seem to have settled; v. 29. also from the house of Gilgal, Beth-gilgal, also near Bethlehem, and out of the fields of Geba and Azmaveth, both of these towns apparently north of Jerusalem; for the singers had builded them villages round about Jerusalem, within easy walking distance of the capital. V. 30. And the priests and the Levites purified themselves and purified the people and the gates and the wall, most likely by a series of prescribed sacrifices and such other ceremonies as the Law and custom demanded. V. 31. Then I brought up the princes of Judah upon the wall, and appointed two great companies of them that gave thanks, literally, “two great thanksgivings,” whereof one went on the right hand upon the wall, starting out from the Valley Gate and headed by the one company of singers, toward the Dung Gate, to the south; v. 32. and after them went Hoshaiah and half of the princes of Judah, as Nehemiah had arranged the procession, v. 33. and Azariah, Ezra, and Meshullam, v. 34. Judah, and Benjamin, and Shemaiah, and Jeremiah, v. 35. and certain of the priests’ sons with trumpets, the blowing of which was a special priestly privilege; 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; v. 36. and his brethren: Shemaiah, and Azarael, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethaneel, and Judah, Hanani, with the musical instruments of David, the man of God, those chosen and invented by David for the Temple orchestra, and Ezra, the scribe, before them. Thus the procession went to the south and then turned to the east. V. 37. And at the Fountain Gate, which was over against them, near the Pool of Siloam, they went up by the stairs of the City of David, leaving the wall at the Tower of Siloam, at the going up of the wall, above the house of David, ascending the stairs where the wall loomed up above the house of David, even unto the Water Gate eastward, which seems to have been a gate in the inner wall. This company had thus passed along and viewed the entire southern half of the city wall. V. 38. And the other company of them that gave thanks went over against them, starting out in the opposite direction from the Valley Gate, or that of Jaffa, and I after them, and the half of the people upon the wall, from beyond the tower of the furnaces, that is, past this tower, even unto the Bread Wall, beyond the corner gate on the northwest; v. 39. and from above the Gate of Ephraim, near the northwestern corner of the city, and above the old gate, almost at the northeastern corner, and above the Fish Gate, in the eastern wall, north of the Temple mount, and the Tower of Hananeel, and the Tower of Meah, these two structures bearing the names of their builders, even unto the Sheep Gate, which was in the eastern wall, near the Temple; and they stood still in the Prison Gate, the high gate at the end of the inner wall, to which point the other company had progressed, at the bridge spanning the Tyropoeon Valley. V. 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; v. 41. and the priests: Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Michaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah, and Hananiah, with trumpets; v. 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, the leader of the chorus. V. 43. Also that day they offered great sacrifices, thank-offerings combined with a great sacrificial feast, and rejoiced; for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the wives also and the children rejoiced, so that the joy of Jerusalem, the shouting and singing and the reports of the glad rejoicing, was heard even afar off. All the services of the Christians express the joy of their hearts over the salvation in Jesus Christ and over the many blessings which the Lord gives them even here in time.
CERTAIN OFFICERS APPOINTED. — V. 44. And at that time, at the Festival of the Dedication, were some appointed over the chambers for the treasures, the cells or rooms where the gifts to the Temple were stored, for the offerings, for the first-fruits, and for the tithes, to gather into them out of the fields of the cities, the tilled ground surrounding the various towns, the portions of the Law, the delivery of which the Law required, for the priests and Levites; for Judah rejoiced for the priests and for the Levites that waited, the joy of the people evidenced itself also in their willingness to care properly for the ministers of the Lord who stood at their posts, performing their tasks as commanded by God. V. 45. And both the singers and the porters kept the ward of their God, performing their appointed duties, and the ward of their purification, attending also to the duties of purifying, according to the commandment of David and of Solomon, his son, 1 Chron. 25 and 26. V. 46. For in the days of David and Asaph of old there were chief of the singers, 2 Chron. 29, 30, and songs of praise and thanksgiving unto God, and the purpose of Nehemiah was to restore the entire Temple service to its original beauty and completeness. V. 47. And all Israel in the days of Zerubbabel and in the days of Nehemiah gave the portions of the singers and the porters, the dues intended for their maintenance, every day his portion; and they sanctified holy things unto the Levites, brought in their consecrated or dedicated gifts; and the Levites sanctified them unto the children of Aaron, the priests, the Levites turning over to the priests the tithe of the gifts which were dedicated to them and entrusted to their care. It augurs well for the work of the Church if all its members rejoice for the Lord’s ministers and willingly take upon them the maintenance of the servants of the Word. The sacrifice of the lips is well-pleasing to the Lord only when supported by the sacrifice of the hands.