Nehemiah 11 COMMENTARY (Pulpit)

Nehemiah 11
Pulpit Commentary
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.
Verse 1. - The rulers of the people dwelt at Jerusalem. Jerusalem was the residence of all the nobles from the first (see Nehemiah 2:16); no increase could be made in this element of the population. Nehemiah had to look lower, and to obtain his new settlers from the ranks of the "people." The people ... cast lots. No doubt under direction. The Jews had frequent recourse to the lot for the determining of doubtful matters, believing, as they did, that "the whole disposing thereof was of the Lord (Proverbs 16:33). Divine sanction had been given, in the course of the Jewish history, to the use of the lot for the selection of persons (Joshua 7:16-18 1 Samuel 10:19-21), for the distribution of lands (Numbers 26:25, 26), and for the determination of the order in which different bodies should execute an office (1 Chronicles 24:5; 1 Chronicles 25:8). In the democratic states of Greece it was used widely to determine between candidates for an office. One in ten. Ewald supposes that this was to be the proportion between the population of Jerusalem and the whole population of the country, and ascribes the fixing of the proportion to Zerubbabel ('History of Israel,' vol. 5. p. 159). But there is no statement to this effect in either Ezra or Nehemiah, and the brief narrative of this verse seems to imply the addition of a tenth part of the country population to the previous population of Jerusalem, rather than the establishment of any definite proportion between the two. Nine parts. Literally, "nine hands," as in Genesis 43:34; Genesis 47:24.
And the people blessed all the men, that willingly offered themselves to dwell at Jerusalem.
Verse 2. - The men that willingly offered themselves. Besides those on whom the lot fell, a certain number volunteered to change their residence and to transfer themselves and families from their country homes to Jerusalem. The people called down blessings upon them for their patriotism.
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.
Verse 3. - These are the chief of the province. A comparison is in the writer's mind between the Jews of Palestine and those of the great Persian capitals, Babylon and Susa, to which, as a Persian official, he himself properly belongs. Compare Nehemiah 1:3 and Ezra 2:1. That dwelt in Jerusalem. i.e. "that were entered in Nehemiah's census among the inhabitants of Jerusalem after the transfer of population had been made." The names which follow appear in most cases to be personal, but a certain number of them are names of families. In the cities of Judah dwelt every one in his possession. It follows that those who removed from the country districts to Jerusalem quitted their "possessions, often, it may be, exchanging riches for poverty, a comfortable house for one half in ruins (Nehemiah 7:4), and the life of a small landed proprietor for that of an artisan or hired labourer. Hence the "blessings" called down by the people on those who volunteered (ver. 2). Israel. Compare 1 Chronicles 9:3, where we find that among those who had returned were mere-bers of the two great Israelitish tribes, Manasseh and Ephraim. On the Nethinims, and the children of Solomon's servants, see the comment on Ezra 2:43, 55.
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;
Verse 4. - At Jerusalem dwelt certain of the children of Judah, and of the children of Benjamin. It is not meant that all the dwellers in Jerusalem were of these two tribes, since among them were certainly Levites (vers. 10-19), Ephraimites, and Mansesites (1 Chronicles 1. s. c.), together with Nethinims (ver. 21) who were of no tribe, and probably some representatives of all or most of the other tribes (see the comment on Ezra 2:70). But the present purpose of Nehemiah is to mention especially the Jewish and Benjamite chiefs. Athaiah, or Uthai, as the name is given in 1 Chronicles 9:4. The son of Uzziah. The ancestors assigned to Athaiah here and in 1 Chronicles 9. are wholly different, with the single exception of Pharez or Perez, the son of Judah. Both lists are of course abbreviations of a far longer one, and it has happened that the two writers have in no ease selected for mention the same name.
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.
Verse 5. - Maaseiah is called "Asaish" in 1 Chronicles, and designated simply as "the Shilonite, or descendant of Shelah, the youngest son of Judah. Zechariah, the son of Shiloni. Rather, "the Shilonite." The word ben, "son," has been intruded into the text by a copyist, who thought that "Shiloni" was a personal name.
All the sons of Perez that dwelt at Jerusalem were four hundred threescore and eight valiant men.
Verse 6. - Valiant men. Or, "fighting men"- men able to bear arms and serve in the wars.
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.
Verse 7. - And these are the sons of Benjamin. A verse equivalent to 1 Chronicles 9:6 would seem to have fallen out here. Nehemiah cannot have intended to leave out the descendants of Zerah, who formed more than one-half of the Jewish element in the population of Jerusalem, and furnished 690 fighting men. Sallu the son of Meshullam. Compare 1 Chronicles 9:7. The other names in the genealogy are different, the two writers singling out for mention different ancestors.
And after him Gabbai, Sallai, nine hundred twenty and eight.
Verse 8. - Neither Gabbai nor Sallai is mentioned in Chronicles, where the Benjamite chiefs inferior to Shallu are Ibneiah, Elah, and Meshullam (1 Chronicles 9:8). Nine hundred and twenty-eight. Nine hundred and fifty-six, according to Chronicles (1 Chronicles 9:9). Probably in one place or the other the figures have suffered corruption.
And Joel the son of Zichri was their overseer: and Judah the son of Senuah was second over the city.
Verse 9. - Their overseer. Probably the commandant of the city under Nehemiah. See 2 Kings 25:19, where pakid has this sense. Judah... was second. Next in authority to Joel.
Of the priests: Jedaiah the son of Joiarib, Jachin.
Verse 10. - Of the priests: Jedaiah the son of Joiarib, Jachin. Rather, "Of the priests, Jedaiah, Joiarib, Jachin." The word ben, "son," has once more accidentally crept in (comp. 1 Chronicles 9:10). The writer here passes from personal to famfiy names. Jedaiah and Joiarib were two of the chief priestly families, and are usually mentioned together (1 Chronicles 24:7; Nehemiah 12:6, 19, etc.). Jachin was a priestly family of much less distinction, descended probably from the head of the twenty-first course in David's time (1 Chronicles 24:17).
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.
Verse 11. - Seraiah (called "Azariah" in 1 Chronicles 9:11) designates the high priestly family of this time, as in Nehemiah 10:2; Nehemiah 12:1, 12. The "Seraiah" who gave name to it was probably the high priest taken prisoner by Nebu-zaradan, and put to death (2 Kings 25:18 - 21). The son of Hilkiah. Really the grandson (Ezra 7:1). The son of Meshullam. Or "Shallum" (ibid. ver. 2). The ruler of the house of God. i.e. the high priest; or, rather, the family which furnished the high priests at this time. The actual high priest was Eliashib, the son of Joiakim, and grandson of Jeshua (see Nehemiah 12:10; Nehemiah 13:4).
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,
Verse 12. - Their brethren that did the work of the house. The priests of ordinary rank, who - divided originally into twenty-four, but now apparently into twenty-two, courses (Nehemiah 12:2-7) - had the care of the temple service in turn, amounted to the large number of (822+242+ 128 - ) 1192 persons, of whom between fifty and sixty would be employed in some work connected with the service at one time. (The parallel passage of Chronicles raises the total to 1760.)
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,
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.
Verse 14. - Their brethren, mighty men of valour. Not "men of great courage," as Bp. Patrick explains, but "very able men for the work of the service of the house of God," as our translators render the parallel passage of Chronicles (1 Chronicles 9:13). Zabdiel, the son of one of the great men. Rather, as in the margin, "the son of Haggedolim."
Also of the Levites: Shemaiah the son of Hashub, the son of Azrikam, the son of Hashabiah, the son of Bunni;
Verses 15, 16. - Also of the Levites: Shemaiah. Compare 1 Chronicles 9:14. Shemaiah was a descendant of Merari. Together with Shabbethai and Jozabad (ver. 16), he had the superintendence of the outward business of the house of God; or, in other words, of its worldly affairs and money matters. As in the Christian Church a special order was appointed "to serve tables" (Acts 6:2-5), so in the Jewish the secular business of the temple was intrusted to a few carefully-selected persons of the inferior order of the ministry, who were known to have a special capacity for such matters (see 1 Chronicles 26:29).
And Shabbethai and Jozabad, of the chief of the Levites, had the oversight of the outward business of the house of God.
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.
Verse 17. - Mattaniah ... was the principal to begin the thanksgiving in prayer. i.e. the "leader of the choir," or "precentor." Bakbukiah was second to him among his brethren; i.e. was his chief assistant. Abda (or "Obadiah," 1 Chronicles 9:16) held the third place.
All the Levites in the holy city were two hundred fourscore and four.
Verse 18. - All the Levites... were two hundred fourscore and four. The small proportion borne by the Levites to the priests, which has been already noticed (see comment on Ezra 8:15), is here again apparent. They do not quite amount to one-third of the priests.
Moreover the porters, Akkub, Talmon, and their brethren that kept the gates, were an hundred seventy and two.
Verse 19. - The porters, Akkub, Talmon. On these familiar names, see the comment upon Ezra 2:42. An hundred and seventy-two. In 1 Chronicles 9:22 the number is said to have been 212.
And the residue of Israel, of the priests, and the Levites, were in all the cities of Judah, every one in his inheritance.
But the Nethinims dwelt in Ophel: and Ziha and Gispa were over the Nethinims.
Verse 21. - The Nethinims dwelt in Ophel. See above, ch. 3:26 Ophel, the southern prolongation of the temple hill, was a sort of suburb of Jerusalem, sometimes reckoned as part of the city, sometimes as distinct from it. It was a convenient position for the Nethinims, who were employed in menial offices about the temple. Ziha seems to represent the leading Nethinim family (Ezra 2:43; Nehemiah 7:46).
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.
Verse 22. - Properly, the whole of this verse forms a single sentence, and should run as follows: - "And the overseer of the Levites in Jerusalem, Huzzi, the son of Bani, the son of Hashabiah, the son of Mattaniah, the son of Micha, of the sons of Asaph the singers, was over the business of the house of God." As Shabbethai and Jozabad "had the oversight of the outward business" (ver. 16), so the internal business was under the superintendence of Huzzi, or Uzzi. Uzzi appears as taking part in the dedication of the wall (Nehemiah 12:42).
For it was the king's commandment concerning them, that a certain portion should be for the singers, due for every day.
Verse 23. - For it was the king's commandment concerning them. Artaxerxes, it appears, had assigned a certain stipend from the royal revenue for the support of such Levites as were singers, and this stipend had to be paid to them day by day. It is suggested as the grounds for this special favour -

1. That the Levites engaged in the choral service were regarded as those especially who prayed "for the life of the king and of his sons" (Ezra 6:10); and,

2. That the singing Levites who returned from Babylon, being so few in number (128), had to be constantly on duty in the temple, and so needed a regular daily stipend. The nexus of this verse with the preceding one imp!ice that the payment in question was an important part of the internal business of the house committed to Uzzi.
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.
Verse 24. - Pethahiah... of the children of Zerah. We have here an indication of the imperfection of the preceding catalogue, which has mentioned no descendants of Zerah among the Jews dwelling in Jerusalem, but made them all sons of Perez (ver. 6). As already observed, a verse equivalent to 1 Chronicles 6:9 must have fallen out between vers. 6 and 7 of this chapter. The exact office borne by Pethahiah cannot be determined; but he evidently held a confidential position, which made him an intermediary for certain purposes between the Persian king and the Jewish people. Perhaps he received and forwarded petitions and complaints.
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,
Verse 25. - And for the villages. Or, "And, as regards the villages." The writer here at last passes away altogether from Jerusalem, and proceeds to speak of the country population of Judaea. This was chiefly located in villages or hamlets, to each of which was attached a territory suitable for cultivation. The principal of these settlements are now enumerated, and will be found to comprise seventeen places belonging to Judah, and fifteen belonging to Benjamin. Of these thirty-two, a considerable proper tion had subordinate hamlets attached to them. Kirjath-arba, or Hebron. During the captivity the old name had reasserted itself (see Joshua 14:15). Dibon is not the important Moabite town whence came the famous "Moabite Stone," but the city anciently called Dimonah, which is coupled with "Kabzeel" and "Moladah" in Joshua 15:21-26. Jekabzeel is no doubt the ancient "Kabzeel (Joshua 15:21).
And at Jeshua, and at Moladah, and at Bethphelet,
Verse 26. - Joshua is a place not mentioned anywhere but here. Moladah occurs in Joshua 15:26; Beth-phelet, no doubt the same as Beth-palet, in Joshua 15:27.
And at Hazarshual, and at Beersheba, and in the villages thereof,
Verse 27. - Hazar-shual and Beer-sheba are united in Joshua 15:28, and were no doubt near together. Hazar-shual means "the village of foxes."
And at Ziklag, and at Mekonah, and in the villages thereof,
Verse 28. - Ziklag is celebrated as the town given to David by Achish king of Gath (1 Samuel 27:6), and soon afterwards taken by the Amalekites (ibid. 30:1). Mekonah is a name which occurs only in this place.
And at Enrimmon, and at Zareah, and at Jarmuth,
Verse 29. - En-rimmon, "the spring of Rimmon," is to be identified with the "Ain and Rimmon" of Joshua 15:32 - two neighbouring villages, which ultimately grew into one. Zareah is no doubt the "Zoreah" of Joshua 15:33, which was in the Shephelah, or low coast tract. Jarmuth is the town of Piram, who warred with Joshua (Joshua 10:3-27). Like Zareah, it lay in the low coast tract (Joshua 15:35).
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.
Verse 30. - Zanoah and Adullam appear in close connection with Jarmuth in Joshua 15:34, 35. Zanoah was not a place of any importance, but Adullam, near which was David's cave, is often mentioned. It had its own king in the time of Joshua (Joshua 12:15), was fortified by Rehoboam (2 Chronicles 11:7), and remained a city of some strength under the Maccabees (2 Macc. 12:38). Lachish is a place even more celebrated than Adullam. Its king, Japhia, warred with Joshua (Joshua 12:3-16). It was fortified by Rehoboam (2 Chronicles 11:9). Amaziah took refuge there when conspiracy threatened him at Jerusalem (2 Kings 14:19); and Sennacherib "besieged it with all his power" (2 Chronicles 22:9). Azekah is joined with Jarmuth and Adullam in Joshua 15:35. Like Adullam and Lachish, it was fortified by Rehoboam (2 Chronicles 11:9). They (i.e. the children of Judah) dwelt from Beer-sheba to the valley of Hinnom. The southernmost and the northernmost parts of Judaea are here mentioned.
The children also of Benjamin from Geba dwelt at Michmash, and Aija, and Bethel, and in their villages,
Verse 31. - The children also of Benjamin from Geba dwelt at Michmash. Rather, "Also the children of Benjamin dwelt from Geba to Michmash, and Aija, and Bethel," etc. Geba was reckoned an extreme city of Benjamin towards the west, and consequently occurs last in the first list of Joshua (Nehemiah 18:24). Its proximity to Michmash and Aija (Aiath) appears in Isaiah 10:28, 29. All three places were in the near vicinity of Bethel.
And at Anathoth, Nob, Ananiah,
Verse 32. - Anathoth was on the road from Geba to Jerusalem (Isaiah 10:30), and was a Levitical city (Joshua 21:18). Nob was still nearer to the capital, which could be seen from it (Isaiah 10:32). It was famous for the massacre of the priests by Doeg (1 Samuel 22:18, 19). Ananiah is mentioned only in this place.
Hazor, Ramah, Gittaim,
Verse 33. - Hazor occurs as a Benjamite city here only. Ramah is the famous town, now er-Ram, so often mentioned as a little to the north of Jerusalem (Joshua 18:25; Judges 4:5; 1 Kings 15:17; Isaiah 10:29; Jeremiah 31:15). Gittaim is mentioned as a Benjamite town in 2 Samuel 4:3.
Hadid, Zeboim, Neballat,
Verse 34. - Hadid is joined with Lod and Ono in Ezra 2:33 and Nehemiah 7:37. It is probably the modern Haditheh, three miles east of Ludd or Lod, in the Shephelah. Zeboim is not elsewhere mentioned as a town, but we hear of a "valley of Zeboim" in 1 Samuel 13:18, which seems to have lain east of Michmash, in the bleak country towards the Jordan. Neballat is not elsewhere mentioned.
Lod, and Ono, the valley of craftsmen.
Verse 35. - Lod, now Ludd (called in the Acts of the Apostles Lydda), was at the eastern edge of the Shephelah, or low maritime plain, and about nine miles to the S.E. of Joppa. Unimportant during the early times, it became a place of considerable note under the Maccabees (1 Macc. 10:30, 38 1 Macc. 11:28, 34, 57, etc.), and so continued till the taking of Jerusalem by Titus, soon after which its name was changed to Diospolis. Ono is first mentioned in 1 Chronicles 8:12 in combination with Lod, with which it is also joined in Ezra 2:33 and Nehemiah 7:37. We do not know how it came to be called "the valley of craftsmen."
And of the Levites were divisions in Judah, and in Benjamin.
Verse 36. - Of the Levites were divisions in Judah and Benjamin. The exact sense is obscure, but we may gather from the passage that a certain number of Levites were dispersed among the Benjamite cities. They were not now numerous enough to have any cities to themselves.

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