Nehemiah 12 COMMENTARY (Pulpit)

Nehemiah 12
Pulpit Commentary
Now these are the priests and the Levites that went up with Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua: Seraiah, Jeremiah, Ezra,
Verse 1. - Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel. See the comment on Ezra 3:2. Jeshua. The high priest of Zerubbabel's time. Seraiah. Compare Nehemiah 11:11 with the comment on that place. The original Seraiah was the high priest murdered by Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 25:18-21). Jeremiah and Ezra, who gave name to the second and third course, must not be regarded as the prophet or the scribe so named, but as persons of whom nothing more is known to us.
Amariah, Malluch, Hattush,
Verse 2. - Malluch is rolled "Melicu" below, in ver. 14; but the reading of "Malluch" is confirmed by Nehemiah 10:4. Hattush. It is curious that Hattush is omitted from the third list (infra, vers. 12-21). He appears, however, in the first (Nehemiah 10:4), as well as here.
Shechaniah, Rehum, Meremoth,
Verse 3. - Shechaniah Rather, "Shebaniah," as the name is given in Nehemiah 10:4 and Nehemiah 12:14. Rehum. Rather, "Harim," which is found in ver. 15, and also in Nehemiah 10:5. Compare, moreover, Ezra 2:39; Nehemiah 7:42. Meremoth is probably correct, though altered to Meraioth in ver. 15, since we find Meremoth in Nehemiah 10:5.
Iddo, Ginnetho, Abijah,
Verse 4. - Iddo is probably correct, rather than "Obadiah," which we find after Meremoth in Nehemiah 10:5, since "Iddo" recurs in ver. 16. Ginnetho. Rather, "Ginnethon"(see Nehemiah 10:6; Nehemiah 12:16). Abijah. This would seem to be the course to which Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, belonged (Luke 1:5).
Miamin, Maadiah, Bilgah,
Verse 5. - Miamin is confirmed by Nehemiah 10:7, and is therefore to be preferred to the "Miniamin" of ver. 17. Maadiah "Moadiah" (ver. 17), and "Maaziah" (Nehemiah 10:8) are not so much different names as different ways of spelling the same name. The same may be said of Bilgah and "Bilgai" (Nehemiah 10:8).
Shemaiah, and Joiarib, Jedaiah,
Verse 6. - And Joiarib. The introduction of the conjunction "and" here, and here only, in this list separates off very markedly the last six names from the first sixteen. A similar division is made in ver. 19. The reason for the division seems to be that these last six courses, though including some of the very highest priestly families, as those of Joiarib and Jedaiah (1 Chronicles 24:7; Ezra 2:36; Nehemiah 7:39; Nehemiah 11:10), for some reason or other, did not seal to the covenant, whereas the other sixteen courses did so. Jedaiah. The double occurrence of this name (in vers. 6 and 7) would naturally raise a suspicion of corruption; but the two Jedaiahs are confirmed by vers. 19, 21.
Sallu, Amok, Hilkiah, Jedaiah. These were the chief of the priests and of their brethren in the days of Jeshua.
Verse 7. - These were the chief, etc. It may be suspected that this is properly the heading of another list, parallel to that in vers. 12-21, which gave the names of the actual heads of the courses in Jeshua's time.
Moreover the Levites: Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Sherebiah, Judah, and Mattaniah, which was over the thanksgiving, he and his brethren.
Verse 8. - Moreover the Levites: Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, etc. Here again families are probably intended, as in Ezra 2:40; Ezra 3:9; Nehemiah 9:4, 5, etc., though it is possible that the founders of the families actually returned with Zerubbabel. Jeshua, Binnui, and Kadmiel appear as the leading Levitical families at the sealing of the covenant (Nehemiah 10:9). On Mattaniah see the comment upon Nehemiah 11:17.
Also Bakbukiah and Unni, their brethren, were over against them in the watches.
Verse 9. - Bakbukiah and Unni. Bakbukiah's position with respect to Mattaniah has been already mentioned (Nehemiah 11:17). "Unni" appears, in this place only, as a Levite of Zerubbabel's time. Were over against them in the watches. i.e. "ministered in their courses, as the others did, and kept their stations over against them in their turns of attendance, which are called their 'watches' or wards" (Bp. Patrick). LIST OF THE HIGH PRIESTS FROM JESHUA TO JADDUA (Nehemiah 12:10, 11). That this is the line of descent in the high priestly family of the time sufficiently appears both from the names themselves, and from the position assigned to those who bore them in vers. 22, 23, 26. Whether all of them actually exercised the high priest's office is left uncertain in Scripture, but satisfactorily established by Josephus. The six names cover a space of at least 205 years - from the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus, B.C. 538, to the submission of Jerusalem to Alexander the Great, B.C. 333, which gives very long generations, but still such as are historically possible. Jeshua was certainly high priest from B.C. 538 to B.C. 516. He may have been succeeded by his son, Joiakim, about B.C. 490. Joiakim had certainly been succeeded by his son, Eliashib, before B.C. 444 (Nehemiah 3:1); and Eliashib was probably succeeded by Joiada about B.C. 420. Joiada's high priesthood may be assigned to the period between B.C. 420 and 380; Jonathan's to that between B.C. 380 and 350. Jaddua might then hold the dignity from B.C. 350 to 330, or later, and so be brought into contact with Alexander the Great. It is questioned whether in that case Nehemiah can have written the present passage, and certain that he cannot have done so unless he lived to be at least 131 years of age. As this is exceedingly improbable, it is best to suppose, either that the whole list was placed here by Malachi, or at any rate that that prophet added the clause, "and Jonathan begat Jaddua."
And Jeshua begat Joiakim, Joiakim also begat Eliashib, and Eliashib begat Joiada,
Verse 10. - Jeshua. The "Jeshua" of ver. 1, not of ver. 8 - the high priest of Zerub-babel's time (Ezra 3:2, 8; Ezra 4:3; Ezra 5:2, etc.). Begat Joiakim. The high priesthood of Joiakim falls into the interval between the first part (chs. 1-7.) and the second part (chs. 7-10.) of Ezra. He is only mentioned in this chapter (vers. 12, 26). Eliashib is first mentioned in Ezra 10:6, but he does not appear as high priest until after Nehemiah reaches Jerusalem (Nehemiah 3:1). On his close connection with Tobiah see Nehemiah 13:4, 5, 28. Joiada is called Judas by Josephus ('Ant. Jud.,' 11:7, § 1). His term of office lasted, according to Syncellus and the Paschal Chronicle, thirty-six years.
And Joiada begat Jonathan, and Jonathan begat Jaddua.
Verse 11. - Jonathan, or "Johanan," as the name is given in vers. 22, 23, became high priest about B.C. 380, according to Syncellus and the Paschal Chronicle, and held the office for thirty-two years. Josephus, who calls him "Jannseus" ( = John), says that he murdered his own brother, Jeshua, in the temple, because he was endeavouring to supplant him in the high priesthood through the influence of the Persians. Jaddua is mentioned as high priest at the time of Alexander's entrance into Jerusalem by Josephus ('Ant. Jud.,' 11:8, § 5) and Eusebius ('Chron. Can.,' 2. p. 346). The story of Alexander's having previously seen him in a dream is not generally credited. He is said to been high priest for twenty years, and to have outlived Alexander. LIST OF THE HEADS OF THE PRIESTLY COURSES IN THE TIME OF THE HIGH PRIEST JOIAKIM (Nehemiah 12:12-21). Joiakim must have been contemporary with Xerxes, and consequently have been high priest at the time when the very existence of the Jewish people was threatened by Haman. It is curious that we have no record of his high priesthood, nor of the condition of the Palestinian Jews at the time, beyond the slight hints furnished by this chapter. These hints seem to imply that under him special attention was paid to the formation of lists, especially of the chief priests and Levites, and that the temple service was celebrated with great exactness and regularity (vers. 24-26). The present list is particularly valuable, as enabling us to check that with which the chapter opens, and as establishing the family character of the names whereof that list is made up.
And in the days of Joiakim were priests, the chief of the fathers: of Seraiah, Meraiah; of Jeremiah, Hananiah;
Verse 12. - Of Seraiah, Meraiah. It will be observed that the family names of the priestly, courses follow the order of the same names in vers. 1-7, and exactly accord with them, excepting in minute differences of spelling, and in one omission - that of the name of "Hattush.' It might be supposed that the family of Hattush had died out; but this is contradicted by its reappearance among the signatures to the covenant (Nehemiah 10:4); the omission here would therefore appear to be accidental.
Of Ezra, Meshullam; of Amariah, Jehohanan;
Of Melicu, Jonathan; of Shebaniah, Joseph;
Of Harim, Adna; of Meraioth, Helkai;
Of Iddo, Zechariah; of Ginnethon, Meshullam;
Of Abijah, Zichri; of Miniamin, of Moadiah, Piltai;
Verse 17. - Of Miniamin Rather, "of Miamin" (see ver. 5). The name of the head of the course in Joiakim's time has, by the carelessness of a copyist, fallen out.
Of Bilgah, Shammua; of Shemaiah, Jehonathan;
And of Joiarib, Mattenai; of Jedaiah, Uzzi;
Verse 19. - And of Joiarib. The conjunction "and' occurring here, exactly as it does in ver. 6, once only in the whole list, and before the same name, shows that the two documents (Nehemiah 12:1-7, 12-21) are from the same hand. That the hand is that of Nehemiah, or a contemporary, seems to follow from the fact that no reason can be assigned for the division, or for the low place in the lists of the names Joiarib and Jedaiah, except the failure of these families to set their seals to the covenant (see the comment on ver. 6). PARENTHETIC STATEMENT OF THE TIME DOWN TO WHICH EXACT LISTS OF THE LEADING PRIESTS AND LEVITES WERE KEPT (Nehemiah 12:22, 23). These verses appear to constitute a late insertion. They interrupt the list of high church officers in the time of Joiakim, which is commenced in ver. 12 and not concluded till ver. 26. By their mention of Jaddua as high priest, and of "Darius the Persian" as contemporary king, they betray a writer who lived at least as late as B.C. 336, or nearly a century after the time of Nehemiah's religious reforms. The facts put on record by this writer are not of very much importance. They seem to be simply these: -

1. That the practice of accurately recording the heads of the priestly and Levitical courses, which Nehemiah has noted as belonging to the days of Joiakim, was continued under his successors, Eliashib, Joiada, Johanan, and Jaddua, down (at any rate) to the accession of Darius Codomannus; and,

2. That in the case of the Levites the lists were inserted into the book of the chronicles - not our "Book," but that larger one, of which ours is in the main an abbreviation - down to the time of Johanan, the son (or, rather, grandson) of Eliashib. It has been supposed that the writer originally accompanied these statements with lists that have been lost, but this does not appear to be probable.
Of Sallai, Kallai; of Amok, Eber;
Of Hilkiah, Hashabiah; of Jedaiah, Nethaneel.
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.
Verse 22. - In the days of Eliashib, Joiada, and Johanan, and Jaddua. See comment on vers. 10, 11. In the reign of Darius. Rather, "to the reign." The "Darius" intended is beyond all doubt Codomannus, the adversary of Alexander the Great, who was contemporary with Jaddua. The lists went on under the four high priests down to the time when Darius Codomannus was king of Persia. It is not said that they then ceased. The Persian. Some suppose an antithesis here between this Darius and "Darius the Mede" of Daniel (Daniel 5:31; Daniel 11:1). But this is unlikely, since there was nothing to recall that unimportant personage to the thoughts of the writer. Others, with better reason, suggest a tacit allusion to the transfer of empire from Persia to Macedon, and think the date of the passage must be subsequent to B.C. 331, when the kingdom passed away from Persia
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.
Verse 23. - Even until the days of Johanan. Why the practice of inserting the names in the book of the chronicles ceased at this date it is impossible to say, unless it was that the chronicles themselves ceased to be compiled. There certainly appears to be a long gap in the authentic Jewish annals between the close of the Old Testament canon and the composition of the First Book of the Maccabees. Johanan, the son of Eliashib. The "grandson" really, as appears by vers. 10, 11. LIST OF THE CHIEF LEVITICAL FAMILIES IN THE TIME OF JOIAKIM AND LATER (Nehemiah 12:24-26). That family, rather than personal, names are here intended is sufficiently shown in the final summary of ver. 26, since the same individuals cannot have flourished under Joiakim (B.C. 490-460)and also under Nehemiah (B.C. 444-430). The actual names - Jeshua, Kadmiel, Hashabiah, Shersbiah, etc. - are all found as family names.
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.
Verse 24. - Hashabiah. See above, Nehemiah 9:5; Nehemiah 10:11. Sherebiah. Compare Nehemiah 9:4, 5; Nehemiah 10:12; Nehemiah 12:8. Jeshua, the son of Kadmiel. For ben, "son," we should probably read "Bani," a common Levitical name (Nehemiah 9:4, 5; Nehemiah 10:13), in which case the passage would run as follows: - "And the chief of the Levites were Hashabiah, Sherebiah, Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, with their brethren," etc. To praise and to give thanks, according to the commandment of David. Compare 1 Chronicles 15:16; 1 Chronicles 23:5; 1 Chronicles 25:3, etc. Man of God is an epithet not often applied to David. It occurs, however, again in ver. 36, and also in 2 Chronicles 8:14. Ward over against ward. Antiphonically - division over against division.
Mattaniah, and Bakbukiah, Obadiah, Meshullam, Talmon, Akkub, were porters keeping the ward at the thresholds of the gates.
Verse 25. - Meshullam and Obadiah are new as Levitical names; but the remaining names of the passage are well known. Talmon and Akkub are among the porters of David's time (1 Chronicles 9:17), and are mentioned in Ezra 2:42; Nehemiah 7:45; Nehemiah 11:19. Bakbukiah and Mattaniah occur in Nehemiah 11:17 and Nehemiah 12:8, 9; but as families of singers, rather than of porters, in those places. Keeping the ward at the thresholds of the gates. Rather, as in the margin, "at the treasuries." It is thought that the chambers above the gateways may have been used as storehouses or treasuries.

CHAPTER 12:27-47 PART IV. DEDICATION OF THE WALL OF JERUSALEM UNDER NEHEMIAH AND EZRA, WITH NEHEMIAH'S ARRANGEMENT OF THE TEMPLE OFFICERS, AND HIS EFFORTS FOR THE REFORM OF RELIGION (CH. 12:27-47, AND CH. 13.). DEDICATION OF THE WALL (Nehemiah 12:27-43). It is supposed by some that the author has here departed from the chronological order, and gone back to a date not much subsequent to the completion of the wall in September, B.C. 444, since the dedication of a work under ordinary circumstances follows closely upon its accomplishment. But no reason has been shown for the actual place held by the narrative in the Book upon this supposition, nor is it easy to imagine that the author would have separated the dedication of the wall from its completion by five chapters and a half, unless they had been separated in fact by an interval of some duration. The interval seems, by the notes of time contained in chs. 12, 13, to have been one of nearly thirteen years. Nehemiah's religious reforms were certainly subsequent to the visit that he paid to the Persian court in B.C. 432 (Nehemiah 13:6). These reforms grew out of a reading of the law which took place at the time when Nehemiah appointed the temple officers (Nehemiah 13:1), and that appointment followed closely on the dedication (Nehemiah 12:44). We may account for the long delay by supposing that Nehemiah was afraid of offending Artaxerxes if he ventured on a ceremony, to which the superstition of the surrounding heathen may have attached extreme importance, without his express permission, and that to obtain this permission his personal influence was necessary. The dedication of a city wall was, so far as we know, a new thing in Israel; but it had been customary from a remote time to dedicate houses (Deuteronomy 20:5); and natural piety extended this practice to aggregations of houses, and to the limit or fence by which they were practically made one. The priestly order had shown its sense of the fitness of such a consecration when they raised their portion of the wall, and had at once "sanctified it" (Nehemiah 3:1). Nehemiah now, by the ceremony which he planned and carried out, placed the whole circuit of the wall under the Divine protection, confessing in this solemn act the intrinsic worthlessness of mere walls and bulwarks, unless God lends them strength and makes them a protection against enemies.
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.
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.
Verse 27. - And at the dedication ... they sought the Levites. The nexus of this passage seems to be with Nehemiah 11:36; and we may suppose that originally it followed immediately on ch. 11. - the lists (Nehemiah 12:1-26) being a later insertion. The author, having (in Nehemiah 11:36) told us of the wide dispersion of the Levites, now notes that they were summoned from all the places where they dwelt, and brought (one and all) to Jerusalem for the solemnity of the dedication. To keep the dedication with gladness, both with thanksgiving and with singing, etc. Solomon's dedication of the temple was the pattern followed. As he had made the service altogether one of praise and thanksgiving (2 Chronicles 5:13), and had employed in it cymbals, trumpets, psalteries, and harps (ibid. ver. 12), so Nehemiah on the present occasion.
And the sons of the singers gathered themselves together, both out of the plain country round about Jerusalem, and from the villages of Netophathi;
Verse 28. - The sons of the singers. i.e. the Levites who belonged to the class of singers (1 Chronicles 15:16-22; Nehemiah 7:44, etc.). The plain country round about Jerusalem. Dean Stanley understands by this "the Jordan valley" ('Lectures on the Jewish Church,' Third Series, p. 129); but that is a district too remote to be intended by the words "round about Jerusalem." The valleys of Hinnom and Jehoshaphat better suit the description. The villages of Netophathi. Rather, "of the Netophathites" (see 1 Chronicles 9:16), or people of Netophah, which was a country town not far from Bethlehem.
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.
Verse 29. - From the house of Gilgal. Rather, "from Beth-Gilgal," which was the name now borne by the Gilgal due north of Jerusalem. Out of the fields of Geba. See above, Nehemiah 11:31. And Azmaveth, Compare Ezra 2:24; Nehemiah 7:28. Azmaveth was a Benjamite town, not far from Anathoth. The singers had built themselves villages round Jerusalem. Such of the singers as were not located in Jerusalem itself fixed their dwellings in the immediate neighbourhood, in order the more readily to attend the temple service. Ver 30. - The priests and the Levites purified themselves. On this occasion there is no preference of the Levites over the priests, as in 2 Chronicles 29:34 and Ezra 6:20. Both classes were, it would seem, equally zealous, and equally forward to purify themselves. And the gates and wall. Inanimate things might contract legal defilement (Deuteronomy 23:14; Leviticus 14:34-53). In case either the wall or the gates should be in any such way unclean, they were made to undergo a legal purification before the ceremony of the dedication began.
And the priests and the Levites purified themselves, and purified the people, and the gates, and the wall.
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:
Verse 31. - I brought up the princes of Judah upon the wall, and appointed two great companies. Nehemiah caused all the chiefs of the nation, both lay and clerical, to mount upon the wall, and there marshalled them into two companies, composed of clergy and laity intermixed, one of which he placed under the direction of Ezra (ver. 36), while of the other he took the command himself (ver. 38). The place of assemblage must have been some portion of the western wall, probably the central portion, near the modern Jaffa gate. From this Ezra's company proceeded southward, and then eastward, along the southern wall, while Nehemiah's marched northward, and then eastward, along the northern wall, both processions meeting midway in the eastern wall, between the "water" and the "prison" gates. Toward the dung gate. On the position of this gate, see the comment on Nehemiah 2:13.
And after them went Hoshaiah, and half of the princes of Judah,
Verse 32. - After them. After the singers, who in each procession took the lead. Hoshaiah is perhaps the "Hoshea" of Nehemiah 10:23, who "sealed to" the covenant. Half the princes of Judah. The other half were with Nehemiah in the other "company" (ver. 40).
And Azariah, Ezra, and Meshullam,
Verses 33, 34. - Azariah, Ezra, and Meshullam. Next to the "princes" came two priestly families - those of Azariah (or Ezra) and Meshullam (ch. x, 2, 7); then Judah and Benjamin, or certain lay people of those tribes; after them two other priestly families - those of Shemaiah and Jeremiah (Nehemiah 10:2, 8; Nehemiah 12:1, 6).
Judah, and Benjamin, and Shemaiah, and Jeremiah,
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:
Verse 35. - Certain of the priests' sons with trumpets. Compare ver. 41. A body of priests, who blew trumpets, accompanied each procession, following closely upon the "princes," and followed by a body of Levites. Namely, Zechariah. There is nothing corresponding to "namely" in the original; and it is clear that Zechariah was not a "priest's son," but a Levite, since he was descended from Asaph. Probably a vau conjunctive has fallen out before his name.
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.
Verse 36. - The musical instruments of David. Cymbals, psalteries, and harps. See above, ver. 27, and comp. 1 Chronicles 15:16, 19-21. The Jews had become acquainted with a great variety of musical instruments during the captivity (Daniel 3:7; Psalm 150:4, 5), but rigidly excluded all except the old instruments from the service of religion. Ezra the scribe before them. As their leader. It is interesting to find no jealousy separating Ezra from the governor who had superseded him. As the two conjointly had addressed the people on a former occasion (Nehemiah 8:9), so now they conjointly conducted the ceremony of the dedication.
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.
Verse 37. - At the fountain gate. See above, Nehemiah 2:14 and Nehemiah 3:15. Which was over against them. There is no "which was" in the original; and it was clearly not the gate, but the steps, that were "over against them." They came to the fountain gate in the course of their perambulation of the wall, and there saw, "opposite to them," the steps that led up to the city of David. By these they ascended the eastern hill, and mounting upon the wall once more, followed its course until they reached the "water gate," which overlooked the Kidron valley (Nehemiah 3:26), where they stopped. Above the house of David. See the comment on Nehemiah 3:25.
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;
Verses 38, 39. - And the other company. Nehemiah now proceeds to trace the course of the other choir or procession - the one which he himself accompanied. Starting from the same part of the western wall as the other, its course was northward to the N.W. angle of the city wall, after which it was eastward to the "sheep gate, and then southward to the "prison gate." In this part of his description Nehemiah traces the same portion of the wall as that which had engaged his attention in Nehemiah 3:1-11, and mentions almost exactly the same features, but in the reverse order. For the tower of the furnaces see Nehemiah 3:11; for the broad wall, ver. 8; for the old gate, ver. 6; for the fish gate, ver. 3; for the tower of Hananeel, the tower of Meah, and the sheep gate, ver. 1. The gate of Ephraim is not mentioned in ch. 3. It must have been in the north wall, a little to the west of the "old gate." The prison gate, also omitted in ch. 3, was probably in the east wall, a little north of the water gate.
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.
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:
Verse 40. - So stood the two companies. Having performed their respective portions of the perambulation, and reached the central portion of the eastern wall, opposite the temple area, the two companies came to a stand, one over against the other, not in the house of God, but by it, or near it, which is a meaning that the preposition ב often has. The half of the rulers. Compare ver. 32.
And the priests; Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Michaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah, and Hananiah, with trumpets;
Verse 41. - And the priests, Eliakim, etc. These names are probably personal. With a single exception, they are absent from the lists of priestly families (Nehemiah 10:2-8; Nehemiah 12:12-21).
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.
Verse 42. - And Maaseiah, etc. It may be suspected that these are Levitical names, and correspond to the nine Levites mentioned as accompanying Ezra in vers. 35, 36. The chief difference seems to have been that Ezra's Levites played on instruments, while Nehemiah's were "singers."
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.
Verse 43. - Also that day they offered great sacrifices. David had inaugurated the "tabernacle" which he made for the ark of the covenant at Jerusalem with sacrifice (2 Samuel 6:17), and had consecrated the threshing-floor of Araunah the Jebusite in the same way (2 Samuel 24:25). Solomon, at his dedication of the temple, had sacrificed sheep and oxen "that could not be numbered for multitude" (1 Kings 8:5). Zerubbabel had followed this example at the dedication of the second temple (Ezra 6:17); and we may presume that it was with victims that Eliashib and his brethren the priests had "sanctified" their portion of the wall soon after they completed it (Nehemiah 3:1). Nehemiah now completed the dedication of the entire circuit of the walls by sacrifices on a large scale. God had made them rejoice with great joy. It is characteristic of Nehemiah to ascribe the universal joy, which another might well have claimed as his own work, to the Divine mercy and forethought, which had brought the matter of the wall to a prosperous and happy issue. The wives also and the children rejoiced. It is seldom that the Jewish women are mentioned as taking that prominent position in joy, which naturally belonged to them in sorrow (Judges 11:40; Jeremiah 31:15; Jeremiah 49:3; Joel 1:8, etc.). There is, however, one remarkable example of the kind, besides the present one - the rejoicing of the women after the passage through the Red Sea, under the leadership of Miriam (Exodus 15:20). The joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off. See Ezra 3:13, and comp. 1 Kings 1:40; 2 Kings 11:13. NEHEMIAH'S ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE TEMPLE SERVICE, AND APPOINTMENT OF OFFICERS (Nehemiah 12:44-47). The good resolutions of the people at the time of the renewal of the covenant (Nehemiah 10:28-39) would have borne comparatively little fruit had they not been seconded and rendered effective by formal action on the part of the civil authority. The people, in the first flush of their zeal, had bound themselves to undertake the conveyance of the tithes, firstfruits, and free-will offerings from the country districts to Jerusalem, and the deposition of them in the temple treasuries (Nehemiah 10:37-39). But in practice this was found too great a burthen (Nehemiah 13:10). Nehemiah therefore appointed special officers to collect the tithes and other dues throughout the entire territory, and to bring them to Jerusalem, and lay them up in the proper chambers (Nehemiah 12:44). Over the chambers he appointed treasurers, whose duty it was, not only to collect the ecclesiastical dues, but also to distribute the proceeds among the individuals entitled to share in them (Nehemiah 13:13). Having in this way provided for the sustenance of the clerical body, he was able to insist on their regular performance of all their duties; and the success of his arrangements was such, that under him the temple service was restored, not merely to the condition established by Zerubbabel (Nehemiah 12:47), but to one not markedly different from that which had been attained in the time of David and Asaph (ibid. ver. 46). The priests, Levites, singers, and porters respectively performed their duties to his satisfaction, purifying themselves, and taking the service in their turns, "according to the commandment of David and Solomon" (ibid. ver. 45).
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.
Verse 44. - At that time. Literally, "On that day;" but a certain latitude must be allowed to the expression. The chambers for the treasures. On these adjuncts of the temple, see the comment on Nehemiah 10:37. The "treasures" themselves consisted chiefly of tithes (including corn, wine, and oil), firstfruits, and free-will offerings. They also included frankincense (Nehemiah 13:5), and probably other spices. The portions of the law. i.e. the proportion of the produce required by the law to be set apart for sacred uses. These were to be gathered by the officers out of the fields of the cities, that is, out of the portions of cultivable soil attached to each provincial town (Nehemiah 11:25). For Judah rejoiced. The general satisfaction of the people with their spiritual guides led them to increase their contributions beyond the requirements of the law; whence there was at this time special need of treasurers and treasuries - abundant occupation for the one, and abundant material requiring to be stored in the other.
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.
Verse 45. - This verse is wrongly translated in the A. V. It should be rendered, as in the Vulgate and the Septuagint - "And they (i.e. the priests and Levites) maintained the ward of their God, and the ward of the purification, and the singers, and the porters (i.e. the institutions of singers and porters), according to the ordinance of David and of Solomon his son." Maintaining the ward of their God is serving regularly in the temple at the times appointed; maintaining the ward of the purification is observing the rules for the purifying of the holy things which had been laid down by David (1 Chronicles 23:28).
For in the days of David and Asaph of old there were chief of the singers, and songs of praise and thanksgiving unto God.
Verse 46. - For in the days of David. This verse is exegetical of the clause in ver. 45, "according to the commandment of David." The writer justifies his reference to that "commandment' by reminding his readers that the whole musical service - the singers , themselves, and their "chiefs," together with the "songs of praise" and the "thanksgiving songs - had descended to the Jews of his day from David and Asaph.
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.
Verse 47. - In the days of Zerubbabel, and in the days of Nehemiah. i.e. "In the days of Nehemiah, no less than in those of Zerubbabel." Gave the portions. Paid their tithes, and other dues, regularly, so that the portions were forthcoming. Every day his portion. Compare Nehemiah 11:23. They sanctified holy things unto the Levites. They, i.e. the people, "set apart" for the Levites all that the law required; and the Levites set apart for the priests their due share - "the tithe of the tithe" (Numbers 18:26).

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