NEHEMIAH CHAPTER 11
Nehemiah Reorganizes Jerusalem and Institutes Further Reforms (11:1 – 13:31)
The Resettling of Jerusalem
– ESV Study Bible writes, “This chapter addresses the need to maintain a population in Jerusalem, and records the names of leaders who lived there. Populated villages of Judah are also named.”
– So the leaders of the people settled in Jerusalem, and the rest of the people cast lots for one out of every ten to come live in Jerusalem, the holy city, while the remaining nine were to stay in their own cities. The people commended all those who volunteered to settle in Jerusalem.
– NLT Illustrated Study Bible notes, “Sacred lots were probably the Urim and the Thummim…”
– NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible explains, “The need for repopulation of Jerusalem is expressed in 7:4. The practice of redistributing populations was also used to establish Greek and Hellenistic cities. Known as synoikismos, the practice involved the forcible transfer from rural settlements to urban centers. The city of Tiberias on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee was populated by such a process by Herod Antipas in AD 18. Archaeological surveys indicate a drop of over 75 percent of the number of occupied sites as a result of the Babylonian conquest of Judah. That they ‘cast lots’ indicates that the people do not wish to live in Jerusalem. Since the city is still in a state of disrepair and a focal point of enemy aggression, it is neither a safe nor an attractive place to live. People would also be unwilling to abandon their farms or jeopardize their landholdings.”
– On the reference to Jerusalem as “the holy city” ESV Archaeology Study Bible adds, “This designation for Jerusalem occurred in the Prophets, but this is its first appearance in a historical narrative. The synonymous Arabic name for Jerusalem, al-Quds, is still used today.”
– The following are the leaders of the provinces who settled in Jerusalem. Now other Israelites, the priests, the Levites, the temple servants, and the descendants of Solomon continued to live in their own homes in the various cities of Judah. But some of the descendants of Judah and Benjamin settled in Jerusalem.
– From Judah’s descendants:
– Athaliah, who was Uzziah’s son, who was Zechariah’s son, who was Amariah’s son, who was Shephatiah’s son, who was Mahalalel’s son, who was a descendant of Perez.
– Maaseiah, who was Baruch’s son, who was Kol-Hozeh’s son, who was Hazaiah’s son, who was Adaiah’s son, who was Joiarib’s son, who was Zechariah’s son, who was a descendant of Shelah.
– There were 468 valiant men who were descendants of Perez who lived in Jerusalem.
– From Benjamin’s descendants:
– Sallu, who was Meshullam’s son, who was Joed’s son, who was Pedaiah’s son, who was Kolaiah’s son, who was Maaseiah’s son, who was Ithiel’s son, who was Jeshaiah’s son. And after him were Gabbai and Sallai- a total of 928. Zikri’s son Joel was the officer in charge of them, and Hassenuah’s son Judah was second-in-command over the city.
– From the priests:
– Joiarib’s son Jedaiah; Jakin; and Seraiah- the supervisor in the house of God- who was Hilkiah’s son, who was Meshullam’s son, who was Zadok’s son, who was Meraioth’s son, who was Ahitub’s son. And also 822 of their associates who carried out work for the house. Also Adaiah, who was Jeroham’s son, who was Pelaliah’s son, who was Amzi’s son, who was Zechariah’s son, who was Pashhur’s son, who was Malkijah’s son, and his associates who were heads of families- totaling 242 men. And Amashsai, who was Azarel’s son, who was Ahzai’s son, who was Meshillemoth’s son, who was Immer’s son, and his associates- totaling 128 valiant men. Haggedolim’s son Zabdiel was the officer over them.
– From the Levites:
– Shemaiah, who was Hassub’s son, who was Azrikam’s son, who was Hashabiah’s son, who was Bunni’s son. Shabbethai and Jozebad, leaders of the Levites, were in charge of the outside work for the house of God. Mattaniah, who was Mika’s son, who was Zabdi’s son, who was Asaph’s son, was the director who led in thanksgiving and prayer. Bakbukiah, was second among his associates. And Abda, who was Shammua’s son, who was Galal’s son, who was Jeduthun’s son. The total number of Levites in the holy city was 284.
– From the gatekeepers:
– Akkub, Talmon, and their associates who guarded the gates- 172.
– The other priests, Levites, and the rest of the Israelites each lived on their own ancestral property in the cities of Judah. The temple servants lived on Ophel, and Ziha and Gishpa were over them.
– ESV Study Bible says, “‘The rest of Israel,’ that is, after a tenth of the population had been resettled in Jerusalem…’His inheritance,’ refers to one’s ancestral property…”
– NLT Illustrated Study Bible notes that, “The hill of Ophel was high ground just south of the Temple (3:26). It provided an ideal location to house those who worked in the Temple.”
– The chief officer of the Levites in Jerusalem was Uzzi, who was the son of Bani, who was the son of Hashabiah, who was the Mattaniah, who was the son of Mika. Uzzi was one of Asaph’s descendants, who were the singers responsible for the service of the house of God. The singers were under the king’s orders, which determined their daily activities.
– ESV Study Bible writes, “This must mean the Persian king (rather than King David, who had originally organized the Levitical singers…”
– ESV Archaeology Study Bible remarks, “Artaxerxes I’s rationale for this special favor is unknown, although the Levitical choir was to pray ‘for the life of the king and his sons’ (Ezra 6:10).”
– Meshezabel’s son Pethahiah, who was a descendant of Zerah, who was a son of Judah, was an adviser to the king in every matter pertaining to the people.
– ESV Archaeology Study Bible says, “Perhaps Pethahiah’s office was similar to Ezra’s (Ezra 7:12), serving as an intermediary between Judea and the Persian court.”
Villages Outside Jerusalem
– As for the settlements with their fields, some of the people of Judah settled in Kiriath Arba and its surrounding villages, in Dibon and its surrounding villages, in Jekabzeel and its surrounding villages, in Jeshua, in Moladah, in Beth Pelet, in Hazar Shual, in Beersheba and its surrounding villages, in Ziklag, in Mekonah and its surrounding villages, in Em Rimmon, in Zorah, in Jarmuth, in Zanoah and Adullam and their surrounding villages, in Lachish and its fields, and in Azekah and its villages. So they settled from Beersheba all the way to the Valley of Hinnom.
– NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible writes, “There are 17 locations in Judah and 15 in the adjoining territory to the north of Benjamin in these verses. The former locations correspond to earlier lists of Judahite cities. All these names also appear in Jos 15 (except Dibon, Jeshua and Mekonah). The settlements to the south were in areas that were outside the boundary of the province of Yehud, under the influence if not the control of the Edomites or Arabs. The list, however, is not comprehensive insofar as several cities listed in Ezr 2:20-34 and Ne 3 are lacking. The limits of the Judahite settlement after the return from Babylon have been confirmed by archaeological evidence; none of the YHD- YHWD (the official designation of the Persian province of Judea) coins have been found outside the area demarcated by these verses.”
– Some of the descendants of Benjamin settled in Geba, Mikmash, Aija, Bethel and its villages, in Anathoth, Nob, Ananiah, Hazor, Ramah, Gittaim, Hadid, Zeboim, Neballat, Lod, Ono, and Ge Harashim. Some of the divisions of Levites who lived in Judah were assigned to settle in Benjamin.
– ESV Study Bible points out, “The Levites were in effect a third tribe in the restored community, for they originally had settlements throughout the land (see Josh 21). This verse simply records that since the restored community did not consist of Judah alone, the Levites did not relate only to that tribe.”
Judea Under Persian Rule 538-332 BC, Image via ESV Study Bible p 689
“Under Persian rule, the lands of Israel (now called Samaria) and Judah (now called Judea) were minor provinces within the satrapy called Beyond the River. Returning Judeans settled mostly in the province of Judea, but a few settled in the plain of Ono and Idumea as well. The fact that the plain of Ono lay outside the jurisdiction of Judea may explain why Nehemiah suspected that the other local governors intended to do him harm there.”