NEHEMIAH CHAPTER 12
A List of Authentic Priests
– NLT Illustrated Study Bible writes, “These lists of priests and Levites include a list of those who originally returned from exile with Zerubbabel (12:1-9), a chronological list of high priests (12:10-11), and the priests and Levites who served at the time of Joiakim, the high priest at the time of Nehemiah and Ezra (12:12-26).”
– These are the priests and Levites who returned with Shealtiel’s son Zerubbabel and Jeshua:
– Seraiah, Jeremiah, Ezra, Amariah, Malluk, Hattush, Shekaniah, Rehum, Meremoth, Iddo, Ginnethon, Abijah, Mijamin, Moadiah, Bilgah, Shemaiah, Joiarib, Jedaiah, Sallu, Amok, Hilkiah, and Jedaiah.
– These were the leaders of the priests and their associates in the days of Jeshua.
– ESV Study Bible says, “Zerubbabel was the first leader of the exiles who returned to Judah following the decree of Cyrus in 538 BC, and Jeshua was the high priest who returned with him. This was about a century before Nehemiah.”
– The Levites were:
– Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Sherebiah, Judah, and Mattaniah who, together with his associates, was in charge of the songs of thanksgiving. Their associates, Bakbukiah and Unni, stood across from them during the services.
– ESV Study Bible remarks, “A list of priests in the time of Zerubbabel is listed, followed by a list of Levites from the same time.”
– Jeshua’s son was Joiakim, Joiakim’s son was Eliashib, Eliashib’s son was Joiada, Joiada’s son was Jonathan, and Jonathan’s son was Jaddua.
– In Joiakim’s time, the family leaders of the priests were as follows:
– ESV Study Bible notes, “Joiakim was high priest in succession to Jeshua…so this list now gives the priests in his day. It includes Ezra…so Joiakim was evidently still high priest when Ezra came to Jerusalem…The list proceeds by family names: thus Meraiah was priest in the (priestly) family of Seraiah. Some of the family names occur in vv. 1-7.”
– Meraiah was the leader of the family of Seraiah;
– Hananiah was the leader of the family of Jeremiah;
– Meshullam was the leader of the family of Ezra;
– Jehohanan was the leader of the family of Amariah;
– Jonathan was the leader of the family of Malluk;
– Joseph was the leader of the family of Shekaniah;
– Adna was the leader of the family of Harim;
– Helkai was the leader of the family of Meremoth;
– Zechariah was the leader of the family of Iddo;
– Meshullam was the leader of the family of Ginnethon;
– Zikri was the leader of the family of Abijah;
– There was a leader of the family of Miniamin;
– Piltai was the leader of the family of Moadiah;
– There is an issue with the text here in v. 17. Translations either indicate that Piltai was the leader of two families- Miniamin and Moadiah,- or they take the view that the name of Miniamin’s family leader has dropped out of the text over time. NET Bible explains, “Or “of Miniamin,…; of Moadiah, Piltai,” where the name of the leader of the family of Miniamin has dropped out of the text due to a problem in transmission.”
– Shammua was the leader of the family of Bilgah;
– Jehonathan was the leader of the family of Shemaiah;
– Mattenai was the leader of the family of Joiarib;
– Uzzi was the leader of the family of Jedaiah;
– Kallai was the leader of the family of Sallu;
– Eber was the leader of the family of Amok;
– Hashabiah was the leader of the family of Hilkiah;
– Nethanel was the leader of the family of Jedaiah.
– In the days of Eliashib, Joiada, Johanan, and Jaddua, the leaders of the Levite families and priests were recorded, during the reign of Darius the Persian. The family leaders of the descendants of Levi were recorded in “The Book of History” up to the time of Eliashib’s son Johanan. The leaders of the Levites- Hashabiah, Sherebiah, Kadmiel’s son Jeshua- along with their associates who stood opposite from them to offer praise and thanks, one section corresponding to the other, as prescribed by David, the man of God.
– On the identity of the Darius mentioned here, NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible writes, “Though some have favored either Nothus (Darius II, 423-404 BC) or Codomannus (Darius III, 335-331 BC, the king whose empire Alexander the Great conquered), the writer probably intended to designate Darius I as ‘the Persian’ in opposition to the enigmatic ‘Darius the Mede’ of Daniel (see Da 5:31).”
– Some translations render the record book mentioned here as the “Book of the Chronicles.” However, ESV Study Bible clarifies, “This is not the biblical book of that name, but simply a record of names, perhaps kept by the priests.”
– Mattaniah, Bakbukiah, Obadiah, Meshullam, Talmon, and Akkub were gatekeepers who guarded the storerooms at the gates. They served in the days of Joiakim, whose father was Jeshua, whose father was Jozadak, and in the days of Nehemiah the governor and of Ezra the priest and scribe.
– ESV Archaeology Study Bible points out, “The whole period of Ezra and Nehemiah is here regarded as unified and associated with Joiakim, the high priest (in Ezra’s time; Neh 12:12), who was preceded by Jeshua (Ezra 5:2), and succeeded later, in Nehemiah’s time, by Eliashib (Neh 3:1), Jehoiada, and Johanan.”
Dedication of the Wall of Jerusalem
– ESV Archaeology Study Bible says, “This section (apparently out of chronological order), detailing the dedication of the wall, describes the Levites’ role in the ceremony. Two great choirs, starting probably from the area of the Valley Gate in the center section of the western wall, preceded the leaders in two companies on the wall, north and clockwise (accompanied by Nehemiah) and south and clockwise (accompanied by Ezra), meeting somewhere between the Gate of the Guard and the Water Gate in the vicinity of the temple…”
– NLT Illustrated Study Bible adds, “The dedication of the new wall probably happened shortly after its completion (6:15-19). This account probably came from Nehemiah’s personal memoirs.”
– At the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem, they sent for the Levites wherever they lived and brought them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication joyfully with thanksgiving and singing accompanied by cymbals, harps, and lyres. The singers were also gathered from the region around Jerusalem, from the villages of the Netophathites, from Beth Gilgal, and from the fields of Geba and Azmaveth, because the singers had built villages for themselves around Jerusalem. When the priests and the Levites had purified themselves, they purified the people, the gates, and the wall.
– ESV Study Bible writes, “Families of Levitical singers had settled in villages around Jerusalem to be near the place of their work. The Netophathites were from Netophah, near Bethlehem. Beth-gilgal is presumably the same as Gilgal, near Jericho (see Josh 4:19). Geba and Azmaveth were to the north of Jerusalem. They had purified themselves, as in readiness for a solemn act of worship (see Ex 19:10, 14-15), perhaps by certain ritual acts such as washing clothes (Num 8:5-7).”
– On the mention of purifying the gates and wall, NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible points out, “This idea is unprecedented in the Bible, since purification usually involves consecrating objects or locations used in rituals, though houses with mildew need to be purified (Lev 14:48-53…) If the former sense is meant, the purification could be the act of consecrating Jerusalem as a ‘holy city’; if the latter, it may be to remove the corruption of the devastation (corpse contamination, etc) or the impurity of the idolatry that had been performed there.”
– Then I brought the leaders of Judah up on top of the wall, and I appointed two large choirs to give thanks. One was to proceed southward (to the right) along the top of the wall toward the Dung Gate. Following them were Hoshiah and half the leaders of Judah, along with: Azariah, Ezra, Meshullam, Judah, Benjamin, Shemaiah, and Jeremiah, as well as some of the priests with trumpets: Zechariah, whose father was Jonathan, whose father was Shemaiah, whose father was Mattaniah, whose father was Micaiah, whose father was Zakkur, whose father was Asaph, and his associates: Shemaiah, Azarel, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethanel, Judah, and Hanani, with musical instruments prescribed by David, the man of God. Ezra the scribe led them. They went over the Fountain Gate and continued directly up the steps of the City of David on the ascent to the wall. They passed the house of David and continued on to the Water Gate toward the east.
– ESV Study Bible says, “Two great choirs symbolically enclose the whole city for the purpose of the dedication. Ezra goes with the southern group, accompanied by half the leaders of Judah and priests playing instruments.”
– NLT Illustrated Study Bible adds, “This impressive march proceeded southward along the top of the wall to the Dung Gate at the southern end of the city…Then the procession continued north on the wall along the east side of the city, past the ruins of the house of David and up to the Water Gate…near the Temple.”
– The second thanksgiving choir proceeded left, in the opposite direction. I followed them on top of the wall, together with half the people, past the Tower of Ovens to the Broad Wall, over the Ephraim Gate, the Jeshanah Gate, the Fish Gate, the Tower of Hananel, and the Tower of the Hundred, to the Sheep Gate. They stopped at the Gate of the Guard.
– ESV Study Bible notes, “Nehemiah goes with the group on the northern wall. The pattern is the same as for the southern wall.”
– NLT Illustrated Study Bible writes, “The second choir went northward, up the western wall past the Broad Wall…the Old City Gate [rendered Jeshanah Gate above]…and the Fish Gate…then across the northern side of the wall until it came to the Sheep Gate…on the northeast corner of the Temple. The Guard Gate might be the Inspection Gate (3:31).”
– Then the two thanksgiving choirs took their places in the house of God. I did also, along with half the officials, as well as the priests- Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Micaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah, and Hananiah- with their trumpets, and also Maaseiah, Shemaiah Eleazar, Uzzi, Jehohanan, Malkijah, Elam, and Ezer. The choirs sang loudly under the direction of Jezrahiah. On that day they offered many sacrifices and rejoiced, because God had given them great joy. The women and children also rejoiced, and the sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard from far away.
Support for the Levites’ Ministry
– On that same day men were appointed to be in charge of the storerooms that housed the contributions, the firstfruits, and the tithes. They were responsible for collecting from the fields outside of the cities the portions that were required by the Law for the priests and the Levites who ministered, because the people of Judah rejoiced over the priests and Levites who were ministering. They performed the service of their God and the service of purification, along with the singers and the gatekeepers, as David and his son Solomon had prescribed. Because in the days of David and Asaph, long ago, there had been directors to lead the singers and for the songs of praise and thanksgiving to God. So in the days of Zerubbabel and in the days of Nehemiah, all of Israel contributed the daily portions for the singers and the gatekeepers. They also set aside the portion for the Levites, and the Levites set aside the portion for the descendants of Aaron.
– ESV Study Bible writes, “The purpose of this section is to recall that the work of the priests and Levites had been put in place from ancient times, and that since the days of Zerubbabel (a century before Nehemiah) they had been duly provided for. Arrangements for overseeing the proper collection of tithes and other offerings are made afresh at the time of the dedication of the wall…The Pentateuchal requirement (Lev 7:33) applied only to the priests, but here it is widened to include all the Levites (an adaptation to the needs of the postexilic community; 2 Chron 31:19 probably records a similar adaptation).”