Nehemiah 12
Benson Commentary
Now these are the priests and the Levites that went up with Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua: Seraiah, Jeremiah, Ezra,
Nehemiah 12:1. Now these are the priests — The chief of the priests; the heads of those twenty-four courses which David appointed by divine direction, 1 Chronicles 24. And whereas there were twenty-four, and here but twenty- two, and Nehemiah 12:12, &c., only twenty, the reason of this difference may be because two of the twenty-four courses were extinct in Babylon, and two of the persons here named, (verse, 2-5,) Hattush and Maadiah, may be omitted in the account of the posterity of these, (Nehemiah 12:12, &c.,) because they had no posterity. Ezra — Either this was another Ezra, or, if it were the same mentioned Ezra 7., he lived to a great age; which may well be supposed, considering his great sobriety, and his great piety, to which God promised long life, and withal the special providence of God continuing him so long in such a season, wherein the church of God did greatly need his help and counsel.

Amariah, Malluch, Hattush,
Nehemiah 12:2. Malluch — In the repetition of this and some other names hereafter, Nehemiah 12:14, &c., there are some small variations, which are very frequent in the Hebrew language.

Shechaniah, Rehum, Meremoth,
Iddo, Ginnetho, Abijah,
Miamin, Maadiah, Bilgah,
Shemaiah, and Joiarib, Jedaiah,
Sallu, Amok, Hilkiah, Jedaiah. These were the chief of the priests and of their brethren in the days of Jeshua.
Nehemiah 12:7. These were the chief of the priests — The heads of the courses of the priests instituted by David, which were restored after their return from captivity, though as yet they were not so many as they had been before: see Ezra 6:18. And of their brethren — That is, of the priests, who were their brethren; in the days of Jeshua — Who was the high-priest at the return from captivity.

Moreover the Levites: Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Sherebiah, Judah, and Mattaniah, which was over the thanksgiving, he and his brethren.
Nehemiah 12:8-9. Moreover the Levites, which were over the thanksgiving — Appointed to see that the psalms of thanksgiving were continually sung in the temple, in due time and manner. Also, their brethren were over against them in the watches — That is, in the places where they were appointed to stand, and wait, and perform their office, which was to keep the guard of the gates, while the others sung.

Also Bakbukiah and Unni, their brethren, were over against them in the watches.
And Jeshua begat Joiakim, Joiakim also begat Eliashib, and Eliashib begat Joiada,
Nehemiah 12:10-11. And Jeshua begat Joiakim — In these two verses is an account of the succession of the high-priests, from the return of the captivity till the time when they began to bear the greatest sway in the Jewish nation. For the Jaddua mentioned at the end of Nehemiah 12:11, is commonly thought to be that Jaddus, the high-priest, who went to meet Alexander the Great in his pontifical habit, as he came from the conquest of Tyre and Gaza, and procured great privileges for the Jewish nation. This catalogue of their high-priests was the more necessary, because their times were now to be measured, not by the years of their kings, as formerly, but by their high-priests.

And Joiada begat Jonathan, and Jonathan begat Jaddua.
And in the days of Joiakim were priests, the chief of the fathers: of Seraiah, Meraiah; of Jeremiah, Hananiah;
Nehemiah 12:12. In the days of Joiakim were priests — As the writer had mentioned those who were the chief of the priests in the days of Jeshua, so now he mentions the sons of every one of them who officiated in the days of Joiakim the son of Jeshua, either as assistants to their fathers, or succeeding them when they were dead. He begins with the three named in this verse, and so proceeds in order to give an account of the rest, which reaches to Nehemiah 12:22.

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;
Of Bilgah, Shammua; of Shemaiah, Jehonathan;
And of Joiarib, Mattenai; of Jedaiah, Uzzi;
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.
Nehemiah 12:22. Also the priests, to the reign of Darius the Persians — “This verse,” observes Dr. Dodd, after Le Clerc, “wherein mention is made of Darius Codomanus, and the high-priest Jaddua, affords us proof that Nehemiah did not put the finishing hand to this book. For Nehemiah, to be able to speak of Darius, must have lived, according to Huet, at least one hundred and thirty-one years, and at that age have written or enlarged his book, which is not probable. We may therefore conclude, that the book of Nehemiah could not have been published, such as it is, till the reign of Darius Codomanus at least; and since one chapter of the book of Nehemiah has been put into that of Ezra, we may very probably suppose that it did not appear in its present form till about the same time. So that these two books have been collected from the memoirs of three different authors, to which have been added several things for the illustration of the history.” Le Clerc, and Houbigant’s note on the place.

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.
Nehemiah 12:23-25. Written in the book of the Chronicles — That is, in the public annals or registers, in which the genealogies of the several families were recorded by the Jews with great exactness, as all persons agree. Ward over against ward — Or, by turns, one coming in when another went out, to attend in their courses, which are called wards. At the thresholds of the gates — To wit, of the temple, where the holy things were laid up, their watching-place being close by the thresholds of the gates.

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.
Mattaniah, and Bakbukiah, Obadiah, Meshullam, Talmon, Akkub, were porters keeping the ward at the thresholds of the gates.
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.
Nehemiah 12:27. At the dedication of the wall — Of the city itself, which is here dedicated to God, and to his honour and service, not only upon a general account, by which we ought to devote ourselves, and all that is ours, to God; but upon a more special ground, because this was a place which God himself had chosen, and sanctified by his temple and gracious presence, and which therefore did of right belong to him, whence it is often called the holy city. And they restored it to God by this dedication, withal imploring the presence, and favour, and blessing of God to this city, by solemn prayers, and praises, and sacrifices, wherewith this dedication was accompanied. They sought the Levites out of their places — To which they were now retired, after that great and general assembly, Nehemiah 8:9-10.

And the sons of the singers gathered themselves together, both out of the plain country round about Jerusalem, and from the villages of Netophathi;
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.
Nehemiah 12:29-30. The singers had built them villages, &c. — That they might be near at hand for the service of God and of his house. The priests and the Levites purified themselves — By sprinkling the water of purification upon them, by which the tabernacle and sacred utensils were purified; (Numbers 8:7;) by solemn prayers and sacrifices; and especially by keeping themselves from all impurity. And purified the people — By sprinkling, it is probable, the same water upon them, and by prayers and sacrifices.

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:
Nehemiah 12:31-33. Then I brought up the princes — And half of the people with them, as it is expressed afterward, Nehemiah 12:38. Upon the wall — For the wall was broad and strong, and so built that men might conveniently walk upon it, as at this day it is in many cities. Whereof one went on the right hand — Toward the south and east. Azariah and Ezra — Not the scribe, as is evident from Nehemiah 12:36, but another Ezra.

And after them went Hoshaiah, and half of the princes of Judah,
And Azariah, Ezra, and Meshullam,
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:
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.
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.
Nehemiah 12:37-38. By the stairs of the city of David — By which they went up to the hill of Zion and the city of David. The other company that gave thanks went over against them — Namely, on the other side of the city, northward and eastward. Even unto the broad wall — Which they had made thicker and stronger than the rest of the wall, for some special reason.

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;
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.
Nehemiah 12:39-40. They stood still in the prison-gate — Waiting, as also their brethren did, that they might go together in due order into God’s house, there to perfect the solemnity. So stood the two companies, &c. — That is, they met together at the temple, and gave thanks in the courts of it. And I and the half of the rulers with me — And Ezra and the other half with him, as appears by comparing this with Nehemiah 12:35-36. The order wherein they marched in this pompous manner round about the city seems a little obscure; but the sense of the whole description is this: that they being met together in the same place, half of the rulers went upon the wall on the right hand, accompanied with several priests and Levites, and Ezra the scribe at the head of them, Nehemiah 12:36; and the other half took the left hand, and walked upon the wall in the same order, accompanied with Nehemiah, who brought up the rear of them, Nehemiah 12:38. And, at length, both parts of this chorus met in the temple, and there they stood still and completed their praises and thanksgivings, and offered sacrifices, as mentioned Nehemiah 12:43.

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:
And the priests; Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Michaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah, and Hananiah, with trumpets;
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.
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.
Nehemiah 12:43. For God had made them rejoice with great joy — By restoring the holy city to such a secure condition, that they could praise the Lord there without disturbance or fear. And the children rejoiced — And their hosannas were not despised, but are recorded to their praise. All that share in public mercies ought to join in public thanksgivings. So that the joy of Jerusalem was heard even far off — Either their loud voices and instruments were heard at a great distance, or the fame of it was spread far and near.

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.
Nehemiah 12:44. For the offerings — Such as they had lately engaged themselves to give, or other voluntary or prescribed offerings. To gather out of the fields the portions of the law — That is, the aforesaid first-fruits and tithes, and other things, which God, by his law, appointed for them. For Judah rejoiced for the priests, &c. — For the eminent gifts and graces which they observed in many of them; for the great benefit which they had now received by their ministry; and for the competent provision which hereby was made for them, that so they might wholly wait upon their office. The sure way for ministers to gain an interest in the affections of their people is, to wait on their ministry, to spend their whole time, and thought, and strength therein.

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.
Nehemiah 12:45. Both the singers and the porters kept the ward of their God — That ward or charge which God had prescribed them. And, in particular, the charge of purification, of taking care that no unclean person or thing should enter into the house or courts of the Lord. Or, the meaning may be, the singers sung orderly in their courses, as they were appointed, and thereby kept the ward of their God; and the porters kept the ward of the purification, that is, duly observed the orders about it, in preventing the temple from being defiled by any unclean person or thing. According to the commandment of David and of Solomon his son — Who had regulated all things belonging to the duty of these persons.

For in the days of David and Asaph of old there were chief of the singers, and songs of praise and thanksgiving unto God.
Nehemiah 12:46. For in the days of David, &c. — This verse gives the reason why the Levites and the singers performed their duty so accurately; because, from the time of David, who constituted their orders and offices, there were overseers appointed, who presided over them, and were careful both to instruct them in their duty, and keep them to it.

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.
Nehemiah 12:47. They sanctified holy things unto the Levites — They set apart the first-fruits and tithes from their own share, and devoted them to the use of the Levites. And so did the Levites by the tithe of tithes. Thus they all conscientiously paid their dues, and did not profane those things which God had sanctified, nor take them unto their own common use. When what is contributed for the support of religion is given with an eye to God, it is sanctified, and will cause the blessing to rest upon the house, and all that is therein.

Benson Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

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