Nehemiah 12
Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Now these are the priests and the Levites that went up with Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua: Seraiah, Jeremiah, Ezra,
1. Now these … Jeshua] Cf. Ezra 2:1.

For the list beginning with Seraiah, see the parallel list of names in Nehemiah 10:3-9 and Nehemiah 12:12-21. The Ezra mentioned in this verse and Nehemiah 12:13 must not be confounded with ‘the Scribe:’ he appears in Nehemiah 10:3 as Azariah.

The following table gives a comparison of the three lists:

Nehemiah 10:3-9.

  Nehemiah 12:1-7.

  Nehemiah 12:12-21.

(1)  Seraiah



(2)  Azariah



(3)  Jeremiah



(4)  Pashhur



(5)  Amariah



(6)  Malchijah



(7)  Hattush



(8)  Shebaniah



(9)  Malluch



(10)  Harim



(11)  Meremoth



(12)  Obadiah



(13)  Daniel



(14)  Ginnethon



(15)  Baruch



(16)  Meshullam



(17)  Abijah

  and Joiarib


(18)  Mijamin



(19)  Maaziah



(20)  Bilgai



(21)  Shemaiah






We have, therefore, 22 priestly houses recorded, and there can be little doubt that the number 24 had been restored, but that two of the names have dropped out either in the course of transcription or in consequence of the defectiveness of the original lists. Of the four priestly houses who are mentioned in the lists of Ezra 2 and Nehemiah 7 as having gone up out of the captivity with Zerubbabel, i.e. Jedaiah, Immer, Pashhur, Harim, we find here the names of (22) Jedaiah and (8) Rehum = Harim. Immer may possibly be concealed in the name of (4) Amariah. Pashhur has dropped out entirely. The opinion of some is that the similarity of names in these lists is accidental, and that the three lists give us the names of individuals living at three different periods, Nehemiah 12:1-7 in the days of Zerubbabel, Nehemiah 10:1-8 in the days of Eliashib, Nehemiah 12:12-21 in the days of Joiakim, which happen very often to resemble one another. But the improbability of this needs no demonstration.

Amariah, Malluch, Hattush,
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.
7. chief] R.V. chiefs.

in the days of Jeshua] Cf. Ezra 2:2; Ezra 3:2.

Moreover the Levites: Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Sherebiah, Judah, and Mattaniah, which was over the thanksgiving, he and his brethren.
8. Moreover the Levites] This list of Levite houses which returned along with Zerubbabel consists of eight names, Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Sherebiah, Judah, Mattaniah, Bakbukiah, Unni. In Ezra 2:40-42, the list of the Levites and singers that returned consists of Jeshua, Kadmiel, Hodaviah (?), and the children of Asaph. Other Levitical lists occur in Nehemiah 10:9-14, Nehemiah 12:24-26. Jeshua and Kadmiel occur in all the lists. Binnui represents ‘the sons of Henadad’, cf. Ezra 3:9 with Nehemiah 3:24; Nehemiah 10:10, who probably returned to Jerusalem in the year after Zerubbabel. Sherebiah’s name occurs in Nehemiah 8:7, Nehemiah 9:4, Nehemiah 10:13. Judah is probably to be identified with Hodijah in Nehemiah 10:10. Mattaniah is mentioned in Nehemiah 11:17 as an Asaphite chief. It is probable therefore that he represents ‘the children of Asaph’ in Ezra 2:41, while other families of ‘the singers’ are represented by Bakbukiah (? = Bukkiah of the sons of Heman, 1 Chronicles 25:4), who is mentioned in Nehemiah 11:17, and by Unno = Unni (1 Chronicles 15:18; 1 Chronicles 15:20).

the thanksgiving] R.V. marg. ‘Or, the choirs’. The Hebrew word only occurs here; and the LXX. not understanding it renders ἐπὶ τῶν χειρῶν. The Vulgate gives ‘super hymnos.’ Compare the description of Mattaniah, the Asaphite, in Nehemiah 11:17, ‘the chief to begin the thanksgiving in prayer.’

Also Bakbukiah and Unni, their brethren, were over against them in the watches.
9. and Unni] R.V. and Unno. The K’ri reads ‘and Unni,’ the C’thib ‘and Unno.’ The C’thib reading might, however, be rendered as the verb which occurs in Ezra 3:11, ‘And they sang one to another’ (cf. Deuteronomy 21:7; Deuteronomy 27:14), with the sense of ‘And their brethren responded to them in choral antiphon.’ This suggestion, however, apart from grammatical objections, requires us to suppose that Bakbukiah’s name has been interpolated. For this there is no evidence; and so far as the sense is concerned, the idea of antiphonal singing is sufficiently expressed in our own text. The confusion between ‘Unno’ and ‘Unni’ arises from the commonest source of variation in the Hebrew text, the similarity of Yod and Vâv (י and ו). But the original reading was very probably ‘Also Bakbukiah and Unni [and] their brethren;’ Yôd, the last letter of Unni, having fallen out before the Vâv, the Vâv became, instead of the copula, the last letter of ‘Unno.’ Another conjectural and less probable emendation of the text is to read ‘Obadiah’ instead of ‘Unni,’ in order to bring the verse in closer correspondence with Nehemiah 12:25.

over against them] The same expression as in 2 Chronicles 7:6, ‘The priests sounded trumpets before them,’ where probably the meaning is ‘over against, i.e. in answer to, the Levites:’ See also Nehemiah 12:24.

in the watches] R.V. in wards. LXX. εἰς τὰς ἐφημερίας. Vulg. ‘in officio suo.’ The Hebrew could equally well be rendered ‘as watches, i.e. for the purpose of keeping watch.’ But the sense required is more probably ‘according to wards,’ ‘in wards by rotation.’ Cf. Nehemiah 13:14.

And Jeshua begat Joiakim, Joiakim also begat Eliashib, and Eliashib begat Joiada,
10, 11. The lists of the high-priests in 1 Chronicles 6:3-15 concluded with Jehozadak, who ‘went into captivity when the Lord carried away Judah and Jerusalem by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar.’ Jehozadak’s son was Jeshua (see Ezra 3:1), who returned from the captivity with Zerubbabel. The present list of the high-priesthood follows directly upon that given in 1 Chronicles 6.

Joiakim] From the special mention of this high-priest in Nehemiah 12:12; Nehemiah 12:26, we may conjecture that during his tenure of office the houses of the priests and Levites were registered or reconstituted.

Eliashib] The high-priest in Nehemiah’s period of governorship (Nehemiah 3:1; Nehemiah 13:4; Nehemiah 13:7; Nehemiah 13:28). His son Joiada, who is called Juda by Josephus (Ant. xi. 7. 1), is mentioned again in Nehemiah 13:28. A slight difficulty is presented by the name Jonathan. In Nehemiah 12:22, we find ‘Johanan’ stands between ‘Joiada’ and ‘Jaddua;’ and in Nehemiah 12:23, this Johanan is called the son of Eliashib. We must either suppose that Jonathan is here a mistake for Johanan, or that ‘Jonathan’ was high-priest for a short period, and was succeeded by his better known brother Johanan.

Jaddua] There is no reason to doubt that this is the same Jaddua, who was high-priest at the time that Alexander passed along the borders of Palestine on his march into Egypt. The probably legendary account of Alexander’s visit to Jerusalem, and his meeting with the high-priest Jaddua, attended by the priests in their most splendid robes, is narrated by Josephus (Ant. xi. 8. 5).

The occurrence of Jaddua’s name shows that the compilation of these books must be later than 340–333 b.c.

Between Eliashib (Nehemiah 13:28) who was high-priest in 432 b.c. and Jaddua who was high-priest in 333 b.c. there are thus only two names, or at the most three, recorded in this list, i.e. Joiada, Johanan or (? and) Jonathan.

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;
12. And in the days of Joiakim] See note on Nehemiah 12:10.

the chief of the fathers] R.V. heads of fathers’ houses.

On the list contained in these verses, see note on Nehemiah 12:1.

Of Ezra, Meshullam; of Amariah, Jehohanan;
Of Melicu, Jonathan; of Shebaniah, Joseph;
14. Melicu] R.V. Malluchi. Marg. ‘Another reading is, Melicu’. The K’thib gives Malluchi; the Q’ri Melicu. The LXX. reads Μαλούχ, the Vulgate ‘Milico.’

Of Harim, Adna; of Meraioth, Helkai;
Of Iddo, Zechariah; of Ginnethon, Meshullam;
Of Abijah, Zichri; of Miniamin, of Moadiah, Piltai;
17. of Miniamin, of Moadiah] The representative of the house of Miniamin has been omitted.

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.
22. were recorded chief of the fathers] R.V. were recorded heads of fathers’ houses. The language is obscure on account of the abruptness with which the statement is introduced. The meaning seems to be that during the four high-priesthoods mentioned, a full register of the heads of fathers’ houses among the Levites was kept.

to the reign of Darius the Persian] R.V. in (marg. Or, to) the reign. The preposition (literally ‘upon’) concerning which the doubt is expressed in the alternative rendering of the R.V. is rendered in the LXX. ἐν βασιλείᾳ and the Vulg. ‘in regno.’ It may be considered very questionable whether the rendering ‘to’ is admissible; ‘in’ is certainly preferable.

Darius the Persian] That this Darius is Darius III. Codomannus (336–331) is the most obvious explanation. And if the Jaddua mentioned in this verse be, as there is really no reason to doubt, the high-priest of Alexander’s time, the mention of Darius III. Codomannus, the contemporary Persian king, presents no difficulty. On the title ‘the Persian,’ see the Introduction.

The alternative preferred by some commentators, viz. that Darius Nothus (424–404 b.c.), the successor of Artaxerxes, is intended, is improbable after the mention of Jaddua’s enrolment, unless it be maintained that this Jaddua is not the high-priest of Alexander’s time. But it must also be evident that the reference to Jaddua is to his tenure of the high-priesthood. The attempt to reconcile the mention of Jaddua with the allusion to Darius Nothus, by the suggestion that Darius Nothus was king when Jaddua was born, only arises from the presupposition that none but Nehemiah could have written this chapter.

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.
23. The sons of Levi] Here we have the heading or title of another enrolment. The expression ‘the sons of Levi’ is to be noted, and compared with the mention of ‘the Levites’ in Nehemiah 12:8; Nehemiah 12:22. The whole house of Levi is probably intended, priests and Levites together.

in the book of the chronicles] Clearly not the same as our ‘Chronicles,’ although the title is the same; ‘the words of the days’ was the regular Hebrew term for annals of any kind. The book here referred to seems to have been an official document, and to have been brought down to the days of Johanan the son of Eliashib, hence presumably down to the close of the fifth century b.c.

even until the days … Eliashib] Some connect with the following verse.

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.
24. And the chief of the Levites] Once more a brief list is given of the chief Levite families.

Hashabiah] This name occurs in Nehemiah 10:12, and Ezra 8:19, but not in Nehemiah 12:8-9. Probably the same as Hashabneiah (Nehemiah 9:5).

Sherebiah] Cf. Nehemiah 12:8, Nehemiah 9:5, Nehemiah 10:13; Ezra 8:18.

Jeshua the son of Kadmiel] We have here an almost certain error in the text ‘Jeshua ben-Kadmiel’ instead of ‘Jeshua, Bani, (or Binnui), Kadmiel.’ Cf. Nehemiah 12:8, Nehemiah 10:9. In favour of this emendation is to be cited the reading of the LXX. υἱοὶ (b’nê) Καδμιήλ.

over against them] Cf. Nehemiah 12:9. LXX. κατεναντίον αὐτῶν, Vulg. ‘per vices suas.’

to praise and (R.V. to) give thanks] The reference is to the anti-phonal singing of the Levites in the Temple worship.

according to the commandment of David the man of God] The reference is to the organization of the Levitical singers by David mentioned in 1 Chronicles 16:4; 1 Chronicles 23:30.

On the title ‘the man of God’ applied to David cf. 2 Chronicles 8:14.

ward over (R.V. omit) against ward] The same phrase occurs in 1 Chronicles 26:16.

Mattaniah, and Bakbukiah, Obadiah, Meshullam, Talmon, Akkub, were porters keeping the ward at the thresholds of the gates.
25. Mattaniah] Cf. Nehemiah 12:8, Nehemiah 11:17. Mattaniah representing Asaphites.

Bakbukiah] Cf. Nehemiah 12:9, Nehemiah 11:17, representing the Hemanites, cf. 1 Chronicles 25:4.

Obadiah] Probably the same as Abda of the family of Jeduthun, Nehemiah 11:17.

These three names are the names of singers who were also porters, and should probably be separated from the next three, who were only porters.

Meshullam] Probably the same as Shallum (1 Chronicles 9:17; Ezra 2:42).

Talmon, Akkub] Cf. Nehemiah 11:19; 1 Chronicles 9:17.

at the thresholds of the gates] R.V. at the storehouses of the gates. The A.V. gives the rendering which is favoured by the Vulgate ‘vestibulorum ante portas,’ and by the chief Hebrew commentators, e.g. Rashi and Aben Ezra. The R.V. however is undoubtedly right. The Hebrew only occurs elsewhere in the O.T. in 1 Chronicles 26:15; 1 Chronicles 26:17, ‘storehouse.’ The temple was a treasury as well as a sanctuary.

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.
26. These were in the days of Joiakim &c.] As Nehemiah 12:22-23 refer to a later period than that here mentioned, this summary probably refers to the list contained in Nehemiah 12:12-21. Whether it also refers to 24–25 is a doubtful point. But the awkwardness of the verse in its present position, lends some colour to the view that Nehemiah 12:22-23 are an interpolation by the compiler.

It will be observed that two periods are mentioned, the period of Joiakim (circ. 500 b.c.), and that of Nehemiah and Ezra (460–430 b.c.). The verse was clearly written at a date considerably later than Nehemiah’s lifetime.

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.
27. at the dedication of the wall] It is only natural to suppose that the dedication of the walls took place at no long interval after their completion. The walls were finished on the 25th of the month Elul (Nehemiah 6:15) or September. According to 2Ma 1:18 Nehemiah on the 25th of Chislev (December) celebrated the restoration of the altar. If this date may be relied upon as representing a true tradition of the solemn dedication described in these verses, exactly three months elapsed between the completion and the dedication of the walls. It has been by some considered improbable that the Feast of Tabernacles and the Sealing of the Covenant (8–10) would have taken place before the Dedication described in these verses; and accordingly the events narrated in those chapters have been ascribed to the following year.

Rawlinson is of opinion that ‘the nexus of the remainder of this chapter with the next and the date given in chap. Nehemiah 13:6, make it certain that the ceremony was deferred for the space of nearly twelve years. Perhaps Nehemiah required an express permission from the Persian king before he could venture on a solemnity which might have been liable to misrepresentation.’

But the unlikelihood of this hypothesis cannot be thus disposed of. (1) Is it probable that 12 years should have been permitted to elapse between the triumphant accomplishment of Nehemiah’s work and its religious consecration? (2) The nexus of the remainder of this chapter with Nehemiah 13:1-3 is very close, but a completely new section, with marked difference of style, opens at Nehemiah 13:4 and denotes the resumption of the more colloquial extracts from the Memoirs of Nehemiah. (3) The mention of the date, twelve years later, in Nehemiah 13:6 refers to the events described in the immediate context; and there is no probability that it would also be applicable to the preceding section Nehemiah 12:27-43. If Nehemiah 13:6 were, as has been supposed, so closely connected with Nehemiah 12:27-43, this mention of the date would surely have been placed in chap. 12.

out of all their places] Explained in the two next verses. Cf. Nehemiah 11:3; Nehemiah 11:20.

to keep the dedication with gladness] literally ‘to make dedication and gladness’ (LXX. ποιῆσαι ἐγκαίνια καὶ εὐφροσύνην). ‘Dedication.’ Heb. Khanukkah. The Jewish Feast of Dedication to commemorate the purification of the Temple by Judas the Maccabee (165 b.c.) was held in mid-winter (Adar 25). See John 10:22; 1Ma 4:60.

with thanksgivings] The LXX. transliterates in ἐν θωδαθᾷ. Among the Psalms appropriate to be sung on such an occasion some have suggested Psalms 122, 147.

cymbals, psalteries, and with harps] Cf. 1 Chronicles 13:8. ‘Psaltery’ = nebel, a harp: ‘harp’ = kinnor, a kind of guitar.

27–43. The Dedication of the Walls

In the description of this solemn event, there is a return to the use of the 1st Pers. Sing. (Nehemiah 12:31; Nehemiah 12:38; Nehemiah 12:40). The compiler returns to the Memoirs of Nehemiah, from which he makes extracts, while he no doubt exercises a full liberty of abridgement and revision.

And the sons of the singers gathered themselves together, both out of the plain country round about Jerusalem, and from the villages of Netophathi;
28. the plain country] R.V. the plain. Marg. ‘Or, circuit’. The word here used, ‘the kikkar,’ is technically applied to the Jordan valley, e.g. Genesis 13:10-12; Genesis 19:17; 2 Samuel 18:23. Here, however, as in Nehemiah 3:22, it seems very doubtful whether this application is at all possible at a time when the territory occupied by the Jews was of so limited an area. If the special signification be here retained, only the southern most portion of the Jordan valley, the district of Jericho, can be intended. The other and more probable alternative is to give the word its strict meaning of ‘the circle,’ and to suppose that it is here used to denote the country ‘round about Jerusalem.’ This is not improbable; for (1) the word does not necessarily mean a level surface, but something circular; (2) the country villages occupied by the singers (Nehemiah 12:29) were in the vicinity of Jerusalem. In confirmation of this, it should be remembered that, even in its special application, it is generally found with a qualifying substantive, e.g. ‘the plain, or kikkar = circuit, of the Jordan.’ (Genesis 13:10-11; 1 Kings 7:46. Cf. Matthew 3:5, ἡ περίχωρος τοῦ Ἰορδάνου).

of Netophathi] R.V. of the Netophathites. See note on Ezra 2:22.

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.
29. from the house of Gilgal] R.V. from Beth-gilgal. Possibly to be identified with the Gilgal of 2 Kings 2:1; 2 Kings 4:38, and if so it was about 14 miles N. of Jerusalem.

Geba] Cf. Nehemiah 11:31.

Azmaveth] See note on Ezra 2:24.

And the priests and the Levites purified themselves, and purified the people, and the gates, and the wall.
30. purified themselves] Cf. Ezra 6:20. The description of the sacrifices offered by Hezekiah on the occasion of a national purification should be compared, 2 Chronicles 29:20-24.

the people … the gates … the walls] i.e. the people were purified in order that they might engage in the solemn dedication of their city walls without violation of the laws of purity. ‘The gates and walls’ were probably sprinkled, both as a sign of the dedication and to remove defilement from the path of the sacred procession.

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:
31. the princes of Judah] i.e. all the nobles of the nation.

upon the wall] Much turns upon the meaning of the preposition here used. The words in the Hebrew, ‘from above, with respect to the wall’ have been considered by some to mean ‘beyond, at a little distance from the wall;’ by others ‘over against the wall.’ But a comparison with its use in 2 Chronicles 13:4 (= ‘upon’), Jonah 4:6 (= ‘over’) shows that the rendering of the English version may very well be defended.

two great companies of them that gave thanks] R.V. two great companies that gave thanks and went in procession. Literally ‘And I appointed two great thanksgivings and processions.’ The LXX. rendered καὶ ἔστησαν δύο περὶ αἰνέσεως μεγάλους. The Vulg. ‘statui duos magnos choros laudantium’ is clearly the origin of the A.V. rendering. The Hebrew word for ‘procession’ occurs only here in the O.T.

whereof one went on the right hand … dung gate] We have here to supply the words ‘whereof one went,’ which seem to have slipped out of the text. They are needed in order to correspond with ‘the other company’ in Nehemiah 12:38, ‘the right hand;’ facing towards the Temple, the procession moving to the right marched along the southern wall. The starting point seems to have been ‘the valley gate’ of Nehemiah 2:13. ‘Towards the dung gate.’ Cf. Nehemiah 3:14.

31–42. Nehemiah’s description of the dedication of the walls

Two processions headed by the priests and Levites started from near the Valley or Jaffa Gate, and proceeded, the one by the northern, the other by the southern wall, together accomplishing the complete circuit, and meeting one another in the open space on the eastern side of the Temple.

And after them went Hoshaiah, and half of the princes of Judah,
32. and after them] i.e. behind this procession of singers and musicians came the company consisting of one-half of the princes, headed by Hoshaiah, of whose official position we are not told.

And Azariah, Ezra, and Meshullam,
33. Azariah, Ezra] From a comparison of Nehemiah 12:1; Nehemiah 12:13 with Nehemiah 10:2, we might suppose that these were the names of the same priestly house.

Meshullam] Cf. Nehemiah 10:8.

Judah, and Benjamin, and Shemaiah, and Jeremiah,
34. Judah, and Benjamin] The occurrence of the two names together favours the view that the two tribes contributed to each wing of the procession one half of their numbers. Cf. Ezra 1:5; Ezra 4:1; Ezra 10:9. Others, however, prefer to think that they are names of certain princes.

Shemaiah] Cf. Nehemiah 12:6.

Jeremiah] Cf. Nehemiah 10:3, Nehemiah 12:1; Nehemiah 12:13.

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:
35. certain of the priests’ sons with trumpets] Apparently a special company following the heads of the priestly houses, and preceding the conclusion of the procession which consisted of the trained musicians. Their names have apparently for brevity’s sake been omitted; they were undoubtedly recorded like the names of the priestly trumpeters in the other procession (Nehemiah 12:41).

namely, Zechariah] R.V. omits namely. Zechariah, of the family of Mattaniah, seems to have led the house of Asaph. His company was quite distinct from that of the young trumpeters. This was the company of singers corresponding to that in Nehemiah 12:42.

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.
36. Azarael … Nethaneel] R.V. Azarel … Nethanel. These two names recall ‘Nethaniah and Asharelah, the sons of Asaph,’ in 1 Chronicles 25:2.

David the man of God] Cf. Nehemiah 12:24.

Ezra … before them] The mention of Ezra’s name here seems to indicate that he held in respect of the ‘right hand’ procession the same position occupied by Nehemiah in the other. If so, the words ‘before them’ will mean, not at the head of the professional musicians (which was Zechariah’s place), but at the head of the whole civil and religious procession. His place in the procession would then be before Hoshaiah and half of ‘the princes of Judah’ (Nehemiah 12:31-32).

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.
37. at (R.V. by) the fountain gate] For the position of this gate, see note on Nehemiah 3:15.

which was over against them] R.V. and straight before them. Apparently at this point, instead of following the wall round the spurs of the Ophel, the procession went straight on up the steps ascending the brow of the hill.

the stairs of the city of David] Cf. Nehemiah 3:26.

above the house of David] This traditional site seems to have been on the S.E. angle of Ophel. The procession keeping to the ridge above it, moved along in a direction due north, ‘even unto the water gate, eastward,’ i.e. E. of the Temple.

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;
38. over against them] R.V. to meet them. The line of march of the other procession was by the northern wall. By an ingenious conjecture, Reuss, altering the Hebrew word (= to meet them) by the addition of one consonant, proposes to read ‘on the left hand,’ balancing the words in Nehemiah 12:31.

and I after them] Nehemiah, following the thanksgiving company of Levites and singers and musicians, marched, like Ezra, at the head of the other half of the princes and the people.

and the half, &c.] R.V. with the half, &c. The other half of the princes, priests, men of Judah and Benjamin, and musicians.

from beyond] R.V. above. This seems to mean at a little distance from, i.e. to the north of (see, however, note on Nehemiah 12:31).

the tower of the furnaces] Cf. Nehemiah 3:11.

even unto the broad wall] Cf. Nehemiah 3:8.

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.
39. from above] R.V. above.

the gate of Ephraim] This gate is not mentioned in chap. 3. It was situated probably at about the centre of the northern wall, and was so called because through it passed the main road to Ephraim.

above the old gate] R.V. by the old gate. Cf. Nehemiah 3:6.

above (R.V. by) the fish gate] Cf. Nehemiah 3:3.

39. Cf. Nehemiah 3:2Hananeel] R.V. Hananel.

Meah] R.V. Hammeah. Marg. Or, The hundred.

the sheep gate] Cf. Nehemiah 3:1.

the prison gate] R.V. the gate of the guard. In Nehemiah 3:25, we have mention of ‘the court of the guard.’ The gate here mentioned we should expect to be one of the gates of the Temple precincts, leading from the north side into the open space to the east of the Temple. It is an objection that from the mention of ‘the court of the guard’ (Nehemiah 3:25) we should infer that it lay on the south side of the Temple; and if so (which is very unlikely), that the procession led by Nehemiah would have marched past the halting-place of the other company.

It is noticeable that the concluding clause is not found in the best text of the LXX. It may possibly represent a later insertion on the part of a scribe who wished to assign a halting-place to this company.

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:
40. rulers] R.V. marg. ‘Or, deputies’. In Nehemiah 12:31, ‘the princes.’

and I, and the half of the rulers with me] We have here rather fuller details of Nehemiah’s company to correspond with the description of the other in Nehemiah 12:32-36.

And the priests; Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Michaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah, and Hananiah, with trumpets;
41. and the priests] These seven names correspond to the ‘certain of the priests’ sons with trumpets’ in Nehemiah 12:35, where the names have dropped out.

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.
42. And Maaseiah] The divisions or courses of the Levitical musicians, eight in number, corresponding to what we find in Nehemiah 12:35-36.

the singers sang loud] Lit. ‘caused to hear,’ cf. 1 Chronicles 15:19. The LXX. ἠκούσθησαν. Vulg. ‘clare cecinerunt.’

Jezrahiah their overseer] Jezrahiah as leader of the musicians corresponds to Zechariah in the other company (Nehemiah 12:35).

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.
43. Also that day] R.V. And … that day.

great sacrifices] Cf. Ezra 6:17.

God had made them rejoice, &c.] 2 Chronicles 20:27, ‘for the Lord had made them to rejoice over their enemies.’

the wives also] R.V. and the women also. The women and children who were present on the occasion of national gatherings (e.g. Nehemiah 8:2) would participate in the festivities.

was heard even afar off] Cf. the very similar statement in Ezra 3:13, ‘for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off.’

44–13:4. This section, in which the Memoirs of Nehemiah probably only form the outline of the Compiler’s work, falls into two groups, (a) 44–47, dealing with Levitical organization, and (b) Nehemiah 8:1-4, relations with foreign peoples. The 1st person sing. is dropped.

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.
44. at that time] R.V. on that day. This is not an allusion to the day of rejoicing in the previous verse (‘that day’ Nehemiah 12:43), but a general definition of time which the Compiler uses again in Nehemiah 8:1. It is only a little less indefinite than ‘in those days,’ Nehemiah 13:15; Nehemiah 13:23.

some] R.V. men.

the chambers] The Hebrew word here used occurs elsewhere only in Nehemiah 3:30, and Nehemiah 13:7.

for the treasures] As in Nehemiah 13:13, Nehemiah records his special appointment of ‘treasurers over the treasuries’ whose business it was ‘to distribute unto their brethren.’ The appointments mentioned in this verse are probably of a somewhat different nature. The men ‘appointed over the chambers’ were the regular receivers and custodians of the treasure, i.e. the firstfruits and tithes, &c.; the four appointed by Nehemiah were commissioners for the purpose of securing an honest distribution.

for the treasures] Either a general term denoting ‘stores’ and ‘provisions,’ of which ‘the heave-offerings’ are items, or a specific term, standing at the head of the list, and denoting special dedications and wealthy gifts. The former is the more probable alternative.

the offerings] R.V. the heave offerings.

the firstfruits] The use of this word seems here to include ‘the firstfruits’ and ‘firstlings’ mentioned in Nehemiah 10:35-37.

the tithes] See on Nehemiah 10:37-38.

It will be observed that there is no reference here to any tithe of cattle. The chambers are only intended for receiving the produce of the field (Nehemiah 13:12). As this passage is clearly based upon Nehemiah’s own Memoirs, it has afforded support to the theory that the cattle tithe was introduced into the text of Leviticus 27:30; Leviticus 27:32, after the time of Nehemiah. See note at the end of chap. 10.

out of the fields of the cities] R.V. according to the fields of the cities.

The point of this clause is rather obscure. It probably refers to the method of storing, rather than to the size of the fields or to the succession in which the offerings were received and the tithe exacted.

An account was taken of the contributions from the fields of each city.

the portions of the law] R.V. the portions appointed toy the law. Marg. ‘Heb. of the law’. A unique phrase in the O.T. denoting the special requirements of the Levitical law.

Judah rejoiced &c.] The readiness of the people generally (‘Judah’) to support the priests and Levites according to ‘the law’ was due to their appreciation of their religious services. In proportion to their zeal for the priests and Levites it was necessary to provide officers to receive and regulate the contribution.

that wailed] R.V. Marg. ‘Heb. stood’.

In Deuteronomy the phrase ‘to stand before the Lord’ is the technical term for the ministrations of the priests. Here we find it used of the offices of ‘priests and Levites.’ In 1 Chronicles 6:32-33 ‘And they waited on their office according to their order. And these are they that waited,’ it is applied to the Levites.

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.
45. And both the singers and the porters kept] R.V. And they kept … and so did the singers and the porters. The verse, according to the rendering of the R.V. states first that the priests and Levites performed the due ceremonial obligations, and then that the same strict conformity to rule was practised by the singers and porters. The verb ‘kept’ has to be supplied in the second clause.

This is preferable to the suggestion that the second clause is one of a different character, = ‘and the singers and the porters were at their post according to the commandment of David’ &c. The ground for this alternative rendering is the supposition that the singers and porters would not be subject to the same laws of purification.

kept the ward of their God, and the ward of the purification] The word rendered ‘ward’ means here ‘that which has to be observed,’ ‘a charge,’ in the same sense in which it occurs in Numbers 9:23 ‘they kept the charge of the Lord;’ 2 Chronicles 13:11 ‘For we keep the charge of the Lord our God.’ Cf. Genesis 26:5.

It is therefore to be distinguished from its more concrete use in Nehemiah 12:9; Nehemiah 12:24; Nehemiah 13:30, where it refers to the ‘posts’ of the Levites.

according to the commandment … and of Solomon his son] The reference is one of a general character to the regulations of the Temple services ascribed by the Chronicler to David (1 Chronicles 23-26) and Solomon (2 Chronicles 8:14).

‘And of Solomon.’ The word ‘and’ must have accidentally dropped out of the Hebrew text, and must be restored.

For in the days of David and Asaph of old there were chief of the singers, and songs of praise and thanksgiving unto God.
46. in the days of David and Asaph of old] This combination of names may be illustrated by other examples in the writings of the Chronicler (2 Chronicles 29:30; 2 Chronicles 35:15).

The LXX. omits the copula between the names, ἐν ἡμέραις Δαυὶδ Ἀσὰφ ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς πρῶτος τῶν ᾀδόντων. This may represent the original reading. If so, it is the mention of David in the previous verse which occasions here the parenthetical statement that in those days the great Asaph was ‘overseer’ of the singers. We should then render ‘in the days of David Asaph was of old chief.’

there were chief] R.V. Marg. ‘Another reading is there were chiefs’. The plural ‘chiefs’ is the reading of the K’ri, which is also found in the Vulgate ‘erant principes constituti cantorum.’ If the reading of the first clause ‘in the days of David and Asaph’ be retained, the plural ‘chiefs’ with the allusion to a general custom, instead of to a particular example, is probably to be preferred. For the position of ‘chief’ of the singers associated with Asaph, see 1 Chronicles 16:5; 1 Chronicles 16:7; 1 Chronicles 25:1-2; 1 Chronicles 25:9.

songs of praise and thanksgiving] In the English versions the punctuation gives the meaning as of a new clause ‘And there were songs of praise’ &c. Others make these words also dependent on ‘chief’ or ‘chiefs.’

There is no corresponding archæological reference to the position of the porters. The Chronicler throughout his work shows a marked preference for the interests of ‘the singers’ as compared with ‘the porters.’

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.
47. in the days of Zerubbabel, and in the days of Nehemiah] The mention of Nehemiah in the 3rd person along with Zerubbabel is an almost convincing proof that the sentence was not from the hand of Nehemiah; but that it was written (probably by the Chronicler) at a considerable interval of time since Nehemiah’s death. The two men are here mentioned as the two heroes of their generation, under whom Israel was loyal to their Temple.

gave … sanctified] The participles in the Heb. show the continuous habit.

every day his portion] R.V. as every day required. In Nehemiah 11:23, we are told a daily provision for the singers was one of the commands of the Persian king: but there was also doubtless a regular daily payment on their behalf made by the people.

sanctified holy things unto the Levites] R.V. sanctified for the Levites. ‘They sanctified,’ i.e. all Israel (not ‘the singers and the porters’) set apart for the use of those who served God. The word ‘sanctify’ is therefore equivalent to ‘devote’ or dedicate in this connexion: cf. Leviticus 27:14; Leviticus 27:16 sqq. ‘sanctify a house … a field;’ 1 Chronicles 26:27 ‘Out of the spoil won in battles did they dedicate to repair the house of the Lord.’ There is no idea of a succession of ritual acts of consecration.

the children of Aaron] This expression only occurs in our books here and Nehemiah 10:38. In neither passage have we the words of Nehemiah himself but of the Compiler, who was probably also the Chronicler, with whom the term is a favourite one for ‘the priesthood,’ e.g. 2 Chronicles 13:9-10; 2 Chronicles 31:19; 2 Chronicles 35:14.

The sanctifying of Israel for the Levites consisted in the payment of the tithes to the house of Levi; the sanctifying on the part of the Levites for the priests, in the payment of ‘the tithe of the tithes’ (see Nehemiah 10:38) in accordance with Numbers 18:26.

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