Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
And the rulers of the people dwelt at Jerusalem: the rest of the people also cast lots, to bring one of ten to dwell in Jerusalem the holy city, and nine parts to dwell in other cities.XI.
(1, 2) The history reverts to Nehemiah 7:5; lots are cast for the transfer of one-tenth of the people to the capital.
(1) And the rulers.—The narrative joins on to Nehemiah 7:4. The festival month had prevented the immediate carrying out of the governor’s purpose.
The rest of the people.—The rulers being already in the capital, Nehemiah ordered that one man in ten should be chosen by lot to transfer his family.
Jerusalem the holy city.—Remembering the “separation” that had taken place (Nehemiah 9), and the recent covenant (Nehemiah 10), we see the solemnity of this epithet, now first used, and repeated in Nehemiah 11:18. “Then shall Jerusalem be holy, and no strangers shall pass through her any more (Joel 3:17). But the New Testament brings another comment on the phrase.
(2) The people blessed all the men that willingly offered themselves.—We are not told that any compensation was made to them; and these words seem to indicate that the chosen ones freely submitted, their patriotism being applauded by all.—Jerusalem was the post of danger, and in any case it was a hardship to leave their country possessions (Nehemiah 11:3).
Now these are the chief of the province that dwelt in Jerusalem: but in the cities of Judah dwelt every one in his possession in their cities, to wit, Israel, the priests, and the Levites, and the Nethinims, and the children of Solomon's servants.(3) Of the province.—This betrays the hand of Nehemiah, who was still a Persian official as well as a governor of Judah; and it shows that here we have a general heading for the rest of the chapter. Both city and country are included in the rest of the verse.
Israel.—The two Israelitish tribes were represented, but, like Judah before, this has become a generic name.
And at Jerusalem dwelt certain of the children of Judah, and of the children of Benjamin. Of the children of Judah; Athaiah the son of Uzziah, the son of Zechariah, the son of Amariah, the son of Shephatiah, the son of Mahalaleel, of the children of Perez;(4-19) The heads in Jerusalem: as compared with 1 Chronicles 9, by no means complete. Judah and Benjamin are represented, with priests and Levites and porters.
(4) Perez.—In 1 Chronicles 9 the descendants of Perez (or Phares) are not given; but the descendants of Zerah, present there, are absent here. This may be a question of the right reading of the text.
And Maaseiah the son of Baruch, the son of Colhozeh, the son of Hazaiah, the son of Adaiah, the son of Joiarib, the son of Zechariah, the son of Shiloni.(5) The son of Shiloni.—Better, the Shilonite, or descendants of Shelah, youngest son of Judah.
And these are the sons of Benjamin; Sallu the son of Meshullam, the son of Joed, the son of Pedaiah, the son of Kolaiah, the son of Maaseiah, the son of Ithiel, the son of Jesaiah.(7) The Benjamites were represented by two families, and gave the city two prefects (Nehemiah 11:9).
Of the priests: Jedaiah the son of Joiarib, Jachin.(10) This should be read Jedaiah, Joiarib, Jachin, three priestly families (1Chronicles 9:10).
Seraiah the son of Hilkiah, the son of Meshullam, the son of Zadok, the son of Meraioth, the son of Ahitub, was the ruler of the house of God.(11) Seraiah.—The high-priestly family name. Eliashib was the present occupant.
And their brethren, mighty men of valour, an hundred twenty and eight: and their overseer was Zabdiel, the son of one of the great men.(14) Of valour.—Able for the service of God’s house: men of ability, therefore.
The son of one of the great men.—Rather, son of Haggedolim.
And Shabbethai and Jozabad, of the chief of the Levites, had the oversight of the outward business of the house of God.(16) Outward business.—This is a remarkable specification of the functions of the Lévites, parallel with the “valour” of the priests just before. The preceding chapter explains the “outward business.”
Moreover the porters, Akkub, Talmon, and their brethren that kept the gates, were an hundred seventy and two.(19) An hundred seventy and two.—In 1 Chronicles 9 the number is 212. The difference between the two accounts may partly be explained by the fact that in the Chronicles the list is confined to those who came with Zerubbabel, while here addition is made of those who came with Ezra. But see the commentary on 1 Chronicles 9.
And the residue of Israel, of the priests, and the Levites, were in all the cities of Judah, every one in his inheritance.(20-36) The heads in the country.
But the Nethinims dwelt in Ophel: and Ziha and Gispa were over the Nethinims.(21) Ophel.—The Nethinims on the promontory of Ophel were either within or without the city, according as the one wall or the other was taken. Here they are regarded as outside.
The overseer also of the Levites at Jerusalem was Uzzi the son of Bani, the son of Hashabiah, the son of Mattaniah, the son of Micha. Of the sons of Asaph, the singers were over the business of the house of God.(22) The overseer.—Pakid, or visitor.
Of the sons of Asaph.—It requires no disturbance of the original to read the whole of Uzzi’s pedigree: “the son of Micha, of the sons of Asaph, the singers in the service of the house of God.” Thus with the prayer of Nehemiah 11:17 there is a parallel.
For it was the king's commandment concerning them, that a certain portion should be for the singers, due for every day.(23) The king’s commandment.—It seems that Artaxerxes had gone beyond the exemption of Ezra 7:24, and given them a daily allowance, which it was the business of Uzzi to see to.
And Pethahiah the son of Meshezabeel, of the children of Zerah the son of Judah, was at the king's hand in all matters concerning the people.(24) Of the children of Zerah.—This makes the absence of Zerah in the beginning of the chapter very remarkable, and suggests some accidental omission.
At the king’s hand.—Pethahiah was the king’s agent in all the country matters of the “province.”
And for the villages, with their fields, some of the children of Judah dwelt at Kirjatharba, and in the villages thereof, and at Dibon, and in the villages thereof, and at Jekabzeel, and in the villages thereof,(25) The children of Judah are now described very generally with respect to their distribution.
Kirjath-arba.—Hebron no longer, the ancient name being now recovered.
In the villages thereof.—Literally, the daughters thereof; being a different word from the “villages” at the beginning.
Zanoah, Adullam, and in their villages, at Lachish, and the fields thereof, at Azekah, and in the villages thereof. And they dwelt from Beersheba unto the valley of Hinnom.(30) From Beer-sheba unto the valley of Hinnom.—The men of Judah spread from the extreme south to the extreme north of Judah, an extent of some fifty miles.
The children also of Benjamin from Geba dwelt at Michmash, and Aija, and Bethel, and in their villages,(31) From Geba.—This verse should read: the children also of Benjamin dwelt from Geba to Michmash.
And of the Levites were divisions in Judah, and in Benjamin.(36) And of the Levites.—The fewness of the Levites in the country warranted their summary notice in this way.