Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
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.
Ne 11:1, 2. The Rulers, Voluntary Men, and Every Tenth Man Chosen by Lot, Dwell at Jerusalem.
1. the rulers … dwelt at Jerusalem—That city being the metropolis of the country, it was right and proper that the seat of government should be there. But the exigency of the times required that special measures should be taken to insure the residence of an adequate population for the custody of the buildings and the defense of the city. From the annoyances of restless and malignant enemies, who tried every means to demolish the rising fortifications, there was some danger attending a settlement in Jerusalem. Hence the greater part of the returned exiles, in order to earn as well as secure the rewards of their duty, preferred to remain in the country or the provincial towns. To remedy this state of things, it was resolved to select every tenth man of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin by lot, to become a permanent inhabitant of the capital. The necessity of such an expedient commended it to the general approval. It was the more readily submitted to because the lot was resorted to on all the most critical conjunctures of the Jewish history, and regarded by the people as a divine decision (Pr 18:18). This awakened strongly the national spirit; and patriotic volunteers came forward readily to meet the wishes of the authorities, a service which, implying great self-denial as well as courage, was reckoned in the circumstances of so much importance as entitled them to the public gratitude. No wonder that the conduct of these volunteers drew forth the tribute of public admiration; for they sacrificed their personal safety and comfort for the interests of the community because Jerusalem was at that time a place against which the enemies of the Jews were directing a thousand plots. Therefore, residence in it at such a juncture was attended with expense and various annoyances from which a country life was entirely free.
And the people blessed all the men, that willingly offered themselves to dwell at Jerusalem.
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.
Ne 11:3-36. Their Names.
3. the chief of the province—that is, Judea. Nehemiah speaks of it, as it then was, a small appendix of the Persian empire.
in the cities of Judah dwelt every one in his possession in their cities—The returned exiles, who had come from Babylon, repaired generally, and by a natural impulse, to the lands and cities throughout the country which had been anciently assigned them.
Israel—This general name, which designated the descendants of Jacob before the unhappy division of the two kingdoms under Rehoboam, was restored after the captivity, the Israelites being then united with the Jews, and all traces of their former separation being obliterated. Although the majority of the returned exiles belonged to the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, they are here called Israel because a large number out of all the tribes were now intermingled, and these were principally the occupiers of the rural villages, while none but those of Judah and Benjamin resided in Jerusalem.
the Levites—These took possession of the cities allotted to them according as they had opportunity.
the Nethinims—A certain order of men, either Gibeonites or persons joined with them, who were devoted to the service of God.
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. at Jerusalem dwelt certain of the children of Judah—The discrepancy that is apparent between this [Ne 11:4-36] and the list formerly given in 1Ch 9:1-9, arose not only from the Jewish and Oriental practice of changing or modifying the names of persons from a change of circumstances, but from the alterations that must have been produced in the course of time. The catalogue in Chronicles contains those who came with the first detachment of returned exiles, while the list in this passage probably included also those who returned with Ezra and Nehemiah; or it was most probably made out afterwards, when several had died, or some, who had been inserted as going on the journey, remained, and others came in their stead.
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.
All the sons of Perez that dwelt at Jerusalem were four hundred threescore and eight valiant men.
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.
And after him Gabbai, Sallai, nine hundred twenty and eight.
And Joel the son of Zichri was their overseer: and Judah the son of Senuah was second over the city.
9. overseer—that is, "captain" or "chief."
Of the priests: Jedaiah the son of Joiarib, Jachin.
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. the ruler of the house of God—assistant of the high priest (Nu 3:32; 1Ch 9:11; 2Ch 19:11).
And their brethren that did the work of the house were eight hundred twenty and two: and Adaiah the son of Jeroham, the son of Pelaliah, the son of Amzi, the son of Zechariah, the son of Pashur, the son of Malchiah,
And his brethren, chief of the fathers, two hundred forty and two: and Amashai the son of Azareel, the son of Ahasai, the son of Meshillemoth, the son of Immer,
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.
Also of the Levites: Shemaiah the son of Hashub, the son of Azrikam, the son of Hashabiah, the son of Bunni;
And Shabbethai and Jozabad, of the chief of the Levites, had the oversight of the outward business of the house of God.
16. the oversight of the outward business of the house of God—that is, those things which were done outside, or in the country, such as the collecting of the provisions (1Ch 26:29).
And Mattaniah the son of Micha, the son of Zabdi, the son of Asaph, was the principal to begin the thanksgiving in prayer: and Bakbukiah the second among his brethren, and Abda the son of Shammua, the son of Galal, the son of Jeduthun.
17. the principal to begin the thanksgiving in prayer—that is, the leader of the choir which chanted the public praise at the time of the morning and evening sacrifice. That service was always accompanied by some appropriate psalm, the sacred music being selected and guided by the person named.
All the Levites in the holy city were two hundred fourscore and four.
Moreover the porters, Akkub, Talmon, and their brethren that kept the gates, were an hundred seventy and two.
And the residue of Israel, of the priests, and the Levites, were in all the cities of Judah, every one in his inheritance.
But the Nethinims dwelt in Ophel: and Ziha and Gispa were over the Nethinims.
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 sons of Asaph, the singers were over the business of the house of God—They were selected to take charge of providing those things which were required for the interior of the temple and its service, while to others was committed the care of the "outward business of the house of God" (Ne 11:16). This duty was very properly assigned to the sons of Asaph; for, though they were Levites, they did not repair in rotation to Jerusalem, as the other ministers of religion. Being permanent residents, and employed in duties which were comparatively light and easy, they were very competent to undertake this charge.
For it was the king's commandment concerning them, that a certain portion should be for the singers, due for every day.
23. it was the king's commandment—It was the will of the Persian monarch in issuing his edict that the temple service should be revived in all its religious fulness and solemnity. As this special provision for the singers is said to have been by the king's commandment, the order was probably given at the request or suggestion of Ezra or Nehemiah.
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. Pethahiah … was at the king's hand in all matters concerning the people—This person was entrusted with judicial power, either for the interest, or by the appointment, of the Persian monarch, and his duty consisted either in adjusting cases of civil dispute, or in regulating fiscal concerns.
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. some of the children of Judah dwelt at Kirjath-arba—The whole region in which the villages here mentioned were situated had been completely devastated by the Chaldean invasion; and, therefore, it must be assumed, that these villages had been rebuilt before "the children dwelt in them."
And at Jeshua, and at Moladah, and at Bethphelet,
And at Hazarshual, and at Beersheba, and in the villages thereof,
And at Ziklag, and at Mekonah, and in the villages thereof,
And at Enrimmon, and at Zareah, and at Jarmuth,
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.
The children also of Benjamin from Geba dwelt at Michmash, and Aija, and Bethel, and in their villages,
And at Anathoth, Nob, Ananiah,
Hazor, Ramah, Gittaim,
Hadid, Zeboim, Neballat,
Lod, and Ono, the valley of craftsmen.
And of the Levites were divisions in Judah, and in Benjamin.
36. And of the Levites were divisions in Judah, and in Benjamin—Rather, there were divisions for the Levites; that is, those who were not resident in Jerusalem were distributed in settlements throughout the provinces of Judah and Benjamin.