Nehemiah 11:3
Now these are the chief of the province that dwelled in Jerusalem: but in the cities of Judah dwelled 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.
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(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.

Nehemiah 11:3. These are the chief of the province — Of Judea, which was now made a province. Israel — The generality of the people of Israel, whether of Judah, or Benjamin, or any other tribe. These he calls Israel, rather than Judah, because there were many of the other tribes now incorporated with them; and because none of the tribes of Israel, except Judah and Benjamin, dwelt in Jerusalem.11:1-36 The distribution of the people. - In all ages, men have preferred their own ease and advantage to the public good. Even the professors of religion too commonly seek their own, and not the things of Christ. Few have had such attachment to holy things and holy places, as to renounce pleasure for their sake. Yet surely, our souls should delight to dwell where holy persons and opportunities of spiritual improvement most abound. If we have not this love to the city of our God, and to every thing that assists our communion with the Saviour, how shall we be willing to depart hence; to be absent from the body, that we may be present with the Lord? To the carnal-minded, the perfect holiness of the New Jerusalem would be still harder to bear than the holiness of God's church on earth. Let us seek first the favour of God, and his glory; let us study to be patient, contented, and useful in our several stations, and wait, with cheerful hope, for admission into the holy city of God.To bring one of ten - Artificial enlargements of capitals by forcible transfers of population to them, were not unusual in ancient times. About 500 B.C., Syracuse became a great city in this way. Tradition ascribed the greatness of Rome, in part, to this cause. 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.

The chief of the province, i.e. of Judea, which was now made a province.

To wit, Israel, i.e. the generality of the people of Israel, whether of Judah, or Benjamin, or any other tribe; as appears by this general enumeration of all the inhabitants of the land, in which either the people of Judah and Benjamin are included under the title of Israel, or they are not here mentioned; which is absurd to think, because they made up the greatest number of them. And these he calls

Israel rather than Judah, partly because there were many of the other tribes now joined and incorporated with them; and partly because none of the tribes of Israel, except Judah and Benjamin, dwelt in Jerusalem, as appears from the sequel. Now these are the chief of the province that dwelt in Jerusalem,.... That is, of Judea, reduced to a province by the king of Babylon, and now a province of the Persian monarchy:

but in the cities of Judah dwelt everyone in his possession in their cities; in which they or their ancestors had formerly dwelt: to wit, Israel: the people in general of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, and such of the other tribes that returned with them:

the priests, and the Levites, and the Nethinims, and the children of Solomon's servants; of whom see Ezra 2:55.

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. Now these are the chief, &c.] The heading of our list differs from that in 1 Chronicles 9:2, which runs, ‘Now the first inhabitants that dwelt in their possessions in their cities were, Israel, the priests, the Levites, and the Nethinim.’ The purpose of the list in 1 Chronicles 9 is apparently to give the names of the families who had either remained in Judea at the time when the mass of the people were transported to Babylon, or had returned to their own country either from exile or from voluntary flight in Egypt and the neighbouring nations. The purpose of the list in our passage is apparently to state the number of the inhabitants either before or after (Rawlinson) the measures taken to augment them in Nehemiah’s time.

The mention of ‘the king’ in Nehemiah 11:23 and Nehemiah 11:24 is apparently a reference to Artaxerxes; a conclusive proof that the list belongs to the age of Nehemiah.

According to some commentators, the list is intended to give the names of ‘the princes of the people’ mentioned in Nehemiah 11:1. But the expression ‘the chiefs of the province’ (see on Ezra 2:1) suggests that the list and its superscription have no original connexion with Nehemiah 11:1-2. It is more probable that the Compiler having access to this list belonging to the age of Nehemiah, in which the classification is that of ‘the dwellers in Jerusalem’ (4–19) and ‘the residue of Israel’ (20–36) has inserted it here in terms as nearly as possible corresponding to the division of the people in Nehemiah 11:1.

Nethinims] R.V. Nethinim.

and the children of Solomon’s servants] See on Ezra 2:58; Nehemiah 7:57. These are not mentioned in the parallel passage, 1 Chronicles 9:2.

3–10. From this verse to Nehemiah 12:26 we have a succession of lists: (1) the chiefs of the provinces that dwelt in Jerusalem, 4–26; (2) the towns and villages occupied by the Jews, 25–36; (3) the priests and Levites that went up with Zerubbabel from Babylon, Nehemiah 12:1-9; (4) the genealogy of the high-priests beginning at Jeshua, Nehemiah 12:10-11; (5) the heads of the priestly houses in the days of Joiakim, Nehemiah 12:12-21; (6) of the Levitical houses at the same period, Nehemiah 12:22-26.

The origin of the lists is not recorded. That some of them may have been included in the ‘Memoirs’ of Nehemiah is very possible. But all doubtless bear traces of the Compiler’s work either by abridgement or by necessary adaptation from official records.

The first of the lists presents a close resemblance to a list contained in the Book of Chronicles: compare Nehemiah 11:3-19 with 1 Chronicles 9:2-17. The two lists are clearly the same although they differ in certain details. The best way of accounting for the presence of this duplicate list is to suppose that both were copied from the same official document, but by different hands and for different purposes. The Compiler found both copies extant, the one in connexion with the genealogies of the tribes (1 Chronicles 9), the other either embodied in, or preserved along with, the official documents of Nehemiah’s government.Verse 3. - These are the chief of the province. A comparison is in the writer's mind between the Jews of Palestine and those of the great Persian capitals, Babylon and Susa, to which, as a Persian official, he himself properly belongs. Compare Nehemiah 1:3 and Ezra 2:1. That dwelt in Jerusalem. i.e. "that were entered in Nehemiah's census among the inhabitants of Jerusalem after the transfer of population had been made." The names which follow appear in most cases to be personal, but a certain number of them are names of families. In the cities of Judah dwelt every one in his possession. It follows that those who removed from the country districts to Jerusalem quitted their "possessions, often, it may be, exchanging riches for poverty, a comfortable house for one half in ruins (Nehemiah 7:4), and the life of a small landed proprietor for that of an artisan or hired labourer. Hence the "blessings" called down by the people on those who volunteered (ver. 2). Israel. Compare 1 Chronicles 9:3, where we find that among those who had returned were mere-bers of the two great Israelitish tribes, Manasseh and Ephraim. On the Nethinims, and the children of Solomon's servants, see the comment on Ezra 2:43, 55. It was also arranged to contribute the first-fruits prescribed in the law. The infinitive להביא depends on העמדנוּ, and is co-ordinate with לתת, Nehemiah 10:33. The first-fruits of the ground, comp. Exodus 23:19; Exodus 34:26; Deuteronomy 26:2; the first-fruits of all fruit trees, comp. Numbers 18:13; Leviticus 19:23; the first-born of our sons who were redeemed according to the estimation of the priest, Numbers 18:16, and of our cattle (i.e., in the case of the unclean, the required redemption, Exodus 13:12., Numbers 18:15), and the firstlings of the herds and of the flocks, the fat of which was consumed on the altar, the flesh becoming the share of the priests, Numbers 18:17. In Nehemiah 10:38 the construction is altered, the first person of the imperfect taking the place of the infinitive: and we will bring the first-fruits. ערסות, probably groats or ground flour; see rem. on Numbers 15:20, etc. תרוּמות, heave-offerings, the offering in this connection, is probably that of wheat and barley, Ezekiel 45:13, or of the fruits of the field, which are suitably followed by the "fruit of all manner of trees." On "the first of the wine and oil," comp. Numbers 18:12. These offerings of first-fruits were to be brought into the chambers of the house of God, where they were to be kept in store, and distributed to the priests for their support. "And the tithes of our ground (will we bring) to the Levites; and they, the Levites, receive the tithes in all our country towns. (Nehemiah 10:39) And a priest, a son of Aaron, shall be with the Levites when the Levites take tithes; and the Levites shall bring the tithe of the tithes to the house of our God, into the chambers of the treasury." The parenthetical sentences in these verses, המעשׂרים הלויּם והם and הלויּם בּעשׂר, have been variously understood. עשׂר in the Piel and Hiphil meaning elsewhere to pay tithe, comp. Deuteronomy 14:22; Deuteronomy 26:12; Genesis 28:22, many expositors adhere to this meaning in these passages also, and translate Nehemiah 10:38 : for they, the Levites, must give again the tenth (to the priests); and Nehemiah 10:39 : when the Levites give the tenth; while the lxx, Vulgate, Syriac, Rashi, Aben Ezra, Clericus, Bertheau, and others, take עשּׂר and העשׂיר in these sentences as signifying to collect tithe. We prefer the latter view, as giving a more suitable sense. For the remark that the Levites must give back the tenth (Nehemiah 10:38) does not present so appropriate a motive for the demand that the tithes should be paid, as that the tithes are due to the Levites. Still less does the addition, in our agricultural towns, suit the sentence: the Levites must give back the tithe to the priests. Again, the fact that it is not said till Nehemiah 10:39 that the Levites have to give the tenth of the tenth to the priests, speaks still more against this view. A priest is to be present when the Levites take the tenth, so that the share of the priests may not be lessened. On "the tenth of the tenth," comp. Numbers 18:26. Hezekiah had provided store-chambers in the temple, in which to deposit the tithes, 2 Chronicles 31:11.
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