Nehemiah 12:27
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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(27-43) The dedication of the wall. Henceforth Nehemiah speaks in his own person.

(27) They sought the Levites.—The dedication was to be processional and musical, as well as sacrificial: after the pattern of Solomon’s dedication of the Temple.

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 8:9-10.12:27-43 All our cities, all our houses, must have holiness to the Lord written upon them. The believer should undertake nothing which he does not dedicate to the Lord. We are concerned to cleanse our hands, and purify our hearts, when any work for God is to pass through them. Those that would be employed to sanctify others, must sanctify themselves, and set themselves apart for God. To those who are sanctified, all their creature-comforts and enjoyments are made holy. The people greatly rejoiced. All that share in public mercies, ought to join in public thanksgivings.The dedication of the wall - The ceremony had been deferred for the space of nearly 12 years Nehemiah 13:6. Perhaps Nehemiah required an express permission from the Persian king before he could venture on a solemnity which might have been liable to misrepresentation.

Out of all their places - i. e., out of the various cities of Judah and Benjamin in which they dwelt Nehemiah 11:36.

27-43. at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem—This ceremony of consecrating the wall and gates of the city was an act of piety on the part of Nehemiah, not merely to thank God in a general way for having been enabled to bring the building to a happy completion, but especially because that city was the place which He had chosen. It also contained the temple which was hallowed by the manifestation of His presence, and anew set apart to His service. It was on these accounts that Jerusalem was called "the holy city," and by this public and solemn act of religious observance, after a long period of neglect and desecration, it was, as it were, restored to its rightful proprietor. The dedication consisted in a solemn ceremonial, in which the leading authorities, accompanied by the Levitical singers, summoned from all parts of the country, and by a vast concourse of people, marched in imposing procession round the city walls, and, pausing at intervals to engage in united praises, prayer, and sacrifices, supplicated the continued presence, favor, and blessing on "the holy city." "The assembly convened near Jaffa Gate, where the procession commences. Then (Ne 12:31) I brought up the princes of Judah upon the wall (near the Valley Gate), and appointed two great companies of them that gave thanks, whereof one went on the right hand upon the wall towards the dung gate (through Bethzo). And after them went Hoshaiah, and half of the princes of Judah. And (Ne 12:37) at the fountain gate, which was over against them, they (descending by the Tower of Siloam on the interior, and then reascending) 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 (by the staircase of the rampart, having descended to dedicate the fountain structures). And the other company of them that gave thanks went over against them (both parties having started from the junction of the first and second walls), 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 (beyond the corner gate). And from above the gate of Ephraim, and above the old gate (and the gate of Benjamin), 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 (or high gate, at the east end of the bridge). So stood the two companies of them that gave thanks in the house of God, and I, and half of the rulers with me (having thus performed the circuit of the investing walls), and arrived in the courts of the temple" [Barclay, City of the Great King]. At the dedication of the wall; and of the gates, which are mentioned Nehemiah 12:30; and of the city itself within the gates; 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 therefore did of right belong to him; whence it is oft called the holy city, as hath been observed before. 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. See Deu 20:5 1 Kings 8:63 Ezra 6:17 Psalm 30:1.

Out of all their places, to which they were now retired after that great and general assembly, Ne 8 Ne 9 Ne 10. And at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem,.... In which many priests and Levites assisted, and seems to be the reason of the above account of them; the dedication of the wall takes in the whole city, gates, and houses, Nehemiah 12:30, and if a new house was to be dedicated, much more a new city, and especially the holy city, in which stood the temple of the Lord, see Deuteronomy 20:5, this dedication was made by prayer and songs of praise, as follow, and no doubt by sacrifices, and was kept as a festival; and indeed, according to the Jewish writers (q), it was annually observed on the seventh of Elul, or August; it was on the twenty fifth of that month that the wall was finished, Nehemiah 6:15, but the gates were not set up, and all things for the dedication were not ready till Elul, or August, following; and then all being finished, they made and served the seventh of that month as a festival:

they sought the Levites out of all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem, to keep the dedication with gladness; to assist in the solemnity of the day both with vocal and instrumental music, as follows:

both with thanksgiving and with singing; with songs of praise and thankfulness vocally, that they had been able, notwithstanding all the malice of their enemies, to build the wall in so short a time; or with a song, perhaps the thirtieth psalm was sung on this occasion:

with cymbals, psalteries, and with harps; some playing on one, and some on another, which were the three principal instruments of music used by them, see 1 Chronicles 15:16.

(q) Megillath Thainith, c. 3. apud Selden. de Synedr. l. 3. c. 13. sect. 12.

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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
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.Verse 27. - And at the dedication ... they sought the Levites. The nexus of this passage seems to be with Nehemiah 11:36; and we may suppose that originally it followed immediately on ch. 11. - the lists (Nehemiah 12:1-26) being a later insertion. The author, having (in Nehemiah 11:36) told us of the wide dispersion of the Levites, now notes that they were summoned from all the places where they dwelt, and brought (one and all) to Jerusalem for the solemnity of the dedication. To keep the dedication with gladness, both with thanksgiving and with singing, etc. Solomon's dedication of the temple was the pattern followed. As he had made the service altogether one of praise and thanksgiving (2 Chronicles 5:13), and had employed in it cymbals, trumpets, psalteries, and harps (ibid. ver. 12), so Nehemiah on the present occasion. Nehemiah 12:12-21 contains the list of the priestly houses and their heads, which has been already explained in conjunction with that in Nehemiah 12:1-7. Nehemiah 12:22-26. The list of the heads of the Levites, Nehemiah 12:22 and Nehemiah 12:24, is, according to Nehemiah 12:26, that of the days of Joiakim, and of the days of Nehemiah and Ezra. Whence it follows, that it does not apply only to the time of Joiakim; for though Ezra might indeed have come to Jerusalem in the latter days of Joiakim's high-priesthood, yet Nehemiah's arrival found his successor Eliashib already in office, and the statements of Nehemiah 12:22 and Nehemiah 12:23 must be understood accordingly.
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