Nehemiah 12:36
And his brothers, 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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(36) With the musical instruments of David the man of God.—No part of the service deviated from sacred precedents (comp. Nehemiah 12:27).

Ezra the scribe before them.—Between the singers and the princes came he who was the greatest in dignity, though the second in office.

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."Judah and Benjamin" are the lay people of those two tribes. 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]. No text from Poole on this verse. And his brethren,.... The brethren of Zechariah, the priest's son, and such are those that follow:

Shemaiah, and Azarael, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethaneel, and Judah, Hanani, with the musical instruments of David the man of God; which were invented by him, and ordered by him to be used in religious service, under the divine direction:

and Ezra the scribe before them; for he being a priest also, and a man of great eminence, was placed at the head of them in this procession.

And {k} 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.

(k) That is, the brass throne of Zaccur.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
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).Verse 36. - The musical instruments of David. Cymbals, psalteries, and harps. See above, ver. 27, and comp. 1 Chronicles 15:16, 19-21. The Jews had become acquainted with a great variety of musical instruments during the captivity (Daniel 3:7; Psalm 150:4, 5), but rigidly excluded all except the old instruments from the service of religion. Ezra the scribe before them. As their leader. It is interesting to find no jealousy separating Ezra from the governor who had superseded him. As the two conjointly had addressed the people on a former occasion (Nehemiah 8:9), so now they conjointly conducted the ceremony of the dedication. The dedication began with the purification of the people, the gates, and the wall, by the priests and Levites, after they had purified themselves. This was probably done, judging from the analogy of 2 Chronicles 29:20, by the offering of sin-offerings and burnt-offerings, according to some special ritual unknown to us, as sacrifices of purification and dedication. This was followed by the central-point of the solemnity, a procession of two bands of singers upon the wall (Nehemiah 12:31-42).
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