Nehemiah 12:38
And the other company of them that gave thanks went over against them, and I after them, and the half of the people on the wall, from beyond the tower of the furnaces even to the broad wall;
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(38) The other company.—Comparing the order with Nehemiah 3, the reader will have a clear view of the second company. They had the longer route, proceed. ing to the left, rounding the north “broad wall,” passing the sheep-gate, and so meeting the priestly company near the prison-gate. The space where they met had the Temple straight in front, the prison-gate on the right, and the water-gate on the left.

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.Above the house of David - This choir or procession went above (or beyond) the old palace of David, following the line described in Nehemiah 3:16-26, on their way to the eastern wall. 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]. Over against them, to wit, on the other side of the city, northward and eastward.

The broad wall; which they made thicker and stronger than the rest of the wall, for some special reason. And the other company of them that gave thanks went over against them,.... On the left hand, on the northern part of the wall:

and I after them; Nehemiah, he brought up the rear of his company, as Ezra led the van of his:

and the half of the people upon the wall; the chief of them, for all could not walk upon it:

from beyond the tower of the furnaces; where they baked their bread, or their bricks, see Nehemiah 3:11,

even unto the broad wall; where the wall was broader than common, for some reason or another, see Nehemiah 3:8.

And the other company of them that gave thanks went over against them, 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;
38. over against them] R.V. to meet them. The line of march of the other procession was by the northern wall. By an ingenious conjecture, Reuss, altering the Hebrew word (= to meet them) by the addition of one consonant, proposes to read ‘on the left hand,’ balancing the words in Nehemiah 12:31.

and I after them] Nehemiah, following the thanksgiving company of Levites and singers and musicians, marched, like Ezra, at the head of the other half of the princes and the people.

and the half, &c.] R.V. with the half, &c. The other half of the princes, priests, men of Judah and Benjamin, and musicians.

from beyond] R.V. above. This seems to mean at a little distance from, i.e. to the north of (see, however, note on Nehemiah 12:31).

the tower of the furnaces] Cf. Nehemiah 3:11.

even unto the broad wall] Cf. Nehemiah 3:8.Verses 38, 39. - And the other company. Nehemiah now proceeds to trace the course of the other choir or procession - the one which he himself accompanied. Starting from the same part of the western wall as the other, its course was northward to the N.W. angle of the city wall, after which it was eastward to the "sheep gate, and then southward to the "prison gate." In this part of his description Nehemiah traces the same portion of the wall as that which had engaged his attention in Nehemiah 3:1-11, and mentions almost exactly the same features, but in the reverse order. For the tower of the furnaces see Nehemiah 3:11; for the broad wall, ver. 8; for the old gate, ver. 6; for the fish gate, ver. 3; for the tower of Hananeel, the tower of Meah, and the sheep gate, ver. 1. The gate of Ephraim is not mentioned in ch. 3. It must have been in the north wall, a little to the west of the "old gate." The prison gate, also omitted in ch. 3, was probably in the east wall, a little north of the water gate. Nehemiah brought up the princes of Judah upon the wall, and appointed two great companies of those who gave thanks, and two processions. These went each upon the wall in different directions, and stopped opposite each other at the house of God. The princes of Judah are the princes of the whole community, - Judah being used in the sense of יהוּדים, Nehemiah 4:2. לחומה מעל, upwards to the wall, so that they stood upon the wall. העמיד, to place, i.e., to cause to take up a position, so that those assembled formed two companies or processions. תודה, acknowledgement, praise, thanks, and then thankofferings, accompanied by the singing of psalms and thanksgivings. Hence is derived the meaning: companies of those who gave thanks, in Nehemiah 12:31, Nehemiah 12:38, Nehemiah 12:40. ותהלכת, et processiones, solemn processions, is added more closely to define תודה. The company of those who gave thanks consisted of a number of Levitical singers, behind whom walked the princes of the people, the priests, and Levites. At the head of one procession went Ezra the scribe (Nehemiah 12:36), with one half of the nobles; at the head of the second, Nehemiah with the other half (Nehemiah 12:38). The one company and procession went to the right upon the wall. Before ליּמין we must supply, "one band went" (הולכת האחת התּודה), as is evident partly from the context of the present verse, partly from Nehemiah 12:38. These words were probably omitted by a clerical error caused by the similarity of תּהלכת to הולכת. Thus the first procession went to the right, i.e., in a southerly direction, upon the wall towards the dung-gate (see rem. on Nehemiah 3:14); the second, Nehemiah 12:38, went over against the first (למאל), i.e., in an opposite direction, and therefore northwards, past the tower of the furnaces, etc. The starting-point of both companies and processions is not expressly stated, but may be easily inferred from the points mentioned, and can have been none other than the valley-gate, the present Jaffa gate (see rem. on Nehemiah 2:13). Before a further description of the route taken by the first company, the individuals composing the procession which followed it are enumerated in Nehemiah 12:32-36. After them, i.e., after the first company of them that gave thanks, went Hoshaiah and half of the princes of Judah. Hoshaiah was probably the chief of the one half of these princes. The seven names in Nehemiah 12:33 and Nehemiah 12:34 are undoubtedly the names of the princes, and the ו before עזריה is explicative: even, namely. Bertheau's remark, "After the princes came the orders of priests, Azariah," etc., is incorrect. It is true that of these seven names, five occur as names of priests, and heads of priestly houses, viz.: Azariah, Nehemiah 10:2; Nehemiah 12:1; Meshullam, Nehemiah 10:7; Shemaiah, Nehemiah 10:8 and Nehemiah 12:6; and Jeremiah, Nehemiah 12:1. But even if these individuals were heads of priestly orders, their names do not here stand for their orders. Still less do Judah and Benjamin denote the half of the laity of Judah and Benjamin, as Bertheau supposes, and thence infers that first after the princes came two or three orders of priests, then half of the laity of Judah and Benjamin, and then two more orders of priests. Nehemiah 12:38, which is said to give rise to this view, by no means confirms it. It is true that in this verse העם חצי, besides Nehemiah, are stated to have followed the company of those who gave thanks; but that העם in this verse is not used to designate the people as such, but is only a general expression for the individuals following the company of singers, is placed beyond doubt by Nehemiah 12:40, where העם is replaced by הסּגנים חצי; while, beside the half of the rulers, with Nehemiah, only priests with trumpets and Levites with stringed instruments (Nehemiah 12:41) are enumerated as composing the second procession. Since, then, the priests with trumpets and Levites with musical instruments are mentioned in the first procession (Nehemiah 12:35 and Nehemiah 12:36), the names enumerated in Nehemiah 12:33 and Nehemiah 12:34 can be only those of the one half of the סגנים of the people, i.e., the one half of the princes of Judah. The princes of Judah, i.e., of the Jewish community, consisted not only of laymen, but included also the princes, i.e., heads of priestly and Levitical orders; and hence priestly and Levitical princes might also be among the seven whose names are given in Nehemiah 12:33 and Nehemiah 12:34. A strict severance, moreover, between lay and priestly princes cannot be made by the names alone; for these five names, which may designate priestly orders, pertain in other passages to laymen, viz.: Azariah, in Nehemiah 3:23; Ezra, as of the tribe of Judah, 1 Chronicles 4:17; Meshullam, Nehemiah 3:4; Nehemiah 10:21, and elsewhere; Shemaiah, Ezra 6:13; Ezra 10:31; 1 Chronicles 3:22; 1 Chronicles 4:37 (of Judah), 1 Chronicles 5:4 (a Reubenite), and other passages (this name being very usual; comp. Simonis Onomast. p. 546); Jeremiah, 1 Chronicles 5:24 (a Manassite), Nehemiah 12:4 (a Benjamite), Nehemiah 12:10 (a Gadite). Even the name Judah is met with among the priests (Nehemiah 12:36), and among the Levites, Nehemiah 12:8, comp. also Nehemiah 11:9, and that of Benjamin, Nehemiah 3:23 and Ezra 10:32. In the present verses, the two names are not those of tribes, but of individuals, nomina duorum principum (R. Sal.).
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