Nehemiah 12:5
Miamin, Maadiah, Bilgah,
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12:1-26 It is a debt we owe to faithful ministers, to remember our guides, who have spoken to us the word of God. It is good to know what our godly predecessors were, that we may learn what we should be.The priests - The number of the names here given, which is 22, is probably to be connected with that of the Davidic "courses," which was 24 1 Chronicles 24:7-18. Eight names are identical with those of the heads in David's time. On comparing the present list with that of the families who sealed to Nehemiah's covenant Nehemiah 10:2-8, we shall find that the first sixteen recur in that document nearly in the same order; but that the last six are absent from it. It would seem that as these six declined to seal to Nehemiah's covenant, they were placed below the rest here in a sort of supplementary list. Note especially the "and" which connects the second part of the lists with the earlier part, both in Nehemiah 12:6 and in Nehemiah 12:19. 4. Abijah—one of the ancestors of John the Baptist (Lu 1:5). No text from Poole on this verse.

Amariah, Malluch, Hattush,.... Whose names are among the sealers of the covenant, Nehemiah 10:3. Malluch is afterwards called Melicu, Nehemiah 12:14,

Shechaniah, called Shebaniah, Nehemiah 12:14 and so in Nehemiah 10:4

Rehum, who, by transposition of letters, is Harim, Nehemiah 12:15, and so in Nehemiah 10:5.

Meremoth, called Meraioth, Nehemiah 12:15,

Iddo, Ginnetho, read Ginnethon, Nehemiah 12:16 so in Nehemiah 10:6.

Abijah; there was a course of a priest of this name, of which Zechariah the father of John the Baptist was, Luke 1:5.

Miamin, Maadiah, Bilgah; the first two are called Miniamin and Moadiah, Nehemiah 12:17.

Shemaiah, Joiarib, Jedaiah, Sallu; called Sallai, Nehemiah 12:20.

Amok, Hilkiah, Jedaiah these were the chief of the priests, and of their brethren, in the days of Jeshua; heads of courses; or, however, priests of the greatest note in the times of Jeshua the high priest.

Miamin, Maadiah, Bilgah,
Verse 5. - Miamin is confirmed by Nehemiah 10:7, and is therefore to be preferred to the "Miniamin" of ver. 17. Maadiah "Moadiah" (ver. 17), and "Maaziah" (Nehemiah 10:8) are not so much different names as different ways of spelling the same name. The same may be said of Bilgah and "Bilgai" (Nehemiah 10:8). Nehemiah 12:5Nehemiah 12:1 contains the title of the first list, Nehemiah 12:1-9. "These are the priests and Levites who went up with Zerubbabel ... and Joshua;" comp. Ezra 2:1-2. Then follow, Nehemiah 12:1, the names of the priests, with the subscription: "These are the heads of the priests and of their brethren, in the days of Joshua." ואחיהם still depends on ראשׁי. The brethren of the priests are the Levites, as being their fellow-tribesmen and assistants. Two-and-twenty names of such heads are enumerated, and these reappear, with but slight variations attributable to clerical errors, as names of priestly houses in Nehemiah 12:12-21, where they are given in conjunction with the names of those priests who, in the days of Joiakim, either represented these houses, or occupied as heads the first position in them. The greater number, viz., 15, of these have already been mentioned as among those who, together with Nehemiah, sealed as heads of their respective houses the agreement to observe the law, Nehemiah 10. Hence the present chapter appears to be the most appropriate place for comparing with each other the several statements given in the books of Nehemiah and Ezra, concerning the divisions or orders of priests in the period immediately following the return from the captivity, and for discussing the question how the heads and houses of priests enumerated in Nehemiah 10 and 12 stand related on the one hand to the list of the priestly races who returned with Zerubbabel and Joshua, and on the other to the twenty-four orders of priests instituted by David. For the purpose of giving an intelligible answer to this question, we first place in juxtaposition the three lists given in Nehemiah, chs. 10 and 12.

Nehemiah 10:3-9 Nehemiah 12:1-7 Nehemiah 12:12-21 Priests who sealed the Covenant Priests who were Heads of their Houses Priestly Houses and their respective Heads 1. Seraiah 1. Seraiah* SeraiahMeraiah 2. Azariah 2. Jeremiah* Jeremiah Hananiah 3. Jeremiah 3. Ezra* Ezra Meshullam 4. Pashur 4. Amariah* Amariah Jehohanan 5. Amariah 5. Malluch* Meluchi Jonathan 6. Malchijah 6. Hattush* 7. Hattush 7. Shecaniah* Shebaniah Joseph 8. Shebaniah 8. Rehum* Harim Adna 9. Malluch 9. Meremoth* Meraioth Helkai 10. Harim 10. Iddo Idiah Zecariah 11. Meremoth 11. Ginnethon* Ginnethon Meshullam 12. Obadiah 12. Abijah* Abijah Zichri 13. Daniel 13. Miamin* Miniamin 14. Ginnethon 14. Maadiah* Moadiah Piltai 15. Baruch 15. Bilgah* Bilgah Shammua 16. Meshullam 16. Shemaiah* Shemaiah Jehonathan 17. Abijah 17. Joiarib Joiarib Mathnai 18. Mijamin 18. Jedaiah Jedaiah Uzzi 19. Maaziah 19. Sallu Sallai Kallai 20. Bilgai 20. Amok Amok Eber 21. Shemaiah 21. Hilkiah Hilkiah Hashabiah 22. Jedaiah 22. Jedaiah Nethaneel When, in the first place, we compare the two series in Nehemiah 12, we find the name of the head of the house of Minjamin, and the names both of the house and the head, Hattush, between Meluchi and Shebaniah, omitted. In other respects the two lists agree both in the order and number of the names, with the exception of unimportant variations in the names, as מלוּכי (Chethiv, Nehemiah 12:14) for מלּוּך (Nehemiah 12:2); שׁכניה (Nehemiah 12:3) for שׁבניה (Nehemiah 12:14, Nehemiah 10:6); רחם (Nehemiah 12:3), a transposition of חרם (Nehemiah 12:15, Nehemiah 10:6); מריות (Nehemiah 12:15) instead of מרמות (Nehemiah 12:3, Nehemiah 10:6); עדיא (Chethiv, Nehemiah 12:16) instead of עדּוא (Nehemiah 12:4); מיּמין (Nehemiah 12:5) for מנימין (Nehemiah 12:17); מועדיה (Nehemiah 12:17) for מעדיה (Nehemiah 12:4), or, according to a different pronunciation, מעזיה (Nehemiah 10:9); סלּי (Nehemiah 12:20) for סלּוּ (Nehemiah 12:7). - If we next compare the two lists in Nehemiah 12 with that in Nehemiah 10, we find that of the twenty-two names given (Nehemiah 12), the fifteen marked thus * occur also in Nehemiah 10; עזריה, Nehemiah 10:4, being evidently a clerical error, or another form of עזרא, Nehemiah 12:2, Nehemiah 12:13. Of the names enumerated in Nehemiah 10, Pashur, Malchiah, Obadiah, Daniel, Baruch, and Meshullam are wanting in Nehemiah 12, and are replaced by Iddo and the six last: Joiarib, Jedaiah, Sallu, Amok, Hilkiah, and Jedaiah. The name of Eliashib the high priest being also absent, Bertheau seeks to explain this difference by supposing that a portion of the priests refused their signatures because they did not concur in the strict measures of Ezra and Nehemiah. This conjecture would be conceivable, if we found in Nehemiah 10 that only thirteen orders or heads of priests had signed instead of twenty-two. Since, however, instead of the seven missing names, six others signed the covenant, this cannot be the reason for the difference between the names in the two documents (Nehemiah 10, 12), which is probably to be found in the time that elapsed between the making of these lists. The date of the list, Nehemiah 12:1-7, is that of Zerubbabel and Joshua (b.c. 536); that of the other in Nehemiah 12, the times of the high priest Joiakim the son of Joshua, i.e., at the earliest, the latter part of the reign of Darius Hystaspis, perhaps even the reign of Xerxes.

How, then, are the two lists in Nehemiah 12 and that in Nehemiah 10, agreeing as they do in names, related to the list of the priests who, according to Ezra 2:36-39 and Nehemiah 7:39-42, returned from Babylon with Zerubbabel and Joshua? The traditional view, founded on the statements of the Talmud,

(Note: In Hieros. Taanith, f. 68a; Tosafta Taanith, c. 11, in Babyl. Erachin, f. 12b. The last statement is, according to Herzfeld, Gesch. i. p. 393, as follows: "Four divisions of priests returned from captivity, viz., Jedaiah, Charim, Paschur, and Immer. These the prophets of the returned captives again divided into twenty-four; whereupon their names were written upon tickets and put in an urn, from which Jedaiah drew five, and each of the other three before-named divisions as many: it was then ordained by those prophets, that even if the division Joiarib (probably the first division before the captivity) should return, Jedaiah should nevertheless retain his position, and Joiarib should be טפל לו (associated with him, belonging to him)." Comp. Bertheau on Neh. p. 230, and Oehler in Herzog's Realencycl. xii. p. 185, who, though refusing this tradition the value of independent historical testimony, still give it more weight than it deserves.)

is, that the four divisions given in Ezra 2 and Nehemiah 7, "the sons of Jedaiah, the sons of Immer, the sons of Pashur and Harim," were the priests of the four (Davidic) orders of Jedaiah, Immer, Malchijah, and Harim (the second, sixteenth, fifth, and third orders of 1 Chronicles 24). For the sake of restoring, according to the ancient institution, a greater number of priestly orders, the twenty-two orders enumerated in Nehemiah 12 were formed from these four divisions; and the full number of twenty-four was not immediately completed, only because, according to Ezra 2:61 and Nehemiah 7:63., three families of priests who could not find their registers returned, as well as those before named, and room was therefore left for their insertion in the twenty-four orders: the first of these three families, viz., Habaiah, being probably identical with the eighth class, Abia; the second, Hakkoz, with the seventh class of the same name. See Oehler's before-cited work. p. 184f. But this view is decidedly erroneous, and the error lies in the identification of the four races of Ezra 2:36, on account of the similarity of the names Jedaiah, Immer, and Harim, with those of the second, sixteenth, and third classes of the Davidic division, - thus regarding priestly races as Davidic priestly classes, through mere similarity of name, without reflecting that even the number 4487, given in Ezra 2:36., is incompatible with this assumption. For if these four races were only four orders of priests, each order must have numbered about 1120 males, and the twenty-four orders of the priesthood before the captivity would have yielded the colossal sum of from 24,000 to 26,000 priests. It is true that we have no statement of the numbers of the priesthood; but if the numbering of the Levites in David's times gave the amount of 38,000 males, the priests of that time could at the most have been 3800, and each of the twenty-four orders would have included in all 150 persons, or at most seventy-five priests of the proper age for officiating. Now, if this number had doubled in the interval of time extending to the close of the captivity, the 4487 who returned with Zerubbabel would have formed more than half of the whole number of priests then living, and not merely the amount of four classes. Hence we cannot but regard Jedaiah, Immer, Pashur, and Harim, of Ezra 2:36, as names not of priestly orders, but of great priestly races, and explain the occurrence of three of these names as those of certain of the orders of priests formed by David, by the consideration, that the Davidic orders were names after heads of priestly families of the days of David, and that several of these heads, according to the custom of bestowing upon sons, grandsons, etc., the names of renowned ancestors, bore the names of the founders and heads of the greater races and houses. The classification of the priests in Ezra 2:36. is genealogical, i.e., it follows not the division into orders made by David for the service of the temple, but the genealogical ramification into races and houses. The sons of Jedaiah, Immer, etc., are not the priests belonging to the official orders of Jedaiah, Immer, etc., but the priestly races descended from Jedaiah, etc. The four races (mentioned Ezra 2:36, etc.), each of which averaged upwards of 1000 men, were, as appears from Nehemiah 12:1-7 and Nehemiah 12:12, divided into twenty-two houses. From this number of houses, it was easy to restore the old division into twenty-four official orders. That it was not, however, considered necessary to make this artificial restoration of the twenty-four classes immediately, is seen from the circumstances that both under Joiakim, i.e., a generation after Zerubbabel's return (Nehemiah 12:12-21), only twenty-two houses are enumerated, and under Nehemiah, i.e., after Ezra's return (in Nehemiah 10), only twenty-one heads of priestly houses sealed the document. Whether, and how the full number of twenty-four was completed, cannot, for want of information, be determined. The statement of Joseph. Ant. vii. 14. 7, that David's division into orders continues to this day, affords no sufficient testimony to the fact.

According, then, to what has been said, the difference between the names in the two lists of Nehemiah 10 and 12 is to be explained simply by the fact, that the names of those who sealed the covenant, Nehemiah 10, are names neither of orders nor houses, but of heads of houses living in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah. Of these names, a portion coincides indeed with the names of the orders and houses, while the rest are different. The coincidence or sameness of the names does not, however, prove that the individuals belonged to the house whose name they bore. On the contrary, it appears from Nehemiah 12:13 and Nehemiah 12:16, that of two Meshullams, one was the head of the house of Ezra, the other of the house of Ginnethon; and hence, in Nehemiah 10, Amariah may have belonged to the house of Malluch, Hattush to the house of Shebaniah, Malluch to the house of Meremoth, etc. In this manner, both the variation and coincidence of the names in Nehemiah 10 and 12 may be easily explained; the only remaining difficulty being, that in Nehemiah 10 only twenty-one, not twenty-two, heads of houses are said to have sealed. This discrepancy seems, indeed, to have arisen from the omission of a name in transcription. For the other possible explanation, viz., that in the interval between Joiakim and Nehemiah, the contemporary of Eliashib, one house had died out, is very far-fetched.

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