Nehemiah 12:9
Also Bakbukiah and Unni, their brethren, were over against them in the watches.
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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.Of the Levitical houses here mentioned, three only returned at first, those of Jeshua, Kadmiel, and Judah or Hodevah Nehemiah 7:43. The others must have returned subsequently. 9. their brethren, were over against them in the watches—that is, according to some, their stations—the places where they stood when officiating—"ward over against ward" (Ne 12:24); or, according to others, in alternate watches, in course of rotation. i.e. In the places where they were appointed to stand, and wait, and perform their office, one standing over against another, as it is explained, Nehemiah 12:24, ward over against ward; for the Hebrew word is the same there and here. Others, according to their turns, or courses, of which see 1 Chronicles 25:9.

Also Bakbukiah and Unni,.... Two other Levites; the first is mentioned in Nehemiah 11:17,

their brethren, were over against them in the watches; the Levites were divided into twenty four wards, and these were placed one against another, 1 Chronicles 23:6.

Also Bakbukiah and Unni, their brethren, were over against them in the {d} watches.

(d) They kept the wards and watches according to their turns, 2Ch 23:6.

9. and Unni] R.V. and Unno. The K’ri reads ‘and Unni,’ the C’thib ‘and Unno.’ The C’thib reading might, however, be rendered as the verb which occurs in Ezra 3:11, ‘And they sang one to another’ (cf. Deuteronomy 21:7; Deuteronomy 27:14), with the sense of ‘And their brethren responded to them in choral antiphon.’ This suggestion, however, apart from grammatical objections, requires us to suppose that Bakbukiah’s name has been interpolated. For this there is no evidence; and so far as the sense is concerned, the idea of antiphonal singing is sufficiently expressed in our own text. The confusion between ‘Unno’ and ‘Unni’ arises from the commonest source of variation in the Hebrew text, the similarity of Yod and Vâv (י and ו). But the original reading was very probably ‘Also Bakbukiah and Unni [and] their brethren;’ Yôd, the last letter of Unni, having fallen out before the Vâv, the Vâv became, instead of the copula, the last letter of ‘Unno.’ Another conjectural and less probable emendation of the text is to read ‘Obadiah’ instead of ‘Unni,’ in order to bring the verse in closer correspondence with Nehemiah 12:25.

over against them] The same expression as in 2 Chronicles 7:6, ‘The priests sounded trumpets before them,’ where probably the meaning is ‘over against, i.e. in answer to, the Levites:’ See also Nehemiah 12:24.

in the watches] R.V. in wards. LXX. εἰς τὰς ἐφημερίας. Vulg. ‘in officio suo.’ The Hebrew could equally well be rendered ‘as watches, i.e. for the purpose of keeping watch.’ But the sense required is more probably ‘according to wards,’ ‘in wards by rotation.’ Cf. Nehemiah 13:14.

Verse 9. - Bakbukiah and Unni. Bakbukiah's position with respect to Mattaniah has been already mentioned (Nehemiah 11:17). "Unni" appears, in this place only, as a Levite of Zerubbabel's time. Were over against them in the watches. i.e. "ministered in their courses, as the others did, and kept their stations over against them in their turns of attendance, which are called their 'watches' or wards" (Bp. Patrick). LIST OF THE HIGH PRIESTS FROM JESHUA TO JADDUA (Nehemiah 12:10, 11). That this is the line of descent in the high priestly family of the time sufficiently appears both from the names themselves, and from the position assigned to those who bore them in vers. 22, 23, 26. Whether all of them actually exercised the high priest's office is left uncertain in Scripture, but satisfactorily established by Josephus. The six names cover a space of at least 205 years - from the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus, B.C. 538, to the submission of Jerusalem to Alexander the Great, B.C. 333, which gives very long generations, but still such as are historically possible. Jeshua was certainly high priest from B.C. 538 to B.C. 516. He may have been succeeded by his son, Joiakim, about B.C. 490. Joiakim had certainly been succeeded by his son, Eliashib, before B.C. 444 (Nehemiah 3:1); and Eliashib was probably succeeded by Joiada about B.C. 420. Joiada's high priesthood may be assigned to the period between B.C. 420 and 380; Jonathan's to that between B.C. 380 and 350. Jaddua might then hold the dignity from B.C. 350 to 330, or later, and so be brought into contact with Alexander the Great. It is questioned whether in that case Nehemiah can have written the present passage, and certain that he cannot have done so unless he lived to be at least 131 years of age. As this is exceedingly improbable, it is best to suppose, either that the whole list was placed here by Malachi, or at any rate that that prophet added the clause, "and Jonathan begat Jaddua." Nehemiah 12:9Bakbukiah and Unni (Chethiv ענּו), their brethren, were before them (opposite them) למשׁמרות, at the posts of service, i.e., forming in service the opposite choir. Nehemiah 12:24 forbids us to understand משׁמרות as watch-posts, though the omission of the doorkeepers (comp. Ezra 2:42) is remarkable. Bakbukiah recurs Nehemiah 12:24; the name Unni is not again met with, though there is no occasion, on this account, for the inapt conjecture of Bertheau, that the reading should be וענוּ or ויּענוּ.
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