Nehemiah 7:5
And my God put into my heart to gather together the nobles, and the rulers, and the people, that they might be reckoned by genealogy. And I found a register of the genealogy of them which came up at the first, and found written therein,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(5-73) The genealogical reckoning of the people, as the first step towards increasing the population of the metropolis, is determined on, not without express Divine suggestion; the allusion to this inspiration from God, is, as in Nehemiah 2:12, very emphatic. The original register of Zerubbabelis found and copied. The express language of both Ezra and Nehemiah makes it plain that this is no other than the list of those who came up with Zerubbabel and Joshua after the decree of Cyrus, in B.C. 538. Nehemiah’s own census follows, in Nehemiah 11. The exposition, especially as compared with Ezra 2, has been given on that chapter.

Nehemiah 7:5. And my God put into my heart, &c. — Whatever good motion is put into our minds, we must acknowledge it to come from God; and even what is done by human prudence is to be ascribed to the direction of divine providence. To gather together the nobles and the rulers of the people — Not only for the particular end here mentioned, but for divers other weighty purposes and matters, of which the following chapters treat. That they might be reckoned by genealogy — In order that it might appear to what family each person belonged, and where their ancient habitations lay, which, for a great number of them, were in the city, the peopling of which was now his design. I found a register of them which came up at the first — To wit, with Zerubbabel, as it follows, Nehemiah 7:7. But this following catalogue differs in some particulars from that in Ezra, chap. 2., of which see the notes there. The author of the Universal History observes, that though the genealogies had been once rectified, soo after the return, there were still many families of priests, Levites, and people, who could not make out their claim to their tribes. It is therefore likely that some of them were afterward enabled to do it, and were then inserted in this new register, together with those who came up with Nehemiah. Several of the old families, which came up on the first edict, might be, by this time, extinct, and these are the probable causes of the difference we find in the genealogies of the books of Ezra and Nehemiah.7:5-73 Nehemiah knew that the safety of a city, under God, depends more upon the inhabitants than upon its walls. Every good gift and every good work are from above. God gives knowledge, he gives grace; all is of him, and therefore all must be to him. What is done by human prudence, must be ascribed to the direction of Divine Providence. But woe to those who turn back from the Lord, loving this present world! and happy those who dedicate themselves, and their substance, to his service and glory!It is argued by some that the entire catalogue which follows Nehemiah 7:7-73 is not the register of them "which came up 'at the first'," but of the Jewish people in Nehemiah's time. Nehemiah 7:7 and Ezra 2:2 are, however, very positive in their support of the usual view; and some of the arguments against it are thought to be met by considering the Nehemiah of Nehemiah 7:7 and Ezra 2:2 a person different from Nehemiah the governor; and "Tirshatha" an official title likely to have belonged to others besides Nehemiah (see the Ezra 2:63 note.) Ne 7:5-38. Genealogy of Those Who Came at the First Out of Babylon.

5. my God put into mine heart to gather together the nobles, &c.—The arrangement about to be described, though dictated by mere common prudence, is, in accordance with the pious feelings of Nehemiah, ascribed not to his own prudence or reflection, but to the grace of God prompting and directing him. He resolved to prepare a register of the returned exiles, containing an exact record of the family and ancestral abode of every individual. While thus directing his attention, he discovered a register of the first detachment who had come under the care of Zerubbabel. It is transcribed in the following verses, and differs in some few particulars from that given in Ezr 2:1-61. But the discrepancy is sufficiently accounted for from the different circumstances in which the two registers were taken; that of Ezra having been made up at Babylon, while that of Nehemiah was drawn out in Judea, after the walls of Jerusalem had been rebuilt. The lapse of so many years might well be expected to make a difference appear in the catalogue, through death or other causes; in particular, one person being, according to Jewish custom, called by different names. Thus Hariph (Ne 7:24) is the same as Jorah (Ezr 2:18), Sia (Ne 7:47) the same as Siaha (Ezr 2:44), &c. Besides other purposes to which this genealogy of the nobles, rulers, and people was subservient, one leading object contemplated by it was to ascertain with accuracy the parties to whom the duty legally belonged of ministering at the altar and conducting the various services of the temple. For guiding to exact information in this important point of enquiry, the possession of the old register of Zerubbabel was invaluable.

God put into mine heart: this action, though merely prudential, he doth not ascribe to himself, or his own wit, but to the gift and grace of God directing and inclining him to it.

To gather together the nobles, and the rulers, and the people not only for the particular end here mentioned, but for divers other weighty purposes and matters, of which the following chapters treat.

That they might be reckoned by genealogy; that so it might appear to what families each person belonged, and where their ancient habitations lay, which for a great number of them were in the city, the replenishing of which was now his design.

Them which came up at the first, to wit, with Zerubbabel, as it follows, Nehemiah 7:7. But this following catalogue differs in some particulars from that Ezra 2, of which see the notes there. And my God put into mine heart,.... Every good motion in him, and whatever he thought of that was conducive to the good and welfare of Jerusalem, Nehemiah always ascribed it to God; see 2 Corinthians 3:5

to gather together the nobles, and the rulers, and the people, that they might be reckoned by genealogy; that their number might be known, and of what families they were, and in what cities they formerly dwelt; and this was not only of use for the present purpose of Nehemiah, but was of service hereafter to show the pedigree of families, and that it might be clearly known from whence the Messiah sprung:

and I found a register of the genealogy of them which came up at the first; from Babylon to Jerusalem, along with Zerubbabel, as appears from Nehemiah 7:7, and this was of great use to him, whereby he would know not only their names and number, but to what city they belonged, and who to the city of Jerusalem, that they might be called upon to come, and rebuild their houses, and take up their residence there:

and found written therein; the names of the persons and families after mentioned.

And my God put into mine heart to gather together the nobles, and the rulers, and the people, that they might be reckoned by genealogy. And I found a register of the genealogy of them which came up at the first, and found written therein,
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
5. my God put into mine heart] R.V. my heart. For this expression see note on Nehemiah 2:12.

nobles … rulers (R.V. marg. deputies) … people] cf. Nehemiah 2:16; Nehemiah 4:14; Nehemiah 4:19.

that they might be reckoned by genealogy] LXX. εἰς συνοδίας, Vulg. ‘ut recenserem eos.’ Nehemiah’s census seems to be referred to in Nehemiah 11:1-3, from which passage we gather that the census was a preliminary to measures for replenishing the population of Jerusalem.Verse 5. - And my God put into mine heart to gather together the nobles, etc. As Nehemiah contemplated the vast empty spaces within the city walls, and considered with himself how they might best be peopled, the thought came to him - and he hailed it as a Divine inspiration - that by taking a census of the people he might pave the way for some transfer of the inhabitants of the country districts into the capital, which would at any rate strengthen the latter, and lessen the desolate appearance of its streets and squares, which had so pained him. The census would show what proportion the country and town populations bore to each other, and would point out which were the places in the country districts that could best afford to lose a portion of their inhabitants. A census, therefore was resolved upon, and, according to ordinary Jewish usage (Numbers 1:17-47; 1 Chronicles 21:5, 6; Ezra 2:3-62), it was genealogical. The tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and Levi were numbered separately (Nehemiah 11:4-19); and in the tribe of Judah the children of Pharez were reckoned apart from those of Zerah (1 Chronicles 9:4, 6). No doubt the genealogical principle was acted upon throughout, but further evidence upon the point is wanting. It would seem to have been in the course of his preparations for this census, perhaps in searching for precedents, that Nehemiah found the "register of the genealogy of them which came up at the first," which is the subject of the next section.

CHAPTER 7:6-73 THE REGISTER OF THOSE WHO RETURNED UNDER ZERUBBABEL, WITH THE NUMBER OF THEIR SLAVES, BEASTS, AND OBLATIONS (Nehemiah 7:6-73). It is no doubt a curious circumstance that this list should occur twice, with no important differences, in the two Books of Ezra and Nehemiah. Perhaps it was not in the original Ezra, that writer not having had the good fortune to "find" the document; but Nehemiah having "found" it and inserted it here, in connection with its discovery, a later arranger (Malachi?) removed it to the early part of Ezra, because it belonged to that portion of the Jewish history chronologically. The double record enables us to make out a more perfect catalogue than we could have obtained from either separately,-since there are corruptions in each which may be corrected by means of the other. See the comment which follows. For many in Judah were sworn unto him, for he was the son-in-law of Shecaniah the son of Arah; and his son Johanan had taken (to wife) the daughter of Meshullam the son of Berechiah. In this case Tobiah was connected with two Jewish families, - a statement which is made to confirm the fact that many in Judah were שׁבוּעה בּעלי, associates of an oath, joined to him by an oath, not allies in consequence of a treaty sworn to (Bertheau). From this reason being given, we may conclude his affinity by marriage was confirmed by an oath. Shecaniah ben Arah was certainly a respectable Jew of the race of Arah, Ezra 2:5. Meshullam ben Berechiah appears among those who shared in the work of building, Nehemiah 3:4 and Nehemiah 3:30. According to Nehemiah 13:4, the high priest Eliashib was also related to Tobiah. From the fact that both Tobiah and his son Jehohanan have genuine Jewish names, Bertheau rightly infers that they were probably descended from Israelites of the northern kingdom of the ten tribes. With this the designation of Tobiah as "the Ammonite" may be harmonized by the supposition that his more recent or remote ancestors were naturalized Ammonites.
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