Matthew Poole's Commentary
Now these are the priests and the Levites that went up with Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua: Seraiah, Jeremiah, Ezra,The priests, Nehemiah 12:1-7, and Levites which came up with Zerubbabel, Nehemiah 12:8,9. The succession of high priests, Nehemiah 12:10-21. Certain chief Levites, Nehemiah 12:22-26. The manner of dedicating the wall, Nehemiah 12:27-43. The offices of priests and Levites, Nehemiah 12:44; of singers and porters, Nehemiah 12:45-47.
The priests, i.e. the chief of the priests, as they are called here, Nehemiah 12:7, to wit, the heads of those twenty-four courses which David appointed by Divine direction, 1 Chronicles 24. And whereas there are twenty-four, and here but twenty-two, and Nehemiah 12:12, &c. only twenty, the reason of this difference may possibly be this, because two of the twenty-four courses were extinct in Babylon, or at least none of them was then returned; and two of the persons here named, Nehemiah 12:2,5, to wit, Hattush and Mandish, may be omitted in the account of the posterity of these persons, Nehemiah 12:12, &c., because they had no posterity. Possibly these were not the same courses which David had appointed, but others which Zerubbabel and Joshua had constituted in imitation of that order as far as they could.
Ezra: either this was another Ezra, or if it were the same mentioned Ezra 7, he lived to a great age; which may well be supposed, considering his great sobriety, and abstinence from those evil practices which shorten men’s lives, and his great piety, to which God promised long life, and withal the special providence of God confirming him so long in such a season wherein the church of God did greatly need his help and counsel.
Amariah, Malluch, Hattush,In the repetition of Malluch’s and some other men’s names hereafter, Nehemiah 12:14, &c., there are some small variations, which are very frequent in that language.
Shechaniah, Rehum, Meremoth,No text from Poole on this verse.
Iddo, Ginnetho, Abijah,The progenitor of John the Baptist, Luke 1:5.
Miamin, Maadiah, Bilgah,No text from Poole on this verse.
Shemaiah, and Joiarib, Jedaiah,No text from Poole on this verse.
Sallu, Amok, Hilkiah, Jedaiah. These were the chief of the priests and of their brethren in the days of Jeshua.Of their brethren, i.e. of the priests, who were their brethren.
Moreover the Levites: Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Sherebiah, Judah, and Mattaniah, which was over the thanksgiving, he and his brethren.No text from Poole on this verse.
Also Bakbukiah and Unni, their brethren, were over against them in the watches.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.
And Jeshua begat Joiakim, Joiakim also begat Eliashib, and Eliashib begat Joiada,Here follows a catalogue of the Jewish high priests; which was the more necessary, because their times were now to be measured, not by the years of their kings, as formerly, but by their high priests.
Eliashib; of whom see Nehemiah 3:1 13:4,5.
And Joiada begat Jonathan, and Jonathan begat Jaddua.Generally supposed to be the same man who was high priest in the days of Alexander the Great, as Josephus mentions; whence a great difficulty ariseth, how Nehemiah could mention this man, who seems not to have been high priest till many years after Nehemiah’s death. But it seems not necessary that this
Jaddua should be the same person, for he might be the father of that Jaddua, both being called by the same name; or, if he were the same, the blessing of a very long life might be given to this great and excellent governor, as it was to Ezra, that famous scribe, as was noted on Nehemiah 12:1, and that for the very same reason. He might also live to see Jaddua, though not to see him high priest, which might be many years after. Or this passage might be put into this book by some sacred or inspired penman, there being some, though but few, such passages in the foregoing books of Scripture, which were added by succeeding men of God in after-times.
And in the days of Joiakim were priests, the chief of the fathers: of Seraiah, Meraiah; of Jeremiah, Hananiah;As their fathers were priests in the days of Joshua, so in the days of Joiakim, the son of Joshua, the sons of those persons executed the priesthood in their fathers’ steads, some of their fathers probably being yet living, and many of them now dead.
Of Ezra, Meshullam; of Amariah, Jehohanan;No text from Poole on this verse.
Of Melicu, Jonathan; of Shebaniah, Joseph;No text from Poole on this verse.
Of Harim, Adna; of Meraioth, Helkai;No text from Poole on this verse.
Of Iddo, Zechariah; of Ginnethon, Meshullam;No text from Poole on this verse.
Of Abijah, Zichri; of Miniamin, of Moadiah, Piltai;No text from Poole on this verse.
Of Bilgah, Shammua; of Shemaiah, Jehonathan;No text from Poole on this verse.
And of Joiarib, Mattenai; of Jedaiah, Uzzi;No text from Poole on this verse.
Of Sallai, Kallai; of Amok, Eber;No text from Poole on this verse.
Of Hilkiah, Hashabiah; of Jedaiah, Nethaneel.No text from Poole on this verse.
The Levites in the days of Eliashib, Joiada, and Johanan, and Jaddua, were recorded chief of the fathers: also the priests, to the reign of Darius the Persian.Either Darius Codomanus, and then what was said concerning Jaddua, Nehemiah 12:11, must be in part repeated and applied here: or Darius Nothus; and so this Jaddua might be father to him who was in the days of Darius Codomanus, and of Alexander the Great.
The sons of Levi, the chief of the fathers, were written in the book of the chronicles, even until the days of Johanan the son of Eliashib.In the book of the chronicles, i.e. in the public annals or registers, in which the genealogies of the several families were set down by the Jews with great exactness, as all persons agree.
And the chief of the Levites: Hashabiah, Sherebiah, and Jeshua the son of Kadmiel, with their brethren over against them, to praise and to give thanks, according to the commandment of David the man of God, ward over against ward.Of which See Poole "Nehemiah 12:9".
Mattaniah, and Bakbukiah, Obadiah, Meshullam, Talmon, Akkub, were porters keeping the ward at the thresholds of the gates.To wit, of the temple, their watching-place being close by the thresholds of the gates, as it now is.
These were in the days of Joiakim the son of Jeshua, the son of Jozadak, and in the days of Nehemiah the governor, and of Ezra the priest, the scribe.No text from Poole on this verse.
And at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought the Levites out of all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem, to keep the dedication with gladness, both with thanksgivings, and with singing, with cymbals, psalteries, and with harps.At the dedication of the wall; and of the gates, which are mentioned Nehemiah 12:30; and of the city itself within the gates; which is here dedicated to God, and to his honour and service, not only upon a general account, by which we ought to devote ourselves, and all that is ours, to God; but upon a more special ground, because this was a place which God himself had chosen, and sanctified by his temple and gracious presence, and therefore did of right belong to him; whence it is oft called the holy city, as hath been observed before. And they restored it to God by this dedication, withal imploring the presence, and favour, and blessing of God to this city by solemn prayers, and praises, and sacrifices, wherewith this dedication was accompanied. See Deu 20:5 1 Kings 8:63 Ezra 6:17 Psalm 30:1.
Out of all their places, to which they were now retired after that great and general assembly, Ne 8 Ne 9 Ne 10.
And the sons of the singers gathered themselves together, both out of the plain country round about Jerusalem, and from the villages of Netophathi;No text from Poole on this verse.
Also from the house of Gilgal, and out of the fields of Geba and Azmaveth: for the singers had builded them villages round about Jerusalem.That they might be near at hand for the service of God, and of his house.
And the priests and the Levites purified themselves, and purified the people, and the gates, and the wall.Partly by sprinkling the water of purification upon them, by which the tabernacle and sacred utensils were purified, Numbers 8; and partly by solemn prayers and sacrifices.
Then I brought up the princes of Judah upon the wall, and appointed two great companies of them that gave thanks, whereof one went on the right hand upon the wall toward the dung gate:The princes of Judah, and half of the people with them, as it is expressed afterwards, Nehemiah 12:38.
Upon the wall; for the wall was broad and strong, and so ordered that men might conveniently walk upon it, as at this day it is in many cities.
On the right hand; towards the south and east.
And after them went Hoshaiah, and half of the princes of Judah,No text from Poole on this verse.
And Azariah, Ezra, and Meshullam,Ezra; not the scribe, as is evident from Nehemiah 12:36, but another Ezra.
Judah, and Benjamin, and Shemaiah, and Jeremiah,No text from Poole on this verse.
And certain of the priests' sons with trumpets; namely, Zechariah the son of Jonathan, the son of Shemaiah, the son of Mattaniah, the son of Michaiah, the son of Zaccur, the son of Asaph:No text from Poole on this verse.
And 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.No text from Poole on this verse.
And at the fountain gate, which was over against them, they 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.The stairs of the city of David; by which they went up to the hill of Zion, and city of David.
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;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 from above the gate of Ephraim, and above the old gate, 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.Waiting, as also their brethren did, that they might go together in due order into God’s house, there to perfect the solemnity.
So stood the two companies of them that gave thanks in the house of God, and I, and the half of the rulers with me:In the house of God, i.e. in the courts of the temple.
I, and the half of the rulers with me; and Ezra, and the other half with him, as appears by comparing this with Nehemiah 12:31,36.
And the priests; Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Michaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah, and Hananiah, with trumpets;No text from Poole on this verse.
And Maaseiah, and Shemaiah, and Eleazar, and Uzzi, and Jehohanan, and Malchijah, and Elam, and Ezer. And the singers sang loud, with Jezrahiah their overseer.No text from Poole on this verse.
Also that day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced: for God had made them rejoice with great joy: the wives also and the children rejoiced: so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off.Either their loud voices and instruments were heard to a great distance, or the fame of it was spread far and near.
And at that time were some appointed over the chambers for the treasures, for the offerings, for the firstfruits, and for the tithes, to gather into them out of the fields of the cities the portions of the law for the priests and Levites: for Judah rejoiced for the priests and for the Levites that waited.For the offerings; such as they had lately engaged themselves to give, or other voluntary or prescribed offerings.
The portions of the law, i.e. the foresaid first-fruits, and tithes, and other things which God by his law appointed for them.
Judah rejoiced for the priests and for the Levites that waited; partly for the eminent gifts and graces which they observed in many of them; and partly for the great benefit which they had now received by their ministry; and therefore for the competent provision which hereby was made for them, that so they might wholly wait upon their office to the people’s edification and comfort.
And both the singers and the porters kept the ward of their God, and the ward of the purification, according to the commandment of David, and of Solomon his son.The ward of their God, i.e. that ward, or charge, or business which God had prescribed to them.
And the ward of the purification; and in particular
the charge of purification, i.e. of taking care that no unclean person or thing might enter into the house or courts of the Lord; which care did certainly belong to the porters, as is expressed, 2 Chronicles 23:19, and at this time, and in some sort, as it seems to the singers, who, besides their proper employment,
were also over the business of the house of God, as is affirmed, Nehemiah 11:22; which being a general expression, may well comprehend, if it doth not principally design this, that they should take care to keep the house of God free from all pollution. And possibly as the porters were to take care that no unclean thing might enter there, so if it should through their inadvertency enter in, the singers were to remove it.
For in the days of David and Asaph of old there were chief of the singers, and songs of praise and thanksgiving unto God.David, and Asaph, and Heman, and Jeduthun, 1 Chronicles 25:1; but Asaph only is mentioned here, as the most eminent and useful in that work.
There were chief of the singers; there were some overseers, whose office it was to see that the singers were fit for and diligent in their work; and therefore they took care of it at this time.
And all Israel in the days of Zerubbabel, and in the days of Nehemiah, gave the portions of the singers and the porters, every day his portion: and they sanctified holy things unto the Levites; and the Levites sanctified them unto the children of Aaron.They sanctified holy things, i.e. they sequestered or set apart the first-fruits and tithes from their own share, and devoted them to the use of the Levites, to whom they belonged. And so did the Levites by the tithe of the tithes. Thus they all conscientiously paid their dues to God, or his assigns, and did not profane, those things which God had sanctified, nor take them to their own common use, as divers ungodly or covetous persons had formerly used to do when they had opportunity.