Jews resettle in their homeland towns
Dice decides where Jews will live1Jewish leaders lived in Jerusalem. But few citizens did. Still, the people agreed they needed to get a tenth of the community living there. So, they threw dice to see who would move there. In the end, one in ten Jews settled there. Nine out of ten lived outside Jerusalem. 2Those who didn’t have to move thanked and praised those who did.
3This is a list of leaders who lived in Jerusalem. But most of the citizens lived on their inherited property and in towns through Judah. Those scattered around the region included priests, Levite scholars, the Temple servants, and Jews descended from King Solomon’s servants.
Judah’s family in Jerusalem4Leader’s from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin lived in Jerusalem.
Two leaders from Judah’s tribe, both descended from Perez:
Athaiah. His relatives, from father to five generations back: Uzziah, Zechariah, Amariah, Shephatiah, and Mahalalel.
5Maaseiah. His relatives, from father to seven generations back: Baruch, Col-hozeh, Hazaiah, Adaiah, Joiarib, Zechariah, and Shelahnite.
6In all, there were 468 descendants of Perez living in Jerusalem. All of them were good men.
Benjamin’s tribe in Jerusalem7Three leaders from Benjamin’s tribe settled in Jerusalem:
Sallu. His relatives, from father to six generations back: Meshullam, Joed, Pedaiah, Kolaiah, Maaseiah, Ithiel.
8Gabbai and Salla. In all, there were 928 men of Benjamin living in Jerusalem.
9Joel son of Zichri managed that part of town. His backup, the number two manager: Judah son of Hassenuah.
Priests in Jerusalem10Four priests lived in Jerusalem:
Jedaiah son of Joiarib.
11Seraiah. His relatives, from father to five generations: Hilkiah, Meshullam, Zadok, Meraioth, and Ahitub. 12In all, 822 from Seraiah’s families worked at the Temple.
Adaiah. His relatives, six generations deep: Jeroham, Pelaliah, Amzi, Zechariah, Pashhur, and Malchijah. 13Relatives with him: 242 men, all good human beings.
Amashsai. His relatives, four generations deep: Azarel, Ahzai, Meshillemoth, Immer. 14Relatives with him: 128 courageous warriors. Zabdiel son of Haggedolim led them all.
Levite scholars in Jerusalem15Levites settled in Jerusalem, too.
Shemaiah. His father through great-great grandfather: Hasshub, Azrikam, Hashabiah, Bunni.
16Shabbethai and Jozabad. They directed Levites working outside the Temple.
17Mattaniah son of Mica. Grandfather: Zabdi. Great-grandfather Asaph. When it was time to sing the thanksgiving prayer, he started the vocals.
Bakbukiah. He worked as Mattaniah’s assistant.
Abda. His father through great-grandfather: Shammua, Galal, and Jeduthun.
18In all, 284 Levites settled in Jerusalem.
Other Temple workers in Jerusalem19Temple security guards at the gates:
Akkub, Talmon, and their fellow guards—172 in all—kept eyes on gates into the city.
20All others living in Judah— priests, Levites, and everyone else—settled on the land they inherited or acquired and in towns scattered throughout. 21But the Temple servants lived in Jerusalem, on the hill called Ophel. Ziha and Gishpa managed them.
22Uzzi led the Jerusalem Levites. He’s a descendant of Asaph, who once directed all the Temple music. Uzzi’s father through great-great-grandfather: Bani, Hashabiah, Mattaniah, Mica. 23But the music wasn’t up to any of the Jews. The Persian king decided what songs the musicians would sing each day.
24Pethahiah. He was in Judah’s tribe, the son of Meshezabel, and a descendant of Zerah. Pethahiah lived near the Persian king and advised him whenever the topic of the Jewish people came up.
Towns of Judah25Many lived in the towns or open fields of Judah:
Kiriath-arba and its outlying villages,
Dibon and its villages,
Jekabzeel and villages,
26Jeshua, Moladah, Beth-pelet,
27Hazar-shual, Beersheba and its villages,
28Ziklag, Meconah and villages,
29En-rimmon, Zorah, Jarmuth,
30Zanoah, Adullam and villages, Lachish and open fields, and Azekah and villages. So, the people of Israel lived from Beersheba in the south to the Valley of Hinnom, which surrounds Jerusalem.
31Benjamin’s family lived on their tribal land at Geba and beyond: Michmash, Aija, Bethel and its villages,
32Anathoth, Nob, Ananiah,
33Hazor, Ramah, Gittaim,
34Hadid, Zeboim, Neballat,
35Lod, and Ono Valley, where artisans settled.
36Several teams of Levites from Judah’s territory were assigned to live with the people of Benjamin’s tribe.
More literally, they were to throw or draw “lots.” The “lots” may have been stones or animal bones marked in a way that produced random outcomes for “yes” or “no” answers. But many at the time taught that God controlled the outcome. So, they seemed to believe the dice spoke for God. They had to resort to this, apparently, because few wanted to move. They would have to leave their homes behind in outlying towns, with their farms and grazing fields. They would trade this in for a home inside a city full of destroyed and abandoned buildings. Also, managing their farms and herds would be tougher from town. Nehemiah finished repairing the walls, but Babylon’s 586 BC destruction of Jerusalem left scars throughout the city.
The tribes of Judah and Benjamin were the only tribes left, aside from Levites who lived throughout what had been Israel. When Israel split, Judah and Benjamin formed the southern Jewish nation of Judah. The other 10 tribes lived in the north and formed the nation of Israel—a smaller version than David’s original 12-tribe Israel. Assyrians broke up the northern nation in about 722 BC, scattered and exiled the survivors who never seemed to return in big groups. They became known as the Lost Tribes of Israel. Judah fell to Babylon in 586 BC. But they were erased from the map for only 50 years. Then they started coming back.
There’s a question about whether Joel and Judah managed all of Jerusalem. But at least for a time, Nehemiah said he put his brother in charge of the city (7:2).
We have to guess what work they did. Some Levites traveled around collecting the 10 percent tithe at harvesttime, which spanned roughly nine months, from February to October. Others maintained the property or ordered supplies for the Temple.
Jerusalem sits on top of a ridge of hills across the Kidron Valley from the Mount of Olives, which is also a ridge of hills. On Jerusalem’s ridge, Ophel was the hill where some people lived inside the walled city. Ophel was on the south side of Mount Moriah, the hill where the Temple stood.
Perhaps the king knew the power of a song.
Ono Valley may have been near the city of Ono (Ezra 2:33), in the tribal territory of Benjamin. The site has been identified as near Tel Aviv, about 30 miles (50 km) northwest of Jerusalem.
- Sorry, there are currently no questions for this chapter.