Jerusalem celebrates at the wall
Priests who caught the first caravan home from exile1These are the names of priests who joined the first caravan home from exile.  They came with Zerubbabel  son of Shealtiel and high priest Jeshua:
2Amariah, Malluch, Hattush,
3Shecaniah, Rehum, Meremoth,
4Iddo, Ginnethoi, Abijah,
5Mijamin, Maadiah, Bilgah,
6Shemaiah, Joiarib, Jedaiah,
7Sallu, Amok, Hilkiah, Jedaiah.
These were the leaders of the priests and of their associates in the days of Jeshua.
Levite scholars join the caravan8These Levite scholars returned to Judah in the same caravan:
Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Sherebiah, Judah, and Mattaniah, who with his fellow singers led worshippers in songs of thanks. 9Bakbukiah and Unno stood near him, as part of the Temple choir.
Six generations of high priests10High priest Jeshua had a son, Joiakim, who had a son, Eliashib, who had son, Joiada, 11Who had a son, Jonathan, who had a son, Jaddua.
Priests as family leaders12When Joiakim was the high priest, these were the priests who led their extended families in Judah:
Seraiah family: Meraiah,
Jeremiah family: Hananiah,
13Ezra family: Meshullam,
Amariah family: Jehohanan,
14Malluchi family: Jonathan,
Shebaniah family: Joseph,
15Harim family: Adna,
Meraioth family: Helkai,
16Iddo family: Zechariah,
Ginnethon family: Meshullam,
17Abijah family: Zichri,
Moadiah family: Piltai,
18Bilgah family: Shammua,
of Shemaiah, Jehonathan,
19Joiarib family: Mattenai,
Jedaiah family: Uzzi,
20Sallai family: Kallai,
Amok family: Eber,
21Hilkiah family: Hashabiah,
Jedaiah family: Nethanel.
Levites as family leaders22People of Israel kept record of Levite family leaders when these men served as high priests: Eliashib, Joiada, Johanan, and Jaddua. They kept lists of priests, too, until Darius became king of Persia. 23Israel kept this list of names of Levite family leaders in the Book of Records until the time of Johanan the high priest, grandson of Eliashib.
24Levite family leaders were: Hashabiah, Sherebiah, and Jeshua son of Kadmiel. These men and their fellow singers provided the Temple’s music of praise and worship. The singers were following a tradition set up by King David, a man of God.
25Mattaniah, Bakbukiah, Obadiah, Meshullam, Talmon, and Akkub were Temple guards assigned to protect the Temple supply rooms and the gates into the Temple. 26These men led their families when Nehemiah was governor. Ezra was a priest and scholar in Jerusalem at the time. And the high priest was Joiakim, son of Jeshua and grandson of Jozadak.
Jerusalem dedicates the repaired city walls27Jewish leaders came from all over the region to celebrate the dedication of Jerusalem’s restored city walls. Levite musicians came with their songs and their instruments, including cymbals, harps, and lyres.
28Levite singers came, too. They traveled up to Jerusalem from neighboring cities and small villages. Sites included Netophah, 29Beth-gilgal, and open territory around Geba and Azmaveth.
30Priests and Levites went through purification rituals to make sure they were ritually clean for the dedication. Then they conducted rituals to purify the people, the city gates, and the wall.
Marching around the walls31I took Judah’s leaders to the top of the wall and divided them into two groups. I split musicians into two groups, as well. I sent the first group of musicians and leaders on a procession along the top of the wall, headed south toward Dung Gate.
32Musicians led the way, followed by half of Judah’s officials, along with half the priests: Azariah, Ezra, Meshullam, 34Judah, Benjamin, Shemaiah, and Jeremiah.
35Some of them blew ram horns. Others followed, playing their instruments:
Zechariah was a descendant of Israel’s first music minister, Asaph. Zechariah’s father and grandfathers through several generations were: Jonathan, Shemaiah, Mattaniah, Micaiah, Zaccur.
36Marching with him were Shemaiah, Azarel, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethanel, Judah, and Hanani. They played instruments just as King David hoped they would when he planned the Temple’s music ministries. Ezra the scholar walked in front of them.
37When they got to Spring Gate, they climbed stairs into part of the town known as the City of David. They continued past his palace and stopped at Water Gate along the east wall.
Nehemiah’s happy group of marchers38I sent the other half of the musical procession in the opposite direction, north. I followed them, and so did the other half of the officials. We walked along the top of the wall, past the Tower of the Ovens, 39above the Gate of Ephraim, by the Old Gate, by the Fish Gate, by the Tower of Hananel, the Tower of the Hundred, Sheep Gate, and finally stopping at the Gate of the Guard.
40That’s where we caught up with the other group, standing in front of the Temple, singing happy songs about God. Half the leaders stood beside me there. 41So did half the priests. They included: Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Micaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah, Hananiah (who was among the musicians blowing ram horns), 42Maaseiah, Shemaiah, Eleazar, Uzzi, Jehohanan, Malchijah, Elam, and Ezer. Singers stood with us, and so did their choir director, Jezrahiah.
43People offered wonderful sacrifices. Everyone was so happy about what God had done. Women and children were laughing and having a great time. People outside of town could hear the cheer.
Time to take an offering44During the celebrations, we appointed leaders to direct the work at the Temple. We needed some to work at supply and storage rooms. Others needed to get ready for all those donations coming in from all over Judah. There were gifts, 10 percent tithes, and special offerings of the best crops  from the early part of the harvest. By law, these went to the priests and Levites as part of their salary.
45These people all worked for God, in his service. They performed purification rituals, they sang, and they protected others by guarding the gates. They did all this because King David envisioned it and then commanded it long ago. And his son Solomon followed the tradition.
46Back in the time of David and his chief musical director Asaph, there were worship musicians, music directors, songs of joy, and songs to thank God for his kindness to us. 47And it continued into the days of Zerubbabel and Nehemiah. All the people of Israel did their parts, giving their reserved offerings for the singers, guards, and Levites. These Levites did their part, too. They gave their offerings that went to families descended from Aaron, Israel’s first high priest.
This is history, to Nehemiah—an event about 90 years before his time. Babylon (in Iraq today) conquered Judah and exiled surviving Jews in 586 BC. Roughly 50 years later, in 539 BC, Persia (in Iran today) conquered Babylon. They freed the Jews and other political captives to go home. The first wave left for Judah in about 538-537 BC. Nehemiah arrived in Jerusalem in 446 BC. Oddly, many scholars say the list of names here is so similar to the list in verses 12-21, set in Nehemiah’s day, that it seems likely that one list got copied off the other. Many of those scholars say the second list looks like it came from an older source. The list also overlaps with the list from Nehemiah’s day in chapter 10, of the priests who signed the agreement to obey God.
Zerubbabel was a descendant of one of Judah’s last kings, Jehoiachin—from King David’s family dynasty. Persians appointed Zerubbabel governor of the new Persian province of Judah. Ideally, Zerubbabel would have been king of an independent Jewish nation of Judah. He shows up in the stories of Haggai and Zechariah as the top Jew in charge of rebuilding the Jerusalem Temple. He led the people even after Darius I became King of Persia. But then he suddenly disappeared. Some scholars guess the new Persian king removed him because Zerubbabel grew into a powerful Jewish ruler whom the people considered their rightful king.
Some students of the Bible say names may have been dropped from this list. That’s because Joiakim is the only high priest linking Jeshua in the 530’s BC to Eliashib from Nehemiah’s day, almost a century later.
Joiakim may have been the high priest when Ezra arrived in 458 BC, a dozen years before Nehemiah arrived in 446 BC. The clue is that Ezra appears in the list of priests (12:13).
The name of this person is lost in history. Possibly the person copying a worn version of the scroll was a physician filling in for a scribe on holiday. Or maybe a scribe’s kid played a joke on Dad and penned in “Henry.” Then the scribe had to replace it, but couldn’t remember the name. That’s the point. Things happen.
Which King Darius? Scholars debate it. The Hebrew text says “Darius the Persian.” That doesn’t seem to help since “the Persian” add-on title appears again only with the name of Cyrus “the Persian” (Daniel 6:28). Some say the context of 12:22 suggests the writer was talking about Darius III, the last king of Persia (336-330 BC); enter the Greeks. Other scholars argue for Darius II (424-404 BC), a couple of decades after Nehemiah’s arrival in Jerusalem.
Also known as the Book of the Annals.
They look like small harps.
Purification rituals usually included one or more of these: washing clothes, ritual bath (different than a bubble bath with rubber ducks), a time of waiting—often until sunset, ritual sprinkling like in an infant baptism, fasting from food and not engaging in sex. Guidelines: Exodus 19:10-15; Leviticus 16:28; Numbers 8:5-19. A woman remains ritually unclean during her menstrual period, “for at least seven days” (Leviticus 15:19).
First Chronicles 25.
Perhaps the gate closest to Jerusalem’s only source of water in Bible times, Gihon Spring, hidden inside a small cave and the foot of a ridge outside the southeastern wall.
The City of David was a small part of Jerusalem at Nehemiah’s time. It was the Jerusalem at David’s time, a small walled town on a ridgetop in the southeast part of Jerusalem.
These are often called “first fruits.” But does that mean the crops harvested first or the crops judged best? This was farmer’s market produce given as salary to priests and Levites. Asked the question about “first” versus “best,” they might answer, “Both.” Like us, they would want the best, and they would want it last Thursday, in time for Shabbat—the Sabbath Day of rest and no cooking over a fire of any kind.
- Sorry, there are currently no questions for this chapter.