INTRODUCTION TO NEHEMIAH 12
Register of priests and Levites—dedication of the wall—Two large choirs marched on the wall around Jerusalem. One proceeded towards the Dung gate while the other went to the left. They marched the entire wall and finally took their place in the Temple of God. Under the direction of Jezrahiah they made the rafters ring. It was a time of great jubilation.
EXPOSITION OF NEHEMIAH 12
Priests and Levites
Zerubbabel had led a group back from Babylon in BC 538. The names of the leaders are given in these verses. Keep in mind that this chapter will name people all the way from Zerubbabel to Ezra to Nehemiah.
1 These were the priests and Levites who returned with Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and with Jeshua: Seraiah, Jeremiah, Ezra,
2 Amariah, Malluch, Hattush,
3 Shecaniah, Rehum, Meremoth,
4 Iddo, Ginnethon, Abijah,
5 Mijamin, Moadiah, Bilgah,
6 Shemaiah, Joiarib, Jedaiah,
There were twenty four divisions of the Priest so a Priest served during his rotation on duty.
7 Sallu, Amok, Hilkiah and Jedaiah.
These were the leaders of the priests and their associates in the days of Jeshua.
8 The Levites were Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Sherebiah, Judah, and also Mattaniah, who, together with his associates, was in charge of the songs of thanksgiving.
This group of Levites were in charge of the songs of thanksgiving—now look at verse 27 where it mentions the Levites…and then these words—songs of thanksgiving. I suppose they wrote and rehearsed these songs for the dedication of the wall.
9 Bakbukiah and Unni, their associates, stood opposite them in the services.
This is to be understood quite easily by reading verse 24. Mattaniah was in charge of songs of praise so his group stood opposite of the other group and they sang antiphonally.
10 Jeshua was the father of Joiakim, Joiakim the father of Eliashib, Eliashib the father of Joiada, 11 Joiada the father of Jonathan, and Jonathan the father of Jaddua.
A long list of Priest’s are named and in verse 30 they will perform their duties—namely purifying the people and the gates and the wall.
12 In the days of Joiakim, these were the heads of the priestly families:
of Seraiah’s family, Meraiah;
of Jeremiah’s, Hananiah;
13 of Ezra’s, Meshullam;
of Amariah’s, Jehohanan;
14 of Malluch’s, Jonathan;
of Shecaniah’s,] Joseph;
15 of Harim’s, Adna;
of Meremoth’s, Helkai;
16 of Iddo’s, Zechariah;
of Ginnethon’s, Meshullam;
17 of Abijah’s, Zicri;
of Miniamin’s and of Moadiah’s, Piltai;
18 of Bilgah’s, Shammua;
of Shemaiah’s, Jehonathan;
19 of Joiarib’s, Mattenai;
of Jedaiah’s, Uzzi;
20 of Sallu’s, Kallai;
of Amok’s, Eber;
21 of Hilkiah’s, Hashabiah;
of Jedaiah’s, Nethanel.
22 The family heads of the Levites in the days of Eliashib, Joiada, Johanan and Jaddua, as well as those of the priests, were recorded in the reign of Darius the Persian.
Comments on verses 22-24
This group of Levites is among the singers who will take part in the dedication by antiphonal singing and praising the Lord.
23 The family heads among the descendants of Levi up to the time of Johanan son of Eliashib were recorded in the book of the annals.
24 And the leaders of the Levites were Hashabiah, Sherebiah, Jeshua son of Kadmiel, and their associates, who stood opposite them to give praise and thanksgiving, one section responding to the other, as prescribed by David the man of God.
25 Mattaniah, Bakbukiah, Obadiah, Meshullam, Talmon and Akkub were gatekeepers who guarded the storerooms at the gates.
These men are named as security guards; while some guarded the gates others were guarding the storerooms. The storerooms were located in the annex and contained gold, silver and a supply of food.
26 They served in the days of Joiakim son of Jeshua, the son of Jozadak, and in the days of Nehemiah the governor and of Ezra the priest and scribe.
These men and their descendants served under three administrations.
Dedication of the Wall of Jerusalem
27 At the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem, the Levites were sought out from where they lived and were brought to Jerusalem to celebrate joyfully the dedication with songs of thanksgiving and with the music of cymbals, harps and lyres.
The wall had been completed and gates hung and each group of workmen dedicated their section as it was finished—now it’s time for a formal dedication of the entire wall with everyone present. So, the Levites were tracked down and brought to Jerusalem for this special dedication of the entire wall. Their job assignment for the dedication consisted of songs and orchestra music. All of this would entail musical compositions, practice, and rehearsal.
28 The singers also were brought together from the region around Jerusalem—from the villages of the Netophathites,
The wall had been completed and gates hung and each group of workmen dedicated their section as it was finished—now it’s time for a formal dedication of the entire wall with everyone present. So, the Levites was tracked down and brought to Jerusalem for this special dedication of the entire wall. Their job assignment for the dedication consisted of songs and orchestra music. All of this would entail musical compositions, practice, and rehearsal.
29 from Beth Gilgal, and from the area of Geba and Azmaveth, for the singers had built villages for themselves around Jerusalem.
More singers are requested to be available for this super day of praise and wall dedication.
30 When the priests and Levites had purified themselves ceremonially, they purified the people, the gates and the wall.
Lev. 23:28 “Do no work on that day, because it is the Day of Atonement, when atonement is made for you before the LORD your God.”
They were to make sure that everything was ceremonially clean, no priest or Levite could be on duty that had touched a dead body or failed to take a bath etc.
Ex. 19:10 “And the LORD said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes”
Lev. 11:43, 44 “Do not defile yourselves by any of these creatures. Do not make yourselves unclean by means of them or be made unclean by them. I am the LORD your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy. Do not make yourselves unclean by any creature that moves about on the ground.”
They could have eaten or touched an unclean animal or came looking like a beatnik and the priest would have called them unclean.
31 I had the leaders of Judah go up on top of the wall. I also assigned two large choirs to give thanks. One was to proceed on top of the wall to the right, toward the Dung Gate.
A delegation of leaders from the tribe of Judah with a large choir is on top of the wall they will proceed toward the Dung Gate.
32 Hoshaiah and half the leaders of Judah followed them,
Comments on verses 32-34
Important officials or Judah was a part of the group on top of the wall.
33 along with Azariah, Ezra, Meshullam,
34 Judah, Benjamin, Shemaiah, Jeremiah,
35 as well as some priests with trumpets, and also Zechariah son of Jonathan, the son of Shemaiah, the son of Mattaniah, the son of Micaiah, the son of Zaccur, the son of Asaph,
Comments on verses 35-36
Another group in the “top of the wall parade” is priests with trumpets. They are joined with Asaph’s son and his associates with musical instruments. Ezra is the Grand Marshall of the parade.
36 and his associates—Shemaiah, Azarel, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethanel, Judah and Hanani—with musical instruments prescribed by David the man of God. Ezra the scribe led the procession.
37 At the Fountain Gate they continued directly up the steps of the City of David on the ascent to the wall and passed above the house of David to the Water Gate on the east.
The fountain gate—steps of the city of David—House of David—Water Gate—these are points of interest along the parade route.
38 The second choir proceeded in the opposite direction. I followed them on top of the wall, together with half the people—past the Tower of the Ovens to the Broad Wall,
Comments on verses 39-39
The second choir went the opposite direction on top of the wall—Nehemiah brought up the rear—they passed the following points of interest along the parade route—Tower of the Ovens (Bakery) The Broad Wall—over the Gate of Ephraim—The Jeshanah gate—the Fish Gate—the Tower of Hananel—the Tower of the Hundred—The Sheep Gate—and stopped at the Guard Gate.
39 over the Gate of Ephraim, the Jeshanah Gate, the Fish Gate, the Tower of Hananel and the Tower of the Hundred, as far as the Sheep Gate. At the Gate of the Guard they stopped.
40 The two choirs that gave thanks then took their places in the house of God; so did I, together with half the officials,
Comments on verses 40-42
The two choirs now give thanks and proceed to the Temple. With everyone in his place the orchestra began and the singers under the direction of Jezrahiah made the rafters ring.
41 as well as the priests—Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Micaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah and Hananiah with their trumpets-
42 and also Maaseiah, Shemaiah, Eleazar, Uzzi, Jehohanan, Malkijah, Elam and Ezer. The choirs sang under the direction of Jezrahiah.
43 And on that day they offered great sacrifices, rejoicing because God had given them great joy. The women and children also rejoiced. The sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away.
Following the parade and the choir singing they offered sacrifices—it was a day to be remembered—a day of joy—women and children raised their happy voices—the jubilation could be heard echoing from hill to hill.
44 At that time men were appointed to be in charge of the storerooms for the contributions, firstfruits and tithes. From the fields around the towns they were to bring into the storerooms the portions required by the Law for the priests and the Levites, for Judah was pleased with the ministering priests and Levites.
Men are now appointed to administer the contributions, first fruits, tithes, produce etc. that was brought to the storerooms. From these rooms people who needed help could get food. Everyone was pleased with the priest who was handling the job.
45 They performed the service of their God and the service of purification, as did also the singers and gatekeepers, according to the commands of David and his son Solomon.
This verse has reference to the priests who are administering the food program as well as ministering the word.
46 For long ago, in the days of David and Asaph, there had been directors for the singers and for the songs of praise and thanksgiving to God.
Having a choir and director of music in addition to an orchestra could be traced back to David.
47 So in the days of Zerubbabel and of Nehemiah, all Israel contributed the daily portions for the singers and gatekeepers. They also set aside the portion for the other Levites, and the Levites set aside the portion for the descendants of Aaron.
From Zerubbabel to Nehemiah Israel had set aside a portion of their income to provide for the singers and gatekeepers, Levites and Priests.