Nehemiah 12:1-13:31

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

Nehemiah 12


12:1-9 – (RSB) The priests and Levites who returned with Zerubbabel and Joshua . . . almost 100 years before (538 B.C.) are listed in this section. . . .


Nehemiah 12:1 Now these are the priests and the Levites that went up with Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua: Seraiah, Jeremiah, Ezra,

Nehemiah 12:2 Amariah, Malluch, Hattush,

Nehemiah 12:3 Shechaniah, Rehum, Meremoth,

Nehemiah 12:4 Iddo, Ginnetho, Abijah,

Nehemiah 12:5 Miamin, Maadiah, Bilgah,

Nehemiah 12:6 Shemaiah, and Joiarib, Jedaiah,

Nehemiah 12:7 Sallu, Amok, Hilkiah, Jedaiah. These were the chief of the priests and of their brethren in the days of Jeshua.

Nehemiah 12:8 Moreover the Levites: Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Sherebiah, Judah, and Mattaniah, which was over the thanksgiving, he and his brethren.

Nehemiah 12:9 Also Bakbukiah and Unni, their brethren, were over against them in the watches.


(RSB) were over against them in the watches (v. 9). Refers either to antiphonal singing (i.e. two musical groups singing alternately) or alternate shifts of service.


12:10-11 – (RSB) A listing of the line of high priests from Jeshua to Jaddua.


Nehemiah 12:10 And Jeshua begat Joiakim, Joiakim also begat Eliashib, and Eliashib begat Joiada,

Nehemiah 12:11 And Joiada begat Jonathan, and Jonathan begat Jaddua.


12:12-21 – A listing of the heads of the priestly families in the days of Joiakim, the son of Jeshua


Nehemiah 12:12 And in the days of Joiakim (i.e. Jeshua’s successor as high priest (v. 10)) were priests, the chief of the fathers: of Seraiah, Meraiah; of Jeremiah, Hananiah;

Nehemiah 12:13 Of Ezra, Meshullam; of Amariah, Jehohanan;

Nehemiah 12:14 Of Melicu, Jonathan; of Shebaniah, Joseph;

Nehemiah 12:15 Of Harim, Adna; of Meraioth, Helkai;

Nehemiah 12:16 Of Iddo, Zechariah; of Ginnethon, Meshullam;


12:16 – (RSB) Zechariah. The famous prophet.


Nehemiah 12:17 Of Abijah, Zichri; of Miniamin, of Moadiah, Piltai;

Nehemiah 12:18 Of Bilgah, Shammua; of Shemaiah, Jehonathan;

Nehemiah 12:19 And of Joiarib, Mattenai; of Jedaiah, Uzzi;

Nehemiah 12:20 Of Sallai, Kallai; of Amok, Eber;

Nehemiah 12:21 Of Hilkiah, Hashabiah; of Jedaiah, Nethaneel.

Nehemiah 12:22 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 [i.e. During the reign of Darius the Persian, a record (was also kept) of the Levites and priests (who had been) heads of their fathers’ (houses) in the days of Eliashib, Joiada, Johanan, and Jaddua.]

Nehemiah 12:23 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.

Nehemiah 12:24 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.

Nehemiah 12:25 Mattaniah, and Bakbukiah, Obadiah, Meshullam, Talmon, Akkub, were porters keeping the ward [i.e. were gatekeepers keeping watch, were gatekeepers guarding] at the thresholds of the gates.

Nehemiah 12:26 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.



      1.   The preparation for the dedication – 12:27-30


Nehemiah 12:27 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 [i.e. stringed instruments], and with harps.


Nehemiah 12:28 And the sons of the singers gathered themselves together, both out of the plain country round about Jerusalem [i.e. the region or the countryside around Jerusalem], and from the villages of Netophathi;


Nehemiah 12:29 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.


12:28-29 – (RSB) The places named were all near Jerusalem.


Nehemiah 12:30 And the priests and the Levites purified themselves, and purified the people, and the gates, and the wall.


12:30 – (RSB) The purification of the wall would have been done by sprinkling sacrificial blood on it.


12:31-37 – (RSB) Nehemiah organized two groups to encircle the city. The first, led by Ezra, proceeded from the SW corner of the city wall E, then N, led by singers (v. 31), followed by princes (vv. 32-33), then priests with trumpets (vv. 35, 41) and Levites with stringed instruments (v. 36). [They were on top of the wall].


Nehemiah 12:31 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:


Nehemiah 12:32 And after them went Hoshaiah, and half of the princes of Judah,

Nehemiah 12:33 And Azariah, Ezra, and Meshullam,

Nehemiah 12:34 Judah, and Benjamin, and Shemaiah, and Jeremiah,

Nehemiah 12:35 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:

Nehemiah 12:36 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.

Nehemiah 12:37 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.


12:38-43 – (RSB) The other group proceeded N, then E to the Temple area, meeting the first group in the Temple courts (v. 40), where they offered sacrifices and praised God (vv. 41-43). . . [They were also on top of the wall].


Nehemiah 12:38 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;


Nehemiah 12:39 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.


Nehemiah 12:40 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:


Nehemiah 12:41 And the priests; Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Michaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah, and Hananiah, with trumpets;


Nehemiah 12:42 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.


Nehemiah 12:43 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.


Nehemiah 12:44 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 [i.e. that served or ministered].


Nehemiah 12:45 And both the singers and the porters [i.e. gatekeepers] kept the ward of their God [i.e. kept the charge of their God], and the ward of the purification [i.e. the charge of the purification], according to the commandment of David, and of Solomon his son.


Nehemiah 12:46 For in the days of David and Asaph of old there were chief of the singers, and songs of praise and thanksgiving unto God.


Nehemiah 12:47 And all Israel in the days of Zerubbabel, and in the days of Nehemiah, gave the portions of [i.e. gave the portions due] 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.

Nehemiah 13


(BKC) For 12 years Nehemiah served as governor of Judah, from Artaxerxes’ 20th year to his 32nd year . . ., that is, from 444 B.C. to 432 B.C. Other than his rebuilding and dedicating the wall, getting the people to agree to keep the Law, and organizing the work of the priests and Levites in the temple, little is known about Nehemiah’s 12-year rule. Undoubtedly that was a successful period of time in his life.


(BKC) When the 12 years were up Nehemiah returned to Persia (perhaps to the city of Susa; . . . or to the capital, Persepolis), evidently once again to serve King Artaxerxes. . . . How long he remained in this position is not known. Perhaps it was two years or so. While he was gone some rather startling changes took place in Judah, changes involving serious violations of the Mosaic Law. When Nehemiah once again returned to Judah (perhaps around 430 or later), he faced a task that in some respects must have been even more difficult than rebuilding the wall.


Nehemiah 13:1 On that day [i.e. on the day that Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem to be governor again] they read in the book of Moses in the audience of the people; and therein was found written, that the Ammonite and the Moabite should not come into the congregation of God for ever [i.e. should never be permitted to enter the assembly of God];


13:1 – (RSB) . . . See note on Deut. 23:3-6 for this restriction on the Ammonite and Moabite.


(RSB) Note on Deuteronomy 23:3-6 – The masculine forms indicate that a male Ammonite or Moabite is meant. Female proselytes, like Ruth of Moab, could marry male Israelites.

The reason for this restriction is –

Nehemiah 13:2 Because they met not the children of Israel with bread and with water, but hired Balaam against them, that he should curse them: howbeit our God turned the curse into a blessing.


Nehemiah 13:3 Now it came to pass, when they had heard the law, that they separated from Israel all the mixed multitude.


(RSB) mixed multitude included the heathen who attached themselves to the Jews by marriage, commerce, or religious observances. . . .


Nehemiah 13:4 And before this, Eliashib the priest, having the oversight of the chamber of the house of our God, was allied unto [i.e. was a close associate of, was related to] Tobiah:


Nehemiah 13:5 And he had prepared for him a great chamber [i.e. provided him with a large room], where aforetime [i.e. formerly, previously] they laid the meat offerings [i.e. they had stored the grain offerings], the frankincense, and the vessels, and the tithes of the corn [i.e. the tithes of grain], the new wine, and the oil [i.e. olive oil], which was commanded to be given to the Levites, and the singers, and the porters; and the offerings of the priests [i.e. the offerings for the priests].


Nehemiah 13:6 But in all this time was not I [i.e. Nehemiah] at Jerusalem: for in the two and thirtieth year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon [i.e. 432 B.C.] came I unto the king, and after certain days obtained I leave of the king [i.e. I obtained permission from the king (to return to Jerusalem)]:


13:4-6 – (RSB) Tobiah. An Ammonite (2:19) to whom Eliashib had turned over a great chamber . . . in the court of the Temple during Nehemiah’s absence from Jerusalem. [Tobiah had been one of the main leaders in opposing the rebuilding of the wall.]


(BKC) Artaxerxes was called king of Babylon because his rule over the Persian Empire included Babylon.


(BKC) How long he [i.e. Nehemiah] stayed (in Jerusalem) this second time is not stated. Malachi may have ministered about that same time. . . .


Nehemiah 13:7 And I came to Jerusalem, and understood of [i.e. learned about, discovered] the evil that Eliashib did for Tobiah, in preparing him a chamber [i.e. a room] in the courts of the house of God.


Nehemiah 13:8 And it grieved me sore [i.e. grieved me bitterly, displeased (or upset) me greatly]: therefore I cast forth all the household stuff of Tobiah out of the chamber [i.e. I threw all of Tobiah’s household goods out of the room].


Nehemiah 13:9 Then I commanded, and they cleansed the chambers [i.e. the rooms]: and thither brought I again [i.e. I brought back into them] the vessels [i.e. utensils, equipment, articles] of the house of God, with the meat offering [i.e. grain offering] and the frankincense.


13:7-9 – (RSB) When Nehemiah returned and discovered, to his horror, what Eliashib had done, he threw Tobiah’s belongings out and ceremonially cleansed the room.


(BKC) He (i.e. Nehemiah) then had the rooms (apparently Tobiah had also occupied some rooms adjacent to the large chamber) purified, either ceremonially or by fumigation or both, and restored the temple articles and offerings that belonged there.


(BKC) Nehemiah’s next task pertains to why Tobiah was able to occupy one of the temple storerooms. They were empty because the people had failed in their commitment to bring their tithes and offerings to the Levites. As a result the Levites and others who were to live off these offerings as they performed spiritual services for the people had to work in the fields caring for their livestock. . . . This meant they had less time to work in the temple.


Nehemiah 13:10 And I perceived [i.e. realized] that the portions of the Levites had not been given them: for the Levites and the singers, that did the work [i.e. who were responsible for the service], were fled every one to his field [i.e. had each gone back to his field].


13:10 – (RSB) Nehemiah discovered that, in spite of the oath the people had taken, the Levites (and presumably also the priests) had not been receiving their tithes. As a result, they had to work in the fields. To rectify this, he appointed four reliable treasurers over the treasuries (storehouses, v. 13).


Nehemiah 13:11 Then contended I with [i.e. I reprimanded, I rebuked] the rulers, and said, Why is the house of God forsaken [i.e. neglected]? And I gathered them [i.e. the Levites] together, and set them in their place [i.e. restored them to (or stationed them at) their posts].


Nehemiah 13:12 Then brought all Judah the tithe of the corn [i.e. the grain] and the new wine and the oil [i.e. the olive oil] unto the treasuries.


Nehemiah 13:13 And I made treasurers over the treasuries [i.e. I appointed supervisors over the storehouses], Shelemiah the priest, and Zadok the scribe, and of the Levites, Pedaiah: and next to them was Hanan the son of Zaccur, the son of Mattaniah: for they were counted faithful [i.e. considered faithful, considered trustworthy, or considered reliable], and their office was [i.e. their task was, they were responsible] to distribute unto their brethren.


Nehemiah 13:14 Remember me, O my God, concerning this, and wipe not out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God, and for the offices thereof [i.e. and its services].


(BKC) Remember was a plea for help, not merely a request that God . . . not forget something. . . . Judah’s leader did not want his efforts of reform to be undone by the people’s neglect.


13:15-22 – (RSB) Also in violation of the covenant (10:30-31), some Jews were preparing and transporting wares on the Sabbath (v. 15) and Phoenician traders were actually selling on the Sabbath (v. 16).


Nehemiah 13:15 In those days saw I in Judah some treading wine presses on the sabbath, and bringing in sheaves [i.e. bringing in stacks of grain], and lading asses; as also [i.e. and loading donkeys with] wine, grapes, and figs, and all manner of burdens [i.e. and all kinds of loads], which they brought into Jerusalem on the sabbath day: and I testified against them in the day wherein they sold victuals [i.e. and I warned (or admonished) them against selling food on that day (i.e. on the sabbath)].


Nehemiah 13:16 There dwelt men of Tyre also therein, which brought fish, and all manner of ware [i.e. all kinds of merchandise (or goods)], and sold on the sabbath unto the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem [i.e. to the people of Judah in Jerusalem].


Nehemiah 13:17 Then I contended with [i.e. reprimanded, rebuked] the nobles of Judah, and said unto them, What evil thing is this that ye do, and profane [i.e. desecrate] the sabbath day?


Nehemiah 13:18 Did not your fathers thus [i.e. do the same things], and did not our God bring all this evil [i.e. calamity, trouble, disaster] upon us, and upon this city? yet ye bring more wrath [i.e. you bring added wrath] upon Israel by profaning the sabbath [i.e. by desecrating the sabbath].


Nehemiah 13:19 And it came to pass, that when the gates of Jerusalem began to be dark [i.e. And so it was at the gates of Jerusalem when it began to be dark] before the sabbath, I commanded that the gates should be shut, and charged that they should not be opened till [i.e. I commanded that the gates be shut and not opened until] after the sabbath: and some of my servants set I [i.e. I stationed, I posted] at the gates, that there should no burden [i.e. load] be brought in on the sabbath day.


Nehemiah 13:20 So the merchants and sellers of all kind of ware lodged without [i.e. outside] Jerusalem once or twice.


Nehemiah 13:21 Then I testified against them [i.e. I warned them], and said unto them, Why lodge ye about the wall [i.e. Why do you spend the night around the wall]? if ye do so again, I will lay hands on you [i.e. I will use force against you, I will arrest you]. From that time forth [i.e. from that time on] came they no more on the sabbath.


Nehemiah 13:22 And I commanded the Levites that they should cleanse [i.e. purify] themselves, and that they should come and keep [i.e. and guard] the gates, to sanctify the sabbath day [i.e. to keep the sabbath day holy]. Remember me [i.e. a plea for help to deal with this problem], O my God, concerning this also, and spare me [i.e. have compassion on me, show mercy to me] according to the greatness of thy mercy.


13:23-25 – (RSB) The sin of mixed marriages had erupted again . . ., and the children of these marriages could not speak Hebrew. Nehemiah dealt firmly with the offenders. . . .


Nehemiah 13:23 In those days also saw I Jews that had married wives of Ashdod, of Ammon, and of Moab:


Nehemiah 13:24 And their children spake half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak in the Jews’ language, but according to the language of each people [i.e. but (spoke) in the language of his people].


Nehemiah 13:25 And I contended with [i.e. I rebuked] them, and cursed [i.e. and called down curses on] them, and smote certain [i.e. and I struck (or beat some)] of them, and plucked off [i.e. pulled out] their hair [i.e. perhaps from their beards], and made them swear by God, saying, Ye shall not give your daughters unto their sons, nor take their daughters unto your sons, or for yourselves.


(BKC) Nehemiah’s pulling out the men’s hair may seem to be violent and inappropriate for a man of God. However, Nehemiah was concerned that God’s judgment not fall again on Judah. He knew God would not tolerate this sin.


Nehemiah 13:26 Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? yet among many nations was there no king like him, who was beloved of his God, and God made him king over all Israel: nevertheless even him did outlandish women [i.e. foreign women, pagan women] cause to sin.


13:26 – (RSB) Foreign wives had proved to be Solomon’s downfall (I Kings 11:1-8 ).


I Kings 11:1-81 But king Solomon loved many strange [i.e. foreign] women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; 2 Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love. 3 And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. 4 For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. 5 For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. 6 And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father. 7 Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. 8 And likewise did he for all his strange [i.e. foreign] wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods.


Nehemiah 13:27 Shall we then hearken unto you to do [i.e. should we then hear of your doing] all this great evil, to transgress against our God in marrying strange [i.e. foreign, pagan] wives?


Nehemiah 13:28 And one of the sons of Joiada, the son of Eliashib the high priest, was son in law to Sanballat the Horonite: therefore I chased him [i.e. I drove him] from me.


13:28 – (RSB) One of the younger sons of Joiada [i.e. the high priest] married a daughter of Sanballat [i.e. one of the leaders who led in the opposition to rebuild the wall]. . . . He deserved to be expelled, because the priestly line was not to be contaminated by intermarriage. . . .


Leviticus 21:14-1514 A widow, or a divorced woman, or profane, or an harlot, these shall he not take: but he shall take a virgin of his own people to wife. 15 Neither shall he profane his seed among his people: for I the LORD do sanctify him.


Nehemiah 13:29 Remember them, O my God, because they have defiled the priesthood, and the covenant of the priesthood, and of the Levites.


Nehemiah 13:30 Thus cleansed I them from all strangers [i.e. I purified them from everything foreign], and appointed the wards of [i.e. I assigned duties for] the priests and the Levites, every one in his business [i.e. each to his own task (or service)];


Nehemiah 13:31 And for the wood offering, at times appointed, and for the firstfruits [i.e. and to bringing the wood offering and the firstfruits at the appointed times]. Remember me, O my God, for good.


(BKC) This book (of Nehemiah) underscores the importance of physical protection for God’s people in Jerusalem but, more importantly, it stresses the need for His people to obey His Word, not giving in to sin, through neglect, compromise, or outright disobedience.


This sermon is the 6th part of the series, Study of Nehemiah. Other sermons in this series are: