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Bible Commentaries

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

Nehemiah 11

Verses 1-24

1. The residents of Jerusalem 11:1-24

Some leaders had already chosen to live in Jerusalem (Nehemiah 11:1). Nehemiah initiated a plan to determine which one family in ten, of those not living in the city, would move into it (Nehemiah 11:1). Additional immigrants volunteered to live there (Nehemiah 11:2). There was a cross section of leaders, therefore, who lived in Jerusalem, while other leaders lived in the other towns of Judah (Nehemiah 11:3).

"The city wall was built, and now a new measure to safeguard the city was instituted, namely, to repopulate it." [Note: Fensham, p. 244.]

The residents of Jerusalem included Jews from the tribes of Judah (Nehemiah 11:4-6) and Benjamin (Nehemiah 11:7-9). There were twice as many from Benjamin as from Judah. There were priests (Nehemiah 11:10-14), Levites (Nehemiah 11:15-18), and gatekeepers (Nehemiah 11:19). The rest lived in the outlying towns (Nehemiah 11:20), except for the temple servants (Nehemiah 11:21). The Ophel was apparently a leveled mini-valley (or perhaps a low hill) between the City of David and the temple area. [Note: Breneman, p. 259.] Pethahiah appears to have been an adviser to the Persian king (Artaxerxes) in matters of Jewish affairs (Nehemiah 11:24). Compare 1 Chronicles 9:2-34 for a similar list. Estimates of Jerusalem’s population at this time vary from 4,800 [Note: M. Broshi, "La population de l’ancienne Jerusalem," Revue Biblique 92 (1975):9-10.] to 8,000 [Note: D. E. Gowan, Bridge Between the Testaments, p. 20.] .

Verses 1-26

B. The Residents of the Land 11:1-12:26

When the exiles returned to the Promised Land, living in Jerusalem was not an attractive prospect because the city lay in ruins. However, with the rebuilding of the temple and the walls, the capital became a more desirable place to live. Nehemiah as governor saw the wisdom of populating Jerusalem with pureblooded Jews and set about to encourage the people to live within the city walls. Most of this section of the book (Nehemiah 11:3 to Nehemiah 12:26) is a parenthetical interjection into the chronological progression of the narrative.

Verses 25-36

2. The residents of the outlying towns 11:25-36

The towns south of Jerusalem, from the Hinnom Valley just south of the city as far as Beersheba, were those in the territory belonging to the tribe of Judah. Those north of Jerusalem stretching to the neighboring province of Samaria were towns of Benjamin. These were the two sections of the Persian province of Yehud (Judah). Nehemiah mentioned 17 prominent towns in Judah here (Nehemiah 11:25-30), and 15 in Benjamin (Nehemiah 11:31-35). The Levites lived among the general population, as when the Israelites first entered the Promised Land under Joshua, in order to be a good influence and to act as spiritual resource persons (Nehemiah 11:36).

"In a time when self-centeredness seems to dominate Western life-styles, the Word of God calls us to work and live together as a community, to be dependent upon one another, and to help one another in achieving the task God has set before us." [Note: Breneman, p. 263.]

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Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Nehemiah 11". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/nehemiah-11.html. 2012.