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Nehemiah - Chapter 7
Putting Others in Charge, Verses 1-4
The wall was finished, and it seemed the work of Nehemiah was done. The Levitical porters and singers were appointed. It is uncertain whether these Levites were appointed for the regular service of the temple or for some special service in connection with the wall. It would seem they would have already had those places filled in the temple, since they were there from the earliest time of the reconstruction of the temple (Ezra 3:10-11), and Ezra had reorganized this work after his return as well (implied by Ezra 8:15-20). It seems likely these were chosen for the dedication of the wall (Nehemiah 12:27 ff), the singers to join in the praise and the porters to guard the city gates.
Far from seeking to set himself up as a king, as Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem had accused him, Nehemiah instead turned over the administration of the city of Jerusalem to others. He chose Hanani, his brother who had brought him the news of the walls’ state of disrepair when he was still in the king’s palace at Shushan, and Hananiah, the ruler of the palace. What Hananiah’s office entailed is not clear, but some think it is probably comparable to that formerly known as the "treasurer" under the kings. Nehemiah held him to be a faithful man who feared God (respected and reverenced Him) more than most men. Since Nehemiah stayed in Judah and did not return to Shushan for twelve years it is to be expected that he continued as governor of the province.
Nehemiah gave instructions concerning opening and closing the gates and doors of the wall. This appears to be in an effort to guard the sanctity of the city and to see that God’s statutes and commandments in the law were observed. They were to remain closed until the sun was well up and were to be closed and barred in the evening. The appointed guard was to stand by to assure this was done. There was evidently considerable traffic in and out of the city, since most of the people continued to live outside in the smaller towns and villages. These probably came and went a lot in coming to temple worship. Nehemiah begins here to note the lack of inhabitants in the city. The walls were restored, the temple was rebuilt and its worship re-established, but the houses remained in ruin. Few people actually made their homes in the city.
Registry Repeated, Verses 5-62
The lack of people living in the city of Jerusalem was of great concern to Nehemiah. He says God put it into his mind to gather nobles, rulers, and the people, and to trace their genealogy to determine how the city might be populated. In planning for this, he came across the genealogical register which had been used for those who came to Jerusalem with Zerubbabel 90 years earlier. This he adapted to his purpose.
The genealogical list of Nehemiah 7:6-62 is nearly the same as that of Ezra 2:1-60. There are about three major differences in the lists; relative to spellings, numbers, and omissions. The spellings are easily accounted for. The Hebrew had no vowels, and when vowel points were added later they were not always uniform with reference to littlementioned persons such as these. As to the numbers, changes may have occurred due to copyists’ errors through the centuries. Another possibility may have resulted in adjustment of numbers in families between the time of Zerubbabel and that of Nehemiah, there possibly being later arrivals to add to the original number of returnees to subtract. As for the omissions, the same explanations could be advanced, carelessness of scribes or the return of some to Babylon since Zerubbabel’s time.
Full commentary on this genealogical record will be found in the commentary on Ezra 2:1-60. The reader is asked to refer to that without further commentary here.
Various Information, Verses 63-73
Most of these verses are also copied from the same list recorded in Ezra 2:61-70. There is still no evidence whether those who could not find their genealogy ever succeeded in being accepted. Perhaps they did not find it, since there is still no mention of it. Refer again to comments on Ezra, chapter two.
The account in Nehemiah gives more detail concerning the gold, silver, priests’ garments that were given by those who returned to Jerusalem under Zerubbabel. The Tirshatha, or governor, who was the prince Zerubbabel, descendant of the king, gave in major proportion to the chief men and the people. Some have figured the Tirshatha’s gift according to current values to be $270,000. By this same reckoning the value of the presents given by the chief of the fathers would be in excess of $2,000,000, as would also be that of the people as a whole. Considering this vast amount of treasure, even after the Jews had been made captive, it is understandable why the greedy nations sought their overthrow. God has always made His people, the Jews, to prosper.
A few lessons: 1) There should be concern to place the right persons in charge of the Lord’s work; 2) there should also be concern that His commands be kept faithfully; 3) when a problem exists the Lord is able to show the answer; 4) whatever errors may occur in English versions of the Scriptures one may be certain there was no error in God’s inspired original; 5) people who love God give generously of that with which He has blessed them.
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Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Nehemiah 7". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany