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Nehemiah 12:1 Now these are the priests and the Levites who went up with Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua: Seraiah, Jeremiah, Ezra- Those who truly waited upon Yahweh would renew their strength; they would “mount up as eagles” (Isaiah 40:31), the s.w. used throughout Ezra and Nehemiah for the ‘going up’ ["went up"] to Jerusalem from Babylon to rebuild the temple (Ezra 1:3,5,11; 2:1,59; 7:6,7,28; 8:1; Neh. 7:5,6,61; 12:1). The idea of mounting up with wings as eagles also connects with Ezekiel's vision of the cherubim, mounting up from the captives by the rivers of Babylon, and returning to the land. But the reality was as in Neh.  4:10: “And Judah said, The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed, and there is much rubbish; so that we are not able to build the wall”. Examination of the context shows that they had just had plenty of strength; they lost physical stamina because of their spiritual weakness.

Zerubbabel and Joshua between them were intended to be the king-priest of the restoration, according to Zechariah's prophecy, who would between them fulfil the requirements for a messianic figure in the restored Kingdom. But they failed in this, and despite other possible fulfillments, as Zechariah offers, this figure never appeared.

Nehemiah 12:2 Amariah, Malluch, Hattush-
There were more priests than this who returned, these are the heads of houses listed here. All these names are repeated in :12-21 with the exception of Hattush; perhaps he failed in some way and was excluded, although he signed the covenant in Neh. 10:4.

Nehemiah 12:3 Shecaniah, Rehum, Meremoth-
The Shebaniah of Neh. 10:4.

Nehemiah 12:4 Iddo, Ginnethoi, Abijah- '
Ginnethoi' means "gardener" and reads strangely amongst the other priestly names, most of which have spiritual overtones. Yet the priests were not intended to do agricultural work but to be supported by the tithes. It could be that this name is a reflection of the way that some priestly families were just so in name only and had no real dedication to spiritual things. The failure of the priesthood to teach and even know God's word is evidence enough of that.

Nehemiah 12:5 Mijamin, Maadiah, Bilgah-
"Maadiah", 'ornament of Yah' or 'adorned by Yah', could be one of the few names which connect with the hope of the restoration prophets; that the restored Israel would be adorned by Yah (s.w. Is. 61:10; Jer. 31:4). I have noted that generally the situation in Nehemiah's time had very little connection with the restoration prophets; they were simply focused upon restoring the situation as it had been under the old covenant, which was now permanently broken.

Nehemiah 12:6 Shemaiah, and Joiarib, Jedaiah-
Joiarib was drawn to serve first in 1 Chron. 24:7, but presumably the lots came out differently when they were drawn at the restoration, and he is now drawn 17th out of 22 orders.

Nehemiah 12:7 Sallu, Amok, Hilkiah, Jedaiah. These were the chiefs of the priests and of their brothers in the days of Jeshua-
The 22 names in this list fall short of the 24 courses of priests in the original temple.

Nehemiah 12:8 Moreover the Levites: Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Sherebiah, Judah, and Mattaniah, who was the praise leader, he and his brothers-
"Praise leader" is the word used in Jer. 25:30; 51:14 of the 'shouting' or 'praise' which was to be heard in the restored Kingdom. But those who were to be making it intermarried with Gentiles and failed to act as intended for the restored Kingdom, and so the potential fulfillment didn't happen. Just as so many situations in our own lives.

Nehemiah 12:9 Also Bakbukiah and Unno, their brothers, were over against them-
The same Hebrew in 2 Chron. 7:6, "The priests sounded trumpets before them", the idea perhaps being that they answered the Levites in choral praise (see :24). 

According to their offices- "Offices" could be translated "watches", as if even at this stage the community were under threat of disruption and attack- from the very people with whom they had intermarried.

Nehemiah 12:10 Jeshua became the father of Joiakim, and Joiakim became the father of Eliashib, and Eliashib became the father of Joiada-
We now have a brief genealogy of the high priest. The list follows right on from the list of high priests in 1 Chron. 6:3-15 which concluded with Jehozadak father of Jeshua / Joshua, who "went into captivity when the Lord carried away Judah and Jerusalem by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar".

Nehemiah 12:11 and Joiada became the father of Jonathan, and Jonathan became the father of Jaddua-
In :22, ‘Johanan’ comes between Joiada and Jaddua. He is stated to be son of Eliashib in :23. Perhaps Jonathan is a form of Johanan; or maybe Jonathan was briefly high priest, before Johanan took over.


Nehemiah 12:12 In the days of Joiakim there were priests, heads of fathers’ households: of Seraiah, Meraiah; of Jeremiah, Hananiah-
Joiakim would have been contemporary with the events of the book of Esther and king Xerxes. Perhaps he compiled the following list of the courses of the priests which were in existence at the time of high priest Joiakim (:10).

Nehemiah 12:13 of Ezra, Meshullam; of Amariah, Jehohanan-
Generally the names of the priests feature more names with the 'Yah' suffix than the names of the priests who first returned. That may have been a sign of increasing spirituality, or maybe just simply a return to their cultural roots. This is ever an issue in western Christianity; for one can be culturally Christian without being spiritually Christian.

Nehemiah 12:14 of Malluchi, Jonathan; of Shebaniah, Joseph-
"Malluchi" is a form of the common word for "king". Perhaps in this man an family the kingly line of Judah and the priestly line mixed- preparing yet more potential fulfillments of the king-priest Messiah who could have appeared at the restoration, according to Isaiah and Zechariah; but nobody rose up to it.

Nehemiah 12:15 of Harim, Adna; of Meraioth, Helkai-
"Harim" means 'snub nosed'. Perhaps the family were distinguished by some congenital defect which precluded them from priestly service, and yet they chose to still work as Levites and to return and be involved in the work as far as possible. Clearly an example for us today. See on Neh. 10:10,17.

Nehemiah 12:16 of Iddo, Zechariah; of Ginnethon, Meshullam-
Ginnethoi' means "gardener" and reads strangely amongst the other priestly names, most of which have spiritual overtones. Yet the priests were not intended to do agricultural work but to be supported by the tithes. It could be that this name is a reflection of the way that some priestly families were just so in name only and had no real dedication to spiritual things. The failure of the priesthood to teach and even know God's word is evidence enough of that.

Nehemiah 12:17 of Abijah, Zichri; of Miniamin, of Moadiah, Piltai-
"Maadiah", 'ornament of Yah' or 'adorned by Yah', could be one of the few names which connect with the hope of the restoration prophets; that the restored Israel would be adorned by Yah (s.w. Is. 61:10; Jer. 31:4). I have noted that generally the situation in Nehemiah's time had very little connection with the restoration prophets; they were simply focused upon restoring the situation as it had been under the old covenant, which was now permanently broken.

Nehemiah 12:18 of Bilgah, Shammua; of Shemaiah, Jehonathan- "
Shammua" is the word used of the 'desolation' of the land during the exile (Lev. 26:22,31,32,35,43; 2 Chron. 36:21; Is. 49:8; Jer. 33:10). This would indicate in this name at least a mourning for the situation in the land just as Nehemiah did in Neh. 1, in contrast to the majority who preferred to remain in Persia.

Nehemiah 12:19 and of Joiarib, Mattenai; of Jedaiah, Uzzi-
The relatively low place in the list of Joiarib and Jedaiah may be because they didn't seal the covenant of repentance.


Nehemiah 12:20 of Sallai, Kallai; of Amok, Eber-
"Kallai" means 'frivolous' and is the word used of how the priesthood had 'made itself vile' (1 Sam. 3:13). The word is translated "curse" in Neh. 13:2,25. It contrasts with the generally spiritual names recorded here.

Nehemiah 12:21 of Hilkiah, Hashabiah; of Jedaiah, Nethanel-
"Hashabiah" means 'Yah has counted', the same words used of how Yahweh counted Abraham righteous (Gen. 15:6). As noted on :20, there is a wide range in the meanings of the names, as if to give the impression that some were spiritual and others were far from spirituality.

Nehemiah 12:22 As for the Levites, in the days of Eliashib, Joiada, and Johanan, and Jaddua, there were recorded the heads of fathers’ households; also the priests, in the reign of Darius the Persian-
See on :11. "In the reign..." would be better "to the reign of Darius". The Darius in view is likely Darius Codomannus, who fought with Alexander the Great, and would have been contemporary with Jaddua the high priest.

Nehemiah 12:23 The sons of Levi, heads of fathers’ households, were written in the book of the chronicles, even until the days of Johanan the son of Eliashib-
For Johanan, see on :11.

Nehemiah 12:24 The chiefs of the Levites: Hashabiah, Sherebiah, and Jeshua the son of Kadmiel, with their brothers over against them, to praise and give thanks, according to the commandment of David the man of God, watch next to watch-
LXX "Course by course". But all 24 courses of priests didn't return from exile; only four of them initially, according to Ezra 2:37, although others likely came later. Like Ezra, Nehemiah seemed more concerned with restoring the religion as it was under the old covenant, than accepting the new covenant promised in the restoration prophets. For in that, according to Ezekiel, the priests were not to be the Levites and Aaronites but the sons of Zadok.

Nehemiah 12:25 Mattaniah, and Bakbukiah, Obadiah, Meshullam, Talmon, Akkub, were porters keeping the watch at the storehouses of the gates-
Again there is the implication that there was still much opposition and potential risk of theft.

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-
The book of Nehemiah appears to be the autobiography of Nehemiah, perhaps written in a hope that God would thereby take note of his good deeds- not an altogether spiritually mature approach. However in chapters 10-12 he appears to have appended various genealogical records. Now he returns to the narrative for the rest of the book.

Nehemiah 12:27 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 giving thanks, and with singing, with cymbals, stringed instruments, and with harps-
The seeking of the Levites to come in from the fields they were farming outside of Jerusalem (Neh. 1:36)... rather suggests they weren't that willing. The entire picture is so negative.

Nehemiah 12:28 The sons of the singers gathered themselves together, both out of the plain around Jerusalem, and from the villages of the Netophathite-
This gathering together on their own initiative contrasts with the seeking of the Levites in :27; as if the Levites had to be cajoled to come, but the singers came themselves. We marvel at how degrees of human response are noted and recorded by God; and He is no less sensitive to our responses today.

Nehemiah 12:29 also from Beth Gilgal, and out of the fields of Geba and Azmaveth. The singers had built themselves villages around Jerusalem-
The singers were supposed to be supported by direct grant from the King of Persia (Neh. 11:23) but the mention of them living in fields and villages suggests things went missing along the path and they had to support themselves.

Nehemiah 12:30 The priests and the Levites purified themselves; and they purified the people, and the gates, and the wall-
Ez. 36:24-29 had prophesied: “For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh”. The captives were taken from among the many nations that comprised Babylon / Persia; they were brought, as many as could be bothered to go, to their own land. They were cleansed there (s.w. Ezra 6:20; Neh. 12:30). But they became un-cleansed through allowing Tobiah into the temple chambers, by trading on the Sabbath, and by marrying Gentiles (Neh. 13:9,22,30). The priesthood needed to be “cleansed” again (Mal. 3:3 s.w.). The promise of Ezekiel 36 sounds unconditional- as if, whoosh, God would make His sinful people righteous regardless of their own will. And so some have misunderstood the operation of God’s Spirit in our own days. But although not directly stated, the promise of entry into the new covenant, whereby God would encourage obedience through the work of His Spirit, was conditional. Judah could have entered the new covenant there and then, with all its requirements for a Messiah figure to abrogate the Mosaic law. But they turned back to their uncleannesses, they would not keep God’s statutes, and their potential Messiah figures failed to appear. Yet again, the promise of entry into a new covenant was deferred, to be fulfilled in a new Israel who are sprinkled through the waters of baptism. The promise was fulfilled, but in a far different context to that intended.

Nehemiah 12:31 Then I brought up the princes of Judah on the wall, and appointed two great companies who gave thanks and went in procession. One went on the right hand on the wall-
One group went around the northern wall and the other around the southern wall. They would have met in the open space to the east of the temple. See on :38.

Toward the dung gate- Ez. 48:31-34 envisaged the 12 gates of Jerusalem being named after the 12 tribes of Israel. But it seems no accident that twelve separate gates of the city are mentioned in the restoration record- but they weren't renamed after the tribes of Israel. Here are the names of the city gates in Nehemiah: valley (Neh. 3:13); horse (Neh. 3:28); east (Neh. 3:29); Miphkad (Neh. 3:31); water (Neh. 8:16); dung (Neh. 12:31); fountain (Neh. 12:37); Ephraim, old, fish, sheep and prison gates (Neh. 12:39). No wonder some wept when the rebuilt temple was finally dedicated- the pattern of Ezekiel's vision hadn't been followed, even on such basic matters as the names of the twelve gates of Jerusalem.

Nehemiah 12:32 and after them went Hoshaiah, and half of the princes of Judah-
We wonder why Judah is emphasized, when the idea of the restoration was that "Israel" was to now be comprised of all the tribes. Again we get a sense of parochialism and a yearning for how things had once been, which dwarfed any spiritual aspect.

Nehemiah 12:33 and Azariah, Ezra, and Meshullam-
They were priests (Neh. 10:2 cp. Neh. 12:1,13); there was a mixture of princes of Judah and priests, as if they were vaguely aware that the intended Messiah of the restoration was pictured by Isaiah and Zechariah as a king-priest in whom would meet the lines of Judah and Levi.

Nehemiah 12:34 Judah, and Benjamin, and Shemaiah, and Jeremiah-
Jerusalem was clearly still being seen as the city of "Judah and Benjamin", situated on the borders of those two tribes; rather than a city of all Israel and indeed the Gentile world. Again we note the sense of parochialism.

Nehemiah 12:35 and some of the priests’ sons with trumpets: Zechariah the son of Jonathan, the son of Shemaiah, the son of Mattaniah, the son of Micaiah, the son of Zaccur, the son of Asaph-
This confirms the impression that groups of priests were followed by groups of men of Judah and Benjamin, and then again more priests. The fuller list of the priests' sons is in :41.

Nehemiah 12:36 and his brothers, Shemaiah, and Azarel, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethanel, and Judah, Hanani, with the musical instruments of David the man of God; and Ezra the scribe was before them-
LXX "the hymns of David", i.e. the Psalms. "Was before them" suggests Ezra went with one group and Nehemiah with the other (:38).


Nehemiah 12:37 By the spring gate, and straight before them, they went up by the stairs of the city of David, at the ascent of the wall, above the house of David, even to the water gate eastward- "
Instead of following the wall round the spurs of the Ophel, the procession went straight on up the steps ascending the brow of the hill".

Nehemiah 12:38 The other company of those who gave thanks went to meet them, and I after them, with the half of the people, on the wall, above the tower of the furnaces, even to the broad wall- 
"I after them" suggests Ezra went with one group and Nehemiah with the other (cp. :36). "To meet them" translates a Hebrew word which with one consonant different would mean "to the left hand", the intention being to give the other hand of the scene of :31 "at the right hand".

Nehemiah 12:39 and above the gate of Ephraim-
A gate not mentioned as ever being rebuilt in Neh. 3. Maybe it was a new gate built at the restoration, on the road leading to Ephraim, perhaps intended to symbolize the unity with the ten tribes.

And by the old gate, and by the fish gate, and the tower of Hananel, and the tower of Hammeah, even to the sheep gate; and they stood still in the gate of the guard- At the eastern entrance to the temple.

Nehemiah 12:40 So stood the two companies of those who gave thanks in God’s house, and I, and the half of the rulers with me-
Ezra went with one group and Nehemiah with the other (:36 cp. :38).

Nehemiah 12:41 and the priests, Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Micaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah, and Hananiah, with trumpets-
These presumably are the equivalent of the priests' sons with trumpets of :35.

Nehemiah 12:42 and Maaseiah, and Shemaiah, and Eleazar, and Uzzi, and Jehohanan, and Malchijah, and Elam, and Ezer. The singers sang loud, with Jezrahiah their overseer-
LXX "And the singers were heard, and were numbered". It is axiomatic that singers are heard, so the idea is that they sang loudly and their message was heard / understood. In the parallel group which went around the temple walls, Zechariah was the overseer (:35).

Nehemiah 12:43 They offered great sacrifices that day, and rejoiced; for God had made them rejoice with great joy; and the women also and the children rejoiced; so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off-
God's psychological influencing of people is a parade example of how His Spirit works upon the human spirit (as in 2 Chron. 20:27). The joy of the restored Zion was intended to be a witness to the Gentiles. But those who made this great and loud witness were to yet again intermarry with the Gentiles rather than bring them to Israel's God.

Nehemiah 12:44 On that day were men appointed over the rooms for the treasures, for the wave offerings, for the first fruits, and for the tithes, to gather into them, according to the fields of the cities, the portions appointed by the law for the priests and Levites; for Judah rejoiced for the priests and for the Levites who waited-
The idea is that they were glad that the priests and Levites were 'waiting' i.e. doing God's service. It could be that as happens today, people were happy to pay others to do the work for God which they ought to be doing, and are made somehow happy by having parted with their money for the sake of others doing the work.

The priests in the restored Kingdom were to live in one specific area near the temple (Ez. 45:4), whereas under the Mosaic Law, the priests were given land to live on in each of the various tribes of Israel. And yet the record of the restoration stresses that the priests lived not around the temple, but in various cities throughout Judah (Ezra 2:70; Neh. 7:73; 11:3,20; 12:44).

Nehemiah 12:45 They performed the duty of their God, and the duty of the purification, and so did the singers and the porters, according to the commandment of David, and of Solomon his son-
Judah were to keep the charges ['perform the duty'] of God relating to His house (Ez. 40:46; 44:8,14-16), so that the Kingdom of God might be restored in Israel. Nehemiah, seeking for Israel’s obedience to Ezekiel’s vision, tried to get them to “keep the charges” (s.w. Nehemiah 7:3; 12:9,45; 13:20). But soon, Judah complained that there was no benefit to them from having kept the charges (Mal. 3:14 s.w.). Partial obedience discouraged them from any further effort, because the fullness of blessing can only come from a way of life conformed to God’s Kingdom vision and life. This is why people get disillusioned with religion and lose even the true faith- because they seek for immediate benefit as a result of keeping a few highly specific aspects of God’s law, rather than willingly devoting their way of life to the realization of His vision.

Nehemiah 12:46 For in the days of David and Asaph of old there was a chief of the singers, and songs of praise and thanksgiving to God-
See on Neh. 9:5. LXX "For in the days of David Asaph was originally first of the singers, and they sang hymns and praise to God". There seemed far more interest in replicating the past than in seeking to obey the prophecies of the restored Kingdom; see on :44,45.

Nehemiah 12:47 All Israel in the days of Zerubbabel, and in the days of Nehemiah, gave the portions of the singers and the porters, as every day required: and they set apart that which was for the Levites; and the Levites set apart that which was for the sons of Aaron-
There had been tensions between Levites and priests in Ezra's time. We can note that it was this tension between Levites and priests which resulted in Korah's rebellion (Num. 16:1-10). But things were arranged so that the Levites, who were the manual workers, collected the tithes and then paid these to the priests ("the sons of Aaron"). This was an attempt to overcome these tensions and the sense that the priests were superior to the Levites; for the Levites were to as it were pay the priests, and the priests were thereby dependent upon the Levites for their food and income.