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Nehemiah 7:1 Now it happened, once the wall was built and I had set up the doors, and the porters and the singers and the Levites were appointed- The implication is that they were appointed as keepers of the doors, gatekeepers. The "porters and singers" were Levites. The use of Levites to guard the gates was a conscious attempt to restore the situation in Solomon's temple (1 Chron. 9:17-22; 26:12-19). We should also remember that the Levites and priests accounted for about half the population of Jerusalem (Neh. 11:6-19 cp. 1 Chron. 9:9-22). According to Ez. 44:11-14, the repentant Levites were to be the gatekeepers in the restored temple. But there is no evidence they did repent, indeed the record in Nehemiah shows they were on the side of the Samaritan opposition, intermarrying with them; and so the Kingdom situation possible at the restoration was precluded.

Nehemiah 7:2 that I put my brother Hanani, and Hananiah the governor of the castle, in charge over Jerusalem: for he was a faithful man, and feared God above many-
Nehemiah’s brother Hanani was given “charge over Jerusalem: for he was a faithful man”- not just because he was the boss’s brother, which is how the nepotism of those times would have usually required. It can be that human qualification, e.g. being a successful businessman, or the brother of a leading brother, is related to positions of eldership amongst us. Yet the Nehemiah passage shows that although sometimes there may be overlap between both spiritual and human qualification, it is the spiritual qualification which must be paramount. Because of this the ‘leaders’ of a healthy ecclesia will not need to give any justification for their authority. They will naturally be respected for who they are, just as a father in a healthy family. This is why the NT gives all of us guidelines on how to decide whether a brother should be respected as an elder or not. Even though some may be shepherds, they are still sheep; and they are leading others after the Lord Jesus, “the chief shepherd”, not after themselves.

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. Neh. 7:2,3; 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 7:3 I said to them, Don’t let the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun is hot. While they stand guard, let them shut the doors, and you bar them; and appoint watches of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, everyone in his watch, with everyone near his house-
Is. 60:11 had predicted that at the time of the restoration, these gates would be open continually and not locked. This was all precluded by the Jews' continued apostacy.

Due to the Jews’ abuse of the Sabbath and their refusal to believe Yahweh would be the promised wall of protecting fire to them, the gates could not be open continually, and had to be shut at night (Neh. 7:3; 13:19). And Antiochus quite soon after Nehemiah’s time destroyed them [which shows how the spirituality involved in what we do, e.g. the building of the wall, is the essential thing, rather than the achievement of anything in itself]. The implication of the prophecies about Zion’s open gates was that whosoever would could then come at any time to seek Yahweh. But men were potentially turned away from Him, and His Kingdom not realized... just because greedy, materialistic Jews wanted to have a few more coins in their pocket as a result of their trading on the Sabbath. And so with us, our meanness, our disabling of adverts to be placed, preaching to be done... by our selfishness, our desire to have more than we need to cover us in the case of any eventuality, all this effectively shuts up the Kingdom against men. If the Pharisees could do just this, it is possible for us to do it. The salvation of others has been delegated into our hands.

Nehemiah 7:4 Now the city was wide and large; but the people were few therein, and the houses were not built-
Is. 65:21 had prophesied that "They shall build houses and inhabit them themselves; and they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit". But very few houses were built in Zion, because the people preferred to live on their farms, in their cieled houses, outside the city. They planted vineyards, but sold the fruit to others- on the Sabbath (Neh. 13:15,16). So the record here laments how small was the population of the restored Jerusalem. They had failed to fulfil the restoration prophecy of Zech. 2:4: “And said unto him, Run, speak to this young man, saying, Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls for the multitude of men and cattle therein”. Likewise Ez. 36:10: “And I will multiply men upon you, all the house of Israel, even all of it: and the cities shall be inhabited, and the wastes shall be builded”. They were happier to settle outside of Jerusalem and concentrate on building up their own farms in the villages and small towns of Judah, rather than sense the importance of Zion. Nehemiah 11:1-3 suggests that so few wanted to live in Jerusalem because of the persecution there, that they had to draw lots to get at least a tenth of the total population to live there- in what should have been the capital. If more had returned from Babylon, if more had lived in Jerusalem, then Yahweh would have been a wall of fire to them, and then the Kingdom conditions described in the rest of Zechariah 2 would have come about. Although the restoration prophecies speak as if the increase of Zion’s population was to be unconditional, Ez. 36:37 implies that this would only happen if they prayed for it: “Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them; I will increase them with men like a flock”. But they got on with building their own homes and farms outside Jerusalem, they blessed those who had the courage to live in Zion itself, but didn’t earnestly pray for the fulfilment of the prophecies. They figured that the time for their fulfilment hadn’t come, as Haggai laments; instead of praying for their fulfilment. And we must assess our attitude to the fulfilment of prophecy in the light of all this.

Mic. 7:11-13 RV explains how the restoration would fail to grasp the prophetic potentials: “In the day that thy walls are to be built [the restoration under Nehemiah], in that day shall the boundary [of Israel] be far removed [the boundaries of Israel would be extended, as noted in several prophecies of the Kingdom]. In that day shall they come unto thee from Assyria [Babylon] and the cities of Egypt…even to the river [Euphrates- i.e. all of scattered Israel, including those who went down to Egypt with Jeremiah 70 years beforehand, would return to the land]…Notwithstanding, the land shall be desolate”. Despite all this being made potentially possible (“notwithstanding…”), the wonderful Messianic Kingdom was disallowed from coming into existence at that time because of “the fruit of their doings” (Mic. 7:13). Neh. 7:4 obliquely comments on the tragedy: “Now the city was large and great: but the people [who returned from Babylon] were few therein, and the houses were not builded”. See on Neh. 4:10; 11:1.

Nehemiah 7:5 My God put into my heart to gather together the nobles, and the rulers, and the people, that they might be reckoned by genealogy-
This continues the theme throughout Ezra and Nehemiah of God working directly on the human heart, inserting ideas and initiatives into human minds who were willing to respond, as in Neh. 2:12. This is all the work of the Spirit. The same phrase is used of God putting wisdom into the hearts of those who built the tabernacle (Ex. 36:2). It is also used of how God would give (s.w. "put") a new heart to the returned exiles (Jer. 24:7). But they generally didn't make use of that gift of the Spirit and rejected the new covenant which included the promise of the Spirit. Nehemiah was one of the few who did at least partially respond to it. And even he, along with Ezra, seemed intent on keeping hold of the old covenant rather than accepting the new covenant.

I found the book of the genealogy of those who came up at the first, and I found written therein- The context of the new census was presumably to address the problem of the returnees not wanting to live in Jerusalem (see on :4). Nehemiah was therefore interested in the record of where they had originally come from. Perhaps the idea was that they should only live in their original home area (:6 "each one to his city"). It seems some who were originally from Jerusalem had grabbed land not belonging to them in other areas.

Nehemiah 7:6 These are the children of the province, who went up out of the captivity of those who had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away, and who returned to Jerusalem and to Judah, each one to his city-
"Went up" is literally a 'going up'. 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’ to Jerusalem from Babylon to rebuild the temple (Ezra 1:3,5,11; 2:1,59; 7:6,7,28; 8:1; Nehemiah 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.

Nehemiah 7:7 They came-
When Nehemiah speaks of them having been redeemed by Yahweh’s “strong hand” (Neh. 1:10). he is using the language of Is. 40:10, regarding how Yahweh would come to Zion and save Israel from Babylon and restore them to the land “with strong hand”. Nehemiah saw the prophecy could have been fulfilled then. The way Zerubbabel (Ezra 2:2; Neh. 7:5-7), Ezra (Ezra 7:8; 8:32) and Nehemiah (Neh. 2:11; 13:7) are described as ‘coming to Jerusalem’ may hint that they could have fulfilled this coming of Yahweh to Zion; they could have been Messianic figures (Neh. 2:11; 13:7).


With Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Azariah, Raamiah, Nahamani, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispereth, Bigvai, Nehum, Baanah. The number of the men of the people of Israel- Zerubbabel was the ‘head’ of the house of David (Ezra 4:3; Hag. 2:23; Zech. 3:8; 6:12,13), as was his descendant Hattush (Ezra 8:1-3 cp. 1 Chron. 3:22). As the grandson of Jehoiachin, Judah's exiled king, Zerubbabel would've been the legitimate king of Judah. Potentially, Hos. 1:11 could have come true: “Judah and… Israel shall be gathered together, and they shall appoint for themselves one head [Zerubbabel?]; and they shall go up from the land, for great shall be the day of Jezreel” (RSV). And perhaps as head of the house of David, Zerubbabel was intended to be the “David my servant” who would be the one king and one shepherd who would lead Israel back to the land from exile (Ez. 37:22,24). Significantly, Neh. 7:7 describes Zerubbabel as being at the head of twelve leaders of the returning exiles, who are called “the people of Israel” (cp. Ezra 2:2). And yet he let the baton drop. The prophecies and potentials were therefore reapplied and rescheduled for fulfilment in the Lord Jesus.

Nehemiah 7:8 The children of Parosh, two thousand one hundred and seventy-two-

"Children of..." can be understood literally; or the 'children of' a geographical area are the people who live in it. It seems that initially we have a list of the literal families who returned. Then those who returned, arranged according to geographical localities; and then the numbers of the priests, arranged according to families, and then according to their localities; then the families of the Nethinim  and of Solomon's servants.

Nehemiah 7:9 The children of Shephatiah, three hundred and seventy-two-
The Persian and Babylon practice was to replace Hebrew names with local names, as we see with Daniel and his friends. The fact some retained their Hebrew names, especially a name like "Yah has judged", may be an indication of faith; although it may also have been mere cultural loyalty.

Nehemiah 7:10 The children of Arah, six hundred and fifty-two-
"Arah" is 'wandering', perhaps aware that the Jews had been exiled to the east just as Cain was to wander east of Eden. 

Nehemiah 7:11 The children of Pahathmoab, of the children of Jeshua and Joab, two thousand eight hundred and eighteen-
2812 in Ezra 2:6. The numbers in the parallel record in Neh. 7 are sometimes higher. I suggest that that was a list of those who began the journey, or expressed interest in it; whereas Ezra 2 is the list of those who completed it. And there was far more interest in starting the journey than actually finishing it, as we see in response to the Gospel of the Kingdom today.

Nehemiah 7:12 The children of Elam, one thousand two hundred and fifty-four- 
Elam was the name of a neighbouring nation, so we wonder whether this was a Jew very influenced by secularism who then repented and had a spiritual revival. And he was one of the largest families to return.

Nehemiah 7:13 The children of Zattu, eight hundred and forty-five-
Ezra 2:8 says 945. 100 didn't actually make it. There was far more interest in starting the journey than actually finishing it, as we see in response to the Gospel of the Kingdom today.

Nehemiah 7:14 The children of Zaccai, seven hundred and sixty-
"Pure", perhaps once a Nazirite (Lam. 4:7 s.w.).

Nehemiah 7:15 The children of Binnui, six hundred and forty-eight-
"Builder", perhaps so named because he was keen to rebuild Jerusalem.

Nehemiah 7:16 The children of Bebai, six hundred and twenty-eight-
Bebai" isn't a Hebrew word; some of the exiles had so assimilated that they only had local Persian names. To leave all they had known was therefore a major challenge.

Nehemiah 7:17 The children of Azgad, two thousand three hundred and twenty-two-
The differing sizes of the families may not simply mean that some were larger than others, but that some families divided more than others over this question of returning to Judah. Some stayed, and others went. And of course many families didn't respond at all.

Nehemiah 7:18 The children of Adonikam, six hundred and sixty-seven-
'Lord of the sunrise', a pagan, cultic name; again reflecting the extent to which the exiles had assimilated. I have noted on Esther how "Esther" and "Mordecai" were both local names associated with idolatry.

Nehemiah 7:19 The children of Bigvai, two thousand and sixty-seven-
A relatively large number. We are again faced with the question of why some families and geographical areas responded to the call more than others.

Nehemiah 7:20 The children of Adin, six hundred and fifty-five-
"Adin" is s.w. "given to pleasures" (Is. 47:8). And yet the message of return to restore the Kingdom was somehow attractive even to such a person.

Nehemiah 7:21 The children of Ater, of Hezekiah, ninety-eight- "
Ater" is 'maimed'. Perhaps he was an invalid, which might account for the relatively small family size. The call of the Kingdom is going to be more attractive to those in such situations.

Nehemiah 7:22 The children of Hashum, three hundred and twenty-eight-
"Hashum" means "enriched"; Haggai laments that the motivation for many of the returning exiles was the hope of personal enrichment.

Nehemiah 7:23 The children of Bezai, three hundred and twenty-four-
Perhaps the same as Besai one of the Nethinim (Ezra 2:49).

Nehemiah 7:24 The children of Hariph, one hundred and twelve-
"Hariph" is the common word for "reproach". Perhaps he and his family were those who felt strong "push" factors from their community, and went to Judah because of them, rather than because they were 'pulled' by more spiritual reasons.

Nehemiah 7:25 The children of Gibeon, ninety-five-
"Gibbar" of Ezra 2:20 is Gibeon in Benjamin (Neh. 7:25), and we note that a disproportionate number of the returnees were from Benjamin.

Nehemiah 7:26 The men of Bethlehem and Netophah, one hundred and eighty-eight-
The majority of those who returned were from Benjamin and Judah. The prophetic vision of all the tribes of Israel returning didn't come about at the time. These are pathetically small numbers, bearing in mind there were around 1 million Jews in the empire (see on Ezra 2:1).

Nehemiah 7:27 The men of Anathoth, one hundred and twenty-eight-
The very existence of "men of Anathoth" who returned was a sign of God's grace. For because of their persecution of Jeremiah, Jer. 11:21,23 had prophesied: "There shall be no remnant of them, for I will bring evil upon the men of Anathoth". Perhaps like Nineveh some repented and therefore the threatened judgment didn't come about; or Jeremiah prayed for them his enemies and was heard; or Yahweh simply pitied His people.

Nehemiah 7:28 The men of Beth Azmaveth, forty-two-
The small number was because this was known as literally "fields" near to Jerusalem (Neh. 12:29). And yet 42 people returned from this area. Whereas from far larger settlements, not one.

Nehemiah 7:29 The men of Kiriath Jearim, Chephirah, and Beeroth, seven hundred and forty-three-
They may have been listed together because these villages were close to each other, or they travelled together as if one family. The men of Kirjathjearim had looked after the ark previously (1 Sam. 7:1,2) and been blessed for it. There had been a faithful prophet there at the time of the captivity (Jer. 26:20); these considerations may account for the relatively large number who returned from that area.

Nehemiah 7:30 The men of Ramah and Geba, six hundred and twenty-one-
"Gaba" is s.w. "Gibeah of Benjamin" (Jud. 20:10). This was a priestly city, given to the Levites, although very few Levites returned (Josh. 21:17).

Nehemiah 7:31 The men of Michmas, one hundred and twenty-two-
The order of the towns appears to be geographical, as "Michmas" was close to "Geba" (s.w. "Gibeah") of :30 (1 Sam. 14:5).

Nehemiah 7:32 The men of Bethel and Ai, a hundred and twenty-three-
Mentioned together because they were geographically close (Josh. 7:2; 8:9). Bethel was in the ten tribe kingdom, so it seems that some of the Israelites did return along with Judah; but not to the extent of the prophetic vision, whereby a repentant Israel and Judah would be united together in a reestablished Kingdom of God in the land.


Nehemiah 7:33 The men of the other Nebo, fifty-two- "The other Nebo", perhaps to differentiate it from Nebo in Moab; or as LXX "Nabia".

Nehemiah 7:34 The children of the other Elam, one thousand two hundred and fifty-four-
LXX Elamar. We wonder why so many, relatively speaking, should return from an unknown small village. Perhaps there was a community of faithful there.

Nehemiah 7:35 The children of Harim, three hundred and twenty-
Whilst in this section we are reading of the names of towns and not people, this location is unknown, and means 'flat nosed' as if referring to a person. Perhaps the interesting case of the person Harim is being emphasized, in that people from his village also returned with him. See on :42.

Nehemiah 7:36 The children of Jericho, three hundred and forty-five-
There was a community of "sons of the prophets" there which may account for this (2 Kings 2:5).

Nehemiah 7:37 The children of Lod, Hadid, and Ono, seven hundred and twenty-one-
Ezra 2:33 gives 725. The fact is noted that even four people began the journey, or were willing to start it, but didn't make it. These details show the abiding value to God of every human person.

Nehemiah 7:38 The children of Senaah, three thousand nine hundred and thirty-
A relatively large number. We are again faced with the question of why some families and geographical areas responded to the call more than others. The larger cities such as Lachish had apparently not a single one who returned from there.


Nehemiah 7:39 The priests: The children of Jedaiah, of the house of Jeshua, nine hundred and seventy-three- We have the numbers of the priests, arranged according to families, and then according to their localities. They were not particularly faithful for many of them had married Gentile women by the time Ezra came.

Nehemiah 7:40 The children of Immer, one thousand and fifty-two-
Only four courses of priests returned, when there were supposed to be 24 of them , namely Pashhur, Jedaiah, Immer, and Hardin (1 Chron. 24:7, 8,14). The priesthood had been deeply corrupt at the time of the exile, and it seems most of them preferred to remain in Babylon.

Nehemiah 7:41 The children of Pashhur, one thousand two hundred and forty-seven-
Perhaps descendants of the unfaithful Pashur the priest of Jer. 20:1-3.

Nehemiah 7:42 The children of Harim, one thousand and seventeen-
"Harim" means 'snubnosed'; the priest in whom there was a physical defect, such as to exclude him from priestly service. For this is the word used of how a 'flat nosed' man was excluded from priestly service (Lev. 21:18). Perhaps they were eager at the chance to serve in the restored temple, guessing that the regulations would be relaxed due to the relative lack of priests and Levites returning. Or the idea could simply be that the requirements of the law were not followed by the priests who returned.

Nehemiah 7:43 The Levites: the children of Jeshua, of Kadmiel, of the children of Hodevah, seventy-four-
These Levites of :43 are the ordinary Levites; :44 refers to the Levites who sung, and :45 to those who kept the gates. But only two families of the ordinary mass of Levites initially returned- a pathetic response.

Nehemiah 7:44 The singers: the children of Asaph, one hundred and forty-eight-
This was very poor response. We note that apparently the famous singing families of Heman and Jeduthin didn't return (1 Chron. 25:1).

Nehemiah 7:45 The porters: the children of Shallum, the children of Ater, the children of Talmon, the children of Akkub, the children of Hatita, the children of Shobai, one hundred and thirty-eight-
This is a very small number for the families of the gate keepers. The number of ordinary Levites compared to priests is very low (in the Ezra 2 account, 4289 priests, and 341 Levites). There were far more Levites than there were priests, but it seems the Levites didn't want to return and do the dirty work; everyone wanted to be religious leaders. Hence Ezra's problem in finding Levites to return (Ezra 8:15). We can note that it was this tension between Levites and priests which resulted in Korah's rebellion (Num. 16:1-10).

Nehemiah 7:46 The Nethinim: the children of Ziha, the children of Hasupha, the children of Tabbaoth-
The Nethinim were grouped beneath the Levites but above "the servants of Solomon" (Ezra 2:55). "Nethinim" is literally 'those who are given' and many presume they were originally the Gibeonites, who were 'given' by Joshua to the Levites to do their more menial work (Josh. 9:3-27). Whenever Gentiles were captured in war, some of them would have been devoted to Yahweh in that they were given to His service through joining the Nethinim (Num. 31:28). Thus in Ezra 8:20 we find  mention of some "whom David and the princes had appointed (Heb. ‘given’) for the service of the Levites".

Nehemiah 7:47 the children of Keros, the children of Sia, the children of Padon-
These names could well be Persian and not Hebrew. The Nethinim were Gentiles (see on :46), and had unsurprisingly adopted Persian names in the exile. But they wanted to return to rebuild Judah. It's hard to guess whether the push or pull factor was strongest. Perhaps they felt they had never been accepted in Persian society just as they hadn't been in Jewish society and therefore felt a 'push' from exile; or perhaps they were truly faithful to the God of Israel they served, and were thereby 'pulled' by that back to His service.

Nehemiah 7:48 the children of Lebana, the children of Hagaba, the children of Salmai-
"Lebana" is "the moon"; "Hagaba" is "the locust". These names suggest a high level of assimilation into Persian society.

Nehemiah 7:49 the children of Hanan, the children of Giddel, the children of Gahar-
We note the lack of the 'Yah' prefix or suffix in these names. Those who responded were apparently secular people, not known for their devotion to Yahweh. That may explain why the records of Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai and Malachi complain that they were not well motivated and were largely only looking for personal benefit and advantage through returning to Judah. See on Ezra 2:19.

Nehemiah 7:50 the children of Reaiah, the children of Rezin, the children of Nekoda-
"Reaiah", 'Yah has seen', is one of the few names which has the 'Yah' suffix. And he was of the Nethinim, a Gentile, who had retained his devotion to Yahweh despite being made a servant of Yahweh's apostate people.

"Nekoda" is a female name. This female head of house, a Gentile of the Nethinim, meaning literally "speckled" (s.w. Gen. 30:33,35), led her family back to Judah when many Jews wouldn't respond.

Nehemiah 7:51 the children of Gazzam, the children of Uzza, the children of Paseah-
We note that "Uzza" and not "Uzziah" is mentioned; the 'Yah' suffix or prefix is notably missing in these names. "Paseah" means 'limping', suggesting as noted elsewhere that it was those who had some physical infirmity who returned. Thus was fulfilled Jeremiah's prophecy of limping Jacob returning from Babylon to Zion. And today likewise, it is those who are marginalized for whatever reason who are more likely to respond to the Gospel of the restored Kingdom.


Nehemiah 7:52 The children of Besai, the children of Meunim, the children of Nephushesim-
"Meunim" is literally 'from Maon', a location in the desert where Nabal and Abigail were from (1 Sam. 25:2). Perhaps some of their Gentile servants became Nethinim and remained faithful- despite all the bad examples they saw from God's ethnic people.

Nehemiah 7:53 the children of Bakbuk, the children of Hakupha, the children of Harhur-
"Hakupha" means bent or crooked; "Harhur" means 'inflamed'- suggesting as noted elsewhere that it was those who had some physical infirmity who returned.

Nehemiah 7:54 the children of Bazlith, the children of Mehida, the children of Harsha-
"Bazluth" means 'peeled skin'; see on :53. "Harsha" is 'magician', confirming the impression that those who returned weren't the religious zealous but generally very secular people. 

Nehemiah 7:55 the children of Barkos, the children of Sisera, the children of Temah-
These names are all non-Hebrew; the Nethinim were originally Gentile, and these ones appear to have retained that despite returning to the land. The question is whether they were as it were pushed or pulled to return to the land; see on Ezra 2:44.

Nehemiah 7:56 the children of Neziah, the children of Hatipha-
These names could arguably include the 'Yah' suffix, although most of the Nethinim and even the Jews listed here don't have 'Yah' within them. They were of the Nethinim,  Gentiles, who had retained  their devotion to Yahweh despite being made servants of Yahweh's apostate people.

Nehemiah 7:57 The children of Solomon’s servants: the children of Sotai, the children of Sophereth, the children of Perida-
These appear to have been reckoned beneath the Nethinim. "They have been traditionally understood to be the descendants of those inhabitants of the land ‘that were left of the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites’ of whom Solomon had hired ‘bondservants’ for the work of building his temple (1 Kings 5:13)". It was therefore the most despised classes who responded to the call of the Kingdom. And it is the same today.

Nehemiah 7:58 the children of Jaala, the children of Darkon, the children of Giddel- "
Jaalah" is the word for "profit" used of the idols whom Israel believed would profit them (Is. 44:9,10; 47:12; Jer. 2:8,11; 16:19 etc.). This again rather suggests that the majority of those who returned were secular folks who were not doing so from religious, spiritual motives but for secular reasons.

Nehemiah 7:59 the children of Shephatiah, the children of Hattil, the children of Pochereth Hazzebaim, the children of Amon-
Shephatiah, "Yah has judged", is one of the few names in these lists which includes 'Yah'. Amongst these largely secular people who returned (judging by their names) there were some who were doing so from spiritual reasons. But they were a minority. And that impression accords with the historical information about their later behaviour in the land as found in Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai and Malachi.


Nehemiah 7:60 All the Nethinim, and the children of Solomon’s servants, were three hundred and ninety-two-
This figure is exactly the same as that given in Ezra 2:58, whereas the numbers in the parallel record in Ezra 2 are often lower when it comes to the Jews who returned. I suggest that that was a list of those who began the journey, or expressed interest in it; whereas Ezra 2 is the list of those who completed it. And there was far more interest in starting the journey than actually finishing it, as we see in response to the Gospel of the Kingdom today. But the despised Gentile classes of the Nethinim and Solomon's servants were actually more committed.

Nehemiah 7:61 These were those who went up from Tel Melah, Tel Harsha, Cherub, Addon, and Immer; but they could not prove their fathers’ houses nor their genealogies, whether they were of Israel-
These people may have included Gentiles; for it is unlikely that many Jews apart from the Levites could prove their descent, and that is why those who returned are not listed according to their tribes. Indeed it would appear that the genealogical records were destroyed when the temple was burnt. So the reference here may be to those who lived near to the original encampments of the exiles who wanted to return with them. This had been the prophetic vision- that Judah and Israel would repent, Babylon would be judged and fall, and the repentant remnant of the Gentiles would return with the repentant ones of God's people to form a new, multiethnic people of God in His restored Kingdom. But the impenitence of God's people meant that things didn't work out like that. Babylon didn't "fall" in the way that was potentially possible, the majority of God's people chose to remain in exile. And only a handful of Gentiles returned, probably the poorest of the land, perhaps captives from other nations who had been grouped along with the Jews, and likely motivated by the chance of a better life.


Nehemiah 7:62 The children of Delaiah, the children of Tobiah, the children of Nekoda, six hundred and forty-two-
As explained on :61, these were likely Gentiles, and their names suggest that. However, "Delaiah" means 'Yah has delivered', so perhaps this was a Gentile who wished to share in Yahweh's deliverance from Babylon / Persia.

Nehemiah 7:63 Of the priests: the children of Hobaiah, the children of Hakkoz, the children of Barzillai, who took a wife of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite, and was called after their name-
Barzillai was famous in Israel from the times of David. This priestly family had taken the name of this family, seeking for kudos and prestige; and thereby had lost their priestly lineage.

Nehemiah 7:64 These searched for their genealogical records, but couldn’t find them-
Ezra 2:62 records Judah being ‘reckoned by genealogies’, using the same Hebrew word which is the hallmark of the Chronicles genealogies (1 Chron. 4:33; 5:1,7,17; 7:5,7,9,40; 9:1,22). And in this context, Is. 40:26 compares God’s ‘bringing out’ of Judah from Babylon with His ‘bringing out’ the stars by their individual names, all wonderfully known to Him. Ps. 87:6 had prophesied something similar about the restoration of Zion’s fortunes: “The LORD shall count, when he writeth up the people, that this man was born there”. The Kingdom of God was to be the restoration of Israel’s Kingdom- but they had to actually get on and restore it rather than wait for it to come.

Therefore were they deemed polluted and put from the priesthood- There is a clear connection here with Is. 43:28: "Therefore I will profane the princes of the sanctuary; and I will make Jacob a curse, and Israel an insult". They were put forth "as polluted from the priesthood". This is tacit proof enough that the restoration from Babylon failed to be the potential restoration prophesied. Indeed, the behaviour of the Jews at that time attracted further curses and judgment.

Nehemiah 7:65 The governor told them that they should not eat of the most holy things until there stood up a priest with Urim and Thummim-
This situation precluded the fulfilment of the restoration prophecy of Ezekiel 42:13: “Then said he unto me, The north chambers and the south chambers, which are before the separate place, they be holy chambers, where the priests that approach unto the LORD shall eat the most holy things”. The same words are found in Ezra 2:63 and Nehemiah 7:65- it wasn’t possible for the priests to eat of the holy things [signifying God’s acceptance of His people], because there was no record of their genealogy. Their names were not written in the “register” in fulfilment of Ezekiel 13:9: “neither shall they be written in the writing [s.w. ‘register’, Ezra 2:62] of the house of Israel”. Only if a priest stood up with urim and thummim could they eat of the holy things. These were two engraven stones carried in a pouch in the breastplate which flashed out Divine decisions (see H.A. Whittaker, Samuel, Saul And David for an excellent study of this). Zechariah 3:9 prophesies that Joshua the High Priest would have the engraven stone with seven eyes- the urim and thummim. It would thereby have been possible for a priesthood who had lost their genealogy record during the sacking of the first temple to eat the holy things, and thus fulfil Ezekiel 42:13. In a restoration context, Is. 66:21 had prophesied that Yahweh would regather Judah, “And I will also take of them for priests and for Levites, saith the LORD”. This implies, surely, that He would accept some as Levites who could not otherwise prove they were. Zechariah 6:11,13 speaks of Joshua being crowned with the High Priestly mitre and ‘bearing the glory’, i.e. carrying the urim and thummim in the breastplate. But all this was conditional on Joshua’s obedience: “This shall come to pass, if ye will diligently obey” (Zech. 6:15). Because Joshua failed, he didn’t have urim and thummim, therefore no decision could be given about who was an acceptable priest, and therefore the ‘Kingdom’ prophecy of Ezekiel 42:13 was left unfulfilled. So much depended upon that man. And likewise, the eternal destiny of many others depends on us. Isaiah’s prophecies of the restoration feature “the servant”- who was a symbol of both the people and a Messianic individual. His success was bound up with theirs. Thus Is. 65:9: “And I will bring forth a seed [singular] out of Jacob, and out of Judah an inheritor [singular] of my mountains: and mine elect [plural] shall inherit it, and my servants [plural] shall dwell there”. His obedience would enable the peoples’ establishment as the Kingdom.

Nehemiah 7:66 The whole assembly together was forty-two thousand three hundred and sixty-
As noted on Ezra 2:1, this was but a tiny minority of the 1 million or so exiles in Babylon / Persia; and the prophetic intention that the ten tribes returned at the same time was not realized, because they too preferred the life of exile from God rather than returning to Him.

Nehemiah 7:67 besides their male and their female servants, of whom there were seven thousand three hundred and thirty-seven: and they had two hundred and forty-five singing men and singing women-
7337 servants for 42360 people (:66) suggests that on average each family had a servant. We therefore get the impression that those who returned weren't the poorest of society, although as noted with regards to the meanings of their names above in this chapter, many of them were probably slightly marginalized. They returned seeking material benefit (Hag. 1:9), as lower middle class people often do; rather than seeking to do God's work. See on :69.

Nehemiah 7:68 Their horses were seven hundred and thirty-six; their mules, two hundred and forty-five-
See on :69. This picture of the Jews returning on various animals is to be connected with the prophecies of the restoration, where the leaders of the nations of their exile were to also make the journey to Zion, carrying the children of the Jews (Is. 49:22,23); and using all the animals here listed in order to bring the Jews back to Zion, and then help them rebuild the walls of Jerusalem (Is. 60:4-10). But this is very different to the scene we have here; of a very few Gentiles returning with a few Jews, and those Jews not even having enough animals for each of them to ride on (see on :69). Comparison with the prophecies of what was potentially possible makes for a rather sad impression. So much Divine potential was wasted; just as it is by the millions who refuse the call to the Kingdom today. See on :71.

Nehemiah 7:69 their camels, four hundred and thirty-five; their donkeys, six thousand seven hundred and twenty-
Haggai's criticism of the returnees is more understandable if we understand that most of them were the lower classes, who hadn't 'made it' in Babylon. It would be fair to infer that only the lower class Jews returned from Babylon. The record speaks of 42,360 people returning, along with 7,337 servants and 200 singers, making a total of 49,837. And yet only 8,100 animals went with them to transport them. This means that many would have walked. They carried 5,400 vessels for use in the temple- so the picture could be that their more wealthy brethren laded them with goods, but only the poor returned. Further, the list of towns of origin suggests it was mainly those who had originally lived in peripheral villages who returned, rather than the inhabitants of Jerusalem and larger cities.

Nehemiah 7:70 Some from among the heads of fathers’ households gave to the work. The governor gave to the treasury one thousand darics of gold, fifty basins and five hundred and thirty priests’ garments-
Note the stress on "some". It's stressed twice that only "some" of the returned exiles supported the work of the temple (:71)- which was supposed to be the main reason for their return. This hardly sounds like the glorious, positive, confident return of the captives to Zion prophesied in the restoration prophecies.

Nehemiah 7:71 Some of the heads of fathers’ households gave into the treasury of the work twenty thousand darics of gold, and two thousand two hundred minas of silver-
This may sound significant, but it is nothing compared to the entire wealth of the lands of their exile which was intended to be brought to Jerusalem at the restoration (Is. 60:5-10). See on :68.

Nehemiah 7:72 That which the rest of the people gave was twenty thousand darics of gold, and two thousand minas of silver, and sixty-seven priests’ garments-
It seems some of the priestly garments had been pilfered by non-Levites, or were being used by them perhaps in idol worshipping rituals, performed in the name of Yahweh worship.

Nehemiah 7:73 So the priests, the Levites and the porters, and the singers, and some of the people, and the Nethinim, and all Israel, lived in their cities. When the seventh month had come, the children of Israel were in their cities
- 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).