Adam Clarke Commentary
Lots are cast that a tenth of the people may constantly dwell at Jerusalem, and the other nine parts in the other cities and villages, Nehemiah 11:1. Some willingly offer themselves to dwell in Jerusalem, and the people bless them, Nehemiah 11:2. An enumeration of the families that dwell in Jerusalem, of Judah, and Benjamin, Nehemiah 11:3-9; of those of the priests, Nehemiah 11:10-12; of the chiefs of the fathers, Nehemiah 11:13; of the mighty men, Nehemiah 11:14; of the Levites, Nehemiah 11:15-18; of the porters, Nehemiah 11:19; of the residue of Israel and the officers, Nehemiah 11:20-24. The villages at which they dwelt, Nehemiah 11:25-35. Certain divisions of the Levites were in Judah and Benjamin, Nehemiah 11:36.
To bring one of ten - Jerusalem certainly had many inhabitants at this time; but not sufficient to preserve the city, which was now encompassed with a wall, and the rebuilding of which was going on fast. Nehemiah therefore obliged one tenth of the country people to come and dwell in it, that the population might be sufficient for the preservation and defense of the city. Ten were set apart, and the lot cast among them to see which one of the ten should take up his residence in the city.
All the men that willingly offered - Some volunteered their services, which was considered a sacrifice to patriotism at that time, as Jerusalem afforded very few advantages, and was a place of considerable danger; hence the people spoke well of them, and no doubt prayed for God's blessing upon them.
Now these are the chief - A good deal of difference will be found between the enumeration here and that in 1 Chronicles 9:2, etc. There, those only who came with Zerubbabel appear to be numbered; here, those, and the persons who came with Ezra and Nehemiah, enter into the account.
And Joel - was their overseer - Joel was chief or magistrate over those, and Judah was his second or deputy. Perhaps each had a different office, but that of Joel was the chief.
Ruler of the house of God - He had the command over all secular matters, as the high priest had over those which were spiritual.
Mighty men of valor - Noted for strength of body, and military courage.
And Shabbethai - This verse, with Nehemiah 11:20, Nehemiah 11:21, Nehemiah 11:28, Nehemiah 11:29, Nehemiah 11:32, Nehemiah 11:33, Nehemiah 11:34, and Nehemiah 11:35, are all wanting in the Septuagint and the whole chapter is wanting in the Arabic, the translator not being concerned in Jewish genealogies.
The outward business - Calmet supposes that he provided the victuals for the priests, victims for the sacrifices, the sacerdotal vestments, the sacred vessels, and other necessaries for the service of the temple.
The principal to begin the thanksgiving - The precentor, pitcher of the tune, or master-singer.
The overseer also of the Levites - פקיד pekid, the visitant, the inspector; translated επισκοπος, bishop, both by the Septuagint and Vulgate.
It was the king's commandment - By the king some understand David, and others Artaxerxes. It is most probable that it was the latter; who wished that a provision should be made for these, a part of whose office was to offer up prayers also, as well as praises. For we know that Darius made an ample provision for the priests, that they might offer sacrifices of sweet savor unto the God of heaven; and pray for the life of the king and of his sons, Ezra 6:10. Some have thought that they had been Jewish singers employed in the service of the Persian king, to whom he had given a salary, and to whom he wished still to continue the same.
Pethahiah - was at the king's hand - He was the governor appointed by the Persian king over the Jewish nation in those matters in which the civil government interfered with Jewish concerns. He no doubt fixed, levied, and received the tribute.
And at Jeshua - This city is nowhere else mentioned.
Mekonah - This city is also unknown.
Geba - Probably the same as Gibeah of Saul.
Ananiah - No city of this name is known.
Hadid - This place is also unknown.
Neballat - Also unknown.
Lod, and Ono - These towns were built by the sons of Elpaal, 1 Chronicles 8:12.
The valley of craftsmen - See 1 Chronicles 4:14. Probably this latter town was built in this valley.
And of the Levites were divisions - The Levites had their dwellings in the divisions of Judah and Benjamin. This is probably the meaning: the Syriac says, They had the half of Judah and Benjamin; which is not likely.
That the people whose hearts were now turned towards the Lord, would make the best provision for the support of God's work, and all those engaged in it, we may naturally suppose; but this could not be very great, as the complete service was not yet established, and the Levites themselves were few in number.
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