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Bible Commentaries

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable
Nehemiah 7



Verses 5-73

C. The Record of Those who Returned7:5-73

This is not a list of the people who accompanied Nehemiah to Jerusalem in444 B.C. but a record of those who returned with Sheshbazzar, Zerubbabel, and Jeshua in537 B.C. ( Nehemiah 7:7). It is almost identical to the list in Ezra 2.

Why did Nehemiah repeat this list? Apparently he wanted to encourage the Jews to move into Jerusalem ( Nehemiah 11:1-2). This was one of the goals of the return. To determine who were pureblooded Israelites, he did some research and uncovered this list. There may have been a need to validate claims to property rights and similar matters as well. [Note: Merrill, p357.] Nehemiah then used the list as the basis for his plan (cf. Nehemiah 11:1-24). The repetition of this list also confirms God"s faithfulness in preserving His chosen people and God"s loyal love in bringing them back into the land that He promised to give their ancestors. It is a second witness to His faithfulness and love, the first list being the first witness. The Nehemiah of Nehemiah 7:7 therefore is not Nehemiah the wall-builder (cf. Ezra 2:2).

The total number who returned was49 ,942 ( Nehemiah 7:66-67; Ezra 2:64-65). However, the sum of the individuals the writer mentioned in this chapter Isaiah 31 ,089 (and29 ,818 in Ezra 2). [Note: See my notes on Ezra 2:2b-35. For a detailed study of the two lists, see H. L. Allrik, "The Lists of Zerubbabel ( Nehemiah 7 and Ezra 2) and the Hebrew Numerical Notation," Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research136 (December1954):21-27. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: Old Testament, p688 , compares the two lists side by side and notes the differences. It also contains possible explanations for the differences in numbers.]

The "seventh month" ( Nehemiah 7:73) probably refers to the month Tishri in the year537 B.C. This was the year in which the returned exiles just named gathered in Jerusalem to offer sacrifices and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles (cf. Ezra 3). It could hardly be the "seventh month" in the year the walls were completed (444 B.C.), since the people were in Jerusalem on the first day of that seventh month ( Nehemiah 8:2), not in their various towns. Probably we should add Nehemiah 7:73 b to the end of this list.

"Nehemiah appears to be reminding the reader of that great gathering with the hopes that a comparison will be made with the gathering recorded in Nehemiah 8." [Note: Laney, p98.]


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Bibliography Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Nehemiah 7:4". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

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Saturday, July 4th, 2020
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13
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