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Bible Commentaries
Nehemiah 7

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

Now it came to pass, when the wall was built, and I had set up the doors, and the porters and the singers and the Levites were appointed,

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 2

That I gave my brother Hanani, and Hananiah the ruler of the palace, charge over Jerusalem: for he was a faithful man, and feared God above many.

I gave my brother ... charge over Jerusalem. If, as is commonly supposed, Nehemiah was now contemplating a return to Shushan, according to his promise, it was natural that he should wish to entrust the custody of Jerusalem and the management of its civic affairs to men in whose ability, experience, and fidelity he could confide. Hanani, a near relative (Nehemiah 1:2), was one, and with him was associated as colleague Hananiah, "the ruler of the palace" -

i.e., the marshal or chamberlain of the viceregal court which Nehemiah had maintained in Jerusalem. The high religious principle, as well as the patriotic spirit of those two men, recommended them as preeminently qualified for being invested with an official trust of such special importance.

Feared God above many. The piety of Hananiah is especially mentioned as the ground of his eminent fidelity in the discharge of all his duties, and, consequently, the reason of the confidence which Nehemiah reposed in him, for he was fully persuaded that Hananiah's fear of God would preserve him from those temptations to treachery and unfaithfulness which he was likely to encounter on the governor's departure from Jerusalem.

Verse 3

And I said unto them, Let not the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun be hot; and while they stand by, let them shut the doors, and bar them: and appoint watches of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, every one in his watch, and every one to be over against his house.

Let not the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun be hot, ... In the East, it is customary to open the gates of a city at sunrise and to bar them at sunset-a rule which is very rarely, and not except to persons of authority, infringed. Nehemiah recommended that the gates of Jerusalem should not be so early opened; a precaution necessary at a time when the enemy were practicing all sorts of dangerous stratagems, to ensure that the inhabitants were all astir, and enjoyed the benefit of clear broad daylight for observing the suspicious movements of any enemy. The propriety of regularly barring the gates at sunset was, in this instance, accompanied with the appointment of a number of the people to act as sentinels, each mounting guard in front of his own house.

Verse 4

Now the city was large and great: but the people were few therein, and the houses were not builded.

Now the city was large and great. The walls being evidently built on the old foundations, the city covered a large extent of surface, as all Oriental towns do, the houses standing apart, with gardens and orchards intervening. Thus extent, in the then state of Jerusalem, was the more observable as the population was comparatively small, and the habitations of the most rude and simple construction-mere wooden sheds or coverings of loose unmortared stones.

Verse 5

And my God put into mine heart to gather together the nobles, and the rulers, and the people, that they might be reckoned by genealogy. And I found a register of the genealogy of them which came up at the first, and found written therein,

My God put into mine heart to gather together ... The arrangement about to be described, though dictated by mere common prudence, is, in accordance with the pious feeling of Nehemiah, ascribed not to his own prudence of reflection, but to the grace of God prompting and directing him. He resolved to prepare a register of the returned exiles, containing an exact record of the family and ancestral abode of every individual, and while thus directing his attention, discovered a register of the first detachment who had come under the care of Zerubbabel. It is transcribed in the following verses, and is the same as that in Ezra 2:1-70, though it differs in some few particulars; but the discrepancy is sufficiently accounted for from the different circumstances in which the two registers were taken-that of Ezra having been made up at Babylon, while that of Nehemiah was drawn out in Judea, after the walls of Jerusalem had been rebuilt. The lapse of so many years might well be expected to make a difference appear in the catalogue, through death or other causes; thus Machish (Ezra 2:30) is omitted: perhaps, though entered into the register as intending to accompany the returning, he and his family changed their minds and remained in Babylon.

Other circumstances led to a difference between this register and that of Ezra-in particular, one person being, according to Jewish custom, called by different names. Thus, Hariph (Nehemiah 7:24) is the same as Jorah (Ezra 2:18); Sia (Nehemiah 7:47) the same as Siaha (Ezra 2:44), etc. On the subject of the variation of the names, and the difference as to numbers in this and the parallel passage of Ezra, see 'Dissertation' of Kennicott, vol. 2:, p. 508, which gives a minute comparison of texts as well as a very full and satisfactory explanation of all obscurities.

As to the difference of numbers, that is just what might have been expected: many who had resolved to take As to the difference of numbers, that is just what might have been expected: many who had resolved to take advantage of Cyrus' edict, and intimated their purpose to Ezra, drew back, and continued where they were; while on the other hand, great numbers, when the caravan was starting, unexpectedly joined their ranks and came to Jerusalem. Besides other purposes to which this genealogy of the nobles, rulers, and people was subservient, one leading object contemplated by it was to ascertain with accuracy the parties to whom the duty legally belonged of ministering at the altar and conducting the various services of the temple; and for guiding to exact information in this important point of inquiry, the possession of the old register of Zerubbabel was invaluable.

Verses 6-38

These are the children of the province, that went up out of the captivity, of those that had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away, and came again to Jerusalem and to Judah, every one unto his city;

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 39

The priests: the children of Jedaiah, of the house of Jeshua, nine hundred seventy and three.

The priests. It appears that only four of the courses of the priests returned from the captivity, and that the course of Abia (Luke 1:5) is not in the list. But it must be noticed that these four courses were afterward divided into 24 courses, which retained the names of the original courses which David appointed.

Verses 40-64

The children of Immer, a thousand fifty and two.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 65

And the Tirshatha said unto them, that they should not eat of the most holy things, till there stood up a priest with Urim and Thummim.

The Tirshatha said ... that they should not eat of the most holy things until there stood up a priest with Urim and Thummim. Whether the Urim and Thummim was continued until the Babylonian captivity, is not known, but it is probable; and Nehemiah seems here to anticipate its restoration.

Verses 66-69

The whole congregation together was forty and two thousand three hundred and threescore,

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 70

And some of the chief of the fathers gave unto the work. The Tirshatha gave to the treasure a thousand drams of gold, fifty basons, five hundred and thirty priests' garments.

Some of the chief of the fathers .... With Nehemiah 7:69 the register ends, and the thread of Nehemiah's history is

resumed. He was the Tirshatha or governor, and the liberality displayed by him and some of the leading men, for the suitable equipment of the ministers of religion, forms the subject of the remaining portion of the chapter. Their donations consisted principally in garments. This would appear a singular description of gifts to be made by any one among us; but, in the East, a present of garments, or of any article of use, is conformable to the prevailing sentiments and customs of society.

Drams of gold - i:e., darics. A daric was a gold coin of ancient Persia, worth 1 British pound, 5 shillings.

Verse 71

And some of the chief of the fathers gave to the treasure of the work twenty thousand drams of gold, and two thousand and two hundred pound of silver.

Pound of silver - i:e., mina (sixty shekels, or 9 British pounds).

Verse 72

And that which the rest of the people gave was twenty thousand drams of gold, and two thousand pound of silver, and threescore and seven priests' garments.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 73

So the priests, and the Levites, and the porters, and the singers, and some of the people, and the Nethinims, and all Israel, dwelt in their cities; and when the seventh month came, the children of Israel were in their cities.

So ... all Israel, dwelt in their cities. The utility of these genealogical registers was thus found in guiding to a knowledge of the cities and localities in each tribe to which every family anciently belonged. This verse is borrowed from Ezra 3:1.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Nehemiah 7". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/nehemiah-7.html. 1871-8.
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