THE INHABITANTS OF JERUSALEM AND OTHER CITIES
Jerusalem being God's center, the leaders of the people lived there, but the people evidently preferred other places, so that the proposal was made to cast lots as to who should live in Jerusalem. One out of ten were required to live there (v. 1). However, there were some who willingly offered to live there, and the people blessed these for their faith in doing so. There is a spiritual lesson in this. Do we want to live as near as we can to the Lord? -- for Jerusalem was His place of residence among the people. In the Church today the Lord Jesus Himself is the Center of gathering, and how good it is if we delight in keeping close to Him.
Verse 3 indicates a list of the heads of the provinces who lived in Jerusalem, but not including those who lived in their own possessions in their cities. There were evidently some priests, Levites and Nethinim who did not live in Jerusalem, though others did (v. 3). Not only those of the tribe of Levi lived in Jerusalem, but some people from Judah and from Benjamin. Those from Judah are listed in verse 4-6, then those from Benjamin in verses 7-9. The list of the priests follows in verses 10-14, and the Levites in verses 15-18, their total being 184, which was much lower than the number of the priests. The number of the gatekeepers was 172 (v. 19). The Nethinim (temple servants) lived in Ophel, which was in close proximity to Jerusalem (v. 21).
In the city the overseer of the Levites was Uzzi, he being evidently connected with the sons of Asaph, the singers in the house of the Lord (v. 22). All was well organized. We do not find such appointments in the New Testament. But we do find the Spirit of God present, who can order everything in a better and more orderly way than by having people appointed for each kind of service. The singers picture the kind of ministry that encourages the joy of the saints of God, to cause the worship of the Lord to overflow from hearts wrought upon by the Spirit of God. Thus, even at the hour of the Lord's anticipating the unspeakable sorrow of the cross, it is said concerning Him and His apostles, "And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives" (Mark 14:26).
As regards the details of the people's needs, Pethahiah was appointed to care for this; but in the Church of God such work should be done by shepherds (or pastors) who need no appointment whatever, but gladly serve because of genuine affection for the Lord and concern for the souls of saints. 1 Peter 5:2 encourages elders among the saints to "Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion, but willingly, not for dishonest gain, but eagerly ; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock."
Verses 25-36 list the cities outside of Jerusalem with their nearby villages, some being in the area of Judah and some in Benjamin (vv. 25,36), for Jerusalem was virtually on the border of these two tribes. But we are shown here that God is vitally concerned as to where people live, and takes full account of this. Too frequently saints of God consider only the advantages to themselves in deciding where they should live, whether their employment in a certain place promises a high salary, whether a location is near to friends or relatives, or whether it is in an apparently pleasant neighborhood. If such things have too strong an attraction for us, ought we not to stop and consider that the Lord has a vital interest in this matter? Do we consider His interests first? What about being near to an assembly where we can be a blessing to others?
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Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Nehemiah 11". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany