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Bible Commentaries
Nehemiah 11

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary


A.M. 3559. B.C. 445.

The rulers and men drawn by lot dwell at Jerusalem, Nehemiah 11:1 , Nehemiah 11:2 . Their names, numbers, and families, Nehemiah 11:3-19 . The cities and villages that were peopled by the rest, Nehemiah 11:20-36 .

Verse 1

Nehemiah 11:1. The rulers of the people dwelt at Jerusalem Where their very office, in some sort, obliged them to dwell; and where, it seems, Nehemiah had desired the principal men of the nation, by way of example, to fix their habitations. The rest of the people also cast lots, to bring one of ten to dwell in Jerusalem That the building of the city might be completed, and the honour and safety of it better provided for. The bulk of the Jews, it appears, rather chose to live in the country than at Jerusalem. One reason of which might be, that they were generally shepherds, and lovers of agriculture, and therefore the country was more suited to their genius and manner of life than the city. Add to this, that their enemies were now so enraged to see the walls built again, and so restless in their designs to keep Jerusalem from rising to its former splendour, that many were terrified from coming to dwell there, thinking themselves more safe in the country, where their enemies had no pretence to disturb them. In order, therefore, to compel a certain proportion of them to remove to the city, the expedient of casting lots is resorted to. Though the casting of lots be certainly forbidden, where the thing is done out of a spirit of superstition, or with a design to tempt God; yet on some occasions it is enjoined by God himself, and the most holy persons, both in the Old and New Testaments, have practised it in particular cases. The wise man acknowledges the usefulness of this custom when he tells us that the lot causeth contention to cease, and parteth between the mighty, Proverbs 18:18; and therefore it was no bad policy, as things now stood, to take this method of division; since the lot, which all allowed was under the divine direction, falling upon such a person rather than another, would be a great means, no doubt, to make him remove more contentedly into the city.

Verse 2

Nehemiah 11:2. The people blessed all the men that willingly offered themselves Besides those who were chosen by lot, it seems there were some that voluntarily chose to go and live there, whom the people highly commended, beseeching God to bless and prosper them: for indeed they were worthy to be honoured, because they denied themselves, and their own safety and profit, for the public good, and the glory of God; seeking the restoration of their nation, the defence of their city, and the welfare of their country, and having zeal for the divine service performed there; for, no doubt, more profit accrued to those who settled in the country where they chose, and had as much ground to cultivate as they wished, than to those who were confined to the city, and the small portion of land which lay about it.

Verse 3

Nehemiah 11:3. These are the chief of the province Of Judea, which was now made a province. Israel The generality of the people of Israel, whether of Judah, or Benjamin, or any other tribe. These he calls Israel, rather than Judah, because there were many of the other tribes now incorporated with them; and because none of the tribes of Israel, except Judah and Benjamin, dwelt in Jerusalem.

Verse 6

Nehemiah 11:6. Four hundred threescore and eight valiant men Such were most proper for this place and time, because of its many enemies round about.

Verses 8-9

Nehemiah 11:8-9. Nine hundred twenty and eight So there were more of Benjamin than of Judah, because the city did chiefly, and most properly, belong to that tribe, as hath been observed before. Joel was their overseer The captain of their thousand.

Verse 11

Nehemiah 11:11. The ruler of the house of God One of the chief priests, who ruled with and under the high-priest.

Verse 16

Nehemiah 11:16. The outward business of the house of God For those things belonging to the temple and its service, which were to be done without it, or abroad in the country, as the gathering in of the voluntary contributions, or other necessary provisions, out of the several parts of the land.

Verse 17

Nehemiah 11:17. To begin the thanksgiving in prayer In the public and solemn prayers and praises, which were constantly joined with the morning and evening sacrifice, at which the singers were present, and praised God with a psalm or hymn, which this man began.

Verse 21

Nehemiah 11:21. The Nethinims dwelt in Ophel Which was upon the wall of Jerusalem, because they were to do the servile work of the temple; therefore they were to be posted near it, that they might be ready to attend.

Verse 22

Nehemiah 11:22 . The sons of Asaph were over the business of the house of God Were to take care at Jerusalem for the supply of such things as were necessary for the temple and the service of God, from time to time, while others minded the outward business, Nehemiah 11:16. And this office was very proper for them, both as they were Levites, to whose care those things belonged; and as they were singers, who were not to come up to Jerusalem by turns, as other Levites, and as the priests did, but were constantly to reside there, and therefore were more capable of minding this business. Besides, their employment was not so frequent nor so great as some others were, and therefore they had more leisure for it.

Verse 23

Nehemiah 11:23. It was the king’s commandment, &c. That is, as it is generally thought, the commandment of the king of Persia, who, out of his great munificence, gave it for their better support, it being common in all countries to have a particular regard for those who sung hymns in praise of their gods. Houbigant renders the words, was at the king’s hand, in the next verse, was the king’s minister.

Verse 24

Nehemiah 11:24. Pethahiah was at the king’s hand Or on the king’s part, to determine civil causes and controversies between man and man by the laws of that kingdom; between the king and people, as in matters of tribute or grievances.

Verse 36

Nehemiah 11:36. Of the Levites were divisions Or, for the Levites (those who were not settled in Jerusalem) there were divisions; places appointed for them and distributed among them. Thus were they settled free and easy, though few and poor. And they might have been happy but for that general lukewarmness with which they are charged by the Prophet Malachi, who prophesied about this time, and in whom prophecy ceased for some ages, till it revived in the great prophet.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Nehemiah 11". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/nehemiah-11.html. 1857.
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