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Bible Commentaries
Nehemiah 12

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


A.M. 3468. B.C. 536.

The chief of the priests and Levites that came up with Zerubbabel, Nehemiah 12:1-9 . The succession of the chief priests, Nehemiah 12:10-21 . The eminent Levites, Nehemiah 12:22-26 . The wall dedicated, Nehemiah 12:27-43 . The offices of the priests and Levites settled, Nehemiah 12:44-47 .

Verse 1

Nehemiah 12:1. Now these are the priests The chief of the priests; the heads of those twenty-four courses which David appointed by divine direction, 1 Chronicles 24:0. And whereas there were twenty-four, and here but twenty- two, and Nehemiah 12:12, &c., only twenty, the reason of this difference may be because two of the twenty-four courses were extinct in Babylon, and two of the persons here named, (verse, 2-5,) Hattush and Maadiah, may be omitted in the account of the posterity of these, (Nehemiah 12:12, &c.,) because they had no posterity. Ezra Either this was another Ezra, or, if it were the same mentioned Ezra 7:0., he lived to a great age; which may well be supposed, considering his great sobriety, and his great piety, to which God promised long life, and withal the special providence of God continuing him so long in such a season, wherein the church of God did greatly need his help and counsel.

Verse 2

Nehemiah 12:2. Malluch In the repetition of this and some other names hereafter, Nehemiah 12:14, &c., there are some small variations, which are very frequent in the Hebrew language.

Verse 7

Nehemiah 12:7. These were the chief of the priests The heads of the courses of the priests instituted by David, which were restored after their return from captivity, though as yet they were not so many as they had been before: see Ezra 6:18. And of their brethren That is, of the priests, who were their brethren; in the days of Jeshua Who was the high-priest at the return from captivity.

Verses 8-9

Nehemiah 12:8-9. Moreover the Levites, which were over the thanksgiving Appointed to see that the psalms of thanksgiving were continually sung in the temple, in due time and manner. Also, their brethren were over against them in the watches That is, in the places where they were appointed to stand, and wait, and perform their office, which was to keep the guard of the gates, while the others sung.

Verses 10-11

Nehemiah 12:10-11. And Jeshua begat Joiakim In these two verses is an account of the succession of the high-priests, from the return of the captivity till the time when they began to bear the greatest sway in the Jewish nation. For the Jaddua mentioned at the end of Nehemiah 12:11, is commonly thought to be that Jaddus, the high-priest, who went to meet Alexander the Great in his pontifical habit, as he came from the conquest of Tyre and Gaza, and procured great privileges for the Jewish nation. This catalogue of their high-priests was the more necessary, because their times were now to be measured, not by the years of their kings, as formerly, but by their high-priests.

Verse 12

Nehemiah 12:12. In the days of Joiakim were priests As the writer had mentioned those who were the chief of the priests in the days of Jeshua, so now he mentions the sons of every one of them who officiated in the days of Joiakim the son of Jeshua, either as assistants to their fathers, or succeeding them when they were dead. He begins with the three named in this verse, and so proceeds in order to give an account of the rest, which reaches to Nehemiah 12:22.

Verse 22

Nehemiah 12:22. Also the priests, to the reign of Darius the Persians “This verse,” observes Dr. Dodd, after Le Clerc, “wherein mention is made of Darius Codomanus, and the high-priest Jaddua, affords us proof that Nehemiah did not put the finishing hand to this book. For Nehemiah, to be able to speak of Darius, must have lived, according to Huet, at least one hundred and thirty-one years, and at that age have written or enlarged his book, which is not probable. We may therefore conclude, that the book of Nehemiah could not have been published, such as it is, till the reign of Darius Codomanus at least; and since one chapter of the book of Nehemiah has been put into that of Ezra, we may very probably suppose that it did not appear in its present form till about the same time. So that these two books have been collected from the memoirs of three different authors, to which have been added several things for the illustration of the history.” Le Clerc, and Houbigant’s note on the place.

Verses 23-25

Nehemiah 12:23-25. Written in the book of the Chronicles That is, in the public annals or registers, in which the genealogies of the several families were recorded by the Jews with great exactness, as all persons agree. Ward over against ward Or, by turns, one coming in when another went out, to attend in their courses, which are called wards. At the thresholds of the gates To wit, of the temple, where the holy things were laid up, their watching-place being close by the thresholds of the gates.

Verse 27

Nehemiah 12:27. At the dedication of the wall Of the city itself, which is here dedicated to God, and to his honour and service, not only upon a general account, by which we ought to devote ourselves, and all that is ours, to God; but upon a more special ground, because this was a place which God himself had chosen, and sanctified by his temple and gracious presence, and which therefore did of right belong to him, whence it is often called the holy city. And they restored it to God by this dedication, withal imploring the presence, and favour, and blessing of God to this city, by solemn prayers, and praises, and sacrifices, wherewith this dedication was accompanied. They sought the Levites out of their places To which they were now retired, after that great and general assembly, Nehemiah 8:9-10.

Verses 29-30

Nehemiah 12:29-30. The singers had built them villages, &c. That they might be near at hand for the service of God and of his house. The priests and the Levites purified themselves By sprinkling the water of purification upon them, by which the tabernacle and sacred utensils were purified; (Numbers 8:7;) by solemn prayers and sacrifices; and especially by keeping themselves from all impurity. And purified the people By sprinkling, it is probable, the same water upon them, and by prayers and sacrifices.

Verses 31-33

Nehemiah 12:31-33. Then I brought up the princes And half of the people with them, as it is expressed afterward, Nehemiah 12:38. Upon the wall For the wall was broad and strong, and so built that men might conveniently walk upon it, as at this day it is in many cities. Whereof one went on the right hand Toward the south and east. Azariah and Ezra Not the scribe, as is evident from Nehemiah 12:36, but another Ezra.

Verses 37-38

Nehemiah 12:37-38. By the stairs of the city of David By which they went up to the hill of Zion and the city of David. The other company that gave thanks went over against them Namely, on the other side of the city, northward and eastward. Even unto the broad wall Which they had made thicker and stronger than the rest of the wall, for some special reason.

Verses 39-40

Nehemiah 12:39-40 . They stood still in the prison-gate Waiting, as also their brethren did, that they might go together in due order into God’s house, there to perfect the solemnity. So stood the two companies, &c. That is, they met together at the temple, and gave thanks in the courts of it. And I and the half of the rulers with me And Ezra and the other half with him, as appears by comparing this with Nehemiah 12:35-36. The order wherein they marched in this pompous manner round about the city seems a little obscure; but the sense of the whole description is this: that they being met together in the same place, half of the rulers went upon the wall on the right hand, accompanied with several priests and Levites, and Ezra the scribe at the head of them, Nehemiah 12:36; and the other half took the left hand, and walked upon the wall in the same order, accompanied with Nehemiah, who brought up the rear of them, Nehemiah 12:38. And, at length, both parts of this chorus met in the temple, and there they stood still and completed their praises and thanksgivings, and offered sacrifices, as mentioned Nehemiah 12:43.

Verse 43

Nehemiah 12:43. For God had made them rejoice with great joy By restoring the holy city to such a secure condition, that they could praise the Lord there without disturbance or fear. And the children rejoiced And their hosannas were not despised, but are recorded to their praise. All that share in public mercies ought to join in public thanksgivings. So that the joy of Jerusalem was heard even far off Either their loud voices and instruments were heard at a great distance, or the fame of it was spread far and near.

Verse 44

Nehemiah 12:44. For the offerings Such as they had lately engaged themselves to give, or other voluntary or prescribed offerings. To gather out of the fields the portions of the law That is, the aforesaid first-fruits and tithes, and other things, which God, by his law, appointed for them. For Judah rejoiced for the priests, &c. For the eminent gifts and graces which they observed in many of them; for the great benefit which they had now received by their ministry; and for the competent provision which hereby was made for them, that so they might wholly wait upon their office. The sure way for ministers to gain an interest in the affections of their people is, to wait on their ministry, to spend their whole time, and thought, and strength therein.

Verse 45

Nehemiah 12:45. Both the singers and the porters kept the ward of their God That ward or charge which God had prescribed them. And, in particular, the charge of purification, of taking care that no unclean person or thing should enter into the house or courts of the Lord. Or, the meaning may be, the singers sung orderly in their courses, as they were appointed, and thereby kept the ward of their God; and the porters kept the ward of the purification, that is, duly observed the orders about it, in preventing the temple from being defiled by any unclean person or thing. According to the commandment of David and of Solomon his son Who had regulated all things belonging to the duty of these persons.

Verse 46

Nehemiah 12:46. For in the days of David, &c. This verse gives the reason why the Levites and the singers performed their duty so accurately; because, from the time of David, who constituted their orders and offices, there were overseers appointed, who presided over them, and were careful both to instruct them in their duty, and keep them to it.

Verse 47

Nehemiah 12:47. They sanctified holy things unto the Levites They set apart the first-fruits and tithes from their own share, and devoted them to the use of the Levites. And so did the Levites by the tithe of tithes. Thus they all conscientiously paid their dues, and did not profane those things which God had sanctified, nor take them unto their own common use. When what is contributed for the support of religion is given with an eye to God, it is sanctified, and will cause the blessing to rest upon the house, and all that is therein.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Nehemiah 12". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/nehemiah-12.html. 1857.
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