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Bible Commentaries
Nehemiah 7

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary


Nehemiah 7:0


The Wall Completed(Nehemiah 6:15-3)Troubles for the Builders(Nehemiah 4:1-5)The Conclusion of the Work(Nehemiah 6:15-3)The Intrigues of Nehemiah's Enemies(Nehemiah 6:1-3)
The Captives Who Returned to JerusalemA Census of the First ReturnThe List of Those Who Returned From ExileThe Repopulation of Jerusalem
Nehemiah 7:4-38Nehemiah 7:4-5Nehemiah 7:4-5
Nehemiah 7:5List of the First Exiles to Return
Nehemiah 7:6-38Nehemiah 7:6-7Nehemiah 7:6-7a
Nehemiah 7:7-38
Nehemiah 7:8-25
Nehemiah 7:26-38
Nehemiah 7:39-42Nehemiah 7:39-42Nehemiah 7:39-42Nehemiah 7:39-42
Nehemiah 7:43-45Nehemiah 7:43-45Nehemiah 7:43-45Nehemiah 7:43
Nehemiah 7:44
Nehemiah 7:45
Nehemiah 7:46-60Nehemiah 7:46-56Nehemiah 7:46-56Nehemiah 7:46-56
Nehemiah 7:57-59Nehemiah 7:57-59Nehemiah 7:57-60
Nehemiah 7:60Nehemiah 7:60
Nehemiah 7:61-65Nehemiah 7:61-65Nehemiah 7:61-62Nehemiah 7:61-65
Nehemiah 7:63-65
Nehemiah 7:66-69Nehemiah 7:66-69Nehemiah 7:66-69Nehemiah 7:66-68
Nehemiah 7:69-71(Nehemiah 7:68, Nehemiah 7:69 just listed at Nehemiah 7:68)
Nehemiah 7:70-73aNehemiah 7:70-72Nehemiah 7:70-72
Nehemiah 7:72
Nehemiah 7:73Nehemiah 7:73

READING CYCLE THREE (from “A Guide to Good Bible Reading”)


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired but it is the key to following the original author's intent which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.


A. This list is very similar to the list of Ezra 2:0 (“those who came up first,” Nehemiah 7:5, also note I Esdras 5:8-42).

B. They were probably originally based on the same official list (Persian or Jewish), but they are not exactly the same. Names are spelled differently and some names are added and omitted. The stated numbers also do not always agree.

C. The list is divided into categories of people:

1. men of Israel, Nehemiah 7:7-38

2. priests, Nehemiah 7:39-42

3. Levites, Nehemiah 7:43-45

4. temple servants, Nehemiah 7:46-56

5. sons of Solomon's slaves, Nehemiah 7:57-60

6. those of undocumentable ancestry, Nehemiah 7:64-65

a. laymen, Nehemiah 7:61-62

b. priests, Nehemiah 7:63

D. Summaries

1. of those who returned, Nehemiah 7:66-67

2. of the offerings, Nehemiah 7:70-72

a. Persian

b. Jewish

E. See notes at Ezra 2:0 on specific names and categories of returnees

F. I Esdras (also knows as Esdras A) is a Greek version of Josiah's Passover (2 Chr. 35,36) through Nehemiah 7:0 (which is paralleled in Ezra 2:0). It differs from the MT and the LXX. For a good brief discussion see R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament, pp. 1194-1199.

Verses 1-4

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Nehemiah 7:1-4 1Now when the wall was rebuilt and I had set up the doors, and the gatekeepers and the singers and the Levites were appointed, 2then I put Hanani my brother, and Hananiah the commander of the fortress, in charge of Jerusalem, for he was a faithful man and feared God more than many. 3Then I said to them, “Do not let the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun is hot, and while they are standing guard, let them shut and bolt the doors. Also appoint guards from the inhabitants of Jerusalem, each at his post, and each in front of his own house.” 4Now the city was large and spacious, but the people in it were few and the houses were not built.

Nehemiah 7:1 “the gatekeepers and the singers and the Levites” Some scholars see this as misplaced because it seems to refer to the temple and not the city. Yet, we learn later, that the Levitical gatekeepers were also appointed to the city gates because of the lack of people willing to live in Jerusalem (cf. Nehemiah 7:4).

Nehemiah 7:2 “I put Hanani my brother, and Hananiah” These could be two forms of one name (cf. BDB 337); both mean “YHWH has been gracious.” However, in Nehemiah 7:3 it says, “I said to them” which confirms that there were two men involved. Hanani is first mentioned in Nehemiah 1:2 as Nehemiah's brother and source of his information about the condition of Jerusalem. The name Hananiah also appears in the list of Nehemiah 10:23.

“the commander of the fortress” Most walled cities had an inner fortress. It is also used to describe Susa in Nehemiah 1:1 and Esther 1:2, Esther 1:5, etc). Jerusalem's citadel was close to the temple (cf. Nehemiah 2:8), possibly incorporating the towers, the Hundred and Hananel (cf. Nehemiah 3:1). The same word “fortress” (BDB 108) was used of the temple itself in 1 Chronicles 29:1, 1 Chronicles 29:19.

NASB, NRSV“he was a faithful man” NKJV“he was a faithful man” TEV“Hananiah was a reliable” NJB“he was a more trustworthy”

The term (BDB 54, see Special Topic: Believe, Trust, Faith, and Faithfulness in the OT) for “faith” in the OT has the connotation of

1. reliability, sureness (e.g., “the right way,” Genesis 24:48)

2. stability, continuance, faithfulness (e.g., Nehemiah 7:2; Isaiah 38:3)

3. truth (e.g., Esther 9:30; Jeremiah 33:6)

This same term is often used of God (e.g., Nehemiah 9:33; Exodus 34:6; Isaiah 38:18, Isaiah 38:19; Zechariah 8:8).

“feared God more than many” This term (BDB 431, KB 432, Qal PERFECT [OT Parsing Guide, p. 380], but Qal PARTICIPLE [Analytical Key to OT, p. 69], , see Special Topic: Fear in the OT) is used several times in Nehemiah and in several senses.

1. Qal form

a. fear God, Nehemiah 1:11; Nehemiah 7:2

b. fear men, Nehemiah 2:2; Nehemiah 4:14; Nehemiah 6:13

2. Niphal form

God as awesome/fearful, Nehemiah 1:5; Nehemiah 4:14; Nehemiah 9:32

3. the NOUN, fear of God, Nehemiah 5:9, Nehemiah 5:15

Effective leaders are those who are trustworthy and revere YHWH!

Nehemiah 7:3 This verse has two IMPERFECTS used in a JUSSIVE sense (“be opened,” “shut”) and one IMPERATIVE (“bolt”).

The New English Bible and REV think it refers to closing the gates during the noon time rest, while the RSV, TEV, and NJB imply that the gates were to be opened late (well after sunrise) and closed early (well before sundown). Whatever the specifics of this verse mean it is obvious that special care was given to the opening, closing, and guarding of these gates during this period.

Notice how the residents and businesses were to guard the entrances closest to their homes and shops. This is the same personal interest used to construct the walls. The NIV and the NET Bibles understand this aspect to relate to the separate guard stations, one at the gates and one by their homes.

Nehemiah 7:4 “the city was large and spacious” This is exactly opposite of the new size of the reduced city. What can this mean? It must relate to the number of people living there, not a comparison of the previous size of the city or there was plenty of room for new houses and shops (an invitation for people to move into the city). Remember context, not lexicons, determine word meaning!

Verse 5

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Nehemiah 7:5 5Then my God put it into my heart to assemble the nobles, the officials and the people to be enrolled by genealogies. Then I found the book of the genealogy of those who came up first in which I found the following record:

Verses 6-7

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Nehemiah 7:6-7a 6These are the people of the province who came up from the captivity of the exiles whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away, and who returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to his city, 7who came with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Azariah, Raamiah, Nahamani, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispereth, Bigvai, Nehum, Baanah.

Nehemiah 7:6 “each to his city” This links up with Nehemiah 7:73a (“all Israel lived in their cities”). This was important because Nehemiah divided the responsibilities for building and wall construction (and guarding and protecting) by

1. original city of the returnees' parents

2. residence in Jerusalem

3. guild/trade

4. tribe (Levites, priests)

Nehemiah 7:7a These are the main leaders and families.

“Azariah” In Ezra 2:2 this is replaced by “Seraiah,” in I Esdras 5:8, “Zaraias.”

“Raamiah” In Ezra 2:2 this is spelled Reelaiah; in I Esdras 5:9, Resaias.

“Mispereth” In Ezra 2:2 this is spelled Mispar; it is not in I Esdras.

“Nehum” In Ezra 2:2 this is replaced by Rehum; it is not in I Esdras.

Verses 7-38

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Nehemiah 7:7-38 7bThe number of men of the people of Israel: 8 the sons of Parosh, 2,172; 9 the sons of Shephatiah, 372; 10 the sons of Arah, 652; 11 the sons of Pahath-moab of the sons of Jeshua and Joab, 2,818; 12 the sons of Elam, 1,254; 13 the sons of Zattu, 845; 14 the sons of Zaccai, 760; 15 the sons of Binnui, 648; 16 the sons of Bebai, 628; 17 the sons of Azgad, 2,322; 18 the sons of Adonikam, 667; 19 the sons of Bigvai, 2,067; 20 the sons of Adin, 655; 21 the sons of Ater, of Hezekiah, 98; 22 the sons of Hashum, 328; 23 the sons of Bezai, 324; 24 the sons of Hariph, 112; 25 the sons of Gibeon, 95; 26 the men of Bethlehem and Netophah, 188; 27 the men of Anathoth, 128; 28 the men of Beth-azmaveth, 42; 29 the men of Kiriath-jearim, Chephirah and Beeroth, 743; 30 the men of Ramah and Geba, 621; 31 the men of Michmas, 122; 32 the men of Bethel and Ai, 123; 33 the men of the other Nebo, 52; 34 the sons of the other Elam, 1,254; 35 the sons of Harim, 320; 36 the men of Jericho, 345; 37 the sons of Lod, Hadid and Ono, 721; 38 the sons of Senaah, 3,930.

Nehemiah 7:8ff Except for numbers and spelling errors this is an exact parallel to Ezra 2:0.

Nehemiah 7:8 “Parosh, 2,172” In I Esdras 5:9 it is “Phoros 2,172.”

Nehemiah 7:9 “Shephatiah, 372” In I Esdras 5:10 it is “Saphat, 472.”

Nehemiah 7:10 “Arah, 652” In I Esdras 5:10 it is “Ares, 756.”

“652” In Ezra 2:5 the number is 775.

Nehemiah 7:13 “Zattu, 845” In Ezra 2:8 the number is 945; I Esdras 5:12 has “Zathui, 945.”

Nehemiah 7:14 “Zaccia, 760” I Esdras 5:13 has “Chorbe, 705.”

Nehemiah 7:15 “Bennui” In Ezra 2:10 this is spelled Bani (as it is in I Esdras 5:13). The number of returnees is also different. Ezra has 642, but Nehemiah has 648 (as it is in I Esdras 5:13).

Nehemiah 7:16 “628” In Ezra 2:12 the number is 623.

Nehemiah 7:17 “Azgad, 2,322” In Ezra 2:12 the number is 1,222. In I Esdras 5:13 it is “Astad, 1,322.”

Nehemiah 7:18 “667” In Ezra 2:13 the number is 666.

Nehemiah 7:19 “Bigvai, 2,067” In Ezra 2:14 the number is 2,056; in I Esdras 5:14 it is “Bagoi, 2,066.”

Nehemiah 7:20 “Adin, 655” In Ezra 2:15 the number is 454; in I Esdras 5:14 it is “Adinu, 454.”

Nehemiah 7:22 “Hashum 328” In Ezra this name appears in Nehemiah 2:19 and the number is 223.

Nehemiah 7:23 “Bezai, 324” In Ezra 2:17 the number is 323; in I Esdras 5:16 it is “Bassia, 323.”

Nehemiah 7:24 “Hariph, 112” In Ezra 2:18 this is replaced by “Jorah, 112; in I Esdras 5:17 it is “Arsiphorith, 112.”

Nehemiah 7:25 Gibeon” In Ezra 2:20 this is spelled Gibbar.

Nehemiah 7:26 Nehemiah's list combines the two cities with one number, 188, while Ezra 2:21-22 has 123 plus 56 which equals 179; I Esdras 5:17-18 has 123 plus 55 equaling 178.

Nehemiah 7:28 “Beth-azmaveth” In Ezra 2:24 this is replaced simply by Azmareth. Beth was a common addition to city names (“house of,” cf. Nehemiah 7:26). The NET Bible (p. 732) has “the family of Azmaveth,” which is probably the sense intended.

Nehemiah 7:29 “Kiriath-jearim” In Ezra 2:25 this is spelled Kiriath-arim”; in I Esdras 5:19 it is “Kariathiarius.”

Nehemiah 7:32 “Ai” This is the city mentioned in Jos. 7-8.

“123” In Ezra 2:28 the number is 223.

Nehemiah 7:33 “the men of the other Nebo 52” “The other” is left out in Ezra 2:29. In Ezra 2:30 “sons of Magbish” appears, but is left out in Nehemiah.

Nehemiah 7:37 “721” Ezra 2:33 has the number 725. Also “the men of Jericho” in Ezra 2:34 is left out of Nehemiah.

Nehemiah 7:38 “3,930” In Ezra 2:35 the number is 3,630.

Verses 39-42

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Nehemiah 7:39-42 39The priests: the sons of Jedaiah of the house of Jeshua, 973; 40 the sons of Immer, 1,052; 41 the sons of Pashhur, 1,247; 42 the sons of Harim, 1,017.

Nehemiah 7:39 “Jedaiah of the house of Jeshua, 973” Ezra 2:0 has the same, but I Esdras 5:24 has “Jeddu, the son of Jesus, among the sons of Sanasib, 972.”

Nehemiah 7:40 “the sons of Immer, 1,052” Ezra 2:0 has the same, but I Esdras 5:24 has “the sons of Emmeruth, 1,052.”

Nehemiah 7:41 “the sons of Pashhus, 1,247” Ezra 2:0 has the same, but I Esdras 5:25 has “the sons of Phassurus, 1,246.”

Nehemiah 7:42 “the sons of Harin, 1,017” Ezra 2:0 has the same, but I Esdras 5:25 has “the sons of Charme, 1,017.”

Verses 43-45

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Nehemiah 7:43-45 43The Levites: the sons of Jeshua, of Kadmiel, of the sons of Hodevah, 74. 44The singers: the sons of Asaph, 148. 45The gatekeepers: the sons of Shallum, the sons of Ater, the sons of Talmon, the sons of Akkub, the sons of Hittite, the sons of Shobai, 138.

Nehemiah 7:43 “Hodevah” In Ezra 2:40 this is spelled “Hodariah.” This name is not found in I Esdras 5:26; it has “Bannas and Sudias.”

Nehemiah 7:44 “Asaph” He was appointed by David as Levitical musician (cf. 1 Chronicles 25:0; 2 Chronicles 25:12). He became the head of a family of musicians (cf. Ezra 2:41; Ezra 3:10; Nehemiah 11:17, Nehemiah 11:22; Nehemiah 12:35).

“148” In Ezra 2:41 the number is 128 (as it is in I Esdras 5:27).

Nehemiah 7:45 “138” In Ezra 2:45 the number is 139 (as it is in I Esdras 5:28).

Verses 46-56

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Nehemiah 7:46-56 46The temple servants: the sons of Ziha, the sons of Hasupha, the sons of Tabbaoth, 47the sons of Keros, the sons of Sia, the sons of Padon, 48the sons of Lebana, the sons of Hagaba, the sons of Shalmai, 49the sons of Hanan, the sons of Giddel, the sons of Gahar, 50the sons of Reaiah, the sons of Rezin, the sons of Nekoda, 51the sons of Gazzam, the sons of Uzza, the sons of Paseah, 52the sons of Besai, the sons of Meunim, the sons of Nephushesim, 53the sons of Bakbuk, the sons of Hakupha, the sons of Harhur, 54the sons of Bazlith, the sons of Mehida, the sons of Harsha, 55the sons of Barkos, the sons of Sisera, the sons of Temah, 56the sons of Neziah, the sons of Hatipha.

Nehemiah 7:47 “Sia” In Ezra 2:44 this is spelled Siaha; in I Esdras 5:29, “Sua.”

Nehemiah 7:48 “the sons of Lebana, ths sons of Hagaba, the sons of Shalmai” In Ezra 2:45 the first two names have a concluding “h” and the last name is replaced by “Akkub.” Nehemiah's list seems to omit Hagab. These two names, “Hagabah” and “Hagab,” found in Ezra 2:45-46, are easily confused. The list is quite different and abbreviated in I Esdras.

Nehemiah 7:52 Nehemiah's list leaves out “Asnah” of Ezra 2:50; “Asana” of I Esdras 5:31.

“Nephushesim” In Ezra 2:50 this is spelled Nephisim.

Nehemiah 7:54 “Bazleth” In Ezra 2:52 this is spelled Bazluth; Basaloth in I Esdras.

Verses 57-60

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Nehemiah 7:57-60 57The sons of Solomon's servants: the sons of Sotai, the sons of Sophereth, the sons of Perida, 58the sons of Jaala, the sons of Darkon, the sons of Giddel, 59the sons of Shephatiah, the sons of Hattil, the sons of Pochereth-hazzebaim, the sons of Amon. 60All the temple servants and the sons of Solomon's servants were 392.

Nehemiah 7:57 “Sophereth” In Ezra 2:55 it is spelled Hassophereth; I Esdras 5:33 has “Assaphioth.” This word (BDB 709) may be related to the root “to write” (BDB 706), which would mean it refers to a family of scribes as in 1 Chronicles 2:54.

“Perida” In Ezra 2:55 this is spelled Peruda; in I Esdras 5:33 it is “Pharida.”

Nehemiah 7:59 “Amon” In Ezra 2:57 this is replaced by Ami; I Esdras 5:34 has several short names beginning with “a”Agia, Addui, Allon.

Verses 61-65

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Nehemiah 7:61-65 61These were they who came up from Tel-melah, Tel-harsha, Cherub, Addon and Immer; but they could not show their fathers' houses or their descendants, whether they were of Israel: 62the sons of Delaiah, the sons of Tobiah, the sons of Nekoda, 642. 63Of the priests: the sons of Hobaiah, the sons of Hakkoz, the sons of Barzillai, who took a wife of the daughters of Barzillai, the Gileadite, and was named after them. 64These searched among their ancestral registration, but it could not be located; therefore they were considered unclean and excluded from the priesthood. 65The governor said to them that they should not eat from the most holy things until a priest arose with Urim and Thummim.

Nehemiah 7:62 “642” In Ezra 2:60 the number is 652.

Nehemiah 7:63 “Hobaiaha” Ezra 2:61 spells the name “Habaiah.”

Nehemiah 7:64 “they were considered unclean” The VERB (BDB 146 II, KB 169, Pual IMPERFECT) means “defiled,” here in the same sense that their Levitical ancestry could not be confirmed. The special food for the priests could not be eaten by them (cf. Leviticus 2:3; Leviticus 7:21-36).

Nehemiah 7:65 “The governor” refers to Nehemiah (Ezra 2:63, “Tirshatha”; I Esdras 5:40 has “Nehemias” and “Attharias”). He demanded that their confirmation be a heavenly affirmation. The Urim and Thummim were a set of objects (cf. Exodus 28:30; Leviticus 8:8) kept by the High Priest (cf. Deuteronomy 33:8) to determine the will of God (cf. Numbers 27:21). Nehemiah seems to be using these objects and a future priest as a way of referring to God's Promised One (much like Zechariah used Jesusha).

Verses 66-69

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Nehemiah 7:66-69 66The whole assembly together was 42,360, 67besides their male and their female servants, of whom there were 7,337; and they had 245 male and female singers. 68Their horses were 736; their mules, 245; 69their camels, 435; their donkeys, 6,720.

Nehemiah 7:66 “42,360” This same number is also in Ezra 2:64. When you add up both Ezra's (29,818) and Nehemiah's (31,089) lists by names, cities and groups neither equal this number. This shows that both lists are incomplete.

Milton Terry, Biblical Hermeneutics, p. 525, has an interesting numerical comment.

“The probability is that neither list is intended as a perfect enumeration of all the families that returned from exile, but only of such families of Judah and Benjamin as could show an authentic genealogy of their father's house, while the 42,360 includes many persons and families belonging to other tribes who in their exile had lost all certain record of their genealogy, but were nevertheless true descendants of some of the ancient tribes. It is also noticeable that Ezra's list mentions 494 persons not recognized in Nehemiah's list, and Nehemiah's list mentions 1,765 not recognised in Ezra's list; but if we add the surplus of Ezra to the sum of Nehemiah (494 + 31,089 = 31,583) we have the same result as by adding Nehemiah's surplus to the sums of Ezra's numbers (1,765 + 29,818 = 31,583). Hence it may be reasonably believed that 31,583 was the sum of all that could show their father's house, that the two lists were drawn up independently of each other; and that both are defective, though one supplies the defects of the other.”

Nehemiah 7:67 “245” In Ezra 2:65 the number of singers is 200; I Esdras 5:42 also has “245.”

Nehemiah 7:68 Many Hebrew manuscripts omit this verse, as does the Septuagint. However, it is present in Nehemiah 7:66.

Nehemiah 7:69 The amounts and weights of valuable metals between Ezra and Nehemiah are very different.

Verses 70-72

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Nehemiah 7:70-72 70Some from among the heads of fathers' households gave to the work. The governor gave to the treasury 1,000 gold drachmas, 50 basins, 530 priests' garments. 71Some of the heads of fathers' households gave into the treasury of the work 20,000 gold drachmas and 2,200 silver minas. 72That which the rest of the people gave was 20,000 gold drachmas and 2,000 silver minas and 67 priests' garments.

Nehemiah 7:70-71 “gold drachmas. . .silver minas” See Special Topic: ANCIENT NEAR EASTERN WEIGHTS AND MEASURES (METROLOGY).

Verse 73

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Nehemiah 7:73b 73bAnd when the seventh month came, the sons of Israel were in their cities.

Nehemiah 7:73b “And when the seventh month came” This was the beginning of the civil calendar. On the first day (cf. Nehemiah 8:2; Deuteronomy 31:9-11) was the New Year festival called Feast of Trumpets and today called Rosh Ha-Shanah (cf. Leviticus 23:23-25; Numbers 29:16). The Feast of Booths/Tabernacles starts on the 15th day. The Day of Atonement was to occur on the 10th. See Special Topic: Feasts of Israel.

“the sons of Israel were in their cities” This phrase is also found in Ezra 3:1, which shows the close connection between the book of Ezra and Nehemiah 8:0.

Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Nehemiah 7". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/nehemiah-7.html. 2021.
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