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Bible Commentaries

Arno Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
Nehemiah 12

 

 

Verses 1-47

CHAPTER 12

1. Priests and Levites at the time of the return under Zerubbabel and Joshua (Nehemiah 12:1-9)

2. The descendants of Joshua, the high priest (Nehemiah 12:10-11)

3. The heads of the priestly houses in the time of Joiakim (Nehemiah 12:12-21)

4. Heads of Levitical houses (Nehemiah 12:22-26)

5. The dedication of the walls (Nehemiah 12:27-43)

6. Provisions for the priests and Levites, and other temple officials (Nehemiah 12:44-47)

Nehemiah 12:1-9. The names of the priests and Levites, who went up under Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua (or Joshua), the High Priest, are recorded first. Ezra, mentioned in the first verse, is not the Ezra of the book of Ezra. According to the seventh verse these persons “were the chiefs of the priests and of their brethren in the days of Jeshua.” They constituted the heads of the twenty-four courses into which the priesthood was divided (1 Chronicles 24:1-20). Only four heads of these courses had returned from the captivity; Jedaiah, Immer, Pasher and Harim. These were divided by Zerubbabel and Jeshua into the original twenty-four; but only twenty-two are mentioned in this record. The Abijah of verse 4 is one of the ancestors of John the Baptist (Luke 1:5).

Nehemiah 12:10-11. This is the important register of the high priests, the descendants of Jeshua, or Joshua. From now on in the history of the Jewish people chronological reckonings were no longer made by means of the reign of kings, but by the successions of the high priests. Jaddua is unquestionably the same who is mentioned by Josephus, the Jewish historian. In his high priestly robes he met Alexander the Great as he besieged Jerusalem, and was the means of saving Jerusalem. Alexander fell on his face when he saw Jaddua, for the great king claimed to have seen this very scene in a dream vision. Inasmuch as Jaddua was not in office till a considerable time after the death of Nehemiah, the name Jaddua must have been added later, under the sanction of the Spirit of God, so that Jaddua’s descent might be preserved.

Nehemiah 12:12-26. The heads of the priestly houses in the time of Joiakim (the son of Jeshua, verse 10) are here recorded, as well as the heads of the Levitical houses. The sentence, “also the priests, in the reign of Darius the Persian” (Darius Codomannus 336-331), was probably added later, under the direction of the Holy Spirit. Further comment on the recorded names is not needed.

Nehemiah 12:27-43. A full and interesting account of the dedication of the walls follows the register of the names. The singers are mentioned first (verse 27-30) for it was the occasion of praise and great rejoicing. They gathered from everywhere to celebrate the dedication with singing, with cymbals, psalteries and with harps. No doubt the Psalms were used by this multitude of singers, as they gave thanks in holy song. What singing and rejoicing there will be some day when “the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads” (Isaiah 35:10). A great procession was made around the walls. This was the main ceremony of the dedication. The procession was in two great companies, one going to the right, and the other to the left. The one company was headed by Nehemiah and the other probably by Ezra, the scribe. Hoshaiah (set free of the LORD) and half of the princes of Judah are mentioned first in the one company. The two companies gave thanks, no doubt responding one to the other. Perhaps they used Psalms 145-147. Thus singing and praising the LORD they came to the house of the LORD. Here the greatest praise was heard, by the whole company. Seven priests blew the trumpets and eight others with them. The singers’ chorus swelled louder and louder, so that the joyous sound was heard even afar off. Great sacrifices were offered and everybody rejoiced. It was God by His Spirit who produced this joy, “for God had made them rejoice with great joy.”

Nehemiah 12:44-47. The servants of the Lord, the priests and the Levites, were not forgotten. They brought their tithes and there was an abundant provision for all. Such were the blessed results under the spiritual revival of Nehemiah and Ezra. But when we turn to the last book of the Old Testament, to Malachi, we learn that declension must soon have set in, for we hear there the very opposite from what is recorded here. “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings” (Malachi 3:8). Therefore a curse rested upon the nation (Malachi 3:9-12).

 


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Bibliography Information
Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on Nehemiah 12:4". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gab/nehemiah-12.html. 1913-1922.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, May 29th, 2020
the Seventh Week after Easter
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