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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
Nehemiah 7

 

 

Verses 1-73

Nehemiah 7:1-73

1Now [And] it came to pass when the wall was built, and I had set up the doors, and the porters and the singers and the Levites were appointed, 2that I gave my brother Hanani and Hananiah the ruler of the palace, charge over Jerusalem, for he was [as] a faithful Prayer of Manasseh, and feared God above [i.e. more than] many 3 And I said unto them, Let not the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun be hot; and while [until] they stand by, let them shut the doors and bar them: and appoint watches of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, every one in his watch, and every 4 one to be over against his house. Now [And] the city was large [broad on both hands] and great; but the people were few therein, and the houses were not builded 5 And my God put into my heart to gather [and I gathered] together the nobles, and the rulers, and the people, that they might be reckoned by genealogy. And I found a register of the genealogy of them which came up at the first, and found 6 written therein. These are the children [sons] of the province, that went up out of the captivity of those that had been carried away [of the carrying away], whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away, and [who] came again to Jerusalem and to Judah every one unto his city; 7who came with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah,, Prayer of Azariah, Raamiah, Nahamani, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispereth, Bigvai, Nehum, Baanah. The number, I say, of the 8 men of the people of Israel was this; The children [sons—so everywhere in this list] of Parosh, two thousand a hundred seventy and two 9 The children of She-phatiah, three hundred seventy and two 10 The children of Arah, six hundred fifty and two 11 The children of Pahath-moab, of the children of Jeshua and Joab, two thousand and eight hundred and eighteen 12 The children of Elam, a thousand two hundred fifty and four 13 The children of Zattu, eight hundred forty and five 14 The children of Zaccai, seven hundred and three-score 15 The children of Binnui, six hundred forty and eight.

16The children of Bebai, six hundred twenty and eight 17 The children of Azgad, two thousand three hundred twenty and two 18 The children of Adonikam, six hundred three score and seven 19 The children of Bigvai, two thousand three-score 20 and seven 21 The children of Adin, six hundred fifty and five. The children of Ater of Hezekiah, ninety and eight 22 The children of Hashum, three hundred twenty and eight 23 The children of Bezai, three hundred twenty and four 24 The children of Hariph, a hundred and twelve 25 The children of Gibeon, ninety and five 26 The men of Bethlehem and Netophah, a hundred four-score and eight 27 The men of Anathoth, a hundred twenty and eight 28 The men of Beth-azmaveth, forty and two 29 The men of Kirjath-jearim, Chephirah, and Beeroth, seven hundred forty and three 30 The men of Ramah and Gaba, six hundred twenty and 31 one. The men of Michmas, a hundred and twenty and two 32 The men of Beth-el and Ai, a hundred twenty and three 33 The men of the other Nebo, fifty and two 34 The children of the other Elam, a thousand two hundred fifty and four 35 The children of Harim, three hundred and twenty 36 The children of Jericho, three hundred forty and five 37 The children of Lod, Hadid, and Ono, seven hundred twenty and one 38 The children of Senaah, three thousand nine hundred and thirty.

39The priests: The children of Jedaiah, of the house of Jeshua, nine hundred 40 seventy and three 41 The children of Immer, a thousand fifty and two. The children of Pashur, a thousand two hundred forty and seven 42 The children of Harim, a thousand and seventeen.

43The Levites: The children of Jeshua. of Kadmiel, and of the children of Hodevah, seventy and four.

44The singers: The children of Asaph, a hundred forty and eight.

45The porters: The children of Shallum, the children of Ater, the children of Talmon, the children of Akkub, the children of Hatita, the children of Shobai, a hundred thirty and eight.

46The Nethinim: The children of Ziha, the children of Hashupha, the children of Tabbaoth, 47the children of Keros, the children of Sia, the children of Padon, 48the children of Lebana, the children of Hagaba, the children of Shalmai, 49the children of Hanan, the children of Giddel, 50the children of Gahar, the children of Reaiah, 51the children of Rezin, the children of Nekoda, the children of Gazzam, 52the children of Uzza, the children of Phaseah, the children of Besai, 53the children of Meunim, the children of Nephishesim, the children of Bakbuk, 54the children of Hakupha, the children of Harhur, the children of Bazlith, the children of Mehida, 55the children of Harsha, the children of Barkos, the children of Sisera, 56the children of Tamah, the children of Neziah, the children of Hatipha.

57The children of Solomon’s servants: The children of Sotai, the children of Sophereth, 58the children of Perida, the children of Jaala, the children of Darkon, 59the children of Giddel, the children of Shephatiah, the children of Hattil, the 60 children of Pochereth of Zebaim, the children of Amon. All the Nethinim and 61 the children of Solomon’s servants, were three hundred ninety and two. And these were they which went up also from Tel-melah, Tel-haresha, Cherub, Addon, and Immer: but they could not show their father’s house, nor their seed, whether they were of Israel 62 The children of Delaiah, the children of Tobiah, the children of Nekoda, six hundred forty and two.

63And of the priests: The children of Habaiah, the children of Koz, the children of Barzillai, which took one of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite to wife, and was called after their name 64 These sought their register among those that were reckoned by genealogy, but it was not found: therefore were they, as polluted, put from the priesthood 65 And the Tirshatha said unto them, that they should not eat of the most holy things, till there stood up a priest with Urim and Thummim.

66The whole congregation together was forty and two thousand three hundred and 67 three-score. Besides their Prayer of Manasseh -servants and their maid-servants, of whom there were seven thousand three hundred thirty and seven: and they had two hundred forty and five singing men and singing women 68 Their horses, seven hundred thirty 69 and six: their mules, two hundred forty and five: their camels, four hundred thirty and five: six thousand seven hundred and twenty asses.

70And some of the chief of the fathers gave unto the work. The Tirshatha gave to the treasure a thousand drams of gold, fifty basins, five hundred and thirty 71 priests’ garments. And some of the chief of the fathers gave to the treasure of the work twenty thousand drams of gold, and two thousand and two hundred pounds 72 of silver. And that which the rest of the people gave was twenty thousand drams of gold, and two thousand pounds of silver, and three-score and seven priests’ garments 73 So the priests, and the Levites, and the porters, and the singers, and some of the people, and the Nethinim, and all Israel, dwelt in their cities; and when the seventh month came, the children of Israel were in their cities.

TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL

1 Nehemiah 7:3. יָגִיפוּ for יִסָּגְרוּ, ἅπαξ λεγόμενον. The Targum Jonathan on 2 Kings 4:4, וְסָגַרְתְּ הַדֶּלֶת is וְתַגִתפִין דָּשָׁא.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

The Ordering of the City

Nehemiah 7:1. The setting up of the doors on the gates is anticipated in the description in chap3 (See Nehemiah 3:1; Nehemiah 3:3; Nehemiah 3:6; Nehemiah 3:13-15.) It occurred after the wall was completed. (Comp. Nehemiah 6:1). The porters and the singers and the Levites (comp. Nehemiah 12:45-47). For the temple-porters in David’s time, see the accounts in 1 Chronicles 9:17-27; 1 Chronicles 26:1-19. The Korhites or descendants of Korah, who were porters, were also singers, to whom are inscribed so many psalms. All of these porters and singers were Levites. Hence the threefold titles might not indicate distinct classes, but we might read it as a hendiatris “the Levitical singing porters.” Yet from the later portions of this book ( Nehemiah 10:28; Nehemiah 11:15-19) we may gather that the singers and porters formed two distinct guilds, separate from one another and separate from the other Levites. Hence the three terms here represent three bodies of men. It is probable that the opening and shutting of the temple-gates were made with song. Perhaps some of the psalms inscribed to the Bene-Korah were so used.

Nehemiah seems to have set these Levitical porters at all the city gates, perhaps to give a more religious aspect to his work of defending Jerusalem.

Nehemiah 7:2. Hanani.—See Nehemiah 1:2. Hananiah’s position as ruler of the palace (sar habbirah) was probably the old office of the monarchy (’al habbayith) which Eliakim held ( 2 Kings 18:37) and which Jotham held while Uzziah still lived (‘al beth-hammelek, 2 Chronicles 26:21). See note on Nehemiah 2:8. The old office was probably retained and its incumbent acted as vizier or prime officer to the governor. Nehemiah probably contemplated temporary returns to Persia, and therefore consolidated the government in this way, putting faithful men in the highest positions.

Nehemiah 7:3. While they stand by.—Rather, until they stand by. The command Isaiah, not to open the gates till high day, and not even then, unless the guard is ready to stand by and defend them.

The watchers were stationed throughout the city. These were formed of the inhabitants generally.

Nehemiah 7:4. The houses were not builded.—A general expression. The city was full of waste places.

Nehemiah 7:6. Here begins a copy of the list of Zerubbabel’s company of ninety years before. See Ezra 2. It continues through this chapter. Verses6,7 form the title of the list. Province.—Judea was now a province of the Persian empire.

That went up out of the captivity of those that had been carried away whom Nebuchadnezzar,etc.—Rather, that went up from exile, the captives whom Nebuchadnezzar, etc.

Nehemiah 7:7. Nehemiah.—Not the Nehemiah of this book. Azariah.—In Ezra 2. SeraiahRaamiah.—In Ezra 2, Reelaiah. Nahamani.—Not mentioned in Ezra 2, Perhaps a mistaken repetition of Nehemiah. Mispereth.—In Ezra 2, Mizpar. Nehum.—In Ezra 2, Rehum.

Nehemiah 7:10. The 652 of this verse Isaiah 775 in Ezra 2.

Nehemiah 7:11. The2818 of this verse Isaiah 2812in Ezra 2.

Nehemiah 7:13. The845 of this verse Isaiah 945 in Ezra 2.

Nehemiah 7:15. Binnui.—In Ezra 2 Bani. The648 of this verse Isaiah 642in Ezra 2.

Nehemiah 7:16. The628 of this verse Isaiah 623in Ezra 2.

Nehemiah 7:17. The 2322 of this verse Isaiah 1222in Ezra 2.

Nehemiah 7:18. The667 of this verse Isaiah 666 in Ezra 2.

Nehemiah 7:19. The2067 of this verse Isaiah 2056 in Ezra 2.

Nehemiah 7:20. The655 of this verse Isaiah 454in Ezra 2.

Nehemiah 7:22. The328 of this verse Isaiah 223in Ezra 2.

Nehemiah 7:23. The 324 of this verse Isaiah 323in Ezra 2.

Neh 7:24. Hariph.—In Ezra 2 Jorah.

Nehemiah 7:25. Gibeon.—In Ezra 2 Gibbar.

Nehemiah 7:26. The188 of this verse Isaiah 179 in Ezra 2, and divided into two parts. At this verse, when “children” changes to “men,” the names of towns (instead of those of fathers) begin.

Neh 7:28. Beth-azmaveth. In Ezra 2 Azmaveth.

Nehemiah 7:32. The 123 of this verse Isaiah 223in Ezra 2

Nehemiah 7:33. The other Nebo (Nebo A‘her). In Ezra 2 Nebo simply.

Nehemiah 7:34. The word “children” resumed, but the names of fathers are resumed for two verses only.

Nehemiah 7:37. The 721 of this verse Isaiah 725 in Ezra 2.

Nehemiah 7:38. The3930 of this verse Isaiah 3630 in Ezra 2. In Ezra we find “the children of Magbish a hundred fifty and six,” which is omitted in this copy of Nehemiah.

Nehemiah 7:43. Hodevah.—In Ezra 2 Hodaviah.

Nehemiah 7:44. The148 of this verse Isaiah 128 in Ezra 2.

Nehemiah 7:45. The138 of this verse Isaiah 139 in Ezra 2.

Neh 7:46. Hashupha.—Heb. Hasupha.

Neh 7:47. Sia.—In Ezra 2Siaha.

Nehemiah 7:48. In Ezra we find “the children of Akkub, the children of Hagab,” which is here omitted. Shalmai.—Heb. Salmai.

Nehemiah 7:52. In Ezra we find “the children of Asnah,” which is here omitted. Nephishesim.—In Ezra 2 Nephusim (K’ri).

Nehemiah 7:54. Bazlith.—In Ezra 2 Bazluth.

Nehemiah 7:57. Perida.—In Ezra 2 Peruda.

Nehemiah 7:59. Amon.—In Ezra 2 Ami.

Nehemiah 7:60. Thirty-five families of Nethinim were represented, and ten of Solomon’s servants. Hence there was an average of less than nine to each family.

For the Nethinim see on Nehemiah 3:26.

Solomon’s servants were doubtless those whom Solomon enslaved of the Canaanites. (See 1 Kings 9:20-21). Their descendants were probably regarded as engrafted into Israel, as were the Gibeonites.

Nehemiah 7:61. Addon.—In Ezra 2 Addan.

Nehemiah 7:62. The 642 of this verse Isaiah 652in Ezra 2.

Nehemiah 7:65. The Tirshatha.—This title is given expressly to Nehemiah in Nehemiah 8:9, but in this list of those who came with Zerubbabel nearly a century before, it, of course, cannot refer to Nehemiah, unless we suppose that both in Ezra’s list and in this of Nehemiah’s there had been interpolated in the original record this 65 th verse, to show a decision made by Nehemiah in his time. If that be the case, which is perfectly possible, then the latter part of the 70 th verse is also an interpolation of Nehemiah to show his gifts to the work of separation in his time. If we do not accept this explanation, we must believe that Zerubbabel was the Tirshatha of Nehemiah 7, and Ezra 2Fuerst derives the word from tarash, and supposes this root means “to fear,” or “to reverence,” and refers Teresh ( Esther 2:21) to the same. But may it not be from the more common root yarash (to possess)? The Persian torsh (revere) is in favor of the former. It is used as synonymous with pe‘hah (governor). See Nehemiah 12:26.

Till there stood up a priest with Urim and Thummim.—This seems to be a circumlocution for “forever.” The Urim and Thummim (whatever they were) were connected with the High-priest’s breastplate ( Exodus 28:30) and with the oracular response of God on application by the High-priest (comp. Numbers 27:21 and 1 Samuel 28:6). When these responses ceased or when the Urim and Thummim were lost, we cannot tell. We hear nothing of them after David’s reign. The prophets seem to have taken their place. The Urim and Thummim being absent, there was no authority in Israel to determine the priestly status of these unregistered ones.

Nehemiah 7:66. The whole congregation together was forty and two thousand three hundred and threescore.—The numbers given in this chapter, up to this verse, amount to only31,089. In Ezra 2the amount Isaiah 29,818. If we add to the former sum the number of servants given in Nehemiah 7:67, we have only38,671, or3,689 less than the gross amount of this verse. We have noted the omission in this list of four families. The differences in the numbers of the two lists also show how liable are numbers to be changed in transcription. The grand total, being the same in both lists, is probably correct.

Nehemiah 7:67. Singing men and singing women,meshorerim umeshoreroth. Comp. Ecclesiastes 2:8. These were probably a guild of servants, dating from Solomon’s day.

Nehemiah 7:70. The work of restoration. The Tirshatha.—See on Nehemiah 7:65.

Nehemiah 7:71. The repetition of the chief of the fathers seems to support the view of the Tirshatha sentence being an interpolation by Nehemiah. The20,000 drams of gold here Isaiah 61,000 in Ezra 2, and the2200 pounds here are5000 pounds there, but if we add the people’s gift of Nehemiah 7:72 (not found in Ezra) we have here40,000,4200 against61,000,5000 there. So the sixty-seven priests’ garments here are one hundred there. See remark on numbers in Nehemiah 7:66.

The children of Israel were in their cities.—This seems to be the real ending of the quotation from the old register of Zerubbabel’s day, and then Nehemiah’s narration begins again, using almost the same words as Ezra’s concerning the first migration. In Ezra it is wayyeasphu ha’am ke is h e‘hadh, and in Nehemiah it is wayyeasphu khol ha’am ke is h e‘hadh. This likeness was doubtless designed.

HISTORICAL AND ETHICAL

1. The walls were not to be substitutes for, but encouragements of, watchfulness. A perfect system of opening, shutting, barring and guarding the gates was to follow the successful up-building of the city-bulwark. Faithful men were to be put into the highest positions, and a larger number of Jews were to be induced to dwell in Jerusalem in order to its defence. The order, security and growth of Jerusalem, as the city of the Great King, Jehovah of Israel, formed the undivided aim of the son of Hachaliah.

2. The genealogies occupied an important place in Israel. They contained the certificate of church-membership for each Israelite. They also contained the claims to official dignity that belonged to priest and Levite. The family-idea thus received a marked emphasis in God’s redemptive government—an emphasis which is echoed by Malachi ( Malachi 4:6) and the angel that appeared to Zacharias ( Luke 1:17). The appearance of the Nethinim in the genealogies is a forcible illustration of the impartial grace of God. That grace which would bring in all the Gentiles as children was foretokened by the brotherly position of the Nethinim (of Gentile blood) among the people of God, the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

3. Those priests whose names were not in the lists were counted the same as polluted, that Isaiah, not simply as having a blemish (see Leviticus 21:17-21), for such priests could eat of the holy things, but as having an uncleanness (see Leviticus 22:3-6), which prevented all contact with holy objects. This shows the prominence of externals in the Jewish religion—a necessary prominence where the externals had a precise spiritual significance. For, after all, it was the spiritual truth which was the basis of such exactness, and by no means the mere intrinsic value of externals.

4. The entire number of Jews who returned in Cyrus’ day to Jerusalem was small—about50,000, out of millions. Piety, patriotism and desire for change were three motives at work in the50,000. But what a vast mass were unmoved by any of these motives, and were well satisfied with their exile! Some, however, like Daniel, remained from high and holy motives. The Jewish people is a remnant.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

The Lord, on His side, appoints watchmen on the walls of Jerusalem, who must allow themselves no rest day or night, and must not even give the Lord Himself any rest until He fortifies Jerusalem, and makes it for a praise in the earth. Isaiah 62:6-7. But now, when Jerusalem is scantily rebuilt, Nehemiah appoints watchmen, who shall guard the city and its gates. The first thing necessary for the congregation is praying hearts, whose petitions shall not slacken until the Lord is persuaded; these the Lord Himself must give. But when the prayers have been granted care must be taken for the preservation and using of that which has been granted. That the congregation itself must see to. And that they themselves can and must watch, that they must remain separated from the world, and that they will be secured in the maintenance of their peculiarity and independence, is their honor and joy2. There are always two tasks in the congregation, or church, of the Lord. As there are always enemies remaining (so long as the kingdom is not of God and of His Christ), who cannot endure the spread of the blessing, which might proceed from the church, who would much rather indeed win its possessions and gifts, and would wish to make it like the world, so these enemies, especially then, when the powers of life are most active in it, come out to attack it most energetically, and fall upon its representatives most sharply in word and deed, therefore it must always have some to keep watch, to protect it, and fight the enemy. But again: so long as everything is in embryo, and the conclusion has not been reached, and there are yet those to be found capable of receiving and becoming participants in the goods and gifts of the church and in the salvation of the Lord, that Isaiah, those who can and will enter the congregation of the Lord, and increase and extend the Lord’s kingdom, therefore, just on this account, such are necessary as will be engaged in the winning and reception of new members to the kingdom, who understand the situation, and can point out the spot where they also can build3. As Jerusalem, in Nehemiah’s time, extended far on both sides, and was scantily populated, so also the city of God in all times has had space for new additions to its population. For, in truth, the rich possessions which God has prepared in His church for mankind, would only then be sufficiently turned to profit when every one called man should enjoy them, and it were itself full and sufficiently built out, and all had entered in. For that God, who has made all things for Himself, and for that Lord who has redeemed all, the totality alone, from which none is lost, forms a sufficiently great people.—Bede: Præcepit autem Nehemias, ne aperiantur portæ Hierusalem usque ad calorem solis, hoc est toto tempore noctis, ne videlicet aut obtectus tenebris hostis erumpat, aut certe aliquis incautus exiens ab hoste captus pereat. Quod etiam in hujus sæculi nocte tota custodes animarum debent solerter agere, ne observantia piæ conversationis neglecta diabolus aut cohortem fidelium perturbaturus subintret aut de ipsorum numero fidelium quempiam perditurus rapiat. Apparente autem sole justitiæ et clarescente luce futuræ beatitudinis jam non opus erit claustris continentiæ; quia nec adversariis ultra dabitur facultas impugnandi sive tentandi fideles, utpote sempiterna cum suo principe ultione damnatis. Unde in Apocalypsi sua Joannes de futura ejusdem sanctæ civitatis gloria dicit; et portæ ejus non claudentur per diem; nox enim non erit illic.—Starke: This is the final cause why cities and countries, kingdoms and principalities are founded, and filled with people that God may dwell there, and His church may have a certain shelter. God provides help, protection, and rest for His church, and as human protection is very insignificant, God with His angels is the best watchman.

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Nehemiah 7:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/nehemiah-7.html. 1857-84.

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