Nehemiah 7
Pulpit Commentary
Now 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,
Verse 1. - The porters and the singers and the Levites. The porters and the singers were themselves Levites, but are often distinguished from their brethren, who had no such special office (see Ezra 2:40-42, 70; Ezra 7:24; Ezra 10:23, 24; Nehemiah 7:43-45, 73; Nehemiah 10:28, etc.). Nehemiah's choice of Levites to guard the gates of Jerusalem may seem strange; but we must remember -

1. That the priests and Levites formed nearly one half the population of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 11:6-19 compared with 1 Chronicles 9:9-22).

2. That the office of guarding the temple gates had always been discharged by Levites (1 Chronicles 9:17-22; 1 Chronicles 26:12-19).
That I gave my brother Hanani, and Hananiah the ruler of the palace, charge over Jerusalem: for he was a faithful man, and feared God above many.
Verse 2. - Hanani and Hananiah. This appointment of two municipal officers to have charge of Jerusalem recalls the mention of two "rulers" in Nehemiah 3:9, 12, each of whom had authority-over half the district dependent on Jerusalem, and amounts to an "undesigned coincidence." The ruler of the palace. Rather, "the commandant of the fort," i.e. the officer in charge of the temple fortress (see above, Nehemiah 2:8).
And I said unto them, Let not the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun be hot; and while 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 one to be over against his house.
Verse 3. - Let not the gates be opened until the sun be hot. The gates of towns in the East are usually opened at sunrise; but this cannot be the intention here. Some extra precaution is signified - not, however, so much as Dathe supposes, who renders ante tempus meridianum, "before noon;" but rather something intermediate between this and the ordinary practice.
Now the city was large and great: but the people were few therein, and the houses were not builded.
Verse 4. - The city was large. Literally, "broad every way." The houses were not builded. Much of the city consisted of open spaces, in which no houses had been as yet built.
And my God put into mine heart to gather 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 written therein,
Verse 5. - And my God put into mine heart to gather together the nobles, etc. As Nehemiah contemplated the vast empty spaces within the city walls, and considered with himself how they might best be peopled, the thought came to him - and he hailed it as a Divine inspiration - that by taking a census of the people he might pave the way for some transfer of the inhabitants of the country districts into the capital, which would at any rate strengthen the latter, and lessen the desolate appearance of its streets and squares, which had so pained him. The census would show what proportion the country and town populations bore to each other, and would point out which were the places in the country districts that could best afford to lose a portion of their inhabitants. A census, therefore was resolved upon, and, according to ordinary Jewish usage (Numbers 1:17-47; 1 Chronicles 21:5, 6; Ezra 2:3-62), it was genealogical. The tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and Levi were numbered separately (Nehemiah 11:4-19); and in the tribe of Judah the children of Pharez were reckoned apart from those of Zerah (1 Chronicles 9:4, 6). No doubt the genealogical principle was acted upon throughout, but further evidence upon the point is wanting. It would seem to have been in the course of his preparations for this census, perhaps in searching for precedents, that Nehemiah found the "register of the genealogy of them which came up at the first," which is the subject of the next section.

CHAPTER 7:6-73 THE REGISTER OF THOSE WHO RETURNED UNDER ZERUBBABEL, WITH THE NUMBER OF THEIR SLAVES, BEASTS, AND OBLATIONS (Nehemiah 7:6-73). It is no doubt a curious circumstance that this list should occur twice, with no important differences, in the two Books of Ezra and Nehemiah. Perhaps it was not in the original Ezra, that writer not having had the good fortune to "find" the document; but Nehemiah having "found" it and inserted it here, in connection with its discovery, a later arranger (Malachi?) removed it to the early part of Ezra, because it belonged to that portion of the Jewish history chronologically. The double record enables us to make out a more perfect catalogue than we could have obtained from either separately,-since there are corruptions in each which may be corrected by means of the other. See the comment which follows.
These are the children of the province, that went up out of the captivity, of those that had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away, and came again to Jerusalem and to Judah, every one unto his city;
Who came with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Azariah, Raamiah, Nahamani, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispereth, Bigvai, Nehum, Baanah. The number, I say, of the men of the people of Israel was this;
Verse 7. - Jeshua, Nehemiah, etc. To the eleven names given by Ezra, Nehemiah adds one, "Nahamani," the sixth. He gives the others in the same order as Ezra, but spells some of the names differently - e.g. "Azariah" for "Seraiah," "Raamiah" for "Reelaiah," "Mispereth" for "Mizpar," and "Nehum" for "Rehum."
The children of Parosh, two thousand an hundred seventy and two.
The children of Shephatiah, three hundred seventy and two.
The children of Arah, six hundred fifty and two.
The children of Pahathmoab, of the children of Jeshua and Joab, two thousand and eight hundred and eighteen.
The children of Elam, a thousand two hundred fifty and four.
The children of Zattu, eight hundred forty and five.
The children of Zaccai, seven hundred and threescore.
The children of Binnui, six hundred forty and eight.
Verse 15. - Binnui. Ezra has "Bani," which receives confirmation from Nehemiah 10:14 and 1 Esdras 5:12.
The children of Bebai, six hundred twenty and eight.
The children of Azgad, two thousand three hundred twenty and two.
The children of Adonikam, six hundred threescore and seven.
The children of Bigvai, two thousand threescore and seven.
The children of Adin, six hundred fifty and five.
The children of Ater of Hezekiah, ninety and eight.
Verse 21. - The children of Ater. Up to this Nehemiah observes the same order as Ezra; but the remaining personal names (three) are placed differently.
The children of Hashum, three hundred twenty and eight.
The children of Bezai, three hundred twenty and four.
The children of Hariph, an hundred and twelve.
Verse 24. - The children of Hariph. Ezra has "Jorah" instead of Hariph (Ezra 2:18); but "Hariph" is confirmed by Nehemiah 10:19.
The children of Gibeon, ninety and five.
Verse 25. - The children of Gibeon. For "Gibeon" Ezra has "Gibbar" - a name otherwise unknown to us. "Gibeon" should probably be read in both places.
The men of Bethlehem and Netophah, an hundred fourscore and eight.
The men of Anathoth, an hundred twenty and eight.
The men of Bethazmaveth, forty and two.
The men of Kirjathjearim, Chephirah, and Beeroth, seven hundred forty and three.
The men of Ramah and Geba, six hundred twenty and one.
The men of Michmas, an hundred and twenty and two.
The men of Bethel and Ai, an hundred twenty and three.
The men of the other Nebo, fifty and two.
Verse 33. - The men of the other Nebo. To Nebo has as yet been mentioned, which makes it unlikely that the text is correct here. Apparently the word translated "the other" (acher) has been accidentally repeated from the next verse. Ezra has "the men of Nebo" simply.
The children of the other Elam, a thousand two hundred fifty and four.
The children of Harim, three hundred and twenty.
The children of Jericho, three hundred forty and five.
The children of Lod, Hadid, and Ono, seven hundred twenty and one.
The children of Senaah, three thousand nine hundred and thirty.
The priests: the children of Jedaiah, of the house of Jeshua, nine hundred seventy and three.
Verses 39-42. - This section exactly reproduces Ezra 2:36-39.
The children of Immer, a thousand fifty and two.
The children of Pashur, a thousand two hundred forty and seven.
The children of Harim, a thousand and seventeen.
The Levites: the children of Jeshua, of Kadmiel, and of the children of Hodevah, seventy and four.
Verse 43. - The children of Jeshua, of Kadmiel, and of the children of Hodevah may be corrected from Ezra 2:40 and Ezra 3:9. It should be "Jeshua and Kadmiel, of the children of Hodevah." This ancestor of Joshua and Kadmiel appears under the three forms of Hodevah, Hodaviah (Ezra 2:40), and Judah (Ezra 3:9).
The singers: the children of Asaph, an hundred forty and eight.
The 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, an hundred thirty and eight.
The Nethinims: the children of Ziha, the children of Hashupha, the children of Tabbaoth,
Verse 46. - The Nethinims. The list which follows is very close to that of Ezra (Ezra 2:43-54). A few names are differently spelt, and one of Ezra's names (Akkub - Ezra 2:45) is omitted.
The children of Keros, the children of Sia, the children of Padon,
The children of Lebana, the children of Hagaba, the children of Shalmai,
The children of Hanan, the children of Giddel, the children of Gahar,
The children of Reaiah, the children of Rezin, the children of Nekoda,
The children of Gazzam, the children of Uzza, the children of Phaseah,
The children of Besai, the children of Meunim, the children of Nephishesim,
The children of Bakbuk, the children of Hakupha, the children of Harhur,
The children of Bazlith, the children of Mehida, the children of Harsha,
The children of Barkos, the children of Sisera, the children of Tamah,
The children of Neziah, the children of Hatipha.
The children of Solomon's servants: the children of Sotai, the children of Sophereth, the children of Perida,
Verses 57-62. - The children of Solomon's servants. This section and the section which follows (vers. 63-65) are nearly identical in Ezra and Nehemiah. A few names only are slightly different.
The children of Jaala, the children of Darkon, the children of Giddel,
The children of Shephatiah, the children of Hattil, the children of Pochereth of Zebaim, the children of Amon.
All the Nethinims, and the children of Solomon's servants, were three hundred ninety and two.
And these were they which went up also from Telmelah, Telharesha, Cherub, Addon, and Immer: but they could not shew their father's house, nor their seed, whether they were of Israel.
The children of Delaiah, the children of Tobiah, the children of Nekoda, six hundred forty and two.
And 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.
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.
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.
The whole congregation together was forty and two thousand three hundred and threescore,
Verse 66. - The whole congregation together was forty and two thousand three hundred and threescore. It makes against the view of Bishop Patrick and others, who regard Ezra's list as made at Babylon, some time before the final departure, and Nehemiah's as made at Jerusalem, after the arrival of the exiles, that the sum total is in each case the same (see Ezra 2:64). Bishop Kennicott's theory, that the three lists - that of Ezra, that of Nehemiah, and that in the first of Esdras - had all one original, and that the existing differences proceed entirely from mistakes of the copyists, is the only tenable one. It is especially remarkable that the differences in the numbers of the three lists consist chiefly in a single unit, a single ten, or a single hundred - or in a five; less often in two units, or two tens, or two hundreds, or in a six - differences probably arising from the obliteration of one or two signs in a notation resembling the Roman or the Egyptian, where there are special signs for a thousand, a hundred, ten, five, and the unit, complex numbers being expressed by repetition of these, as 3438 in Latin inscriptions by MMMCCCCXXXVIII. Any fading of a sign in such a notation as this causes a copyist to diminish the amount by one, five, ten, a hundred, a thousand, etc. A fading of two sigmas may produce a diminution of two thousand, two hundred, twenty, two; or again of eleven hundred, one hundred and ten, one hundred and five, fifteen, eleven, six, and the like.
Beside their manservants and their maidservants, of whom there were seven thousand three hundred thirty and seven: and they had two hundred forty and five singing men and singing women.
Verse 67. - Two hundred and forty-five singing men and singing women. Ezra says 200; but this must be a round number. 1 Esdras confirms Nehemiah (Nehemiah 5:42).
Their horses, seven hundred thirty and six: their mules, two hundred forty and five:
Verses 68, 69. - The numbers of the animals are identical in Ezra and Nehemiah. The apocryphal Esdras has an enormous and most improbable augmentation of the number of the horses (7036 for 736).
Their camels, four hundred thirty and five: six thousand seven hundred and twenty asses.
And some of the chief of the fathers gave unto the work. The Tirshatha gave to the treasure a thousand drams of gold, fifty basons, five hundred and thirty priests' garments.
Verse 70. - The Tirshatha gave. This is additional to the information contained in Ezra, who does not separate Zerubbabel's offering from that of the other heads of families (Nehemiah 2:69). The account of the oblations is altogether more exact in Nehemiah than in the earlier historian. For the value of the contributions made, see the comment on Ezra (1.s.c.).
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 pound of silver.
And that which the rest of the people gave was twenty thousand drams of gold, and two thousand pound of silver, and threescore and seven priests' garments.
So the priests, and the Levites, and the porters, and the singers, and some of the people, and the Nethinims, and all Israel, dwelt in their cities; and when the seventh month came, the children of Israel were in their cities.
Verse 73. - And all Israel dwelt in their cities. The document found by Nehemiah (ver. 5) probably ended with these words (romp. Ezra 2:70); and ch. 7. should here terminate, as it does in the Septuagint. Having completed the account of what happened in the sixth month, Elul (ch. 6:15), and transcribed the register which he had the good fortune to discover at that date, Nehemiah proceeds to relate events belonging to the seventh month.

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