Nehemiah Chapter 12

 

Introduction

Today we will study chapter 12 of the book of Nehemiah. The chapter starts with another genealogy and then moves on to the narrative describing the dedication of the completed wall and gates to Jehovah their God. The Priests, Levites and all the people were also dedicated. The narrative then moves to a very well planned and orchestrated celebration by Nehemiah the Governor and Ezra the priest and scribe. Antiphonal choirs with musicians were led along opposite city walls joined by the people whom God made to rejoice with great joy. The noise was so great the joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off. I think Jehovah made the joyful noise travel far enough for Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite Official and Geshem Arab to hear it; God has a keen sense of humour and vengeance is mine saith the LORD

In this chapter, the dedication and celebrations raise further questions about how then should we live and serve the Lord today: Should we dedicate people and things to God? Should we have choirs and musicians in our church services, and if so, how loud should our worship be?

The chapter ends with practical matters showing that after our celebrations the work must go on

 

Genealogies are Important      (verses 1-26)

  • A genealogy does more than authenticate the Biblical narrative
  • This genealogy identified those who returned from exile in Babylon to serve Jehovah their God in rebuilding the Jerusalem which had been destroyed by fire during the second siege by King Nebuchadnezzar from 587-586 BC.
  • Not all exiles returned from Babylon; only 100,000 of the whole nation, the faithful remnant
  • Of those who returned, this genealogy established who was Jewish and therefore who was in the Mosaic covenant
  • unlike being Maori where you only have to feel Maori; being Jewish is established by ancestral record and the bloodline to Patriarch Jacob- Nehemiah7:61-64

 

Nehemiah 12:1  And these are the priests and the Levites who went up with Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua, Seraiah, Jeremiah, Ezra,

2  Amariah, Malluch, Hattush,

3 Shechaniah, Rehum, Meremoth,

4  Iddo, Ginnetho, Abijah,

5  Miamin, Maadiah, Bilgah,

6  Shemaiah, and Joiarib, Jedaiah,

7  Sallu, Amok, Hilkiah, Jedaiah. These were the chief of the priests and of their brothers in the days of Jeshua.

Who went up with Zerubbabel…     Zerubbabel was the priest who went back at the first return authorised by Cyrus and was followed ten years later by Ezra, Seraiah and Jeremiah the prophet

8  And the Levites were Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Sherebiah, Judah. Mattaniah was over the thanksgiving, he and his brothers.

9  And Bakbukiah and Unni, their brothers, were next to them in the watches

Levite courses thanksgiving and watches… Levites were servants to the priests, who were dedicated to the work and worship at 25 years of age according to God’s ordinance in the Torah, the Law of Moses

2Chronicle 8:14  Ezra records the Zerubbabel appointed, according to the ordinance of David his father, the courses of the priests to their service, and the Levites to their offices, to praise, and to minister before the priests, as the duty of every day required; the doorkeepers also by their courses at every gate: for so had David the man of God commanded.

15  And they departed not from the commandment of the king unto the priests and Levites concerning any matter, or concerning the treasures

 

Genealogy

10  And Jeshua fathered Joiakim, and Joiakim fathered Eliashib, and Eliashib fathered Joiada,

11  and Joiada fathered Jonathan, and Jonathan fathered Jaddua.

And Jehoida fathered…      Hebrew  yaw-lad  begat to show lineage, that’s why Ezra said of Zerubbabel  ‘David his father’       

12  And in the days of Joiakim were priests, the chief of the fathers: from the house of Seraiah was Meraiah; from Jeremiah, Hananiah;

13  from Ezra, Meshullam; from Amariah, Jehohanan;

14  from Melicu, Jonathan; from Shebaniah, Joseph;

15  from Harim, Adna; from Meraioth, Helkai;

16  from Iddo, Zechariah; from Ginnethon, Meshullam;

17  from Abijah, Zichri; from Miniamin of Moadiah, Piltai;

18  from Bilgah, Shammua; from Shemaiah, Jehonathan;

19  and from Joiarib, Mattenai; from Jedaiah, Uzzi;

20  from Sallai, Kallai; from Amok, Eber;

21  from Hilkiah, Hashabiah; from Jedaiah, Nethaneel.

22  The Levites in the days of Eliashib, Joiada, and Johanan, and Jaddua, were recorded chief of the fathers and the priests, until the reign of Darius the Persian(Mede )( aka Gobrius the first governor of both Babylon and Judea after the defeat of King Nebuchadnezzar)

Until the reign of Darius the Persian…      This genealogy was those who had returned following the decree of Cyrus the Great in AD 536 when the first Jews returned under the leadership of Zerubbabel

Ezra1:1  Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of Jehovah by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, Jehovah stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying,

2  Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath Jehovah, the God of heaven, given me; and he hath charged me to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah.

Ten years later a smaller group returned under the leadership of the Ezra following the decree of Artaxerxes. This group received authority to rebuild the temple but not the city wall to protect themselves as a city-state, the basic political unit of that era. The King had learned from the rebellion of the vassal kings of Judah, Jehoiakim and Zedekiah, not to trust the Jews with too much power

Ezra7:11  Now this is the copy of the letter that the king Artaxerxes gave unto Ezra the priest, the scribe, even the scribe of the words of the commandments of Jehovah, and of his statutes to Israel:

12  Artaxerxes, king of kings, unto Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, perfect and so forth.

21  And I, even I Artaxerxes the king, do make a decree to all the treasurers that are beyond the River, that whatsoever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, shall require of you, it be done with all diligence,

25  And thou, Ezra, after the wisdom of thy God that is in thy hand, appoint magistrates and judges, who may judge all the people that are beyond the River, all such as know the laws of thy God; and teach ye him that knoweth them not

It was not until the later decree of Artaxerxes Logimanus in Nehemiah chapter 2 that the returning exiles were given authority to rebuild the walls and gates and thus create a city-state. Daniel’s 70 Weeks of years started at the return under Nehemiah

 

Summary

The two returns were both after 70 year exile from the land of Israel. The first 70 years exile ran from the servitude of the nation which began following Nebuchadnezzar’s defeat of Assyria and Egyptians forces in Judea and Samaria 606 -603 BC, when he set up Judah as a vassal state with Jehoiakim as vassal king and took into exile Daniel and other nobles. The second 70 years exile ran from the desolations of Jerusalem which began at Nebuchadnezzar’s second siege 587-586 BC when he destroyed Jerusalem with fire and took all the remaining inhabitants back to Babylon including the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel who also went into exile at this time

23  The sons of Levi, the chief of the fathers, were written in the Book of the Chronicles, even until the days of Johanan the son of Eliashib.

24  And the chief of the Levites were Hashabiah, Sherebiah; and Jeshua the son of Kadmiel, with their brothers next to them, to praise and to give thanks, according to the command of David the man of God, watch by watch.

25  Mattaniah, and Bakbukiah, Obadiah, Meshullam, Talmon, and Akkub, were guarding the gates, the guard at the thresholds of the gates.

26  These were in the days of Joiakim the son of Jeshua, the son of Jozadak, and in the days of Nehemiah the governor, and of Ezra the priest, the scribe

In the days of Nehemiah…  the second half of the genealogy bring the list of to the time of Nehemiah  

 

A Merry Heart Doeth Good    versus 27-43 

  • Israelites from all around Judah and Benjamin came to the dedication ceremony and celebration
  • Priest and Levites were purified along also the people, the gates and the walls
  • The procession around the wall included singers and musicians and the people in a spirit of gladness and thanksgiving
  • The celebration was well planned and orchestrated by Nehemiah the governor and Ezra the priest and scribe
  • The celebration was anointed; God had made them rejoice with great joy
  • The celebration was loud, the joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off 

Nehemiah 12:27  And at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem, they sought the Levites out of all their places to bring them to Jerusalem, to keep the dedication with gladness, and with thanksgiving, and with singing, with cymbals, harps and with lyres.

28  And the sons of the singers gathered themselves, both out of the plain country around Jerusalem, and from the villages of the Netophathi;

29  and from the house of Gilgal, and out of the fields of Geba and Azmaveth (for the singers had built themselves villages all around Jerusalem.)

30  And the priests and the Levites purified themselves. And they purified the people, and the gates, and the wall.

Priest and Levites were purified along also the people, gates and walls

Number 8 21 the purification included washing their clothes: and Aaron offered them for a wave-offering before Jehovah; and Aaron made atonement for them to cleanse them.

22  And after that went the Levites in to do their service in the tent of meeting before Aaron, and before his sons: as Jehovah had commanded Moses concerning the Levites, so did they unto them.

31  Then I brought up the rulers of Judah on the wall, and chose two great choirs of praise. One went to the right upon the wall toward the Dung Gate.

32  And after them went Hoshaiah, and half the rulers of Judah, 33  and Azariah, Ezra, and Meshullam, 34  Judah, and Benjamin, and Shemaiah, and Jeremiah,

35  and many of the priests’ sons with trumpets; Zechariah the son of Jonathan, the son of Shemaiah, the son of Mattaniah, the son of Michaiah, the son of Zaccur, the son of Asaph,

36  and his brothers, Shemaiah, and Azareel, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethaneel, and Judah, Hanani, with the musical instruments of David the man of God, and with Ezra the scribe before them.

37  And at the Fountain Gate, across from them, they went up by the stairs of the city of David, at the going up of the wall, above the house of David, even to the Water Gate eastward.

38  And the other choirs of praise went across from them, and I after them, and half of the people on the wall, from beyond the Tower of the Furnaces even to the Broad Wall,

39  and from above the Gate of Ephraim, and above the Old Gate, and above the Fish Gate, and the Tower of Hananeel, and the Tower of Meah, even to the Sheep Gate. And they stood still in the Prison Gate.

40  And stood the two praise choirs to give thanks in the house of God, and I, and half of the rulers with me.

41  And the priests, Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Michaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah, and Hananiah, were with trumpets,

42  and Maaseiah, and Shemaiah, and Eleazar, and Uzzi, and Jehohanan, and Malchijah, and Elam, and Ezer. And the singers sang loud, with Jezrahiah their overseer.

43  And that day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced. For God had made them rejoice with great joy. And the wives and the sons rejoiced, so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off.

 

The Work Must Go On      verses 44 – 47

  • After the great celebration, planning for  the next day temple service began
  • people were appointed to manage the offerings and tithes  and  regular supplies of food  from  the surrounding cities  for those who served at the Temple
  • This included Priests and Levites and singers and musicians
  • All Judah gave gladly and generously when it was their  turn to serve

 

44  And at that time some were chosen over the rooms for the treasuries, for the offerings, for the firstfruits, and for the tithes, to gather to them out of the fields of the cities the portions of the Law for the priests and Levites. For Judah rejoiced for the priests and for the Levites who waited.

45  And both the singers and the gatekeepers kept the charge of their God, and the charge of the cleansing, according to the command of David and of Solomon his son.

46  For in the days of David and Asaph of old there were chief of the singers, and songs of praise and thanksgiving to God.

47A  And all Israel gave the portions of the singers and the gatekeepers, every day its portion, in the days of Zerubbabel and in the days of Nehemiah.

Zerubbabel and Nehemiah each led an expedition of returned exiles, the first by Zerubbabel to rebuild the temple but not the walls & gates (the basic unit of a City-state in those days) and the second by  Nehemiah to rebuild the walls and gates and thus creating a City State   which was recognised by the ruling world power . No wonder they all rejoiced now freed from the servitude of the nation and the desolations of Jerusalem 

47B And they set the holy things apart for the Levites, and the Levites set them apart for the sons of Aaron.

Numbers 8:14 Thus shalt thou separate the Levites from among the children of Israel, and the Levites shall be mine.

15  And after that shall the Levites go in to do the service of the tent of meeting: and thou shalt cleanse them, and offer them for a wave-offering.

16  And I have taken the Levites instead of all the first-born among the children of Israel. For they are wholly given to Me from among the sons of Israel, instead of those that open every womb. The first-born of all the sons of Israel, I have taken them to Me

17  For all the first-born of the sons of Israel are Mine, both man and animal. On the day that I struck every first-born in the land of Egypt, I set them apart for Myself.

18 And I have taken the Levites for all the first-born of the sons of Israel.

19  And I have given the Levites as a gift to Aaron and to his sons from among the sons of Israel, to do the service of the sons of Israel in the tabernacle of the congregation, and to make an atonement for the sons of Israel, so that there may be no plague among the sons of Israel when the sons of Israel come near the sanctuary.

20  Thus did Moses, and Aaron, and all the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the Levites: according unto all that Jehovah commanded Moses touching the Levites, so did the children of Israel unto them.

21  And the Levites purified themselves from sin, and they

22  And after that went the Levites in to do their service in the tent of meeting before Aaron, and before his sons: as Jehovah had commanded Moses concerning the Levites, so did they unto them.

24  This is that which belongeth unto the Levites: from twenty and five years old and upward they shall go in to wait upon the service in the work of the tent of meeting

 

PowerPoint Summary

Genealogies are Important

  • A genealogy does more than authenticate the Biblical narrative
  • This genealogy identified those who returned from exile in Babylon to serve Jehovah their God in rebuilding the Jerusalem which had been destroyed by fire during the second siege by King Nebuchadnezzar from 587-586 BC.
  • Not all exiles returned from Babylon; only 100,000 of the whole nation, the faithful remnant
  • Of those who returned, this genealogy established who was Jewish and therefore who was in the Mosaic covenant
  • Unlike being Maori where you only have to feel Maori; being Jewish is established by ancestral record Nehemiah7:61-64 and the bloodline to Patriarch Jacob.

 

A Merry Heart Doeth Good

  • Israelites from all around Judah and Benjamin came to the dedication ceremony and celebration
  • Priest and Levites were purified along also the people, the gates and the walls
  • The procession around the wall included singers and musicians and the people in an spirit of gladness sand thanksgiving
  • The celebration was well planned and orchestrated by Nehemiah the governor and Ezra the priest and scribe
  • The celebration was anointed; God had made them rejoice with great joy
  • The celebration was loud, the joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off

 

The Work Must Go on

  • After the great celebration, planning for the next day temple service began
  • people were appointed to manage the offerings and tithes and  regular supplies of food  from  the surrounding cities  for those who served at the Temple
  • This included Priests and Levites and singers and musicians
  • All Judah gave gladly and generously when it was their turn to serve

 

Take Away

Dedications are important to God; He is jealous for who and what belongs to Him

Celebrations are God’s idea; they are good for us, and God will join us if invited