The status of Jerusalem suffered because of its meagre population. There was insufficient to properly protect the city, and to provide for the development of the nation. The troubles of the times had depleted the population of Jerusalem, which now had to be increased and the efficiency of the work improved by appointing men of ability for the several tasks. In a surge of enthusiasm for the cause of Zion, the people agree to correct the situation. All elements of society are involved in the restoration of the city. *


Nehemiah's Diary reveals five dominant features, each relating to our personal responsibilities in these closing days of Gentile times. Nehemiah's carefully considered and developed plan of activities sets out a sound and positive approach to maintaining soundness and wise development within ecclesias:

1. The people were exhorted to labour diligently in the service of the Truth.

This principle contains exhortation with a wide-ranging application. It involves a call to

study the Scriptures with a dedicated love for Yahweh and His Word; to faithfully

expound it within the ecclesia and without, speaking forthrightly and warmly

concerning the things of the kingdom and the things of the Name (Acts 8:12).

It is a reminder to fulfil the everyday responsibilities of ecclesial life, whether it be the duties of an arranging brother, the preparation of the memorial table, the caring of the

ecclesial premises, encouraging brethren and sisters, or whatever avenue of labour we

see open to us in the service of our Lord and King.

2. The services of the temple were restored.

This feature of Nehemiah's work highlights the principle of sound worship.

"Give unto Yahweh the glory due unto His Name; worship Yahweh in the beauty of holiness" (Psa. 29:2).

There is an urgent need for all who have been called to be saints to establish a close and intimate relationship with their Creator. This can only be achieved upon the basis of a realization, on our part, of the glory, majesty, righteousness and holiness - the absolute perfectness - of the One whom we worship.

Such a conception of the Deity will incline to fill us with awe and reverence, and draw each individual, in all humility, before the throne of Grace.

"O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before Yahweh our Maker" (Psa. 95:6).

And let us never neglect the necessity and privilege to "worship Him in spirit and in truth" (Jn. 4:23-24).

3. The defensive walls had been soundly and thoroughly rebuilt.

The fortifications which protect the ecclesia are sound doctrine and an upholding of correct

principles of spiritual standards and morality. If these are weakened, the "walls" protecting the ecclesia will be breached, and the enemy - apostate ideas and philosophies - will enter in, corrupting the ecclesia. The necessity of dedicated brethren laboring to keep the "walls" of the ecclesia strong and secure, cannot be overemphasized.

4. The people were thoroughly and correctly instructed.

This state will only be evident when the ecclesia has wise, knowledgeable, mature leadership. Members of the flock will be made aware of their responsibilities and obligations, and will be carefully and objectively educated and encouraged in all the ways of the Truth.

"Every Word of God is pure: He is a shield unto them that put their trust in Him" (Pro. 30:5).

5. The population of the city was increased.

This indicates the necessity of drawing the ecclesia together with one mind and purpose. When members of the ecclesia have such a right disposition, based upon a sound knowledge of the Truth, they will be moved to

"stand fast in one spirit, with one mind, striving together for the faith of the gospel" (Phil. 1:27).

Nehemiah had arrived in the city to find its walls broken down, its gates burned with fire, a scene of disorder and havoc. Desiring to end this disastrous situation, Nehemiah initiated his fivefold program of attack against apathy, ignorance and lack of competent, dedicated leadership.

With "the good hand of his God upon him," he was able to rejuvenate the city and transform the people. Only a vigorous application of divine principles and commandments, as found in the Word of God, can direct men and women into ways of activity and mental comprehension that will lead to their eternal well being. 

-Bro John Ullman.

1 And the rulers of the people dwelt at Jerusalem: the rest of the people also cast lots, to bring one of ten to dwell in Jerusalem the holy city, and nine parts to dwell in other cities.

We remember that at the beginning of chapter seven, when the wall was finished-

"The city was large, but the people were few therein"

-and Nehemiah decided to record all the people of the land by their genealogy. chapter eleven, the census has been made and all the people cast lots to see who would dwell in Jerusalem. It was necessary for their national existence that this capital city, the center of all their worship and religious activity, be maintained. But living there was a disadvantage.

It was dangerous, because it was against here that all the enemies' schemes were directed, and it would be common knowledge that many rulers of Judah were allied with the enemy and had plotted against Nehemiah and those that supported him.

Furthermore, it was greatly disadvantageous to live in Jerusalem because their livelihood and prosperity depended upon working upon their lands.

Therefore they cast lots and picked one out of every ten to live in Jerusalem.

"And the people blessed all the men that WILLINGLY offered themselves to dwell at Jerusalem."

Some chose it willingly, as a personal sacrifice on behalf of the nation. These put spiritual consideration before temporal considerations-the service and glory of God before their own advantage.

They are types of the faithful who choose to live in the Holy City with all its present dangers and worldly disadvantages.

It was by all these measures that Nehemiah took that Jerusalem was put on the way of becoming once again populous and active. It took much faith and effort to get the process started.

Bro Growcott - Let us rise up and build

The leaders were already residing in the city, but the commoners generally gathered in country towns outside the city (v. 3). The city had been fortified, but such protection was of little value unless correctly maintained and manned.

Similarly, the saints will occupy the future Holy Oblation in the centre of the land (Eze. 43:7; 48:8), to ensure that the "protection" of the word of Yahweh is upheld, and divine principles promulgated

to the peoples throughout the earth (Isa. 2:2-3; Jer. 3:17).

"the rest of the people also cast lots" — This was done in order to determine who would be selected to dwell in the metropolis. The procedure was as established in Num. 26:55.

"the land shall be divided by lot: according to the names of the tribes of their fathers they shall inherit".

"to bring one of ten" — A tithe of the people was selected to support the development

in Jerusalem.

"to dwell in Jerusalem" — To dwell in this city would have required a sacrifice by many families, as it does to "dwell" in "spiritual Jerusalem" (the involvement of the Truth": Rev. 11:1; 21:2). It was preeminently the dwelling place of the rulers (Neh. 11:1). Others dwelt there by "lot" (by divine direction), or voluntarily sacrificed to do so (see v 2)

The Christadelphian Expositor

2 And the people blessed all the men, that willingly offered themselves to dwell at Jerusalem.

A tenth are called to respond to the appeal for ecclesial service. They accepted the lot cheerfully, even though it entailed uprooting their homes, many sacrifices in material matters, and perhaps uncongenial work as labourers and partisans in the capital. *

GEM, Logos

Census of the Leaders

3 Now these are the chief of the province that dwelt in Jerusalem: but in the cities of Judah dwelt every one in his possession in their cities, to wit, Israel, the priests, and the Levites, and the Nethinims, and the children of Solomon's servants.

4 And at Jerusalem dwelt certain of the children of Judah, and of the children of Benjamin. Of the children of Judah; Athaiah the son of Uzziah, the son of Zechariah, the son of Amariah, the son of Shephatiah, the son of Mahalaleel, of the children of Perez;

5 And Maaseiah the son of Baruch, the son of Colhozeh, the son of Hazaiah, the son of Adaiah, the son of Joiarib, the son of Zechariah, the son of Shiloni.

6 All the sons of Perez that dwelt at Jerusalem were 468 valiant men.

7 And these are the sons of Benjamin; Sallu the son of Meshullam, the son of Joed, the son of Pedaiah, the son of Kolaiah, the son of Maaseiah, the son of Ithiel, the son of Jesaiah.

8 And after him Gabbai, Sallai, 928.

9 And Joel the son of Zichri was their overseer: and Judah the son of Senuah was second over the city.

The Priests

10 Of the priests: Jedaiah the son of Joiarib, Jachin.

11 Seraiah the son of Hilkiah, the son of Meshullam, the son of Zadok, the son of Meraioth, the son of Ahitub, was the ruler of the house of Elohim.

12 And their brethren that did the work of the house were eight hundred twenty and two: and Adaiah the son of Jeroham, the son of Pelaliah, the son of Amzi, the son of Zechariah, the son of Pashur, the son of Malchiah.

13 And his brethren, chief of the fathers, two hundred forty and two: and Amashai the son of Azareel, the son of Ahasai, the son of Meshillemoth, the son of Immer,

14 And their brethren, mighty men of valour, 128: and their overseer was Zabdiel, the son of one of the great men.

The Levites

15 Also of the Levites: Shemaiah the son of Hashub, the son of Azrikam, the son of Hashabiah, the son of Bunni;

16 And Shabbethai and Jozabad, of the chief of the Levites, had the oversight of the outward business of the house of Elohim.

17 And Mattaniah the son of Micha, the son of Zabdi, the son of Asaph, was the principal to begin the thanksgiving in prayer: and Bakbukiah the second among his brethren, and Abda the son of Shammua, the son of Galal, the son of Jeduthun. 

Revitalising the worship of the temple

When Ezra came up from Babylon, he brought with him a small contingent of singers. Some from Heman and Jeduthun joined their brethren of Asaph, after travelling in the entourage of Ezra. 11 Singers of the family of Bakbukiah were from the line of Heman, 12 while those of the family of Obadiah were from the line of Jeduthun. 13

...Some thirteen years had passed since Ezra's expedition to Jerusalem, but although singers from all three families could now offer praise in the temple, those of Heman and Jeduthun were relegated to secondary roles. When Nehemiah sought to reinvigorate the worship of Yahweh, he turned to one family above all others for assistance. That family was the House of Asaph, whose commitment was undoubted, and whose example was unequalled.

The key tasks for temple worship under Nehemiah's plan would all be assigned to this household. Their primacy would continue, for they had returned to the land with a spirit of dedication which the other choirs lacked.

In the days of Zerubbabel, Mattaniah ben Micha of the House of Asaph oversaw the songs of thanksgiving, the very responsibility once held by his predecessor, Asaph. 14 Many years had passed since then, but, since only those of Asaph were in this first return, the privilege of presiding over the praise remained with his family, from Zerubbabel to Nehemiah.

Over ninety years had passed, however, and Mattaniah was long since dead when Nehemiah made his plans. He still looked to the singers, however, to help inspire a spiritual rededication, and hefound what he needed in Mattaniah's godly descendants.

He would entrust the work to no other household, and, as events unfolded, his choice of the House of Asaph would be fully vindicated. Three of Mattaniah's great-grandsons were singled out for the crucial work of re-energising the system of temple worship, which Nehemiah knew was so essential to the spiritual life of the nation.

The first of these was named after his great-grandfather, 15 and, true to his namesake, this Mattaniah of Nehemiah's time was also responsible for the songs of thanksgiving in the temple.

As the leader of the praise, 16 he began the public psalm which was offered at the time of every morning and evening sacrifice. He also acted as the precentor [singing director] of the choir, and, irrespective of which course may have been on duty, they all took their lead from him as the chief of the singers, a role which began with Asaph himself, centuries before. 17

Both the leadership of the songs and the choice of musical material came under his purview, as it had under Asaph. Even the mention of one who was "the second" after him 18 confirmed his leading position among all the singers. How wonderful that, even with this passage of time, a man of Asaph still held this office among God's people!

11 Only thirty-nine Levites came with Ezra (Ezra 8:18,19), divided into Levites (serving the priests), singers and porters (7:7). The number of singers from Heman and Jeduthun therefore was minimal, perhaps at most one course from each family, and even then, at a reduced number of only eight singers per course (Nehemiah 12:36,42). By comparison, those of Asaph who returned under Zerubbabel could already furnish sixteen courses of eight singers from their own ranks (Ezra 2:41).

12 The name Bakbukiah (Nehemiah 11:17) is a variant form of Bukkiah, the leading line in the family of the singers of Heman (1 Chronicles 25:4). Members of the family had evidently returned with Ezra, but they were placed after those of Asaph, singing over against them in the wards (Nehemiah 12:9), and consistently mentioned after them in priority (verses 24,25).

13 The Abda of Nehemiah 11:17 is the Obadiah of the line of Jeduthun (1 Chronicles 9:16), from the third great family of the singers. Members of this family of Jeduthun were similarly ranked after the House of Asaph in priority (12:24,25).

14 This Mattaniah returned under Zerubbabel (1 Chronicles 9:2,15; Nehemiah

12:1,8). The phrase that he was "over the thanksgiving" (verse 8), cp. RSV: "in charge of the songs of thanksgiving", suggests that he directed the entire system of music and praise, as did Asaph of old.

15 This Mattaniah (Nehemiah 11:17) was not he of the same name who came with Zerubbabel (12:8), as there was a span of ninety years between the two. That

he was most probably his great-grandson is borne out by the fact that his two relatives, chosen for office by Nehemiah, were other great-grandsons of the same man (11:22; 12:35). The full genealogy of this Mattaniah is not listed, but he was probably given his great-grandfather's name as a papponymic (naming a son after his grandfather or great-grandfather), a practice common among post-exilic Jewish families.

16 This passage (Nehemiah 11:17) reads Hebrew rash t'chillah, 'the head of the beginning', or rash t'hillah, 'the head of the praise'. Cp. Rotherham: "leader of the praise who giveth thanks in prayer." Either reading confirms his role as precentor of the choir and in charge of its songs.

17 The record has "he appointed certain of the Levites ... to thank and praise ... Asaph the chief [rash]" (1 Chronicles 16:4,5).

18 That Bakbukiah was "the second" (mishneh) after Mattaniah (Nehemiah 11:17) echoed Asaph's primacy. Cp. Rotherham: "Asaph the chief, and second [mishnehl to him Zechariah" (1 Chronicles 16:5).

Bro Roger Lewis - The House of Asaph Ch 11

18 All the Levites in the holy city were 284.

The rest of chapter eleven to verse 19 gives the names and numbers of those groups that dwelt at Jerusalem. The balance of the chapter gives a general listing of the places where the rest of the people lived, but they are not numbered.

Here again the type is followed, for the inhabitants of the Holy City are listed and numbered, but those without are not. We are reminded of the reference to the careful measuring of the Holy City in Revelation eleven, illustrative of the fact that the lives,

trying and disciplining of the people of God, are all divinely measured and directed, while that of the outside world is left to time and chance.

This chapter in Nehemiah is one of the nine places where Jerusalem is spoken of as the "Holy City" the others being in Isaiah, Matthew, and Revelation. *

*Bro Growcott - Let us rise up and build

23 For it was the king's commandment concerning them, that a certain portion should be for the singers [a regulation be for the singers], due for every day [a day's matter in a day][over their daily actities.].

Revitalising the worship of the temple

Uzzi, a descendant of Mattaniah through the line of Hashabiah, was made overseer of the work of the house of God. 19 All the Levites at Jerusalem came under his jurisdiction within the temple. As distinct from those over the external work of the house, 20 who managed the practical requirements of supplies and provisions needed for the temple system, Uzzi's role concerned the internal operations of the temple, which were focused on the spiritual arrangements for worship.

As the songs of praise were central to the daily temple service, his task was to organise the times for choirs to serve, and to manage the regular rotation of their courses. Every course needed to know their appointed times for service and practice, since the reduced number of singers compared to David's day meant that they were on duty more often, with fewer courses in rotation.

Uzzi gave certainty to the arrangements by regulating the duties of the singers, 21 and thereby ensured that the rhythm of daily service in the temple continued without interruption. 22 It was that perpetual service in song that Nehemiah was anxious to restore, and he chose a man of Asaph to superintend it.

And there was yet a third great-grandson called to special responsibility. Zechariah, a descendant of Mattaniah through the line of Shemaiah, 23 was appointed to lead all those who played on musical instruments. 24 In the first instance, his supervision extended over his brethren from Asaph, but among the two groups who travelled the wall there may have been instrumentalists from Heman and Jeduthun, who all equally took their guidance from this man of Asaph.

There was certainly no mention of any other leader of the players on instruments apart from Zechariah, but every reason for another of Mattaniah's family to hold this office. That reason related to the instruments themselves.

Only cymbals, psalteries and harps were to be used, 25 but these were not new instruments crafted for the occasion, but the originals made in ancient times. They had felt the touch of David's hand in their making, for their fashioning formed part of the temple details given him by inspiration. 26

Made precious by their origin, they bore the patina of their history and heritage. These were the instruments which had been carried by the House of Asaph into Babylon, 27 and had now been brought back with them to Jerusalem.

Treasured and guarded, protected and preserved, burnished by time and made sacred by their use, their appearance on this day gave witness to the unchanging constancy of the divine principles of worship.

No other family held a closer connection with the musical instruments of David the man of God. How supremely fitting it was then, that a man of Asaph should superintend their proper use on this day of dedication.

Everything in this spiritual revival would bear the mark of David's commandment, for this family were the faithful guardians of his spirit. They had preserved not just their songs but also their courses and their duties, exactly as David had prescribed them. 28

They knew that David's work had been overshadowed by the Spirit of God, and therefore sought to preserve it without alteration. Theirs was the charge to praise and give thanks according to the commandment of David, for it had been given to Asaph himself in these very terms. 29

Even the choirs singing over against each other, in song and response, recalled David's arrangements, when the courses were first confirmed. 30 Now, again, all three families would sing together, but the order would remain as it had in times past, with the House of Asaph at the head. 31

Bro Roger Lewis - The House of Asaph Ch 11

19 The text (Nehemiah 11:22) reads as one sentence, which defines Uzzi's descent, and then describes his duties. The word "overseer" links to the phrase "over the business", and the term "the singers" relates to the phrase "the sons of Asaph", The entire verse attributes this responsibility, not to the singers in general, but to Uzzi in particular.

20 These external arrangements were managed by Shabbethai and Jozabad, who were described as being over "the autwa~c1 business of the house" (Nehemiah 11:16).

21 The term "certain portion" (Nehemiah 11:23) is one word (amanah, margin, "sure ordinance"). Its only other use is "a sure covenant" (9:38). The context of the passage relates not to provisions for the singers, but to the fulfilment of their work, and the phrase more probably concerns the organisation of their service times by


22 The phrase "due for every day" (Nehemiah 11:23), literally, 'a day's matter in a day',

is an echo of the terms of Asaph's own appointment, when he was left to minister before the ark continually "as every day's work required" (1 Chronicles 16:37). The sense of the passage is properly caught by the NIV: "the singers were under the king's orders which regulated their daily activity."

23 The word "namely" (Nehemiah 12:35) is not in the text. This Zechariah was not a priest but a Levite, and another great-grandson of Mattaniah ben Micha of Asaph through a different line.

24 Nehemiah 12:36.

25 As already noted (Nehemiah 12:27).

26 The instruments which David made for praise (1 Chronicles 23:5; 2 Chronicles 7:6) were among the "instruments of service in the house ofYahweh", the pattern for which was given to him by divine inspiration (1 Chronicles 28:12-14,19).

27 When Ezekiel encouraged the captives

28 The House of Asaph are consistently presented as singing according to the commandment of David (2 Chronicles 23:18; 29:25; 35:15; Ezra 3:10; Nehemiah 12:24).

29 The phrase "to praise and to give thanks, according to the commandment of David" (Nehemiah 12:24) is a clear allusion to the appointment of Asaph by David (1 Chronicles 16:4,5).

30 This is the implication of the phrase "ward over against ward", NKJV: "group alternating with group" (Nehemiah 12:24; cp. 1 Chronicles 25:8).

31 In Nehemiah 12:24 the first three names - Hashabiah, Sherebiah, Jeshua the son of Kadmiel- were the chief of the Levites. The reference to the singers which follows, however, relates to the first three names (verse 25), since Mattaniah (Asaph), Bakbukiah (Heman), and Obadiah (Jeduthun) were the wards of the singers who offered praise and thanks (11:17). The names which follow (12:25), Meshullam, Talmon, Akkub, are the families of the porters as mentioned.