Nechemyah 12 Orthodox Jewish Bible (OJB)


A GATHERING of the ecclesia in Jerusalem revealed unity in diversity. There are seen high priest, priests and Levites; chiefs and subordinates; singers and musicians; gate-keepers and guards of the treasure-houses.

They had come from the city of Jerusalem, the outlying villages and the country towns beyond, to rejoice together in the great privilege of divine worship. It was not an unkept and slovenly community. The people had "purified themselves," and prepared in attitude and conviction for the solemn offering of thanksgiving and rejoicing.

The effect was magnetic, and they recognized that all they were and had, was due to the goodness of Yahweh. So they gladly "rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy" (v. 43).

Not only did the ecclesia respond enthusiastically, but the "joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off." It was, therefore, a token of the greater day when the work of the Truth will find a ready response in the whole world, and when the sanctity of Yahweh will be recognized by all.

Bro Graeham Mansfield

The Christadelphian Expositor

1 Now these are the Kohanim and the Levi'im that went up with Zerubavel ben Sh'altiel, and Yeshua; Serayah, Yirmeyah, Ezra,

2 Amaryah, Maluch, Chattush,

3 Shechanyah, Rechum, Meremot,

4 Iddo, Gintoi, Achiyah,

5 Miyamin, Ma'adiyah, Bilgah,

6 Shemayah, and Yoyariv, Yedayah,

7 Sallu, Amok, Chilkiyah, Yedayah. These were the chief of the Kohanim and of their brethren in the days of Yeshua.

8 Moreover the Levi'im; Yeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Sherevyah, Yehudah, and Matanyah, which was over the huyedot, he and his brethren.

9 Also Bakbukyah and Unni, their brethren, were opposite them in the mishmarot (services).

10 And Yeshua fathered Yoyakim, Yoyakim also fathered Elyashiv, and Elyashiv fathered Yoyada,

The first 26 verses of chapter twelve deal with the priesthood.

Verses 1-7 give the heads of the priestly courses at the time of Zerubbabel; verses 12-21 the leaders of these courses in the next generation.

Verses 10 and 11, in between, give the line of descent of the High Priests.

Jeshua was the High Priest who returned with Zerubbabel. His grandson Eliashib, the friend of Tobiah and Sanballat, was high Priest at the time of Nehemiah. Three generations are listed beyond Eliashib, which would be the line from him to the youngest of the High Priestly line then born.

Paul's remarks in Hebrews concerning the infinite superiority of the High Priesthood of Christ over that of the fleshly line of Aaron is vividly emphasized by the unfaithful Eliashib at this critical and typical period in Israel's history. Truly there is great significance in the statement that the Law was "weak through the flesh."

The flesh is a weak thing, for all its pomp and pride and pretentions. Apart from the strengthening of the Spirit, it is utterly helpless and undependable. If man could only see himself as he realty is, and seek the divine strength that is so freely and graciously offered! If we ourselves could only perceive and achieve this in its fulness!*

11 And Yoyada fathered Yonatan, and Yonatan fathered Yaddua.

12 And in the days of Yoyakim these were Kohanim rashei haAvot; of Serayah, Merayah; of Yirmeyah, Chananyah;

13 Of Ezra, Meshullam; of Amaryah, Yehochanan;

14 Of Melichu, Yonatan; of Shevanyah, Yosef;

15 Of Charim, Adna; of Merayot, Chelkai;

16 Of Iddo, Zecharyah; of Ginton, Meshullam;

17 Of Achiyah, Zichri; of Minyamin, of Moadyah, Piltai;

18 Of Bilgah, Shammua; of Shemayah, Yehonatan;

19 And of Yoyariv, Matnai; of Yedayah, Uzzi;

20 Of Sallai, Kallai; of Amok, Ever;

21 Of Chilkiyah, Chashavyah; of Yedayah, Netanel.

22 The Levi'im in the days of Elyashiv, Yoyada, and Yochanan, and Yaddua, were recorded rashei haAvot; also the kohanim, to the reign of Daryavesh the Persian.

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: Hashabiah, Sherebiah, and Jeshua the son of Kadmiel, with their brethren over against them, to praise and to give thanks, according to the commandment of David the man of God, ward over against ward.

25 Mattaniah, and Bakbukiah, Obadiah, Meshullam, Talmon, Akkub, were porters keeping the ward 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.

The typical dedication of the HOLY CITY - Rev 21: 2,10.

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, both with thanksgivings, and with singing, with cymbals, psalteries, and with harps.

Sought the Levites - gather his elect "to keep the dedication" - Matt 24: 31

The listing and ordering of the priestly courses seem to complete the organization of the city and the worship. All is now ready for the great event that climaxes Nehemiah's labours-the joyful and triumphant dedication of the completed walls and organized city of God.

The Holy City is finished and complete, as far as was within the possibilities of the time.

The event, therefore, is typical and symbolic of the final dedication of the Holy City to God, as portrayed in the final chapters of the Revelation.

The Levites-the priests-typical of the seeking out and gathering of the great company, the chosen nation, the kingdom of priests, the redeemed, the Lamb's Wife-

How clearly the final antitypical fulfillment is brought before

our mind-

"The redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion, and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads: and they shall obtain gladness and joy: and sorrow and mourning shall flee away" (Isa.51:11).*

When the wall was finished, Nehemiah had the discernment to associate it with the spiritual restoration that it symbolised. The ceremony of dedication which he planned involved everyone, as priests, Levites and people assembled at the request of the governor. But of all the Levites, it was the singers whom Nehemiah needed most of all, for they would head the procession and set the spiritual tone he wished the entire nation to experience.

Assembling at the valley gate, where he had commenced his own tour of inspection, 32 Nehemiah divided the assembly into two great companies, led in each case by the singers and players on instruments.

The first choir, led by Ezra, 33 marched eastward along the southern part of the wall, turning north at the fountain gate to ascend the eastern side up to the water gate and beyond, until the meeting point with the second choir was reached.

The second choir, followed by Nehemiah, 34 marched up the western side, passing beyond the tower of the furnaces to reach the fish gate, turning eastward across the top of the city to traverse the northern wall, and finally turning south to reach the prison gate, and from there to the point where, converging with the first choir, they both entered the city to reach the temple court.

The singers knew before they parted where they would meet, but how excited they must have been to reach that place! Their arrival from both sides of the city was proof that the taunt of Tobiah was wrong, 35 but it was more than that.

They had walked the walls to prove that there was again in this place a temple within a city, circumscribed by a wall. Now the nation could flourish again, secure within those guardian walls, and within the guardian lines of acceptable worship. 36 True to that objective, the walls represented the circumference of their choral march, but not its focal point, for it ended at the temple. In that sacred place, and led, as of old, by the House of Asaph, the choirs combined to sing with such fervent joy as to cause their voice to be heard. 37 Well might they have sung the words of their family psalm on this auspicious day,

"0 give thanks unto Yahweh; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever".

Who could not feel that Yahweh had blessed them indeed, with the city safe, their temple at its centre, and a leader at their head who sought to return the nation to the standard of true worship?

There could be little doubt that it was the singers, not the princes, who led this march of consecration and praise. And there could be even less doubt that the House of Asaph led the singers, since members of their family alone were singled out to be at the head of all things spiritual.

Three great-grandsons of Mattaniah sustained the spirit of his work, the first to lead the songs and choose the psalms, the second to organise the choirs and schedule their times, the third to supervise the orchestras and prepare the instruments.

The family repaid the faith that Neherniah showed in them, as their choir reached an apotheosis of thanksgiving that would not be matched again in their history. They led the nation to a pinnacle of praise that set hearts aflame, for truly the nation's intensest moments of joy were known when this family sang and touched them all. 38

But the choir that sang on this day were not those who sang before Zerubbabel, when the foundation was laid. With ninety years elapsed, it was indeed the great-grandsons of that earlier choir, appointed in person by Nehemiah, who sang instead for the governor.

What other family which had lived so long had stayed so true? On this day, when the House of Asaph sang loud, their song of joy was heard afar off, 39 but just how far their sound would reach was a distance which only time itself could tell.

32 Nehemiah 2:13.
33 Nehemiah graciously set the old priest at the head of this first group (Nehemiah 12:36). Walking the wall, and hearing Yahweh's song sung at the temple, must have
been a highlight of Ezra's life.
34 Nehemiah 12:38. 35 Nehemiah 4:3.
36 It is significant that the moment the walls were finished (Nehemiah 7:1) Jerusalem was referred to as "the holy city" (11:1), remembering that the intervening chapters (8-10) are a section in parenthesis.
37 The margin for "sang loud" correctly translates the sense of the word shama used (Nehemiah 12:42).
38 Note the correlation between times of national joy and the presence of the House of Asaph with their song: Solomon (2 Chronicles 5:12,13; 7:6,10), Jehoshaphat (20:21,27), Jehoiada (23:13,18), Hezekiah (29:28-30; 30:21,23,25,26), Zerubbabel (Ezra 3:11-13; 6:18,22), Nehemiah (Nehemiah 12:27,42-44). In each episode, the word samach (or its cognates, simeach or simchah, 'rejoicing or gladness') is found in conjunction with the singers. That spirit of rejoicing was embedded in the very words of their family psalm (1 Chronicles 16:10,31).
39 Nehemiah 12:42,43.


Bro Roger Lewis - The House of Asaph Ch 11

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

29 Also from the house of Gilgal, and out of the fields of Geba and Azmaveth: for the singers had builded them villages round about Jerusalem.

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

31 Then I brought up the princes of Judah upon the wall, and appointed two great companies of them that gave thanks, whereof one went on the right hand upon the wall toward the dung gate:

32 And after them went Hoshaiah, and half of the princes of Judah,

33 And Azariah, Ezra, and Meshullam,

34 Judah, and Benjamin, and Shemaiah, and Jeremiah,

35 And certain of the priests' sons with trumpets; namely, 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 brethren, Shemaiah, and Azarael, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethaneel, and Judah, Hanani, with the musical instruments of David the man of God, and Ezra the scribe before them.

Saving their instruments of music

"By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How shall we sing Yahweh's song in a strange land?" (Psalm 137:1-4) 7

The captives had taken with them such personal belongings as they could manage. Most had nothing but a small bundle, as much as could be tied in a cloth and borne upon the shoulder, 8 give the distance they had to travel. There was only room for a few clothes, a few tools, a few things to remind them of life in the land they had left behind.

But the burdens they carried were mementos of their past, memories of a life that was no longer, They might bring some comfort, but they could not save. Everything would be changed in the place they had now come to, and to cling to the past would not restore it.

When there was hardly time to take something from their home before leaving it forever, most people chose things of material or emotional worth. Not so the House of Asaph. They carried a more valuable burden with them. Carefully stored, wrapped and safe, 9 were the instruments of music that the family owned in trust for the next generation of temple musicians. 10

They had not been lost in the temple fires, nor taken as temple spoils. They were far too precious for such a fate, and this family made certain that they were neither captured nor destroyed. Whatever prized possessions others thought to take, this household carried the heirlooms most treasured within their family. It gave true insight into their thinking that, when all was lost, they still thought to take their instruments of music with them.

Unlike their fellow captives, the burdens they carried were focused on the promise of the future, not the failure of the past. The very act of guarding them all the way to Babylon was their statement of faith that one day they would be taken home, to be used again in a temple that the prophets had promised would be built. 11 They believed with all their heart that these instruments would be needed.

There are times in the lives of all God's saints when, amidst the turmoil of change, when bereft of all that is certain, we cling to our temporal realities for security and safety. But the real test is whether we look forward or backward, and where our little bundle of belongings leads us to focus. Only those with a strong sense of inner purpose look ahead, and this the House of Asaph possessed.

Their certainty lay not in the confidence of their own hand, but in the belief that God would continue to help them to honour His name. Fully resigned to His will, their spirit was to move forward, to seek the good of the Truth, and to try to do no more and no less than their family had always done.

7 The writer concurs with the view that this psalm was composed by one of the singers who was exiled to Babylon (Psalms 107-150, CSSS, Tony Benson, pages 375,376). The only singers known to have upheld the vow of this psalm were the House of Asaph, who alone returned to the land (see Chapter 10, "When Zerubbabel led the return", on page 107), and it is highly likely that a member of this family composed it, providing insight into the spirit of the House of Asaph during the captivity.

8 Ezekiel enacted this in parable, as he took forth from his house "stuff for removing" (RV, 'baggage for exile') and bore it upon his shoulder in the very manner suggested here (EzekieI12:3-7).

9 It was a custom to wrap valuable items in cloth to protect them (1 Samuel 21:9).

10 Comparing passages (Psalm 137:2; Nehemiah 12: 27,36) suggests that the instruments were guarded during the entire captivity period, since they were in all likelihood the originals from David himself. Israel had their own Stradivaris and Guarneris a precious burden indeed!

11 Isaiah 56:7; 60:13.

Bro Roger Lewis - The House of Asaph Ch 9

37 And at the fountain gate, which was over against 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 unto the water gate eastward.

38 And the other company of them that gave thanks went over against them, and I after them, and the half of the people upon the wall, from beyond the tower of the furnaces even unto 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 unto the sheep gate: and they stood still in the prison gate.

40 So stood the two companies of them that gave thanks in the house of God, and I, and the half of the rulers with me:

41 And the priests; Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Michaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah, and Hananiah, 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 Also that day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced: for God had made them rejoice with great joy: the wives also and the children rejoiced: so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off.

Note again the specific inclusion of the children. We remember a similar occasion when the children rejoiced as a triumphant procession entered Jerusalem, and the pompous, self-important, hypocritical Pharisees thought Jesus should make them stop.

All our efforts should be to get our children to rejoice in the Lord; to get them to realize-

How great is His goodness, how great is His beauty!

If we can only accomplish this, we have given them the Pearl of Great Price.

"... and the children rejoiced: SO THAT THE JOY OF JERUSALEM WAS HEARD EVEN AFAR OFF"

-even as it will be when the Holy City the New Jerusalem, is made manifest.

The rest of the chapter records how joyfully the worship and the services and the providing of the tithes and of the portions for the priests and Levites continued to function in a thankful atmosphere of zeal and harmony.

It would be very pleasant if the book ended here. Nehemiah's labours had reached a glorious and triumphant accomplishment. The wall is built, the gates set up, the genealogies

established, the priestly courses arranged, the services set in order, the Law being studied, the people rededicated to God by a solemn covenant of obedience-joy and holiness and zeal reign triumphant.*

*Bro Growcott - Let us rise up and build

44 And at that time were some appointed over the chambers for the treasures, for the offerings, for the firstfruits, and for the tithes, to gather into 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 that waited.

45 And both the singers and the porters kept the ward of their God, and the ward of the purification, according to the commandment 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 unto Elohim.