Nehemiah 12 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Nehemiah 12)

Verse 1

[1] Now these are the priests and the Levites that went up with Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua: Seraiah, Jeremiah, Ezra,

Priests — The chief of the priests, the heads of those twenty four courses which David appointed by divine direction, 1 Chronicles 24:1-19. And whereas there were twenty four, and here but twenty-two, and verse 12, etc. only twenty, the reason of this difference may be, because two of the twenty four courses were extinct in Babylon, and two of the persons here named, verse 2,5, Hattush, and Maadiah, may be omitted in the account of the posterity of these, verse 12, etc. because they had no posterity.

Ezra — Either this was another Ezra, or if it were the same mentioned Ezra 7:1, he lived to a great age; which may well be supposed, considering his great sobriety, and his great piety to which God promised long life, and withal the special providence of God continuing him so long in such a season, wherein the church of God did greatly need his help and counsel.

Verse 8

[8] Moreover the Levites: Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Sherebiah, Judah, and Mattaniah, which was over the thanksgiving, he and his brethren.

Moreover, … — He was to see, that the psalms of thanksgiving were continually sung in the temple, in due time and manner.

Verse 10

[10] And Jeshua begat Joiakim, Joiakim also begat Eliashib, and Eliashib begat Joiada,

Jeshua — Here follows a catalogue of the Jewish high-priests; which was the more necessary, because their times were now to be measured, not by the years of their kings as formerly, but by their high-priests.

Verse 12

[12] And in the days of Joiakim were priests, the chief of the fathers: of Seraiah, Meraiah; of Jeremiah, Hananiah;

Priests - As their fathers were priests in the days of Joshua, so in the days of Joiakim the son of Joshua, the sons of those persons executed the priesthood in their father's steads, some of their fathers probably being yet living, and many of them dead.

Verse 22

[22] The Levites in the days of Eliashib, Joiada, and Johanan, and Jaddua, were recorded chief of the fathers: also the priests, to the reign of Darius the Persian.

Darius — Darius Noehus; and so this Jaddua might be father to him who was in the days of Darius Codomanus, and of Alexander the Great.

Verse 27

[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.

The wall — Of the city itself, which is here dedicated to God, and to his honour and service, not only upon a general account, by which we ought to devote ourselves, and all that is ours, to God; but upon a more special ground, because this was a place which God himself had chosen, and sanctified by his temple and gracious presence, and therefore did of right belong to him; whence it is often called the holy city. And they restored it to God by this dedication, withal imploring the presence, and favour, and blessing of to this city by solemn prayers, and praises, and sacrifices, wherewith this dedication was accompanied.

Places — To which they were now retired after that great and general assembly, Nehemiah 8:1 etc.

Verse 30

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

Purified themselves — They that would be instrumental to sanctify others, must sanctify themselves, and set themselves apart for God, with purity of mind and sincerity of intention.

Verse 31

[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:

Princes — And half of the people with them.

The wall — For the wall was broad and strong, and so ordered that men might conveniently walk upon it.

Right hand — Towards the south and east.

Verse 39

[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.

Stood still — Waiting, as also their brethren did, that they might go together in due order into God's house, there to perfect the solemnity.

Verse 43

[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.

The children rejoiced — And their hosanna's were not despised, but are recorded to their praise. All that share in public mercies, ought to join in public thanksgivings.

Verse 44

[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.

Rejoiced — For the eminent gifts and graces which they observed in many of them: for the great benefit which they had now received by their ministry: and for the competent provision which hereby was made for them, that so they might wholly wait upon their office. The sure way for ministers to gain an interest, in the affections of their people, is to wait on their ministry, to spend their whole time, and thought, and strength therein.

Verse 45

[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.

The ward — That ward, or charge, which God had prescribed to them. And in particular the charge of purification, of taking care that no unclean person or thing should enter into the house or courts of the Lord.

Verse 47

[47] And all Israel in the days of Zerubbabel, and in the days of Nehemiah, gave the portions of the singers and the porters, every day his portion: and they sanctified holy things unto the Levites; and the Levites sanctified them unto the children of Aaron.

Sanctified — They set apart the first-fruits and tithes from their own share, and devoted them to the use of the Levites. And so did the Levites by the tithe of the tithes. Thus they all conscientiously paid their dues, and did not profane those things which God had sanctified, nor take them into their own common use. When what is contributed for the support of religion, is given with an eye to God, it is sanctified, and will cause the blessing to rest upon the house, and all that is therein.