Nehemiah 11 Bible Commentary

John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible

(Read all of Nehemiah 11)
This chapter treats of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, those of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, who settled there by lot, or of their own accord, their names and numbers, Nehemiah 11:1, and of the priests and Levites who dwelt there, Nehemiah 11:10, and of the rest of the people, priests, and Levites, that dwelt in the other cities and villages of Judah and Benjamin, Nehemiah 11:20.

Verse 1. And the rulers of the people dwelt at Jerusalem,.... Where it was proper they should, being the metropolis of the nation, both for the performance of their offices, and to protect and defend it, as well as to set an example to the people, and encourage them to dwell there also:

the rest of the people also cast lots to bring one of ten to dwell in Jerusalem the holy city; so called, because of the temple and the worship of God in it; and so it is called by Julian the emperor {g}; and some {h} have thought that the Cadytis of Herodotus {i} is the same with Jerusalem, which had its name from hvdq, "holy," and is now called by the Turks "cuds," that is, "holy" {k}: now, though it was the chief city, and the place of public worship, yet the people were not forward of settling in it, partly because of the rage of the enemy, which this city was the butt of, and partly because it was more to their worldly advantage to dwell in the country, and where they could have better supplies; they consulted their own ease, safety, and profit; wherefore this method was taken to oblige some to dwell in it, by taking one out of ten by lot, that there might be a sufficient number to rebuild the houses of it, repopulate and defend it:

and nine parts to dwell in other cities; to which they belonged, or where they pleased, any where in the land of Israel.

{g} Ep. 25. p. 154. {h} Prideaux's Connection, par. 1. p. 56, 57. {i} Euterpe, sive, l. 2. c. 159. & Thalia, sive, l. 3. c. 5. {k} Sandys's Travels, l. 5. p. 121. Ed. 5.

Verse 2. And the people blessed all the men that willingly offered themselves to dwell at Jerusalem. Who were not taken by lot, but of their own accord settled at Jerusalem; they praised them for it, and wished them all happiness and prosperity, since they denied themselves of ease and profit for the sake of the public good; and it is this which makes the difference between the list of the inhabitants of Jerusalem in 1 Chronicles 9:2 &c. and this here, that takes in all that settled there, whether voluntarily or by lot; this only such as were fixed by the lot, and of them only those who were of greatest note and esteem, as Jarchi observes, and so it follows.

Verse 3. Now these are the chief of the province that dwelt in Jerusalem,.... That is, of Judea, reduced to a province by the king of Babylon, and now a province of the Persian monarchy:

but in the cities of Judah dwelt everyone in his possession in their cities; in which they or their ancestors had formerly dwelt: to wit, Israel: the people in general of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, and such of the other tribes that returned with them:

the priests, and the Levites, and the Nethinims, and the children of Solomon's servants; of whom see Ezra 2:55.

Verse 4. And at Jerusalem dwelt certain of the children of Judah, and of the children of Benjamin,.... It belonging partly to one tribe and partly to the other, and so inhabited by both, as it originally was, Joshua 15:63

of the children of Judah; Athaiah; called Uthai, 1 Chronicles 9:4 whose lineage is traced through Uzziah, Zechariah, Amariah, Shephatiah, Mahalaleel,

of the children of Perez; a son of Judah, see 1 Chronicles 9:4.

Verse 5. And Maaseiah,.... Who seems to be the same with Asaiah, 1 Chronicles 9:5 and whose genealogy is carried up through Baruch, Colhozeh, Hazaiah, Adaiah, Joiarib, Zechariah, to Shiloni; perhaps the same with Shelah, another son of Judah, see 1 Chronicles 9:5.

Verse 6. All the sons of Perez that dwelt at Jerusalem were four hundred threescore and eight valiant men. And so well qualified to defend the city against its enemies.

Verse 7. And these are the sons of Benjamin,.... That were of that tribe, and inhabited Jerusalem, namely, that follow:

Sallu the son of Meshullam; who from him is traced up through Joed, Pedaiah, Kolaiah, Maaseiah, Ithiel, to Jesaiah.

Verse 8. And after him,.... That is, Sallu: were Gabbai and Sallai; in all nine hundred and twenty eight; there were more of the tribe of Benjamin than of the tribe of Judah, they having perhaps a greater share in the city, or were better disposed to dwell in it.

Verse 9. And Joel the son of Zichri was their overseer,.... Or chief governor of the city:

and Judah the son of Senuah was second over the city; or the deputy governor of it; so Pitholaus is called an under governor in Jerusalem by Josephus {l}

{l} Antiqu. l. 14. c. 6. sect. 1.

Verses 10-11. Of the priests,.... Who dwelt in Jerusalem, of whom the same account is given in these two verses as in 1 Chronicles 9:10, only Seraiah here is called Azariah there.

Verse 12. And their brethren that did the work of the house were eight hundred twenty and two,.... That offered the sacrifices, burnt incense, set on the shewbread, lighted the lamps, &c.

and Adaiah the son of Jeroham; see 1 Chronicles 9:12 whose genealogy is traced here through Pelaliah, Amzi, Zechariah, Pashur, to Malchiah.

Verse 13. And his brethren, chief of the fathers, two hundred forty and two,.... That is, the brethren or relations of Adaiah:

and Amashai; called Maasiai, 1 Chronicles 9:12, whose lineage is traced here through Azareel, Ahasai, Meshillemoth, to Immer.

Verse 14. And their brethren, mighty men of valour, an hundred twenty and eight,.... The brethren of Adaiah and Amashai, who were able men to do the work of their office as priests, and men of courage to fight the enemy, and defend the city upon occasion:

and their overseer was Zabdiel, the son of one of the great men; or the son of Hagedolim, or Gedolim, as some, who take it to be the proper name of a man.

Verse 15. Also of the Levites,.... Who dwelt in Jerusalem:

Shemaiah the son of Hashub: traced from him through Azrikam and Hashabiah to Bunni; these were of the sons of Merari, the third son of Levi, see 1 Chronicles 9:14.

Verse 16. And Shabbethai and Jozabad, of the chief of the Levites,.... Along with Shemaiah; these had

the oversight of the outward business of the house of God: who had the care of the repairs of the temple, and of getting in the wood for the altar, as Jarchi, and collecting the third part of the shekel, to purchase things with for the use of the temple.

Verse 17. And Mattaniah the son of Micha, the son of Zabdi, the son of Asaph,.... Zabdi is called Zichri in 1 Chronicles 9:15

was the principal to begin the thanksgiving in prayer: he was the precentor, or led the song at the time of the daily sacrifice, in which prayer was also made, as in many of the songs, hymns, and psalms of David:

and Bakbukiah the second among his brethren; he was the next singer, or deputy to Mattaniah; perhaps the same that is called Bakbakkar, 1 Chronicles 9:15

and Abda the son of Shammua; called Obadiah the son of Shemaiah, 1 Chronicles 9:16

the son of Galal, the son of Jeduthun: one of the three principal singers.

Verse 18. All the Levites in the holy city were two hundred fourscore and four. Who had their residence there, Nehemiah 11:1.

Verse 19. Moreover, the porters, Akkub, Talmon, and their brethren that kept the gates, were one hundred and seventy two. Of whom see 1 Chronicles 9:17.

Verse 20. And the residue of Israel, of the priests and the Levites,..... All of them, besides those that dwelt at Jerusalem: were

in all the cities of Judah, everyone in his inheritance; the Israelites in the cities, houses, and estates enjoyed by their ancestors, and the priests and Levites in the cities given out of the several tribes.

Verse 21. But the Nethinims dwelt in Ophel,.... An high place or tower on the wall of Jerusalem, see 2 Chronicles 27:3,

and Ziha, and Gispa, were over the Nethinims; had the oversight of them, and took care that they did their work; they were such themselves, but the principal of them, see Ezra 2:43.

Verse 22. The overseer also of the Levites at Jerusalem was Uzzi, the son of Bani,.... He was the supervisor of them, that looked after them that they did their work in ministering to the priests, as they had occasion for them; this man's genealogy is further traced through Hashabiah and Mattaniah, to Micha the son of Asaph, Nehemiah 11:17,

of the sons of Asaph, the singers were over the business of the house of God; which, according to Jarchi, was to take care of the repairs of the temple and other things; but one would think rather that part of the service of the house which lay in singing the songs of it is respected.

Verse 23. For it was the king's commandment concerning them,.... Either of King David as some, see Nehemiah 12:24 or rather of the king of Persia:

that a certain portion should be for the singers, due for every day; he settled a daily salary for them, to be paid out of his treasury; having perhaps a peculiar respect for such sort of men, being a lover of music, by means of which they had a settled habitation in Jerusalem.

Verse 24. And Pethahiah the son of Meshezabeel, of the children of Zerah, the son of Judah,.... The twin brother of Pharez, Genesis 38:30 was

at the king's hand in all matters concerning the people; to speak for them to the king, as Jarchi; when they had a favour to ask of him, a petition to present to him, he delivered it for them, and by him the king returned the answer.

Verses 25-30. And for the villages, with their fields,.... The cities and villages in the country, an account of the inhabitants of them next follows:

some of the children of Judah dwelt at Kirjatharba, and in the villages thereof; the same with Hebron, Joshua 15:54

and at Dibon; the same with Dimonah, Joshua 15:22

and at Jekabzeel, and in the villages thereof; the same with Kabzeel, one of the uttermost cities of the tribe of Judah southward, Joshua 15:21, of which city was Benaiah, one of David's worthies, 2 Samuel 23:20, from hence to the end of Nehemiah 11:30 mention is made of various cities and towns, in the tribe of Judah, inhabited by the men of it, which are to be met with in Joshua 15:1 excepting Jeshua and Mekonah, Nehemiah 11:26, of which we nowhere else read.

Verses 31-35. The children also of Benjamin, from Geba, dwelt at Michmash,.... Geba was a city on the southern border of Benjamin, Joshua 18:24 and Michmash on the northern, of which see 1 Samuel 13:2 in this and the four following verses are the names of several cities in the tribe of Benjamin, inhabited by the men of that tribe, as Alia, the same with Ai, that lay on the east of Bethel, here also mentioned, see Joshua 7:2 Anathoth, the birth place of Jeremiah the prophet, Jeremiah 1:1. Nob, a city of the priests, 1 Samuel 21:1. Ananiah is nowhere else mentioned; Hazor is to be distinguished from another of this name in the tribe of Naphtali, Joshua 19:36. Ramah, a place well known in Benjamin, Joshua 18:25. Gittaim, of which see 2 Samuel 4:3. Hadid, the same with Adida, which lay in a plain, "Simon also set up Adida in Sephela, and made it strong with gates and bars." (1 Maccabees 12:38) Zeboim, a valley of this name, is read in 1 Samuel 13:18. Neballat we read of nowhere else; of Lod and Ono, see 1 Chronicles 8:12 and the valley of craftsmen, or Chorasin, 1 Chronicles 4:14.

Verse 36. And of the Levites were divisions in Judah, and in Benjamin. They were scattered about, some here and some there, in both these tribes, for the better instruction of the people.