v1 This is a list of the priests and *Levites who returned from *exile. They returned with Zerubbabel, who was the son of Shealtiel, and with Jeshua.
Seraiah, Jeremiah, Ezra,
v2 Amariah, Malluch, Hattush,
v3 Shecaniah, Rehum, Meremoth,
v4 Iddo, Ginnethon, Abijah,
v5 Mijamin, Maadiah, Bilgah,
v6 Shemaiah, Joiarib, Jedaiah,
v7 Sallu, Amok, Hilkiah and Jedaiah.
These men were the leaders of the priests and their companions at the time of Jeshua.
v8 The *Levites were Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Sherebiah, *Judah and Mattaniah. Mattaniah and his companions were responsible for the songs to thank God.
v9 Bakbukiah and Unni and their companions stood opposite them when Mattaniah and his companions led the songs.
Nehemiah recorded the names of the first priests and *Levites to return from *exile. Zerubbabel led these people back to *Judah about 93 years before the time when Nehemiah and his companions returned. Jeshua was the name of the chief priest at the time of Zerubbabel.
v10 Jeshua was the father of Joiakim. Joiakim was the father of Eliashib and Eliashib was the father of Joiada.
v11 Joiada was the father of Jonathan and Jonathan was the father of Jaddua.
Nehemiah then recorded the family of the chief priest. It was important for *Jews to know about their *ancestors. But it was especially important for the priests to know about their *ancestors. They could only do their special work if they were genuine *descendants of Aaron, the brother of Moses. The chief priests came from one family. When the people had had a king, they had counted their dates by the years of the king’s rule. But now they did not have a king, so they counted their dates by the names of the chief priests (1 Chronicles 6:3-15; Nehemiah 12:12).
v12 In the days of Joiakim, these were the heads of the families of the priests.
Meraiah was from the family of Seraiah.
Hananiah was from the family of Jeremiah.
v13 Meshullam was from the family of Ezra.
Jehohanan was from the family of Amariah.
v14 Jonathan was from the family of Malluch.
Joseph was from the family of Shecaniah.
v15 Adna was from the family of Harim.
Helkai was from the family of Meremoth.
v16 Zechariah was from the family of Iddo.
Meshullam was from the family of Ginnethon.
v17 Zicri was from the family of Abijah.
Piltai was from the family of Miniamin and Moadiah.
v18 Shammua was from the family of Bilgah.
Jehonathan was from the family of Shemaiah.
v19 Mattenai was from the family of Joiarib.
Uzzi was from the family of Jedaiah.
v20 Kallai was from the family of Sallai.
Eber was from the family of Amok.
v21 Hashabiah was from the family of Hilkiah.
Nethaneel was from the family of Jedaiah.
Then Nehemiah recorded the names of the most important priests at his own time. These men were the heads of the families of the priests when he was the ruler of *Judah. Joiakim was the chief priest. Most of the family names are the same as those of Zerubbabel’s time when Jeshua was the chief priest (Nehemiah 12:1-7). The priests clearly used the same family names. It was important for them to know to which family they belonged.
v22 The people made records of the heads of the *Levite families and the families of the priests. And they continued to make these records during the time of Eliashib, Joiada, Johanan and Jaddua. These records ended when Darius was king of Persia. v23 And the people recorded the heads of the families of the *descendants of Levi until the time of Johanan. He was the grandson of Eliashib.
v24 The leaders of the *Levites were Hashabiah, Sherebiah and Jeshua who was the son of Kadmiel. They and their companions who stood opposite them praised God. And they thanked God. One side praised God and then the other side praised him. That was the command of David, the man of God.
v25 Mattaniah, Bakbukiah, Obadiah, Meshullam, Talmon and Akkub guarded the gates. And they guarded the store rooms by the gates. v26 These people lived at the time of Joiakim. Joiakim was the son of Jeshua and was the grandson of Jozadak. At that time, Nehemiah was the chief officer and Ezra was the priest and teacher.
The people kept records for many years of the families of the priests and the *Levites. (Eliashib, Joiada, Johanan and Jaddua were the chief priests during these years.) These records were very important. Only the *descendants of Levi, the son of Jacob, could serve as *Levites. Only the *descendants of Aaron, who was a *Levite and the brother of Moses, could serve as priests (Nehemiah 7:63-65).
Some of the *Levites praised and thanked God. This was their special task at the *temple. Centuries before, King David had made rules about the *worship at the *temple. David also wrote many of the Psalms (songs) that these *Levites used to praise God.
Other *Levites took care of the *temple and the equipment for the *temple.
v27 The people had finished the construction of the wall of Jerusalem. So they had a happy occasion. They went to look for the *Levites who were living in the towns. And the people brought the *Levites to Jerusalem. The *Levites were very happy. They sang and they thanked God. They used different types of musical instruments. v28 The families of the singers gathered from the district round Jerusalem. They came from the villages round Netophah. v29 They also came from Beth Gilgal and from the land at Geba and Azmaveth. (The singers had built villages for themselves round Jerusalem.) v30 Then the priests and *Levites carried out a ceremony so that they would be ready to serve God. Then they carried out similar ceremonies on behalf of the people, for the gates, and for the wall.
The people were happy because they had built the walls of Jerusalem again. They knew that God had helped them. And they wanted to thank God for his help. The job of the *Levites was to lead the people when they praised God. So the people gathered the *Levites and the singers from all the other towns. And the *Levites sang and they thanked God with musical instruments. The priests carried out a special ceremony. Probably they made *sacrifices on behalf of themselves and the other people. By means of these *sacrifices, they asked God to forgive their *sins. Then they would be ready to serve God.
v31 Then I took the leaders of *Judah onto the top of the wall. I also appointed two large groups to thank God. One group went to the right and they walked along the wall to the Rubbish Gate. v32Hoshaiah and half of the leaders of *Judah followed them. v33 Azariah, Ezra, Meshullam, v34 Judah, Benjamin, Shemaiah and Jeremiah followed too. v35 Some of the sons of the priests followed with *trumpets. One of the priests was Zechariah. He was the son of Jonathan and was the grandson of Shemaiah. (Shemaiah was the son of Mattaniah and was the grandson of Michaiah. Michaiah was the son of Zaccur and was a *descendant of Asaph.) v36 The other priests were the companions of Zechariah. They were Shemaiah, Azarael, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethaneel, *Judah and Hanani. They had the musical instruments that David, the man of God, chose. Ezra the teacher walked in front of them. v37 When they reached the Fountain Gate, they went up the steps of the area called ‘the city of David’. This was where the wall went up. The group walked along the wall above the house of David. They walked to the Water Gate. The Water Gate was on the east side.
Verses 31-37 Then Nehemiah took the leaders of the people onto the top of the wall. He divided them into two groups. One group marched one way round the walls. As they marched, they thanked God. And the priests played *trumpets and other musical instruments. Ezra was with this group.
Before the people had started to build, their enemies had laughed at them. The enemies of the *Jews did not want the people to build the walls again. Tobiah had even said that a fox would be able to knock the walls down. Now the walls were so wide and strong that the people could march on them.
v38 The other group who thanked God went in the opposite direction. I followed them with half of the people. We went along the wall, above the *Tower of the Ovens. We went to the Broad Wall. v39 We went above the Gate of Ephraim, past the Old Gate and the Fish Gate. We passed the *Tower of Hananel and the *Tower of the Hundred. We went by the Sheep Gate and then we stopped at the Gate of the Guards.
The other group also thanked God as they marched the other way round the walls. Nehemiah was with this group.
v40 So the two groups who thanked God stood in the house of God. I was there too with half of the officials. v41 The priests were with us with their *trumpets. They were Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Micaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah and Hananiah. v42 And Maaseiah, Shemaiah, Eleazar, Uzzi, Jehohanan, Malkijah, Elam and Ezer were also there. Jezrahiah led the singers as they sang.
v43 And they offered great *sacrifices that day. They were very happy because God had made them very happy. The women and the children were very happy too. People far away could hear the sound of happiness from Jerusalem.
The two groups met again at the *temple, which was the house of God. There they praised and they thanked God. The priests led with their *trumpets. But all the people praised and thanked God. They were all happy because God had helped them to build the walls. They made such a noise that people far away could hear the sound of happiness. Now the other people round *Judah would know that the *Jews served the real God. Everyone would know that God had helped his people to build the walls of Jerusalem again.
v44 At that time the people appointed men to look after the special rooms. They stored the gifts, the first of the fruit and grain and the *tithes in these rooms. The men had to go out to the fields round the cities. They went there to collect the share for the priests and the *Levites. That was what God’s law ordered. The people in *Judah were pleased with the priests and the *Levites who served. v45 The priests and the *Levites served God and they made things holy. The singers and those who guarded the gates did this too. This was the command of David and his son Solomon. v46 Many years earlier, in the days of David and Asaph, there was a chief of the singers. He led the people when they sang songs to praise and to thank God. v47 At the time of Zerubbabel and Nehemiah, all the *Israelites gave daily gifts. They gave a share for the singers. And they gave a share for the people who guarded the gates. They also gave a share to the *Levites. And the *Levites gave a share to the *descendants of Aaron.
Only the *descendants of Aaron could serve as priests. So the phrase ‘the *descendants of Aaron’ means the priests.
Although the people were having a happy time they had to think about the future of the nation. They had promised to give one tenth (1/10th) of their crops for the priests and the *Levites. Then the priests and the *Levites could serve God and they could take care of the *temple all the time. The people had promised that they would not neglect the house of God (Nehemiah 10:32-39).
Now the people made arrangements for the *tithes. They appointed people to collect the *tithes and to put them in special rooms in the *temple. These men would look after these special rooms. The people gave their *tithes because God’s law ordered them to do so. But they also gave these gifts to the priests and to the *Levites. They did this because they were pleased with the work of the priests and the *Levites. They also gave gifts to the other men who served. They gave gifts to the singers and to those who guarded the gates of the city and the *temple.