COMPLETION OF THE WORK,
ARRANGEMENTS FOR GUARDING THE GATES (vs. 1-5).
The wall and gate towers being completed, nothing remained but to hang the
doors in the gateways, and to arrange for the guard of the gates and the general
security of the fortress. Nehemiah speaks here of his having set up the doors
(v. 1); but it appears from ch. 3. that the actual work of so doing was
entrusted, like the repairs of the wall, to the various working parties.
Eliashib, with his brethren the priests, set up the doors of the sheep gate
(ch. 3:1); the sons of Hassenaah those of the fish gate (ibid. v. 3), etc.
Nehemiah had only the general superintendence, and saw that all
was properly executed. But the entire work being at length accomplished,
it devolved upon him to make the necessary arrangements for the security
of what had now become a first-rate fortress. Accordingly, he seems
himself to have assigned the guard of the gates to certain bodies of Levites
(v. 1), as being experienced in the business of keeping watch; after which
he committed the task of appointing other guards to his brother Hanani,
and to a certain Hananiah, already the commandant of the Birah, or temple
tower (v. 2). They devised a system by which the adult male inhabitants
were made to partition the watch of the wall among themselves, each on
the part which was nearest to his own house (v. 3). At the same time, it
was ordered, for greater precaution, that all the gates should be closed at
night, and none of them opened “until the sun was hot” (ibid.), i.e. until
some hours after sunrise. The city was thus made as secure as the
circumstances admitted; but in the course of the arrangements it became
clear, at any rate to Nehemiah, that the population of the city was too
scanty for its size (v. 4), and that some steps ought to be taken to
augment the number of inhabitants. As a first step, a necessary preliminary
before he could lay any definite proposal before the “rulers,” the governor
thought it necessary to make a census of the entire people (v. 5). It
seems to have been in the course of his preparations for this purpose that
he “found a register of the genealogy of them which came up at the first.”
The list in vs. 7-69 has been regarded as the result of his own census; but
reasons have been already given against this view in the comment upon
Ezra; and it would seem to be most probable that we have the actual result
of Nehemiah’s census, so far as he thought fit to give it to us, in ch.11:3-36.
1 “Now it came to pass, when the wall was built, and I had set up the
doors, and the porters and the singers and the Levites were
appointed,” The porters and the singers and the Levites. The porters and
the singers were themselves Levites, but are often distinguished from their
brethren, who had no such special office (vs. 43-45, 73; 10:28, etc.; see
Ezra 2:40-42, 70; 7:24; 10:23-24). Nehemiah’s choice of Levites to guard
1. That the priests and Levites formed nearly one half the population of
2. That the office of guarding the temple gates had always been discharged
by Levites (Ibid. vs. 17-22; ch. 26:12-19).
2 “That I gave my brother Hanani, and Hananiah the ruler of the
palace, charge over
feared God above many.” Hanani and Hananiah. This appointment of
municipal officers to have charge of
two “rulers” in ch.3:9, 12, each of whom had authority-over half the district
The ruler of the palace. Rather, “the commandant of the fort,” i.e. the
officer in charge of the temple fortress (see above, ch.2:8).
Uncommon Excellence (v. 2)
“He was a faithful man, and feared God above many.” Nehemiah records
this of Hananiah as his reason for giving him, with Hanani, his own brother,
specified, thus to justify the selection.
Ø Its elements.
o Faithfulness. uprightness, integrity, strictness in performing
o Unusual piety. These two are closely related to each other. He who
greatly fears God will be eminently faithful both to GOD and man.
The piety which does not produce uprightness is good for nothing.
On the other hand, uprightness towards man, if allowed its proper
development, will lead to uprightness towards God, and so to piety
in all its branches. Where this is not the case (of which the instances
are innumerable) the quality of the uprightness is questionable. It can
hardly include a love of righteousness for its own sake. Rather is its
basis the desire to stand well with men; and as it regards not God,
it has no claim upon Him.
Ø How it is produced. As all piety and goodness are due to THE GRACE
OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, unusual measures of them are to be ascribed to
greater abundance of His sacred influences. But it is the human history
of eminently godly men to which we now refer. To what, humanly
speaking, may marked superiority in godliness and goodness be traced?
Amongst their causes may be mentioned:
o The careful teaching, the excellent example, and holy influence of
devotedly Christian parents. The noblest men of the Church have
generally sprung from homes of which piety was the pervading spirit;
often from very pious mothers. Let parents who profess godliness
think of this. The Church looks to them to train for her Nehemiahs
o Early religious decision. Those who begin to serve God late in life
are little likely to attain to special excellence.
o Diligent spiritual self-culture. In;
§ watchfulness, and
§ the practice of all good.
o Early consecration to some special service.
o Overwhelming sense of gratitude for conversion and forgiveness
after many years of godless living.
Ø When such a character is especially interesting. When, as here, seen in
men of high worldly position and command, much occupied with
secular affairs, and thrown much into the society of men of another spirit.
Ø Praise to God.
Ø Confidence. (Which should be shown, as by Nehemiah, in placing those
who possess it in responsible positions. It is well when such men can be
found for important posts, and are placed in them by those with whom
the appointment lies, instead of unworthy motives leading to the selection
of less desirable men.
Ø Imitation. To have such men within our sphere of observation increases
our responsibility. We ought to be as they are. They show us what is
Ø Commemoration. In some cases, at least. That their example may
stimulate and encourage many to whom it would be otherwise unknown.
3 “And I said unto them, Let not the gates of
until the sun be hot; and while they stand by, let them shut the
doors, and bar them: and appoint watches of the inhabitants of
Jerusalem, every one in his watch, and every one to be over against
his house.” Let not the gates be opened until the sun be hot. The gates
of towns in the East are usually opened at sunrise; but this cannot be the
intention here. Some extra precaution is signified — not, however, so
much as Dathe supposes, who renders ante tempus meridianum, “before
noon;” but rather something intermediate between this and the ordinary
4 “Now the city was large and great: but the people were few therein,
and the houses were not builded.” The city was large. Literally, “broad every
way.” The houses were not builded. Much of the city consisted of open spaces,
in which no houses had been as yet built.
Provision for Safety and Numerical Increase (vs. 1-40
The wall being completed and the gates set in their places, Nehemiah takes
measures for the regular defense of the city, and for increasing its population.
of the temple, the singers, and the other Levites; “that of the
walls,” to the general inhabitants in turn, some to keep watch at certain
appointed posts, others before their own houses; not only perhaps to be
ready to rouse the city and rush to the walls or gates in case of attack from
without, but to act as police against thieves or disorderly persons within.
Over the whole he placed his brother Hanani, and Hananiah, who, as
commander of the citadel, had had experience in managing similar matters.
Of the latter he records, in explanation of his choice, that he was a faithful
man who feared God more than many.
pressing importance; for the ample space within the walls was very sparsely
occupied with houses, and thinly inhabited. Before resolving, however, on
the steps to be taken, it occurred to Nehemiah (and he regarded the
suggestion as from God) to call a general assembly, that he might make a
census of the population, as a basis for further measures. The result does
not appear until ch. 11.
Ø The strength and worth of a community lies in its living members. Walls
are useless without men to defend them; a city feeble, though spacious,
whose inhabitants are few. So a religious community may extend itself over
a wide space, and erect numerous and costly places of worship, without
adding to its real strength. Increase of converts should, therefore, be the
chief aim of those who seek its good.
Ø All the members of a community should be willing and ready to exert
themselves for the common good. Each according to his capacity and
opportunity. Nor in times of pressure should any refuse to act because the
duties assigned him do not belong to his ordinary functions. These porters,
singers, and Levites undertook for the protection of
outside their respective offices. It was not a time to stand upon their
dignity or rights. For some reason they could best be spared for the work,
and they did it.
Ø Organisation, including rule and subordination, is essential to the welfare
of a community.
Ø It is a happy thing when men eminently God-fearing can be found for
offices of trust and authority. In secular life such men are invaluable.
In the Church essential.
Moral Guardianship (vs. 1-4)
Ø The doctrines of the Church.
Ø The members of the Church.
Ø The temporal interests of the Church.
Ø The work of the Church.
Ø The reputation of the Church.
Ø The civil privileges of the Church.
Ø The discipline of the Church. This defense is needed because infidelity,
slander, bigotry, and laxity threaten to lay waste the Church.
CHURCH. “For he was a faithful man, and feared God above many” (v.2).
Ø They must be duly appointed. “And the porters and the singers and the
Levites were appointed.” “That I gave” (v. 2).
Ø They must be truly sympathetic. The men who had helped to rebuild the
city would be the most likely to defend it.
They must be wisely
cautious. “Let not the gates of
until the sun be hot” (v. 3).
Ø They must be sufficiently numerous. “And appoint watches of the
Ø They must be eminently pious. “And feared God above many” (v. 2).
Ø There is a sense in which all good men ought to be guardians of the
Ø By having regard to the Church in times of special danger. “Let not the
stands in need of watchful care during the night of error and sin; then its
gates must not be opened.
Ø By having regard to the Church at points where it is most liable to
attack. “Let not the gates of
Ø By having regard to mutual cooperation amongst the watchers.
Ø By putting our trust in God to supply the necessary lack and
imperfection of human vigilance.
5 “And my God put into mine heart to gather together the nobles, and
the rulers, and the people, that they might be reckoned by
genealogy. And I found a register of the genealogy of them which
came up at the first, and found written therein,”
And my God put into mine heart to gather together the nobles, etc.
As Nehemiah contemplated the vast empty spaces within the
city walls, and considered with himself how they might best be peopled, the
thought came to him — and he hailed it as a Divine inspiration — that by
taking a census of the people he might pave the way for some transfer of
the inhabitants of the country districts into the capital, which would at any
rate strengthen the latter, and lessen the desolate appearance of its streets
and squares, which had so pained him. The census would show what
proportion the country and town populations bore to each other, and
would point out which were the places in the country districts that could
best afford to lose a portion of their inhabitants. A census, therefore was
resolved upon, and, according to ordinary Jewish usage (Numbers
1:17-47; I Chronicles 21:5-6; Ezra 2:3-62), it was genealogical.
The tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and Levi were numbered separately
(ch.11:4-19); and in the tribe of
were reckoned apart from those of Zerah (I Chronicles 9:4, 6). No
doubt the genealogical principle was acted upon throughout, but further
evidence upon the point is wanting. It would seem to have been in the
course of his preparations for this census, perhaps in searching for
precedents, that Nehemiah found the “register of the genealogy of them
which came up at the first,” which is the subject of the next section.
In less than two months, notwithstanding the undisguised hostility of the
Samaritans, and the covert disloyalty of some of the inhabitants, the sacred
city was surrounded with a wall of protection; and with supreme
satisfaction and profound thankfulness the gates were closed and the doors
down into passive complacency. The accomplishment of one duty meant
the undertaking of another. His conduct suggests:
GIVE WORTH TO THE MATERIAL (vs. 1-3). It was well indeed to
have the wall, but that was worthless without men to guard it. Immediately
the circle was complete and the “doors were set up,” the three classes of
porters, singers, and Levites were appointed (v. 1). Charge of the city
was given to two capable and trustworthy men (v.2), and directions were
given that the gates should not be opened till long after sunrise, “till the
sun was hot,” and not until the watches were all on guard, every man in his
place (v. 3). Behind the stone wall were to be the living men, quick of eye,
strong of arm, bold of heart. Not a little reliance on the bulwark they had
raised, but much more on the steadfastness and alertness of the patriots
within them. It is well, indeed, to have the “new and beautiful” sanctuary,
the well-appointed’ schools and classrooms; but these will avail us nothing
if within them there be not:
Ø minds alight with redeeming truth,
Ø hearts aglow with holy love,
Ø souls aflame with fervent zeal.
RELIGIOUSLY (vs. 1, 5). With the porters were associated “the singers
and the Levites” (v. 1). It is probable that the opening and shutting of
the temple gates was made with song. If with song, certainly with sacred
song. Thus the manual labor of opening and shutting the city gates was
associated with men of a sacred office, and WITH WORDS AND
SOUNDS OF DEVOTION. We read also (ve. 5) how “God put it into
the heart” of Nehemiah to gather the people, and take a census. This thought,
which in another and less godly man would have been complacently referred
to his own sagacity, is ascribed by him to Divine instigation. As servants of
God, it is not only needful to do the right things, but to do them in a religious
spirit. The secular is to be most intimately associated with the sacred.
(Mr. Spurgeon said that the sole purpose of religion is “TO SANCTIFY THE
SECULAR” – CY – 2015) Things done with ordinary prudence, in daily
occupation, are to be done as UNTO CHRIST! “Whether we eat or drink,
or whatever we do” (I Corinthinas 10:31), plant or build, buy or sell, read or
write, work or play, — we must do all, realizing that the power to do them is
from Him, and endeavoring to please Him in all things — rightly because
many.” The best place for those who are eminently godly men is not the
cloister or chamber, but the more influential posts in the kingdom. They
who most honor God in their heart honor Him most and serve him best
when they occupy busy and important spheres. Piety, wisely employed, and
powerful, in the chamber of commerce or in the House of Commons, is at
least as pleasing to God as piety in the house of prayer; but to be at its best
at either it should be found sometimes at both.
was large and great: but the people were few.”
There is ample room
outside. Many are within its walls, but “yet there is room” (Luke
14:22); we must go out and “compel them to come in” (Ibid. v. 23);
with a persuasiveness that will not be denied.
Ø There is building to be done within the Church. “The houses were not
builded.” There is much room for edification within its walls.
THE REGISTER OF THOSE WHO RETURNED UNDER ZERUBBABEL,
WITH THE NUMBER OF THEIR SLAVES, BEASTS, AND OBLATIONS
It is no doubt a curious circumstance that this list should occur twice, with no
important differences, in the two Books of Ezra and Nehemiah. Perhaps it was
not in the original Ezra, that writer not having had the good fortune to “find” the
document; but Nehemiah having “found” it and inserted it here, in
connection with its discovery, a later arranger (Malachi?) removed it to the
early part of Ezra, because it belonged to that portion of the Jewish history
chronologically. The double record enables us to make out a more perfect
catalogue than we could have obtained from either separately, since there
are corruptions in each which may be corrected by means of the other. See
the comment which follows.
6 “These are the children of the province, that went up out of the
captivity, of those that had been carried away, whom
the king of
7 Who came with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Azariah, Raamiah,
Nahamani, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispereth, Bigvai, Nehum, Baanah.
The number, I
say, of the men of the people of
Jeshua, Nehemiah, etc. To the eleven names given by Ezra,
Nehemiah adds one, “Nahamani,” the sixth. He gives the others in the same
order as Ezra, but spells some of the names differently — e.g. “Azariah”
for “Seraiah,” “Raamiah” for “Reelaiah,” “Mispereth” for “Mizpar,” and
“Nehum” for “Rehum.”
8 “The children of Parosh, two thousand an hundred seventy and two.
9 The children of Shephatiah, three hundred seventy and two.
10 The children of Arah, six hundred fifty and two.
11 The children of Pahathmoab, of the children of Jeshua and Joab,
two thousand and eight hundred and eighteen.
The children of
13 The children of Zattu, eight hundred forty and five.
14 The children of Zaccai, seven hundred and threescore.
15 The children of Binnui, six hundred forty and eight.”
Binnui. Ezra has “Bani,” which receives confirmation from ch.10:14 and
I Esdras 5:12.
16 “The children of Bebai, six hundred twenty and eight.
17 The children of Azgad, two thousand three hundred twenty and two.
18 The children of Adonikam, six hundred threescore and seven.
19 The children of Bigvai, two thousand threescore and seven.
20 The children of Adin, six hundred fifty and five.
21 The children of Ater of Hezekiah, ninety and eight.” The children of Ater.
Up to this Nehemiah observes the same order as Ezra; but the remaining personal
names (three) are placed differently.
22 “The children of Hashum, three hundred twenty and eight.
23 The children of Bezai, three hundred twenty and four.
24 The children of Hariph, an hundred and twelve.” The children of Hariph.
Ezra has “Jorah” instead of Hariph (Ezra 2:18); but “Hariph” is confirmed by
“The children of
should probably be read in both places.
“The men of
27 The men of Anathoth, an hundred twenty and eight.
28 The men of Bethazmaveth, forty and two.
29 The men of Kirjathjearim, Chephirah, and Beeroth, seven hundred
forty and three.
30 The men of Ramah and Gaba, six hundred twenty and one.
31 The men of Michmas, an hundred and twenty and two.
32 The men of
33 The men of the other Nebo, fifty and two.” The men of the other Nebo.
No Nebo has as yet been mentioned, which makes it unlikely that the text is
correct here. Apparently the word translated “the other” (acher) has been
accidentally repeated from the next verse. Ezra has “the men of Nebo” simply.
“The children of the other
35 The children of Harim, three hundred and twenty.
36 The children of
37 The children of Lod, Hadid, and Ono, seven hundred twenty and one.
38 The children of Senaah, three thousand nine hundred and thirty.”
39 “The priests: the children of Jedaiah, of the house of Jeshua, nine
hundred seventy and three.
40 The children of Immer, a thousand fifty and two.
41 The children of Pashur, a thousand two hundred forty and seven.
42 The children of Harim, a thousand and seventeen.” Vs. 39-42 exactly
reproduces Ezra 2:36-39.
43 “The Levites: the children of Jeshua, of Kadmiel, and of the
children of Hodevah, seventy and four.” The children of Jeshua,
of Kadmiel, and of the children of Hodevah may be corrected from Ezra 2:40
and 3:9. It should be “Jeshua and Kadmiel, of the children of Hodevah.”
This ancestor of Joshua and Kadmiel appears under the three forms of Hodevah,
Hodaviah (Ibid.), and
44 “The singers: the children of Asaph, an hundred forty and eight.
45 The porters: the children of Shallum, the children of Ater, the
children of Talmon, the children of Akkub, the children of Hatita,
the children of Shobai, an hundred thirty and eight.”
46 “The Nethinims: the children of Ziha, the children of Hashupha, the
children of Tabbaoth,” The Nethinims. The list which follows is very close
to that of Ezra (ch.2:43-54). A few names are differently spelt, and one of
Ezra’s names (Akkub — ch.2:45) is omitted.
47 The children of Keros, the children of Sia, the children of Padon,
48 The children of Lebana, the children of Hagaba, the children of Shalmai,
49 The children of Hanan, the children of Giddel, the children of Gahar,
50 The children of Reaiah, the children of Rezin, the children of Nekoda,
51 The children of Gazzam, the children of Uzza, the children of Phaseah,
52 The children of Besai, the children of Meunim, the children of Nephishesim,
53 The children of Bakbuk, the children of Hakupha, the children of Harhur,
54 The children of Bazlith, the children of Mehida, the children of Harsha,
55 The children of Barkos, the children of Sisera, the children of Tamah,
56 The children of Neziah, the children of Hatipha.”
57 “The children of Solomon’s servants: the children of Sotai, the
children of Sophereth, the children of Perida,
58 The children of Jaala, the children of Darkon, the children of Giddel,
59 The children of Shephatiah, the children of Hattil, the children of
Pochereth of Zebaim, the children of Amon.
60 All the Nethinims, and the children of Solomon’s servants, were
three hundred ninety and two.
61 And these were they which went up also from Telmelah,
Telharesha, Cherub, Addon, and Immer: but they could not shew
their father’s house,
nor their seed, whether they were of
62 The children of Delaiah, the children of Tobiah, the children of
Nekoda, six hundred forty and two.” The children of Solomon’s servants.
This section and the section which follows (vs. 63-65) are nearly identical in
Ezra and Nehemiah. A few names only are slightly different.
63 “And of the priests: the children of Habaiah, the children of Koz,
the children of Barzillai, which took one of the daughters of
Barzillai the Gileadite to wife, and was called after their name.
64These sought their register among those that were reckoned by
genealogy, but it was not found: therefore were they, as polluted,
put from the priesthood.
65 And the Tirshatha said unto them, that they should not eat of the
most holy things, till there stood up a priest with Urim and
66 “The whole congregation together was forty and two thousand three
hundred and threescore,” It makes against the view of Bishop Patrick and
others, who regard Ezra’s list as made at
departure, and Nehemiah’s as made at
that the sum total is in each case the same (see Ezra 2:64). Bishop Kennicott’s
theory, that the three lists — that of Ezra, that of Nehemiah, and that in the
first of Esdras — had all one original, and that the existing differences proceed
entirely from mistakes of the copyists, is the only tenable one. It is especially
remarkable that the differences in the numbers of the three lists consist
chiefly in a single unit, a single ten, or a single hundred — or in a five;
less often in two units, or two tens, or two hundreds, or in a six —
differences probably arising from the obliteration of one or two signs in a
notation resembling the Roman or the Egyptian, where there are special signs
for a thousand, a hundred, ten, five, and the unit, complex numbers being
expressed by repetition of these, as 3438 in Latin inscriptions by
MMMCCCCXXXVIII. Any fading of a sign in such a notation as this causes
a copyist to diminish the amount by one, five, ten, a hundred, a thousand, etc.
A fading of two sigmas may produce a diminution of two thousand, two
hundred, twenty, two; or again of eleven hundred, one hundred and ten,
one hundred andfive, fifteen, eleven, six, and the like.
67 “Beside their manservants and their maidservants, of whom there
were seven thousand three hundred thirty and seven: and they had
two hundred forty and five singing men and singing women.
Two hundred and forty-five singing men and singing
women. Ezra says 200; but this must be a round number. I Esdras
68 “Their horses, seven hundred thirty and six: their mules, two
hundred forty and five:
69 Their camels, four hundred thirty and five: six thousand seven
hundred and twenty asses.” The numbers of the animals are identical in
Ezra and Nehemiah. The apocryphal Esdras has an enormous and most
improbable augmentation of the number of the horses (7036 for 736).
An Honorable Register (vs. 5-69)
Account of those who had returned to the
Jeshua, and other leaders; found by Nehemiah when seeking guidance in
making a general census of the people. In reading this record, the following
observations suggest themselves:
THE RETURNING PEOPLE. The majority of their brethren preferred
their position among the heathen to the honor and peril of aiding to reestablish
their nation in their own land. The temptation to this course was
greatest in the case of men of substance, and most of them appear to have
yielded to it. We are reminded that of professing Christians a large number,
perhaps the majority, do not really accept the invitation pressed continually
upon them to undertake the journey to heaven, and that still the rich find it
hard to enter the kingdom of heaven.
ALL THE ELEMENTS NEEDFUL FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A
REGULARLY ORGANISED JEWISH STATE. They were not a mere
rabble. There was the civil governor, Zerubbabel; the high priest, Jeshua; a
considerable number of ordinary priests; there were Levites and other
temple servants, even singers; besides the body of the people.
AND ADMIRED. All left some sort of settled home to which they were
accustomed; some, businesses more or less lucrative; a few, the positions
which wealth or talent affords. They encountered certain, though untried,
privations, struggles, and dangers, the end of which to each one was very
uncertain. But they were men, “whose spirit God had raised, to go up to
build the house of the Lord which is in
believed the prophets, and anticipated a glorious future for their nation.
They loved their God, their nation, and their country, though to the last
most of them were strangers. The priests particularly distinguished
themselves, as is shown by the number of them who returned, as compared
with that of the people. They surpassed the Levites, who, both under
Zerubbabel and Ezra, showed backwardness. Yet this class had formerly
been more zealous than the priests (II Chronicles 29:34). The leaders
are especially worthy of commendation. Their sacrifice must have been
greater, and the cares and responsibilities they undertook were much
heavier. Numbers followed at subsequent periods, after the first difficulties
had been overcome and a settlement effected; but they could not attain to
the honor of those who led the way.
themselves by genealogy Israelites, of others to prove themselves priests,
suggests THAT GOD’S
NO GENEALOGY. They belong to a higher order of things, not regulated
“after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless
7:16). God’s spiritual
one belonging to it is “born not of blood, but of God” (John 1:13). And
while it is a blessed thing to have a pious ancestry, those who have it not
are admitted as freely and fully into all the privileges of citizenship, ON
THEIR ACCEPTANCE OF CHRIST as those who have it. One of these
privileges is that of being “priests unto God.” Nor is special ministry in the
Church inherited; it is the privilege of those who are fitted for it, and called
to it by the Holy Ghost, who distributes His gifts “to every man severally as
He will” (I Corinthians 12:11).
SOME PRIVILEGES ENJOYED BY THEIR FOREFATHERS is seen in
the absence of “a priest with Urim and Thummim.” The time was eagerly
expected when this and other like advantages would be restored, but in
vain. For a while the gift of prophecy lingered, and then passed away. The
losses were deplored, but proved to be gains. The guidance withdrawn
belonged to the period of childhood. God s people were more and more to
be prepared for the time of moral manhood, when they would realize the
guidance and help of God in the exercise of their own spirits in connection
with the written word remaining as a permanent legacy from the past. One
more outburst of the miraculous, the grandest and most fruitful of all, and
then the Spirit of God would abide with the Church as never before, its
permanent Teacher and Guide through the at length completed word; but
the miraculous would cease. We long at times for the return of “signs from
heaven,” but “it is expedient” for us that we should be without them.
happily THERE ARE, AND CAN BE, NO MISTAKES IN GOD’S
REGISTER OF HIS
and similar lists may well lead us to exclaim with good Matthew Henry,
“Blessed be God that our faith and hope are not built upon the niceties of
names and numbers, genealogy and chronology, but on the great things of
the law and gospel.”
70 “And some of the chief of the fathers gave unto the work. The
Tirshatha gave to the treasure a thousand drams of gold, fifty
basons, five hundred and thirty priests’ garments.”
The Tirshatha gave. This is additional to the information
contained in Ezra, who does not separate Zerubbabel’s offering from that
of the other heads of families (Ezra 2:69). The account of the
oblations is altogether more exact in Nehemiah than in the earlier historian.
For the value of the contributions made, see the comment on Ezra (1.s.c.).
71 “And some of the chief of the fathers gave to the treasure of the
work twenty thousand drams of gold, and two thousand and two
hundred pound of silver.
72 And that which the rest of the people gave was twenty thousand
drams of gold, and two thousand pound of silver, and threescore
and seven priests’ garments.
73 So the priests, and the Levites, and the porters, and the singers, and
some of the people,
and the Nethinims, and all
cities; and when the
seventh month came, the children of
were in their
cities.” And all
found by Nehemiah (v. 5) probably ended with these words (compare
Ezra 2:70); and ch. 7. should here terminate, as it does in the Septuagint.
Having completed the account of what happened in the sixth month,
Elul (ch. 6:15), and transcribed the register which he had the good fortune to
discover at that date, Nehemiah proceeds to relate events belonging to the
A Good Collection (vs. 70-73)
The conclusion of the document found by Nehemiah, being chiefly an
account of the gifts of the returned people towards the cost of rebuilding
the temple and restoring its services.
and its services lay very near their hearts. It was the chief object of their
justly, as the surest foundation, under God, of their unity and prosperity —
of their welfare at once as individuals, families, and a state. Equally
concerned should we be for the erection of churches and the maintenance
of public worship, and for like reasons.
mind their general poverty, the recentness of their return, and the many
demands upon their resources which their re-settlement in the land would
COLLECTION, They were well led by the Tirshatha, Zerubbabel, who
was well followed by “some of the chief of the fathers.” The rest of the
people contributed according to their means. It seems, however, from the
words “some,” etc., that, as usual, there were some that did not contribute;
yet these may have been among the loudest to express their pleasure that
so good a collection had been made. With this exception, we have here a
Ø It was well started. Much depends on this. The many take their ideas of
what is needful and fitting from their leaders, and are fired by their
ardor, or chilled by their coldness.
Ø All classes contributed. The rich as well as the poor, the poor as well as
the rich. Neither can be spared, neither should be passed over. Not the
rich, for a few of them can easily give as much as all the rest, and for
their own sake they need to be generous in their gifts (I Timothy 6:17-19).
Not the poor, for to give to God’s cause is a privilege which they should
delight to share, and the aggregate of their smaller gifts may equal or
exceed that of the larger contributions of the wealthy.
Ø All contributed voluntarily (see Ezra 2:68 — “freely”).
Ø All appear to have contributed liberally.
CITIES. Which they could effect with a good conscience and cheerful
hope of God’s blessing, after having first shown their zealous care for the
establishment of His worship.
The True Method of Prosperity (vs. 6-73)
Here are the three great aims of God’s people distinguished. The walls of
the city are built. The place of habitation is prepared. The doors are fixed.
Then the true citizens of
be the possibility of attack from without. Watch the walls and the gates.
Ø The leading men of the Church should be faithful, and fearers of God
above many. It is a terrible danger when prominent men are not
examples of piety. Those who have a great charge SHOULD BE
Ø The gates must be specially watched, and their shutting and opening
special matter of anxious care. When Churches are indifferent as to the
admission of members they are doing incalculable harm to the cause of
their religion. Wide and unwatched gates mean:
o an unsafe city,
o an approaching ruin.
Let every one take part in the guardianship of
over against his own house.” There are eminent men who occupy
prominent posts, but the humblest believer has his part in the work of
defending truth and guarding the spiritual prosperity of
a good regulation which Nehemiah made: “Let not the gates be opened
till the sun be hot.” Do nothing in the dark. See the men who ask for
admission in the clear daylight; know who they are, and what they mean.
It is the multitudinousness of the Church which endangers it. If there be
no light at the gates there will soon be enemies within the walls, traitors
in the camp, and the safety of the Church will be undermined.
NUMBERS. The large city and the great walls are no honor to God
without many people therein. “The houses not built” represent the lack of
individual and family life. It is the living souls that are the city’s glory.
INHABITANTS. God put it into Nehemiah’s heart to search for the
genealogy, to distinguish
Ø The variety of office and degrees of honor quite consistent with unity
of origin and community of spirit. It is better to have a place in the
genealogy of God’s people than to be high in this world’s rank.
Ø The preservation of the record was a help to subsequent generations to
maintain the cause of
Ø The position of absolute, uncompromising purity and faithfulness to God
is the only ground upon which discipline can be maintained. In the case of
the priests, if the register could not be found “they were, as polluted, put
from the priesthood.”
Ø The mere external purity of ritual is insufficient; the great requisite is
direct relationship with God. In all difficult cases the Urim and Thummim
of immediate revelation must be sought. What is the mind of God? How
little would the Church have erred if it had followed this rule: to suffer no
caprice, no departure from principle, no compromise, but DEPEND
UPON THE WORD OF GOD!
"Excerpted text Copyright AGES Library, LLC. All rights reserved.
Materials are reproduced by permission."
This material can be found at:
If this exposition is helpful, please share with others.