Vv 1,2: Repopulation of the city. When the exiles returned to
the Promised Land, living in Jerusalem was not an attractive prospect because
the city lay in ruins. However, with the rebuilding of the temple and the walls,
the capital became a more desirable place to live. Nehemiah as governor saw the
wisdom of populating Jerusalem with pure-blooded Jews, and set about to
encourage the people to live within the city walls. Some citizens of Jerusalem
were chosen by lot (v 1), while others volunteered to move there (v
After the resettlement, the population of the city itself
would have been between 5,000 and 10,000.
THE PEOPLE COMMENDED ALL THE MEN WHO VOLUNTEERED TO LIVE IN
JERUSALEM: "Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give,
not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver" (2Co 9:7;
cp Jdg 5:9; 2Co 8:16,17).
Vv 3-36: The census of those who settled in
TEMPLE SERVANTS: Or "Nethinim" (AV). They are said
specifically to be those "whom David and the princes had appointed for the
service of the Levites" (Ezr 8:20), thus indicating both their realm of activity
and their historical origin. In most of the occurrences they are listed with and
after the Levites (cf 1Ch 9:2; Ezr 7:7; Neh 7:73). Because of this reference to
the activity of David and their being joined with Solomon's servants (Ezr 2:58;
Neh 7:60; cf 1Ki 9:21) and the foreign names that they bear, it has been thought
that they were foreigners, mostly captives of war, put into this service. For
example, Mehunim (Ezr 2:50; Neh 7:52) may refer to those overcome by Uzziah (2Ch
26:7). Nephusim (Ezr 2:50; Neh 7:52) may refer to the Hagarite clan of Naphish
(Gen 25:15; 1Ch 5:19). Because of the similarity of duty, some have sought their
background in the Gibeonites, "hewers of wood and drawers of water for the house
of my God" (Jos 9:23,27) and also in the Midianites (Num 31:30,47). The
correlation is probably no more than that of similarity of service, not direct
relationship. Whatever may be the roots of their origin, they were treated as
part of the people of God, at least as proselytes (Neh 10:28...). They are
mentioned by name in the OT in post-Exilic times. From Babylon 612 returned, 392
with Zerubbabel (Ezr 2:58: Neh 7:60) a count which includes "the children of
Solomon's servants") and 220 with Ezra (Ezr 8:20) as "ministers for the house of
our God" from the place Casiphia (Ezr 8:17) "in the seventh year of Artaxerxes
the king (Ezr 7:7). Like other sacred ministers, they were exempted from
taxation (Ezr 7:24).
Vv 4-6: The children of Judah.
Vv 7-9: The children of Benjamin.
Vv 10-14: The priests.
Vv 15-18: The Levites.
Vv 19-24: The gatekeepers, temple servants, the singers,
Vv 25-30: The villages of Judah. Many of these were south of
Jerusalem, probably dominated by Edomites.
Vv 31-36: The villages of Benjamin. Some were located in areas
of Samaritan domination.