The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Nehemiah 12

Neh 12:1

Vv 1-9: The priests and Levites who returned with Zerubbabel. The priests and Levites were the most important people who returned from exile because they reestablished worship in the land. Vv 1-7 give the names of 22 leaders among them who had returned in 537 BC with Zerubbabel and Jeshua (cf 1Ch 24:7-19). The writer also mentioned eight Levites by name (vv 8,9; cf Ezra 2:40-42).

Neh 12:10

Vv 10,11: The genealogy of the high priest was especially important. Five succeeding descendants of Jeshua appear in the text (vv. 10-11). This list continues the one in 1Ch 6:3-15 that ends with the Babylonian exile in 586 BC.

Neh 12:12

Vv 12-21: The priestly courses. There had been 24 courses established by David (1Ch 24:1-18).

Neh 12:22

Vv 22-26: Records of the leading priests and Levites. The names of the heads of the nine Levitical families Nehemiah referred to in v 22 appear in vv 24-26. The four high priests he mentioned in v 22 evidently registered these names.

DARIUS THE PERSIAN: Probably Darius II (423-404 BC).

Neh 12:23

THE BOOK OF THE ANNALS: The "Book of the Chronicles" is not the canonical Book of Chronicles but another record of names.

Neh 12:27

Vv 27-43: Procession and dedication service.
One large choir mounted the city wall and walked around it counterclockwise, evidently beginning at the Valley Gate (vv 31-37). Another choir mounted it, probably at the same place, and proceeded in a clockwise direction (vv 38,39). They appear to have sung as they walked (v 42). They met at the temple (vv 40-42). There the priests offered many sacrifices and the people rejoiced greatly (v 43). This was the same wall that Tobiah had earlier claimed would be so weak that even a fox walking on it would break it down (Neh 4:3)!

The final consummation of Nehemiah's work had been reached. The city was protected by a wall and could resist any attempt of the neighboring nations to attack it. This was one of the main reasons for the joy. The other was that the people had demonstrated that they could perform a major task as a unit, and this proved to be a great stimulus to their morale.

SONGS OF THANKSGIVING: Which probably included Psa 48; 122; 127; 147; 150.

Neh 12:28


Neh 12:30

WHEN THE PRIESTS AND LEVITES HAD PURIFIED THEMSELVES CEREMONIALLY, THEY PURIFIED THE PEOPLE, THE GATES AND THE WALL: Probably with water (Exo 19:10; 2Ch 29:5,15), by sprinkling (Num 13:19). Even inanimate objects could contract defilement (Lev 14:34-53; Num 19:10,15).

Neh 12:44

Vv 44-47: Terms of the covenant implemented. Nehemiah also reestablished the temple service as David had organized it (vv 44-47). Thus he did for the second temple what David had done for the first temple.

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