Nehemiah leaves and returns (Neh 13:6-13:9)

“While this was taking place, I was not in Jerusalem. In the thirty-second year of King Artaxerxes of Babylon I went to the king. After some time I asked leave of the king. I returned to Jerusalem. I then discovered the wrong that Eliashib had done on behalf of Tobiah, preparing a room for him in the courts of the house of God. I was very angry. I threw all the household furniture of Tobiah out of the room. Then I gave orders to cleanse the chambers. I brought back the vessels of the house of God, with the grain offering and the frankincense.”

Nehemiah had left Jerusalem because he had agreed to stay there only 12 years. He then returned to serve the Persian King Artaxerxes. Once again, he asked the king to return to Jerusalem around the year 433 BCE. The text says Babylon but it was Persia as in the beginning of this book. When he got back, he was shocked and angry at what he saw. He was so angry that he threw out all the furniture of Tobiah in the Temple storehouse. He had it cleansed and restored it with grain offerings and frankincense.

The keepers of the temple items return (1 Chr 9:28-9:32)

“Some of these priests had charge of the utensils of service. They were required to count them when they were brought in and taken out. Others of them were appointed over the furniture, and over all the holy utensils. Others were also over the choice flour, the wine, the oil, the incense, and the spices. Others, of the sons of the priests, prepared the mixing of the spices. Mattithiah, one of the Levites, the first-born of Shallum the Korahite, was in charge of making the flat cakes. Also some of their kindred of the Kohathites had charge of the rows of bread, to prepare it for each Sabbath.”

It is not clear where these instructions come from since they were not part of Leviticus. In fact, the temple was not even present yet. Nevertheless, someone was in charge of making sure what went out of the temple also came back. Some of these were in charge of the furniture. I am not sure why furniture would leave the temple. I understand someone in charge of the holy utensils, the various amounts of flour, wine, incense and spices. Obviously, someone had to mix the spices. Someone also had to make the bread. Apparently the Levite Mattithiah was in charge of making the flat cakes, which were mentioned in Leviticus, chapter 2. The Kohathites Levites were also in charge here.