The disputed captives returning (Neh 7:61-7:65)

“The following were those who came up from Tel-melah, Tel-harsha, Cherub, Addon, and Immer, but they could not prove their ancestral houses or their descent, whether they belonged to Israel. The descendents of Delaiah, the descendents of Tobiah, and the descendents of Nekoda were six hundred forty-two. Also, of the priests were the descendents of Hobaiah, the descendents of Hakkoz, and the descendents of Barzillai. They had married one of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite and were called by their name. These sought their registration among those enrolled in the genealogies, but it was not found there. Thus they were excluded from the priesthood as unclean. The governor told them that they were not to partake of the most holy food, until a priest with Urim and Thummim should come.”

Once again, this is almost word for word from Ezra, chapter 2. This poses a dilemma. What if you could not prove that you were an Israelite? Could you say you wanted land in Israel without being an Israelite? Apparently there were some genealogical records that could be consulted. Like many things, they may not have been 100% accurate. There is a slight difference in the number of people in the category of whether they were Israelites, with 642 here as opposed to 652 in Ezra. The second group claimed to be priests. In the first group the only slight discrepancy is with Addon instead of Addan, while in the 2nd group there is Hobaiah instead of Habaiah. Barzillai had been a friend of King David. I believe that the only questions here were how these people were related to the groups that they claimed that they were from. The unnamed governor told them that they had to consult with a priest because they were unclean. The priests would go to the lots of Urim and Thummim. Urim and Thummim were in the breastplate of the ephod that the priests wore. They would consult with these stones on the breastplate to find out the will of Yahweh on what was to be done. Generally one was positive and the other negative. In fact, this was one of the ways that Yahweh communicated with his people. The other 2 ways were through dreams and prophets, which was also common among the Assyrians and Babylonians. This third way was like the tablets of destiny in Babylonia. Sometime in Jewish history it died out as a usage. However, this mysterious Urim and Thummim have found their way into novels and the writings of Joseph Smith, the first Mormon.

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Those unable to find to prove their Israelite ancestry (Ezra 2:59-2:63)

“The following were those who came up from Tel-melah, Tel-harsha, Cherub, Addan, and Immer, though they could not prove their families or their descent, whether they belonged to Israel. The descendents of Delaiah, Tobiah, and Nekoda were six hundred fifty-two. Also, the descendents of the priests Habaiah and Hakkoz were not clear. The Barzillai had married one of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite. So he was called by their name. These looked for their entries in the genealogical records, but they were not found there. Thus they were excluded from the priesthood as unclean. The governor told them that they were not to partake of the most holy food, until there should be a priest to consult Urim and Thummim.”

This poses a dilemma. What if you could not prove that you were an Israelite? Could you say you wanted land in Israel without being an Israelite? Apparently there were some genealogical records that could be consulted. Like many things, they may not have been 100% accurate. The first group was about whether they were Israelites, while the second group claimed to be priests. These names only appear here, and nowhere else in the biblical literature except for Immer who was one of the leaders in the preceding section going back to Jerusalem. There was a Hakkoz who served in King David’s time as a priest. Barzillai had been a friend of King David. I believe that the only question here was whether these people were related to the groups that they claimed to be from. The unnamed governor, who earlier was named Sheshbazzar, told them that they had to consult with a priest. The priests would go to the lots of Urim and Thummim. Urim and Thummim were in the breastplate of the ephod that the priests wore. They would consult with these stones on the breastplate to find out the will of Yahweh on what was to be done. Generally one was positive and the other negative. In fact, this was one of the ways that Yahweh communicated with his people. The other 2 ways were through dreams and prophets, which was also common among the Assyrians and Babylonians. This third way was like the tablets of destiny in Babylonia. Sometime in Jewish history it died out as a usage. However, this mysterious Urim and Thummim have found their way into novels and the writings of Joseph Smith, the first Mormon.

The various priestly positions (1 Chr 24:7-24:19)

“The first lot fell to Jehoiarib, the second to Jedaiah, the third to Harim, the fourth to Seorim, the fifth to Malchijah, the sixth to Mijamin, the seventh to Hakkoz, the eighth to Abijah, the ninth to Jeshua, the tenth to Shecaniah, the eleventh to Eliashib, the twelfth to Jakim, the thirteenth to Huppah, the fourteenth to Jeshebeab, the fifteenth to Bilgah, the sixteenth to Immer, the seventeenth to Hezir, the eighteenth to Happizzez, the nineteenth to Pethahiah, the twentieth to Jehezkel, the twenty-first to Jachin, the twenty-second to Gamul, the twenty-third to Delaiah, and the twenty-fourth to Maaziah. These had as their appointed duty in their service to come into the house of Yahweh according to the procedure established for them by Aaron their father, as Yahweh God of Israel had commanded him.”

There seems to be 24 levels or positions that the priests have. Their service and procedure had somehow been established by Aaron at the command of Yahweh.   However, there was no Temple at the time of Aaron. It is hard to tell what each of these 24 positions entailed. Apparently, these are people living at the time of King David, while there still was no temple. 8 of these priests only have their name appear in this book, (1) Jehoiarib, (4) Seorim, (12) Jakim, (13) Huppah, (14) Jeshebeab, (18) Happizzez, (20) Jehezkel, and (22) Gamul. There were 6 others whose name appears elsewhere, but they may be related to them, (6) Mijamin, (7) Hakkoz, (15) Bilgah, (17) Hezir, (21) Jachin, and (24) Maaziah. There were 3 other people named (2) Jedaiah, (3) Harim, and (19) Pethahiah. There were 13 people with the name of (5) Malchijah, even though it does not sound like a popular name. (8) Abijah incidentally shows up as an ancestor to Zachery, the father of John the Baptist in the later Gospel of Luke. There are at least 10 others with the name of (9) Jeshua, mostly Levites. There are at least 7 other people with the name of (10) Shecaniah. 6 others had the name of (11) Eliashib. (16) Immer was also the name of a place. There were 4 others with the name of (23) Delaiah.

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