The Levites and singers (Neh 13:10-13:14)

“I also found out that the portions of the Levites had not been given to them. Thus the Levites and the singers, who had conducted the service, had gone back to their fields. So I remonstrated with the officials. I said.

‘Why is the house of God forsaken?’

I gathered them together. I set them in their stations. Then all Judah brought the tithe of the grain, wine, and oil into the storehouses. I appointed as treasurers over the storehouses the priest Shelemiah, the scribe Zadok, and Pedaiah of the Levites. I appointed as their assistant Hanan son of Zaccur, son of Mattaniah, for they were counted faithful. Their duty was to distribute to their associates.

‘Remember me,

O my God,

Concerning this.

Do not wipe out my good deeds

That I have done

For the house of my God

And for his service.’”

Next Nehemiah found out that the Levites were not offering praise and singing in the Temple. They had gone back to tending their fields because no one was offering their tithes. Nehemiah then reestablished the tithing. He wanted the services in the Temple reinstituted. He put new people in charge of collecting the tithes and making sure that they got to where they should be. Then he prayed to God to not wipe out the good deeds that he had done for the house of God.

 

The leaders of the people (Neh 10:14-10:27)

“The leaders of the people were Parosh, Pahath-moab, Elam, Zattu, Bani, Bunni, Azgad, Bebai, Adonijah, Bigvai, Adin, Ater, Hezekiah, Azzur, Hodiah, Hashum, Bezai, Hariph, Anathoth, Nebai, Magpiash, Meshullam, Hezir, Meshezabel, Zadok, Jaddua, Pelatiah, Hanan, Anaiah, Hoshea, Hananiah, Hasshub, Hallohesh, Pilha, Shobek, Rehum, Hashabnah, Maaseiah, Ahiah, Hanan, Anan, Malluch, Harim, and Baanah.”

Unlike the 2 other groups, like the priests and Levites that are mentioned often in this book, 25% of these named leaders only appear here rather than elsewhere in this book, Adonijah, Azzur, Nebai, Magpiash, Hezir, Pelatiah, Hoshea, Pilha, Shobek, Hashabnah, Ahiah, and Anan. However, the other 30 of the 44 are common names mentioned often in this book, since they are ancestral leaders.

The Levites who sign the agreement with Nehemiah (Neh 10:9-10:13)

“The Levites were Jeshua son of Azaniah, Binnui of the sons of Henadad, Kadmiel, and their associates Shebaniah, Hodiah, Kelita, Pelaiah, Hanan, Mica, Rehob, Hashabiah, Zaccur, Sherebiah, Shebaniah, Hodiah, Bani, and Beninu.”

Most of these 16 Levite names have appeared earlier in his book. Hodiah is mentioned twice. Only Rehob and Beninu are not mentioned elsewhere in this book. All the other Levites are mentioned from 2 – 5 times in this book.


Reading from the book of Moses (Neh 8:4-8:8)

“The scribe Ezra stood on a wooden platform that had made for this purpose. Beside him stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah on his right hand. Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam stood on his left hand. Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people. He was above all the people. When he opened it all the people stood up. Ezra blessed Yahweh, the great God! All the people answered. ‘Amen, Amen!’ They lifted up their hands. Then they bowed their heads as they worshiped Yahweh with their faces to the ground. Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, and Pelaiah, the Levites, helped the people to understand the law, while the people remained in their places. They read from the book, from the law of God, with interpretation. They gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.”

Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden platform or tower so that they could hear and see him. This was similar to the special bronze platform of King Solomon in 2 Chronicles, chapter 6.   He had 6 people on his right side and 7 on his left side. Of the 6 on the right side Maaseiah will be also one of those instructing the people. All the others just appear here although there are numerous other biblical people with the same names. On the left side, Pedaiah, Malchijah, and Meshullam had helped with the wall. Hashum and Zechariah were from important returning families, while very little is known about Mishael and Hashbaddanah. He opened the book, probably the Book of Deuteronomy, but it is not clear. Everyone stood up as he opened the book, much like Roman Catholics stand for the reading of the Gospel of Jesus. There was the great ‘Amen’ at the end of Ezra’s blessing of Yahweh. They lifted up their hands to pray and then bowed their heads to the ground, much like the Muslim prayer position. There was another group who helped the people to understand the law. They seem to be important Levite family members, especially Jeshua, Bani, Azariah, and Hanan. Only Jamin appears here and nowhere else, while Akkub was a gatekeeper. They gave an interpretation of the law so that the people could understand it. Some commentators indicate that this might have been a translation into Aramaic, since the book was written in Hebrew. However, it could have been a commentary also.

 

The Temple servants returning (Neh 7:46-7:56)

“The temple servants were the descendents of Ziha, the descendents of Hasupha, the descendents of Tabbaoth, the descendents of Keros, the descendents of Sia, the descendents of Padon, the descendents of Lebana, the descendents of Hagaba, the descendents of Shalmai, the descendents of Hanan, the descendents of Giddel, the descendents of Gahar, the descendents of Reaiah, the descendents of Rezin, the descendents of Nekoda, the descendents of Gazzam, the descendents of Uzza, the descendents of Paseah, the descendents of Besai, the descendents of Meunim, the descendents of Nephushesim, the descendents of Bakbuk, the descendents of Hakupha, the descendents of Harhur, the descendents of Bazlith, the descendents of Mehida, the descendents of Harsha, the descendents of Barkos, the descendents of Sisera, the descendents of Temah, the descendents of Neziah, and the descendents of Hatipha.”

This is the list of the hereditary Temple servants, the Nethinim, people dedicated to the Temple. Often they were not Israelites, but captured slave laborers given to the Temple. They became hereditary slaves dedicated to the Temple. However, there was no Temple, so it is not clear why they were returning.   Thus these names were not common biblical names since most of these names only appear here and in Ezra, but nowhere else in the biblical literature. Of the 35 temple servants, 27 names are exactly the same as in Ezra, chapter 2. The minor exceptions are Sia for Siaha, Lebana for Lebanah, Hagaba for Hagabah, Nephushesim for Nephisim, and Bazlith for Bazluth. Akkub, Hagab, and Asnah were in Ezra, but are not here.

The list of the Temple servants returning (Ezra 2:43-2:54)

“The temple servants were the descendents of Ziha, Hasupha, Tabbaoth, Keros, Siaha, Padon, Lebanah, Hagabah, Akkub, Hagab, Shamlai, Hanan, Giddel, Gahar, Reaiah, Rezin, Nekoda, Gazzam, Uzza, Paseah, Besai, Asnah, Meunim, Nephisim, Bakbuk, Hakupha, Harhur, Bazluth, Mehida, Harsha, Barkos, Sisera, Temah, Neziah, and Hatipha.”

This is the list of the hereditary Temple servants, the Nethinim, people dedicated to the Temple. Often they were not Israelites, but captured slave laborers given to the Temple. Thus they became hereditary slaves dedicated to the Temple. However, there is no Temple, so it is not clear why they were returning. Most of these names only appear here and in Nehemiah but nowhere else in the biblical literature. Akkub and Uzza appear as a name for 3 other biblical persons. There was a King Rezin of Damascus who invaded Judah, but this is not him. There also was a Sisera who was the warrior killed in his sleep in Josiah. Otherwise, these were not common biblical names.

 

The listing of David’s warriors (1 Chr 11:26-11:47)

“The warriors of the armies were: Asahel the brother of Joab; Elhanan son of Dodo of Bethlehem; Shammah of Harod; Helez the Pelonite; Ira son of Ikkesh of Tekoa; Abiezer of Anathoth; Sibbecai the Hushathite; Ilai the Ahohite; Maharai of Netophah; Heled son of Baanah of Netophah; Ittai son of Ribai of Gibeah of the Benjaminites; Benaiah of Pirathon; Hurai of the Wadi of Gaash; Abiel the Arbathite; Azmaveth of Bahurim; Eliahba of Shaalbon; Hashem the Gizonite; Jonathan son of Shagee the Hararite; Ahiam son of Sharar the Hararite; Eliphal son of Ur; Hepher the Mecherathite; Ahijah the Pelonite; Hezro of Carmel; Naarai son of Ezbai; Joel the brother of Nathan; Mibhar son of Hagri; Zelek the Ammonite; Naharai of Beeroth, the armor-bearer of Joab the son of Zeruiah; Ira the Ithrite; Gareb the Ithrite; Uriah the Hittite; Zabad the son of Ahlai; Adina son of Shiza the Reubenite, a leader of the Reubenites, and thirty with him; Hanan the son of Maacah; Joshaphat the Mithnite; Uzzia the Ashterathite, Shama and Jeiel sons of Hotham the Aroerite; Jediael son of Shimri; Joha his brother, the Tizite; Eliel the Mahavite; Jeribai and Joshaviah sons of Elnaam; Ithmah the Moabite; Eliel; Obed; and Jaasiel the Mezobaite.”

This list is much like the list in 2 Samuel, chapter 23. However there are 7 omissions and 22 additions as well as 8 name changes. For more information about these men see the notes in 2 Samuel. Of those 7 mentioned in 2 Samuel, that appeared there but did not make this list, they include: Elika of Harod, Eliphelet son of Ahasbai of Maacah, Eliam son of Ahithophel the Gilonite, Paarai the Arbite, Igal son of Nathan of Zobah, and Bani the Gadite. The following 22 names were added and not in 2 Samuel: Eliphal the son of Ur, Hepher the Mecherathite, Ahijah the Pelonite, Naarai the son of Ezbai, Joel the brother of Nathan, Mibhar the son of Hagri, Zabad the son of Ahlai, Adina the son of Shiza the Reubenite, Hanan the son of Maacah, and Joshaphat the Mithnite, Uzzia the Ashterathite, Shama and Jeiel sons of Hotham the Aroerite, Jediael the son of Shimri, and Joha his brother the Tizite, Eliel the Mahavite, Jeribai and Joshaviah sons of Elnaam, Ithmah the Moabite, Eliel, Obed, and Jaasiel the Mezobaite. The following 8 names have been changed. Helez the Paltite has become Helez the Pelonite. Mebunnai the Hushathite has become Sibbecai the Hushathite. Zalmon the Ahohite has become Ilai the Ahohite. Heleb son of Baanah of Netophah, had become Heled. Abi-albon the Arbathite has become Abiel. Hiddai of Gaash has become Hurai. Jashen has become Hashem the Gizonite. Jonathan the son of Shammah has become the son of Shagee.