The celebration at the gates (Neh 12:31-12:37)

“Then I brought up the leaders of Judah onto the wall. I appointed two great companies which gave thanks. They went in procession. One went to the right upon the wall to the Dung Gate. After them went Hoshaiah and half of the princes of Judah. There was Azariah, Ezra, Meshullam, Judah, Benjamin, Shemaiah, Jeremiah, and some of the young priests with trumpets. There was Zechariah son of Jonathan, son of Shemaiah, son of Mattaniah, son of Micaiah, son of Zaccur, son of Asaph. His kindred were Shemaiah, Azarel, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethanel, Judah, and Hanani, with the musical instruments of King David, the man of God. The scribe Ezra went in front of them. At the Fountain Gate, in front of them, they went straight up by the stairs of the city of David, at the ascent of the wall, above the house of David, to the Water Gate on the east.”

Once again, we come back to the 1st person singular, “I”, after all that went before in the 3rd person singular. Nehemiah divided the people into 2 groups. One group walked the wall on the southeast side from the Dung Gate at the south side to the Fountain Gate and then to the Water Gate. At the Fountain Gate they walked the stairs into the city of David. This group was led by the scribe Ezra. This is the only mention of Hoshaiah, who must have been some kind of leader. While Azariah, Ezra, Meshullam, Judah, Benjamin, Shemaiah, and Jeremiah are mentioned elsewhere, there were also the young priests who were the sons of famous priests with their trumpets. Some of the kindred only appear here, Azarel, Milalai, Gilalai, and Maai, while the others are more familiar like Shemaiah, Nethanel, Judah, and Hanani. They played the instruments of King David, lyre, harps, and cymbals.

 

Guarding the city of Jerusalem (Neh 7:1-7:4)

“When the wall had been built, I had set up the doors. I set up the gatekeepers, the singers, and the Levites that had been appointed. I gave my brother Hanani charge over Jerusalem. I made Hananiah the commander of the citadel. Hananiah was a more faithful man as he feared God more than many. I said to them. ‘The gates of Jerusalem are not to be opened until the sun is hot. While the gatekeepers are still standing guard, let them shut and bar the doors. Appoint guards from among the inhabitants of Jerusalem, some at their watch posts and others before their own houses.’ The city was wide and large, but the people within it were few. No houses had been built.”

The last things to be built were the doors by the gates. Once they were set up, the gatekeepers, singers, and Levites took over. The command of Jerusalem went to Nehemiah’s brother Hanani. It seems like Hananiah is also his brother but it is not clear. He certainly was a God-fearing man. Nehemiah gave them orders not to open the gate until the sun was hot, either late morning of midday. Even then he wanted a guard to keep the doors shut and bars on the door. He wanted people from Jerusalem to be the guards. Then he realized that not many people lived in Jerusalem. Very few houses, rather than no houses had been built in Jerusalem. After all, some people had restored the wall opposite their homes. Even here it says that they posted watches by their own houses. All in all, this was a lot of activity for less than 2 months time. Notice there was not any big celebration when it was completed.

Nehemiah and Jerusalem (Neh 1:1-1:3)

“The words of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah are here presented. In the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, while I was in Susa the capital, one of my brothers, Hanani, came with certain men from Judah. I asked them about the Jews that survived, who had escaped the captivity, about Jerusalem. They replied. ‘The survivors there in the province who escaped captivity are in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down. The gates have been destroyed by fire.’”

This work is purported to be a first person memoir of Nehemiah. In a certain sense, he is portraying himself as a prophet. His father Hacaliah is not mentioned elsewhere. He obviously was born in Babylon. This probably takes place about 446 BCE, in the 20th year of King Artaxerxes during the month of Chislev, sometime around our November of December. He was in Susa the capital city of Persia, and the residence of the king. Susa is the same place where most of the incidents in the Book of Esther take place. This would be about 13 years after Ezra had gotten this same king to write a letter to let him bring about 5,000 people to Jerusalem as in Ezra, chapter 7. Ezra had left during the 7th year of the reign of King Artaxerxes, unde very favorable conditions. In fact, they had not escaped captivity as indicated here, but they were sent under royal Persian decree with lots of money and gifts. Nevertheless, the problem is that Hanani, with his friends from Jerusalem, painted a gloomy picture of the situation in Jerusalem. No one had fixed the broken walls of Jerusalem since there was a back and forth on this in the Ezra, chapter 4. Obviously, with no walls, any gates would have been useless. This Hanani was probably the son of the priest Immer, one of those who had taken a foreign wife in Ezra, chapter 10.

The list of the guilty priests (Ezra 10:18-10:22)

“There were found among the descendents of the priests those who had married foreign women. There were Maaseiah, Eliezer, Jarib, and Gedaliah, who were the descendents of Jeshua son of Jozadak and his brothers. They pledged themselves to send away their wives. Their guilt offering was a ram of the flock for their guilt. There were the descendents of Immer, Hanani and Zebadiah. There were the descendents of Harim, Maaseiah, Elijah, Shemaiah, Jehiel, and Uzziah. There were the descendents of Pashhur, Elioenai, Maaseiah, Ishmael, Nethanel, Jozabad, and Elasah.”

These priests had to offer a ram as guilt or sin offering. There were 4 groups of priests consisting of about 16 listed priests who had married foreigners. They pledged to send their wives away to some unknown place.

The sons of Heman (1 Chr 25:4-25:6)

“The sons of Heman were Bukkiah, Mattaniah, Uzziel, Shebuel, and Jerimoth, Hananiah, Hanani, Eliathah, Giddalti, Romamti-ezer, Joshbekashah, Mallothi, Hothir, and Mahazioth. All these were the sons of Heman the king’s seer, according to the promise of God to exalt him. God had given Heman fourteen sons and three daughters. They were all under the direction of their father for the music in the house of Yahweh. They played cymbals, harps, and lyres for the service of the house of God.”

Heman had 14 sons and 3 daughters. Apparently, they all performed music in the house of Yahweh, the Temple, with cymbals, harps, and lyres. Heman was also called a seer or prophet to the king. Of Heman’s 14 listed sons, 8 of them are names that only are mentioned here and in the giving of the lots, but nowhere else in the biblical literature, (1) Bukkiah, (8) Eliathah, (9) Giddalti, (10) Romamti-ezer, (11) Joshbekashah, (12) Mallothi, (13) Hothir, and (14) Mahazioth. There were 9 different people with the name of (2) Mattaniah, but this Mattaniah will be in charge of the 9th group of singers. There were 8 different people with this name of (3) Uzziel. There was only 1 other (4) Shebuel. There were 7 different people with the name of (5) Jerimoth. There were 13 different people with the name of (6) Hananiah. There were 5 different people with the name of (7) Hanani.