The Levites in the days of Eliashib (Neh 12:22-12:26)

“As for the Levites, in the days of Eliashib, Joiada, Johanan, and Jaddua, they were recorded as the heads of the ancestral houses. These were the priests until the reign of Darius the Persian. The Levites, heads of ancestral houses, were recorded in the Book of the Annals until the days of Johanan son of Eliashib. The leaders of the Levites were Hashabiah, Sherebiah, and Jeshua son of Kadmiel, with their associates over against them, to praise and to give thanks, according to the commandment of King David the man of God, section opposite to section. Mattaniah, Bakbukiah, Obadiah, Meshullam, Talmon, and Akkub were gatekeepers standing guard at the storehouses of the gates. These were in the days of Joiakim son of Jeshua son of Jozadak, and in the days of the governor Nehemiah and the priest Ezra, the scribe.”

This is now a more up to date list of the priests around the time of Nehemiah. However, the list goes to King Darius II who died around 405 BCE. Nehemiah had come to Jerusalem around 446 BCE. It is possible that he lived until the reign of King Darius, but he clearly was a favorite of King Artaxerxes I. We know the names of the heads of the Levitical ancestral houses until the time of Johanan because they were recorded in a book at the Temple. This must have been like the lost books of the Annals of the Kings of Judah and Israel.   The leaders were Hashabiah, Sherebiah, and another Jeshua. They gave praise in antiphonal singing as they were opposite each other. The gatekeepers were Mattaniah, Bakbukiah, Obadiah, Meshullam, Talmon, and Akkub, who also had control over the storehouses at the Temple. All of these people were in charge during the time of the high priest Joiakim and also during the time that Governor Nehemiah and the priest scribe Ezra were in charge. It is interesting to note that it is no longer is “I” but the 3rd person who is telling this story about Nehemiah and his times.

 

The priests in the days of the high priest Joiakim (Neh 12:12-12:21)

“In the days of Joiakim, the priests, and the heads of the ancestral houses of the Seraiah family was Meraiah. For the Jeremiah family it was Hananiah. For the Ezra family it was Meshullam. For the Amariah family it was Jehohanan. For the Malluchi family it was Jonathan. For the Shebaniah family it was Joseph. For the Harim family it was Adna. For the Meraioth family it was Helkai. For the Iddo family it was Zechariah. For the Ginnethon family it was Meshullam. For the Abijah family it was Zichri. For the family of Miniamin it was unknown. For the Moadiah family it was Piltai. For the Bilgah family it was Shammua. For the Shemaiah family it was Jehonathan. For the Joiarib family it was Mattenai. For the Jedaiah family it was Uzzi. For the Sallai family it was Kallai. For the Amok family it was Eber. For the Hilkiah family it was Hashabiah. For the Jedaiah family it was Nethanel.”

Joiakim was the son of Jeshua and the high priest before Eliashib, sometime around 500 BCE. There are 3 families are not mentioned elsewhere, the Meraioth family, the missing Miniamin family leader, and the Joiarib family compared to the list of signers in chapter 10. Otherwise all these families have been mentioned before in this work. Family names were very important.


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.


Repair of the old wall (Neh 3:16-3:19)

“After him, Nehemiah son of Azbuk, ruler of half the district of Beth-zur, repaired from a point opposite the graves of David, as far as the artificial pool and the house of the warriors. After him the Levites made repairs. There was Rehum son of Bani. Next to him was Hashabiah, ruler of half the district of Keilah, who made repairs for his district. After him their kin made repairs. There was Binnui son of Henadad, ruler of half the district of Keilah. Next to him was Ezer son of Jeshua, ruler of Mizpah, who repaired another section opposite the ascent to the armory at the Angle.”

The old wall was inside the northern new wall. This is a different Nehemiah. This one was the half ruler of Beth-zur, which was on the main road south about 20 miles from Jerusalem. The work continued along the east wall outside the graveyard of the kings of Judah, the artificial pool and the army barracks. Then the various Levites worked on this wall. Rehum was a descendent of those who had come back with the early group, 80 years earlier. Both the leaders of Keilah, Hashabiah and Binnui, with their relatives, also helped with the repairs. Keilah was about 20 miles southwest of Jerusalem. Then we have another ruler of Mizpah, Ezer, who was helping with the repairs. Remember that the other ruler of Mizpah, Shallum was at the Fountain Gate. Both these towns of Keilah and Mizpah were well represented in the repair work.

The twelve priests (Ezra 8:24-8:30)

“Then I set apart twelve of the leading priests, Sherebiah, Hashabiah, and ten of their kinsmen with them. I weighed out to them the silver, the gold, and the vessels. These were the offerings for the house of our God that the king, his counselors, and his lords as well as all Israel present had offered. I weighed out into their hand six hundred and fifty talents of silver and silver vessels worth a hundred talents. I also weighted out a hundred talents of gold, twenty bowls of gold worth a thousand darics, and two vessels of fine polished bronze as precious as gold. I said to them. ‘You are holy to Yahweh. The vessels are holy. The silver and the gold are a freewill offering to Yahweh, the God of your ancestors. Guard them! Keep them until you weigh them before the chief priests, the Levites, and the heads of families in Israel at Jerusalem, within the chambers of the house of Yahweh.’  So the priests and the Levites took over the silver, the gold, and the vessels, as they were weighed out, to bring them to Jerusalem, to the house of our God.”

Ezra himself set aside 12 priests with 2 leaders, Sherebiah and Hashabiah. Sherebiah was a very important post-exilic priest. Hashabiah was important too but that was a common name shared by about 10 other people. Once again, notice the first person singular “I.” He weighted some silver and gold and then gave it to them. A talent was roughly the equivalent of small person about 125 pound. So that when you convert pounds to ounce you get a huge amount of silver and gold. 650 talents of silver would be worth about 10 million USA dollars today. The 100 talents of gold would be worth about 100 million USA dollars. This was quite a rich fortune, over 100 million dollars. This money was vowed to Yahweh. Thus these priests and Levites had to take good care of these precious items as they brought them to Jerusalem to the house of God there.

More people come with Ezra (Ezra 8:15-8:20)

“I gathered them by the river that runs to Ahava. There we camped three days. As I reviewed the people and the priests, I found there none of the descendents of Levi. Then I sent for Eliezer, Ariel, Shemaiah, Elnathan, Jarib, Elnathan, Nathan, Zechariah, and Meshullam, who were leaders, and for Joiarib and Elnathan, who were wise. I sent them to Iddo, the leader at the place called Casiphia. I told them what to say to Iddo and his colleagues the temple servants at Casiphia. He should send us ministers for the house of our God. Since the gracious hand of our God was upon us, they brought us a man of discretion, of the descendents of Mahli son of Levi, son of Israel, namely Sherebiah, with his sons and kinsmen, eighteen. Also they brought Hashabiah and with him Jeshaiah of the descendents of Merari, with his kinsmen and their sons, twenty. Besides two hundred twenty of the temple servants, whom David and his officials had set apart to attend the Levites, also came. These were all mentioned by name.”

Once again, we have the use of the personal pronoun singular, “I gathered them.” Over and over again “I” appears. This is a personal first person account of what happened. The Ahava River is not known, but probably a tributary of the Euphrates River in Babylon. Ezra realized that he had no Levites. So he sent a group of people to Iddo who was the leader at Casiphia. There 4 or 5 different people with the name of Iddo, including Levites, and prophets. This one was a temple slave leader at Casiphia, which must have been an important place for a group of Israelite exiles because they had so many temple slaves. They may have had their own house of God there in northern Babylon. Interesting enough this Iddo sent 2 Levite families of 19 and 20 people from the Mahli and Merari branch of Levites. He also sent 220 Temple servants who were to help the Levites. There must have been a lot of them there.

Various tribal leaders (1 Chr 27:16-27:22)

“Over the tribes of Israel,

For the Reubenites Eliezer son of Zichri was chief officer.

For the Simeonites, Shephatiah son of Maacah was chief officer.

For Levi, Hashabiah son of Kemuel was chief officer.

For Aaron, Zadok was chief officer.

For Judah, Elihu, one of David’s brothers was chief officer.

For Issachar, Omri son of Michael was chief officer.

For Zebulun, Ishmaiah son of Obadiah was chief officer.

For Naphtali, Jeremoth son of Azriel was chief officer.

For the Ephraimites, Hoshea son of Azaziah was chief officer.

For the half-tribe of Manasseh, Joel son of Pedaiah was chief officer.

For the half-tribe of Manasseh in Gilead, Iddo son of Zechariah was chief officer.

For Benjamin, Jaasiel son of Abner was chief officer.

For Dan, Azarel son of Jeroham was chief officer.

These were the leaders of the tribes of Israel.”

Notice first, that there is no leader for Gad or Asher. Aaron also had a separate leader. Although there are 10 different people with the name of (1) Eliezer, this son of Zichri is only mentioned here. Even though there are 7 different people with the name of (2) Shephatiah, this son of Maacah is only mentioned here. This (3) Hashabiah son of Kemuel may be the same as the Levite mentioned earlier in this book, but there were a lot of Levites with this name. (4) Zadok was the high priest. (5) Elihu was not really a blood brother of King David. There were 3 others with the name of (6) Omri, but this Omri was not a king. (7) Ishmaiah son of Obadiah may have been one of the “Thirty” warriors of David. (8) Jeremoth son of Azriel may have been one of the warriors mentioned in chapter 25. There were 3 other people with the name of Hoshea, including a king, but not this (9) Hoshea son of Azaziah. Although Joel was a popular name of over 14 people, including a prophet, this (10) Joel son of Pedaiah only appears here. 6 different biblical people have the name of Iddo, but this (11) Iddo son of Zechariah only appears here. There is only 1 other Jaasiel besides this (12) Jaasiel son of Abner. This (13) Azarel son of Jeroham may be the same one mentioned in chapter 25.