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.

 

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Simeon (1 Chr 4:24-4:24)

“The sons of Simeon were Nemuel, Jamin, Jarib, Zerah, and Shaul.”

Now we switch to the family of Simeon the son of Jacob or Israel that will eventually become part of Judah. The 6 children of Simeon in Genesis, chapter 46, were Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jachin, Zohar, and Shaul. However, there are only 5 sons of Simeon mentioned here. Ohad was listed as the 3rd son of Simeon in both Genesis, chapter 46, and Exodus, chapter 6, but there is no mention of him here. (1) Nemuel was called Jemuel in Genesis. (2) Zerah was called Zohar. There are other instances of Zerah, especially as the son of Judah. (3) Jamin has the same spelling as in the earlier works. Obviously, this list is dependent on Numbers, chapter 26, at the time of the census where Nemuel was the head of the clan of the Nemuelites. Jamin was the head of the clan of the Jaminites. Jachin was the head of the clan of the Jachinites. (4) Jarib has replaced Jachin in this listing. There are 3 others with the same name of Jarib in biblical literature. Zerah was the head of the clan of the Zerahites. Finally (5) Shaul was the head of the clan of the Shaulites.