“The other company of those who gave thanks went to the left. I followed them with half of the people, upon the wall. We walked to the Tower of the Ovens, to the Broad Wall, and above the Gate of Ephraim, and by the Old Gate. We walked by the Fish Gate and the Tower of Hananel and the Tower of the Hundred, to the Sheep Gate. They came to a halt at the Gate of the Guard. So both companies of those who gave thanks stood in the house of God. I and half of the officials were with me. The priests Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Micaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah, and Hananiah were with trumpets. Maaseiah, Shemaiah, Eleazar, Uzzi, Jehohanan, Malchijah, Elam, and Ezer were there also. The singers sang with Jezrahiah as their leader. They offered great sacrifices that day. They rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy. The women and children also rejoiced. The joy of Jerusalem was heard far away.”
Nehemiah led the other group on the wall going around the west and north side of the wall. They passed by the Tower of Ovens, the Broad Wall, the Gate of Ephraim, the Old Gate, the Fish Gate, the Tower of Hananel and the Tower of the Hundred. Finally they came to the Sheep Gate and the Gate of the Guard. There they met at the house of God with the first group. Nehemiah’s group met Ezra’s first group at the Temple. Nehemiah’s priests had trumpets. These singers were led by Jezrahiah, who is only mentioned here and nowhere else. They offered great sacrifices, without being specific how much and what kind. They also rejoiced with all their families including women and children. They made such a noise that they could be heard far away.
“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.
“Moreover in those days the nobles of Judah sent many letters to Tobiah. Tobiah sent letters to them. Many in Judah were bound by oath to him, because he was the son-in-law of Shecaniah son of Arah. His son Jehohanan had married the daughter of Meshullam son of Berechiah. Also they spoke of his good deeds in my presence. They reported my words to him. Tobiah sent letters to intimidate me.”
Tobiah seems to be the main intimidator in this section. Technically, they were still under the power of Samaria since Judah was not an independent province. They were part of the Province Beyond the River. Tobiah had a special relationship to the noble Jews of Jerusalem because of his marriage. Tobiah had married the daughter of the Jewish priest Shecaniah. His son had married the daughter of Meshullam who was one of the main builders of the wall. Thus there was a friendly relationship here. However, Nehemiah was not intimidated by Tobiah, even though some in Jerusalem looked favorably on him.
“Then Ezra stood up. He made the leading priests, the Levites, and all swear that they would do as had been said. So they swore. Then Ezra withdrew from before the house of God. He went to the chamber of Jehohanan son of Eliashib, where he spent the night. He did not eat bread or drink water. He was mourning over the faithlessness of the exiles.”
Taking the advice of Shecaniah, Ezra made the leading priests, Levites, and all the Israelites swear to put away their foreign wives. This is no longer a 1st person account of Ezra, but a 3rd person account about him that continues throughout this chapter. It was not clear what the fate of these foreign wives was to be. Where would they go? How were they and their children to be taken care of? Ezra left the Temple and went to the house of Jehohanan where he stayed overnight fasting because of the faithlessness of his fellow returning exiles. In fact, this Jehohanan may have been a grandson of the high priest Eliashib. He may also have been one of those men who had a foreign wife.
“King Jehoshaphat built fortresses and storage cities in Judah. He carried out great works in the cities of Judah. He had soldiers, mighty warriors in Jerusalem. This was the muster of them by ancestral houses. The commanders of thousands in Judah were Adnah the commander, with three hundred thousand mighty warriors. Next to him was Jehohanan the commander, with two hundred and eighty thousand. Next to him was Amasiah son of Zichri, a volunteer for the service of Yahweh, with two hundred thousand mighty warriors. From Benjamin, Eliada was a mighty warrior with two hundred thousand men armed with bow and shield. Next to him was Jehozabad with a hundred and eighty thousand armed for war. These were in the service of the king, besides those whom the king had placed in the fortified cities throughout all Judah.”
King Jehoshaphat built fortresses around the cities of Judah. He developed storage cities like King Solomon. However, he had a large army of over a million men. Each commander had a large group of people under their command. They were divided into the troops of Judah and Benjamin. Judah had 3 commanders, Adnah with 300,000 men, Jehohanan with 280,000 men, and Amasiah with 200,000 men. In Benjamin, Eliada had 200,000 men while Jehozabad had 180,000 men. That meant that his army had over 1,160,000 men. What a large army? This is twice the size of the army of his father, who only had a half million men. In fact, there were others that were in the fortified cities in Judah. This was clearly a military state. This is the only mention of these commanders, Adnah, Jehohanan, Amasiah, and Eliada, with a few mentions of other people with the same name of Jehozabad. There is no other mention of these leaders and their troops elsewhere in the biblical literature.
“As for the divisions of the gatekeepers, the Korahites had Meshelemiah son of Kore, of the sons of Asaph. Meshelemiah had sons, Zechariah the first-born, Jediael the second, Zebadiah the third, Jathniel the fourth, Elam the fifth, Jehohanan the sixth, and Eliehoenai the seventh.”
The Korahites were the dominate gatekeepers. The most important man was Meshelemiah as we find out about his family. Somehow he is related to Kore and Asaph. Meshelemiah had 7 sons, who were gatekeepers. There were 27 biblical people with the name of (1) Zechariah with the most famous being the prophet and his book, Zechariah. There were 2 other people with the name of (2) Jediael. 8 others had the name of (3) Zebadiah. This is the only mention of (4) Jathniel. There were 5 other people called (5) Elam and (6) Jehohanan, while there was only 1 other person with the name of (7) Eliehoenai.