The priests with Zerubbabel (Neh 12:1-12:7)

“These are the priests and the Levites who came up with Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua. They were Seraiah, Jeremiah, Ezra, Amariah, Malluch, Hattush, Shecaniah, Rehum, Meremoth, Iddo, Ginnethoi, Abijah, Mijamin, Maadiah, Bilgah, Shemaiah, Joiarib, Jedaiah, Sallu, Amok, Hilkiah, and Jedaiah. These were the leaders of the priests and of their associates in the days of Jeshua.”

Now suddenly we are back to the list of those who came with Zerubbabel some 90 years earlier. This is like an appendix to this document. It refers to Ezra, chapter 2. There are 22 priests listed here. Of the 22, only 2 were listed in Ezra, chapter 2, Seraiah and Rehum. Jedaiah is listed twice. Clearly Zerubbabel and Jeshua were the leaders. 11 off these same people, Seraiah, Jeremiah, Amariah, Hattush, Malluch, Meremoth, Ginnethon, Abijah, Mijamin, and Shemaiah, signed the agreement with Nehemiah in chapter 10 of this book. However this took place about 90-100 years after the original group, which would make it difficult for these same people to sign the document, after having returned 90 years earlier. Ezra is mentioned with this group but he did not return until about 10 years before Nehemiah.   Iddo was with Ezra so that he would not have been with the original group. Shecaniah and Meremoth were builders of the wall so that they could not have come with the original group, almost a century earlier. This is the only mention of Maadiah, Bilgah, and Amok so they are real possibilities. Jedaiah was the son of Joiarib, so that he could not have come with the original group, but Joiarib might have. Sallu was the son of Meshullam so that he could not have been there 100 years earlier. Seraiah was the son of Hilkiah, so that he could have been with the original group. Thus, not more than 4 or 5 of the named priests could have come back with Zerubbabel, unless the ones at the time of Nehemiah had the same name as the ones who came nearly a century earlier.

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.