The Levites (Neh 11:15-11:18)

“Of the Levites was Shemaiah son of Hasshub, son of Azrikam, son of Hashabiah, son of Bunni. Shabbethai and Jozabad were the leaders of the Levites, who were over the outside work of the house of God. Mattaniah son of Mica, son of Zabdi, son of Asaph, was the leader to begin the thanksgiving hymns in prayer. Bakbukiah was the second among his associates. Abda son of Shammua, son of Galal, son of Jeduthun, was there also. All the Levites in the holy city were two hundred eighty-four.”

The Levites were lead by Shemaiah. Shabbethai and Jozabad were in charge of the outside work around the house of God. Mattaniah, a descendent of Asaph, was the leader of the singing of thanksgiving. Bakbukiah and Abda had secondary roles. The total number of Levites who were living in Jerusalem was 284.

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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.

 

The list of the guilty Levites (Ezra 10:23-10:24)

“Among the Levites, there were Jozabad, Shimei, Kelaiah, which is Kelita, Pethahiah, Judah, and Eliezer. Among the singers there was only Eliashib. However, among the gatekeepers, there were Shallum, Telem, and Uri.”

Among the Levites, it was a smaller number who had married the foreign wives. There were only 6 Levites, 1 singer, and 3 gate keepers, for a total of 10, which were 6 less than the priests.

 

 

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 final stop in Jerusalem (Ezra 8:31-8:34)

“Then we departed from the river Ahava on the twelfth day of the first month, to go to Jerusalem. The hand of our God was upon us. He delivered us from the hand of the enemy and from ambushes along the way. We came to Jerusalem. There we remained three days. On the fourth day, within the house of our God, the silver, the gold, and the vessels were weighed into the hands of the priest Meremoth son of Uriah, and with him was Eleazar son of Phinehas, and with them were the Levites, Jozabad son of Jeshua and Noadiah son of Binnui. The total was counted and weighed. The weight of everything was recorded.”

Once again, notice the first person plural “we.” This group of about 5,000 with Ezra left on the 12th day of the 1st month. They were protected by God so that no enemy attacked them. They were lucky since they had a huge fortune with them. It does say how long it took them to make this journey, but the first group, some 80 years earlier, took about 5 months. However, the Temple was built by the time Ezra and his group arrived. They stayed 3 days before they presented their great treasures to the Temple priests. They then counted and weighed everything so that it could be recorded. Meremoth will play an important role in the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem. This Eleazar is obviously not the son of Aaron, but a common name for priests. There were other people name Jozabad, but this is the only Noadiah.

The Manasseh warriors (1 Chr 12:19-12:21)

“Some of the men of Manasseh deserted to David when he came with the Philistines for the battle against Saul. Yet he did not help them, for the rulers of the Philistines took counsel and sent him away, saying. ‘At peril to our heads he will desert to his master Saul.’ As David went to Ziklag, these men of Manasseh deserted to him. They were Adnah, Jozabad, Jediael, Michael, Jozabad, Elihu, and Zillethai, chiefs of thousands in Manasseh. They helped David against the band of raiders. They were all mighty men of valor. They were commanders in the army”

Here we have the men of Manasseh, who had fought with King Saul, come to David. There is an allusion to the battle at Gilboa as found in 1 Samuel, chapter 29. There David wanted to fight the Philistines against King Saul, but the Philistines would not David fight on their side because they felt that he was too closely tied to King Saul. So the Philistines sent him home to Ziklag. These were important commanders because they were in charge of thousands of men. Adnah and Zillethai are only mentioned here. Jozabad was the name of one of the Benjaminites, but here there two people called Jozabad. This Jediael may be one of the great warriors of David mentioned in the last chapter. Michael was a common name mentioned among 10 different people, while there was about 5 people with the name of Elihu.

The Benjaminite warriors (1 Chr 12:2-12:7)

“They were Benjaminites, Saul’s kinsmen. The chief was Ahiezer, then Joash, both sons of Shemaah of Gibeah. There was Jeziel and Pelet sons of Azmaveth, Beracah, Jehu of Anathoth, Ishmaiah of Gibeon, a mighty man among the Thirty and a leader over the Thirty. They also included Jeremiah, Jahaziel, Johanan, Jozabad of Gederah, Eluzai, Jerimoth, Bealiah, Shemariah, Shephatiah the Haruphite. There was Elkanah, Isshiah, Azarel, Joezer, and Jashobeam, the Korahites. Finally there were Joelah and Zebadiah, sons of Jeroham of Gedor.”

Here David was attracting the relatives of Saul, who was a Benjaminite. There was another Ahiezer that was from the tribe of Dan in Numbers, but this is the only mention of this Benjaminite Ahiezer. Although 2 kings 3 other Benjaminites have this name, this Joash is only mentioned here. There is another officer in David’s army, but it is not clear if they are both the same people. This is the only mention of their father Shemaah. Although this is the only mention of Jeziel and Pelet, their father Azmaveth may have been one of David’s mighty warriors mentioned in the preceding chapter. Beracah was the name of a person and a place not far from Tekoa. This is the only mention of this particular Jehu since the more famous Jehu was king of Israel (841-814 BCE). Interesting enough, this Ishmaiah of Gibeon was not mentioned in the preceding paragraph about the mighty warriors, but is here mentioned as a leader of the Thirty. This Jeremiah is not the prophet Jeremiah. There were a couple of other Levites with the name of Jahaziel. There were a number of Levites called Jozabad, plus a man from Manasseh who helped David. However, Eluzai, Bealiah, and Haruphite are only mentioned here and nowhere else in the biblical literature. There were at least 5 different men with the name Jerimoth. There were 3 other people called Shemariah as well as 8 or 9 people with the name Shephatiah. There were also 5 Korahites, from the family of the rebellious Levite Korah. Elkanah was the name of the son of Korah as well as a number of Levites. Isshiah was also the name of a couple of Levites. There were 5 people with the name of Azarel. Joezer only shows up here. Jashobeam was also the name of one of David’s mighty warriors. This was the only mention of Joelah, but there were 8 other people with the name of Zebadiah.