“The Levites returning were Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Sherebiah, Judah, and Mattaniah, who with his associates, was in charge of the songs of thanksgiving. Bakbukiah and Unno, and their associates, stood opposite them in the service.”
Jeshua was the high priest with Zerubbabel. The house of Jeshua returned with the original group in Ezra, chapter 2. There is no mention here of the Immer group, the Pashhur group, the Harim group, and the Hodaviah group. However, the Kadmiel group is mentioned here, while Sherebiah, Judah, and Mattaniah are added here. Bakbukiah and Unno are new here also. They stood opposite them which might refer to antiphonal singers, but it is not definitive.
“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.
“Then the Levites Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah, said.
Bless Yahweh your God,
From everlasting to everlasting!
Blessed be your glorious name
That is exalted above all blessing and praise.’”
This is somewhat reminiscent of Psalm 78. These are the 8 Levites just mentioned in the preceding paragraph. However Bunni has become Hodiah and Chenani has become Pethahiah. They wanted the people to stand up and bless God because he is everlasting and glorious. Therefore Yahweh should be exalted above all blessings and praises.
“Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the people of Israel were assembled with fasting and in sackcloth, and with earth upon their heads. Then those of Israelite descent separated themselves from all foreigners. They stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their ancestors. They stood up in their place. They read from the book of the law of Yahweh their God for a fourth part of the day. For another fourth, they made confession and worshiped Yahweh their God. Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Chenani stood on the stairs of the Levites. They cried with a loud voice to Yahweh their God.”
The traditional penitential posture was fasting and sackcloth, which was the cheap cloth that things were bundled in. This seems to have been separated from Yom Kippur, but nevertheless much like it. They separated themselves from all foreigners. Then they stood and confessed their own sins as well as the evils of their ancestors. A quarter of the day they were confessing sins and then a quarter of the day they were reading or listening to a reading from the book of the law of Yahweh. 8 of them stood on the Levite steps and cried out to Yahweh. 3 of them were the people who helped explain the law in the preceding chapter, Jeshua, Bani, and Sherebiah. In fact, Bani is mentioned twice, while the others are from the ancestral Levite families that returned. Chenani is only one mentioned here and nowhere else.
“The Levites who were the descendents of Jeshua, namely descendents of Kadmiel, the descendents of Hodevah, were seventy-four. The singers, who were the descendents of Asaph, were one hundred forty-eight. The gatekeepers, who were the descendents of Shallum, the descendents of Ater, the descendents of Talmon, the descendents of Akkub, the descendents of Hatita, the descendents of Shobai, were one hundred thirty-eight.”
There were only 3 groups of Levites, the people of Jeshua, the people of Kadmiel, and the people of Hodevah, or Hodaviah as in Ezra, with a total of 74, the same as in Ezra, chapter 2. The singers of the Asaph group had 148 rather than the 128 people in Ezra. The gatekeepers have a major role with 6 different groups. Shallum, Talmon, and Akkub and their families had been gatekeepers since the time of King David. On the other hand, the descendents of Ater, Hatita, and Shobai only appear at this time after the exile. Nevertheless, they only had a total of 138 and not 139 people as in Ezra. Somebody got lost.
“In the second year after their arrival at the house of God at Jerusalem, in the second month, Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and Jeshua son of Jozadak made a beginning. Together with the rest of their people, the priests, the Levites, and all who had come to Jerusalem from the captivity, they began work on the house of God at Jerusalem. They appointed the Levites, from twenty years old and upward, to have the oversight of the work of the house of Yahweh. Jeshua with his sons and his kinsmen, Kadmiel and his sons, Binnui and Hodaviah, along with the sons of Henadad, these Levites, their sons and kinsmen took charge of the workers in the house of God.”
Clearly this is the 2nd year after the big assembly, which would put it under King Cyrus. They put various Levites in charge of building the foundation. Once again, this was led by Zerubbabel and Jeshua, just as in the previous year. Working in conjunction with the other returnees, they began to plan the foundation of the Temple. The Levites, over 20 years old, were to be in charge of this activity. The leaders would be Jeshua and his family, Kadmiel and Hodaviah were the leading Levites as mentioned in the previous chapter. Binnui and Henadad are new names not mentioned before this.
“The Levites were the descendents of Jeshua and Kadmiel, and the descendents of Hodaviah, seventy-four. The singers were the descendents of Asaph, one hundred twenty-eight. The descendents of the gatekeepers were the descendents of Shallum, the descendents of Ater, the descendents of Talmon, the descendents of Akkub, the descendents of Hatita, and the descendents of Shobai, in all one hundred thirty-nine.”
There were only 3 groups of Levites, the people of Jeshua, the people of Kadmiel, and the people of Hodaviah, with a mere total of 74. The singers of the Asaph group had 128 people. The gatekeepers had a major role with 6 different groups. Shallum, Talmon, and Akkub and their families had been gatekeepers since the time of King David. On the other hand, the descendents of Ater, Hatita, and Shobai only appear at this time after the exile. Nevertheless, they only had a total of 139 people with nothing to guard.