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.


The role of Tobiah (Neh 6:17-6:19)

“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.


Ezra is convinced to do something (Ezra 10:1-10:4)

“While Ezra prayed and made confession, weeping and throwing himself down before the house of God, a very great assembly of men, women, and children, gathered to him out of Israel. The people wept bitterly. Shecaniah son of Jehiel, of the descendents of Elam, addressed Ezra. ‘We have broken faith with our God. We have married foreign women from the peoples of the land, but even now there is hope for Israel in spite of this. Therefore now let us make a covenant with our God to send away all these wives and their children, according to the counsel of my lord and of those who tremble at the commandment of our God. Let it be done according to the law. Take action, for it is your duty! We are with you! Be strong and do it!’”

Ezra continued his praying, but a group of people gathered around him. This writing is back at the third person rather than a first person account as earlier. Here it says they were from Israel, but he was in Jerusalem and the Israelites had not returned with him, just the men of Judah. Everyone seemed to be crying. Shecaniah was one of the people who had returned with Ezra as in chapter 8 of this book. He convinced Ezra that he had to do something about this situation. It seemed simple enough. He had a plan. They would send away all their foreign wives and their children. It might be a difficult practical matter, but they wanted to do it according to the Mosaic Law as in Deuteronomy. This was a kind of wake up call to Ezra to get up, stop crying, and do something.

Those who came with Ezra (Ezra 8:1-8:14)

“These are the family heads. This is the genealogy of those who went up with me from Babylonia, in the reign of King Artaxerxes. There was the descendent of Phinehas, Gershom. There was the descendent of Ithamar, Daniel. There was the descendent of David, Hattush. There were the descendents of Shecaniah. There were the descendents of Parosh, Zechariah with one hundred fifty registered men. There were the descendents of Pahath-moab, Eliehoenai son of Zerahiah with two hundred men. There were the descendents of Zattu, Shecaniah son of Jahaziel with three hundred men. There were the descendents of Adin, Ebed son of Jonathan with fifty men. There were the descendents of Elam, Jeshaiah son of Athaliah with seventy men. There were the descendents of Shephatiah, Zebadiah son of Michael with eighty men. There were the descendents of Joab, Obadiah son of Jehiel with two hundred eighteen men. There were the descendents of Bani, Shelomith son of Josiphiah with one hundred sixty men. There were the descendents of Bebai, Zechariah son of Bebai with twenty-eight men. There were the descendents of Azgad, Johanan son of Hakkatan with one hundred ten men. There were the descendents of Adonikam, those who came later, their names being Eliphelet, Jeuel, and Shemaiah with sixty men. There were the descendents of Bigvai, Uthai and Zaccur with seventy men.”

Once again, we have the use of the singular personal pronoun “with me.” This no longer is a story about someone else but a personal eye witness account. It is the story of Ezra himself, or someone pretending to be him. These are the people who were with him, about 1,500 men. If you count women and children then this would be about 5,000, about a 10% the size of the group that set out under King Cyrus in 537 BCE, under the leadership of Zerubbabel and Jeshua. A number of these families seem to have only 1 person since there is no number given unlike the others with specific numbers. Thus the descendents of Phinehas, Ithamar, David, and Shecaniah have either one or no one listed. Phinehas and Ithamar were the son and grandson of Aaron. This Shecaniah is virtually unknown since a lot of biblical people had that name. Most of these people were the descendents of those who had come to Jerusalem in chapter 2 of this book 80 years earlier. Thus the descendents of Parosh only had 150 men instead of 2,172 men 80 years earlier. The descendents of Pahath-moab are only 200 instead of 2,800. The descendents of Zattu were 300 instead of 945. The descendents of Adin were 50 instead of 445. The descendents of Elam were 70 instead of 1,294. The descendents of Shephatiah were 80 instead of 372. The descendents of Bani were 160 instead of 642. The descendents of Bebai were 28 instead of 623. The descendents of Azgad were 110 instead of 1,222. The descendents of Adonikam were 60 instead of 666. The descendents of Bigvai were 70 instead of 2,256. There was no mention of the descendents of Arah, Zaccai, Ater, Bezai, Hashum, or Jorah that were in chapter 2. The only new group here was Joab with 218 men.

The various priestly positions (1 Chr 24:7-24:19)

“The first lot fell to Jehoiarib, the second to Jedaiah, the third to Harim, the fourth to Seorim, the fifth to Malchijah, the sixth to Mijamin, the seventh to Hakkoz, the eighth to Abijah, the ninth to Jeshua, the tenth to Shecaniah, the eleventh to Eliashib, the twelfth to Jakim, the thirteenth to Huppah, the fourteenth to Jeshebeab, the fifteenth to Bilgah, the sixteenth to Immer, the seventeenth to Hezir, the eighteenth to Happizzez, the nineteenth to Pethahiah, the twentieth to Jehezkel, the twenty-first to Jachin, the twenty-second to Gamul, the twenty-third to Delaiah, and the twenty-fourth to Maaziah. These had as their appointed duty in their service to come into the house of Yahweh according to the procedure established for them by Aaron their father, as Yahweh God of Israel had commanded him.”

There seems to be 24 levels or positions that the priests have. Their service and procedure had somehow been established by Aaron at the command of Yahweh.   However, there was no Temple at the time of Aaron. It is hard to tell what each of these 24 positions entailed. Apparently, these are people living at the time of King David, while there still was no temple. 8 of these priests only have their name appear in this book, (1) Jehoiarib, (4) Seorim, (12) Jakim, (13) Huppah, (14) Jeshebeab, (18) Happizzez, (20) Jehezkel, and (22) Gamul. There were 6 others whose name appears elsewhere, but they may be related to them, (6) Mijamin, (7) Hakkoz, (15) Bilgah, (17) Hezir, (21) Jachin, and (24) Maaziah. There were 3 other people named (2) Jedaiah, (3) Harim, and (19) Pethahiah. There were 13 people with the name of (5) Malchijah, even though it does not sound like a popular name. (8) Abijah incidentally shows up as an ancestor to Zachery, the father of John the Baptist in the later Gospel of Luke. There are at least 10 others with the name of (9) Jeshua, mostly Levites. There are at least 7 other people with the name of (10) Shecaniah. 6 others had the name of (11) Eliashib. (16) Immer was also the name of a place. There were 4 others with the name of (23) Delaiah.


The sons of Hananiah (1 Chr 3:21-3:24)

“The sons of Hananiah were Pelatiah and Jeshaiah. His son was Rephaiah, with his son Arnan. His son was Obadiah with his son Shecaniah. The son of Shecaniah was Shemaiah. The six sons of Shemaiah were Hattush, Igal, Bariah, Neariah, and Shaphat. The three sons of Neariah were Elioenai, Hizkiah, and Azrikam. The seven sons of Elioenai were Hodaviah, Eliashib, Pelaiah, Akkub, Johanan, Delaiah, and Anani.”

The sons of (1) Hananiah from the preceding genealogy were Pelatiah and (2) Jeshaiah with each having 4 people with the same name. There are 5 other people with the name of (3) Rephaiah. Now we move through the generations quickly. The son of Rephaiah was (4) Arnan who only appears here. However, Arnan’s son (5) Obadiah appears as the name of 12 different people. His son (6) Shecaniah appears among 8 different people. His son (7) Shemaiah appears among 18 different people. Shemaiah had 6 sons but only 5 are listed here. The 5 listed are Hattush whose name appears with at least 2 different people, Igal whose names appears with 3 different people, Bariah whose name only appears here, (8) Neariah with 1 other person with the same name, and Shaphat whose name appears with 4 different people. Neariah had 3 sons (9) Elioenai whose name was found among 6 different people, Hizkiah with 2 different people, and Azrikam, with 4 different people. Elioenai had 7 sons (10) Hodaviah with 3 different people, Eliashib with 6 different people, Pelaiah among 2 different people, Akkub among 4 different people, Johanan among 10 different people, Delaiah among 4 different people, and Anani whose name only appears here. After the 4 generations started around 520 BCE, that would mean that about 80 years brings us around 440 BCE. The generations move very quickly through 10 generations to about 240 BCE, based on a conservative 20 years to a generation. That would put his work of 1 Chronicles in the mid 3rd century BCE, around 250 BCE.