Zephaniah reads the letter to Jeremiah (Jer 29:29-29:29)

“The priest Zephaniah

Read this letter

In the hearing

Of the prophet Jeremiah.”

If Shemaiah was expecting something bad to happen to Jeremiah, he would have been surprised when the priest Zephaniah read his letter to Jeremiah himself. This is not going to work out well for Shemaiah.

The questioning of Tobit (Tob 5:11-5:14)

“Then Tobit said to him.

‘Brother, of what family are you?

From what tribe are you?

Tell me, brother.’

He answered.

‘Why do you need to know my tribe?’

However, Tobit said.

‘I want to be sure, brother.

Whose son are you?

What your name is?’

He replied.

‘I am Azariah the son of the great Hananiah.

He is one of your relatives.’

Then Tobit said to him.

‘Welcome!

God save you, brother.

Do not feel bitter towards me, brother.

I wanted to be sure about your ancestry.

It turns out that you are a kinsman, of good and noble lineage.

I knew Hananiah and Nathan, the two sons of Shemaiah.

They used to go with me to Jerusalem.

They worshiped with me there.

They were not led astray.

You kindred are good people.

You come of good stock.

Hearty welcome!’”

Tobit wanted to know about his family and tribe. However, Raphael was indignant. Like a modern Human Resource person, was he over stepping the bounds? What did his family have to do with being a guide for his son? Then the angel Raphael replied that that he was Azariah the son of the great Hananiah, Tobit was satisfied. Besides over 25 biblical people with that name, there was a King Azariah of Judah (781-740 BCE). Hananiah was a captain in the army of King Azariah, so that he might have been named after a king. Of course, it is the angel Raphael who is misleading Tobit. Then Tobit said that he along with Hananiah and Nathan, the sons of Shemaiah, would go together to worship at Jerusalem. He commended Azariah for coming from good stock. He gave him a hearty welcome. Anyway, Tobit was satisfied with this guide for his son Tobias.

 

Nehemiah leads the other group (Neh 12:38-12:43)

“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.

The celebration at the gates (Neh 12:31-12:37)

“Then I brought up the leaders of Judah onto the wall. I appointed two great companies which gave thanks. They went in procession. One went to the right upon the wall to the Dung Gate. After them went Hoshaiah and half of the princes of Judah. There was Azariah, Ezra, Meshullam, Judah, Benjamin, Shemaiah, Jeremiah, and some of the young priests with trumpets. There was Zechariah son of Jonathan, son of Shemaiah, son of Mattaniah, son of Micaiah, son of Zaccur, son of Asaph. His kindred were Shemaiah, Azarel, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethanel, Judah, and Hanani, with the musical instruments of King David, the man of God. The scribe Ezra went in front of them. At the Fountain Gate, in front of them, they went straight up by the stairs of the city of David, at the ascent of the wall, above the house of David, to the Water Gate on the east.”

Once again, we come back to the 1st person singular, “I”, after all that went before in the 3rd person singular. Nehemiah divided the people into 2 groups. One group walked the wall on the southeast side from the Dung Gate at the south side to the Fountain Gate and then to the Water Gate. At the Fountain Gate they walked the stairs into the city of David. This group was led by the scribe Ezra. This is the only mention of Hoshaiah, who must have been some kind of leader. While Azariah, Ezra, Meshullam, Judah, Benjamin, Shemaiah, and Jeremiah are mentioned elsewhere, there were also the young priests who were the sons of famous priests with their trumpets. Some of the kindred only appear here, Azarel, Milalai, Gilalai, and Maai, while the others are more familiar like Shemaiah, Nethanel, Judah, and Hanani. They played the instruments of King David, lyre, harps, and cymbals.

 

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 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.

The priests who sign the agreement with Nehemiah (Neh 10:1-10:8)

“Upon the sealed document are the names of Nehemiah the governor, son of Hacaliah, Zedekiah, Seraiah, Azariah, Jeremiah, Pashhur, Amariah, Malchijah, Hattush, Shebaniah, Malluch, Harim, Meremoth, Obadiah, Daniel, Ginnethon, Baruch, Meshullam, Abijah, Mijamin, Maaziah, Bilgai, and Shemaiah. These are the priests.”

Obviously leading this signing of the covenant document is Nehemiah himself. Although he lists these people as priests, he himself was not a priest. He was the governor. Most of these 22 priests appear elsewhere in this book. This Zedekiah is difficult to locate since he obviously was not the last king of Judah, but he does appear elsewhere in this book. Daniel is not from the book of Daniel, but there is no mention of his name in this book. Maaziah and Bilgai only appear here. Meshullam appears over 13 times in this book, while the other 17 are mentioned anywhere from 2 – 5 times in this book.