Living in the towns (Neh 7:73-7:73)

“So the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, some of the people, the temple servants, and all Israel, settled in their towns. When the seventh month came, the people of Israel were in their towns.”

Once again, this is very close to Ezra, chapter 2. The difference here is that it took 7 month for all the people to settle into their towns. The priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, the temple servants, and some of the people settled into their towns. Nehemiah calls this group all Israel. In fact, it was only Judah and Benjamin.

The complete assembly returning (Neh 7:66-7:69)

“The whole assembly together was forty-two thousand three hundred sixty, besides their male and female slaves, of whom there were seven thousand three hundred thirty-seven. They had two hundred forty-five male and female singers. They had seven hundred thirty-six horses, two hundred forty-five mules, four hundred thirty-five camels, and six thousand seven hundred twenty donkeys.”

This is exactly the same as Ezra, chapter 2. Once again, the numbers do not add up to 42,360. However, there was never any indication that these were all the people. There also were 7,337 servants or slaves that included 245 and not 240 male and female singers as in Ezra. This is the only change in numbers. All the other numbers are exactly the same. They had 736 horses, 245 mules, 435 camels, and 6, 720 donkeys. They certainly had a lot of transportation animals. This also assumes that they all started out at the same place, which is unnamed. This was a group like a mini-Exodus from Egypt, of about 50,000 people with nearly 7,000 animals. However, there was no mention of sheep or cattle.

 

The list of Levites returning (Neh 7:43-7:45)

“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.

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 celebration at the Temple (2 Chr 29:25-29:30)

“King Hezekiah stationed the Levites in the house of Yahweh. They had cymbals, harps, and lyres, according to the commandment of King David, Gad the king’s seer, and the prophet Nathan. This commandment was from Yahweh through his prophets. The Levites stood with the instruments of David. The priests had the trumpets. Then King Hezekiah commanded that the burnt offering be offered on the altar. When the burnt offering began, the song to Yahweh began also with the trumpets, accompanied by the instruments of King David of Israel. The whole assembly worshiped. The singers sang. The trumpeters sounded. All this continued until the burnt offering was finished. When the offering was finished, the king and all who were present with him bowed down and worshiped. King Hezekiah and the officials commanded the Levites to sing praises to Yahweh with the words of King David and of the seer Asaph. They sang praises with gladness. They bowed down and worshiped.”

During the burning or the cooking of the animal sacrifices, the musical part of the celebration at the Temple began. Here the musicians play a major role, unlike the Spartan sacrifices and feasts that followed the Mosaic Law. However, the justification of the musicians was from the prophets of Yahweh, particularly at the time of King David, Gad and Nathan. The king commanded this organized musical praise of Yahweh with a slight theatrical flair. Throughout the burnt offering, the trumpets blasted, the instruments sounded, the singers sung. All this happened during the burning or cooking of the animals until they were done. When they finished, King Hezekiah and his officials bowed down and worshipped. They then asked the singers to sing the songs of King David and Asaph, which is probably a reference to the psalms.

Yahweh takes possession of his Temple (2 Chr 5:11-5:14)

“The priests came out of the holy place. All the priests who were present had sanctified themselves, without regard to their divisions. All the Levitical singers, Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun, their sons and kindred, arrayed in fine linen, with cymbals, harps, and lyres, stood east of the altar with one hundred and twenty priests who were trumpeters. It was the duty of the trumpeters and singers to make themselves heard in unison in praise and thanksgiving to Yahweh. The song was raised, with trumpets and cymbals and other musical instruments, in praise to Yahweh.”

‘For he is good,

For his steadfast love endures forever.’

The house, the house of Yahweh, was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud. For the glory of Yahweh filled the house of God.”

This is a little different from 1 Kings, chapter 8. All the priests came out of the holy place, regardless of their position. The addition here is the temple singers play a more predominant role. There were 120 priestly trumpeters east of the altar. There were all kinds of musical instruments, cymbals, harps, and lyres. They had a simple song. God is good. His love endures forever. Finally the cloud enveloped the house of Yahweh. The cloud that had hung over the Israelites as they left Egypt that was so prominent in Exodus showed up here. Yahweh’s glory filled the Temple.

The musicians prepare to transport the ark (1 Chr 15:16-15:24)

“King David also commanded the chiefs of the Levites to appoint their kindred as the singers to play on musical instruments, on harps, lyres, and cymbals, to raise loud sounds of joy. So the Levites appointed Heman son of Joel with his kindred Asaph son of Berechiah. Of the sons of Merari and their kindred, was Ethan son of Kushaiah. With them were their kindred of the second order Zechariah, Jaaziel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Unni, Eliab, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattithiah, Eliphelehu, and Mikneiah, and the gatekeepers Obed-edom and Jeiel. The singers, Heman, Asaph, and Ethan, were to sound bronze cymbals. Zechariah, Aziel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Unni, Eliab, Maaseiah, and Benaiah were to play harps according to Alamoth. But Mattithiah, Eliphelehu, Mikneiah, Obed-edom, Jeiel, and Azaziah were to lead with lyres according to the Sheminith. Chenaniah, leader of the Levites in music, should direct the music, for he understood it. Berechiah and Elkanah were to be gatekeepers for the ark. Shebaniah, Joshaphat, Nethanel, Amasai, Zechariah, Benaiah, and Eliezer, the priests, should blow the trumpets before the ark of God. Obed-edom and Jehiah also were to be gatekeepers for the ark.”

Ever the musician King David, in fact, wanted some kind of band or orchestra to accompany the ark on its travels. He wanted the Levites to be in charge of music, to play the harp, the lyre, and the cymbals.  The Kohathite Levite Heman, son of Joel and the grandson of the prophet Samuel, was appointed by King David as one of the leaders of the temple-singing earlier in chapter 6 of this book. Although Asaph the son of Berechiah is called Heman’s kindred he is actually a Gershonite Levite, not a Kohathite Levite, as in chapter 6 of this book. The 3rd leader was the Merarite Ethan, so that all three main braches of the Levites were included. There was a 2nd order of 11 singers or musicians. The 3 leaders were to play the cymbals. 8 people were to play the harps according to Alamoth, which means some kind of high pitch like a female voice. 6 people were to play the lyres according to Sheminith, which is a lower pitch or the lowest pitch of a male voice. Chenaniah was in charge of the music because he seemed to understand it better than anyone else. There were 7 horn blowers. This seems like it was very organized here, while in 2 Samuel, chapter 6, it seemed more haphazard. It looks like here there are about 24 people playing 4 different instruments, cymbals (3), harps (8), lyres (6), and trumpets (7). Obed-edom keeps showing up as a gate keeper, but actually the ark was at his house, since there is no indication that they are different people.