The Levites in the days of Eliashib (Neh 12:22-12:26)

“As for the Levites, in the days of Eliashib, Joiada, Johanan, and Jaddua, they were recorded as the heads of the ancestral houses. These were the priests until the reign of Darius the Persian. The Levites, heads of ancestral houses, were recorded in the Book of the Annals until the days of Johanan son of Eliashib. The leaders of the Levites were Hashabiah, Sherebiah, and Jeshua son of Kadmiel, with their associates over against them, to praise and to give thanks, according to the commandment of King David the man of God, section opposite to section. Mattaniah, Bakbukiah, Obadiah, Meshullam, Talmon, and Akkub were gatekeepers standing guard at the storehouses of the gates. These were in the days of Joiakim son of Jeshua son of Jozadak, and in the days of the governor Nehemiah and the priest Ezra, the scribe.”

This is now a more up to date list of the priests around the time of Nehemiah. However, the list goes to King Darius II who died around 405 BCE. Nehemiah had come to Jerusalem around 446 BCE. It is possible that he lived until the reign of King Darius, but he clearly was a favorite of King Artaxerxes I. We know the names of the heads of the Levitical ancestral houses until the time of Johanan because they were recorded in a book at the Temple. This must have been like the lost books of the Annals of the Kings of Judah and Israel.   The leaders were Hashabiah, Sherebiah, and another Jeshua. They gave praise in antiphonal singing as they were opposite each other. The gatekeepers were Mattaniah, Bakbukiah, Obadiah, Meshullam, Talmon, and Akkub, who also had control over the storehouses at the Temple. All of these people were in charge during the time of the high priest Joiakim and also during the time that Governor Nehemiah and the priest scribe Ezra were in charge. It is interesting to note that it is no longer is “I” but the 3rd person who is telling this story about Nehemiah and his times.

 

The gatekeepers (Neh 11:19-11:19)

“The gatekeepers were Akkub, Talmon and their associates. They kept watch at the gates. They were one hundred seventy-two.”

The chief gatekeepers were Akkub and Talmon. They kept watch with a group of 172. There were a number of gates so they must have had different shifts.

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 Levites returning (Ezra 2:40-2:42)

“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.

The gatekeepers return (1 Chr 9:17-9:27)

“The gatekeepers were Shallum, Akkub, Talmon, Ahiman, and their kindred. Shallum was the chief, stationed previously at the king’s gate on the east side. These were the gatekeepers of the camp of the Levites. Shallum son of Kore, son of Ebiasaph, son of Korah, and his kindred of his ancestral house, the Korahites, were in charge of the work of the service. They were the guardians of the thresholds of the tent, as their ancestors had been in charge of the camp of Yahweh, guardians of the entrance. Phinehas son of Eleazar was chief over them in former times. Yahweh was with him. Zechariah son of Meshelemiah was gatekeeper at the entrance of the tent of meeting. All these, who were chosen as gatekeepers at the thresholds, were two hundred twelve. They were enrolled by genealogies in their villages. David and the seer Samuel had established them in their office of trust. So they and their descendents were in charge of the gates of the house of Yahweh, that is, the house of the tent, as guards. The gatekeepers were on the four sides, east, west, north, and south. Their kindred who were in their villages were obliged to come in every seven days, in turn, to be with them. The four chief gatekeepers, who were Levites, were in charge of the chambers and the treasures of the house of God. They would spend the night near the house of God. On them, lay the duty of watching. They had charge of opening it every morning.”

This is somewhat strange since there is an attempt to tie King David with the new inhabitants of Jerusalem. In actuality, King David did not build the temple, it was Solomon. Also, since the temple had not been restored, what treasures were they guarding? These are clearly ceremonial gatekeepers, since there was nothing to watch. They recall the time of their ancestors, since they were the descendents of them. This task belonged to the Korahites, who were both the singers and porters of the Kohathite branch of the Levites. This Shallum was clearly in charge, but he is not the King Shallum of Israel (743 BCE), since there were many people with this name. Kore was a Levite at the time of King David. His father was Ebiasaph, the son of Korah. Phinehas, the grandson of Aaron, had been in charge of the gatekeepers who were on all 4 sides of the tent and the tabernacle, east, west, north, and south. Their job was to spend the night and open the temple in the morning. There were apparently 212 of these gatekeepers with nothing to guard. The 3 other gatekeepers Akkub, Talmon, and Ahiman were not as important as Shallum.