“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.
“In the days of Joiakim, the priests, and the heads of the ancestral houses of the Seraiah family was Meraiah. For the Jeremiah family it was Hananiah. For the Ezra family it was Meshullam. For the Amariah family it was Jehohanan. For the Malluchi family it was Jonathan. For the Shebaniah family it was Joseph. For the Harim family it was Adna. For the Meraioth family it was Helkai. For the Iddo family it was Zechariah. For the Ginnethon family it was Meshullam. For the Abijah family it was Zichri. For the family of Miniamin it was unknown. For the Moadiah family it was Piltai. For the Bilgah family it was Shammua. For the Shemaiah family it was Jehonathan. For the Joiarib family it was Mattenai. For the Jedaiah family it was Uzzi. For the Sallai family it was Kallai. For the Amok family it was Eber. For the Hilkiah family it was Hashabiah. For the Jedaiah family it was Nethanel.”
Joiakim was the son of Jeshua and the high priest before Eliashib, sometime around 500 BCE. There are 3 families are not mentioned elsewhere, the Meraioth family, the missing Miniamin family leader, and the Joiarib family compared to the list of signers in chapter 10. Otherwise all these families have been mentioned before in this work. Family names were very important.
“The rest of Israel, and the priests and the Levites, were in all the towns of Judah. All of them were in their own inheritance. But the temple servants lived on Ophel. Ziha and Gishpa were over the temple servants. The overseer of the Levites in Jerusalem was Uzzi son of Bani, son of Hashabiah, son of Mattaniah, son of Mica, of the descendents of Asaph, the singers, in charge of the work of the house of God. There was a command from the king concerning them. A settled provision for the singers was required every day. Pethahiah son of Meshezabel, of the descendents of Zerah, son of Judah, was at the king’s hand in all matters concerning the people.”
The rest of the people lived in their own towns with their own inheritance. It is hard to figure out their inheritance since they returned from captivity with what they had. Did they get back their family inheritance? The Temple servants lived on the Ophel hill. Ziha and Gishpa were in charge of them. The overseer of the Levites in Jerusalem was Uzzi. He was a descended from Asaph, the singer, so he was in charge of the singers. The singers were to be provided for each day. It says the king commanded this, but the king was in Persia. There was no king in Jerusalem. Perhaps Nehemiah and Ezra were acting in the name of the king, but it is not clear. Another descendent of Judah from the Zerah line was Pethahiah who someone was the king’s hand in all this. It is not clear what his connection to the King of Persia was.
“After this, in the reign of King Artaxerxes off Persia, Ezra son of Seraiah, son of Azariah, son of Hilkiah, son of Shallum, son of Zadok, son of Ahitub, son of Amariah, son of Azariah, son of Meraioth, son of Zerahiah, son of Uzzi, son of Bukki, son of Abishua, son of Phinehas, son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the chief priest.”
Over half way through this book, we now run into Ezra. This was during the reign of King Artaxerxes from 465-424 BCE, which gets us closer to the reign of King Darius II, his son from 424-404 BCE. Ezra had a strong pedigree. He claimed to trace his ancestors back to Aaron, via Eleazar, Phinehas, Abishua, Bukki, Uzzi, Zerahiah, Meraioth, Azariah, Amariah, Ahitub, Zadok, Shallum, Hilkiah, Azariah, and Seraiah. These were some of the great high priests. There was a strong emphasis on the priestly lineage here. This purports to get through 16 people in about 800-1000 years, which is possible, but not probable.
“The five sons of Bela were Ezbon, Uzzi, Uzziel, Jerimoth, and Iri, heads of the ancestral houses, mighty warriors. Their enrollment by genealogies was twenty-two thousand and thirty-four.”
Bela had 5 sons. (1) Ezbon was also the name of 1 of the sons of Gad in Genesis, chapter 46, and Numbers, chapter 15, but not among the clans of Gad in chapter 4 of this book. There are 7 different people with the name of (2) Uzzi, including the son of Tola in the Issachar family. There are 5 other biblical characters with the name (3) Uzziel, including a son of the Levite Kohath. There 8 other biblical people with the name of (4) Jerimoth, while (5) Iri only appears here. These were the heads of the ancestral house and mighty warriors, so that these Belaites numbered 22,034, probably around the time of David.
“The sons of Tola were Uzzi, Rephaiah, Jeriel, Jahmai, Ibsam, and Shemuel, heads of their ancestral houses, namely of Tola. They were mighty warriors of their generations. They numbered in the days of David twenty-two thousand six hundred.”
Tola was the name of the first born of Issachar. Puah was the second son, but this biblical author does not follow him or his other 2 brothers, Jashub, and Shimron. Tola was the name of judge #6 in Judges, chapter 10. He was called a man of Issachar, and his father’s name was Puah, the name of the brother of the original Tola. However, he seems to rule or judge from Ephraim. These are the only mentions of Tola in the biblical literature. He had 6 sons who became the ancestral heads of this tribe. There are 7 different people with the name of (1) Uzzi. 5 different people had the name (2) Rephaiah, while 3 people shared the name of (6) Shemuel. However, (3) Jeriel, (4) Jahmai, and (5) Ibsam are only mentioned here. At the time of David, these mightily warriors or Tola numbered 22, 600 but there is no indication where this number comes from.
“Aaron and his sons made offerings upon the altar of burnt offering and upon the altar of incense for all the work of the most holy place. They were making atonement for Israel, according to all that Moses the servant of God had commanded. These are the sons of Aaron, Eleazar his son, Phinehas his son, Abishua his son, Bukki his son, Uzzi his son, Zerahiah his son, Meraioth his son, Amariah his son, Ahitub his son, Zadok his son, and Ahimaaz his son.”
This list of Aaron and his sons is exactly the same as the list of the high priests before the building of the Temple at Jerusalem in the early part of this chapter. These priest sons of Aaron could make sacrifices on the altar, in particular the burnt offerings. They did atonement for the people of Israel according to the Law of Moses. However, after the listing of Eleazar, Phinehas, Abishua, Bukki, Uzzi, Zerahiah, Meraioth, Amariah, Ahitub, Zadok, and Ahimaaz, the list stops. There is no mention of any of the high priests after the building of the Temple in Jerusalem by Solomon as earlier in this chapter.
“Eleazar became the father of Phinehas. Phinehas became the father of Abishua. Abishua became the father of Bukki. Bukki became the father of Uzzi. Uzzi became the father of Zerahiah. Zerahiah became the father of Meraioth. Meraioth became the father of Amariah. Amariah became the father of Ahitub. Ahitub became the father of Zadok. Zadok became the father of Ahimaaz. Ahimaaz became the father of Azariah. Azariah became the father of Johanan. Johanan became the father of Azariah, who served as priest in the house that Solomon built in Jerusalem. Azariah was the father of Amariah. Amariah became the father of Ahitub. Ahitub became the father of Zadok. Zadok became the father of Shallum. Shallum became the father of Hilkiah. Hilkiah became the father of Azariah. Azariah became the father of Seraiah. Seraiah became the father of Jehozadak. Jehozadak went into exile when Yahweh sent Judah and Jerusalem into exile by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar.”
This is a list of the high priests prior to the Exile, a parallel to the descendents of David in chapter 3 of this book, as they were both hereditary. The king and the priests were the important people. Eleazar was the son of Aaron who had a son named Phinehas. Phinehas, the grandson of Aaron was promised the hereditary high priesthood in Numbers, chapter 25. There is not much information about Abishua, Bukki, or Zerahiah other than their listings in the genealogies. Uzzi is a name shared with 6 other biblical people. There are a couple of Levite priests with the name of Meraioth. There were 8 different priests named Amariah. This genealogy gets tricky with Ahitub. There were 2 priests with this name. 1 was the son of Phinehas, so that when his grandfather Eli died, he succeeded to the office of high priest, and was himself succeeded by his son Ahijah as in 1 Samuel, chapter 4, who is not mentioned here. The other was the father of Zadok, who was made high priest by Saul after the extermination of the family of Ahimelech in 2 Samuel, chapter 8, who is the one mentioned here. This Zadok was the trusted priest friend of David, who helped to put Solomon on the throne. His son Ahimaaz remained loyal to David in the rebellions both of Absalom and of Adonijah. However, Ahimaaz’ son became the high priest since he died before this father died. Thus, technically the first high priest of Jerusalem was Azariah, because he lived at the time that the Temple was built by Solomon. However, there are 27 biblical people who have the same name as this Azariah. In this list Azariah is both the father and son of Johanan. This list gets goofy because it relists Amariah, Ahitub, and Zadok as sons again. Either people had the same names or this is filler to get down to Hilkiah. In the relisting, Zadok became the father of Shallum, but there are 15 different biblical people with that name. However, he was the father of Hilkiah the high priest at the time of Josiah in the 7th century. Hilkiah became the father of another Azariah, who became the father of Seraiah, but there are 11 people with this name. Finally we get to his son Jehozadak, who got carried away in the Babylonian Captivity, after Seraiah was killed by King Nebuchadnezzar.