“The Levites were Jeshua son of Azaniah, Binnui of the sons of Henadad, Kadmiel, and their associates Shebaniah, Hodiah, Kelita, Pelaiah, Hanan, Mica, Rehob, Hashabiah, Zaccur, Sherebiah, Shebaniah, Hodiah, Bani, and Beninu.”
Most of these 16 Levite names have appeared earlier in his book. Hodiah is mentioned twice. Only Rehob and Beninu are not mentioned elsewhere in this book. All the other Levites are mentioned from 2 – 5 times in this book.
“Then the high priest Eliashib set to work with his fellow priests. They rebuilt the Sheep Gate. They consecrated it. They set up its doors. They consecrated it as far as the Tower of the Hundred and as far as the Tower of Hananel. The men of Jericho built next to him. Next to them Zaccur son of Imri built.”
Eliashib was the current high priest in Jerusalem, the grandson of Zerubbabel, whose group first came to Jerusalem over a hundred years before this time. He and his fellow priest went to work on the Sheep Gate. They finished it and the walls to the 2 towers, of the Hundred and Hananel. The Tower of Hananel was on the north side of town. This Sheep Gate must have been the gate where they brought sheep into Jerusalem. It might have been near the Temple. It seems to be between the tower of Hundred and the tower of Hananel, on the northeast side of Jerusalem. The 100 tower may have been about 100 cubits from the Temple, about 150 feet from the Temple. This was the gate between the 2 towers. It does not say how long they took to build this gate and the adjoining walls. They had some help from the men of Jericho and Zaccur. Jericho was about 12 miles northeast of Jerusalem. Why they came is not clear since this was in Benjamin territory not Judah. There were 5 or 6 other people with the name of Zaccur.
“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 list of those who did the work and of their duties included the sons of Asaph. Zaccur, Joseph, Nethaniah, and Asarelah were the sons of Asaph, under the direction of Asaph. They prophesied under the direction of the king.”
Asaph was from the Gershonites. There are 2 other people with the name of Asaph. Some Psalms (73-83) are attributed to this Asaph as well as this group of singers who called themselves the sons of Asaph. The 4 sons of Asaph also prophesied under the direction of Asaph and King David. (1) Zaccur is a name that appears 4 other times. (2) Joseph was, of course, the son of Israel who brought the Israelites to Egypt. However, there were over 20 biblical people with this same name. There were 3 other people with the name of (3) Nethaniah. (4) Asarelah only appears here and nowhere else. These prophetic singers were under the king and not free lance prophets.
“Shallum was the son of Shaul. Mibsam was his son. Mishma was his son. The sons of Mishma were Hammuel, Zaccur, and Shimei. Shimei had sixteen sons and six daughters. However, his brothers did not have many children, so that all their family did not multiply like the Judeans.”
Here there are 5 generations descendent from Simeon via Shallum who must have been the most important of Simeon’s sons. There were over 15 people with the name of (1) Shallum, including a King of Israel (743 BCE). Interesting enough both (2) Mibsam and (3) Mishma were the names of the sons of Ishmael. I am not sure whether this is a coincidence or an attempt to say something here. This is the only mention of the name Hammuel, the son of Mishma. There are 5 or 6 people with the name of Zaccur. There 16 different biblical figures with the name of (4) Shimei. This Shimei was very productive with over 22 children. However, his brothers and their families did not multiply like the family of Judah. This might be the reason that the family of Simeon will blend and become simply Judah.