“On that day men were appointed over the chambers for the stored things, the contributions, the first fruits, and the tithes. They were to gather into them the portions required by the law for the priests and the Levites from the fields belonging to the towns. Judah rejoiced over the priests and the Levites who ministered. They performed the service of their God. They performed the service of purification, as did the singers and the gatekeepers, according to the command of King David and his son King Solomon. In the days of King David and Asaph long ago, there was a leader of the singers. There were songs of praise and thanksgiving to God. In the days of Zerubbabel and in the days of Nehemiah all Israel gave the daily portions for the singers and the gatekeepers. They set apart that which was for the Levites, while the Levites set apart that which was for the sons of Aaron.”
People were appointed to watch the storage chambers. They were to oversee the contributions of the first fruits and the tithes. They were to gather the portions for the priests and the Levites from the various towns. All the people of Judah rejoiced over their priests and Levites who ministered to Yahweh with their service. The singers and the gatekeeper followed the commands of King David and King Solomon. There was a song leader to lead the songs of praise and thanksgiving. Everyone gave their portions so that all the singers, gatekeepers, Levites, and priests were compensated.
“I found the following written in it. These were the people of the province who came up out of the captivity of those exiles whom King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had carried into exile. They returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to his town. They came with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Azariah, Raamiah, Nahamani, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispereth, Bigvai, Nehum, and Baanah.”
This is very similar to Ezra, chapter 2. Most of the 12 people named, that is 7, are exactly the same people as in the beginning of chapter 2 of Ezra, Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Mordecai, Bilshan, Bigvai, and Baanah. These exiles were lead by Zerubbabel. Jeshua was the head of the priests. This Nehemiah is not the Nehemiah writing this book. Mordecai played a major role in the Book of Esther, so that it is hard to believe that this is the same person here. Bilshan is only mentioned in these listings. The family of Bigvai will sign a covenant. It is hard to tell the role of Baanah. The other 4 named may be variations of the same name. Azariah may be the same as Seraiah. Raamiah may be Reelaiah. Mispereth may be Mispar, and Nehum may be Rehum. That leaves only Nahamani as a new person. These exiles supposedly returned to their own towns. According to 2 Kings, the poor people were not taken into captivity.
“Now the prophets, Haggai and Zechariah son of Iddo, prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem, in the name of the God of Israel who was over them. Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and Jeshua son of Jozadak set out to rebuild the house of God in Jerusalem. With them were the prophets of God, helping them.”
Haggai and Zechariah are the names of prophetic books of the Bible. So unlike Isaiah and, Jeremiah, they are known as part of the 12 Minor Prophets. Now we are back to Zerubbabel and Jeshua as in chapter 3 and the building of the foundation of the Temple. These two prophets were now helping and encouraging them to build the Temple. It appears that those objections in the preceding chapter may have come after the start of the rebuilding of the Temple since those objections were about the wall of Jerusalem, rather than the Temple itself.
“In the second year after their arrival at the house of God at Jerusalem, in the second month, Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and Jeshua son of Jozadak made a beginning. Together with the rest of their people, the priests, the Levites, and all who had come to Jerusalem from the captivity, they began work on the house of God at Jerusalem. They appointed the Levites, from twenty years old and upward, to have the oversight of the work of the house of Yahweh. Jeshua with his sons and his kinsmen, Kadmiel and his sons, Binnui and Hodaviah, along with the sons of Henadad, these Levites, their sons and kinsmen took charge of the workers in the house of God.”
Clearly this is the 2nd year after the big assembly, which would put it under King Cyrus. They put various Levites in charge of building the foundation. Once again, this was led by Zerubbabel and Jeshua, just as in the previous year. Working in conjunction with the other returnees, they began to plan the foundation of the Temple. The Levites, over 20 years old, were to be in charge of this activity. The leaders would be Jeshua and his family, Kadmiel and Hodaviah were the leading Levites as mentioned in the previous chapter. Binnui and Henadad are new names not mentioned before this.
“Now these were the people of the province who came from those captive exiles whom King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had carried captive to Babylonia. They returned to Jerusalem and Judah, all to their own towns. They came with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispar, Bigvai, Rehum, and Baanah.”
These people were captured by King Nebuchadnezzar around 582 BCE. This return is around 537 BCE so that some of these people may have still been living. Although the prophet Jeremiah had predicted 70 years, that might include the years of the first attack. These exiles supposedly returned to their own towns. According to 2 Kings, the poor people had stayed there. These exiles were lead by Zerubbabel. There is a dispute about whether he is the same person named earlier Sheshbazzar. More likely, they were 2 different people. He might have been the governor later under King Darius. Jeshua was the head of the priests, even though he was born in Babylon. This Nehemiah is not the Nehemiah mentioned in the book with this name. There were 10 other people with the name of Seraiah. This is the only mention of Reelaiah, Bilshan, and Mispar. Mordecai played a major role in the Book of Esther, so that it is hard to believe that this is the same person. The family of Bigvai will sign a covenant. Rehum may have been some kind of lieutenant governor. It is hard to tell the role of Baanah.
“The sons of Jeconiah, the captive were Shealtiel. His other sons were Malchiram, Pedaiah, Shenazzar, Jekamiah, Hoshama, and Nedabiah. The sons of Pedaiah were Zerubbabel and Shimei. The sons of Zerubbabel were Meshullam and Hananiah. Shelomith was their sister. Hashubah, Ohel, Berechiah, Hasadiah, and Jushab-hesed were five other brothers.”
King Jeconiah was the son of King Jehoiakim and grandson of King Josiah who ruled Judah in 598 BCE. He was taken captive and in exile for 37 years as indicated in 2 Kings, chapter 25. (1) Shealtiel was his oldest son. His brothers Malchiram, Shenazzar, Hoshama, Jekamiah, and Nedabiah are only mentioned here, while Shealtiel is mentioned over 17 times in biblical literature, including the 2 genealogies of Jesus. There are 6 other people with the name of Pedaiah, and he is usually referred to as the uncle of Zerubbabel, but was in fact his father since Shealtiel had no children. The biblical text says here that Zerubbabel was the son of (2) Pedaiah. (3) Zerubbabel was the leader of the tribe of Judah at the time of the return from captivity as his names appears over 25 times. The Persian king appointed him the governor of Judea, where he rebuilt the Jerusalem temple. He also had a Persian name of Sheshbazzar as described in 1 Esdras, chapters 1-3. This is the only mention of Zerubbabel’s brother Shimei, but there are over 15 different people with the same name in biblical literature. Zerubbabel had at least 7 sons and 1 daughter. The 2 oldest sons (4) Meshullam and (4) Hananiah had 21 and 13 other people with same name. Their sister Shelomith had 6 other people with the same name. Four of the other five brothers are unique and only mentioned here, Hashubah, Ohel, Hasadiah, and Jushab-hesed. Berechiah, on the other hand, had 6 other people with the same name. This biblical author only mentions 4 generations after the Exile, so that we are in the mid-5th century BCE.