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The daily summaries are written by Wayne D. Turner, Pastor of Fayette Bible Church in Fayetteville, Georgia

This is the December 29 reading. Select here for a new reading date:


BibleTrack Summary: December 29
<< Neh 10
<< Psa 125

For New King James text and comment, click here.

Nehemiah 11-13; Psalm 126    Listen Podcast

 

Jerusalem needs some people in it (Nehemiah 11)

1 And the rulers of the people dwelt at Jerusalem: the rest of the people also cast lots, to bring one of ten to dwell in Jerusalem the holy city, and nine parts to dwell in other cities.
2 And the people blessed all the men, that willingly offered themselves to dwell at Jerusalem.
3 Now these are the chief of the province that dwelt in Jerusalem: but in the cities of Judah dwelt every one in his possession in their cities, to wit, Israel, the priests, and the Levites, and the Nethinims, and the children of Solomon’s servants.
4 And at Jerusalem dwelt certain of the children of Judah, and of the children of Benjamin. Of the children of Judah; Athaiah the son of Uzziah, the son of Zechariah, the son of Amariah, the son of Shephatiah, the son of Mahalaleel, of the children of Perez;
5 And Maaseiah the son of Baruch, the son of Colhozeh, the son of Hazaiah, the son of Adaiah, the son of Joiarib, the son of Zechariah, the son of Shiloni.
6 All the sons of Perez that dwelt at Jerusalem were four hundred threescore and eight valiant men.
7 And these are the sons of Benjamin; Sallu the son of Meshullam, the son of Joed, the son of Pedaiah, the son of Kolaiah, the son of Maaseiah, the son of Ithiel, the son of Jesaiah.
8 And after him Gabbai, Sallai, nine hundred twenty and eight.
9 And Joel the son of Zichri was their overseer: and Judah the son of Senuah was second over the city.
10 Of the priests: Jedaiah the son of Joiarib, Jachin.
11 Seraiah the son of Hilkiah, the son of Meshullam, the son of Zadok, the son of Meraioth, the son of Ahitub, was the ruler of the house of God.
12 And their brethren that did the work of the house were eight hundred twenty and two: and Adaiah the son of Jeroham, the son of Pelaliah, the son of Amzi, the son of Zechariah, the son of Pashur, the son of Malchiah,
13 And his brethren, chief of the fathers, two hundred forty and two: and Amashai the son of Azareel, the son of Ahasai, the son of Meshillemoth, the son of Immer,
14 And their brethren, mighty men of valour, an hundred twenty and eight: and their overseer was Zabdiel, the son of one of the great men.
15 Also of the Levites: Shemaiah the son of Hashub, the son of Azrikam, the son of Hashabiah, the son of Bunni;
16 And Shabbethai and Jozabad, of the chief of the Levites, had the oversight of the outward business of the house of God.
17 And Mattaniah the son of Micha, the son of Zabdi, the son of Asaph, was the principal to begin the thanksgiving in prayer: and Bakbukiah the second among his brethren, and Abda the son of Shammua, the son of Galal, the son of Jeduthun.
18 All the Levites in the holy city were two hundred fourscore and four.
19 Moreover the porters, Akkub, Talmon, and their brethren that kept the gates, were an hundred seventy and two.
20 And the residue of Israel, of the priests, and the Levites, were in all the cities of Judah, every one in his inheritance.
21 But the Nethinims dwelt in Ophel: and Ziha and Gispa were over the Nethinims.
22 The overseer also of the Levites at Jerusalem was Uzzi the son of Bani, the son of Hashabiah, the son of Mattaniah, the son of Micha. Of the sons of Asaph, the singers were over the business of the house of God.
23 For it was the king’s commandment concerning them, that a certain portion should be for the singers, due for every day.
24 And Pethahiah the son of Meshezabeel, of the children of Zerah the son of Judah, was at the king’s hand in all matters concerning the people.
25 And for the villages, with their fields, some of the children of Judah dwelt at Kirjatharba, and in the villages thereof, and at Dibon, and in the villages thereof, and at Jekabzeel, and in the villages thereof,
26 And at Jeshua, and at Moladah, and at Bethphelet,
27 And at Hazarshual, and at Beersheba, and in the villages thereof,
28 And at Ziklag, and at Mekonah, and in the villages thereof,
29 And at Enrimmon, and at Zareah, and at Jarmuth,
30 Zanoah, Adullam, and in their villages, at Lachish, and the fields thereof, at Azekah, and in the villages thereof. And they dwelt from Beersheba unto the valley of Hinnom.
31 The children also of Benjamin from Geba dwelt at Michmash, and Aija, and Bethel, and in their villages,
32 And at Anathoth, Nob, Ananiah,
33 Hazor, Ramah, Gittaim,
34 Hadid, Zeboim, Neballat,
35 Lod, and Ono, the valley of craftsmen.
36 And of the Levites were divisions in Judah, and in Benjamin.

In Nehemiah 8-10 (see notes) we see that the Jews have completed the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem and begin making preparations to inhabit their rebuilt city under the authority of their one true God. Apparently, not everyone wanted to necessarily live in Jerusalem after it had been rebuilt. Why? Well, it had taken some time to rebuild the city, and they had settled elsewhere over those years since they had returned from exile. Additionally, Jerusalem was a controversial city among the non-Jewish neighbors who were jealous of the Jews. Jerusalem would be a lightning rod over the centuries. As a matter of fact, it is still a lightning rod today. Then again, some people just prefer rural living over the city. However, the city needs to be inhabited by Jews.

The first step in repopulating the city is to get volunteers from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin (verses 2-9). It was determined that 10% of the people who live in Judah should live in Jerusalem (verse 1). To determine which families should live in Jerusalem, they used a lottery system (verse 1). So, who are considered the winners? Are they the people selected or the people not selected to live in Jerusalem. Well, it's not like that. The lottery was viewed as the manner for determining God's will in a matter. For additional information on this lottery process, click here. If the lottery selected you to live in Jerusalem, you viewed that as the divine providence of God - a mission, so to speak. Here's a list of the people who would inhabit Jerusalem. You'll see some familiar names from I Chronicles 9 (see notes), which is a list of those who were originally deported to Babylon back between 605 - 582 B.C., in the three deportations that took place over those years. About half the names in the two lists are identical. That list goes down through verse 19. You will notice in verses 4-8 that the Jews who moved there were from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. Originally, Jerusalem was located within the territory allocated to Benjamin. Down through verse 19 this list includes secular leaders (verse 9), priests (verses 10-14), Levites (verses 15-18) and gatekeepers (verse 19). Verse 20 draws a conclusion to this list, but verses 21-24 provide some additional detail to the list. Beginning in verse 21, we see information with regard to the returning exiles who lived outside the city of Jerusalem.

Who's your Daddy? (Nehemiah 12:1-26)

1 Now these are the priests and the Levites that went up with Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua: Seraiah, Jeremiah, Ezra,
2 Amariah, Malluch, Hattush,
3 Shechaniah, Rehum, Meremoth,
4 Iddo, Ginnetho, Abijah,
5 Miamin, Maadiah, Bilgah,
6 Shemaiah, and Joiarib, Jedaiah,
7 Sallu, Amok, Hilkiah, Jedaiah. These were the chief of the priests and of their brethren in the days of Jeshua.
8 Moreover the Levites: Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Sherebiah, Judah, and Mattaniah, which was over the thanksgiving, he and his brethren.
9 Also Bakbukiah and Unni, their brethren, were over against them in the watches.
10 And Jeshua begat Joiakim, Joiakim also begat Eliashib, and Eliashib begat Joiada,
11 And Joiada begat Jonathan, and Jonathan begat Jaddua.
12 And in the days of Joiakim were priests, the chief of the fathers: of Seraiah, Meraiah; of Jeremiah, Hananiah;
13 Of Ezra, Meshullam; of Amariah, Jehohanan;
14 Of Melicu, Jonathan; of Shebaniah, Joseph;
15 Of Harim, Adna; of Meraioth, Helkai;
16 Of Iddo, Zechariah; of Ginnethon, Meshullam;
17 Of Abijah, Zichri; of Miniamin, of Moadiah, Piltai;
18 Of Bilgah, Shammua; of Shemaiah, Jehonathan;
19 And of Joiarib, Mattenai; of Jedaiah, Uzzi;
20 Of Sallai, Kallai; of Amok, Eber;
21 Of Hilkiah, Hashabiah; of Jedaiah, Nethaneel.
22 The Levites in the days of Eliashib, Joiada, and Johanan, and Jaddua, were recorded chief of the fathers: also the priests, to the reign of Darius the Persian.
23 The sons of Levi, the chief of the fathers, were written in the book of the chronicles, even until the days of Johanan the son of Eliashib.
24 And the chief of the Levites: Hashabiah, Sherebiah, and Jeshua the son of Kadmiel, with their brethren over against them, to praise and to give thanks, according to the commandment of David the man of God, ward over against ward.
25 Mattaniah, and Bakbukiah, Obadiah, Meshullam, Talmon, Akkub, were porters keeping the ward at the thresholds of the gates.
26 These were in the days of Joiakim the son of Jeshua, the son of Jozadak, and in the days of Nehemiah the governor, and of Ezra the priest, the scribe.

Here's a list of returning exiles who were priests and Levites. Remember, all priests were Levites, but not all Levites were priests. However, the whole Levite tribe did have duties relative to tabernacle/temple worship - at least when things were being done correctly. These lists in Ezra and Nehemiah are not the most interesting reading - OK! OK! - not interesting at all, but to the Jews they contained critical information. The pedigree for a Jew was a vital statistic. Recall Philippians 3:5 (see notes) where Paul proclaims that he was born of the Tribe of Benjamin; that means that Paul could trace his genealogy back some 2,000 years or so - and if that far, all the way back to Adam. I once worked very hard on my genealogy over a period of three years and could only trace my ancestry back 250 years. Think about the implications. With writing materials plenteous, we can only go back a few generations with our ancestry, yet with a scarcity of writing materials, many, if not most, Jews could trace their ancestry back to the beginning of creation - literally 4,000 years. Yes, I'd say they viewed it with some great importance, wouldn't you? As a matter of fact, for those who work so hard to try to fulfill the mandates of the Old Testament, may I suggest that a serious genealogical search is one of the clear mandates of the Old Testament. However, it is clear that genealogical roots are not an important part of New Testament Christian living. The moment we get saved, we can immediately trace our genealogy back to spiritual significance - Romans 8:16-17 (see notes): we're "heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ." That's all I need to know.

Here's the choir loft (Nehemiah 12:27-47)

27 And at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought the Levites out of all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem, to keep the dedication with gladness, both with thanksgivings, and with singing, with cymbals, psalteries, and with harps.
28 And the sons of the singers gathered themselves together, both out of the plain country round about Jerusalem, and from the villages of Netophathi;
29 Also from the house of Gilgal, and out of the fields of Geba and Azmaveth: for the singers had builded them villages round about Jerusalem.
30 And the priests and the Levites purified themselves, and purified the people, and the gates, and the wall.
31 Then I brought up the princes of Judah upon the wall, and appointed two great companies of them that gave thanks, whereof one went on the right hand upon the wall toward the dung gate:
32 And after them went Hoshaiah, and half of the princes of Judah,
33 And Azariah, Ezra, and Meshullam,
34 Judah, and Benjamin, and Shemaiah, and Jeremiah,
35 And certain of the priests’ sons with trumpets; namely, Zechariah the son of Jonathan, the son of Shemaiah, the son of Mattaniah, the son of Michaiah, the son of Zaccur, the son of Asaph:
36 And his brethren, Shemaiah, and Azarael, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethaneel, and Judah, Hanani, with the musical instruments of David the man of God, and Ezra the scribe before them.
37 And at the fountain gate, which was over against them, they went up by the stairs of the city of David, at the going up of the wall, above the house of David, even unto the water gate eastward.
38 And the other company of them that gave thanks went over against them, and I after them, and the half of the people upon the wall, from beyond the tower of the furnaces even unto the broad wall;
39 And from above the gate of Ephraim, and above the old gate, and above the fish gate, and the tower of Hananeel, and the tower of Meah, even unto the sheep gate: and they stood still in the prison gate.
40 So stood the two companies of them that gave thanks in the house of God, and I, and the half of the rulers with me:
41 And the priests; Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Michaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah, and Hananiah, with trumpets;
42 And Maaseiah, and Shemaiah, and Eleazar, and Uzzi, and Jehohanan, and Malchijah, and Elam, and Ezer. And the singers sang loud, with Jezrahiah their overseer.
43 Also that day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced: for God had made them rejoice with great joy: the wives also and the children rejoiced: so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off.
44 And at that time were some appointed over the chambers for the treasures, for the offerings, for the firstfruits, and for the tithes, to gather into them out of the fields of the cities the portions of the law for the priests and Levites: for Judah rejoiced for the priests and for the Levites that waited.
45 And both the singers and the porters kept the ward of their God, and the ward of the purification, according to the commandment of David, and of Solomon his son.
46 For in the days of David and Asaph of old there were chief of the singers, and songs of praise and thanksgiving unto God.
47 And all Israel in the days of Zerubbabel, and in the days of Nehemiah, gave the portions of the singers and the porters, every day his portion: and they sanctified holy things unto the Levites; and the Levites sanctified them unto the children of Aaron.

We see here that the choir was very important; they took their positions up on the wall. Per King David's specifications, a contingency of Levites were responsible for providing the music worship of Israel along with all the other aspects of worship - seen in I Chronicles 23-25 (see notes). There are your Levites in charge of the offerings in verse 44. Now we're set up just like the good ol' days under King David, more or less. The priests and the Levites are in place, and it's time to dedicate the new wall around Jerusalem. This is the best it has been since the city fell to the Babylonians. As a matter of fact, it is better considering the siege on Jerusalem for the two decades before its actual fall. One important thing is missing, though - autonomy. Yes...they're back, but they are still under Persian rule. The glory of the former days under David aren't quite realized here. Many of the prophecies of restoration are fulfilled at this point, but the Messianic prophecies are not. Those are reserved for a yet-future millennium.

Nehemiah's Final Reforms (Nehemiah 13)

1 On that day they read in the book of Moses in the audience of the people; and therein was found written, that the Ammonite and the Moabite should not come into the congregation of God for ever;
2 Because they met not the children of Israel with bread and with water, but hired Balaam against them, that he should curse them: howbeit our God turned the curse into a blessing.
3 Now it came to pass, when they had heard the law, that they separated from Israel all the mixed multitude.
4 And before this, Eliashib the priest, having the oversight of the chamber of the house of our God, was allied unto Tobiah:
5 And he had prepared for him a great chamber, where aforetime they laid the meat offerings, the frankincense, and the vessels, and the tithes of the corn, the new wine, and the oil, which was commanded to be given to the Levites, and the singers, and the porters; and the offerings of the priests.
6 But in all this time was not I at Jerusalem: for in the two and thirtieth year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon came I unto the king, and after certain days obtained I leave of the king:
7 And I came to Jerusalem, and understood of the evil that Eliashib did for Tobiah, in preparing him a chamber in the courts of the house of God.
8 And it grieved me sore: therefore I cast forth all the household stuff of Tobiah out of the chamber.
9 Then I commanded, and they cleansed the chambers: and thither brought I again the vessels of the house of God, with the meat offering and the frankincense.
10 And I perceived that the portions of the Levites had not been given them: for the Levites and the singers, that did the work, were fled every one to his field.
11 Then contended I with the rulers, and said, Why is the house of God forsaken? And I gathered them together, and set them in their place.
12 Then brought all Judah the tithe of the corn and the new wine and the oil unto the treasuries.
13 And I made treasurers over the treasuries, Shelemiah the priest, and Zadok the scribe, and of the Levites, Pedaiah: and next to them was Hanan the son of Zaccur, the son of Mattaniah: for they were counted faithful, and their office was to distribute unto their brethren.
14 Remember me, O my God, concerning this, and wipe not out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God, and for the offices thereof.
15 In those days saw I in Judah some treading wine presses on the sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and lading asses; as also wine, grapes, and figs, and all manner of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the sabbath day: and I testified against them in the day wherein they sold victuals.
16 There dwelt men of Tyre also therein, which brought fish, and all manner of ware, and sold on the sabbath unto the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem.
17 Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said unto them, What evil thing is this that ye do, and profane the sabbath day?
18 Did not your fathers thus, and did not our God bring all this evil upon us, and upon this city? yet ye bring more wrath upon Israel by profaning the sabbath.
19 And it came to pass, that when the gates of Jerusalem began to be dark before the sabbath, I commanded that the gates should be shut, and charged that they should not be opened till after the sabbath: and some of my servants set I at the gates, that there should no burden be brought in on the sabbath day.
20 So the merchants and sellers of all kind of ware lodged without Jerusalem once or twice.
21 Then I testified against them, and said unto them, Why lodge ye about the wall? if ye do so again, I will lay hands on you. From that time forth came they no more on the sabbath.
22 And I commanded the Levites that they should cleanse themselves, and that they should come and keep the gates, to sanctify the sabbath day. Remember me, O my God, concerning this also, and spare me according to the greatness of thy mercy.
23 In those days also saw I Jews that had married wives of Ashdod, of Ammon, and of Moab:
24 And their children spake half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak in the Jews’ language, but according to the language of each people.
25 And I contended with them, and cursed them, and smote certain of them, and plucked off their hair, and made them swear by God, saying, Ye shall not give your daughters unto their sons, nor take their daughters unto your sons, or for yourselves.
26 Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? yet among many nations was there no king like him, who was beloved of his God, and God made him king over all Israel: nevertheless even him did outlandish women cause to sin.
27 Shall we then hearken unto you to do all this great evil, to transgress against our God in marrying strange wives?
28 And one of the sons of Joiada, the son of Eliashib the high priest, was son in law to Sanballat the Horonite: therefore I chased him from me.
29 Remember them, O my God, because they have defiled the priesthood, and the covenant of the priesthood, and of the Levites.
30 Thus cleansed I them from all strangers, and appointed the wards of the priests and the Levites, every one in his business;
31 And for the wood offering, at times appointed, and for the firstfruits. Remember me, O my God, for good.

Then they spent some more time hearing the Law read openly and publicly. Deuteronomy 23:3 (see notes) says, "An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the LORD for ever:" Interestingly, when they came to this passage, they understood "to their tenth generation" to mean "forever," as we see in verse 1. Who's gonna wait around that long? Apparently this introduces the next issue. Nehemiah shuttled back and forth between Jerusalem and Persia. On one of these trips he noticed one of the rooms in the temple had been furnished for Tobiah, an enemy Ammonite, who resisted the rebuilding of Jerusalem. He was married into the priest's (Eliashib) family. Nehemiah was appalled and threw his "stuff" (verse 8) out of the temple. He also noticed that the Levites were not being funded properly; he fixed that problem. Another problem was a disregard for the sabbath in Judah. He rebuked the leadership. As far as the commerce taking place on the sabbath, Nehemiah had the gates locked up on Friday at sundown until nightfall on Saturday; he put a stop to that! Then there was the intermarriage thing with the priesthood. Nehemiah reminds them that foreign women were the downfall of Solomon as seen in I Kings 11:1-8 (see notes). Verse 31 seems to indicate that Nehemiah cleaned house in all these violations of the Law. Look at the brief prayer Nehemiah issues on behalf of the Levites left in charge in his absence in verse 29, "Remember them, O my God, because they have defiled the priesthood, and the covenant of the priesthood, and of the Levites."

Let's pay particular attention to the two verses that deal with King Solomon here:

26 Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? yet among many nations was there no king like him, who was beloved of his God, and God made him king over all Israel: nevertheless even him did outlandish women cause to sin.
27 Shall we then hearken unto you to do all this great evil, to transgress against our God in marrying strange wives?

Nehemiah makes the following points about King Solomon in these two verses:

Incidentally, Nehemiah is simply developing a point that was well accepted among the Jews already about King Solomon as seen in I Kings 11:1-8 (see notes). King Solomon's relationship with his 1,000 wives/concubines caused Israel a great deal of future problems. Among these same people, this marrying-pagan-women problem during this era also receives attention in Ezra 9-10 (see notes) and Malachi 2:10-17 (see notes).

Isn't it interesting how quickly these Jews went from exuberance over the restoration of Jerusalem and the temple to life as usual - the same life which had led to their demise a century or so earlier. Let's face it: Satan never gives up on bringing discouraging circumstances our way. Satan can't stand to see the people of God living in victory.

They that sow in tears shall reap in joy (Psalm 126)

A Song of degrees.
1 When the LORD turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream.
2 Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The LORD hath done great things for them.
3 The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.
4 Turn again our captivity, O LORD, as the streams in the south.
5 They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.
6 He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.

In Psalms 120-134, the introduction to each says "A Song of Degrees." We're not certain what these Hebrew superscriptions mean. The Hebrew word for degrees means "steps of ascent." The Mishnah (Jewish collection of writings on Jewish thought and tradition) assigns the collection of fifteen songs with the fifteen steps of the temple, suggesting that the Levites sang these songs of ascents. Perhaps, but it may rather be that the songs were so subtitled because they were sung in the three annual festival processions, as the participants "ascended" to Jerusalem. Those three annual festivals were Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits and Tabernacles (see notes on Exodus 34:10-28).

Notice Psalm 126:1 "When the LORD turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream." The author is not identified, but this Psalm undoubtedly belongs to the time of the returning exiles to Jerusalem. That puts verses 5-6 into perspective, "They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." The "come again" surely references the return of the exiles to Jerusalem.


For commentary on another passage, click here.


Copyright 2003-2011 by Wayne D. Turner