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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

Nehemiah 11

 

 

Verse 1

THE INHABITANTS OF JERUSALEM INCREASED, Nehemiah 11:1-2.

According to Nehemiah 7:4-5, the nation had assembled at Jerusalem to reckon its numbers and devise some plan for increasing the population of the city, which was large and but thinly peopled. Nehemiah improved the occasion, first of all, to instruct the people in the law, and observe the feasts of the seventh month, and also make provision for the regular observance of the temple service. The people were brought to feel their oneness, and caught again the enthusiasm and zeal of the true old theocratic spirit. Having devoted the three chapters preceding to a narration of those most important facts, the writer now proceeds to tell in a few words how the population of the holy city was increased.

1. The rulers… dwelt at Jerusalem — A noble example. While the city was exposed to dangerous attacks, and the inhabitants were few and feeble, the rulers stood at their posts of duty. So at a later day, when persecution drove all the Christian population from Jerusalem, the apostles remained there still. Acts 8:1.

The rest of the people — That is, all the people who were not residents of Jerusalem.

One of ten — A tithe of the people. According to the register of chap. vii, the whole congregation numbered forty-two thousand three hundred and sixty. This number had probably not greatly varied since the time of Zerubbabel, and the population of the city was probably increased by not far from four thousand persons.

The holy city — Jerusalem; so called from being the seat of the temple and of the national worship, and the center of numerous holy associations.


Verse 2

2. The men, that willingly offered themselves — Those who, being chosen by lot, willingly consented to remove their residence to Jerusalem. The words do not imply that any on whom the lot fell showed unwillingness to remove to the holy city. Doubtless all who were thus chosen cheerfully acquiesced, and, consulting not their own security so much as the public good, received the blessings of a grateful people.


Verses 3-13

LIST OF THE CHIEFS OF THE PROVINCE, Nehemiah 11:3-16.

A comparison of this list with that of 1 Chronicles 9, (where see notes,) shows that they both agree in their plan, and in a considerable number of their names. The differences are too many to allow the opinion that the lists are substantially identical, and that each is an imperfect transcript of an older and fuller catalogue of names. The list in Chronicles contains, according to its heading, the names of those who first settled in their possessions after the exile; the present list is of later date, and belongs to the times of Nehemiah.

3. The chief of the province — The chiefs or heads of families who represented the entire province of Judea in the time of Nehemiah. This providence was then one of the subdivisions of the Persian empire.

But in the cities of Judah — Rather, and in the cities of Judah. The list contains the names of chief fathers dwelling in other cities of the province as well as in Jerusalem. See Nehemiah 11:25-36.

Israel — This word here denotes the entire body of the covenant people, (the laity, so to speak,) exclusive of the four special classes next named.


Verse 14

14. Son of one of the great men — So the Septuagint and Vulgate read, but incorrectly. The Hebrew is to be taken as a proper name, son of Haggedolim.


Verse 16

16. The outward business of the house of God — Not the same as “the outward business over Israel,” which was done in the capacity of “officers and judges.” 1 Chronicles 26:29. It was a business that had special relation to the temple, but its exact nature is at present matter of conjecture. We naturally suppose that it consisted in care for the buildings and furniture, and the collection and arrangement of provisions for the temple service.


Verse 17

17. The principal to begin the thanksgiving — He was the precentor and chief musician, like Asaph, mentioned in 1 Chronicles 16:5.

Bakbukiah the second — Second in rank; next in position and authority to Mattaniah.


Verse 21

21. Dwelt in Ophel — See on Nehemiah 3:26.


Verse 23

23. The king’s commandment — The king here referred to is not David, who originally arranged and made provision for the Levites, (1 Chronicles 23-26,) but the Persian king, Artaxerxes, who gave commandment concerning them to Ezra. Compare his decree, Ezra 7:12-26.

A certain portion אמנה, a firm, or sure agreement, a covenant. The English version gives the view of many interpreters, who understand that a stipulated allowance of food was granted to the singers. But the Hebrew may be thus literally rendered: and an agreement was upon the singers, a matter of day in its day. That is, the singers were bound by a settled agreement to perform a certain amount of service on each particular day. Each day had its own matter of service for these singers. Perhaps, however, the thought of allowance may also be included.


Verse 24

24. Pethahiah… at the king’s hand — That is, at the court of the Persian monarch. He was at the king’s hand as a private counsellor, having in charge all the interests of the Jewish people. He was allowed frequent access to the king, and so in all matters concerning the people he must have been a most important and responsible agent and representative of his nation at the seat of government.


Verse 25

25. And for the villages — Or we may render, now in respect to the villages. The writer thus turns to an enumeration of the towns or villages of the province in which children of Judah and Benjamin dwelt.

Kirjath-arba — The same is Hebron. See on Joshua 10:3.

Dibon is probably identical with the Dimonah of Joshua 15:22, and Jekabzeel with the Kabzeel of Joshua 15:21; towns in the extreme south of Judah, whose sites have not been clearly identified.


Verses 26-35

26-35. On Moladah, see Joshua 15:26.

Beer-sheba Joshua 15:28.

Ziklag 1 Samuel 27:6.

Jarmuth Joshua 15:35.

Lachish Joshua 10:3.

Valley of Hinnom Joshua 15:8.

Geba Joshua 18:24.

Michmash 1 Samuel 13:2.

Aija and Beth-el Joshua 7:2.

Anathoth Joshua 21:18.

Nob 1 Samuel 21:1.

Ananiah — Perhaps the modern Beit Hanina, some three miles northwest of Jerusalem.

Ramah Joshua 18:25.

Gittaim 2 Samuel 4:3.

Hadid — Perhaps the modern Haditheh, a few miles east of Lod, or Lydda.

Neballat — The modern Beit Nebala, a little northeast of Lod.

Lod and Ono — Lod is the Lydda of the New Testament, (see on Acts 9:32,) and Ono is probably to be sought at Kefr Anna, a few miles north of it. See on Nehemiah 6:2. The valley of craftsmen is, perhaps, identical with the plain of Ono, mentioned Nehemiah 6:2. Compare 1 Chronicles 4:14. The other towns mentioned in this section are unknown.


Verse 36

36. Divisions in Judah, and in Benjamin — Rather, divisions of Judah to Benjamin. That is, divisions of Levites that had previously belonged to the tribe of Judah by having their homes in that tribe, were now assigned to Benjamin. This was probably done to equalize or rectify the proportion of Levites to each tribe.

 


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Nehemiah 11:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/nehemiah-11.html. 1874-1909.

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