Nehemiah 12

Nehemiah 12

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Priests and Levites

12 These are the priests and the Levites who came up with Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua: Seraiah, Jeremiah, Ezra, Amariah, Malluch, Hattush, Shecaniah, Rehum, Meremoth, Iddo, Ginnethoi, Abijah, Mijamin, Maadiah, Bilgah, Shemaiah, Joiarib, Jedaiah, Sallu, Amok, Hilkiah, Jedaiah. These were the chiefs of the priests and of their brothers in the days of Jeshua.

And the Levites: Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Sherebiah, Judah, and Mattaniah, who with his brothers was in charge of the songs of thanksgiving. And Bakbukiah and Unni and their brothers stood opposite them in the service. And Jeshua was the father of Joiakim, Joiakim the father of Eliashib, Eliashib the father of Joiada, Joiada the father of Jonathan, and Jonathan the father of Jaddua.

And in the days of Joiakim were priests, heads of fathers’ houses: of Seraiah, Meraiah; of Jeremiah, Hananiah; of Ezra, Meshullam; of Amariah, Jehohanan; of Malluchi, Jonathan; of Shebaniah, Joseph; of Harim, Adna; of Meraioth, Helkai; of Iddo, Zechariah; of Ginnethon, Meshullam; of Abijah, Zichri; of Miniamin, of Moadiah, Piltai; of Bilgah, Shammua; of Shemaiah, Jehonathan; of Joiarib, Mattenai; of Jedaiah, Uzzi; of Sallai, Kallai; of Amok, Eber; of Hilkiah, Hashabiah; of Jedaiah, Nethanel.

In the days of Eliashib, Joiada, Johanan, and Jaddua, the Levites were recorded as heads of fathers’ houses; so too were the priests in the reign of Darius the Persian. As for the sons of Levi, their heads of fathers’ houses were written in the Book of the Chronicles until the days of Johanan the son of Eliashib. And the chiefs of the Levites: Hashabiah, Sherebiah, and Jeshua the son of Kadmiel, with their brothers who stood opposite them, to praise and to give thanks, according to the commandment of David the man of God, watch by watch. Mattaniah, Bakbukiah, Obadiah, Meshullam, Talmon, and Akkub were gatekeepers standing guard at the storehouses of the gates. These were in the days of Joiakim the son of Jeshua son of Jozadak, and in the days of Nehemiah the governor and of Ezra, the priest and scribe.

Dedication of the Wall

And at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought the Levites in all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with gladness, with thanksgivings and with singing, with cymbals, harps, and lyres. And the sons of the singers gathered together from the district surrounding Jerusalem and from the villages of the Netophathites; also from Beth-gilgal and from the region of Geba and Azmaveth, for the singers had built for themselves villages around Jerusalem. And the priests and the Levites purified themselves, and they purified the people and the gates and the wall.

Then I brought the leaders of Judah up onto the wall and appointed two great choirs that gave thanks. One went to the south on the wall to the Dung Gate. And after them went Hoshaiah and half of the leaders of Judah, and Azariah, Ezra, Meshullam, Judah, Benjamin, Shemaiah, and Jeremiah, and certain of the priests’ sons with trumpets: Zechariah the son of Jonathan, son of Shemaiah, son of Mattaniah, son of Micaiah, son of Zaccur, son of Asaph; and his relatives, Shemaiah, Azarel, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethanel, Judah, and Hanani, with the musical instruments of David the man of God. And Ezra the scribe went before them. At the Fountain Gate they went up straight before them by the stairs of the city of David, at the ascent of the wall, above the house of David, to the Water Gate on the east.

The other choir of those who gave thanks went to the north, and I followed them with half of the people, on the wall, above the Tower of the Ovens, to the Broad Wall, and above the Gate of Ephraim, and by the Gate of Yeshanah, and by the Fish Gate and the Tower of Hananel and the Tower of the Hundred, to the Sheep Gate; and they came to a halt at the Gate of the Guard. So both choirs of those who gave thanks stood in the house of God, and I and half of the officials with me; and the priests Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Micaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah, and Hananiah, with trumpets; and Maaseiah, Shemaiah, Eleazar, Uzzi, Jehohanan, Malchijah, Elam, and Ezer. And the singers sang with Jezrahiah as their leader. And they offered great sacrifices that day and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and children also rejoiced. And the joy of Jerusalem was heard far away.

Service at the Temple

On that day men were appointed over the storerooms, the contributions, the firstfruits, and the tithes, to gather into them the portions required by the Law for the priests and for the Levites according to the fields of the towns, for Judah rejoiced over the priests and the Levites who ministered. And they performed the service of their God and the service of purification, as did the singers and the gatekeepers, according to the command of David and his son Solomon. For long ago in the days of David and Asaph there were directors of the singers, and there were songs of praise and thanksgiving to God. And all Israel in the days of Zerubbabel and in the days of Nehemiah gave the daily portions for the singers and the gatekeepers; and they set apart that which was for the Levites; and the Levites set apart that which was for the sons of Aaron.


Nehemiah 12 Commentary

by Hank Workman

“When the Lord brought back the captive ones of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter and our tongue with joyful shouting; then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us; We are glad. Restore our captivity, O Lord, as the streams in the South. Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting. He who goes to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of seed, shall indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.”

Psalm 126

It seemed like a dream.  The people of captivity had not only served their God-ordered time through being in exile, God had begun the process of restoration.  The temple was built.  The walls were complete.  The city of Jerusalem was safe.  Nehemiah brought all the Levites together, had massive amounts of choirs who through the dedication of the wall was a time of celebration.  I’m sure they never believed it would happen.

But it did.  And it came in God’s timing.

There are things we each hold to or wonder, will it ever happen?  There are countless tears we’ve cried over situations, people and our own life of regret.  We’re like those who dream.  Dream of something that is so far beyond our reach and seems to be impossible.

This lifetime brings a lot of sowing in tears.  Heartache is a constant.  Sadness and loneliness can be suffocating.  Disappointment often bites at our heels.  We stare into the future and think things will never change, people will never change, our life will never change.  What’s interesting to consider:

Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting. He who goes to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of seed, shall indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.

As the Psalm states, as the one who weeps is still sowing.  They’re scattering seed as they go even in deep sadness.  It’s really something to think about.  They don’t stop doing what they’ve been called to do.  In season and out of season, they continue their job.

God has the greatest ability to restore things that once were burnt up, broken, desolate.  Forest fires in time see new growth.  Broken bones heal.  And as much as it sounds cliche, God is able to bring good from any tragedy we are experiencing.

If we don’t have hope, then what do we have?  Some may be at a point of quitting.  Others may be in the mindset of ‘what’s the use?’  Darkness in some situation may be thick.  Beyond what the situation dictates cling to, hold to, remind yourself that in time God’s great harvest of joy is coming.

Nehemiah 12 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

A few years ago a woman in town asked Hank and I to come over and cleanse her apartment. Not knowing exactly what we were dealing with, we agreed. Come to find out, she simply wanted us to pray for protection over her place and the belongings within it. It wasn’t really a normal request, but again, we agreed.

After we were done praying for her apartment, she asked us to pray for her cat. Yes… her cat. Now, let me just say first and foremost, I hate cats. I’m sorry if that changes your opinion of me. I’m allergic to them and somehow they all know it! Most times I’m around a cat it tries to get into my personal space. So, I struggled a bit to try and gather my thoughts. I have never prayed for a cat in my entire life!

I don’t know if our animals will be in heaven with us or not, but this woman loved her cat very much and wanted to plead with God for a blessing. So, once again, we agreed. We prayed for the cat and proceeded to walk out of her apartment and into the lobby. As we walked out into the lobby and started to leave, she remembered she had one more request.

She had forgotten that she wanted us to pray for her car. Yes… her car. There was no specific request for safe travels or mechanical stability but she just wanted us to lay hands on her car and pray for it. We agreed.

So what’s the point of this story?

The priests and the Levites purified themselves; they also purified the people, the gates and the wall.

Nehemiah 12:30 NASB

I’m going to be honest. I have searched many commentaries and I have no clue what it meant for them to purify the gates and the wall. Maybe they anointed them with oil? Maybe they laid hands on them? Maybe there was a cat they purified as well?

Seriously though, the focus here is not the apartment or the cat or the walls; it’s the heart of the individual. This woman genuinely believed that God was over her apartment and her cat and her car. She trusted that God cared about these little things and that He would hear our prayers.

The priests and the Levites had a heart to sanctify themselves in the presence of the Lord. It was a time of thanksgiving and praise. It drew them into a deeper relationship as they reflected on the blessings God had provided for them. They worshiped Him with heartfelt gratitude, and that is something we all can learn from.

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