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Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at

Nehemiah Chapter 11

Nehemiah 11:1

neh 11:1

Neh 11:1 and Neh 11:2 narrate the carrying out of Nehemiah's resolution, Neh 7:4, to make Jerusalem more populous, and follow Neh 7:5 as to matter, but the end of Neh 10 as to time. For while Nehemiah, after the completion of the wall, was occupied with the thought of bringing into the thinly populated capital a larger number of inhabitants, and had for this purpose convoked a public assembly, that a list of the whole Israelite population of the towns of Benjamin and Judah might be taken in hand, the seventh month of the year arrived, in which all the people assembled at Jerusalem to perform those acts of worship and solemnities (described Neh 8-10) in which this month abounded. Hence it was not till after the termination of these services that Nehemiah was able to carry out the measures he had resolved on. For there can be no doubt that Neh 11:1 and Neh 11:2 of the present chapter narrate the execution of these measures. The statement that one in ten of all the people was appointed by lot to dwell in Jerusalem, and the remaining nine in other cities, and that the people blessed the men who showed themselves willing to dwell at Jerusalem, can have no other meaning than, that the inhabitants of Jerusalem were increased in this proportion, and that this was consequently the measure which God had, according to Neh 7:5, put it into Nehemiah's heart to take. The statement taken by itself is indeed very brief, and its connection with Neh 7:5 not very evident. But the brevity and abruptness do not justify Bertheau's view, that these two verses are not the composition of Nehemiah himself, but only an extract from a larger context, in which this circumstance was fully explained. For Nehemiah's style not unfrequently exhibits a certain abruptness; comp. e.g., the commencements of chs. 5 and 6, or the information Neh 13:6, which are no less abrupt, and which yet no one has conceived to be mere extracts from some other document. Besides, as the connection between Neh 7:5 and Neh 11:1 is interrupted by the relation of the events of the seventh month, so, too, is the account of the building of the wall, Neh 4:17; Neh 6:15., and Neh 7:1, interrupted by the insertion of occurrences which took place during its progress. The first sentence, Neh 11:1, "And the rulers of the people dwelt at Jerusalem," cannot be so closely connected with the next, "and the rest of the people cast lots," etc., as to place the rulers in direct contrast to the rest of the people, but must be understood by its retrospect to Neh 7:4, which gives the following contrast: The rulers of the people dwelt at Jerusalem, but few of the people dwelt there; to this is joined the next sentence: and the rest of the people cast lots. The "rest of the people" does not mean the assembled people with the exception of the rulers, but the people with the exception of the few who dwelt at Jerusalem. These cast lots to bring (להביא) one of ten to dwell in Jerusalem. The predicate, the holy city, occurs here and Neh 11:18 for the first time. Jerusalem is so called, on the ground of the prophecies, Joe 3:17 and Isa 48:2, because the sanctuary of God, the temple, was there. בּערים means, in the other cities of Judah and Benjamin. המּתנדּבים, those who showed themselves willing to dwell in Jerusalem, is taken by most expositors in contrast to those who were bound to do this in consequence of the decision of the lot; and it is then further supposed that some first went to Jerusalem of their free choice, and that the lot was then cast with respect to the rest. There are not, however, sufficient grounds for this conclusion, nor yet for the assumption that the decision of the lot was regarded as a constraint. The disposal of the lot was accepted as a divine decision, with which all had, whether willingly or unwillingly, to comply. All who willingly acquiesced in this decision might be designated as מתנדּבים; and these departed to Jerusalem accompanied by the blessings of the people. Individuals are not so much meant, as chiefly fathers of families, who went with their wives and children.

Nehemiah 11:3

neh 11:3

The inhabitants of Jerusalem and the other cities. - Neh 11:3 The title reads: "These are the heads of the province who dwelt at Jerusalem; and in the cities of Judah dwelt every one in his possession in their cities, Israel, the priests, the Levites, the Nethinim, and the sons of Solomon's servants." המּדינה is, as in Ezr 2:1, the land of Judah, as a province of the Persian kingdom. The repetition of ישׁבוּ after יהוּדה בּערי is not to be understood as contrasting those who dwelt in the cities with the dwellers in Jerusalem in the sense of "but in the cities of Judah dwelt," etc., but is here a mere pleonasm. Even the enumeration of the different classes of inhabitants: Israel, the priests, etc., clearly shows that no such contrast is intended; for Israel, the priests, etc., dwelt not only in Jerusalem, but also, according to Neh 11:20, in the other cities of Judah. And this is placed beyond all doubt by the contents of the list following; the inhabitants of Jerusalem being enumerated vv. 4-24, and the inhabitants of the other cities of Judah and Benjamin, Neh 11:25-36. If, however, this title refers to the whole of the following list, it cannot, as Rambach and others thought, contain only an enumeration of those who, in consequence of the lot, had taken up their residence at Jerusalem, but must be intended as a list of the population of the whole province of Judah in the times of Ezra and Nehemiah. It seems strange that the title should announce המּדינה ראשׁי, while in the list of the inhabitants of Jerusalem are given, besides the heads, the numbers of their brethren, i.e., of the individuals or fathers of families under these heads; and that in the list of the inhabitants of the other cities, only inhabitants of Judah and Benjamin are spoken of. Hence this statement refers a potiori to the heads, including the houses and families belonging to them, while in the case of the other cities it is assumed that the inhabitants of each locality were under a head. With Neh 11:4 begins the enumeration of the heads dwelling in Jerusalem, with their houses; and the first clause contains a special title, which affirms that (certain) of the children of Judah and of the children of Benjamin dwelt at Jerusalem. On the parallel list of the inhabitants of Jerusalem before the captivity, 1 Chron 9:2-34, and its relation to the present list, see the remarks on 1 Chron 9.

Neh 11:4-6

Of the children of Judah two heads: Athaiah of the children of Perez (comp. Ch1 2:4), and Maaseiah of the children of Shela. It has been already remarked on Ch1 9:5, that השּׁלני is wrongly pointed, and should be read השּׁלני. כּל־חזה is a proper name, as in Neh 3:15. Athaiah and Maaseiah are not further known. There were in all four hundred and sixty-eight able-bodied men of the sons of Perez, i.e., four hundred and sixty-eight fathers of families of the race of Perez, among whom are probably included the fathers of families belonging to Shela, the younger brother of Perez.

Nehemiah 11:7

neh 11:7

Of the Benjamites there were two heads of houses: Sallu, and after him Gabbai-Sallai, with nine hundred and twenty-eight fathers of families. Their chief was Joel the son of Zichri, and Jehuda the son of Sennah over the city as second (prefect).

Nehemiah 11:10

neh 11:10

Of the priests: Jedaiah, Joiarib, and Jachin, three heads of houses, therefore of orders of priests (for בּן before Joiarib probably crept into the text by a clerical error; see rem. on Ch1 9:10); Seraiah, a descendant of Ahitub, as ruler of the house of God, and their brethren, i.e., the eight hundred and twenty-two ministering priests belonging to these three orders. Also Adaiah, of the house or order of Malchiah, and his brethren, two hundred and forty-two fathers of families; and lastly, Amashai, of the order of Immer, with one hundred and twenty-eight brethren, i.e., priests. And their chief was Zabdiel ben Haggedolim (lxx υἱὸς τῶν μεγάλων). עליהם refers to all the before-named priests. לעבות ראשׁים heads of fathers, i.e., of families, Neh 11:13, is striking, for the brethren of Adaiah (אחיו), in number two hundred and forty-two, could not be heads of houses, but only fathers of families. The words seem to have come into the text only by comparing it with Ch1 9:13. If they were genuine, we should be obliged to understand לעבות ראשׁים of fathers of families, contrary to general usage.

Nehemiah 11:15

neh 11:15

Of Levites, Shemaiah, a descendant of Bunni, with the members of his house; Shabbethai and Jozabad, "of the heads of the Levites over the outward business of the house of God," i.e., two heads of the Levites who had the care of the outward business of the temple, probably charged with the preservation of the building and furniture, and the office of seeing that all things necessary for the temple worship were duly delivered. The names Shabbethai and Jozabad have already occurred, Neh 8:7, as those of two Levites, and are here also personal names of heads of Levites, as the addition הלויּם מראשׁי informs us. As the office of these two is stated, so also is that of those next following in Neh 11:17; whence it appears that Shemaiah, of whom no such particular is given, was head of the Levites charged with attending on the priests at the sacrificial worship (the האלהים בּית מלאכת, Neh 11:22). The three named in Neh 11:17, Mattaniah an Asaphite, Bakbukiah, and Abda a Jeduthunite, are the chiefs of the three Levitical orders of singers. Mattaniah is called התּחלּה ראשׁ, head of the beginning, which gives no meaning; and should probably, as in the lxx and Vulgate, be read התּהלּה ראשׁ: head of the songs of praise, - he praised for who praised, i.e., sounded the Hodu for prayer; comp. Ch1 16:5, where Asaph is called the chief of the band of singers. He is followed by Bakbukiah as second, that is, leader of the second band (מאחיו משׁנה like משׁנהוּ, Ch1 16:5); and Abda the Jeduthunite, as leader of the third. All the Levites in the holy city, i.e., all who dwelt in Jerusalem, amounted to two hundred and eighty-four individuals or fathers of families. The number refers only to the three classes named Neh 11:15-17. For the gatekeepers are separately numbered in Neh 11:19 as one hundred and seventy-two, of the families of Akkub and Talmon.

Nehemiah 11:20

neh 11:20

Certain special remarks follow in Neh 11:20. - Neh 11:20 states that the rest of the Israelites, priests, and Levites dwelt in all the (other) cities of Judah, each in his inheritance. These cities are enumerated in Neh 11:25.

Neh 11:21

The Nethinim dwelt in Ophel, the southern slope of Mount Moriah; see rem. on Neh 3:26. Their chiefs were Zihah and Gispa. ציחה occurs Ezr 2:43, followed by חשׂוּפא, as head of a division of Levites; whence Bertheau tries, but unsuccessfully, to identify the latter name with גּשׁפּא. For it does not follow that, because a division of Nethinim was descended from Hasupha, that Gishpa, one of the chiefs of those Nethinim who dwelt on Ophel, must be the same individual as this Hasupha.

Neh 11:22-23

And the overseer (chief) of the Levites at Jerusalem was Uzzi, the son of Bani, of the sons of Asaph, the singers, in the business of the house of God. The מלאכה of the house of God was the duty of the Levites of the house of Shemaiah, Neh 11:15. Hence the remark in the present verse is supplementary to Neh 11:15. The chiefs or presidents of the two other divisions of Levites - of those to whom the outward business was entrusted, and of the singers - are named in Neh 11:16 and Neh 11:17; while, in the case of those entrusted with the business of the house of God, Neh 11:15, the chiefs are not named, probably because they were over the singers, the sons of Asaph, who in Neh 11:15 had not as yet been named. This is therefore done afterwards in Neh 11:22. מלאכת לנגד, coram opere, i.e., circa ea negotia, quae coram in templo exigenda erant (Burm. in Ramb.), does not belong to המּשׁררים, but to הלויּם פּקיד: Uzzi was overseer of the Levites in respect of their business in the house of God, i.e., of those Levites who had the charge of this business. The reason of this is thus given in Neh 11:23 : "for a command of the king was over them, and an ordinance was over the singers concerning the matter of every day." עליהם refers to the Levites. "A command of the king was over them" means: the king had commanded them. This command was concerning בּיומו יום דּבר, the matter of every day. The words stand at the end of the verse, because they refer to the two subjects המּלך and אמנה. אמנה is an arrangement depending upon mutual agreement, a treaty, an obligation entered into by agreement; comp. Neh 10:1. The meaning of the verse is: The every-day matter was laid upon the Levites by the command of the king, upon the singers by an agreement entered into. בּיומו יום דּבר, pensum quotidianum, is correctly explained by Schmid: de rebus necessariis in singulos dies. That we are not to understand thereby the contribution for every day, the rations of food (Ramb., Berth.), but the duty to be done on each day, is obvious from the context, in which not provisions, but the business of the Levites, is spoken of; and Uzzi the Asaphite was placed over the Levites in respect of their business in the house of God, and not in respect of food and drink. The business of the Levites in the house of God was determined by the command of the king; the business of the singers, on the contrary, especially that one of the singers should exercise a supervision over the services of the Levites in worship, was made the matter of an אמנה, an agreement entered into among themselves by the different divisions of Levites. The king is not David, who once regulated the services of the Levites (Ch1 23:4.), but the Persian king Artaxerxes, who is mentioned as המּלך in Neh 11:24; and המּלך מצות undoubtedly refers to the full power bestowed by Artaxerxes upon Ezra to order all that concerned the worship of God at Jerusalem; Ezr 7:12.

Neh 11:24

Finally, the official is named who had to transact with the king the affairs of the people, i.e., of the whole Jewish community in Judah and Jerusalem. Pethahiah, a Jew of the descendants of Zerah, was at the king's hand in all matters concerning the people. המּלך ליד can scarcely be understood of a royal commissioner at Jerusalem, but certainly designates an official transacting the affairs of the Jewish community at the hand of the king, at his court.

Nehemiah 11:25

neh 11:25

The inhabitants of the towns of Judah and Benjamin. - The heads who, with their houses, inhabited country districts are here no longer enumerated, but only the towns, with their adjacent neighbourhoods, which were inhabited by Jews and Benjamites; and even these are but summarily mentioned.

Neh 11:25-30

The districts inhabited by the children of Judah. "And with respect to the towns in their fields, there dwelt of the sons of Judah in Kirjath-arba and its daughters," etc. The use of אל as an introductory or emphatic particle is peculiar to this passage, ל ,egassap being elsewhere customary in this sense; comp. Ew. 310, a. אל denotes a respect to something. חצרים, properly enclosures, signifies, according to Lev 25:31, villages, towns, boroughs, without walls. שׂדות, fields, field boundaries. בּנותיה, the villages and estates belonging to a town; as frequently in the lists of towns in the book of Joshua. Kirjath-arba is Hebron, Gen 23:2. Jekabzeel, like Kabzeel, Jos 15:21. חצריה, its enclosed places, the estates belonging to a town, as in Jos 15:45. Jeshua, mentioned only here, and unknown. Moladah and Beth-phelet, Jos 15:26-27. Hazar-shual, i.e., Fox-court, probably to be sought for in the ruins of Thaly; see rem. on Jos 15:28. Beersheba, now Bir es Seba; see rem. on Gen 21:31. Ziklag, at the ancient Asluj, see Jos 15:31. Mekonah, mentioned only here, and unknown. En-rimmon; see rem. on Ch1 4:32. Zareah, Jarmuth, Zanoah, and Adullam in the plains (see Jos 15:33-35), where were also Lachish and Azekah; see on Ch2 11:9. - In Neh 11:30 the whole region then inhabited by Jews is comprised in the words: "And they dwelt from Beer-sheba (the south-western boundary of Canaan) to the valley of Hinnom, in Jerusalem," through which ran the boundaries of the tribes of Benjamin and Judah (Jos 15:8).

Neh 11:31-35

The dwellings of the Benjamites. Neh 11:31 The children of Benjamin dwelt from Geba to Michmash, Aija, etc. Geba, according to Kg2 23:8 and Jos 14:10, the northern boundary of the kingdom of Judah, is the half-ruined village of Jibia in the Wady el Jib, three leagues north of Jerusalem, and three-quarters of a league north-east of Ramah (Er Ram); see on Jos 18:24. Michmash (מכמשׁ or מכמס), now Mukhmas, sixty-three minutes north-east of Geba, and three and a half leagues north of Jerusalem; see rem. on Sa1 13:2. Aija (עיּא or עיּת, Isa 10:28), probably one with העי, Jos 7:2; Jos 8:1., the situation of which is still a matter of dispute, Van de Velde supposing it to be the present Tell el Hadshar, three-quarters of a league south-east of Beitin; while Schegg, on the contrary, places it in the position of the present Tayibeh, six leagues north of Jerusalem (see Delitzsch on Isa. at Isa 10:28-32, etc., translation), - a position scarcely according with Isa 10:28., the road from Tayibeh to Michmash and Geba not leading past Migron (Makhrun), which is not far from Beitin. We therefore abide by the view advocated by Krafft and Strauss, that the ruins of Medinet Chai or Gai, east of Geba, point out the situation of the ancient Ai or Ajja; see rem. on Jos 7:2. Bethel is the present Beitin; see on Jos 7:2. The position of Nob is not as yet certainly ascertained, important objections existing to its identification with the village el-Isawije, between Anta and Jerusalem; comp. Valentiner (in the Zeitschrift d. deutsch. morgld. Gesellsch. xii. p. 169), who, on grounds worthy of consideration, transposes Nob to the northern heights before Jerusalem, the road from which leads into the valley of Kidron. Ananiah (ענניה), a place named only here, is conjectured by Van de Velde (after R. Schwartz), Mem. p. 284, to be the present Beit Hanina (Arab. hnı̂nâ), east of Nebi Samwil; against which conjecture even the exchange of ע and ח raises objections; comp. Tobler, Topographie, ii. p. 414. Hazor of Benjamin, supposed by Robinson (Palestine) to be Tell 'Assur, north of Tayibeh, is much more probably found by Tobler, Topographie, ii. p. 400, in Khirbet Arsr, perhaps Assur, Arab. ‛ṣûr, eight minutes eastward of Bir Nebla (between Rama and Gibeon); comp. Van de Velde, Mem. p. 319. Ramah, now er Rm, two leagues north of Jerusalem; see rem. on Jos 18:25. Githaim, whither the Beerothites fled, Sa2 4:3, is not yet discovered. Tobler (dritte Wand. p. 175) considers it very rash to identify it with the village Katanneh in Wady Mansur. Hadid, Ἀδιδά, see rem. on Ezr 2:33. Zeboim, in a valley of the same name (Sa1 13:18), is not yet discovered. Neballat, mentioned only here, is preserved in Beith Nebala, about two leagues north-east of Ludd (Lydda); comp. Rob. Palestine, and Van de Velde, Mem. p. 336. With respect to Lod and Ono, see rem. on Ch1 8:12; and on the valley of craftsmen, comp. Ch1 4:14. The omission of Jericho, Gibeon, and Mizpah is the more remarkable, inasmuch as inhabitants of these towns are mentioned as taking part in the building of the wall (Neh 3:2, Neh 3:7).

Neh 11:36

The enumeration concludes with the remark, "Of the Levites came divisions of Judah to Benjamin," which can only signify that divisions of Levites who, according to former arrangements, belonged to Judah, now came to Benjamin, i.e., dwelt among the Benjamites.

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