Ne 11:1, 2.
The Rulers, Voluntary Men, and Every Tenth Man
Chosen by Lot, Dwell at Jerusalem.
1. the rulers … dwelt at
Jerusalem—That city being the metropolis of the country, it
was right and proper that the seat of government should be there. But
the exigency of the times required that special measures should be
taken to insure the residence of an adequate population for the custody
of the buildings and the defense of the city. From the annoyances of
restless and malignant enemies, who tried every means to demolish the
rising fortifications, there was some danger attending a settlement in
Jerusalem. Hence the greater part of the returned exiles, in order to
earn as well as secure the rewards of their duty, preferred to remain
in the country or the provincial towns. To remedy this state of things,
it was resolved to select every tenth man of the tribes of Judah and
Benjamin by lot, to become a permanent inhabitant of the capital. The
necessity of such an expedient commended it to the general approval. It
was the more readily submitted to because the lot was resorted to on
all the most critical conjunctures of the Jewish history, and regarded
by the people as a divine decision (Pr 18:18). This awakened strongly the national
spirit; and patriotic volunteers came forward readily to meet the
wishes of the authorities, a service which, implying great self-denial
as well as courage, was reckoned in the circumstances of so much
importance as entitled them to the public gratitude. No wonder that the
conduct of these volunteers drew forth the tribute of public
admiration; for they sacrificed their personal safety and comfort for
the interests of the community because Jerusalem was at that time a
place against which the enemies of the Jews were directing a thousand
plots. Therefore, residence in it at such a juncture was attended with
expense and various annoyances from which a country life was entirely
Ne 11:3-36. Their
3. the chief of the province—that is,
Judea. Nehemiah speaks of it, as it then was, a small appendix of the
in the cities of Judah dwelt every one in his
possession in their cities—The returned exiles, who had come
from Babylon, repaired generally, and by a natural impulse, to the
lands and cities throughout the country which had been anciently
Israel—This general name, which
designated the descendants of Jacob before the unhappy division of the
two kingdoms under Rehoboam, was restored after the captivity, the
Israelites being then united with the Jews, and all traces of their
former separation being obliterated. Although the majority of the
returned exiles belonged to the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, they are
here called Israel because a large number out of all the tribes were
now intermingled, and these were principally the occupiers of the rural
villages, while none but those of Judah and Benjamin resided in
the Levites—These took possession of
the cities allotted to them according as they had opportunity.
the Nethinims—A certain order of men,
either Gibeonites or persons joined with them, who were devoted to the
service of God.
4. at Jerusalem dwelt certain of the children of
Judah—The discrepancy that is apparent between this [Ne 11:4-36] and the list formerly given in
9:1-9, arose not only from
the Jewish and Oriental practice of changing or modifying the names of
persons from a change of circumstances, but from the alterations that
must have been produced in the course of time. The catalogue in
Chronicles contains those who came with the first detachment of
returned exiles, while the list in this passage probably included also
those who returned with Ezra and Nehemiah; or it was most probably made
out afterwards, when several had died, or some, who had been inserted
as going on the journey, remained, and others came in their stead.
9. overseer—that is, "captain" or
11. the ruler of the house of
God—assistant of the high priest (Nu
3:32; 1Ch 9:11; 2Ch 19:11).
16. the oversight of the outward business of the
house of God—that is, those things which were done outside,
or in the country, such as the collecting of the provisions (1Ch 26:29).
17. the principal to begin the thanksgiving in
prayer—that is, the leader of the choir which chanted the
public praise at the time of the morning and evening sacrifice. That
service was always accompanied by some appropriate psalm, the sacred
music being selected and guided by the person named.
22. the sons of Asaph, the singers were over the
business of the house of God—They were selected to take
charge of providing those things which were required for the interior
of the temple and its service, while to others was committed the care
of the "outward business of the house of God" (Ne 11:16). This duty was very properly assigned
to the sons of Asaph; for, though they were Levites, they did not
repair in rotation to Jerusalem, as the other ministers of religion.
Being permanent residents, and employed in duties which were
comparatively light and easy, they were very competent to undertake
23. it was the king's commandment—It was
the will of the Persian monarch in issuing his edict that the temple
service should be revived in all its religious fulness and solemnity.
As this special provision for the singers is said to have been by the
king's commandment, the order was probably given at the request or
suggestion of Ezra or Nehemiah.
24. Pethahiah … was at the king's hand in
all matters concerning the people—This person was entrusted
with judicial power, either for the interest, or by the appointment, of
the Persian monarch, and his duty consisted either in adjusting cases
of civil dispute, or in regulating fiscal concerns.
25. some of the children of Judah dwelt at
Kirjath-arba—The whole region in which the villages here
mentioned were situated had been completely devastated by the Chaldean
invasion; and, therefore, it must be assumed, that these villages had
been rebuilt before "the children dwelt in them."
36. And of the Levites were divisions in Judah,
and in Benjamin—Rather, there were divisions for the Levites;
that is, those who were not resident in Jerusalem were distributed in
settlements throughout the provinces of Judah and Benjamin.