Neh 7: "Nehemiah not only directed the rebuilding of the wall
of Jerusalem; he also set out to rebuild the nation and to strengthen its
morality. His work does not cease with the building, but he was careful to
follow up with regulations that were calculated to help the development of the
nation. How important that example! So he  set out security regulations: vv
1-4.  The population problem considered: vv 5-73.
"Nehemiah undertook his labours on behalf of Yahweh. He
recognised the importance of determining who were the true seed of Israel, for
it was to this end that careful genealogies were kept. How otherwise would it be
established that Jesus was of the lineage of David? So he set out the register
of those who had come from Babylon with Zerubbabel. Nehemiah used it as a basis
of comparison for the census he plans to undertake. We might spend less time
reading such a chapter, or avoid the difficult names, but we should remember
that if our name were included, how delighted we would be to have everyone read
the chapter!" (GEM).
AFTER THE WALL HAD BEEN REBUILT AND I HAD SET THE DOORS IN
PLACE, THE GATEKEEPERS AND THE SINGERS AND THE LEVITES WERE APPOINTED:
Having finished the walls Nehemiah took steps to insure that the city would
remain secure by appointing guards; now temple worship could flourish. The
gatekeepers usually guarded the temple entrance, but Nehemiah posted them at the
city gates because of the imminent danger there.
MY BROTHER HANANI, ALONG WITH HANANIAH...: Or possibly,
"Hanani, that is, Hananiah" -- being two names for the same person.
HE WAS A MAN OF INTEGRITY: Examples of faithfulness in
service: Samuel (1Sa 3:20); David (1Sa 22:14); the temple overseers (2Ki 12:15);
the workers (2Ch 34:12); Hananiah (Neh 7:2); Abraham (Neh 9:8); the treasurers
(Neh 13:13); Daniel (Dan 6:4); Timothy (1Co 4:17); Epaphras (Col 1:7); Tychicus
(Col 4:7); Onesimus (Col 4:9); Paul (1Ti 1:12); Moses (Heb 3:2,5); Gaius (3Jo
1:5); Jesus Christ (Rev 1:5); Antipas (Rev 2:13).
Cp Luk 16:10; 2Ch 31:12.
THE GATES OF JERUSALEM ARE NOT TO BE OPENED UNTIL THE SUN
IS HOT. WHILE THE GATEKEEPERS ARE STILL ON DUTY, HAVE THEM SHUT THE DOORS AND
BAR THEM: To minimize the threat of potential invaders, Nehemiah ordered
that the gates of Jerusalem be open only during the busiest hours of the
BUT THERE WERE FEW PEOPLE IN IT: Many of the builders
had been "commuters"! People had not been living in Jerusalem because it was
vulnerable to attack; the small population rendered it more vulnerable than it
would have been with the city full of people. Nehemiah later proposed a plan
that would increase the population and consequently the security of Jerusalem
Vv 5-73: The record of those who returned. This is not a list
of the people who accompanied Nehemiah to Jerusalem in 444 BC, but a record of
those who returned with Sheshbazzar (Zerubbabel) and Jeshua in 537 BC (v 7). It
is almost identical to the list in Ezra 2.
Why did Nehemiah repeat this list? Apparently he wanted to
encourage the Jews to move into Jerusalem (cp Neh 11:1,2), this being one of the
goals of the return. To determine who were pure-blooded Israelites, he did some
research and uncovered this list. He then used it as the basis for his plan (cf
The repetition of this list also confirms God's faithfulness
in preserving His chosen people, and God's loyal love in bringing them back into
the land that He promised to give their ancestors. It is a second witness to His
faithfulness and love, the first list being the first witness. (The Nehemiah of
v 7 is therefore not Nehemiah the wall-builder: cf Ezra 2:2.)
The total number who returned was 49,942 (vv 66,67; Ezra
2:64,65). However the sum of the individuals the writer mentioned in this
chapter is 31,089 (and 29,818 in Ezra 2).
Vv 5-38: The register of returned exiles (25,406).
THE FIRST TO RETURN: That is, with Zerubbabel (Ezr
Vv 39-42: The register of the priests (4,289).
Vv 43-45: The register of the Levites (360).
Vv 46-56: The register of the temple servants (392) (see v
TEMPLE SERVANTS: Or "Nethinim" (AV). They are said
specifically to be those "whom David and the princes had appointed for the
service of the Levites" (Ezr 8:20), thus indicating both their realm of activity
and their historical origin. In most of the occurrences they are listed with and
after the Levites (cf 1Ch 9:2; Ezr 7:7; Neh 7:73). Because of this reference to
the activity of David and their being joined with Solomon's servants (Ezr 2:58;
Neh 7:60; cf 1Ki 9:21) and the foreign names that they bear, it has been thought
that they were foreigners, mostly captives of war, put into this service. For
example, Mehunim (Ezr 2:50; Neh 7:52) may refer to those overcome by Uzziah (2Ch
26:7). Nephusim (Ezr 2:50; Neh 7:52) may refer to the Hagarite clan of Naphish
(Gen 25:15; 1Ch 5:19). Because of the similarity of duty, some have sought their
background in the Gibeonites, "hewers of wood and drawers of water for the house
of my God" (Jos 9:23,27) and also in the Midianites (Num 31:30,47). The
correlation is probably no more than that of similarity of service, not direct
relationship. Whatever may be the roots of their origin, they were treated as
part of the people of God, at least as proselytes (Neh 10:28...). They are
mentioned by name in the OT in post-Exilic times. From Babylon 612 returned, 392
with Zerubbabel (Ezr 2:58: Neh 7:60) a count which includes "the children of
Solomon's servants") and 220 with Ezra (Ezr 8:20) as "ministers for the house of
our God" from the place Casiphia (Ezr 8:17) "in the seventh year of Artaxerxes
the king (Ezr 7:7). Like other sacred ministers, they were exempted from
taxation (Ezr 7:24).
Vv 57-60: The sons of Solomon's servants. These appear to be a
subset of all the "temple servants" (vv 46-56), and the total of both classes
seems to have been 392 (v 60).
Vv 61-64: Priests with unproven descent (642).
THE GOVERNOR: "Tirshatha" in KJV. Lit "the fear, or
reverence". A title given to Zerubbabel (Ezr 2:63), and now to
THE SACRED FOOD: "The most holy food" (RSV). That is,
the tithes for the priests (Neh 10:32-39).
UNTIL THERE SHOULD BE A PRIEST MINISTERING WITH THE URIM
AND THUMMIM: That is, until a definitive answer from Yahweh could be
obtained, as to the lineage of all the priests. For Urim and Thummim, see Lev
8:8; Num 27:21; 1Sa 14:41; 23:3; 30:7; 2Sa 2:1.
THE WHOLE COMPANY NUMBERED 42,360: A reconciliation of
Ezra's numbers (Ezr 2:64) with Nehemiah's numbers (Neh 7:66):
* The totals in Ezra: Men of Israel: 24,144; priests: 4,289;
Levites, singers, etc: 341; temple servants 392; men of unproven origin: 652.
Total of 29,818.
* The totals in Nehemiah: 25,406 (vv 5-38) + 4,289 (vv 39-42)
+ 360 (vv 43-45) + 392 (vv 46-60) + 642 (vv 61,62) = 31,089.
* Ezra: 29,818 (from Ezr 2), plus 1,765 (others, in Neh) =
* Nehemiah: 31,089 (from totals of Neh 7), plus 494 (others,
in Ezr) = 31,583.
* The 31,583, plus 10,777 (possibly from other ten tribes) =
42,360 (the total congregation: cp Ezr 2:64 and Neh 7:66).
Vv 67-69: Other statistics of the assembly.
Vv 70-73: Gifts to the priests.
THE GOVERNOR: The "Tirshatha", who was Nehemiah himself
(Neh 8:9; 10:1).
1,000 DRACHMAS: "The equivalent of between £10000
and £20000 in modern terms -- not an insignificant amount" (PC).
WHEN THE SEVENTH MONTH CAME AND THE ISRAELITES HAD SETTLED
IN THEIR TOWNS: The month Tishri in the year 537 BC -- the year in which the
returned exiles just named gathered in Jerusalem to offer sacrifices and to
celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles (cf Ezra 3). It could hardly be the "seventh
month" in the year the walls were completed (444 BC) since the people were in
Jerusalem on the first day of that seventh month (Neh 8:2), not in their various
towns. Therefore, this v 73b should be appended to the end of the Neh 7 list (as
it is in the KJV) -- not made the first phrase of Neh 8 (as the NIV
"Nehemiah appears to be reminding the reader of that great
gathering with the hopes that a comparison will be made with the gathering
recorded in Neh 8" (Laney).