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    Lots are cast that a tenth of the people may constantly dwell at Jerusalem, and the other nine parts in the other cities and villages, 1. Some willingly offer themselves to dwell in Jerusalem, and the people bless them, 2. An enumeration of the families that dwell in Jerusalem, of Judah, and Benjamin, 3-9; of those of the priests, 10-12; of the chiefs of the fathers, 13; of the mighty men, 14; of the Levites, 15-18; of the porters, 19; of the residue of Israel and the officers, 20-24. The villages at which they dwelt, 25-35. Certain divisions of the Levites were in Judah and Benjamin, 36.


    Verse 1. "To bring one of ten" - Jerusalem certainly had many inhabitants at this time; but not sufficient to preserve the city, which was now encompassed with a wall, and the rebuilding of which was going on fast.

    Nehemiah therefore obliged one tenth of the country people to come and dwell in it, that the population might be sufficient for the preservation and defense of the city. Ten were set apart, and the lot cast among them to see which one of the ten should take up his residence in the city.

    Verse 2. "All the men that willingly offered" - Some volunteered their services, which was considered a sacrifice to patriotism at that time, as Jerusalem afforded very few advantages, and was a place of considerable danger; hence the people spoke well of them, and no doubt prayed for God's blessing upon them.

    Verse 3. "Now these are the chief" - A good deal of difference will be found between the enumeration here and that in 1 Chronicles ix. 2, &c. There, those only who came with ZerubbHebel appear to be numbered; here, those, and the persons who came with Ezra and Nehemiah, enter into the account.

    Verse 9. "And Joel-was their overseer" - Joel was chief or magistrate over those, and Judah was his second or deputy. Perhaps each had a different office, but that of Joel was the chief.

    Verse 11. "Ruler of the house of God." - He had the command over all secular matters, as the high priest had over those which were spiritual.

    Verse 14. "Mighty men of valor" - Noted for strength of body, and military courage.

    Verse 16. "And Shabbethai" - This verse, with verses 20, 21, 28, 29, 32, 33, 34, and 35, are all wanting in the Septuagint and the whole chapter is wanting in the Arabic, the translator not being concerned in Jewish genealogies.

    "The outward business" - Calmet supposes that he provided the victuals for the priests, victims for the sacrifices, the sacerdotal vestments, the sacred vessels, and other necessaries for the service of the temple.

    Verse 17. "The principal to begin the thanksgiving" - The precentor, pitcher of the tune, or master-singer.

    Verse 22. "The overseer also of the Levites" - dyqp pekid, the visitant, the inspector; translated episkopov, bishop, both by the Septuagint and Vulgate.

    Verse 23. "It was the king's commandment" - By the king some understand David, and others Artaxerxes. It is most probable that it was the latter; who wished that a provision should be made for these, a part of whose office was to offer up prayers also, as well as praises. For we know that Darius made an ample provision for the priests, that they might offer sacrifices of sweet savour unto the God of heaven; and pray for the life of the king and of his sons, Ezra vi. 10. Some have thought that they had been Jewish singers employed in the service of the Persian king, to whom he had given a salary, and to whom he wished still to continue the same.

    Verse 24. "Pethahiah-was at the king's hand" - He was the governor appointed by the Persian king over the Jewish nation in those matters in which the civil government interfered with Jewish concerns. He no doubt fixed, levied, and received the tribute.

    Verse 26. "And at Jeshua" - This city is nowhere else mentioned.

    Verse 28. "Mekonah" - This city is also unknown.

    Verse 31. "Geba" - Probably the same as Gibeah of Saul.

    Verse 32. "Ananiah" - No city of this name is known.

    Verse 33. "Hadid" - This place is also unknown.

    "Neballat" - Also unknown.

    Verse 35. "Lod, and Ono" - These towns were built by the sons of Elpaal, 1 Chron. viii. 12.

    "The valley of craftsmen." - See 1 Chron. iv. 14. Probably this latter town was built in this valley.

    Verse 36. "And of the Levites were divisions" - The Levites had their dwellings in the divisions of Judah and Benjamin. This is probably the meaning: the Syriac says, They had the half of Judah and Benjamin; which is not likely.

    THAT the people whose hearts were now turned towards the Lord, would make the best provision for the support of God's work, and all those engaged in it, we may naturally suppose; but this could not be very great, as the complete service was not yet established, and the Levites themselves were few in number.


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