Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
Now these are the priests and the Levites that went up with Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua: Seraiah, Jeremiah, Ezra,XII.
(1-9) The priests and Levites of the First Return.
(1) Seraiah, Jeremiah, Ezra.—The first is the family name, represented by Jeshua. Of the two others we know nothing more than this record gives.
Shemaiah, and Joiarib, Jedaiah,(6) And Joiarib.—The “and” begins the list of those who did not seal the covenant. See a like “and” in Nehemiah 12:19.
Sallu, Amok, Hilkiah, Jedaiah. These were the chief of the priests and of their brethren in the days of Jeshua.(7) These were the chief.—Genealogically, but not according to the courses, which are in none of the lists complete.
And Jeshua begat Joiakim, Joiakim also begat Eliashib, and Eliashib begat Joiada,(10, 11) Pedigree of certain high priests, with supplement from a later hand. The six generations stretch over 200 years—from B.C. 536 to B.C. 332.
And Joiada begat Jonathan, and Jonathan begat Jaddua.(11) Jonathan.—Should be Johanan (Nehemiah 12:22); and “Jaddua” is most probably the high priest who confronted Alexander the Great.
And in the days of Joiakim were priests, the chief of the fathers: of Seraiah, Meraiah; of Jeremiah, Hananiah;(12-26) List of representatives of Zerubbabel’s priests in the days of Joiakim; to which is added an account of the Levites in his day. Between these there is an interpolation (Nehemiah 12:22-23).
Of Melicu, Jonathan; of Shebaniah, Joseph;(14) Melicu is the “Malluch” of Nehemiah 12:2, and Hattush is omitted. Other anomalies of this kind may be noticed, of which no account can now be given.
Of Abijah, Zichri; of Miniamin, of Moadiah, Piltai;(17) Of Miniamin.—Some name has dropped out.
The Levites in the days of Eliashib, Joiada, and Johanan, and Jaddua, were recorded chief of the fathers: also the priests, to the reign of Darius the Persian.(22, 23) The Levites.—Here is an evident interpolation. The writer says that the records of the heads of courses was continued down to Jaddua and Darius Codomannus.
And the chief of the Levites: Hashabiah, Sherebiah, and Jeshua the son of Kadmiel, with their brethren over against them, to praise and to give thanks, according to the commandment of David the man of God, ward over against ward.(24) And the chief.—The account resumes with the Levites, and gives a list of the extant officers of the Temple, many names being the same as in earlier times.
Mattaniah, and Bakbukiah, Obadiah, Meshullam, Talmon, Akkub, were porters keeping the ward at the thresholds of the gates.(25) At the thresholds.—At the treasuries, or store-chambers attached to the several gates of the Temple.
And at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought the Levites out of all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem, to keep the dedication with gladness, both with thanksgivings, and with singing, with cymbals, psalteries, and with harps.(27-43) The dedication of the wall. Henceforth Nehemiah speaks in his own person.
(27) They sought the Levites.—The dedication was to be processional and musical, as well as sacrificial: after the pattern of Solomon’s dedication of the Temple.
Also from the house of Gilgal, and out of the fields of Geba and Azmaveth: for the singers had builded them villages round about Jerusalem.(29) The singers.—As the Nethinim were settled in Ophel, so the class of Levitical singers were chiefly to be found in villages to the north of the city.
And the priests and the Levites purified themselves, and purified the people, and the gates, and the wall.(30) Purified themselves.—Before consecration to God there must be purification from defilement. It is made emphatic that both priests and Levites purified themselves, that is, by offerings and ablutions (comp. 2Chronicles 29:15; Ezra 6:20): the gates and the wall by being sprinkled.
Then I brought up the princes of Judah upon the wall, and appointed two great companies of them that gave thanks, whereof one went on the right hand upon the wall toward the dung gate:(31) The princes.—The chiefs were assembled somewhere on the south-west wall, and then divided into two companies.
And after them went Hoshaiah, and half of the princes of Judah,(32) After them.—These verses show that the clerical and the lay elements were mingled.
And Azariah, Ezra, and Meshullam,(33) Ezra.—Probably the same as the Azariah preceding.
Judah, and Benjamin, and Shemaiah, and Jeremiah,(34) Judah and Benjamin.—A singular collocation: the laity of Judah and Benjamin, with priests before and after.
And his brethren, Shemaiah, and Azarael, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethaneel, and Judah, Hanani, with the musical instruments of David the man of God, and Ezra the scribe before them.(36) With the musical instruments of David the man of God.—No part of the service deviated from sacred precedents (comp. Nehemiah 12:27).
Ezra the scribe before them.—Between the singers and the princes came he who was the greatest in dignity, though the second in office.
And the other company of them that gave thanks went over against them, and I after them, and the half of the people upon the wall, from beyond the tower of the furnaces even unto the broad wall;(38) The other company.—Comparing the order with Nehemiah 3, the reader will have a clear view of the second company. They had the longer route, proceed. ing to the left, rounding the north “broad wall,” passing the sheep-gate, and so meeting the priestly company near the prison-gate. The space where they met had the Temple straight in front, the prison-gate on the right, and the water-gate on the left.
And from above the gate of Ephraim, and above the old gate, and above the fish gate, and the tower of Hananeel, and the tower of Meah, even unto the sheep gate: and they stood still in the prison gate.(39) The gate of Ephraim.—Not mentioned in the process of repairing, as having remained comparatively intact with part of the “broad wall.”
So stood the two companies of them that gave thanks in the house of God, and I, and the half of the rulers with me:(40) In the house of God.—They stood first outside, but afterwards entered to present their offerings. But the main interest of the day was the professional worship under the open heavens.
And the priests; Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Michaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah, and Hananiah, with trumpets;(41) And the priests.—Like the names of the priests and Levites in Nehemiah 12:35, these are personal; not to be found in the former lists.
Also that day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced: for God had made them rejoice with great joy: the wives also and the children rejoiced: so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off.(43) Rejoiced.—This verse is full of joy; but before the rejoicing comes the abundant offering of sacrifices.
And at that time were some appointed over the chambers for the treasures, for the offerings, for the firstfruits, and for the tithes, to gather into them out of the fields of the cities the portions of the law for the priests and Levites: for Judah rejoiced for the priests and for the Levites that waited.(44-47) Economical arrangements.
(44) For Judah rejoiced.—Not only was the Temple service restored to something like the completeness of the Davidical period, the people also everywhere took pleasure in the ministrations of the Temple, and provided amply for them. Hence the need of men to take charge of the treasuries of the firstfruits and tithes.
And both the singers and the porters kept the ward of their God, and the ward of the purification, according to the commandment of David, and of Solomon his son.(45) Kept the ward.—This should be read differently. The priests and Levites kept the ward of their God, and the ward of purification, and the singers and porters, &c. To “keep the ward” is to observe the regular times and seasons of sacrifice and thanksgiving.
For in the days of David and Asaph of old there were chief of the singers, and songs of praise and thanksgiving unto God.(46) Of old.—Always there is a reverence shown for the old precedents.
And all Israel in the days of Zerubbabel, and in the days of Nehemiah, gave the portions of the singers and the porters, every day his portion: and they sanctified holy things unto the Levites; and the Levites sanctified them unto the children of Aaron.(47) The Levites.—Between the people and the priests came the Levites, who received the tithe and gave the priests their “tithe of the tithe” (Numbers 18:26).