The success of one good design for God and our generation should
encourage us to proceed and form some other; Nehemiah did so, having
fortified Jerusalem with gates and walls, his next care is,
I. To see the city well kept,
II. To see it well peopled, in order to which he here reviews and calls
over the register of the children of the captivity, the families that
returned at first, and records it,
It is the same, in effect, with that which we had,
What use he made of it we shall find afterwards, when he brought one of
ten to live in Jerusalem,
|The Completion of the Wall.
||B. C. 445.|
1 Now it came to pass, when the wall was built, and I had set
up the doors, and the porters and the singers and the Levites
2 That I gave my brother Hanani, and Hananiah the ruler of the
palace, charge over Jerusalem: for he was a faithful man, and
feared God above many.
3 And I said unto them, Let not the gates of Jerusalem be
opened until the sun be hot; and while they stand by, let them
shut the doors, and bar them: and appoint watches of the
inhabitants of Jerusalem, every one in his watch, and every one
to be over against his house.
4 Now the city was large and great: but the people were few
therein, and the houses were not builded.
God saith concerning his church
I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem! This is
Nehemiah's care here; for dead walls, without living watchmen, are but
a poor defence to a city.
I. He appointed the porters, singers, and Levites, in their
places to their work. This is meant of their work in general, which was
to attend the temple service; it had been neglected in some degree, but
now was revived. God's worship is the defence of a place, and his
ministers, when they mind their duty, are watchmen on the walls. Or, in
particular, he ordered them to be ready against the wall was to be
dedicated, that they might perform that service in an orderly and
solemn manner; and the dedication of it was its strength. That is
likely to be beneficial to us which is devoted to God.
II. He appointed two governors or consuls, to whom he committed the
care of the city, and gave them in charge to provide for the public
peace and safety. Hanani, his brother, who came to him with the tidings
of the desolations of Jerusalem, was one, a man of approved integrity
and affection to his country; the other was Hananiah, who had been
ruler of the palace: for he that has approved himself faithful in less
shall be entrusted with more. Of this Hananiah it is said that he was a
faithful man and one that feared God above many,
1. Among those who fear God truly there are some who fear him greatly,
and excel others in the expressions and instances of that fear; and
they are worthy a double portion of that honour which is due to those
that fear the Lord,
There were many in Jerusalem that feared God, but this good man was
more eminent for religion and serious godliness than any.
2. Those that fear God must evidence it by their being faithful to all
men and universally conscientious.
3. God's Jerusalem is then likely to flourish when those rule in it,
and have charge of it, who excel in virtue, and are eminent both for
godliness and honesty. It is supposed, by some, that Nehemiah was now
about to return to the Persian court to have his commission renewed,
and that he left these two worthy men in charge with the affairs of the
city in his absence. Good governors, when and where they cannot act
themselves, must be very careful whom they depute.
III. He gave orders about the shutting of the gates and the guarding of
1. What the present state of Jerusalem was. The city, in compass, was
large and great. The walls enclosed the same ground as formerly; but
much of it lay waste, for the houses were not built, few at least in
comparison with what had been; so that Nehemiah walled the city in
faith, and with an eye to that promise of the replenishing of it which
God had lately made by the prophet,
&c. Though the people were now few, he believed they would be
multiplied, and therefore built the walls so as to make room for them;
had he not depended upon this he might have thought walls without a
city as great a reproach as a city without walls.
2. What was the care of Nehemiah for it. He ordered the rulers of the
(1.) To stand by, and see the city-gates shut up and barred every
night; for in vain had they a wall if they were careless of their
(2.) To take care that they should not be opened in the morning till
they could see that all was clear and quiet.
(3.) To set sentinels upon the walls, or elsewhere, at convenient
distances, who should, in case of the approach of the enemy, give
timely notice to the city of the danger; and, as it came to their turn
to watch, they must post themselves over against their own
houses, because of them, it might be presumed, they would be in a
particular manner careful. The public safety depends upon every one's
particular care to guard himself and his own family against sin, that
common enemy. It is every one's interest to watch, but many understand
not their own interest; it is therefore incumbent upon magistrates to
appoint watches. And as this people had lately found God with them in
their building (else they would have built in vain), so now that the
wall was built, no doubt, they were made sensible that except the
Lord kept the city the watchman waked but in vain,
|The Register of the Captives.
||B. C. 445.|
5 And my God put into mine heart to gather together the nobles,
and the rulers, and the people, that they might be reckoned by
genealogy. And I found a register of the genealogy of them which
came up at the first, and found written therein,
6 These are the children of the province, that went up out of
the captivity, of those that had been carried away, whom
Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away, and came
again to Jerusalem and to Judah, every one unto his city;
7 Who came with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Azariah, Raamiah,
Nahamani, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispereth, Bigvai, Nehum, Baanah.
The number, I say, of the men of the people of Israel was
8 The children of Parosh, two thousand a hundred seventy and
9 The children of Shephatiah, three hundred seventy and two.
10 The children of Arah, six hundred fifty and two.
11 The children of Pahathmoab, of the children of Jeshua and
Joab, two thousand and eight hundred and eighteen.
12 The children of Elam, a thousand two hundred fifty and four.
13 The children of Zattu, eight hundred forty and five.
14 The children of Zaccai, seven hundred and threescore.
15 The children of Binnui, six hundred forty and eight.
16 The children of Bebai, six hundred twenty and eight.
17 The children of Azgad, two thousand three hundred twenty and
18 The children of Adonikam, six hundred threescore and seven.
19 The children of Bigvai, two thousand threescore and seven.
20 The children of Adin, six hundred fifty and five.
21 The children of Ater of Hezekiah, ninety and eight.
22 The children of Hashum, three hundred twenty and eight.
23 The children of Bezai, three hundred twenty and four.
24 The children of Hariph, a hundred and twelve.
25 The children of Gibeon, ninety and five.
26 The men of Beth-lehem and Netophah, a hundred fourscore and
27 The men of Anathoth, a hundred twenty and eight.
28 The men of Beth-azmaveth, forty and two.
29 The men of Kirjath-jearim, Chephirah, and Beeroth, seven
hundred forty and three.
30 The men of Ramah and Geba, six hundred twenty and one.
31 The men of Michmas, a hundred and twenty and two.
32 The men of Beth-el and Ai, a hundred twenty and three.
33 The men of the other Nebo, fifty and two.
34 The children of the other Elam, a thousand two hundred fifty
35 The children of Harim, three hundred and twenty.
36 The children of Jericho, three hundred forty and five.
37 The children of Lod, Hadid, and Ono, seven hundred twenty
38 The children of Senaah, three thousand nine hundred and
39 The priests: the children of Jedaiah, of the house of
Jeshua, nine hundred seventy and three.
40 The children of Immer, a thousand fifty and two.
41 The children of Pashur, a thousand two hundred forty and
42 The children of Harim, a thousand and seventeen.
43 The Levites: the children of Jeshua, of Kadmiel, and of
the children of Hodevah, seventy and four.
44 The singers: the children of Asaph, a hundred forty and
45 The porters: the children of Shallum, the children of Ater,
the children of Talmon, the children of Akkub, the children of
Hatita, the children of Shobai, a hundred thirty and eight.
46 The Nethinims: the children of Ziha, the children of
Hashupha, the children of Tabbaoth,
47 The children of Keros, the children of Sia, the children of
48 The children of Lebana, the children of Hagaba, the children
49 The children of Hanan, the children of Giddel, the children
50 The children of Reaiah, the children of Rezin, the children
51 The children of Gazzam, the children of Uzza, the children
52 The children of Besai, the children of Meunim, the children
53 The children of Bakbuk, the children of Hakupha, the
children of Harhur,
54 The children of Bazlith, the children of Mehida, the
children of Harsha,
55 The children of Barkos, the children of Sisera, the children
56 The children of Neziah, the children of Hatipha.
57 The children of Solomon's servants: the children of Sotai,
the children of Sophereth, the children of Perida,
58 The children of Jaala, the children of Darkon, the children
59 The children of Shephatiah, the children of Hattil, the
children of Pochereth of Zebaim, the children of Amon.
60 All the Nethinims, and the children of Solomon's servants,
were three hundred ninety and two.
61 And these were they which went up also from Tel-melah,
Tel-haresha, Cherub, Addon, and Immer: but they could not show
their father's house, nor their seed, whether they were of
62 The children of Delaiah, the children of Tobiah, the
children of Nekoda, six hundred forty and two.
63 And of the priests: the children of Habaiah, the children of
Koz, the children of Barzillai, which took one of the daughters
of Barzillai the Gileadite to wife, and was called after their
64 These sought their register among those that were reckoned
by genealogy, but it was not found: therefore were they, as
polluted, put from the priesthood.
65 And the Tirshatha said unto them, that they should not eat
of the most holy things, till there stood up a priest with Urim
66 The whole congregation together was forty and two thousand
three hundred and threescore,
67 Beside their manservants and their maidservants, of whom
there were seven thousand three hundred thirty and seven: and
they had two hundred forty and five singing men and singing
68 Their horses, seven hundred thirty and six: their mules, two
hundred forty and five:
69 Their camels, four hundred thirty and five: six thousand
seven hundred and twenty asses.
70 And some of the chief of the fathers gave unto the work. The
Tirshatha gave to the treasure a thousand drams of gold, fifty
basons, five hundred and thirty priests' garments.
71 And some of the chief of the fathers gave to the treasure
of the work twenty thousand drams of gold, and two thousand and
two hundred pound of silver.
72 And that which the rest of the people gave was twenty
thousand drams of gold, and two thousand pound of silver, and
threescore and seven priests' garments.
73 So the priests, and the Levites, and the porters, and the
singers, and some of the people, and the Nethinims, and all
Israel, dwelt in their cities; and when the seventh month came,
the children of Israel were in their cities.
We have here another good project of Nehemiah's; for wise and zealous
men will be always contriving something or other for the glory of God
and the edification of his church. He knew very well that the safety of
a city, under God, depends more upon the number and valour of the
inhabitants than upon the height or strength of its walls; and
therefore, observing that the people were few that dwelt in it, he
thought fit to take an account of the people, that he might find what
families had formerly had their settlement in Jerusalem, but were now
removed into the country, that he might bring them back, and what
families could in any other way be influenced by their religion, or by
their business, to come and rebuild the houses in Jerusalem and dwell
in them. So little reason have we to wish that we may be placed alone
in the earth, or in Jerusalem itself, that much of our safety and
comfort depends upon our neighbours and friends; the more the stronger,
the more the merrier. It is the wisdom of the governors of a nation to
keep the balance even between the city and country, that the metropolis
be not so extravagantly large as to drain and impoverish the country,
nor yet so weak as not to be able to protect it. Now observe,
I. Whence this good design of Nehemiah's came. He owns, My God put
it into my heart,
Note, Whatever good motion is in our minds, either prudent or pious, we
must acknowledge it to come from God. It was he that put it into our
hearts; for every good gift and every good work are from above. He
gives knowledge; he gives grace; all is of him, and therefore all must
be to him. What is done by human prudence must be ascribed to the
direction of divine Providence; he that teaches the husbandman his
teaches the statesman his.
II. What method he took in prosecution of it.
1. He called the rulers together, and the people, that he might have an
account of the present state of their families--their number and
strength, and where they were settled. It is probable that when he
summoned them to come together he ordered them to bring such an account
along with them out of their several districts. And I doubt they were
not so many but that it might be soon done.
2. He reviewed the old register of the genealogy of those who came
up at the first, and compared the present accounts with that; and
here we have the repetition of that out of Ezra
2. The title is the same here
These are the children of the province, &c. Two things are here
repeated and recorded a second time from thence--the names and numbers
of their several families, and their oblations to the service of the
temple. The repetition of these accounts may intimate to us the delight
which the great God is pleased to take in the persons, families, and
services of his spiritual Israel, and the particular notice he takes of
them. He knows those that are his, knows them all, knows them by name,
has his eye on the register of those children of the captivity, and
does all according to the ancient counsel of his will concerning
(1.) Here is an account of the heads of the several families that first
As to this,
[1.] Though it seem of little use to us now, yet then it was of great
use, to compare what they had been with what they now were. We may
suppose they were much increased by this time; but it would do well for
them to remember their small beginnings, that they might acknowledge
God in multiplying their families and building them up. By this means
likewise their genealogies would be preserved, and the distinction of
their families kept up, till the Messiah should come, and then an end
be put to all their genealogies, which were preserved for his sake, but
afterwards were endless. But,
[2.] There are many differences in the numbers between this catalogue
and that in Ezra. Most of them indeed are exactly the same, and some
others within a very few under or over (one or two perhaps); and
therefore I cannot think, as some do, that that was the number of these
families at their first coming and this as they were now, which was at
least forty years after (some make it much more); for we cannot suppose
so many families to be not at all, or but little, altered in their
numbers in all that time; therefore what differences there are we may
suppose to arise either from the mistakes of transcribers, which easily
happen in numbers, or from the diversity of the copies from which they
were taken. Or perhaps one was the account of them when they set out
from Babylon with Zerubbabel, the other when they came to Jerusalem.
The sum totals are all just the same there and here, except of the
singing-men and singing-women, which there are 200, here 245. These
were not of such importance as that they should keep any strict account
(2.) Here is an account of the offerings which were given towards the
work of God,
&c. This differs much from that in
and it may be questioned whether it refers to the same contribution;
here the tirshatha, or chief governor, who there was not mentioned,
begins the offering; and the single sum mentioned there exceeds all
those here put together; yet it is probable that it was the same, but
that followed one copy of the lists, this another; for the
is the same here that it was
Blessed be God that our faith and hope are not built upon the niceties
of names and numbers, genealogy and chronology, but on the great things
of the law and gospel. Whatever is given to the work of God, he is not
unrighteous to forget it; nor shall even a cup of cold water, wherewith
he is honoured, go without its reward.