Nehemiah 7 – The Wall Guarded
A. Watchmen provided for the walls.
1. (1-2) The appointment of Hanani and Hananiah.
Then it was, when the wall was built and I had hung the doors, when the gatekeepers, the singers, and the Levites had been appointed, that I gave the charge of Jerusalem to my brother Hanani, and Hananiah the leader of the citadel, for he was a faithful man and feared God more than many.
a. Then it was, when the wall was built: Everything was in order – both practically (the wall…I had hung the doors…the gatekeepers) and spiritually (the singers…the Levites); the work was completed and set right.
i. The singers and the Levites were there to lead the people in worship; the walls were not rebuilt so the people of Jerusalem could look at nice walls. They were rebuilt so they could worship God with greater glory and freedom than ever before.
ii. Every victory in our life should take us deeper into praise. If we are not praising God more, and more deeply, with each passing year, are we really having much victory? Maybe we are making it through tough times – but coming out more bitter and sour than ever. That is not God’s victory. His victory leads to a sweeter spirit and to deeper praise.
b. I gave the charge of Jerusalem: Nehemiah wasn’t in this for political glory. He had done a work, and now he could let it go. God would still use him in Jerusalem, but he knew it wasn’t his place to stay in authority.
c. Hanani: This was Nehemiah’s brother, and the one who first told him about the sad state of affairs in Jerusalem (Nehemiah 1:2). His initiative and concern made him well qualified to govern.
d. He was a faithful man and feared God more than many: This described Hananiah, who was the co-leader of Jerusalem. This is what God needs in a man or a woman to use them greatly.
i. Many people who don’t seem to be specially gifted – they can’t sing, they can’t remember many Bible verses, they don’t have a knack for teaching, and so forth – can still be used greatly of God if they are faithful and fear God. On the other hand, many remarkably gifted people may see little fruit in serving God if they are not faithful and do not fear God.
3. (3) A watch set on the walls.
And I said to them, “Do not let the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun is hot; and while they stand guard, let them shut and bar the doors; and appoint guards from among the inhabitants of Jerusalem, one at his watch station and another in front of his own house.”
a. Do not let the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun is hot; and while they stand guard: A tremendous victory had been won – the walls were rebuilt. Yet, the walls would not protect themselves. Diligent watchmen must be appointed, and the walls had to be guarded.
i. The gates were to be opened late and closed early – it was a time for high security.
b. Appoint guards from among the inhabitants of Jerusalem: In the Christian life, often a victory is won and later lost because there was no guard. An enemy may come in because we are not watching. Walls can be climbed if there is no one there to stop the enemy, but an enemy is easily turned back from a wall by a guard.
B. List of the returned families.
1. (4-5) The need to develop Jerusalem.
Now the city was large and spacious, but the people in it were few, and the houses were not rebuilt. Then my God put it into my heart to gather the nobles, the rulers, and the people, that they might be registered by genealogy. And I found a register of the genealogy of those who had come up in the first return, and found written in it:
a. The people in it were few, and the houses were not rebuilt: Now that the walls were rebuilt, Nehemiah still wanted to see how he could be a blessing to the people of God and the city of God. He noticed that the population was low and there were many abandoned houses.
b. Then God put it into my heart: Nehemiah wanted Jerusalem to grow and prosper. But before that could happen, he must first know who was already with him. Just as when he toured the broken down walls in Nehemiah 2:11-16, he needed to know the problem well. So, he took a census and looked at the registry first written by Ezra in Ezra 2:1-70.
2. (6-73) The citizens of Jerusalem who returned from the Babylonian captivity.
These are the people of the province who came back from the captivity, of those who had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away, and who returned to Jerusalem and Judah, everyone to his city. Those who came with Zerubbabel were Jeshua, Nehemiah, Azariah, Raamiah, Nahamani, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispereth, Bigvai, Nehum, and Baanah.
The number of the men of the people of Israel: the sons of Parosh, two thousand one hundred and seventy-two;
the sons of Shephatiah, three hundred and seventy-two;
the sons of Arah, six hundred and fifty-two;
the sons of Pahath-Moab, of the sons of Jeshua and Joab, two thousand eight hundred and eighteen;
the sons of Elam, one thousand two hundred and fifty-four;
the sons of Zattu, eight hundred and forty-five;
the sons of Zaccai, seven hundred and sixty;
the sons of Binnui, six hundred and forty-eight;
the sons of Bebai, six hundred and twenty-eight;
the sons of Azgad, two thousand three hundred and twenty-two;
the sons of Adonikam, six hundred and sixty-seven;
the sons of Bigvai, two thousand and sixty-seven;
the sons of Adin, six hundred and fifty-five;
the sons of Ater of Hezekiah, ninety-eight;
the sons of Hashum, three hundred and twenty-eight;
the sons of Bezai, three hundred and twenty-four;
the sons of Hariph, one hundred and twelve;
the sons of Gibeon, ninety-five;
the men of Bethlehem and Netophah, one hundred and eighty-eight;
the men of Anathoth, one hundred and twenty-eight;
the men of Beth Azmaveth, forty-two;
the men of Kirjath Jearim, Chephirah, and Beeroth, seven hundred and forty-three;
the men of Ramah and Geba, six hundred and twenty-one;
the men of Michmas, one hundred and twenty-two;
the men of Bethel and Ai, one hundred and twenty-three;
the men of the other Nebo, fifty-two;
the sons of the other Elam, one thousand two hundred and fifty-four;
the sons of Harim, three hundred and twenty;
the sons of Jericho, three hundred and forty-five;
the sons of Lod, Hadid, and Ono, seven hundred and twenty-one;
the sons of Senaah, three thousand nine hundred and thirty.
The priests: the sons of Jedaiah, of the house of Jeshua, nine hundred and seventy-three;
the sons of Immer, one thousand and fifty-two;
the sons of Pashhur, one thousand two hundred and forty-seven;
the sons of Harim, one thousand and seventeen.
The Levites: the sons of Jeshua, of Kadmiel,
and of the sons of Hodevah, seventy-four.
The singers: the sons of Asaph, one hundred and forty-eight.
The gatekeepers: the sons of Shallum,
the sons of Ater,
the sons of Talmon,
the sons of Akkub,
the sons of Hatita,
the sons of Shobai, one hundred and thirty-eight.
The Nethinim: the sons of Ziha,
the sons of Hasupha,
the sons of Tabbaoth,
the sons of Keros,
the sons of Sia,
the sons of Padon,
the sons of Lebana,
the sons of Hagaba,
the sons of Salmai,
the sons of Hanan,
the sons of Giddel,
the sons of Gahar,
the sons of Reaiah,
the sons of Rezin,
the sons of Nekoda,
the sons of Gazzam,
the sons of Uzza,
the sons of Paseah,
the sons of Besai,
the sons of Meunim,
the sons of Nephishesim,
the sons of Bakbuk,
the sons of Hakupha,
the sons of Harhur,
the sons of Bazlith,
the sons of Mehida,
the sons of Harsha,
the sons of Barkos,
the sons of Sisera,
the sons of Tamah,
the sons of Neziah,
and the sons of Hatipha.
The sons of Solomon’s servants: the sons of Sotai,
the sons of Sophereth,
the sons of Perida,
the sons of Jaala,
the sons of Darkon,
the sons of Giddel,
the sons of Shephatiah,
the sons of Hattil,
the sons of Pochereth of Zebaim,
and the sons of Amon.
All the Nethinim, and the sons of Solomon’s servants, were three hundred and ninety-two.
And these were the ones who came up from Tel Melah, Tel Harsha, Cherub, Addon, and Immer, but they could not identify their father’s house nor their lineage, whether they were of Israel: the sons of Delaiah,
the sons of Tobiah,
the sons of Nekoda, six hundred and forty-two;
and of the priests: the sons of Habaiah,
the sons of Koz,
the sons of Barzillai, who took a wife of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite, and was called by their name.
These sought their listing among those who were registered by genealogy, but it was not found; therefore they were excluded from the priesthood as defiled. And the governor said to them that they should not eat of the most holy things till a priest could consult with the Urim and Thummim.
Altogether the whole assembly was forty-two thousand three hundred and sixty, besides their male and female servants, of whom there were seven thousand three hundred and thirty-seven; and they had two hundred and forty-five men and women singers. Their horses were seven hundred and thirty-six, their mules two hundred and forty-five, their camels four hundred and thirty-five, and donkeys six thousand seven hundred and twenty.
And some of the heads of the fathers’ houses gave to the work. The governor gave to the treasury one thousand gold drachmas, fifty basins, and five hundred and thirty priestly garments. Some of the heads of the fathers’ houses gave to the treasury of the work twenty thousand gold drachmas, and two thousand two hundred silver minas. And that which the rest of the people gave was twenty thousand gold drachmas, two thousand silver minas, and sixty-seven priestly garments.
So the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, some of the people, the Nethinim, and all Israel dwelt in their cities. When the seventh month came, the children of Israel were in their cities.
a. These are the people…who returned to Jerusalem and Judah: This list was important because each of these people was important to God, in that they did what so few of their fellow Jews did – they took the trouble to return back to the land of Israel after they had already set down roots for seventy years in the Babylonian empire.
i. These are people who had a pioneer spirit; they were willing to endure hardship and discomfort because they had a call from God that was more important than their own comfort. Life was easier in Babylon, but it was better in Jerusalem.
b. These are the people: Since only about 2% of the Jews who were carried away into exile by the Babylonians came back, the ones who did have the pioneer spirit are worthy of mention – and they are mentioned twice in God’s eternal word (here and in Ezra 2).
i. It would be wonderful to have your name in the Bible (at least in a positive light). Though we are too late for that privilege, God does have a book of remembrance (Malachi 3:16), and surely the names of God’s faithful pioneers will be in it.
ii. In this list several things were important.
· Each individual was important (specific names were mentioned).
· Which families they came from was important (many family heads were named).
· Their gifts to support the work were important (they were specifically listed towards the end of the chapter).
c. These sought their listing among those who were registered by genealogy, but it was not found: Some men could not be priests until their lineage was determined. In the Old Testament, you could not be a priest unless it was established that you were descended from Aaron, the brother of Moses and the first high priest over Israel.
d. When the seventh month came, the children of Israel were in their cities: This list flows beautifully after the completion of the work because it reminds us that the work was really all about these people.
i. The walls weren’t all that important; what was important was the benefit the walls provided for God’s people, enabling them to live in peace and security.
ii. The building work wasn’t all that important; what was important was the benefit the building gave to God’s people. The building work taught them to work hard, to work together, to work through adversity and attack, and to work till the wall was done.