Reflections on Scripture

by Wayne Bandy

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Scripture Passage

      Nehemiah - Chapter 12 (Contemporary English Version)
    1. Many priests and Levites had returned from Babylonia with Zerubbabel and Joshua as their leaders. Those priests were Seraiah, Jeremiah, Ezra,
    2. Amariah, Malluch, Hattush,
    3. Shecaniah, Rehum, Meremoth,
    4. Iddo, Ginnethoi, Abijah,
    5. Mijamin, Maadiah, Bilgah,
    6. Shemaiah, Joiarib, Jedaiah,
    7. Sallu, Amok, Hilkiah, and another Jedaiah. These were the leading priests and their assistants during the time of Joshua.
    8. The Levites who returned were Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Sherebiah, Judah, and Mattaniah. They and their assistants were responsible for the songs of praise,
    9. while Bakbukiah and Unno, together with their assistants, were responsible for the choral responses.
    10. Joshua was the father of Joiakim, the grandfather of Eliashib, and the great-grandfather of Joiada.
    11. Joiada was the father of Jonathan and the grandfather of Jaddua.
    12. When Joiakim was high priest, the following priests were leaders of their clans: Meraiah of the Seraiah clan, Hananiah of Jeremiah,
    13. Meshullam of Ezra, Jehohanan of Amariah,
    14. Jonathan of Malluchi, Joseph of Shebaniah,
    15. Adna of Harim, Helkai of Meraioth,
    16. Zechariah of Iddo, Meshullam of Ginnethon,
    17. Zichri of Abijah, Piltai of Moadiah,
    18. Shammua of Bilgah, Jehonathan of Shemaiah,
    19. Mattenai of Joiarib, Uzzi of Jedaiah,
    20. Kallai of Sallai, Eber of Amok,
    21. Hashabiah of Hilkiah, and Nethanel of Jedaiah.
    22. During the time of the high priests Eliashib, Joiada, Johanan, and Jaddua, and including the time that Darius was king of Persia, a record was kept of the heads of the Levite and priestly families.
    23. However, no official record was kept of the heads of the Levite clans after the death of Johanan, the grandson of Eliashib.
    24. Hashabiah, Sherebiah, Jeshua son of Kadmiel, and their assistants organized two choirs of Levites to offer praises to God, just as King David, the man of God, had commanded.
    25. Mattaniah, Bakbukiah, Obadiah, Meshullam, Talmon, and Akkub were responsible for guarding the storerooms near the temple gates.
    26. All of these men lived during the time of Joiakim and during the time that I was governor and Ezra, a teacher of the Law of Moses, was priest.
    27. When the city wall was dedicated, Levites from everywhere in Judah were invited to join in the celebration with songs of praise and with the music of cymbals, small harps, and other stringed instruments.
    28. The Levite singers lived in villages around Jerusalem, and so they came from there, as well as from the villages around Netophah, Beth-Gilgal, Geba, and Azmaveth.
    29. (SEE 12:28)
    30. The priests and Levites held special ceremonies to make themselves holy, and then they did the same for the rest of the people and for the gates and walls of the city.
    31. I brought the leaders of Judah to the top of the city wall and put them in charge of the two groups that were to march around on top of the wall, singing praises to God. One group marched to the right in the direction of Garbage Gate.
    32. Hoshaiah and half of the leaders followed them.
    33. Then came the priests Azariah, Ezra, Meshullam,
    34. Judah, Benjamin, Shemaiah, and Jeremiah,
    35. all of them blowing trumpets. Next, there was Zechariah of the Asaph clan
    36. and his relatives, Shemaiah, Azarel, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethanel, Judah, and Hanani. They played musical instruments like those that had been played by David, the man of God. And they marched behind Ezra, the teacher of the Law.
    37. When they reached Fountain Gate, they climbed the steps to David's City and went past his palace, before stopping at the Water Gate near the eastern wall of the city.
    38. The second group of singers marched along the wall in the opposite direction, and I followed them, together with the other half of the leaders of Judah. We went past Oven Tower, Broad Wall,
    39. Ephraim Gate, Old Gate, Fish Gate, Hananel Tower, Hundred Tower, and on to Sheep Gate. Finally, we stopped at Gate of the Guard,
    40. where we stood in front of the temple with the other group, praising God. In the group with me were half of the leaders,
    41. as well as the priests Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Micaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah, and Hananiah, who were blowing trumpets.
    42. Maaseiah, Shemaiah, Eleazar, Uzzi, Jehohanan, Malchijah, Elam, and Ezer also stood there, as Jezrahiah led the singers.
    43. God had made the people very happy, and so on that day they celebrated and offered many sacrifices. The women and children joined in the festivities, and joyful shouts could be heard far from the city of Jerusalem.
    44. On that same day, some leaders were appointed to be responsible for the safekeeping of gifts for the temple and to be in charge of receiving the first part of the harvest and the ten percent of the crops and livestock that was offered to God. These same leaders also collected the part of crops that the Law of Moses taught was to be given to the Levites. Everyone was pleased with the work of the priests and Levites,
    45. when they performed the ceremonies to make people acceptable to worship God. And the singers and the temple guards did their jobs according to the instructions given by David and his son Solomon.
    46. In fact, ever since the days of David and Asaph, there had been song leaders and songs of praise and worship.
    47. During the time that Zerubbabel and I were in charge, everyone in Israel gave what they were supposed to give for the daily needs of the singers and temple guards from the Levi tribe. Then the Levites would give the priests their share from what they had received.

Nehemiah - Chapter 12

Entered: June 30, 2004

Entered: December 17, 2012

The final chapter of Nehemiah records a celebration of the completion of rebuilding the wall that incorporates the commitments made to renewing their worship of God. For this celebration all the priests and Levites who had returned from Babylon were gathered along with all the musicians. These worship leaders were divided into two groups as were all the people, forming two large processions. These processions made their way to the top of the wall with one group going around the wall counter clockwise while the other went clockwise, both groups joining again at the temple.

When they arrived at the temple they offered sacrifices along with loud rejoicing that could be "heard far away." (12:43) They also followed up on their commitment to provide for the priests and Levites and ongoing care of the temple activities by placing men "in charge of the rooms that housed the supplies, contributions, firstfruits, and tenths. The legally required portions for the priests and Levites were gathered from the village fields, because Judah was grateful to the priests and Levites who were serving." (12:44)

This celebration that could be heard far away and the image of this huge procession walking along the walls of the city must have communicated a resounding message to their enemies as well as bolstering their own spirits. Tobiah, the leader of the opposition, had told Nehemiah, "Indeed, even if a fox climbed up what they are building, he would break down their stone wall!" But here were thousands of people walking upon the wall. It was secure! And having made possible the rebuilding of a secure wall in the short amount of time they had done so was a feat only God could accomplish.