The Word Made Fresh
1The people who were descended from those who had been taken into exile by king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon now were allowed to return to Jerusalem and Judah to their ancestral homes. 2They came with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bildhan, Mispar, Bigvai, Rehum, and Baanah.
Here is an accounting of those who returned:
3Of the family of Parosh, two thousand one hundred seventy-two. 4Of the family of Shephatiah, three hundred seventy-two. 5Of the family of Arah, seven hundred seventy-five. 6Of the family of Pahath-Moab who were descendants of Jeshua and Joab, two thousand eight hundred twelve. 7Of the family of Elam, one thousand two hundred fifty-four. 8Of the family of Zattu, nine hundred forty-five. 9Of the family of Zaccai, seven hundred sixty. 10Of the family of Bani, six hundred forty-two. 11Of the family of Bebai, six hundred twenty-three. 12Of the family of Azgad, one thousand two hundred twenty-two. 13Of the family of Adonikam, six hundred sixty-six. 14Of the family of Bigvai, two thousand fifty-six. 15Of the family of Adin, four hundred fifty-four. 16Of the family of Ater (Hezekiah), ninety-eight. 17Of the family of Bezai, three hundred twenty-three. 18Of the family of Jorah, one hundred twelve. 19Of the family of Hashum, two hundred twenty-three. 20Of the family of Gibbar, ninety-five. 21Of those from Bethlehem, one hundred twenty-three. 22Of those from Netophah, fifty-six. 23Of those from Anathoth, one hundred twenty-eight. 24Of the family of Azmaveth, forty-two. 25Of the families of Kiriatharim, Chephirah, and Beeroth, seven hundred forty-three. 26Of Ramah and Geba, six hundred twenty-one. 27Of the family of Michmas, one hundred twenty-two. 28Of those from Bethel and Ai, two hundred twenty-three. 29Of the descendants of Nebo, fifty-two. 30Of those of Magbish, one hundred fifty-six. 31Of those from the other Elam, one thousand two hundred fifty-four. 32Of the family of Harim, three hundred twenty. 33Of those from Lod, Hadid and Ono, seven hundred twenty-five. 34Of those from Jericho, three hundred forty-five. 35Of those from Senaah, three thousand six hundred thirty.
36These were the priests who returned: of Jedaiah of the house of Jeshua: nine hundred seventy-three. 37Of the house of Immer, one thousand fifty-two. 38Of the house of Pashhur, one thousand two hundred forty-seven. 39Of the house of Harim, one thousand seventeen.
40Here is a list of the Levites: The descendants of Jeshua and Kadmiel who descended from Hodaviah, seventy-four. 41The singers, descendants of Asaph, one hundred twenty-eight. 42The descendants of the gatekeepers of Shallum, Ater, Talmon, Akkub, Hatita, and Shobai, one hundred thirty-nine.
43These were the temple servants: descendants of Ziha, Hasupha, Tabbaoth, 44Keros, Siaha, Padon, 45Lebanah, Hagabah, Akkub, 46Hagab, Shamlai, Hanan, 47Giddel, Gahar, Reaiah, 48Resin, Nekoda, Gazzam, 49Uzza, Paseah, Besai, 50Asnah, Meunim, Nephisim, 51Bakbuk, Hakupha, Harhur, 52Bazluth, Mehida, Harsha, 53Barkos, Sisera, Tamah, 54Neziah, and Hatipha.
55The descendants of Solomon’s attendants were Sotai, Hassophereth, Peruda, 56Jaalah, Darkon, Giddel, 57Shephatiah, Hattil, Pochereth-Hazzabaim, and Ami. 58The total of the temple attendants and Solomon’s attendants were three hundred ninety-two.
59Here follows a list of those who came up from Tel-Melah, Tel-Harsha, Cherub, Addan, and Immer, although they had no proof of their family connections or their forebearers to show they belonged to Israel: 60They were the descendants of Delilah, Tobiah, and Nekoda, six hundred fifty-two altogether. 61There were also some who claimed to be of priestly descent: they were descendants of Habaiah, Hakkoz, and Barzillai (who had married a daughter of Barzillai of Gilead and was identified with them). 62These all looked for their names in the family records but could not find them there, so were excluded from the priesthood and deemed unclean. 63The governor informed them that they were not to eat the sacred sacrifices until there could be a priest to consult the Urim and Thummim.
64Altogether the assembly numbered forty-two thousand three hundred sixty, 65not including their seven thousand three hundred thirty-seven men and women attendants, nor their two hundred men and women choristers. 66They had seven hundred thirty-six horses, two hundred forty-five mules, 67four hundred thirty-five camels and six thousand seven hundred twenty donkeys.
68As soon as they arrived at the house of the LORD in Jerusalem, some of the family leaders gave gifts for the house of God, to begin building it on its site. 69According to the records they contributed eleven hundred pounds of gold, three tons of silver, plus one hundred sacred garments.
70The priests and Levites and some of the people settled in and near Jerusalem. The singers and gatekeepers and temple servants lived in their ancestral towns, and the others settled in their ancestral towns.
1-2: Interestingly enough, given the name of the book we’re reading, Nehemiah is named in the first group of returnees, but Ezra is not. He’ll show up later. Zerubbabel is named here for the first time; see the note on the last paragraph.
3-35: A list is given of the census of each clan that returns with Zerubbabel.
36-39: The priests are counted separately.
40-42: The Levites also are counted separately, some of whom are designated as singers and some as gatekeepers.
43-54: Here is a list of other “temple servants,” but it is not explained why they are not among the Levites. Although they are named by clan they are not numbered, and it is possible that they belong in the group of Levites just listed in the previous verses.
55-58: The descendants of Solomon’s attendants get a special listing all by themselves. It is obvious that a great attempt was made while in exile to maintain as much of the lost culture as possible.
59-63: A bunch of folks return with the Israelites although they can’t prove their lineage. They are excluded from the priesthood, and Zerubbabel decrees that they cannot partake of the most holy food (that is, they cannot eat the priests’ portion of the sacrifices with the families of the priests) until further investigation into their family pedigrees.
64-67: Quite a group is gathering for the journey. There are lots of donkeys amongst them.
68-69: When they get to Jerusalem, some of the family elders give a freewill offering of gold and silver, and 100 priestly robes (where’d they get priestly robes?) for the rebuilding of the temple.
70: Not everybody settles in Jerusalem, of course, but they fan out through the land to resettle the towns their families had lived in before the exile.
Returning “home” after living in exile for seventy years, the people of Israel go about the business of restoring what they had lost. It will be a different kind of government organization than any they had known before, and we shall see if things improve!