The Word Made Fresh
1The leaders of the people lived in Jerusalem, and lots were cast to bring ten percent of the people to live in the holy city while the other ninety percent lived in the other towns. 2All the people praised the ones who willingly offered to live in Jerusalem.
3Many of the leaders lived in Jerusalem, and others lived on their own property in the towns of Judah. They included Israelites, priests, Levites, temple attendants, and the descendants of King Solomon’s attendants. 4Some of the descendants of Judah and Benjamin lived in Jerusalem. Among the descendants of Judah were Athaiah son of Uzziah son of Zechariah son of Amariah son of Shephetiah son of Mahalalel; they were descendants of Perez. 5There was also Maaseiah son of Baruch son of Col-Hozeh son of Hazaiah son of Adaiah son of Joiarib son of Zechariah of the family of Shelah. 6Four hundred sixty-eight brave soldiers, descendants of Perez, lived in Jerusalem.
7The Benjaminites were Sallu son of Meshullam son of Joed son of Pedaiah son of Kolaiah son of Maaseiah son of Ithiel son of Jeshaiah; 8also Gabbi and Sallai – in all nine hundred twenty-eight. 9Joel son of Zichri was their supervisor and Judah son of Hassenuah was second in command in the city.
10Among the priests were Jedaiah son of Joiarib, Jachin, 11Seraiah son of Hilkiah son of Meshullam son of Zadok son of Meraioth son of Ahitub, an officer in the house of God. 12With their comrades who did the work of the temple there were eight hundred twenty-two all together. Then there was Adaiah son of Jeroham son of Pelaliah son of Amzi son of Zechariah son of Pashhur son of Malchijah, 13and together with his associates who were family heads there were two hundred forty-two. Then there was Amashsai son of Azarel son of Ahzai son of Meshillemoth son of Immer, 14and together with his associates, brave soldiers, there were one hundred twenty-eight. Their leader was Zabdiel son of Haggedolim.
15The Levites were under Shemaiah son of Hasshub son of Azrikam son of Hashabiah son of Bunni; 16also Shabbethai and Jabad. These were the Levite leaders in charge of the work outside the temple of God. 17Mattaniah son of Mica son of Zabdi son of Asaph was the leader for the prayer of thanksgiving, with his associates, Bakbukiah and Abda son of Shammua son of Galal son of Jeduthun. 18Altogether there were two hundred eighty-four Levites in the holy city.
19There were one hundred seventy-two gatekeepers, led by Akkub and Talmon. 20The rest of Israel, including the priests and Levites, lived in the towns of Judah where they had their inheritance. 21The temple servants, however, lived at Ophel. Ziha and Gishpa were over them.
22Uzzi son of Bani son of Hashabiah son of Mattaniah son of Mica was the overseer of the Levites in Jerusalem. He was a descendant of Asaph the singer and was in charge of the work on the house of God. 23They were under the king’s orders and the singers received a set provision every day. 24Pethahiah son of Meshezabel, a descendant of Zerah son of Judah, was the king’s right-hand man in all matters concerning the people.
25Some of the people of Judah lived in Kiriath-Arba and the surrounding villages, and Dibon and its villages, and in Jekabzeel and its villages. 26They also lived in Jeshua and Moladah and Beth-Pelet 27and Hazar-Shual and Beersheba and the surrounding villages, 28and Ziklag, Meconah and its villages, 29En-Rimmon, Zorah, Jarmuth, 30Zanoah, Adullam and their villages, Lachish with its pastures and Azekah and its villages. They camped from Beer-Sheba to the valley of Hinnom.
31The people of Benjamin settled in Geba and at Michmash, Aija, Bethel and its villages, 32plus Anathoth, Nob, Ananiah, 33Hazor, Ramah, Gittaim, 34Hadid, Zeboim, Neballat, 35Lod, and Ono – the valley of tradesmen. 36Selected families of the Levites in Judah were settled in Benjamin.
1-2: The country is organized so that one tenth of the population will reside in the capital city of Jerusalem.
3-6: Before the exile, the nation of Judah consisted of the two tribes, Judah and Benjamin. Leaders of the tribe of Judah are named here.
7-9: Leaders of the tribe of Benjamin are listed in these verses.
10-14: The leaders of the priests are named in this paragraph.
15-18: The names are given of the leaders of the Levites.
19-21: The gatekeepers are listed next. The other 90% of the priests, Levites, etc. live in the towns and villages of Judah, according to their ancestral heritage. The temple servants live in a separate community within the walls of Jerusalem, known as Ophel, so that they can be readily available for service (see 3:26-27).
22-24: Singing has become an essential part of the temple worship, and the Levites who are singers are particularly taken care of. Verses 23 and 24 let us know that the king of Assyria, Artaxerxes, is not utterly remote, but maintains contact with some in Jerusalem and has a say in what’s going on.
25-36: Here we have the list of cities and outlying villages where ninety percent of the people are settled.
Of course, we wonder why these interminable lists of unpronounceable names continue to consume so much space. The explanation is simply that everyone mattered and therefore everyone is counted. If you have a list of your own family – grandparents, great-grandparents and so forth – you want to know who they were, and if the record contains information about where they lived and what they did, it is even more valuable, isn’t it?