Nehemiah 12

The Word Made Fresh

1Here is a list of the priests and Levites who came to Jerusalem with Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and with Jeshua. They were Seraiah, Jeremiah, Ezra, 2Amariah, Malluch, Hattush, 3Shecaniah, Rehum, Meremoth, 4Iddo, Ginnethoi, Abijah, 5Mijamin, Maadiah, Bilgah, 6Shemaiah, Joiarib, Jedaiah, 7Sallu, Amok, Hilkiah, and Jedaiah. These were the leaders among the priests and their attendants in the days of Jeshua.

8The Levites were Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Sherebiah, Judah and Mattaniah, who, along with his attendants was in charge of the thanksgiving hymns. 9Their attendants Bakbukiah and Unno stood across from them in the service. 10Jeshua was the father of Joiakim, who was the father of Eliashib, who was the father of Joiada, 11who was the father of Jonathan, who was the father of Jaddua.

12During Joiakim’s leadership the priests who were heads of households were Seraiah’s son Meraiah, Jeremiah’s son Hananiah, 13Ezra’s son Meshullam, Amariah’s son Jehohanan, 14Malluchi’s son Jonathan, Shebaniah’s son Joseph, 15Harim’s son Adna, Meraioth’s son Helkai, 16Iddo’s son Zechariah, Gennethon’s son Meshullam, 17Abijah’s son Zichri, Miniamin’s son Moadiah, 18Bilgah’s son Shammua, Shemaiah’s son Jehonathan, 19Joiarib’s son Mattenai, Jedaiah’s son Uzzi, 20Sallai’s son Kallai, Amok’s son Eber, 21Hilkiah’s son Hashabiah, and Jedaiah’s son Nethanel.

22The Levites Eliashib, Joiada, Johanan, and Jaddua were recorded as heads of families along with the priests until the reign of Darius the Persian. 23They were listed in the Book of the Annals until the days of Johanan son of Eliashib. 24Their leaders were Hashabiah, Sherebiah, and Jeshua son of Kadmiel. Their counterparts stood over facing them to praise God and give thanks, in keeping with the plan of David the man of God. The two sections stood across from each other.

25Mattaniah, Bakbukiah, Obadiah, Meshullam, Talmon, and Akkub served as gatekeepers, and stood guard at the gates of the storehouses. 26These are the ones who served in the days of Joiakim son of Jeshua son of Jozadak, and the days of the governor Nehemiah and of Ezra, priest and keeper of the records.

27When the wall of Jerusalem was dedicated they brought in the Levites around the country to celebrate the occasion with rejoicing, thanksgivings, singing, cymbals, harps, and lyres. 28The groups of singers gathered together from the settlements they had built for themselves around Jerusalem, from the Netophathite villages, 29and from Beth-Gilgal and the region of Geba and Azmaveth. 30The priests and Levites purified themselves and the people and the gates and the wall.

31Then I brought the leaders of Judah up onto the wall and assigned two large groups that gave thanks and marched in procession. One group went to the right toward the Dung Gate, and 32after them went Hoshaiah and half the Judean officials, 33then Azariah, Ezra, Meshullam, 34Judah, Benjamin, Shemaiah, and Jeremiah, 35and then some young priests with trumpets, followed by Zehariah son of Jonathan son of Shemaiah son of Mattaniah son of Micaiah son of Zaccur son of Asaph, 36and then his relatives Shemaiah, Azarel, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethanel, Judah, and Hanari. They played the musical instruments of David the man of God. The scribe Ezra went in front of them. 37At the Fountain Gate they went up the stairs to the city of David and ascended the wall above the house of David, and around to the Water Gate on the east.

38The other group of those who gave thanks went to the left, and I followed them with half the people on the wall above the Tower of the Ovens to the Broad Wall, 39then above the Gate of Ephraim, past the Old Gate and the Fish Gate and the Tower of Hananel, and the Tower of the Hundred, to the Sheep Gate and finally ending at the Gate of the Guard.

40Then both groups stood in the house of God with me and half the officials, 41the priests Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Micaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah, and Hananiah with their trumpets, 42plus Maasaiah, Shemaiah, Eleazar, Uzzi, Jehohanan, Malchijah, Elam, and Ezer. The singers sang, led by Jezrahiah. 43They offered substantial sacrifices that day and rejoiced, for God had given them reason to rejoice greatly. The women and children joined in as well, and the rejoicing in Jerusalem was heard far away.

44On that same day we appointed men over the storage chambers to manage the stores, contributions, first fruits and tithes, and to gather from the fields belonging to the outlying towns the amounts required by the law for the priests and Levites, and Judah rejoiced for the priests and Levites who served. 45They performed the service of their God and of purification, along with the gatekeepers as David and his son Solomon had ordered, 46because in the days of David the priest Asaph led the singers who sang songs of praise and thanksgiving to God. 47During the days of Zerubbabel and Nehemiah all the Israelites gave the daily meat portions for the singers and gatekeepers, and set apart the portion due the Levites, and the Levites set apart the portion that was given to the priests, descendants of Aaron.


1-7: Nehemiah lists the priests who had returned with Zerubbabel. Many of the names in this chapter appear in earlier lists. It is the same with our own heritage; we are likely to know or to learn the names of our ancestors for generations past, but know little or nothing else about them, so that the names are all that is left of the history.

8-11: The Levites who had returned with Zerubbabel are listed.

12-21: Some of the names are traced back to the time of Joiakim, who was the son of Jeshua, who had returned to Jerusalem with Zerubbabel.

22-26: Levites are also listed. It is obviously important for Nehemiah to go to great pains to establish the “pedigree” of all who are leaders in the religious establishment.

27-30: When the wall is completed Nehemiah calls for a great gathering to dedicate the wall with lavish ceremonies. Levites and singers are summoned from all over the country to take part.

31-37: Nehemiah brings the leaders and officials up onto the wall and divides them into two parties. A great procession around the wall is made, with the first group going clockwise on the wall around the city.

38-43: The other party marches counterclockwise, with Nehemiah following them. The two parties process on the wall, singing and shouting as they go, until they meet at the temple compound where sacrifices are made, and great rejoicing is heard far into the countryside from all the people – men, women, and children.

44-47: Nehemiah is careful to tell us that the priests and Levites, especially the singers and musicians, are given their just compensation from all the people.


It has been nearly a century now since Nebuchadnezer pulled down the walls of Jerusalem and hauled the people away into exile. Nothing in our experience comes close to what they must be experiencing as they celebrate the rebuilding of the wall. Can you imagine being there?