Nehemiah 7 Registration among the enrolled

From Nehemiah 7

16 Neh Rebuilding

The people give lots of gold for the temples service. Nehemiah has finished setting up the house of the LORD and the people who were to serve there. This will enable the Jews to worship the LORD as Moses has specified in the law.

This post is part of my bible in a year series.

Passage and Comments

Nehemiah settles into more of an administrative role once the wall has been rebuilt.

5 Then my God put it into my heart to assemble the nobles and the officials and the people to be enrolled by genealogy. And I found the book of the genealogy of those who came up at the first, and I found written in it: 6 These were the people of the province who came up out of the captivity of those exiles whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried into exile. They returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to his town. (Neh 7.5-6)

Perhaps he found Ezra’s records.

61 The following were those who came up from Tel-melah, Tel-harsha, Cherub, Addon, and Immer, but they could not prove their fathers’ houses nor their descent, whether they belonged to Israel: 62 the sons of Delaiah, the sons of Tobiah, the sons of Nekoda, 642. 63 Also, of the priests: the sons of Hobaiah, the sons of Hakkoz, the sons of Barzillai (who had taken a wife of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite and was called by their name). 64 These sought their registration among those enrolled in the genealogies, but it was not found there, so they were excluded from the priesthood as unclean. 65 The governor told them that they were not to partake of the most holy food until a priest with Urim and Thummim should arise. (Neh 7.61-65)

There seem to be people who claimed to be of the priestly line, but they could not prove their ancestry. Considering the historical context where the people of the land are trying to undermine the Jews I wonder if they had malevolent intent. But it shows how important genealogies are. The Urim and Thummim were used by priests to discern the will of the LORD. If the LORD chose to use a priest to direct through these stones then they could verify if they were suitable for the priesthood.

66 The whole assembly together was 42,360, 67 besides their male and female servants, of whom there were 7,337. And they had 245 singers, male and female. 68 Their horses were 736, their mules 245, 69 their camels 435, and their donkeys 6,720. 70 Now some of the heads of fathers’ houses gave to the work. The governor gave to the treasury 1,000 darics of gold, 50 basins, 30 priests’ garments and 500 minas of silver. 71 And some of the heads of fathers’ houses gave into the treasury of the work 20,000 darics of gold and 2,200 minas of silver. 72 And what the rest of the people gave was 20,000 darics of gold, 2,000 minas of silver, and 67 priests’ garments. 73 So the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, some of the people, the temple servants, and all Israel, lived in their towns. And when the seventh month had come, the people of Israel were in their towns. (Neh 7.66-73)

The people give lots of gold for the temples service. Nehemiah has finished setting up the house of the LORD and the people who were to serve there. This will enable the Jews to worship the LORD as Moses has specified in the law.

Tomorrow the Jews will renew the covenant.

Story of Israel

00 OT Story Israel Jesus

Following the exile some Jews were very keen to maintain the law. In this passage the returnees were keen to make sure only Levites recorded in their genealogies were permitted to serve as priests. All others were shut out from service.
Some might call this legalistic. Google defines legalism as ‘an excessive adherence to law or formula’. If we keep in mind the Jews were put into exile because they did not keep the law and broke the covenant. It makes sense they would pay more attention to the commands of Moses as their means of trusting the LORD. If they neglected the law they would sin and again incur the LORD’s wrath.

Story of Jesus

When Jesus came he told a story where some would be admitted and some rejected. It didn’t involve genealogies and racial descent like the passage we have been looking at. Rather it was about the LORD’s choice.

22 And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, 2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, 3 and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. 4 Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.” ’ (Mt 22:1–4)

Behind the parable, Jesus is telling the story of the Jews. He invited them into his presence and the promised land.

5 But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, 6 while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. 7 The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. (Mt 22:5–7)

Both Israel and Judah rejected the LORD, broke his covenant and persecuted his prophets. Hence he sent invading armies to destroy their cities and carry them away into exile.

8 Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ 10 And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests. (Mt 22:8–10)

The LORD still wanting to fill his kingdom opened the doors and called out to many, not just the Jews, but Gentiles as well. Bad people as well as good. They became his people.

11 “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. 12 And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Mt 22:11–14)

But someone tried to sneak in without a calling. He is shut out from the party. Nehemiah checked the genealogies to make sure all those trying to serve as priests were acceptable. Likewise in the end times, only those chosen by the LORD will enjoy the wedding feast. Jesus’ parable anticipates what will happen following his death and resurrection. Those who hear the good news and come to believe he is Lord and Christ are his chosen.

Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2014. All Rights Reserved.