Nehemiah 10-11 The men who willingly offered to live in Jerusalem

From Nehemiah 10-11

16 Neh Rebuilding

A couple posts ago Nehemiah made the observation that few people live in Jerusalem. I suggested because of this Jerusalem needed protection from her enemies, the city needed to grow, etc. In today’s passage we have a look at the record of people who were chosen to live in Jerusalem.


Neh 10.1-27; Story; The People Who Sealed the Covenant

Neh 10.28-39; Story; The Obligations of the Covenant

Neh 11.1-24; Record; The Leaders in Jerusalem

Neh 11.25-36; Record; Villages Outside Jerusalem

Passage and Comments

A couple posts ago Nehemiah made the observation that few people live in Jerusalem. I suggested because of this Jerusalem needed protection from her enemies. In today’s passage we consider this further.

11 Now the leaders of the people lived in Jerusalem. And the rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of ten to live in Jerusalem the holy city, while nine out of ten remained in the other towns. 2 And the people blessed all the men who willingly offered to live in Jerusalem. (Neh 11:1–2)

It doesn’t look like staying at Jerusalem is desirable. They are casting lots for some and blessing those who decide to live there. It might be difficult being surrounded by many people of the land who were hostile to their faith.

Would you want to stick around? Would you want to live in Jerusalem?

The next few sections record the people who stay.

3 These are the chiefs of the province who lived in Jerusalem; but in the towns of Judah everyone lived on his property in their towns: Israel, the priests, the Levites, the temple servants, and the descendants of Solomon’s servants. 4 And in Jerusalem lived certain of the sons of Judah and of the sons of Benjamin. (Neh 11:3-4a)

Nehemiah names several groups of people. Israel, the priests, the Levites, the temple servants, and the descendants of Solomon’s servants. These form the headings of the next few sections. Israel actually consists of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin.

Of the sons of Judah: Athaiah the son of Uzziah, son of Zechariah, son of Amariah, son of Shephatiah, son of Mahalalel, of the sons of Perez; 5 and Maaseiah the son of Baruch, son of Col-hozeh, son of Hazaiah, son of Adaiah, son of Joiarib, son of Zechariah, son of the Shilonite. 6 All the sons of Perez who lived in Jerusalem were 468 valiant men. (Neh 11:4b-6)

The first of the sections covers the main elements included in the rest. The name of the group, a listing of the heads of the families and a total headcount of the men. The men who live at Jerusalem are ‘valiant’.

7 And these are the sons of Benjamin: Sallu the son of Meshullam, son of Joed, son of Pedaiah, son of Kolaiah, son of Maaseiah, son of Ithiel, son of Jeshaiah, 8 and his brothers, men of valor, 928. 9 Joel the son of Zichri was their overseer; and Judah the son of Hassenuah was second over the city.

10 Of the priests: Jedaiah the son of Joiarib, Jachin, 11 Seraiah the son of Hilkiah, son of Meshullam, son of Zadok, son of Meraioth, son of Ahitub, ruler of the house of God, 12 and their brothers who did the work of the house, 822; and Adaiah the son of Jeroham, son of Pelaliah, son of Amzi, son of Zechariah, son of Pashhur, son of Malchijah, 13 and his brothers, heads of fathers’ houses, 242; and Amashsai, the son of Azarel, son of Ahzai, son of Meshillemoth, son of Immer, 14 and their brothers, mighty men of valor, 128; their overseer was Zabdiel the son of Haggedolim.

15 And of the Levites: Shemaiah the son of Hasshub, son of Azrikam, son of Hashabiah, son of Bunni; 16 and Shabbethai and Jozabad, of the chiefs of the Levites, who were over the outside work of the house of God; 17 and Mattaniah the son of Mica, son of Zabdi, son of Asaph, who was the leader of the praise, who gave thanks, and Bakbukiah, the second among his brothers; and Abda the son of Shammua, son of Galal, son of Jeduthun. 18 All the Levites in the holy city were 284. (Neh 11:7-18)

The record continues to list the remaining sections. From each of the head counts you can see that not many people are going to live there. At least compared to the hundreds of thousands who went to the promised land in the first place.

19 The gatekeepers, Akkub, Talmon and their brothers, who kept watch at the gates, were 172. 20 And the rest of Israel, and of the priests and the Levites, were in all the towns of Judah, every one in his inheritance. 21 But the temple servants lived on Ophel; and Ziha and Gishpa were over the temple servants. (Neh 11:19–21)

This final section describes the people outside Jerusalem. ‘Every one in his inheritance’ is another way of saying they lived in the land allotted to their ancestral families.

Story of Israel

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

A few may have stayed initially, but more and more people began to populate the city. God was gracious and began to draw people back to the promised land. Back to the temple and back to worshipping him.

Story of Jesus

There was a time in the gospel when Jesus probably would have wanted a lot of his friends to stay with him. The following passage describes what happened after the passover.

30 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. 31 Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ 32 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” 33 Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” 34 Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” 35 Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same. (Mt 26.30-35)

Jesus predicts his death. Jesus predicts they will fall away.

Even Peter, so optimistic here will turn away. In Nehemiah the small numbers of people who remained to live at Jerusalem highlight that at the time it was undesirable to live there.

In this account Jesus predicts that none of them will stick around with him. Yet he remained faithful to God the father and faithful to us. Even to the point of his own death. The people who lived at Jerusalem were called ‘valiant’. What does that say about Jesus our king?

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