My dad taught me all about how to take a simple piece of flat shale and using just the right wrist movement and fling, that thin piece of dark shale would joyfully skip across the surface of the flat calm surface. If it didn't work the first time, you just kept trying until you got it. Not sure why exactly, but what an enjoyable activity. Once I learned that, I would look for any rock flat enough (only if there was no shale of course) to skip across any water surface. Some would work, some went kerplunk. Oooh, remember Kerplunk? Hmm, but I digress. But don't ya just like saying that word though? Okay, back to the matter at hand, skipping rocks. Turns out, I also skip proverbial rocks across the Bible as well. What do I mean exactly?
Well, don't know about you, but when Craig and I come to those chapters in the Bible that are all about the genealogies and/or names that tend to twist the tongue in the Bible (not to mention knowing how to pronounce them), we skim across the surface to get to the next chapter. I wouldn't feel too bad about it. But then, during last week's group study, our leader told a couple of us who were reading passages out loud, to not bother finishing the verse because of the difficult names in it. It was then I felt convicted about skipping across the names in our personal studies. After all, this is God's Word we are reading, not some history book or novel. If those names are in there, there's a reason. On that note, here we are today, chapter seven of Nehemiah, the chapter of names.
It's All About Genes
Just like other passages in Scripture, this chapter is not just about who's related to who (or is it whom?), but the names of some individuals who were tasked with specific duties. There were those who basically did the security watches. There were singers appointed and porters, Nehemiah's brother, Hanani, and someone named Hananiah, the ruler of the palace, were both placed in charge over Jerusalem.
In verse 7:5, Nehemiah was lead by God to gather the nobles and rulers together, as well as the rest of the people to document or record their genealogy. I think we all know genealogy is whose parents are who or who begat who. In the case of a report like this, it is also to record as well, just how many of them there are. He actually found a register or document with the information. It would appear to be somewhat of a census, so they would know who the people of Israel were since they returned to Jerusalem. (just my guess as to why?)
The document is specific and in some places breaks the people down into specific categories, such as singers and porters. What is a porter you ask? As far as I can tell, they are the gate keepers. Hmmm, think maybe of the Porters that work in Hospitals and Hotels and such….Hope that helps.
[Neh 7:43-63 KJV] 43 The Levites: the children of Jeshua, of Kadmiel, [and] of the children of Hodevah, seventy and four. 44 The singers: the children of Asaph, an hundred forty and eight. 45 The porters: the children of Shallum, the children of Ater, the children of Talmon, the children of Akkub, the children of Hatita, the children of Shobai, an hundred thirty and eight. 46 The Nethinims: the children of Ziha, the children of Hashupha, the children of Tabbaoth, 47 The children of Keros, the children of Sia, the children of Padon, 48 The children of Lebana, the children of Hagaba, the children of Shalmai, 49 The children of Hanan, the children of Giddel, the children of Gahar, 50 The children of Reaiah, the children of Rezin, the children of Nekoda, 51 The children of Gazzam, the children of Uzza, the children of Phaseah, 52 The children of Besai, the children of Meunim, the children of Nephishesim, 53 The children of Bakbuk, the children of Hakupha, the children of Harhur, 54 The children of Bazlith, the children of Mehida, the children of Harsha, 55 The children of Barkos, the children of Sisera, the children of Tamah, 56 The children of Neziah, the children of Hatipha. 57 The children of Solomon's servants: the children of Sotai, the children of Sophereth, the children of Perida, 58 The children of Jaala, the children of Darkon, the children of Giddel, 59 The children of Shephatiah, the children of Hattil, the children of Pochereth of Zebaim, the children of Amon. 60 All the Nethinims, and the children of Solomon's servants, [were] three hundred ninety and two. 61 And these [were] they which went up [also] from Telmelah, Telharesha, Cherub, Addon, and Immer: but they could not shew their father's house, nor their seed, whether they [were] of Israel. 62 The children of Delaiah, the children of Tobiah, the children of Nekoda, six hundred forty and two. 63 And of the priests: the children of Habaiah, the children of Koz, the children of Barzillai, which took [one] of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite to wife, and was called after their name.
Then it appears (if I have this correctly), there were some who were priests but when it was discovered that they didn't have the proper genealogy or DNA, they were removed from priesthood.
[Neh 7:63-64 KJV] 63 And of the priests: the children of Habaiah, the children of Koz, the children of Barzillai, which took [one] of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite to wife, and was called after their name. 64 These sought their register [among] those that were reckoned by genealogy, but it was not found: therefore were they, as polluted, put from the priesthood.
Sacred Decision Making
In Craig's synopsis, he noted that in verse sixty five, someone named the Tirshatha, also known as the Governor (In this passage, Nehemiah used that title, it was a title used by the Persian Governor) then said that they shouldn't eat of the most holy things until there was priest with Urim and Thummim. Urim are called "lights" and are stones kept in the high priest's breastplate, that he used to determine God's will regarding certain decisions. The Thummim, which means "perfection," they were stones provided for the purposes of achieving a sacred lot used in conjunction with the Urim, to know God's decision on a matter.
Think drawing straws, well, sort of. No, this does not endorse gambling as some assert. Using these methods to know His will, were ordained by God Himself and are not games of chance. It was God who let the specify rock/s "speak" or be selected.
Not only did they total the specific number of male and female singers, but the horses, mules and camels were counted as well…
[Neh 7:67-69 KJV] 67 Beside their manservants and their maidservants, of whom [there were] seven thousand three hundred thirty and seven: and they had two hundred forty and five singing men and singing women. 68 Their horses, seven hundred thirty and six: their mules, two hundred forty and five: 69 [Their] camels, four hundred thirty and five: six thousand seven hundred and twenty asses.
Chapter seven ends with details on how much gold and and other valuables were given to accomplish God's work, one being the rebuilding of Jerusalem. Then, by the seventh month (I looked it up, it is October during this calendar period) everyone had settled down in their cities and towns. I am assuming that they mean they returned to where they lived prior to the Babylonian captivity.
Ha, Craig pointed out that here we are, studying this in October! Cool.