Read Nehemiah 11
The New Residents of Jerusalem
Now the leaders of the people settled in Jerusalem. The rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of every ten of them to live in Jerusalem, the holy city, while the remaining nine were to stay in their own towns. 2 The people commended all who volunteered to live in Jerusalem.
3 These are the provincial leaders who settled in Jerusalem (now some Israelites, priests, Levites, temple servants and descendants of Solomon’s servants lived in the towns of Judah, each on their own property in the various towns, 4 while other people from both Judah and Benjamin lived in Jerusalem):
From the descendants of Judah:
Athaiah son of Uzziah, the son of Zechariah, the son of Amariah, the son of Shephatiah, the son of Mahalalel, a descendant of Perez; 5 and Maaseiah son of Baruch, the son of Kol-Hozeh, the son of Hazaiah, the son of Adaiah, the son of Joiarib, the son of Zechariah, a descendant of Shelah. 6 The descendants of Perez who lived in Jerusalem totaled 468 men of standing.
7 From the descendants of Benjamin:
Sallu son of Meshullam, the son of Joed, the son of Pedaiah, the son of Kolaiah, the son of Maaseiah, the son of Ithiel, the son of Jeshaiah, 8 and his followers, Gabbai and Sallai—928 men. 9 Joel son of Zikri was their chief officer, and Judah son of Hassenuah was over the New Quarter of the city.
10 From the priests:
Jedaiah; the son of Joiarib; Jakin; 11 Seraiah son of Hilkiah, the son of Meshullam, the son of Zadok, the son of Meraioth, the son of Ahitub, the official in charge of the house of God, 12 and their associates, who carried on work for the temple—822 men; Adaiah son of Jeroham, the son of Pelaliah, the son of Amzi, the son of Zechariah, the son of Pashhur, the son of Malkijah, 13 and his associates, who were heads of families—242 men; Amashsai son of Azarel, the son of Ahzai, the son of Meshillemoth, the son of Immer, 14 and his associates, who were men of standing—128. Their chief officer was Zabdiel son of Haggedolim.
15 From the Levites:
Shemaiah son of Hasshub, the son of Azrikam, the son of Hashabiah, the son of Bunni; 16 Shabbethai and Jozabad, two of the heads of the Levites, who had charge of the outside work of the house of God; 17 Mattaniah son of Mika, the son of Zabdi, the son of Asaph, the director who led in thanksgiving and prayer; Bakbukiah, second among his associates; and Abda son of Shammua, the son of Galal, the son of Jeduthun. 18 The Levites in the holy city totaled 284.
19 The gatekeepers:
Akkub, Talmon and their associates, who kept watch at the gates—172 men.
20 The rest of the Israelites, with the priests and Levites, were in all the towns of Judah, each on their ancestral property.
21 The temple servants lived on the hill of Ophel, and Ziha and Gishpa were in charge of them.
22 The chief officer of the Levites in Jerusalem was Uzzi son of Bani, the son of Hashabiah, the son of Mattaniah, the son of Mika. Uzzi was one of Asaph’s descendants, who were the musicians responsible for the service of the house of God. 23 The musicians were under the king’s orders, which regulated their daily activity.
24 Pethahiah son of Meshezabel, one of the descendants of Zerah son of Judah, was the king’s agent in all affairs relating to the people.
25 As for the villages with their fields, some of the people of Judah lived in Kiriath Arba and its surrounding settlements, in Dibon and its settlements, in Jekabzeel and its villages, 26 in Jeshua, in Moladah, in Beth Pelet, 27 in Hazar Shual, in Beersheba and its settlements, 28 in Ziklag, in Mekonah and its settlements, 29 in En Rimmon, in Zorah, in Jarmuth, 30 Zanoah, Adullam and their villages, in Lachish and its fields, and in Azekah and its settlements. So they were living all the way from Beersheba to the Valley of Hinnom.
31 The descendants of the Benjamites from Geba lived in Mikmash, Aija, Bethel and its settlements, 32 in Anathoth, Nob and Ananiah, 33 in Hazor, Ramah and Gittaim, 34 in Hadid, Zeboim and Neballat, 35 in Lod and Ono, and in Ge Harashim.
36 Some of the divisions of the Levites of Judah settled in Benjamin.
When we come to a list of names in our Bible reading we often are tempted to skip over them, but instead we should ask ourselves, why are they here? What do I have to learn from them? Let’s take a moment to review. Jewish exiles have returned to Jerusalem, which had been previously destroyed (Ezra 1-2). They rebuilt the temple (Ezra 3-6), they rebuilt the wall around Jerusalem in 52 days under the leadership of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 6:15), and Ezra read them the law and they understood it (Nehemiah 8). Jerusalem and the Israelites are ready, it’s now time to inhabit the city God has prepared for them.
Previously, the leaders had set an example by being the first to live in Jerusalem, but it required more people to be able to run and defend the city well. Therefore, ten percent of Judah, every tenth man from each tribe, were selected either by casting lots or through volunteering. It was not an easy commitment to live in Jerusalem during the time of Nehemiah. The temple and wall had been rebuilt, but much of the city had been abandoned for over 70 years. Many of them left their families, their land, and comforts of home, to fulfill the calling of living in the city God had given them. Verses 3-36 lists out who they were and their variety of roles, such as leaders, military, priests, gatekeepers, civil and royal servants.
Inhabiting the city took sacrifice and faithfulness. The calling on their lives looked much like the life Jesus has called us to today as believers. In the gospels, Jesus tells us to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him (Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23). There is a cost to following Jesus. It requires us to lay down our lives. Some of us face opposition from our families, leave comforts, lay down dreams or certain careers, to be a disciple. Jesus goes on to tell his disciples “Whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:39, 16:25) He has true life and freedom ahead for us. Just as God had prepared a special place for his people to dwell with Him in Jerusalem, through Jesus, we get to dwell with Him daily. When we lay aside what the world thinks is important and follow Jesus faithfully, we begin to inhabit the life God has prepared for us. Let’s step forward, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the ultimate example of sacrifice and faithfulness.
- What have you had to sacrifice or lay aside in order to follow Jesus?
- Is anything hindering you from inhabiting the life God has for you?
- What does John 10:10 say about the kind of life Jesus promised believers? Turn that promise into a prayer today. Let those words encourage you today
Did You Know
David Guzik’s Enduring Word commentary paints a clear picture of what it looked like to live in Jerusalem during Nehemiah 11:
- To live in Jerusalem, you had to re-order your view of material things. You had to give up land in your previous region and take up some kind of new business in Jerusalem.
- To live in Jerusalem, you had to rearrange your social priorities, certainly leaving some friends and family behind in your old village.
- To live in Jerusalem, you had to have a mind to endure the problems in the city. It had been a ghost town for 70 years, and was now basically a slightly rebuilt, somewhat repopulated ghost town. The city didn’t look all that glorious and it needed work.
- To live in Jerusalem, you had to live knowing you were a target for the enemy. There were strong walls to protect you, but since Jerusalem was now a notable city with rebuilt walls, the fear was more from whole armies than bands of robbers. The old village was nice, but not in much danger from great armies.
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