Pastoral Commentary for Nehemiah 11:25-12:47
Author: Pastor Bob Nordlie
Today's reading names the towns where the Jews living outside of Jerusalem settled. None of this is very exciting to us, but again, it shows the uniqueness of Scripture as a record of salvation history, naming historical persons through whom God worked, and real places where those people lived and served the LORD. So many other religious writings are not grounded in history. The Bible is. Nehemiah goes on to list the names of the priests and Levites who returned with the exiles to serve at the Temple of the LORD. These lists also appear in Ezra and earlier in Nehemiah, with slight variations. Differences may appear as lists were updated. The celebration of the dedication of the walls of Jerusalem was a joyful occasion for the returning exiles. After the priests and Levites, as well as the walls and gates were ceremonially purified, singers were stationed on top of the walls along with musical instruments. The two choirs gave thanks to God from atop the wall, and then went to the house of God in joyful processions led by Ezra and Nehemiah. Sacrifices with offered with joyful worship from all of God's people, including the women and children. Men were appointed to take charge of the storerooms where the tithes, offerings and first-fruits were stored. The Israelites were truly grateful to be back in their land, with the Temple rebuilt and the walls of Jerusalem restored. The words of the later prophets show us, however, that the faithfulness of God's remnant was short-lived. They repeated the pattern of their forefathers in forgetting the Word and will of the LORD.