12 These were the priests and Levites who returned with Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and with Joshua:
Seraiah, Jeremiah, Ezra,
2 Amariah, Malluk, Hattush,
3 Shekaniah, Rehum, Meremoth,
4 Iddo, Ginnethon, Abijah,
5 Mijamin, Moadiah, Bilgah,
6 Shemaiah, Joiarib, Jedaiah,
7 Sallu, Amok, Hilkiah and Jedaiah.
These were the leaders of the priests and their associates in the days of Joshua.
8 The Levites were Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Sherebiah, Judah, and also Mattaniah, who, together with his associates, was in charge of the songs of thanksgiving. 9 Bakbukiah and Unni, their associates, stood opposite them in the services.
10 Joshua was the father of Joiakim, Joiakim the father of Eliashib, Eliashib the father of Joiada, 11 Joiada the father of Jonathan, and Jonathan the father of Jaddua.
12 In the days of Joiakim, these were the heads of the priestly families:
of Seraiah’s family, Meraiah;
of Jeremiah’s, Hananiah;
13 of Ezra’s, Meshullam;
of Amariah’s, Jehohanan;
14 of Malluk’s, Jonathan;
of Shekaniah’s, Joseph;
15 of Harim’s, Adna;
of Meremoth’s, Helkai;
16 of Iddo’s, Zechariah;
of Ginnethon’s, Meshullam;
17 of Abijah’s, Zikri;
of Miniamin’s and of Moadiah’s, Piltai;
18 of Bilgah’s, Shammua;
of Shemaiah’s, Jehonathan;
19 of Joiarib’s, Mattenai;
of Jedaiah’s, Uzzi;
20 of Sallu’s, Kallai;
of Amok’s, Eber;
21 of Hilkiah’s, Hashabiah;
of Jedaiah’s, Nethanel.
22 The family heads of the Levites in the days of Eliashib, Joiada, Johanan and Jaddua, as well as those of the priests, were recorded in the reign of Darius the Persian. 23 The family heads among the descendants of Levi up to the time of Johanan son of Eliashib were recorded in the book of the annals. 24 And the leaders of the Levites were Hashabiah, Sherebiah, Jeshua son of Kadmiel, and their associates, who stood opposite them to give praise and thanksgiving, one section responding to the other, as prescribed by David the man of God.
25 Mattaniah, Bakbukiah, Obadiah, Meshullam, Talmon and Akkub were gatekeepers who guarded the storerooms at the gates. 26 They served in the days of Joiakim son of Joshua, the son of Jozadak, and in the days of Nehemiah the governor and of Ezra the priest, the teacher of the Law.
(Nehemiah 12:1-26 NIV)
In our last passage, we saw the repopulation of Jerusalem from the Jewish people who lived in the surrounding villages. One of ten Jewish families living outside the city walls moved into the city. Having people live inside the city walls was important to creating a safe and prosperous city – physically, spiritually, and socially. Building community is more than houses – it’s the relationships that make a city function.
Today we see the generations of priests and Levites since the exiles returned with Zerubbabel. Verses 1 – 11 list the original priests and Levites that came with Zerubbabel; verses 12-26 list the subsequent generations of priests and Levites up to those in Nehemiah’s day.
So why are these records important and included in Nehemiah’s book? The next passage (12:27 – 13:3) describe the official dedication of Jerusalem’s walls and gates, and the priests and Levites had a leading role in that celebration. In seeking to obey the Lord, Nehemiah wanted to follow God’s ordinances laid out during the days of King David (v. 24). Making sure that the families God ordained in David’s reign were present and leading the people was part of that obedience.
Remember that many of these Biblical ordinances that Nehemiah reinstated had been forgotten over the centuries. It was only through the reading of God’s Word that the people were reminded of what God had established long ago for their good and His glory.
May we spend time in God’s Word to remind us of His great love for us, and his purpose and plan for our lives.