Nehemiah 7:1-38

Census of First Returned Exiles

Now when the wall was rebuilt and I had set up the doors, and the gatekeepers and the singers and the Levites were appointed, then I put Hanani my brother, and Hananiah the commander of the fortress, in charge of Jerusalem, for he was a faithful man and feared God more than many. Then I said to them, “Do not let the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun is hot, and while they are standing guard, let them shut and bolt the doors. Also appoint guards from the inhabitants of Jerusalem, each at his post, and each in front of his own house.” Now the city was large and spacious, but the people in it were few and the houses were not built.

Then my God put it into my heart to assemble the nobles, the officials and the people to be enrolled by genealogies. Then I found the book of the genealogy of those who came up first [a]in which I found the following record:

These are the [b]people of the province who came up from the captivity of the exiles whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away, and who returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to his city, who came with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, [c]Azariah, [d]Raamiah, Nahamani, Mordecai, Bilshan, [e]Mispereth, Bigvai, [f]Nehum, Baanah.

The number of men of the people of Israel: the sons of Parosh, 2,172; the sons of Shephatiah, 372; 10 the sons of Arah, 652; 11 the sons of Pahath-moab of the sons of Jeshua and Joab, 2,818; 12 the sons of Elam, 1,254; 13 the sons of Zattu, 845; 14 the sons of Zaccai, 760; 15 the sons of [g]Binnui, 648; 16 the sons of Bebai, 628; 17 the sons of Azgad, 2,322; 18 the sons of Adonikam, 667; 19 the sons of Bigvai, 2,067; 20 the sons of Adin, 655; 21 the sons of Ater, of Hezekiah, 98; 22 the sons of Hashum, 328; 23 the sons of Bezai, 324; 24 the sons of [h]Hariph, 112; 25 the sons of [i]Gibeon, 95; 26 the men of Bethlehem and Netophah, 188; 27 the men of Anathoth, 128; 28 the men of [j]Beth-azmaveth, 42; 29 the men of [k]Kiriath-jearim, Chephirah and Beeroth, 743; 30 the men of Ramah and Geba, 621; 31 the men of Michmas, 122; 32 the men of Bethel and Ai, 123; 33 the men of the other Nebo, 52; 34 the sons of the other Elam, 1,254; 35 the sons of Harim, 320; 36 the [l]men of Jericho, 345; 37 the sons of Lod, Hadid and Ono, 721; 38 the sons of Senaah, 3,930.

God put it into Nehemiah’s heart to record the residents of Judah by genealogy, but why? As we saw a few chapters back, all debts were to be forgiven every fifty years in the year of Jubilee, and all property would also thus be returned to the original owner. The land of Israel had been handed down from generation to generation by family. So without proper records of inheritance, one could not claim or prove property ownership.

That was such a big deal, that Naboth refused to sell a vineyard to the king of Israel. Not that land was never sold, but the land was their inheritance from God himself. God may not give us land, or at least not enough to raise a fuss over. But He does give each of us gifts. Do we hold those as precious as the Israelites held their gifts?

Or do we take for granted what God has given us, or squander it without thinking twice? We should not be like the fearful man in the parable of talents (who just hid his portion away), we need to find the value in what God has given each of us. And if you don’t know what God has given you, you need to find it, and put it to work for His kingdom. It may not always seem extra “spiritual”, but even turning a profit at a business is something we can use to further His kingdom, when we give generously with a “cheerful heart”.

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