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Nehemiah 12:27-43 – Joyful Dedication

Summary

The joyful dedication of the walls complete with a ceremonial procession including both Ezra and Nehemiah brings the narrative of the restoration to a dramatic climax.

Analysis

The most interesting piece of this text is the elaborate procession around the city on top of the rebuilt walls. It is depicted as a double procession to emphasize the shared contributions of Ezra and Nehemiah at this climactic moment in the narrative.

The climactic nature of the dedication is best seen in the parallels it draws with previous activities. The depiction of the ceremony as a "dedication" (hanukkah in Hebrew, v. 27) recalls the dedication of the temple in Ezra 6:17, as does the offering of great sacrifices, which further recalls the reestablishment of the altar in Ezra 3:3-5. At that time the people's rejoicing was heard far away (Ezra 3:13), as was the case now (12:43), and now their rejoicing is not mixed with weeping. In fact there is a pronounced emphasis upon joy throughout the passage (five times in verse 43!), and it is clearly indicated that this joy comes from God, which recalls God's similar activity at the reading of the law in Nehemiah 8:2-6. As a final indicator of closure, the procession itself begins at the Valley Gate where Nehemiah's midnight inspection of the walls had begun (Nehemiah 2:13).

Nehemiah 12:27-43

Dedication of the City Wall

27 Now at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought out the Levites in all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with rejoicing, with thanksgivings and with singing, with cymbals, harps, and lyres. 28The companies of the singers gathered together from the circuit around Jerusalem and from the villages of the Netophathites; 29also from Beth-gilgal and from the region of Geba and Azmaveth; for the singers had built for themselves villages around Jerusalem. 30And the priests and the Levites purified themselves; and they purified the people and the gates and the wall.

31 Then I brought the leaders of Judah up on to the wall, and appointed two great companies that gave thanks and went in procession. One went to the right on the wall to the Dung Gate; 32and after them went Hoshaiah and half the officials of Judah, 33and Azariah, Ezra, Meshullam, 34Judah, Benjamin, Shemaiah, and Jeremiah, 35and some of the young priests with trumpets: Zechariah son of Jonathan son of Shemaiah son of Mattaniah son of Micaiah son of Zaccur son of Asaph; 36and his kindred, Shemaiah, Azarel, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethanel, Judah, and Hanani, with the musical instruments of David the man of God; and the scribe Ezra went in front of them. 37At the Fountain Gate, in front of them, they went straight up by the stairs of the city of David, at the ascent of the wall, above the house of David, to the Water Gate on the east.

38 The other company of those who gave thanks went to the left,* and I followed them with half of the people on the wall, above the Tower of the Ovens, to the Broad Wall, 39and above the Gate of Ephraim, and by the Old Gate, and by the Fish Gate and the Tower of Hananel and the Tower of the Hundred, to the Sheep Gate; and they came to a halt at the Gate of the Guard. 40So both companies of those who gave thanks stood in the house of God, and I and half of the officials with me; 41and the priests Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Micaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah, and Hananiah, with trumpets; 42and Maaseiah, Shemaiah, Eleazar, Uzzi, Jehohanan, Malchijah, Elam, and Ezer. And the singers sang with Jezrahiah as their leader. 43They offered great sacrifices that day and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and children also rejoiced. The joy of Jerusalem was heard far away.

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10 February 2011

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