These were the priests and Levites who returned with Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and with JeshuaNehemiah 12:1a
This takes us back to the heroes of the past. Zerubbabel led the first return from Babylonian captivity to Jerusalem in 538 BC, almost one hundred years earlier than Nehemiah's day. Nehemiah is looking back at these men who led that procession. Zerubbabel was a priest, and Jeshua was a Levite. They led a company of Israelites back to the city of Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. Verse 7 says that they were the
leaders of the priests and their associates in the days of Jeshua.
Verses 22-26 give the chronological time when the records that we have just looked at were recorded. The passage does not sound very interesting, but we are told that for the first group,
the family heads of the Levites... were recorded in the reign of Darius the Persian. That meant that there was a time when their names were kept as temple records, but they were not actually recorded permanently until the days of Darius the Second. This would put that record somewhere between 423 and 404 BC, somewhat later than Nehemiah. Evidently some later hand added this so that we might know when it was written.
Then there is another mention in verse 23 of
the book of the annals, meaning the annals of the kings of Judah. One of them is especially mentioned in the reference to
David, the man of God. What a remarkable influence David had! F. B. Meyer says,
How long the influence of David has lingered over the world, like the afterglow of a sunset. Yet David had a terrible record of evil in his life. He fell into adultery with Bathsheba and was involved in the murder of her husband. Because his heart was set on God, however, and he took advantage of God's provision for forgiveness, David is known to history as
the man after God's own heart.
The passage teaches us that we must not forget past heroes, the men and women of fame and glory whom God has used in former days. I have been reading again the writings of some of my early spiritual heroes. I would urge you, on the basis of a passage like this, to read biography! It will bless you. It will challenge you and strengthen you to see how God has used men and women of the past to stand against the temptations and pressures of the world and accomplish much for His glory.
This passage also teaches us that the deeds of God are part of the record of history. That is one of the great advantages of Christianity over all the other religions of the world. Most of them are religious philosophies or simply the musings of men meditating upon various aspects of life. Many of them are a record of visions and dreams of dubious origin. But when you come to the record of the Bible, it is based upon facts. It is not legend, myth, or fiction. It is not a record of philosophies or the inventions of humans. It is made up of historic facts. God grounds these great events in the history of the world itself.
Lord thank You for the lessons I can learn from those who have served You in the past and for the very real facts of history, which teach me so much about You.
Studying and remembering God-made history can be far more fruitful than dwelling on man-made philosophy. What lessons are we learning from the Bible each day?