(73 verses, 6:45 to read)
What I am about to READ
After Nehemiah and the Jews rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, Nehemiah provided for city administration. He then began a plan to repopulate the city by starting out with an original census similar to the one used earlier by Ezra.
MARK & LEARN
Nehemiah organized an administration for the restored city and began plans to repopulate the city. The repopulated residents are listed in chapter 11. Here in chapter 7, Nehemiah used as a starting point a census of families who returned with Zerubbabel in the first return nearly one hundred years earlier (recorded in Ezra 2). Nehemiah’s list here is almost the same as the list in Ezra. We will see how he used this census in chapter 11.
There appear to be discrepancies between Nehemiah’s list of returnees here in chapter 7 and the list in Ezra chapter 2, although both lists give the total number of returnees as 42,360. Here are some thoughts as to why:
- Nehemiah used some names that Ezra did not use.
- Nehemiah occasionally changed the order of names or omitted some of the items found in Ezra.
- Also the numbers of returnees for the same families are not always identical.
- In most cases the names are close enough that they can be recognized as variants (for example, today we might call a person Richard/Rich, Margaret/Maggie).
- Neither list attempts to list all returnees by specific family, so it is not surprising that there are some differences in the numbers of names listed.
- Nehemiah and Ezra may have used lists from different stages of the original census.
- A number of people not on the first list may have been added after they successfully demonstrated that they belonged to Judah.
Many Bible critics delight in pouncing on alleged “errors” in Scripture. Students of Scripture would do well to study such attacks in order to refute them. Christians at times can be disturbed when a modern Bible translation reveals that there are different readings in different manuscripts of the Bible (variants). Yet, these differences of readings and the possibility of copying errors don’t undermine our confidence in inspiration of the Bible or in any of its teachings. Inspiration applies to the writing of the original manuscript, not the copies – and certainly not the copyist errors. While there may be occasional copying mistakes in our copies of the Bible, they’re minor and NONE of them affect any doctrine or teaching of the Bible. The vast majority of variants can easily be explained (like the list in Nehemiah 7). As for those not so easily explained, we can rest assured that the error lies not with God, but with us sinful human beings, copyists included.
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Pastor Kevin Zellers, Jr.