Summary: The people of God was willing to make the sacrifice and move into Jerusalem to rebuild the city life and sustain the ministry of the house of God.
In Neh 10 we see the people of God making a binding agreement in writing, to renew their commitment to honour God and keep to the covenant He made with them.
• They would SUBMIT to God’s Word, SEPARATE themselves from bad influence of the surrounding nations, honouring God on the SABBATH and to SUPPORT the work of God.
In Neh 11-12 we see their commitment to rebuild the community in Jerusalem.
• Nehemiah observed back in Neh 7:4-5 that “the city was large and spacious, but there were few people in it, and the houses had not yet been rebuilt. 5So my God put it into my heart to assemble the nobles, the officials and the common people for registration by families.”
• He started to make plans to re-populate Jerusalem, the city where God says He will establish His Name.
Some background to Jerusalem. Jerusalem was made the capital of Israel by King David when he conquered it and made it his home, calling it “the City of David” (cf. 2 Sam 5:9)
• If we read the Psalms and the prophetic books, this place is also called ZION or MOUNT ZION, because of a hill of the same name in the vicinity.
• The Lord says He would establish His Name in Jerusalem.
• When Solomon dedicated the Temple he said, for the Lord said, 5`Since the day I brought my people out of Egypt, I have not chosen a city in any tribe of Israel to have a temple built for my Name to be there, nor have I chosen anyone to be the leader over my people Israel. 6But now I have chosen Jerusalem for my Name to be there, and I have chosen David to rule my people Israel.' (2 Chron 6:5-6)
• David says in Psalm 132:13-14 “For the LORD has chosen Zion, he has desired it for his dwelling: 14"This is my resting place for ever and ever; here I will sit enthroned, for I have desired it.”
This place is important and God laid upon Nehemiah’s heart the need to rebuild it.
• Twice in this chapter Nehemiah called it “the holy city”, 11:1 and 11:18. This is the first time we heard it from him.
• This phrase is only used 3 times in the OT - Isaiah (48:2, 52:1) and Daniel (9:24).
• Jerusalem therefore cannot be left with “a few people and the houses not rebuilt” as Nehemiah mentioned in 7:4.
• It has been a ghost town since its devastation by the Babylonians some 142 years ago.
Nehemiah came up with a workable plan. Read Neh 11:1-2.
1“Now the leaders of the people settled in Jerusalem, and the rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of every ten to live in Jerusalem, the holy city, while the remaining nine were to stay in their own towns. 2The people commended all the men who volunteered to live in Jerusalem.”
New residents are needed in Jerusalem. The leaders set the example. They moved in first and settled in.
• The rest of the residents were selected by lots - one out of every ten families from the surrounding towns is move in to Jerusalem.
• Meaning, at the end of this migration, 10% of Judah’s population will be in Jerusalem.
• Being a remnant state, this number won’t be huge but it is a good start.
11:2 says the people commended all the men who volunteered to live in Jerusalem.
ESV “And the people blessed all the men who willingly offered to live in Jerusalem.”
• This line can mean those who got chosen by the lots complied and moved into the city willingly.
• Or as some interpreted, it refers to a separate group. They were not drafted in but volunteered on their own. They willingly offered to live in the city.
• Whichever way we see it, the people were especially glad that they did happily and commended all of them, asking God to bless them.
Clearly this wasn’t an easy move. It was a sacrifice for them.
• With Jerusalem in ruins before Nehemiah’s arrival and the housing situation in a bad state (7:4), this move involves sacrifice.
• They have to move into a “ghost town” and try to restart a livelihood from scratch.
• It’s unlike today, when people crave to go into the city, coming from the villages, hoping for a better life. People dream big, thinking that the city life will prosper them.
But not so in Nehemiah’s time. He alluded to situation then when he mentions about those who are staying in the country.
• Neh 11:3 “These are the provincial leaders who settled in Jerusalem [went on to list the descendants of Judah (11:4) and Benjamin (11:7)]