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Staying Close to God

Nehemiah 11:7-18 :

These are the sons of Benjamin: Sallu the son of Meshullam, the son of Joed, the son of Pedaiah, the son of Kolaiah, the son of Maaseiah, the son of Ithiel, the son of Jeshaiah. After him Gabbai, Sallai, nine hundred twenty-eight. Joel the son of Zichri was their overseer; and Judah the son of Hassenuah was second over the city.

Of the priests: Jedaiah the son of Joiarib, Jachin, Seraiah the son of Hilkiah, the son of Meshullam, the son of Zadok, the son of Meraioth, the son of Ahitub, the ruler of God’s house, and their brothers who did the work of the house, eight hundred twenty-two; and Adaiah the son of Jeroham, the son of Pelaliah, the son of Amzi, the son of Zechariah, the son of Pashhur, the son of Malchijah, and his brothers, chiefs of fathers’ households, two hundred forty-two; and Amashsai the son of Azarel, the son of Ahzai, the son of Meshillemoth, the son of Immer, and their brothers, mighty men of valor, one hundred twenty-eight; and their overseer was Zabdiel, the son of Haggedolim.

Of the Levites: Shemaiah the son of Hasshub, the son of Azrikam, the son of Hashabiah, the son of Bunni; and Shabbethai and Jozabad, of the chiefs of the Levites, who had the oversight of the outward business of God’s house; and Mattaniah the son of Mica, the son of Zabdi, the son of Asaph, who was the chief to begin the thanksgiving in prayer, and Bakbukiah, the second among his brothers; and Abda the son of Shammua, the son of Galal, the son of Jeduthun. All the Levites in the holy city were two hundred eighty-four.

Here we read that there were 284 Levites, 1,192 priests and 928 Benjamites who chose to live in Jerusalem. It really makes sense that there would be so many priests and Levites, because they had to take care of God's house. There was a steady income that was flowing to them as well, because they ate from what came in through taxes. What really stood out to me was the 928 Benjamites.

Of all the tribes of Israel, Benjamin had remained one of the most faithful to the tribe of Judah. When we look back at the history of Israel, we see that it was from Benjamin that the first king came. King Saul had actually attempted to hunt down David, but David ended up becoming king. David was a very close friend to Jonathan, King Saul's son, and promised him that he would protect his family from harm. I am told that it was very uncommon for rival families to become so close, but in Israel, that's exactly what happened.

Jerusalem is God's city of peace and one of the ways that this peace is demonstrated by Him in history is by the way that the families of Benjamin and Judah cared for each other. God demonstrated by their behavior, that it is possible for mercy, grace and peace from God to replace the strife that once existed between brothers. There was a point in time in which the Benjamites were almost completely destroyed by the rest of Israel, as recorded in the book of Judges, but God demonstrated His love to them by preserving them. It makes sense that they wanted to be as close to God as possible.

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