Nechemia Seven: Genealogy

This chapter could basically be called Nehemia and the Genealogy Shaming. He finishes the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem, and embraces nepotism in his appointment of new leadership. His brother is one of the people that he puts in charge of Jerusalem, with very specific instructions as to how his duties should be carried out. “And the Lord put it into my heart, and I gathered the rulers and the prefects and the people to trace their lineage, and I found the of lineage book of those who had gone up at first, and I found written in it (Nehemia 7:5).” We get over sixty verses outlining who is who, who their families are, and if they have inherited specific roles in the reconstructed society. But then, we have this: “These who traced their genealogy sought their records, but they were not found, and they were disqualified from the priesthood (Nehemia 7:64).” This just makes me sad. While I understand that the priesthood is an inherited status, I’m saddened for the people who thought that they were part of this clan, whose oral tradition of their lineage put them in the inner circle, but who couldn’t prove it and were therefore disqualified. It seems like a very black and white system, with no room for the gray area that these people might fall into. I’m thinking a lot about the parts of the story that remain untold here – what happened to these people after their (apparently not) inherited identities were taken away? Were they isolated from the people and the Temple, or did they play another role? How much do bloodlines have to play in, versus our inherent understandings of who we are?

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