I came across the Nethinim or temple servants while reading Ezra 2:43 to 58. This passage contains 392 names of the temple servants who returned to Jerusalem. It taught me that God value the servants as much as the leaders.
The Spirit-filled Bible defines Nethinim as the “lowest rank of temple personnel. They helped the Levites by doing more menial tasks.”
In the Strong’s Concordance, Nethinim (H5411) is pronounced as “naw-theen”, and is defined as one given, as given up to that duty. It is from the root word Nathan (H5414), pronounced as “naw-than”. It means “to use with great latitude of application“. It is translated into Give 1078 times, and to a much lesser extent “put, deliver, made, set, up, lay grant, suffer, yield, bring, cause, utter, laid, send, recompense, appoint, shew, misc. “
Why Did This Passage on Nethinim Intrigue Me?
43 The temple servants: the children of Ziha, the children of Hasupha, the children of Tabbaoth, 44 the children of Keros, the children of Siaha, the children of Padon, 45 the children of Lebanah, the children of Hagabah, the children of Akkub, 46 the children of Hagab, the children of Shamlai, the children of Hanan, 47 the children of Giddel, the children of Gahar, the children of Reaiah, 48 the children of Rezin, the children of Nekoda, the children of Gazzam, 49 the children of Uzza, the children of Paseah, the children of Besai, 50 the children of Asnah, the children of Meunim, the children of Nephisim, 51 the children of Bakbuk, the children of Hakupha, the children of Harhur, 52 the children of Bazluth, the children of Mehida, the children of Harsha, 53 the children of Barkos, the children of Sisera, the children of Temah, 54 the children of Neziah, the children of Hatipha.
55 The children of Solomon’s servants: the children of Sotai, the children of Hassophereth, the children of Peruda, 56 the children of Jaalah, the children of Darkon, the children of Giddel, 57 the children of Shephatiah, the children of Hattil, the children of Pochereth Hazzebaim, the children of Ami. 58 All the temple servants, and the children of Solomon’s servants, were three hundred ninety-two.Ezra 2:43-58
This passage contains the names of the temple servants and their descendants who returned to Jerusalem after the exile. A total of 392 names.
I have learnt that God like to list names in the Bible. The genealogy of Jesus in Matthew and Luke, David’s mighty men, the names of the first and second waves of returnees after the exile, to name a few. I know that if I dwell on this list a little, I’ll find something interesting.
God took time to record the number and movement of these servants and their descendants. Historical records usually focus on important people, seldom the servants. God is different. This registry was given the same detailed treatment as the registry of the higher-ranked Jews.
Thinking of this puts a smile on my face. My God is really quite cute.
The first mention of Nethinim is in 1 Chronicles 9:2.
9 So all Israel were reckoned by genealogies; and, behold, they were written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah, who were carried away to Babylon for their transgression. 2 Now the first inhabitants that dwelt in their possessions in their cities were, the Israelites, the priests, Levites, and the Nethinim.1 Chronicles 9:1-2
It is a very brief mention of the return and the Nethinim were specifically included.
The Nethinim was also mentioned in Ezra and Nehemiah.
- Ezra 7:7, 8:17, 8:20
- Nehemiah 3:26, 3:31, 7:46, 7:60, 7:73, 10:28, 11:3, 11:20
All of these verses refer to the return of the Israelites to Jerusalem and other cities after the exile.
The return after the exile is a significant event in Jewish history. God took time to record who returned, and it included the Nethinim, the temple servants.
Lesson from the Nethinim Registry
I served in Rock Kidz, the New Creation Church’s Children’s Ministry. Volunteers include logistics, security, registration and dismissal, teachers, impacters to administrators.
Like the Nethinim, we sort of resemble the lowest rank of church personnel. Not because we are treated as such, but because some of the work we do. They do seem menial. I feed babies, change their diapers, wipe their butts, fold their carriers, clean tables and pick up toys. Unlike church leaders, who have more important tasks.
But Abba God reminded me that He cares about the workers of menial tasks as much as the leaders through this passage about the Nethinim in Ezra. God see, remember, and record when we do what we consider small things for God.
Thank you Abba God for reminding me that You are the God of small things. I do not have to compare, I don’t have to do big noisy things. Quiet service is equally valued by You.