Nehemiah 12:27-43 – Joyful Dedication


Nehemiah 12:27-43


The joyful dedication of the walls complete with a ceremonial procession including both Ezra and Nehemiah brings the narrative of the restoration to a dramatic climax.


The most interesting piece of this text is the elaborate procession around the city on top of the rebuilt walls. It is depicted as a double procession to emphasize the shared contributions of Ezra and Nehemiah at this climactic moment in the narrative.

The climactic nature of the dedication is best seen in the parallels it draws with previous activities. The depiction of the ceremony as a “dedication” (hanukkah in Hebrew, v. 27) recalls the dedication of the temple in Ezra 6:17, as does the offering of great sacrifices, which further recalls the reestablishment of the altar in Ezra 3:3-5. At that time the people’s rejoicing was heard far away (Ezra 3:13), as was the case now (12:43), and now their rejoicing is not mixed with weeping. In fact there is a pronounced emphasis upon joy throughout the passage (five times in verse 43!), and it is clearly indicated that this joy comes from God, which recalls God’s similar activity at the reading of the law in Nehemiah 8:2-6. As a final indicator of closure, the procession itself begins at the Valley Gate where Nehemiah’s midnight inspection of the walls had begun (Nehemiah 2:13).