Read Nehemiah 11
Focus on verse 1-2
I wonder how it would be received if the federal or state government made a law that required on out of every ten citizens that currently live in in the United States would be relocated to live in the nation’s Capitol. My guess is there would be some resistance. Possibly even violent resistance, yet that is pretty much what Nehemiah and the leaders in Jerusalem decided to do in order to repopulate the city.
It is not entirely clear from the text in this chapter regarding those of the people who where chosen live in the city of Jerusalem as to whether this was a privilege or a sacrifice. Verse two could be understood to make it sound as though it was a sacrifice on the part of those who agreed to make Jerusalem their home and move to the city from their rural towns and villages. It is also possible that this was considered a great privilege to have been selected to live in the city of David, where the Temple of God was located. It does say the men “willingly offered to live in Jerusalem”, so there does not appear to have been coercive pressure applied. It also says the people blessed those who willingly offered to go. Whether this blessing was motivated out of relief of not being chosen, or simply out of good will toward those who were, is also not clear in the text.
Either way the system appears to have worked, as the rest of the chapter lists the names of all those who agreed to dwell in Jerusalem are listed. The leaders, priests and Levites apparently already lived in the city, but apparently not enough to the regular folk of the nation had chosen to do so. It would also seem that the grace and favor of the Lord accompanied those who agreed to relocate.
I cannot honestly say exactly how I would have responded to Nehemiah’s request, it does however, give me a greater appreciation for the relative freedom and multiple choices we have in America in regard to where and how we desire to live.