The People Sign The Covenant
The first section of chapter 10 is a list of those who “placed their seal” on the covenant (10:1-27). This reflects the community commitment to live by God’s word, including their children. One essential step they took was separating themselves from the people around them (10:28). This minimized the influences and potential corruption of their beliefs and behaviors.
The text notes they entered into this covenant with a curse and an oath (10:29). This is reminiscent of Deuteronomy 27:11-26 and all of Deuteronomy 28. The idea is that when any man enters a covenant with God, he is taking an oath (pledging allegiance) and accepts that there are negative consequences for not keeping that oath (a curse).
People Dwelling In & Outside Jerusalem
There were not enough Jews dwelling in Jerusalem to sustain the city. So, the leaders developed a plan to bring more people into the city (11:1). The move from the countryside to the city would have required sacrifice on the part of those who made the move, if from nothing more than leaving friends and neighbors. Still, those selected were willing to do it for the good of the nation (11:2).
List of Priests & Levites
Chapter 12 gives another long list of people. While it might appear tedious to us, there is a purpose in having these. In part, it helps to establish the lineage of the people. It also shows us these were real people and that God’s work depends on individuals doing their part.
Dedication of the Wall & Temple Duties
The wall was dedicated with a worship service that included singing of praises to God. We might come together to sing, pray, or study God’s word at a time of thanksgiving and celebration (note: celebration in the sense of joy and praise to God according to His word, not the unbridled performances practiced by some today).