Now the leaders of the people settled in Jerusalem. The rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of every ten of them to live in Jerusalem, the holy city, while the remaining nine were to stay in their own towns. The people commended all who volunteered to live in Jerusalem.
Here we begin the process of populating the newly-fortified Jerusalem. Verse two makes it seem like there were many people who didn’t want to live in the city. I can understand that. Many preferred to live in the country, on their own farms or ranches, tending lifestock, growing crops, and raising their families in a rural environment. But there might have been a trade-off; life is always a trade-off, isn’t it? Those in the city would have the wall the protect them from invaders. They would also have immediate access to whatever was going on in and around the temple—an essential part of worship. Down the line, living in the city would also mean greater economic and educational opportunity. David Guzik’s Enduring Word commentary sheds some light on living in Jerusalem at that time:
- To live in Jerusalem, you had to re-order your view of material things. You had to give up land in your previous region and take up some kind of new business in Jerusalem.
- To live in Jerusalem, you had to re-arrange your social priorities, certainly leaving some friends and family behind in your old village.
- To live in Jerusalem, you had to have a mind to endure the problems in the city. It had been a ghost town for 70 years, and was now basically a slightly rebuilt, somewhat repopulated ghost town. The city didn’t look all that glorious and it needed work.
- To live in Jerusalem, you had to live knowing you were a target for the enemy. There were strong walls to protect you, but since Jerusalem was now a notable city with rebuilt walls, the fear was more from whole armies than bands of robbers. The old village was nice, but not in much danger from great armies.