(Nethʹi·nim) [given ones].
Non-Israelite temple slaves or ministers. (1 Chron. 9:2; Ezra 8:17) Representatives of thirty-five Nethinim families were among those returning from Babylonian exile with Zerubbabel in 537 B.C.E. (Ezra 2:1, 2, 43-54, 58; Neh. 7:46-56, 60; the sons of Akkub, Hagab and Asnah, however, are not mentioned by Nehemiah, perhaps because their names did not appear on the official list used by him in compiling his account. They may have been combined under other family names.) Also, in 468 B.C.E., some of the Nethinim accompanied Ezra from Babylon to Jerusalem. (Ezra 7:1-7) Thereafter certain Nethinim shared in repairing Jerusalem’s wall. (Neh. 3:26) They also joined with the Israelites in a covenant to keep themselves free from marriage alliances with foreigners.—Neh. 10:28-30.
Likely many of the Nethinim were descendants of the Gibeonites whom Joshua had constituted “gatherers of wood and drawers of water for the assembly and for Jehovah’s altar.” (Josh. 9:23, 27) Apparently other Nethinim sprang from captives taken by King David and his princes. (Ezra 8:20; compare Psalm 68:18.) The Nethinim belonging to the family of Meunim may have been descendants of captives taken by Judean King Uzziah. (2 Chron. 26:7; Ezra 2:50; Neh. 7:52) Still another group, the “sons of Nephusim” (Nephushesim), may have been descendants of Ishmael through Naphish.—Gen. 25:13-15; Ezra 2:50; Neh. 7:52.
In postexilic times the Nethinim resided in Ophel, apparently near the temple area, as well as in other cities. (Ezra 2:70; Neh. 3:26, 31; 7:73; 11:3, 21) Being temple servants, they probably had their homes in priestly or Levite cities. On account of their temple work, Persian King Artaxerxes exempted them from paying tax, tribute and toll.—Ezra 7:24.