In spite of the safety and security that the wall around Jerusalem provided, most of the Jews didn’t want to live in the city. It says in Nehemiah 11:1 that the people cast lots to see who would have to move there. The people most likely chose to live outside the city limits because they needed more space to grow crops and to feed their animals, but even the priests and Levites who were supposed to be fed with the temple offerings had to be coerced into leaving the countryside (Note on Nehemiah 11:1). There were some though that chose to live in the city of Jerusalem. It says in Nehemiah 11:2, “And the people blessed all the men, that willingly offered themselves to dwell at Jerusalem.” One family in particular stood out among the residents of the city. It says in Nehemiah 11:6, “All the sons of Perez that dwelt at Jerusalem were four hundred threescore and eight valiant men.” The sons of Perez were warriors that most likely volunteered to live there so they could defend the city against attack. During Solomon’s reign over Israel, military and civil officers were put in place to maintain peace and security in the kingdom. Twelve regiments were established to serve one month out of the year. It says in 1 Chronicles 27:3, “Of the children of Perez was the chief of all the captains of the host for the first month.”
The family of Perez was probably carrying on a family tradition when they volunteered to live at Jerusalem. One of the things that was noteworthy about the Jews return to the Promised Land was that many people returned to the exact locations where their ancestors had lived before they were taken into captivity. A list of villages that were repopulated outside of Jerusalem corresponds with a list that is found in Joshua 15 where the borders of Judah are recorded (Nehemiah 11:25-30 and note). Although you might say it was just a skeleton of the former nation, the restored city of Jerusalem and surrounding area of Judah probably functioned in a similar fashion to what it did when Joshua led the Israelites into the Promised Land the first time. Their ability to restore God’s kingdom with such accuracy was due to the Jews meticulous record keeping system. The Levites, who were descendants of Jacob’s son Levi, had to prove their genealogy in order to serve in the temple. It says in Nehemiah 12:23, “The sons of Levi, the chief of the fathers, were written in the book of the chronicles, even until the day of Johanan the son of Eliashib.” This book of chronicles may have been the official temple chronicle, containing various lists and records. If so, the Jews must have taken it with them when they went into captivity or perhaps, buried and/or hid it before they left Jerusalem. Without these kind of records, the genealogy of Jesus would not have been able to be proven.