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Bible Commentaries

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible

Nehemiah 10

 

 

Verses 1-39

THE NAMES OF THOSE WHO SEALED

(vv. 1-27)

Nehemiah is first mentioned as having endorsed the covenant, then 22 priests listed along with him (vv. 1-8). Then 17 Levites are listed (vv. 9-13), followed by 44 leaders of the people (vv. 14-27). We may wonder if some of them did not have doubts about their ability to keep the covenant, or of the likelihood that they would. No doubt they wanted to express their desire to obey the Lord at least. The Lord did not say at this time what He thought of it, but the New Testament makes His thoughts very clear, as for instance Romans 3:19, "Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God."

THE TERMS OF THE COVENANT

(vv. 28-39)

All the people who had separated themselves from the nations in the land, with a desire of obeying the law of God, joined with their leaders in making an oath, with a curse attached for any infraction, to observe and do all the commandments of the Lord, His ordinances and statutes. Of course this was a repetition of their promise to keep the law at the time it was given. The special sin at the time was emphasized in verse 30. Though they had done so, now they promise not to give their daughters as wives to the people of the land, nor take their daughters for Israelitish sons (v. 30).

Secondly, they agree not to buy anything from the inhabitants of the land on the Sabbath day or on any other holy day. Thirdly, they promise to release every debt in the seventh year (v. 31). Fourthly, they made an ordinance to exact from themselves one-third of a shekel for the service of the house of God and the regular rituals connected with this (v. 32). A fifth action taken was to cast lots among priests, Levites and the people to decide who would bring the wood offering at the proper time year by year (v. 34).

A sixth decision was made at this time to bring the firstfruits of the ground and the firstfruits of all the fruit of the trees, each year, to the house of the Lord (v. 35). It is too great a temptation to people to first make sure that their own needs are met before considering giving to the Lord. But faith will consider Him first. In fact, this is only true wisdom, for if He is honored, He will make sure that the needs of His people will be properly met. If we agree to this fact, do we act on it?

The same was decided as regards bringing to the Lord the firstborn of their sons and of their cattle, to the priests as offerings (v. 36). Other offerings also were included in this, even dough, fruit, wine and oil. The tithes of the land also were included in this covenant, tithes to be given to the Levites (v. 37). It was agreed too that the priests would see to it that the Levites would give one tenth of the tithes to the storehouse of the temple (v. 38). Thus they promised to observe all these laws, saying, "We will not neglect the house of our God" (v. 39).

These were good intentions. But it was not long before the Book of Malachi was written, in which God asks Israel, "Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, In what way have we robbed You? In tithes and offerings" (Malachi 3:8). Thus Malachi shows the great departure of Israel from this covenant made in Nehemiah's time, not only in withholding tithes and offerings, but in many other ways, so that there were only few remaining who really feared the Lord (Malachi 3:16).

 


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Bibliography Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Nehemiah 10:4". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/lmg/nehemiah-10.html. 1897-1910.

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