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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

Nehemiah 10

 

 

Verse 1

1. Now those that sealed were, Nehemiah — Literally, And upon the sealed instruments were Nehemiah, etc. It was important that the heads of houses or families, and chief representatives of the nation, should sign the document. First came the name of the governor, the Tirshatha. See note on Ezra 2:63. Next is the name Zidkijah, perhaps the secretary to the governor, (compare Ezra 4:9; Ezra 4:17,) or else some other high official. Then follow (Nehemiah 10:2-8) twenty-one names of priests, seventeen Levites, (Nehemiah 10:9-13,) and forty-four of the chief of the people, (Nehemiah 10:14-27.)


Verse 2

2. Seraiah is called in Nehemiah 11:11, “the ruler of the house of God,” and Keil supposes he signed the document in place of the high priest. Azariah is probably a clerical error, or corruption of Ezra. Compare the list in Nehemiah 12:1-7.


Verse 14

14. Parosh, Pahath-moab, Elam — These and other names in this list are identical with names found in the list of those who returned from the captivity nearly a hundred years before. Ezra ii; Nehemiah 7. Thus in many houses ancestral names were perpetuated in the children. But we are not to suppose that the persons named in this list were identical with those of the same names in the older list of Ezra 2.


Verse 28

OATH OF THE PEOPLE TO KEEP THE LAW, Nehemiah 10:28-31.

28. The rest of the people — Those represented by the heads of the nation who had sealed the covenant. While their chiefs sealed the covenant the people bound themselves, by a most solemn oath, to observe all that the covenant contemplated — to observe all the law.


Verse 29

29. Entered into a curse, and into an oath — Bound themselves by publicly uttered vows, and invoked upon themselves the curse of God should they prove unfaithful to their oaths.


Verse 31

31. We would not buy… on the sabbath — Such breaking of the Sabbath had prevailed among them before this.

Or on the holy day — The day of any of the great religious festivals, on which the law forbade all servile work. Numbers 29:1-7; Numbers 29:12.

Seventh year — See the law in Exodus 23:11; Leviticus 25:4.

Exaction of every debt — Literally, the debt of every hand. “So called either because the debtor promised to pay by giving his right hand, or because the hand is the instrument and emblem of deposit, trust. Some editions read here משׁא, burden, which is less well.” — Gesenius. See the law in Deuteronomy 15:1-2 .


Verse 32

PROVISION FOR THE TEMPLE SERVICE, Nehemiah 10:32-39.

Having entered into a solemn covenant to keep the law, it was necessary that the people make provision for the support and regular observance of the holy service at the house of God. Such arrangements were accordingly made without delay.

32. We made ordinances — Laws, rules, regulations. Nehemiah writes in the name of the whole community.

The third part of a shekel — About eighteen cents, the silver shekel being valued at fifty-three cents. This was according to the law which ordained that half a shekel should be annually paid for the support of the holy service by every man twenty years old and upwards. See Exodus 30:13-16. In view of the poverty of the people, it was now lowered to one third of a shekel, but later it was raised again to a half shekel. Matthew 17:24.


Verse 33

33. The showbread — Which was to be prepared of fine flour, and set in two rows in the holy place of the house of God. See Leviticus 24:5-9.

The continual meat offering, and… burnt offering — Two lambs a day, one in the morning, and the other at evening. Numbers 28:3-8.

Of the sabbaths — The burnt offering prescribed for every sabbath. See Numbers 28:9-10.

Of the new moons — See Numbers 28:11-14.

The set feasts — The passover, the feasts of trumpets, and the feast of tabernacles. Numbers 28:16-29, 28:39.

For the holy things — The holy or consecrated gifts, such as oxen and sheep, which were to be used in sacrifice, (compare 2 Chronicles 29:33,) and also other offerings that might be used in the holy services.

For the sin offerings — Especially on the great day of atonement. Leviticus 16:29-34; Leviticus 23:27-32.

All the work — All the divine service. They provided for all that was necessary to insure the regular performance of the temple service according to the law. When Ezra first went up from Babylon to Jerusalem, Artaxerxes decreed that provision for the house of God should be made from the royal treasure-house, (Ezra 7:20-23;) but it is probable that this arrangement had ceased, and the service of the temple had become much neglected. Hence Nehemiah’s reforms.


Verse 34

34. Cast the lots — See note on Joshua 13:6.

The wood offering — Large quantities of wood were necessary to the continual burnt offerings, and some provision must have been made for it from the first. The law (Leviticus 6:12) said, “The fire upon the altar shall be burning in it; it shall not be put out; and the priest shall burn wood on it every mornings,” etc.; but we find in the law no specific precept for providing wood for the altar. Josephus (Wars of the Jews, Nehemiah 2:17; Nehemiah 2:6) mentions “the festival of Xylophory, ( ξυλοφοριων, wood-bearing,) upon which the custom was for every one to bring wood for the altar, that there might never be a want of fuel for that fire which was to be always burning.”

At times appointed year by year — Probably several days each year were set apart for this purpose, for Bertheau’s opinion, that there was but one day in the year for bringing wood, has no support. Keil thinks that “the order was settled for several years, and not that all the different houses contributed in each year.” The Mishna, as quoted by Lightfoot, (Hor. Hebrews, on Matthew 1:1,) says: “The seasons for wood-carrying by the priests and people were nine. The first of Nisan, for the sons of Erach, the son of Judah; the twentieth of Tammuz, for the sons of David, the son of Judah; the fifth of Ab, for the sons of Parosh, the son of Judah; the seventh of the same month for the sons of Jonadab, the son of Rechab; the tenth of the same for Sennaah, the son of Benjamin,” etc.


Verse 35

35. To bring the firstfruits — Compare marginal references. The true Israelite sought to dedicate the first and best of all things to his God.


Verse 36

36. The firstborn of our sons — To be redeemed, according to the law of Numbers 18:15-16.

As it is written in the law — Compare, for all these items, the marginal references.


Verse 37

37. The firstfruits of our dough — The “wave loaves” described in Leviticus 23:17.

The tithes — For these were holy to Jehovah.

Leviticus 27:30.


Verse 38

38. The priest… shall be with the Levites — To superintend the tithing, and see that the tithe of the tithes was duly placed in the treasury of the temple for the priests, the sons of Aaron. See the law in Numbers 18:26-28.

The chambers — Hezekiah had prepared chambers in which to store tithes in the first temple, (2 Chronicles 31:11-12,) and similar ones were again provided after the exile.


Verse 39

39. We will not forsake the house — By failure to provide wood, and offerings, and tithes, according to the law. This covenant also bound the priests and Levites to their proper work of seeing that the temple service was constantly attended to, and that no man left his post of duty. We find in Nehemiah 13:10-11, that this covenant was soon after broken. Backsliding followed reform.

 


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Nehemiah 10:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/nehemiah-10.html. 1874-1909.

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