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AND on that day they read in the book of Moses in the hearing of the people: and therein was found written, that the Ammonites and the Moabites should not come in to the church of God for ever:

Ver. 1.  That day, is often used for an indefinite time.  H.

 

--- It is not probable that all this happened when the walls were dedicated.  After that event, Nehemias rather went to court, and remained there about ten years.  During his absence, many abuses crept in, which he endeavoured to remedy, (v. 7.) perhaps on the solemn day of tabernacles, when the law had been read.

 

--- Ever, (Deut. xxiii. 3.) so as to marry.  C.



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2 Because they met not the children of Israel with bread and water: and they hired against them Balaam, to curse them, and our God turned the curse into blessing. 3 And it came to pass, when they had heard the law, that they separated every stranger from Israel.

Ver. 3.  Stranger.  Heb. hereb, "mixture," (H.) infidel women and their offspring.


4 And over this thing was Eliasib the priest, who was set over the treasury of the house of our God, and was near akin to Tobias.

Ver. 4.  Over this things, &c.  Or, he was faulty in this thing, or in this kind.  Ch.

 

--- He was the source of all this evil.  Heb. "and before this Eliasib," &c.  It is probable that he was a different person from the high priest, (Usher) who had married his grandson to the daughter of Sanaballat, the intimate friend of Tobias.  C.

 

--- The latter was a persecutor, and prefigured heretics, as Nehemias did our Saviour, who drove traffickers out of the temple.  V. Bede in Esd.  L. iii. 19.  W.


5 And he made him a great storeroom, where before him they laid up gifts, and frankincense, and vessels, and the tithes of the corn, of the wine, and of the oil, the portions of the Levites, and of the singing men, and of the porters, and the firstfruits of the priests.

Ver. 5.  He.  Eliasib, or Tobias.  The original  is also ambiguous.  Eliasib probably permitted Tobias to furnish himself apartments in the temple, where, by law, he was not allowed to enter.  Hence the priests, being deprived of their support, were forced to retire.  C.

 

--- Tobias rented the apartments, and was steward of the priests' revenues.  T.


6 But in all this time I was not in Jerusalem, because in the two and thirtieth year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon, I went to the king, and after certain days I asked the king:

Ver. 6.  Days.  Prefixed (C. ii. 6.) I asked.  Heb. "was required to attend by the king," for about ten years.  After which period, I returned and found such disorders.  Some believe that Nehemias had been at Babylon, a long while before the 32d year of the king.




7 And I came to Jerusalem, and I understood the evil that Eliasib had done for Tobias, to make him a storehouse in the courts of the house of God.


8 And it seemed to me exceeding evil. And I cast forth the vessels of the house of Tobias out of the storehouse.

Ver. 8.  And I.  Nehemias acted as governor, and performed the duty which the high priest neglected.  C.


9 And I commanded and they cleansed the storehouses: and I brought thither again the vessels of the house of God, the sacrifice, and the frankincense.

Ver. 9.  Storehouses, which had been profaned by the presence of a pagan.  M.

 

--- Sacrifice.  Heb. mincha, "offerings of flour, fruits, and liquors," which were kept in the storehouses, as well as frankincense.  Eliasib had caused these things to be removed, to make place for Tobias.  C.




10 And I perceived that the portions of the Levites had not been given them: and that the Levites, and the singing men, and they that ministered were fled away every man to his own country:

Ver. 10.  Country.  Heb. "field," that he might cultivate it, (H.) and get food.  M.


11 And I pleaded the matter against the magistrates, and said: Why have we forsaken the house of God? And I gathered them together, and I made them to stand in their places.

Ver. 11.  Pleaded.  Accusing them of treachery, in not opposing the wicked attempt.

 

--- Have we.  He placed himself in the number of the guilty, in order to soften the reproach.  Sept. &c.  C.

 

--- "Why is the house of God forsaken?"  Prot.




12 And all Juda brought the tithe of the corn, and the wine, and the oil into the storehouses.


13 And we set over the storehouses Selemias the priest, and Sadoc the scribe, and of the Levites Phadaia, and next to them Hanan the son of Zachur, the son of Mathania: for they were approved as faithful, and to them were committed the portions of their brethren. 14 Remember me, O my God, for this thing, and wipe not out my kindnesses, which I have done relating to the house of my God and his ceremonies.

Ver. 14.  And his.  Heb. "its offices," and for the good of the sacred ministers.  H.


15 In those days I saw in Juda some treading the presses on the sabbath, and carrying sheaves, and lading asses with wine, and grapes, and figs, and all manner of burthens, and bringing them into Jerusalem on the sabbath day. And I charged them that they should sell on a day on which it was lawful to sell.

Ver. 15.  Treading.  Syr. and Arab. "travelling."




16 Some Tyrians also dwelt there, who brought fish, and all manner of wares: and they sold them on the sabbaths to the children of Juda in Jerusalem.

Ver. 16.  Tyrians.  Who had established themselves there, for the sake of commerce, though the chosen people ought to have kept them at a great distance, for fear of seduction.  C.




17 And I rebuked the chief men of Juda, and said to them: What is this evil thing that you are doing, profaning the sabbath day?


18 Did not our fathers do these things, and our God brought all this evil upon us, and upon this city? And you bring more wrath upon Israel by violating the sabbath.

Ver. 18.  Fathers.  Though warned by Jeremias, xvii. 21.  M.


19 And it came to pass, that when the gates of Jerusalem were at rest on the sabbath day, I spoke: and they shut the gates, and I commanded that they should not open them till after the sabbath: and I set some of my servants at the gates, that none should bring in burthens on the sabbath day.

Ver. 19.  At rest.  People travelling no longer.  C.

 

--- Heb. "shaded, or in the dark."  Before Friday night on, the sabbath commenced, and then the gates were shut.  H.

 

--- On the.  Heb. "before the sabbath."  M.




20 So the merchants, and they that sold all kinds of wares, stayed without Jerusalem once or twice.


21 And I charged them, and I said to them: Why stay you before the wall? if you do so another time, I will lay hands on you. And from that time they came no more on the sabbath.

Ver. 21.  On you.  To punish you, (C.) for thus endeavouring to tempt the people.  H.


22 I spoke also to the Levites that they should be purified, and should come to keep the gates, and to sanctify the sabbath day: for this also remember me, O my God, and spare me according to the multitude of thy tender mercies.

Ver. 22.  Gates.  The Levites would more conscientiously discharge their duty, (M.) and restrain the people, so that they might keep the day holy.  H.


23 In those days also I saw Jews that married wives, women of Azotus, and of Ammon, and of Moab.

Ver. 23.  Azotus.  In the country of the Philistines.



Azotus

Azotus, or as the Heb. writes, Asdod, on the Mediterranean, was noted for the temple of Dagon, (1 K. v. 1,) which Jonathas destroyed. Joseph. xxii. 8. C.

24 And their children spoke half in the speech of Azotus, and could not speak the Jews' language, but they spoke according to the language of this and that people.

Ver. 24.  Half.  In the same family, some spoke the Philistine (Vatable) or Phenician language: others the Hebrew; which, though it resembled the other very much, was still sufficiently distinct to be noticed.  The children might also speak a jargon, composed of both languages.  It is probable that, at this time, many of the common people spoke the Chaldee language, so that it was necessary to interpret pure Hebrew to them.  C. viii. 8.



Azotus

Azotus, or as the Heb. writes, Asdod, on the Mediterranean, was noted for the temple of Dagon, (1 K. v. 1,) which Jonathas destroyed. Joseph. xxii. 8. C.

25 And I chid them, and laid my curse upon them. And I beat some of them, and shaved off their hair, and made them swear by God that they would not give their daughters to their sons, nor take their daughters for their sons, nor for themselves, saying:

Ver. 25.  Curse, or excommunicated them, (C.) the guilty parents.  H.

 

--- Shaved.  Heb. and Sept. "plucked off their hair," by the roots, for greater torment.  Sometimes quicklime was then sprinkled on the head, (C.) as adulterers were treated at Athens.  Schol. Aristoph.

 

--- King Artaxerxes changed this punishment, and ordered that his officers should be forbidden to wear the tiara instead.  Domitian caused the hair and beard of Apollonius to be shaven.  Philost. iii. 14.  C.

 

--- That they.  Heb. "Ye shall not," &c.


26 Did not Solomon king of Israel sin in this kind of thing? and surely among many nations, there was not a king like him, and he was beloved of his God, and God made him king over all Israel: and yet women of other countries brought even him to sin.

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27 And shall we also be disobedient and do all this great evil to transgress against our God, and marry strange women?

Ver. 27.  Also be.  Heb. "hearken unto you;" (Prot.  H.) or "Have ye not heard the evils which fell upon our fathers (C.) for doing all?" &c.  H.


28 And one of the sons of Joiada the son of Eliasib the high priest, was son in law to Sanaballat the Horonite, and I drove him from me.

Ver. 28.  One.  Manasses, brother of Jaddus.  Joseph. xi. 8.

 

--- Sanaballet, noted for his enmity towards the Jews.  C. vi. 1.  He obtained leave of Alexander to build the famous temple on Garizim, for this son-in-law.  He must have been 150 yeas old when Alexander laid siege to Tyre, A. 3672.  Esdras and Nehemias were noted for their great age.  Yet some would suppose that there were tow of the name of Sanaballet; and Josephus says that the one in question was appointed governor of Samaria by Darius, the last king of the Persians.  This opinion is adopted by Usher, A. 3972.  T.  &c.

 

--- But there is still a difficulty to know whether it be necessary.  C.

 

--- From me.  In revenge he set up an opposition altar.  H.

 

--- He had contracted a marriage, which was unlawful for all, and entailed degradation upon priests.


29 Remember them, O Lord my God, that defile the priesthood, and the law of priests and Levites. 30 So I separated from them all strangers, and I appointed the courses of the priests and the Levites, every man in his ministry: 31 And for the offering of wood at times appointed, and for the firstfruits: remember me, O my God, unto good. Amen.
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