Nehemiah 13

.1 ¶ On that day they read in the book of Moses in the audience of the people; and therein was found written, that the Ammonite and the Moabite should not come into the congregation of God for ever; 
 2 Because they met not the children of Israel with bread and with water, but hired Balaam against them, that he should curse them: howbeit our God turned the curse into a blessing.
 3 Now it came to pass, when they had heard the law, that they separated from Israel all the mixed multitude.
  1 - On that day Or "At about that time."
  1 - Written From de2303.
  2 - Turned the curse Balaam's curses became blessings on the people of God nu22 to 24.
  3 - Mixed multitude See ex1238. Ezra performed a similar separation ezr1010-9.
.4 And before this, Eliashib the priest, having the oversight of the chamber of the house of our God, was allied unto Tobiah: 
 5 And he had prepared for him a great chamber, where aforetime they laid the meat offerings, the frankincense, and the vessels, and the tithes of the corn, the new wine, and the oil, which was commanded to be given to the Levites, and the singers, and the porters; and the offerings of the priests.
  4 - Eliashib ... allied to Tobiah See ne0301, ne1210, ne1222, ne1328 (below). Tobiah, an Ammonite, was the enemy of Nehemiah who had tried to stop the building of the wall during Nehemiah's earlier term as governor. It's possible that the "alliance" was through a marriage.
  5 - For him ... chamber "The practice of these mixed marriages, in open neglect or violation of the law, had become so common, that even the pontifical house, which ought to have set a better example, was polluted by such an impure mixture." (JFB)
.6 But in all this time was not I at Jerusalem: for in the two and thirtieth year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon came I unto the king, and after certain days obtained I leave of the king: 
 7 And I came to Jerusalem, and understood of the evil that Eliashib did for Tobiah, in preparing him a chamber in the courts of the house of God.
 8 And it grieved me sore: therefore I cast forth all the household stuff of Tobiah out of the chamber.
 9 Then I commanded, and they cleansed the chambers: and thither brought I again the vessels of the house of God, with the meat offering and the frankincense.
  6 - In all this time Or "during all this." The word "time" is supplied by translators.
  6 - Two and thirteenth year See on ne0514. "Nehemiah came to Jerusalem in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes, and remained there till the thirty-second year, twelve years: then returned to Babylon, and staid one year; got leave to revisit his brethren; and found matters as stated in this chapter." (Clarke)
  6 - King of Babylon The title had been used by Cyrus, Cambyses, Darius I, and Xerxes. Nehemiah probably used the term thinking of the king of Persia.
  7 - In the courts That is, in a building adjacent to the temple. The evil was still serious. Apparently Tobiah used the room for his visits to Jerusalem to exert his influence through his wicked friend.
  8, 9 - Cast out ... cleansed Notice the plural, "chambers," His privileges had been expanded! The cleansing would have been ceremonial and may have been physical, too. Consider le12, le1404-32, etc.
 10 ¶ And I perceived that the portions of the Levites had not been given them: for the Levites and the singers, that did the work, were fled every one to his field.
 11 Then contended I with the rulers, and said, Why is the house of God forsaken? And I gathered them together, and set them in their place. 
 12 Then brought all Judah the tithe of the corn and the new wine and the oil unto the treasuries. 
  10 - Levites ... fled Tithe had been planned for their support but it had not been paid. This neglect points to the further guilt of the high priest. See on v4. Of course the people were responsible, too.
 13 And I made treasurers over the treasuries, Shelemiah the priest, and Zadok the scribe, and of the Levites, Pedaiah: and next to them was Hanan the son of Zaccur, the son of Mattaniah: for they were counted faithful, and their office was to distribute unto their brethren. 
.14 Remember me, O my God, concerning this, and wipe not out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God, and for the offices thereof.
  13 - Made treasurers To assure an equitable distribution. Notice that one was a priest, one a scribe, one a Levite, and one a lay person. A wise plan. Today good church committees are formed of people who represent differing interests. Of course this would apply to secular business, too.
 15 ¶ In those days saw I in Judah some treading wine presses on the sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and lading asses; as also wine, grapes, and figs, and all manner of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the sabbath day: and I testified against them in the day wherein they sold victuals.
 16 There dwelt men of Tyre also therein, which brought fish, and all manner of ware, and sold on the sabbath unto the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem.
  15 - Treading ... on the Sabbath As people drift away from faithfulness, they begin one sin and then another. The Sabbath commandment is very clear in ex2008-11. Some people believe it has been changed but it has not ps11989, malachi0306, ac1342, See links page.
  16 - Fish A common food le1109, nu1105, is1910, mt1534.
.17 Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said unto them, What evil thing is this that ye do, and profane the sabbath day?
 18 Did not your fathers thus, and did not our God bring all this evil upon us, and upon this city? yet ye bring more wrath upon Israel by profaning the sabbath.
 19 And it came to pass, that when the gates of Jerusalem began to be dark before the sabbath, I commanded that the gates should be shut, and charged that they should not be opened till after the sabbath: and some of my servants set I at the gates, that there should no burden be brought in on the sabbath day.
 20 So the merchants and sellers of all kind of ware lodged without Jerusalem once or twice.
  18 - Did not our fathers thus? Sabbath rest has been blessed by God. In turning away from this simple principle, we forfeit the blessing. See link above for ex2008-11. For neglect by the "fathers" see je17:21-27, ezek2012, ezek2208, is5813.
 21 Then I testified against them, and said unto them, Why lodge ye about the wall? if ye do so again, I will lay hands on you. From that time forth came they no more on the sabbath. 
.22 And I commanded the Levites that they should cleanse themselves, and that they should come and keep the gates, to sanctify the sabbath day. Remember me, O my God, concerning this also, and spare me according to the greatness of thy mercy.
  22 - Keep the gates ne0703.
  22 - Remember me ... spare Nehemiah was identifying with his wicked people as Daniel had done da0904-6.
.23 ¶ In those days also saw I Jews that had married wives of Ashdod, of Ammon, and of Moab:   23 - Married wives Nehemiah explained how he had dealt with mixed marriages. See verses 1-3. Now when he had returned he discovered that many of the Jews had fallen into the same sin Ezra had dealt with. See Ezra chapters 9 and 10. Compare the covenant Nehemiah had agreed to when first coming to Jerusalem ne0938; ezr1001,30. It is obvious that mothers from cultures of evil would influence their children.
 24 And their children spake half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak in the Jews' language, but according to the language of each people. 
 25 And I contended with them, and cursed them, and smote certain of them, and plucked off their hair, and made them swear by God, saying, Ye shall not give your daughters unto their sons, nor take their daughters unto your sons, or for yourselves. 
 26 Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? yet among many nations was there no king like him, who was beloved of his God, and God made him king over all Israel: nevertheless even him did outlandish women cause to sin.
 27 Shall we then hearken unto you to do all this great evil, to transgress against our God in marrying strange wives?
  24 - Half in the speech of Ashdod Beyond the cultural problem is that of not being able to speak Hebrew. Nothing is said about the importance of reading the Scriptures but it would certainly have been important.
  "These unlawful alliances were causing great confusion in Israel; for some who entered into them were men in high position, rulers to whom the people had a right to look for counsel and a safe example. Foreseeing the ruin before the nation if this evil were allowed to continue, Nehemiah reasoned earnestly with the wrongdoers... In the work of reform to be carried forward today, there is need of men who, like Ezra and Nehemiah, will not palliate or excuse sin, nor shrink from vindicating the honor of God. Those upon whom rests the burden of this work will not hold their peace when wrong is done, neither will they cover evil with a cloak of false charity." (SDABC)
.28 And one of the sons of Joiada, the son of Eliashib the high priest, was son in law to Sanballat the Horonite: therefore I chased him from me.   Shall we harken? Nehemiah clearly implies that he and others would not accept this behavior. Were they better than Solomon whose wives almost cost him his salvation? v26.
  Strange From nokriy which here could be translated in modern English as, "foreign."
  I chased him Probably made him leave the area. Maybe the police were used.
 29 Remember them, O my God, because they have defiled the priesthood, and the covenant of the priesthood, and of the Levites.   Remember ... defiled He called on God to punish the man le2107, le2114.
  Covenant The one made with the tribe of Levi and descendants ex2801.
 30 Thus cleansed I them from all strangers, and appointed the wards of the priests and the Levites, every one in his business;
 31 And for the wood offering, at times appointed, and for the firstfruits. Remember me, O my God, for good.
  30 - Cleansed them As described beginning at v1 and at v23.
  31 - Wood offering See ne1034. For the firstfruits, ne1035-7.
  31 - Remember me In the end Nehemiah and we must not neglect to call on our Lord for our own salvation.
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