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The Israelites are separated from the mixt multitude, ver. 1 - 3.
Nehemiah cleansed the chambers of the temple, ver. 4 - 9.
He recovers and secures the portion of the priests and Levites,
ver. 10 - 14.
Contends with the nobles concerning the sabbath, and takes care for
the due observance of it, ver. 15 - 22.
Restrains them from marrying strange wives, ver. 23 - 31.
1: That day - Not presently after the dedication of the wall and
city, but upon a certain day, when Nehemiah was returned from the
Persian court to Jerusalem, from which he had been absent for some
considerable time, in which some errors and abuses had crept in.
Not come - Not be incorporated into the common - wealth of Israel, nor
be joined with any Israelite in marriage.
3: Multitude - All the heathenish people with whom they had
4: Eliashib - The high - priest. Chamber - Of the chambers, the
high - priest having the chief power over the house of God, and all
the chambers belonging to it. Tobiah - The Ammonite, and a violent
enemy to God's people.
5: Prepared - By removing the things out of it, uniting divers small
chambers into one, and furnishing it for the use of Tobiah when he came
to Jerusalem: whom he seems to have lodged there, that he might have
more free communication with him.
6: But, &c. - Eliashib took the occasion of my absence to do
these things. Came I - From Jerusalem; where he had been once and
8: Grieved me - That so sacred a place should be polluted by one who
in many respects ought not to come there, being no priest, a stranger, an
Ammonite, and one of the worst of that people; and that all this should
be done by the permission and order of the high - priest.
10: Not given - Which might be either,
Fled - To his possession in the country, being forced to do so for a
- from this corrupt high - priest Eliashib, who took their portions,
as he did the sacred chambers, to his own use, or employed them
for the entertainment of Tobiah, and his other great allies. Or,
- from the people, who either out of covetousness reserved them to
themselves, contrary to their own solemn agreement, or were so
offended at Eliashib's horrid abuse of sacred things, that they
abhorred the offering and service of God, and therefore neglected
to bring in their tithes, which they knew would be perverted to
11: Contended - I sharply reproved those priests to whom the
management of those things was committed, for neglect of their duty,
and breach of their late solemn promise. Why, &c. - You have not only
injured men in with - holding their dues, but you have occasioned the
neglect of God's house and service. Gathered - To Jerusalem from
their several country possessions. Set - Restored them to the exercise
of their office.
12: Bought - Out of the respect which they had to Nehemiah, and
because they saw they would now be applied to their proper uses.
13: Faithful - By the consent of those who knew them. Such he
now sought out the more diligently, because he had experience of the
perfidiousness of the former trustees.
16: Jerusalem - The holy city, where God's house was; and where the
great judicatories of the nation were. So this is added as an aggravation
of their sin, that it was done with manifest contempt of God and man.
17: Nobles - Their chief men and rulers; whom he charges with this
sin, because though others did it, it was by their countenance or
connivance: probably too by their example. If the nobles allowed
themselves in recreations, in idle visits and idle talk on the sabbath
day, the men of business would profane it by their worldly employments,
as the more justifiable of the two.
19: At the gates - Out of a diffidence in those, to whom the keeping
of the gates was committed.
22: Cleanse - Because the work they now were set upon, though common
in its nature, yet was holy in design of it, and had respect unto the
sabbath: and, because the day in which they were to do this was the
sabbath - day, for the observation whereof they were obliged to purify
themselves. Gates - The gates of the city; not daring to trust the
common porters, he commits the charge of them upon the sabbath - days,
to the Levites, to whom the care of sanctifying the sabbath did properly
belong. Mercy - Whereby he intimates, that though he mentioned his
good - works, as things wherewith God was well - pleased, and which he had
promised to reward, yet he neither did, nor durst trust to their merit,
or his own worthiness, but, when he had done all, he judged himself an
unprofitable servant, and one that needed God's infinite mercy to pardon
all his sins, and particularly those infirmities and corruptions which
adhered to his good deeds.
25: Cursed - Caused them to be excommunicated and cast out of the
society of God's people. This and the following punishments were justly
inflicted upon them, because this transgression was contrary both to a
plain law of God, and to their own late solemn covenants. Smote - I
caused to be beaten with stripes, according to the law, (De 25:2),
such whose faults were most aggravated; to whom he added this punishment
over and above the former. Plucked off - Or, shaved them.
The hair was an ensign of liberty among the eastern nations; and baldness
was a disgrace, and token of slavery and sorrow.
28: And one, &c. - Said by Josephus to be that Manasses, who
by Sanballat's interest procured liberty to build the Samaritan
temple in mount Gerizim; to which those priests who had married
strange wives, or been otherwise criminal, betook themselves, and with,
or after them, others of the people in the same or like circumstances.
Chased - From my presence and court, from the city and temple, and from
the congregation and church of Israel.
31: For good - This may well be the summary of our petitions.
We need no more to make us happy but this.