Friday, April 26, 2013

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;
·         This command comes from Deuteronomy 23:4-6. 
·         The nation was not to be mixed, that is, they were to follow God with their whole heart. In the wilderness they were a mixed multitude Ex 12:38, and this got them into trouble.

[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.
·         The prophecies of Balaam regarded the coming of the messiah. He was hired to curse Israel but God prevented him, so he counseled Balak to seduce them into idolatry that God would Himself curse them.

[3] Now it came to pass, when they had heard the law, that they separated from Israel all the mixed multitude.
·         The leaders had fallen to compromise, but the people were still working on purifying themselves.
·         The separation came in stages, not all at once over the course of Nehemiah’s absence.

[4] And before this, Eliashib the priest, having the oversight of the chamber of the house of our God, was allied unto Tobiah:
·         Eliashib gave a place to Tobiah, the hater of God. It’s hard to know if he did this because he already hated God too, or in so doing his heart was turned away from God. For it is written “Bad company corrupts good morals” and also “where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather”

[5] And he had prepared for him a great chamber, where in old times they laid the food 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.
·         This was likely a combining of chambers together to get a great big chamber. This had the effect of not just blocking the tithes, but elevating Tobiah as well.
·         This included the idols Tobiah worshipped.

[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:
·         The narrative looks backward, this is written by Nehemiah after the fact, because he was not there to witness these events. Nehemiah deals with everything, then thinks it over, then writes his log. This is like Jonah who considers everything and afterward writes. It’s like a movie with a surprise ending that you have to watch twice to really get.
·         Nehemiah asked the king to return and become governor again after an absence of around 12 years.

[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.
·         They had neglected God and elevated Tobiah. This is the very thing Malachi came down so hard on the priests for, for their disobedience and lack of concern for the things of God.

[8] And it grieved me sore: therefore I cast forth all the household stuff to Tobiah out of the chamber.
·         This is much like what Christ did when He purged the temple of merchants. The rightful use of the temple was being neglected.

[9] Then I commanded, and they cleansed the chambers: and thither brought I again the vessels of the house of God, with the food offering and the frankincense.
·         Once again Nehemiah resumes the fight against Sandballat and Tobiah when nobody else would.

[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.
·         This may have been the work of Tobiah and Sandballat, or it may have been a result of the priests who collected the things giving themselves a raise at the expense of others. It’s not clear where this comes from exactly

[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.
·         Nehemiah has to take the rulers to heel

[12] Then brought all Judah the tithe of the corn and the new wine and the oil unto the treasuries.
[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.
·         So once again Nehemiah needs to appoint men faithful to God inorder to appoint men faithful to the task

[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.
·         Three times in this chapter, each time following a rebuke he gives the people. Nehmiah was in deep distress regarding this, and felt the situation was grim, just like Jeremiah and Ezekiel felt.

[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.
·         Completely ignoring all the rules of the Sabbath.

[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.
·         The traveling fish merchants came to sell their goods in the city, and nobody stopped them. The problem was that the people were purchasing things on the Sabbath, a day they should be resting.

[17] Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said unto them, What evil thing is this that all of you do, and profane the sabbath day?
·         After finding out about the sorry state of

13:18 Did not your fathers thus, and did not our God bring all this evil upon us, and upon this city? yet all of you bring more wrath upon Israel by profaning the sabbath.
·         Jeremiah rebuked them for ignoring the Sabbath , Jer 17:2.

13:19 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.
13:20 So the merchants and sellers of all kind of ware lodged without Jerusalem once or twice.
·         What would you do if you were the merchants and were kicked out of the city during the Sabbath? You set up shop right outside the gates so that when the city gates open you are right there.

13:21 Then I testified against them, and said unto them, Why lodge all of you about the wall? if all of you do so again, I will lay hands on you. From that time forth came they no more on the sabbath.
·         Nehemiah flexes some muscle to make clear this is a permanent change, they will not tolerate buying or selling on the grounds 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 your mercy.
·         The gates needed to be watched since the people were going to disobey.
·         The prayer is to spare him from further calamity.

[23 In those days also saw I Jews that had married wives of Ashdod, of Ammon, and of Moab:
[24 And their children spoke half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak in the Jews' language, but according to the language of each people.
·         It is likely that this was spoken on the border of the provinces, Philista to the west, Ammon to the east, Moab to the south. They were not in the city proper, but the people of the surrounding regions that had done this.

[25] And I contended with them, and cursed them, and stroke certain of them, and plucked off their hair, and made them swear by God, saying, All of you shall not give your daughters unto their sons, nor take their daughters unto your sons, or for yourselves.
·         This lesson was not learned during Ezra’s day, nor was it learned now, even after their vow of holiness.

[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 foreign women cause to sin.
·         If Solomon, the greatest king, the wealthiest, the wisest, loved by God could not avoid being ruined, why should the escape? They will certainly end in sin.

[27 Shall we then hearken unto you to do all this great evil, to transgress against our God in marrying strange wives?
·         The kingdom was split under immediately after Solomon because of his oppressive policies and idolatry. It’s why Jereboam set up the golden calf idols. Why then would they want to do this as well?

[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.
·         They had defiled the priesthood, the alter, the position, the temple. They were to act as a foreshadow of Christ and had spurned God. This was the same Sandballat and Tobiah that had attempted to destroy Jreusalem before, and now Nehemiah is expelling them again from God’s community.

13:29 Remember them, O my God, because they have defiled the priesthood, and the covenant of the priesthood, and of the Levites.
·         This is a much softer prayer than before, but Nehemiah still calls down a curse upon them for their unfaithfulness.

[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 first-fruits. Remember me, O my God, for good.
·         His prayer at last, in the last part of the Bible is to request God watch over them.

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