Nehemiah 10


The names of those who sealed the covenant, 1-27.

All solemnly promise not to have affinity with the people of

the land, 28-30;

to observe the Sabbaths, 31;

to provide for the sanctuary according to the law, 32-36;

and to pay the regular tithes for the support of the priests,

Levites, and other officers of the temple, 37-39.


Verse 1. Now those that sealed] Four classes here seal.

Nehemiah first, as their governor. And after him, secondly,

The priests, Ne 10:2-8.

Thirdly, The Levites, Ne 10:9-13.

Fourthly, The chiefs of the people, Ne 10:14-27.

It is strange that, among all these, we hear nothing of Ezra,

nor of the high priest Eliashib. Nor are any of the prophets

mentioned, though there must have been some of them at Jerusalem

at this time.

The whole of this chapter, the two first verses excepted, is

wanting in the Arabic; the word Pashur of the third verse is

retained; and the rest of the chapter is summed up in these words,

and the rest of their assembly.

Verse 28. And the rest of the people] All had, in one or other

of the classes which sealed, their representatives; and by their

sealing they considered themselves bound.

Verse 29. They clave to their brethren] Though they did not

sign this instrument, yet they bound themselves under a solemn

oath that they would fulfil the conditions of the covenant, and

walk according to the law of Moses.

Verse 30. Not give our daughters] Make no affinity with the

people of the land.

Verse 31. Bring ware] We will most solemnly keep the Sabbath.

Leave the seventh year-We will let the land have its Sabbath, and

rest every seventh year. See on Ex 23:10, 11.

Verse 32. Charge ourselves yearly with the third part of a

shekel] According to the law, every one above twenty years of age

was to give half a shekel to the sanctuary, which was called a

ransom for their souls. See Ex 30:11-16.

But why is one third of a shekel now promised instead of the half

shekel, which the law required? To this question no better answer

can be given than this: the general poverty of the people,

occasioned by their wars, overthrows, heavy tributes, &c., in the

land of their captivity: and now on their return, having little

property, it was impossible for them to give more; and we know,

from the terms of the law in this case, that the poor and the rich

were obliged to give alike, because it was a ransom for their

souls; and the souls of the poor and the rich were of like

value, and stood equally in need of redemption; for all were

equally fallen, and all had come equally short of the glory of


Though only a third part of a shekel was given at this time, and

probably for the reason above assigned, yet when the people got

into a state of greater prosperity, the half shekel was resumed:

for it is clear that this sum was paid in the time of our Lord,

though not to the temple, but to the Roman government. Hence when

those who collected this as a tribute came to our Lord, it was for

the διδραχμα, didrachma, which was half a shekel; and the coin

with which our Lord paid for himself and Peter was a stater, which

contained exactly two half shekels. See Mt 17:24-27.

Verse 34. Cast the lots-for the wood-offering] There does not

appear to have been any wood-offering under the law. It was the

business of the Nethinim to procure this; and hence they were

called hewers of wood and drawers of water to the congregation.

But it is very likely that after the captivity few Nethinim were

found; for as such, who were the descendants of the Gibeonites,

were considered only as slaves among the Israelites, they would

doubtless find it as much, if not more, their interest to abide

in the land of their captivity, than to return with their former

masters. As there was not enough of such persons to provide wood

for the fires of the temple, the people now cast lots, not who

should furnish the wood, but what class or district should furnish

it at a particular time of the year, so that there might be a

constant supply. One district furnished it for one whole year, or

for the first month or year; another, for the second month or

year; and so on. Now the lot was to determine which district

should bring the supply on the first month or year; which on the

second; and so on. When the wood was brought, it was delivered to

the Levites: they cut, prepared, and stacked it; and when wanted,

delivered it to the priests, whose business it was to lay it upon

the altar. Perhaps this providing of the wood was done only once

a year by one district, the next year by another district, and so

on: and this bringing the wood to the temple at last became a

great day; and was constituted into a feast, called by Josephus

ξυλοφορια, the carrying of the wood.-See De Bell. Jud. lib. ii.,

cap. xvii., sec. 6, p. 194. This feast is not mentioned in the

sacred writings: then there was no need for such an institution,

as the Nethinim were sufficiently numerous.

Verse 36. Also the first-born] See this law, and the reasons

of it, Ex 13:1-13. As by this law the Lord had a right to all

the firstborn, instead of these he was pleased to take the tribe

of Levi for the whole; and thus the Levites served at the

tabernacle and temple, instead of the first-born of all the


Verse 38. Tithe of the tithes] The tithes of all the produce

of the fields were brought to the Levites; out of these a tenth

part was given to the priests. This is what is called the tithe

of the tithes. The law for this is found, Nu 18:26.

Verse 39. We will not forsake the house of our God.] Here was

a glorious resolution; and had they been faithful to it, they had

been a great and good people to the present day. But what is

implied in, We will not forsake the house of our God? I answer:-

I. The Church of God is the house of God; there he has his

constant dwelling-place.

II. True believers are his family in this house; and this family

consists of, 1. Fathers and mothers; 2. Young persons;

3. Little children; And 4. Servants.

III. The ministers of the word of God are the officers and

overseers of this house and family.

IV. The worship of God is the grand employment of this family.

V. The ordinances of God are the food of the members of this

family; or the means of their spiritual support.

VI. Those who do not forsake the house of their God are those,

1. Who continue in the faith; 2. Who grow in grace; 3. Who labour

in the vineyard; 4. Who bring forth fruit; 5. Who

conscientiously attend all the ordinances; and 6. Who take care

that the offerings of the house of God shall be duly made,

providing for those who labour in the word and doctrine.

READER, 1. Art thou of this house? 2. Art thou in this house?

3. To what part of the family dost thou belong? 4. Art thou still

an infant in this house? 5. Dost thou attend the ordinances of

this house? 6. Hast thou forsaken this house? These questions

are of great importance; answer them as in the sight of God.

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