Nehemiah 13


The law is read, which commands that the Ammonite and Moabite

should be separated from the congregation, on which they

separate all the mixed multitude, 1-3.

Eliashib the high priest having not only joined opinion with

Sanballat, but being also allied to Tobiah the Ammonite, and

having given him some of the chambers in the court of the house

of God, 4, 5;

Nehemiah casts out the goods of Tobiah, and purifies the

chambers, 6-9.

He rectifies several evils; and the people bring the tithes of

all things to the treasuries, 10-12.

He appoints treasurers, 13, 14;

finds that the Sabbaths had been greatly profaned by buying and

selling, and rectifies this abuse, 15-22;

finds Jews that had married strange wives; against whom he

testifies, and expels one of the priests who had married the

daughter of Sanballat the Horonite, 23-29.

He cleanses them from all strangers, makes a final regulation,

and prays for God's mercy to himself, 30, 31.


Verse 1. On that day] I am quite of Calmet's mind that the

transaction detailed in this chapter did not immediately succeed

the dedication of the walls of Jerusalem. It is most likely that,

when this dedication was ended, Nehemiah returned to Babylon, as

himself particularly marks, Ne 13:6, for he did return in the

thirty-second year of Artaxerxes; and then, after certain days,

supposed to be about the term of one year, he got leave to return

to Jerusalem to see how matters were conducted: and there he found

the evils which he mentions in this chapter, and which he

redressed in the manner himself describes. See the introduction

to this book.

Should not come into the congregation] That is, Ye shall not

form any kind of matrimonial alliance with them. This, and this

alone, is the meaning of the law.

Verse 3. They separated from Israel all the mixed multitude.]

They excluded all strange women, and all persons, young and old,

who had been born of these illegal connections.

Verse 4. Eliashib the priest] Perhaps this was a different

person from Eliashib the high priest; but there is no indubitable

evidence that he was not the same. If he was high priest, he was

very unfaithful to the high charge which he had received; and a

reproach to the priesthood. He had married his grandson to

Sanballat's daughter: this produced a connection with Tobiah, the

fast friend of Sanballat; in whose favour he polluted the house of

God, giving him one of the chambers for his ordinary residence,

which were appointed for the reception of the tithes, oblations,

&c., that came to the house of God.

Verse 6. Was not I at Jerusalem] 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.

Verse 8. I cast forth all the household stuff of Tobiah] He

acted as Jesus Christ did when he found the courts of the Lord's

house profaned: He overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and

the seats of those who sold doves.

Verse 10. The portions of the Levites had not been given]

Hence we find they were obliged to abandon the sacred service, and

betake themselves to cultivate the land for their support. This

was the fault of the rulers, who permitted all these abuses.

Verse 11. Why is the house of God forsaken?] They had all

solemnly promised, Ne 10:39,

that they would never forsake the house of their God; but, alas,

how soon is this forgotten! Nehemiah used their own words here by

way of reproof.

Verse 13. They were counted faithful] They were reported to me

as persons in whom I could confide; they had been steady in God's

ways and work, while others had been careless and relaxed.

Verse 14. Wipe not out my good deeds] If thou wert strict to

mark what is done amiss, even my good deeds must be wiped out;

but, Lord, remember me in thy mercy, and let my upright conduct be

acceptable to thee!

Verse 15. Treading wine-presses] The Sabbath appears to have

been totally disregarded.

Verse 17. I contended with the nobles] These evils took place

through their negligence; and this I proved before them.

Verse 19. When the gates-began to be dark] After sunset on

Friday evening he caused the gates to be shut, and kept them shut

all the Sabbath; and, as he could not trust the ordinary officers,

he set some of his own servants to watch the gates, that no person

might enter for the purpose of traffic.

Verse 20. So the merchants-lodged without Jerusalem] They

exposed their wares for sale on the outside of the walls.

Verse 21. I will lay hands on you] I will imprison every man

of you. This had the desired effect; they came no more.

Verse 22. Spare me according to the greatness of thy mercy.]

By some Nehemiah has been thought to deal with God too much on the

principle of merit. That he wished God to remember him for good,

is sufficiently evident; and who does not wish the same? But that

he expected heaven because of his good deeds, does not appear.

Indeed, the concluding clause of this verse proves the contrary,

and shows that he expected nothing from God but through the

greatness of his mercy. Shame on those who, with this evidence

before them, brand this good man with the epithet of workmonger! a

man who, in inward holiness, outward usefulness, and genuine love

to God and man, was worth ten score of such self-called believers.

Verse 24. Half in the speech of Ashdod] There were children in

the same family by Jewish and Philistine mothers. As the Jewish

mother would always speak to her children in Hebrew or Chaldee,

so they learnt to speak these languages; and as the Ashdod mother

would always speak to her children in the Ashdod language, so they

learnt that tongue. Thus there were, in the same family, children

who could not understand each other; half, or one part, speaking

one language, and the other part another. Children of different

wives did not ordinarily mingle together; and the wives had

separate apartments. This is a better explanation than that which

intimates that the same child spoke a jargon, half Ashdod and

half Hebrew.

Verse 25. I contended with them] Proved the fact against these

iniquitous fathers, in a legal assembly.

And cursed them] Denounced the judgments of God and the

sentence of the law upon them.

Smote certain of them] Had them punished by whipping.

And plucked off their hair] Had them shaven, as a mark of the

greatest ignominy.

And made them swear by God, saying, Ye shall not give] Caused

them to bind themselves by an oath, that they would make no

intermarriages with those who were not of the seed of Israel.

Verse 26. Did not Solomon] Have you not had an awful example

before you? What a heavy curse did Solomon's conduct bring upon

himself and upon the people, for a conduct such as yours?

Verse 27. Shall we then hearken unto you] If God spared not

Solomon, who was so much beloved of Him, shall we spare you, who

by your conduct are bringing down God's judgments upon Israel?

Verse 28. One of the sons of Joiada] This was Manasseh,

brother of Jaddua, son of Joiada, and grandson of Eliashib the

high priest.

I chased him from me.] Struck him off the list of the priests,

and deemed him utterly unworthy of all connection and intercourse

with truly religious people.

Verse 29. Because they have defiled the priesthood] God,

therefore, will remember their iniquities against them, and punish

them for their transgressions. These words of Nehemiah are to be

understood declaratively.

Verse 31. For the wood-offering] This was a most necessary

regulation: without it the temple service could not have gone

forward; and therefore Nehemiah mentions this as one of the most

important services he had rendered to his nation. See Ne 10:34.

Remember me, O my God, for good.] This has precisely the same

meaning with, O my God, have mercy upon me! and thus alone it

should be understood.

OF Nehemiah the Jews speak as one of the greatest men of their

nation. His concern for his country, manifested by such

unequivocal marks, entitles him to the character of the first

patriot that ever lived. In the course of the Divine providence,

he was a captive in Babylon; but there his excellences were so

apparent, that he was chosen by the Persian king to fill an office

the most respectable and the most confidential in the whole court.

Here he lived in ease and affluence; he lacked no manner of thing

that was good; and here he might have continued to live, in the

same affluence and in the same confidence: but he could enjoy

neither, so long as his people were distressed, the sepulchres of

his fathers trodden under foot, the altars of his God overturned,

and his worship either totally neglected or corrupted. He sought

the peace of Jerusalem; he prayed to God for it; and was willing

to sacrifice wealth, ease, and safety, and even life itself, if he

might be the instrument of restoring the desolations of Israel.

And God, who saw the desire of his heart, and knew the excellences

with which he had endowed him, granted his request, and gave him

the high honour of restoring the desolated city of his ancestors,

and the pure worship of their God. On this account he has been

considered by several as an expressive type of Jesus Christ, and

many parallels have been shown in their lives and conduct.

I have already, in several notes, vindicated him from all

mercenary and interested views, as well as from all false notions

of religion, grounded on human merit. For disinterestedness,

philanthropy, patriotism, prudence, courage, zeal, humanity, and

every virtue that constitutes a great mind, and proves a soul in

deep communion with God, Nehemiah will ever stand conspicuous

among the greatest men of the Jewish nation, and an exemplar

worthy to be copied by the first patriots in every nation under


It has already been observed that, in the Jewish canon, Ezra and

Nehemiah make but one book; and that both have been attributed,

but without reason, to the same author: hence the Syriac version

ends with this colophon-The end of the book of Ezra, the scribe,

in which are contained two thousand three hundred and sixty-one


MASORETIC NOTES.-Ezra and Nehemiah contain six hundred and

eighty-eight verses. Middle verse is Ne 3:32.

Sections, ten.

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