Nehemiah 8First day - This was the feast of trumpets, which is called a sabbath, and on which they were to have an holy convocation, Lev 23:24. And it was on this day, the altar was set up, after their return from captivity; in remembrance of which they had probably kept it ever since, with more than ordinary solemnity. Understand - As well the words, which being Hebrew, now needed to be translated into the Chaldee or Syriack language, now, the common language of that people, who together with their religion, had also in a great part lost their language; as also the meaning of them: they expounded the mind and will of God in what they read, and applied it to the peoples present condition. Place - That is, In their several places and stations into which the company seems to have been distributed for conveniency of hearing; it not being likely that so vast a congregation could distinctly hear one man's voice. Or, by their stations, that is, by the several stations of the Levites, and persons last named; who seem to have had several scaffolds, by comparing this with chap.9:4, upon which thy stood, as Ezra did upon his pulpit, ver.8:4. They - Ezra and his companions successively. Sense - The meaning of the Hebrew words, which they expounded in the common language. Thy gave - So they gave them both a translation of the Hebrew words into the Chaldee, and an exposition of the things contained in them. Wept - Out of a sense of their guilt and danger by reason of it. Eat - Feast before the Lord. Send - For the relief of your poor brethren. Holy - Being the feast of trumpets, and the beginning of this joyful month, wherein so many days of thanksgiving were to be observed. Strength - Rejoicing in God in serving him with chearfulness, and thankfulness, which is your duty always, but now especially, will give you that strength both of mind and body, which you greatly need, both to perform all the duties required of you, and to oppose all the designs of your enemies. Levites - Chusing rather to confess their ignorance than vainly to pretend to more knowledge than they had: wherein they shew both humility, and serious godliness, that they were more careful to learn their duty than to preserve their reputation. Mount - The mount of Olives, which was next Jerusalem, and stored with olive - branches, and probably with the rest: for these trees seem to have been planted hereabouts principally, for the use of the city in this very feast, which, though, long neglected, should have been celebrated every year. And this place seems to be here designed as the most eminent place, being put for any place near to the several cities of Judah, where these branches were to be procured. Done so - So, as to the manner and circumstances. They never kept this feast so joyfully, having not only the same causes of rejoicing which they formerly had, but special causes to increase their joy; they never kept it so solemnly and religiously: for whereas at other times, only the first and last day of that feast were celebrated with an holy convocation, now there was an holy convocation, and the people assembled, and attended upon the reading of the law, every day of this feast.
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