Partner with as God uses us to make a difference for those displaced by Russia's war on Ukraine.
Click to donate today!

Bible Commentaries

Bell's Commentary on the Bible

Nehemiah 8

Verses 1-18

  1. PEOPLE OF THE BOOK (8:1-12)
    1. This was Bible Conference 101. Guest speaker…Ezra.
    2. Why was Ezra equipped to deliver the Word to the people? (1,2)
      1. Ezra 7:9,10 for the gracious hand of his God was on him. This was because Ezra had determined to study and obey the Law of the Lord and to teach those decrees and regulations to the people of Israel.
        1. Ezra’s personal commitment to study the Law, practice it in his own life, & then teach it was reflected.
      2. Why not Nehemiah? He wasn’t a priest nor a Levite.
    3. Where was the Word going to be the Water Gate...where else. The washing of the water of the word.
      1. ​​​​​​​Not at the Altar, but at the center of city life. The kind of place where God’s wisdom pleads most urgently to be heard.
        1. ​​​​​​​Prov.1:20 Wisdom shouts in the streets. She cries out in the public square
        2. The Law itself insisting that its voice must not be confined to the sanctuary but heard in the house & the street. Kidner
        3. Where is your water gate/cooler? Have you taken the Word of God out of church & to the streets, to your community, to your Town Square?
    4. How long did the people stand? (3) [about 6 hours, from day light till noon]
    5. Why do you think the people stood? (5)
      1. Out of respect of the reading of Gods word.
      2. Ask, How can we show respect for Gods word today?
        1. Balance? India/never below you/not arm pit. Nate/ear rung for dropping as kid.
    6. Why does it mention that he opened up the book in the sight of all the people & was above them? (5)
      1. I think pastors, Bible study teachers, Children’s Church teachers should do this the book in the sight of all the people. Why? [even needed to in oral]
    7. How did Ezra bless the Lord? (Praise, he praised His God) (6)
      1. This was not a type of bibliolatry/biblio book/Latria worship as though the scrolls were being venerated simply as a relic. The adoration was for God, as vs.6 makes abundantly clear.
    8. Why did the people get so excited about the hearing of the word of God? (6)
      1. Obviously they were a long time w/o it.
      2. Did everyone have their own bible to read in that day? [no way]
      3. Does the Word ever move you to radical worship? [prostrate]
    9. How did Ezra teach them? (8)
      1. Read distinctly – Clear. Parash, to make distinct.
      2. Gave the sense – Gave the meaning of, explained.
      3. Helped them to understand the reading – how to apply. Result: they understood
      4. Mention: Observation. Interpretation. Application steps.
    10. What was the effect of the readings, on the people?
      1. Grief stricken – mourning & weeping (9) & sorrow (10).
        1. When they heard & understood God’s Law, they understood their violation of it.
        2. Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted.
      2. Joy (10) – Nehemiah probably reminded them of God’s mercy & forgiveness.
        1. They heard God punishes sin, but also blesses obedience.
        2. They had not been utterly destroyed as a nation…this was reason for rejoicing!
        3. We always need to cultivate Holy Joy.
          1. The joy of sin forgiven; of acceptance w/God; of hope that anchors us to the unseen & cannot be ashamed.
      3. You may not be able to Joy in yourself, or your surroundings, but you may always rejoice in the Lord.
    11. What brought about their joy? (12 – understanding the teachings)
      1. Probably my highest compliment by people new to our church...“I can understand it when you teach it. You make it simple/plain.”
      2. What does Jeremiah say is the connection between God’s Word & Joy? Jer.15:16 Your words were found, and I ate them, And Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart.
      3. The bible is a source of happiness.
      4. Proverbs 8:34-36 Blessed is the man who listens to me (wisdom), Watching daily at my gates, Waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoever finds me finds life, And obtains favor from the LORD; But he who sins against me wrongs his own soul; All those who hate me love death.
      5. Jesus said in Lk.11:28 blessed are those who hear the word of God & keep it.
      6. You can’t be happier then when you discover, accept, & obey God’s word.
    12. What brought about their strength? [Joy-ing in the Lord (10)]
    13. The sequence in chapter 8 is striking:
      1. Intellectual response to the Word(1-8). Emotional response to the Word(9-12) and Volitional response to the Word (13-18).
    14. What a perfect church gathering: People gathered in unity. They told Ezra bring the book. They assembled. Were listening. The word was exalted. The preacher: read, explained,applied the word. The people responded: by weeping, cut to heart, grief of sin, and by rejoicing & feasting.
  2. PEOPLE OF OBEDIENCE (8:13-18)
    1. ​​​​​​​This Feast of Tabernacles is also called the Festival of Sukkot/booths.
      1. It is also called the Feast of Ingathering (as it was at the completion of the Harvest)
      2. Josephus said, “it was holiest & greatest festival among the Jews.”
      3. A feast, not only for harvest but for all the bounty of nature which made life possible and living happy. Barclay
      4. This was the most joyful feast of the year. A festival packed with Joy & feasting lasting 1 week. This came right after the Day of Atonement.
        1. True Joy comes only when we know we are right w/God.
        2. Why was this harvest festival apropos? [remember where I’ve brought you fromi.e. tents in the wilderness & now from Babylon]
    2. How did the people react to the things they learned? (16,17)
      1. The whole assembly went out & did it.
      2. Also note very great gladness (17) [simchah gadol meod, gladness great very] a) How do you view obedience? Drudgery or great gladness?
    3. Prayer: Lord, we want to honor your word, listen to it, seek to understand it & then obey it?
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Nehemiah 8". "Bell's Commentary". 2017.