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Bible Commentaries
Nehemiah 8

Dummelow's Commentary on the BibleDummelow on the Bible

Verses 1-18

The Reading of the Law by Ezra

1. The street] RV ’the broad place’: and so in Nehemiah 8:3, Nehemiah 8:16. The water gate] This probably led to the spring of Gihon (the Virgin’s spring).

2. Ezra] It has been argued in the note on Ezra 10:44 that the effort to fortify Jerusalem described in Ezra 4:6-23 was made whilst Ezra was present there, and that the failure of it destroyed for a time his influence among his countrymen. The interval that elapsed between the destruction of the newly-built walls and Nehemiah’s arrival was probably not long, and during it Ezra may have remained in retirement at Jerusalem. Some, however, have supposed that after effecting the reforms described in Ezra 9, 10, he returned at once to Babylon, and only revisited Palestine after Nehemiah’s arrival there. The absence of his name amongst those who helped to build the walls of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 3) has been urged in favour of this view; but there would be little reason to distinguish his co-operation from that of the other priests (Nehemiah 3:1). To bring.. of Moses] The teaching of the Law was the purpose of Ezra’s journey to Jerusalem some fourteen years before.

2. The first day of the seventh month] This was one of the festivals (cp. Nehemiah 8:9) of the New Moon, termed in the Law the Feast of Trumpets, and kept with special rites: Leviticus 23:24-25; Numbers 29:1-6.

7. And the Levites] omit and.

8. Gave the sense] i.e. with such additional explanation as was required for the people to understand what was read.

9. The Tirshatha] i.e. governor. The same title was borne by Zerubbabel (Ezra 2:63). All the people wept] from a consciousness of their transgressions which the reading of the Law had awakened.

11. Hold your peace] in order to guard against uttering words ill-suited to a holy day.

14. Should dwell in booths] This command in connexion with the Feast of Tabernacles (kept on the fifteenth day of the seventh month) occurs only in Leviticus 23:42.

15. The mount] better, ’the hill-country.’ Pine branches] RV ’branches of wild olives’ (or oleaster).

16. The roof of his house] This was flat, and available for walking or sleeping: cp. Deuteronomy 22:8; 1 Samuel 9:25; 2 Samuel 11:2; 2 Samuel 16:22. The gate of Ephraim] in the N. wall, facing the former kingdom of Ephraim.

17. Since the days of Jeshua] i.e. of Joshua. The exceptional feature in this observance of the ancient Feast of Tabernacles seems to have been the dwelling in ’booths,’ though the dwelling in ’tents’ had been previously practised (cp. Hosea 12:9). Either the command of Leviticus 23:42 had been disregarded, or it was a modification of the older usage which had only recently been incorporated in the Law.

Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Nehemiah 8". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcb/nehemiah-8.html. 1909.
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