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Bible Commentaries
Nehemiah 10

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

Verse 1

Now those that sealed [were], Nehemiah, the Tirshatha, the son of Hachaliah, and Zidkijah,

Now those that sealed were, Nehemiah, the Tirshatha — He is first mentioned, not as a priest, but as a provost; and one that held it an honour to be first in so good a matter; as Caesar never said to his soldiers, Ite, but Venite, Go, but, Come along, I will lead you; and as Abimelech said, What ye have seen me do, make haste and do accordingly. So should all superiors say to their inferiors. Vita principis censura est, imo cynosura, The life of the prince is the loede star of the people, upon which most men fix their eyes and shape their courses. Magnates sunt Magnetes, Great men draw many by their examples, they are as looking glasses by which others dress themselves. And hence Nehemiah’s forwardness here to seal first. There follow in their order priests, Levites, princes, and people, solemnly sealing a sure covenant. God had caused them to pass under the rod, and now he is bringing them into the bond of the covenant, that he may purge out the rebels from amongst them, Ezekiel 20:37-38 .

Verse 28

And the rest of the people, the priests, the Levites, the porters, the singers, the Nethinims, and all they that had separated themselves from the people of the lands unto the law of God, their wives, their sons, and their daughters, every one having knowledge, and having understanding;

That had separated themselves — In St Paul’s sense, 2 Corinthians 6:17 , "Come out from among them, and be ye separate," …, from such stand off; stand up from the dead; save yourselves from this untoward generation, shun their sins, lest ye share in their plagues. These holy separates, or proselytes, sealed the covenant, and became free denizens of the commonwealth of Israel; having right to all God’s ordinances, Exodus 12:48 . Such were Araunah, the Jebusite, 2 Samuel 24:18-25 ; Jether, the Ishmaelite, 1 Chronicles 7:17 , with 2 Samuel 17:25 ; those, Acts 2:10 ; the Jews called them Advenas Iustitiae. Newcomers of justice. Diodati interpreteth this text of such Jews as were come again out of Babylon, to serve the Lord, according to his law. Others of such as had separated themselves from their heathen wives and children.

Their wives, their sons, and their daughters — These also were then, and still may be, covenanters, as partakers of the benefit, 1 Timothy 6:2 and heirs together of the grace of life, 1 Peter 3:7 .

Every one having knowledge — Of their own misery by sin, and of the great mystery of godliness.

Verse 29

They clave to their brethren, their nobles, and entered into a curse, and into an oath, to walk in God’s law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the LORD our Lord, and his judgments and his statutes;

They clave to their brethren — Heb. They laid fast hold on them, viz. by taking hold of the covenant, to keep the Sabbath from polluting it, and choosing the things that please God, as Isaiah 56:4 ; Isaiah 56:6 .

And entered into a curse — The more to confirm the oath, and to keep their deceitful hearts close to God. See Deuteronomy 29:12 ; Deuteronomy 29:21 . This is called the oath of God, Ecclesiastes 7:2 . Confer Isaiah 19:18 ; Isaiah 44:5 ; 2 Chronicles 15:12 ; 2 Chronicles 15:14 ; 2 Chronicles 34:31 .

To walk in God’s lawEx gnomone et canone decalogi, to walk accurately and exactly by line and by rule (Aug. in Exod.). "In all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless," Luke 1:6 , so far as by his grace he should vouchsafe to assist them. For lex iubet, gratia iuvat. The law orders, grace assists. The bowls of the candlestick have no oil but what droppeth from the olive branches. David can wish well to the keeping of God’s commandments diligently, Psalms 119:4-5 , but promise no further than God shall please to enlarge his heart, Nehemiah 10:32 . Vows and covenants indefinitely and absolutely made (as that of Jephthah, Judges 11:31 ) prove a snare. Condition with the Lord for his strength and grace; rely not on thine own sufficiency, lest it repent thee of thy rashness and self-confidence, as it befell Peter. Consider that thou art but a poor garrison soldier; and without supplies of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, Philippians 1:19 , thou canst do nothing. David knew this, and therefore called earnestly for help from heaven, Psalms 51:13-15 ; Psalms 119:106-107 .

Verse 30

And that we would not give our daughters unto the people of the land, nor take their daughters for our sons:

And that we would not give our daughters — This is the first particular branch of the covenant, that they would make no inter-marriages with the heathen; as knowing the snare that herein Satan laid for their souls. In the first sentence against man, this cause is expressed, Because you obeyed the voice of your wife, … By the rib, as by a ladder, Satan oft climbs to the heart, and corrupts it, as Gregory hath it. O wives (saith another)! the most sweet poison, the most desired evil in the world, … Make a wise choice, therefore. The heathen well saith, that every man, when he marrieth, brings either a good or an evil spirit into his house, and so makes it either a heaven or a hell.

Verse 31

And [if] the people of the land bring ware or any victuals on the sabbath day to sell, [that] we would not buy it of them on the sabbath, or on the holy day: and [that] we would leave the seventh year, and the exaction of every debt.

And if the people of the land bring any ware — As they might without the Jews’ leave; and did, Nehemiah 13:16 , and some of those Jews, forgetting their covenant, bought of them too; even the children of Judah in Jerusalem, ib., as if they had been of her religion in the tragedy, who said,

η γλωττ ομωμοχ η δε φοην ανωμοτος .

that is, I swore with my tongue, but not with my heart. But shall they thus escape by iniquity? Be not deceived, God is not mocked; a God of truth, and without iniquity; just and right is he, Deuteronomy 32:4 .

That we would not buy it of them — Lest we should trouble and disquiet that holy rest; and God should sue us upon an action of waste; "For the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God," Exodus 20:10 Jeremiah 17:12 .

Or on the holy day — Now abrogated, Colossians 2:16 .

And that we would leave the seventh year — That Sabbatical year, prefiguring the year of grace, the kingdom of Christ, Qui noxas et nexus omnes solveret, who giveth his people a general release, Deuteronomy 15:2 , and comes not over them again with a later reckoning, Peccata non redeunt. The land also was to rest from tillage this year, Exodus 23:11 .

And the exaction of every debt — For that year, at least, and the next too, if the debtor were not able to pay; the lender was to expect a recompense from God, Deuteronomy 15:6 .

Verse 32

Also we made ordinances for us, to charge ourselves yearly with the third part of a shekel for the service of the house of our God;

To charge ourselves yearly with the third part of a shekel — Beside the poll money, the half shekel required, Exodus 38:26 . The third part of a shekel was no great sum, yet somewhat more than what Saul and his servant presented the seer with, whom they could not but know to be the judge of Israel, 1 Samuel 9:8 . These had learned that thankfulness was measured, both by God and good men, not by the weight, but by the will of the retributor. God doth highly accept the small offerings of his weak servants when he seeth them to proceed from great love.

Verse 33

For the shewbread, and for the continual meat offering, and for the continual burnt offering, of the sabbaths, of the new moons, for the set feasts, and for the holy [things], and for the sin offerings to make an atonement for Israel, and [for] all the work of the house of our God.

For the shewbread — Here are recited the several uses whereunto that tribute or impost was put; the half shekel enjoined by the law being not enough, by reason the people were as yet so few. This, though Junius denieth, yet the Hebrews all consent about it.

To make an atonement — That is, an agreement; Heb. To cover or expiate; to purge away, or take away uncleanness; to satisfy for sin, and to pacify wrath. By the priests making atonement legally was typified Christ’s making reconciliation between God and man; for he alone is the propitiation for our sins, 1 John 2:2 . But how much mistaken were our ancestors in times of Popery, who built religions houses, and gave large maintenance to them to buy off their sins, to deliver their souls from hell, to fetch their friends out of purgatory! …

Verse 34

And we cast the lots among the priests, the Levites, and the people, for the wood offering, to bring [it] into the house of our God, after the houses of our fathers, at times appointed year by year, to burn upon the altar of the LORD our God, as [it is] written in the law:

And we cast lots … for the wood offering — Heb. Kurban, or Korban, as the Gospel calleth it, because by offerings they came near to God. This wood offering we read not of till now: the prophet Isaiah telleth us, that if we should sacrifice unto God according to his excellent greatness, Lebanon would not be sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt offering, Isaiah 40:16 . There was much use of fuel about the temple; and it was formerly provided out of the public treasury. But that now failing, they take another order, as here; that God might not be unserved, and the daily sacrifice neglected, which they held and called, The abomination of desolation.

Verse 35

And to bring the firstfruits of our ground, and the firstfruits of all fruit of all trees, year by year, unto the house of the LORD:

And to bring the firstfruits of our ground — Heb. The firstborn. These firstfruits were the fiftieth part; and if any would be more liberal in paying, the fortieth; or, being poorer, the sixtieth part.

And the firstfruits of all fruit of all trees — God required to be honoured with the firstlings of all; to show how he sets by our young services. We prize nettle buds when they first put forth; so doth God remember and regard the kindness of our youth, Jeremiah 2:1 .

Verse 36

Also the firstborn of our sons, and of our cattle, as [it is] written in the law, and the firstlings of our herds and of our flocks, to bring to the house of our God, unto the priests that minister in the house of our God:

Also the firstborn of our sons — These God claimed as his due, Exodus 12:2 ; Exodus 22:29 ; Numbers 3:13 , and called for, as best beloved of the parents; that, together with them, he might draw men’s best affections to himself. They were to be redeemed, as were also the firstlings of all beasts not fit for sacrifice, Exodus 13:13 , and the redemption money brought to the priests (who were God’s receivers), that they might be the better encouraged in the law of the Lord, as Hezekiah phraseth it, 2 Chronicles 31:4 .

To bring to the house of our God, unto the priests — No man might offer his own sacrifice, though it were never so good, but present it to the priest, Leviticus 17:5 , who was to offer as well the poor man’s lamb as the rich man’s ox. It is by Christ alone that we must draw nigh to God, …

Verse 37

And [that] we should bring the firstfruits of our dough, and our offerings, and the fruit of all manner of trees, of wine and of oil, unto the priests, to the chambers of the house of our God; and the tithes of our ground unto the Levites, that the same Levites might have the tithes in all the cities of our tillage.

And that we should bring the firstfruits of our dough — As oft as they baked they gave cake unto the priests, where they dwelled throughout the tribes; for they were dispersed all abroad the land for instruction of the people, and exhortation to obedience to the law of God. See Numbers 15:20-21 .

And the tithes of our ground unto the Levites — All the tithes were paid to the Levites, not to the priests; and out of them the Levites paid a tenth to the priests.

In all the cities of our tillage — No places were tithe free.

Verse 38

And the priest the son of Aaron shall be with the Levites, when the Levites take tithes: and the Levites shall bring up the tithe of the tithes unto the house of our God, to the chambers, into the treasure house.

And the priest the son of Aaron — That son of Aaron by an eminency, the high priest.

Shall be with the Levites — To see that right be done, and to make an equal distribution.

When the Levites take tithes — As their due, and not as a benevolence from the people. Melchizedeck tithed Abraham, Hebrews 7:6 . It is your reward or wages which you dearly earn, and may justly call for, Numbers 10:31-32 . The chief of the Levites demanded their due, when they were not thought of; but, by great oversight, were passed over in the division, Joshua 21:1 .

And the Levites shall bring upSee Trapp on " Nehemiah 10:37 "

Verse 39

For the children of Israel and the children of Levi shall bring the offering of the corn, of the new wine, and the oil, unto the chambers, where [are] the vessels of the sanctuary, and the priests that minister, and the porters, and the singers: and we will not forsake the house of our God.

And we will not forsake the house of God — But frequent it ourselves, and see that the priests that minister, the porters and singers, forsake it not, for want of necessary maintenance; as they were shortly after this forced to do, and to flee every one to his field, Nehemiah 13:10 , for a subsistence.

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Nehemiah 10". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/nehemiah-10.html. 1865-1868.
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