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Bible Commentaries

Utley's You Can Understand the Bible

Nehemiah 10

Nehemiah 10:0

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NKJVNRSVTEVNJB
The People Who Sealed the CovenantThe Covenant to Support God's House(Nehemiah 9:38-39)The People Sign an Agreement(Nehemiah 9:38-27)The Record of the Promise Made by the Community
Nehemiah 9:38-27Nehemiah 9:38-1(Nehemiah 9:38 counted as Nehemiah 10:1)
Nehemiah 10:1-27Nehemiah 10:1
Nehemiah 10:2-8Nehemiah 10:2-9
Nehemiah 10:9-13Nehemiah 10:10-14
Nehemiah 10:14-27Nehemiah 10:15-28
The Covenant That was SealedThe Agreement
Nehemiah 10:28-39Nehemiah 10:28-31Nehemiah 10:28-29Nehemiah 10:29-30
Nehemiah 10:30Nehemiah 10:31
Nehemiah 10:31aNehemiah 10:32a
Nehemiah 10:31bNehemiah 10:32b
Nehemiah 10:32-39Nehemiah 10:32Nehemiah 10:33-35
Nehemiah 10:33
Nehemiah 10:34
Nehemiah 10:35(Nehemiah 10:35 & 40 placed last)
Nehemiah 10:3610:36-40b
Nehemiah 10:37a
Nehemiah 10:37-39a
Nehemiah 10:39b

READING CYCLE THREE (from “A Guide to Good Bible Reading”)

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT THE PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired but it is the key to following the original author's intent which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

Verses 1-27

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Nehemiah 10:1-27 1Now on the sealed document were the names of: Nehemiah the governor, the son of Hacaliah, and Zedekiah, 2Seraiah, Azariah, Jeremiah, 3Pashhur, Amariah, Malchijah, 4Hattush, Shebaniah, Malluch, 5Harim, Meremoth, Obadiah, 6Daniel, Ginnethon, Baruch, 7Meshullam, Abijah, Mijamin, 8Maaziah, Bilgai, Shemaiah. These were the priests. 9And the Levites: Jeshua the son of Azaniah, Binnui of the sons of Henadad, Kadmiel; 10also their brothers Shebaniah, Hodiah, Kelita, Pelaiah, Hanan, 11Mica, Rehob, Hashabiah, 12Zaccur, Sherebiah, Shebaniah, 13Hodiah, Bani, Beninu. 14The leaders of the people: Parosh, Pahath-moab, Elam, Zattu, Bani, 15Bunni, Azgad, Bebai, 16Adonijah, Bigvai, Adin, 17Ater, Hezekiah, Azzur, 18Hodiah, Hashum, Bezai, 19Hariph, Anathoth, Nebai, 20Magpiash, Meshullam, Hezir, 21Meshezabel, Zadok, Jaddua, 22Pelatiah, Hanan, Anaiah, 23Hoshea, Hananiah, Hasshub, 24Hallohesh, Pilha, Shobek, 25Rehum, Hashabnah, Maaseiah, 26Ahiah, Hanan, Anan, 27Malluch, Harim, Baanah.

Verses 28-31

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Nehemiah 10:28-31 28 Now the rest of the people, the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, the temple servants and all those who had separated themselves from the peoples of the lands to the law of God, their wives, their sons and their daughters, all those who had knowledge and understanding, 29are joining with their kinsmen, their nobles, and are taking on themselves a curse and an oath to walk in God's law, which was given through Moses, God's servant, and to keep and to observe all the commandments of God our Lord, and His ordinances and His statutes; 30and that we will not give our daughters to the peoples of the land or take their daughters for our sons. 31As for the peoples of the land who bring wares or any grain on the sabbath day to sell, we will not buy from them on the sabbath or a holy day; and we will forego the crops the seventh year and the exaction of every debt.

Nehemiah 10:28 This mentions the other groups of Israeli society.

“all who had knowledge and understanding” See note at Nehemiah 8:2. This seems to refer to the children.

Nehemiah 10:29 “a curse and an oath to walk in God's law” This is a covenant renewal service much like Nehemiah 10:5 and 24:1ff. These renewal ceremonies were based on the covenant blessings and cursings summarized in Deut. 27-29. Obedience and disobedience had consequences in this life and the next!

The term “walk” is a biblical metaphor for lifestyle faith. God's word/teachings are a path for His people to follow (e.g., Psalms 119:105; Proverbs 6:23).

“the commandments. . .ordinances. . .statutes” The revelation of God to God is characterized by several terms. Notice the list and parallelism of Psalms 19:7-9. See Special Topic: Terms for God's Revelation.

NASB“God our Lord” NKJV, NRSV, TEV“the Lord our Lord” NJB“Yahweh our Lord”

The first term is YHWH, the covenant name for God (cf. Genesis 2:4). The second is Adon, which meant husband, owner, master, or lord. See Special Topic: Names for Deity.

Nehemiah 10:30 “and we will not give our daughters to the people of the land or take their daughters for our sons” This does not refer to racial exclusion, but religious exclusion (cf. Exodus 34:12-16 Ezra 9:10; Nehemiah 13:23-28). This was a major issue in restored Judah.

Nehemiah 10:31 “as for the peoples of the land who bring wares or any grain on the sabbath day to sell” The indigenous habitants of the Persian province who were supposedly “YHWHistic” were violating the Sabbath requirements. This is one example of the problems of trying to work with or associate with the inhabitants who were in the land when the returnees arrived.

“and we will forgo the crops the seventh year” This is a second feature of Mosaic law which was a means of acknowledging YHWH's ownership of the land and His care and concern for the needy (cf. Exodus 23:10-11; Leviticus 25:4-7, Leviticus 25:20-22).

“and the exaction of every debt” This is a third element related to Moses' law. All debts were cancelled on the seventh year (cf. Deuteronomy 15:1-2; Deuteronomy 31:10), which was called the Sabbath year. They were serious about reinstating the Mosaic law in its fullness.

Verses 32-33

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Nehemiah 10:32-33 32We also placed ourselves under obligation to contribute yearly one third of a shekel for the service of the house of our God: 33for the showbread, for the continual grain offering, for the continual burnt offering, the sabbaths, the new moon, for the appointed times, for the holy things and for the sin offerings to make atonement for Israel, and all the work of the house of our God.

Nehemiah 10:32 “to contribute yearly one third of a shekel for the service of the house of our God” In Exodus 30:11-16, it is a half of a shekel given to the tabernacle, but it is not given annually. Exactly what the fee paid for is delineated in Nehemiah 10:33. In the pre-exilic period, the king supported the cost of the temple, but in the post-exilic community the cost was shared among the people

Nehemiah 10:33 “the showbread” See Exodus 25:23-30.

“the continual grain offering” See Numbers 28:1-8.

“the continual burnt offering” See Exodus 29:38-42; Numbers 28:1-8

“the sabbaths, the new moon, for the appointed times” See Numbers 28:9-10, Numbers 28:11-15; Numbers 29:39-40.

“for the sin offering to make atonement for Israel” See Leviticus 4:1-13 and Numbers 15:23-29.

Verses 34-39

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Nehemiah 10:34-39 34 Likewise we cast lots for the supply of wood among the priests, the Levites and the people so that they might bring it to the house of our God, according to our fathers' households, at fixed times annually, to burn on the altar of the LORD our God, as it is written in the law; 35and that they might bring the first fruits of our ground and the first fruits of all the fruit of every tree to the house of the LORD annually, 36and bring to the house of our God the firstborn of our sons and of our cattle, and the firstborn of our herds and our flocks as it is written in the law, for the priests who are ministering in the house of our God. 37We will also bring the first of our dough, our contributions, the fruit of every tree, the new wine and the oil to the priests at the chambers of the house of our God, and the tithe of our ground to the Levites, for the Levites are they who receive the tithes in all the rural towns. 38The priest, the son of Aaron, shall be with the Levites when the Levites receive tithes, and the Levites shall bring up the tenth of the tithes to the house of our God, to the chambers of the storehouse. 39For the sons of Israel and the sons of Levi shall bring the contribution of the grain, the new wine and the oil to the chambers; there are the utensils of the sanctuary, the priests who are ministering, the gatekeepers and the singers. Thus we will not neglect the house of our God.

Nehemiah 10:34 “we cast lots for the supply of wood” The casting of lots was a mechanical way (like the Urim and Thummim) to discern God's will. In this case the lots help divide the responsibility for wood for the burnt offerings among the returnees. Each family was responsible for a period of time. This later turns into a feast (cf. Josephus, Wars 17.6).

Nehemiah 10:35 “the first fruits” Giving God the first ripened fruit was a way to show God's ownership of the entire harvest. These offerings helped support the priests. See Exodus 22:29; Exodus 23:19; Exodus 34:26; Deuteronomy 26:1-11; and Ezekiel 44:30.

Nehemiah 10:36 “the firstborn of our sons and of our cattle” this was a way to show God's ownership of all things. See Exodus 13:0.

Nehemiah 10:37 “we shall also bring the first of our dough” See Leviticus 23:17.

“and the tithe of our ground to the Levites” See Leviticus 27:30.

Nehemiah 10:38 “the priest. . .shall be with the Levites” This was one of the checks and balances procedures installed to insure the taxation system.

“the tenth of the tithes” The Levites were required to tithe to the priests (cf. Numbers 18:26). In the OT there were many Levites so the priests got all they needed from their tithe, but in these days there were few Levites. The priests, however, did not want to alter the Mosaic regulations.

There is some confusion about exactly how the tithing system in Israel worked. From Deuteronomy 14:22-29

1. individuals brought a tithe to the central sanctuary for two years

2. the third year the tithe was paid locally to benefit the poor

3. every seventh year the fields lay fallow so there was no tithe of produce

In this passage (Nehemiah 10:32-39), all non-produce items were brought to the priests in Jerusalem, but the produce was brought to the Levites in the local towns, who then tithed that to Jerusalem. The special offerings like “the first fruits” or “first born” were also taken to Jerusalem. See Special Topic: Tithe in the Mosaic Legislation.

Nehemiah 10:39 “new wine” See Special Topic: Biblical Attitudes Toward Alcohol and Alcoholism.

“Thus we will not neglect the house of God” All of the provisions mentioned in Nehemiah 10:34-39 were to equip the temple and its personnel for its regular duties.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. What is the relationship between the books of Ezra and Nehemiah?

2. Can you name the post-exilic prophets?

3. Why is the Day of Atonement left out of this section?

4. Outline Nehemiah 9:0 concerning God's relationship to Israel through the years.

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Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Nehemiah 10". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/nehemiah-10.html. 2021.