Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
Chapter VII
Chapter VIII
Chapter IX
Chapter X
Chapter XI
Chapter XII
Chapter XIII

This book continues the history of the children of the captivity, the Jews lately returned out of Babylon. We have a full account of Nehemiah's labours for them, in these his commentaries: wherein he records not only the works of his hands, but the very workings of his heart, inserting many devout reflections and ejaculations, which are peculiar to his writing. Twelve years he was the tirshatha, or governor of Judea, under the same Artaxerxes that gave Ezra his commission. This book relates his concern for Jerusalem and commission to go thither, chap. 1, 2. His building the wall of Jerusalem, notwithstanding much opposition, chap. 3, 4. His redressing the grievances of the people, chap. 5. His finishing the wall, chap. 6. The account he took of the people, chap. 7. His calling the people to read the law, fast and pray, and renew their covenant, chap. 8 - 10. He peoples Jerusalem and settles the tribe of Levi, chap. 11, 12. He reforms divers abuses, chap. 13. This was the last historical book that was written, as Malachi, the last prophetical book of the old testament.

Chapter I

Nehemiah is informed of the deplorable state of the Jews at Jerusalem, ver. 1 - 3. He fasts and prays, ver. 4 - 11

1 The words - Or rather, the acts, as the word often signifies. Chisleu - Which is the ninth month, containing part of November, and part of December. Year - Of Artaxerxes. Shushan - The royal city of Persia.
3 The province - In Judea, now a province under the Persian monarchs. The wall, &c. - The walls and gates continue as Nebuchadnezzar left them; the Jews not being in a condition to rebuild them, nor having commission from the kings of Persia to do so.
4 The God of heaven - Who seeth in secret; secret; having no opportunity of doing it openly.
6 Which I pray, &c. - He refers to all the prayers, which he had for some time been putting up.
11 To fear thy name - Those who truly desire to fear his name, shall be graciously accepted of God. This man - The king: who is but a man and therefore his heart is wholly at thy disposal. Favour with men is then comfortable, when we see it springing from the mercy of God. Cup - bearer - Whereby I had opportunity to speak to him, and some favour with him.

Chapter II

Artaxerxes sends Nehemiah to Jerusalem, with a commission to build the wall, ver. 1 - 8. He comes thither, to the grief of his enemies, ver. 9 - 11. He secretly views the ruins of it, ver. 12 - 16. He informs the rulers of his commission, ver. 17, 18. Answers them that derided him, ver. 19, 20.

1 Nisan - Four months after he had heard those sad tidings. The reason of this long delay might be either that his turn of attending upon the king did not come 'till that time: or that 'till then he wanted a fit opportunity to move it to him.
2 Sad - His fasting joined with inward grief had made a sensible change in his countenance. Afraid - It was an unusual and ungrateful thing to come into the king of Persia's presence with any token of sorrow. And he feared a disappointment, because his request was great and invidious, and odious to most of the Persian courtiers.
3 Why should, &c. - All the grievances of the church, but especially its desolations, ought to be matter of grief to all good people, to all that have a concern for God's honour, and are of a public spirit.
4 Let, &c. - My sadness comes not from any disaffection to the king, for whom my hearty prayers are that he may live for ever; but from another cause. Sepulchres - Which by all nations are esteemed sacred and inviolable. He saith not a word of the temple as he spake before a Heathen king who cared for none of these things. I prayed - To direct my thoughts and words, and to incline the king's heart to grant my request.
6 The queen - Which is here noted, as an unusual thing; for commonly the kings of Persia dined alone, and perhaps because the queen expressed some kindness to him, and promoted his request. How long - This question shewed the king's affection to him, and that he was not willing to want his attendance longer than was necessary. A time - He built the walls in fifty two days, chap.6:15, and probably not long after returned to the king, by whom he was sent a second time with a more ample commission.
8 King's forest - Of the forest of Lebanon, famous for choice trees. Palace - Of the king's palace, which was adjoining to the house of God. Enter - That I shall build to dwell in while I am there.
10 Horonite - So called either, from the place of his birth or rule, which is supposed to be Horonaim, an eminent city of Moab. The servant - So called probably from the condition from which he was advanced to his present power and dignity: which also may be mentioned as one reason why he now carried himself so insolently, it being usual for persons suddenly raised from a low state, so to demean themselves.
12 Night - Concealing both his intentions as long as he could, knowing that the life of his business lay in secrecy and expedition. Beast - To prevent noise.
13 I went - The footmen who accompanied him directing and leading him in the way. His design was to go round the city, to observe the compass and condition of the walls and gates, that he might make sufficient provisions for the work.
14 No place - The way being obstructed with heaps of rubbish.
16 That did - Or, were to do, whom he intended to employ in it.
18 Rise up - Let us do it with vigour, and diligence, and resolution, as those that are determined to go through with it. Their hands - Their own and one anothers.
20 No portion - You have no authority over us, nor interest in our church and state, but are aliens from the common - wealth of Israel. Memorial - No testimony, or monument, either of your relation to us by birth or religion, or of your kindness to us, or to this place.

Chapter III

The names of those who presided over the builders, and the parts which each company built, ver. 1 - 32.

1 Eliashib - Grand - child of Joshua, the first high - priest after their return from Babylon. Rose - Began the work. Ministers should be foremost in every good work, animating others by their example as well as doctrine. Sheep - gate - Which was next to the temple; so called, because the sheep were brought thro' it to be sacrificed. Sanctified - Or, they prepared or repaired it: for so the word sometimes signifies. But our translation seems best, both because that use of the word is most common, and because this is spoken only of this gate, which being built by the priests, and nighest to the temple, and with a special eye to the service of the temple, for which both men and things were most commonly brought in this way, and being also the first part of the building, might be in a peculiar manner sanctified by solemn prayer and sacrifice, whereby it was dedicated to God's service.
5 Their nobles - Did not submit to it, would not further it, either through sloth or covetousness, or secret compliance with the enemies of the Jews. Of their Lord - Of God, whom they owned for their Lord, whose work this was, because it had proceeded thus far by his singular providence: and because it was done for the defence of the city, and people, and temple of God. And therefore they are branded to all posterity. Let not nobles think any thing beneath them, by which they may benefit their country. What is their nobility good for, but that it places them in an higher and larger sphere of usefulness?
7 The throne - Unto the place where the governor of the country on this side Euphrates, under the Persian kings, sometimes had a palace or throne.
8 Fortified - It is not said, they repaired, but they fortified it, either because this part of the wall was less demolished than the other, and therefore they needed not to repair it, but only to make it stronger: or, to note their extraordinary care and diligence, that they would not only repair it, but make it stronger than ever.
9 Half part - As Rome was anciently divided into several quarters or regions, so was Jerusalem; and especially into two parts, whereof one was in the tribe of Benjamin, and nearest the temple, the other in the tribe of Judah, these accordingly had two several rulers, this man and the other, ver.12, but both under the chief governor of the city.
12 His daughters - Who were either heiresses or rich widows, and caused part to be done at their charges.
14 Beth - haccerem - A town or territory, the government whereof was divided between two persons.
16 Made - By Hezekiah, 2Kings 20:20. Whereby it is distinguished from that pool which was natural. Mighty - Or, of the valiant: which possibly was formerly appointed for the receipt of those chief captains that should attend upon the king in their courses.
20 Earnestly - Did his work with eminent diligence and fervency: which is here noted to his commendation. And it is probable, this good man's zeal provoked many, to take the more pains, and make the more haste.
21 The door - Therefore the door was not in the middle of the house, as now they commonly are, but at one end of it.
27 Tekoites - The same spoken of before, who having dispatched their first share sooner than their brethren, freely offered to supply the defects of others, who, as it seems, neglected that part of the work which had been committed to them. And this their double diligence is noted both for the greater shame of their nobles, who would not do any part of it, and for their own honour, who were so far from being corrupted by that bad example, that they were quickened to greater zeal and industry in this pious work.
30 The sixth son of Zalaph - It seems, his five elder brethren, laid not their hands to the work. But in doing that which is good, we need not stay to see our betters go before us.

Chapter IV

The enemies scoff, but Nehemiah prays, and continues the work, ver. 1 - 6. To frustrate their design, he prays and sets a guard, ver. 7 - 13. He encourages the workmen, and directs them how to proceed, ver. 14 - 18. His farther directions, ver. 19 - 23.

2 In a day - Do they intend to begin, and finish the work, all in one day? For if they spend any long time about it, they cannot think that we will suffer them to do it. The stones - Will they pick up their broken stones out of the ruins, and patch them together. Burnt - Which stones were burnt, and broken, by the Chaldeans when they took the city.
4 A prey - Give them for a prey to their enemies, and let these carry them into the land of captivity.
5 Cover not - Let their wickedness be in thy sight, so as to bring down judgments upon them, that either they may be reformed, or others may be warned by their example. God is said to cover or hide sin when he forbears to punish it. Provoked thee - They have not only provoked us builders, but thee also.
6 The half - Unto half its height.
10 Judah - The Jews now dwelling in Judah, some of them being partly terrified by their enemies, and partly wearied with continual labour. Rubbish - More than we are able suddenly to remove. Not able - Being forced to spend our time in removing the rubbish, and therefore we must desist for a season.
12 By them - Or, among them: whereby they came to the knowledge of their counsels. Tho' these had not zeal enough to help in the work, yet they had some concern for their brethren. Ten tribes - Very often, a certain number for an uncertain. Be upon you - They will invade you every way, by which we can come to you, or you to us; therefore keep watches on every side.
13 Behind - Within the walls where they were not yet raised to their due height, and therefore most liable to the enemies assault. Higher - Upon the tops of the walls where they were finished, and the towers which were built here and there upon the wall; whence they might shoot arrows, or throw stones.
14 Looked - He looked up, engaged God for him, and put himself and his cause under the Divine protection. That was his way, and should be ours: all his cares, all his griefs, all his fears he spread before God. Great and terrible - You think your enemies are great and terrible. But what are they in comparison of God? Especially in opposition to him?
16 From that time forth - Lest our enemies should repeat their enterprize. My servants - Of my domestick servants, and of my guards. Held, &c. - All their weapons: they stood in their arms prepared for battle. Were behind - To encourage them in their work, sometimes to assist with their own hands: and to direct and command them in case of an assault. Judah - The Jews who were upon the wall.
17 A Weapon - This is to be taken figuratively; being a proverbial speech, as when they say of a man pretending kindness, he carries bread in one hand, and a stone in another. Thus must we work out our salvation, with the weapons of our warfare in our hands. For in every duty we must expect opposition from our spiritual enemies.
18 Sounded - To call the people together, when, and where it was necessary.
23 Washing - When they were to wash and cleanse themselves from some impurity, which might befal them or their garments.

Chapter V

The poor complain of being oppressed by the rich, ver. 1 - 5. Nehemiah removes the oppression, ver. 6 - 13. He sets an example of compassion on the poor, ver. 14 - 19.

2 Many - Which is in itself a blessing, but to us is turned into a curse. Take up - We are forced to take up corn, upon unreasonable terms.
3 The dearth - Which might happen, both from the multitude of the people in and near Jerusalem, from their work, which wholly took them up, and kept them from taking care of their families, and from the expectation of their enemies invasion, which hindered them from going abroad to fetch provision, and the people round about from bringing it to them.
5 Our flesh - We are of the same nature, and religion with them, though they treat us as if we were beasts or Heathens. Bondage - We are compelled to sell them for our subsistence. Daughters - Which was an evidence of their great necessity, because their daughters were more tender, and weak, and unfit for bond - service, and more exposed to injuries than their sons. Redeem - Which we are allowed to do, Exod 21:7 - 11, but have not wherewith to do it.
7 Exact - Which was against the plain and positive law of God, Deut 23:19,20, especially in this time of publick calamity. I set - I called a publick congregation, both of the rulers and people, the greatest part whereof were free from this guilt, and therefore more impartial judges of the matter, and represented it to them, that the offenders might be convinced, and reformed; if not for fear of God, or love of their brethren, yet at least for the publick shame and the cries of the poor. Ezra, and Nehemiah were both good and useful men; but of how different tempers? Ezra was a man of a mild tender spirit, and when told of the sin of the rulers, rent his clothes and wept: Nehemiah forced them to reform, being of a warm and eager spirit. So God's work may be done, and yet different methods taken in doing it; which is a good reason why we should not arraign the management of others, nor make our own standard.
8 We - I, and my brethren, and predecessors, have used our utmost interest and power, both with the kings of Persia, that our brethren might be redeemed from bondage, and with particular persons in Babylon, and Persia, whose bond - slaves the Jews were, and who would not part with them without a price. Be sold - Do you expect that we should pay you a price for them, as we did to the Babylonians?. Or, must we use as much importunity to solicit you for their redemption, as we did to their enemies?
9 Reproach - Who are round about you, and observe all your actions, and will reproach both you for such barbarous usage of your brethren, and religion for your sakes.
10 Brethren - In office; these who are employed with me in the government of this people. Servants - In my name, and for my use. Exact - As a just recompense for our pains and care for the publick good, to which we wholly devote ourselves, even to the neglect of all our private concerns. But I freely remit my own right, and therefore you also ought to do so, seeing I lay no burden upon you, but what I am willing to bear a part of upon my own shoulders.
11 Also - Also require not: which is to be supplied out of the next verse, where it is expressed in their grant of this desire. Hundredth part - Which they required every month for the use of their monies or goods, according to the custom then used.
12 Require - For the hundredth part. Priests - As witnesses; that the oath being taken before the priests, who acted in God's name, the oath might make the more deep and durable impression upon their consciences.
13 My lap - The extreme parts of my garment, which I first folded together, and then shook it and scattered it asunder. This was a form of swearing then in use.
14 Twelve years - Not that he continued so long together at Jerusalem, but he so long governed Jerusalem by himself when present, and in his absence, by a deputy. The bread - That allowance which by the laws of God and nations, and of the king of Persia, the governors might require.
15 The former - Not Ezra, who was no governor, nor Zerubbabel, but others between him and Nehemiah, whom he forbears to name. Beside, &c. - Which they required of the people every day to defray their other expenses. Their servants - Ruled them with rigor and cruelty; which fault of the servants is charged upon their masters, because they did not restrain them. He had an awe of God's mercy, and a fear of offending him. Those that truly fear God, will not dare to do any thing cruel or unjust. And this is not only a powerful, but an acceptable principle both of justice and charity.
16 I continued - Overseeing, directing, and encouraging the workmen, which was my whole business; and this at my own cost. Bought - Of our poor brethren, whose necessities gave abundant opportunity of enriching myself with good bargains.
17 Rulers - Not only Jews of the inferior sort, for whom meaner provisions might suffice, but also their rulers, for whom better provision was fit; who resorted to him upon all occasions, to give him notice of the enemies designs; or to receive his orders.
18 Required not - But bore it out of my own estate: which was very considerable, his office in the Persian court being a place of great profit.
19 According - As I have done thy people good for thy sake, so do me good for thine own sake; for thou art pleased, and hast promised graciously to reward us according to our works, and to mete to men the same measure which they meet to others.

Chapter VI

Nehemiah's answer to his enemies, courting him to an interview, ver. 1 - 4. To their charge of rebellion, ver. 5 - 9. To Shemaiah's false prophecy, ver. 10 - 14. Notwithstanding the treachery of some of the nobles, the work is finished, ver. 15 - 19

1 The doors - Not all of them.
2 Meet - To consult about the common service of our master the king of Persia, or to make a friendly accommodation.
4 Four times, &c. - We must never be overcome by the greatest importunity, to do anything ill or imprudent: but when we are attacked with the same temptation, still resist it with the same reason and resolution.
5 Open letter - As speaking of a thing commonly known.
7 A king - We have now a king of our nation. Counsel - That we may impartially examine the matter, that thy innocency may be cleared.
9 Strengthen my hands - A good prayer, when we are entering on any particular services or conflicts in our Christian warfare.
10 Shut up - In his chamber adjoining to the temple, upon pretence of singular devotion, and communion with God, and withal upon pretence of certain knowledge, by the Spirit of God concerning their approaching danger, from which thy could be safe nowhere but in the temple. For if Nehemiah had done this, the people would have left their work, and every one have shifted for his own safety.
11 As I - I the chief governor, upon whose presence, the very life of the whole city and nation in a great measure depends: I who have professed such resolution, and courage, and confidence in God. I, who have had such eminent experience of God's assistance, of his calling me to this employment, and carrying me through it when our danger was greater than now it is. Shall I now dishonour God and religion, and betray the people and city of God by my cowardice? Go in - Tho' his life depended upon it.
13 And sin - By going into a place forbidden to me, and that in such a manner, which would have been both sinful and shameful. Reproach - As a coward, and conscious of my own guilt, that they might make me contemptible and odious both to my own people, and to the king of Persia.
14 My God, &c. - This prayer we are not to imitate.
15 Elul - Answering part to our August, and part to September.

Chapter VII

Nehemiah appoints persons to keep the city, ver. 1 - 4. Reviews the people, ver. 5 - 7.

3 Hot - 'Till it be clear and broad day; when the people will be ready in case of an assault. They - The watches appointed to that end. Watches - Nehemiah was now about to return to the court, and left the charge of the city to these in his absence.
5 God put it into mine heart - Whatever good motion is in our minds, we must acknowledge it to come from God. What is done by human prudence is to be ascribed to the direction of Divine Providence.
7 Tirshatha - Nehemiah. So it is no wonder that the number of the monies, and other things here contributed, differ from that Ezra 2:68,69, because this is another collection.

Chapter VIII

The solemn reading and expounding of the law, ver. 1 - 8. The joy of the people, ver. 9 - 12. The keeping of the feast of tabernacles, ver. 13 - 18.

2 First 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.
7 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.
8 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.
9 Wept - Out of a sense of their guilt and danger by reason of it.
10 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.
13 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.
15 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.
17 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.

Chapter IX

The people keep a solemn fast, ver. 1 - 3. The Levites bless God for his goodness to them and their fathers, ver. 4 - 8. In Egypt and in their journey out of it, ver. 9 - 12. On mount Sinai, ver. 13, 14. And their journey toward Canaan, ver. 15 - 18. In the wilderness, ver. 19 - 21. In driving out the Canaanites, ver. 22 - 26. In hearing their prayer when in trouble, ver. 27 - 31. They confess their sin, ver. 32 - 37. And seal a covenant with God, ver. 38.

1 Now - The next day, but one after the feast of tabernacles, which begun on the fourteenth day, and ended on the twenty second, for their consciences having been fully awakened and their hearts filled with grief for their sins, which they were not allowed to express in that time of publick joy; now they resume their former thoughts, and recalling their sins to mind, set apart a day for solemn fasting and humiliation.
2 Separated - From all unnecessary society with the Heathens, and particularly from those strange women whom some of them had married. For though Ezra had done this formerly, yet, it seems, there were some criminals, without his knowledge, or, these were some new delinquents, that since that time had fallen into the same error, and shewed the truth of their repentance by forsaking their beloved sins, and dearest relations.
3 Book of the law - As they did before, giving them the sense of what they read. Fourth part - For three hours; there were twelve hours in their day, probably they began after the morning sacrifice, and continued their work till the evening sacrifice. The work of a fast - day is good work. We should endeavour to make a day's work, a good day's work of it.
4 Stairs - Upon such stairs, or pulpits, as the Levites used to stand upon, when they taught the people. But they stood upon several pulpits, each of them teaching that part of the congregation which was allotted him, or praying, or blessing God with them. Loud voice - Thereby testifying their deep sense of their sins and miseries, and their servant, and importunate desire of God's mercy.
13 Good statutes - The moral and judicial precepts were all founded on natural equity. And even the ceremonial were tokens of God's goodness, being types of gospel - grace.
17 Made - Designed, and resolved to do so, Numb 14:4, and therefore they are said to do so, as Abraham is said to have offered up Isaac, Heb 11:17, because he intended to do it.
22 Divide - The Heathen nations, whom God in a great measure destroyed, and the remainders of them he dispersed into corners; that whereas before the Israelites came, they had large habitations, now they were cooped up, some in one town, and some in another, in the several corners of their land, while the Israelites dwelt in a large place, and had the possession of their whole land, some few and small parcels excepted.
32 Mercy - He adds mercy, because the covenant in itself was not a sufficient ground of hope, because they had so basely broken it. God was discharged from keeping it, and therefore they fly to God's free and rich mercy for relief.
33 Thou art just. &c. - It becomes us, when we are under the rebukes of providence, be they ever so sharp, or ever so long continued, still to justify God, and to own we are punished less than our iniquities deserve.
37 Yieldeth much, &c. - We plow, and sow, and labour, and thou givest thy blessing to our endeavours; and yet in a great measure this is not for ourselves, as formerly it was, but for our kings, to whom we pay heavy tributes. Dominion - Pressing or forcing both us and our beasts to go and to do what they please.
38 Sure covenant, &c. - It was sealed and left upon record, that it might be a witness against them, if they dealt deceitfully.

Chapter X

The names of those who set their seal to the covenant, ver. 1 - 27. An account of those who consented thereto, ver. 28 - 31. They engage to adhere to the temple service, ver. 32 - 39.

1 Sealed - Both in their own names, and in the name of all the rest. It may seem strange that Ezra doth not appear among them. But that might be because he was prevented, by some sickness, or other extraordinary impediment. It is true, we meet with Ezra after this, at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem, chap.12:36, and therefore he was then freed from this impediment, whatsoever it was.
29 Their nobles - The commonality agreed with the nobles in this good work, great men never look so great, as when they encourage religion and are examples of it: and they would by that, as much as any thing, make an interest in the most valuable of their inferiors, who would cleave to them closer than they can imagine. Observe their nobles are called their brethren; for in the things of God, rich and poor, high and low meet together. They cleave - They ratified what the others had done in their names, declaring their assent to it.
31 People of the land - The Heathens. On the sabbath - They that covenant to keep all the commandments of God, must particularly covenant to keep the sabbath holy. For the profanation of this is a sure inlet to all manner of profaneness.

Chapter XI

The rulers and men drawn by lot dwell at Jerusalem, ver. 1, 2. Their names, numbers and families, ver. 3 - 19. The cities and villages that were peopled by the rest, ver. 20 - 36.

1 To dwell - That the buildings of the city might be compleated, and the safety of it better provided for.
2 Blessed - Because they denied themselves, and their own safety and profit for the publick good; for this city was the butt of all the malicious plots of their enemies; and for the present it was rather chargeable than beneficial to its inhabitants.
3 Province - Of Judea, which was now made a province. Israel - The generality of the people of Israel, whether of Judah, or Benjamin, or any other tribe. These he calls Israel rather than Judah, because there were many of the other tribes now incorporated with them; and because none of the tribes of Israel, except Judah and Benjamin, dwelt in Jerusalem.
9 Overseer - The captain of their thousand.
16 Outward - For those things belonging to the temple and its service, which were to be done without it, or abroad in the country, as the gathering in of the voluntary contributions, or other necessary provision out of the several parts of the land.
17 To begin - In the publick and solemn prayers and praises, which were constantly joined with the morning and evening sacrifice, at which the singers were present, and praised God with a psalm or hymn which, this man began.
21 The Nethinims dwelt in Ophel - Which was upon the wall of Jerusalem, because they were to do the servile work of the temple: therefore they were to be posted near it, that they might be ready to attend.
24 Was, &c. - Or, on the king's part, to determine civil causes and controversies between man and man, by the laws of that kingdom; between the king and people; as in matters of tribute, or grievances.
36 Divisions - Or, for the Levites (those who were not settled in Jerusalem) there were divisions, places appointed for them, and distributed among them. Thus were they settled free and easy, tho' few and poor. And they might have been happy, but for that general lukewarmness, with which they are charged by the prophet Malachi, who prophesied about this time and in whom prophecy ceased for some ages, 'till it revived in the great prophet.

Chapter XII

The chief of the priests and Levites that came up with Zerubbabel, ver. 1 - 9. The succession of the chief - priests, ver. 10 - 21. The eminent Levites, ver. 22 - 26. The wall dedicated, ver. 27 - 43. The offices of the priests and Levites settled, ver. 44 - 47.

1 Priests - The chief of the priests, the heads of those twenty four courses which David appointed by divine direction, 1Chron 24:1 - 19. And whereas there were twenty four, and here but twenty - two, and ver.12, &c. only twenty, the reason of this difference may be, because two of the twenty four courses were extinct in Babylon, and two of the persons here named, ver.2,5, Hattush, and Maadiah, may be omitted in the account of the posterity of these, ver.12, &c. because they had no posterity. Ezra - Either this was another Ezra, or if it were the same mentioned Ezra 7:1, he lived to a great age; which may well be supposed, considering his great sobriety, and his great piety to which God promised long life, and withal the special providence of God continuing him so long in such a season, wherein the church of God did greatly need his help and counsel.
8 Moreover, &c. - He was to see, that the psalms of thanksgiving were continually sung in the temple, in due time and manner.
10 Jeshua - Here follows a catalogue of the Jewish high - priests; which was the more necessary, because their times were now to be measured, not by the years of their kings as formerly, but by their high - priests.
12 Priests - As their fathers were priests in the days of Joshua, so in the days of Joiakim the son of Joshua, the sons of those persons executed the priesthood in their father's steads, some of their fathers probably being yet living, and many of them dead.
22 Darius - Darius Noehus; and so this Jaddua might be father to him who was in the days of Darius Codomanus, and of Alexander the Great.
27 The wall - Of the city itself, which is here dedicated to God, and to his honour and service, not only upon a general account, by which we ought to devote ourselves, and all that is ours, to God; but upon a more special ground, because this was a place which God himself had chosen, and sanctified by his temple and gracious presence, and therefore did of right belong to him; whence it is often called the holy city. And they restored it to God by this dedication, withal imploring the presence, and favour, and blessing of to this city by solemn prayers, and praises, and sacrifices, wherewith this dedication was accompanied. Places - To which they were now retired after that great and general assembly, chap. 8, 9, & 10. Ne 8:1 &c.
30 Purified themselves - They that would be instrumental to sanctify others, must sanctify themselves, and set themselves apart for God, with purity of mind and sincerity of intention.
31 Princes - And half of the people with them. The wall - For the wall was broad and strong, and so ordered that men might conveniently walk upon it. Right hand - Towards the south and east.
39 Stood still - Waiting, as also their brethren did, that they might go together in due order into God's house, there to perfect the solemnity.
43 The children rejoiced - And their hosanna's were not despised, but are recorded to their praise. All that share in public mercies, ought to join in public thanksgivings.
44 Rejoiced - For the eminent gifts and graces which they observed in many of them: for the great benefit which they had now received by their ministry: and for the competent provision which hereby was made for them, that so they might wholly wait upon their office. The sure way for ministers to gain an interest, in the affections of their people, is to wait on their ministry, to spend their whole time, and thought, and strength therein.
45 The ward - That ward, or charge, which God had prescribed to them. And in particular the charge of purification, of taking care that no unclean person or thing should enter into the house or courts of the Lord.
47 Sanctified - They set apart the first - fruits and tithes from their own share, and devoted them to the use of the Levites. And so did the Levites by the tithe of the tithes. Thus they all conscientiously paid their dues, and did not profane those things which God had sanctified, nor take them into their own common use. When what is contributed for the support of religion, is given with an eye to God, it is sanctified, and will cause the blessing to rest upon the house, and all that is therein.

Chapter XIII

The Israelites are separated from the mixt multitude, ver. 1 - 3. Nehemiah cleansed the chambers of the temple, ver. 4 - 9. He recovers and secures the portion of the priests and Levites, ver. 10 - 14. Contends with the nobles concerning the sabbath, and takes care for the due observance of it, ver. 15 - 22. Restrains them from marrying strange wives, ver. 23 - 31.

1 That day - Not presently after the dedication of the wall and city, but upon a certain day, when Nehemiah was returned from the Persian court to Jerusalem, from which he had been absent for some considerable time, in which some errors and abuses had crept in. Not come - Not be incorporated into the common - wealth of Israel, nor be joined with any Israelite in marriage.
3 Multitude - All the heathenish people with whom they had contracted alliance.
4 Eliashib - The high - priest. Chamber - Of the chambers, the high - priest having the chief power over the house of God, and all the chambers belonging to it. Tobiah - The Ammonite, and a violent enemy to God's people.
5 Prepared - By removing the things out of it, uniting divers small chambers into one, and furnishing it for the use of Tobiah when he came to Jerusalem: whom he seems to have lodged there, that he might have more free communication with him.
6 But, &c. - Eliashib took the occasion of my absence to do these things. Came I - From Jerusalem; where he had been once and again.
8 Grieved me - That so sacred a place should be polluted by one who in many respects ought not to come there, being no priest, a stranger, an Ammonite, and one of the worst of that people; and that all this should be done by the permission and order of the high - priest.
10 Not given - Which might be either,
  1. from this corrupt high - priest Eliashib, who took their portions, as he did the sacred chambers, to his own use, or employed them for the entertainment of Tobiah, and his other great allies. Or,
  2. from the people, who either out of covetousness reserved them to themselves, contrary to their own solemn agreement, or were so offended at Eliashib's horrid abuse of sacred things, that they abhorred the offering and service of God, and therefore neglected to bring in their tithes, which they knew would be perverted to bad uses.
Fled - To his possession in the country, being forced to do so for a livelihood.
11 Contended - I sharply reproved those priests to whom the management of those things was committed, for neglect of their duty, and breach of their late solemn promise. Why, &c. - You have not only injured men in with - holding their dues, but you have occasioned the neglect of God's house and service. Gathered - To Jerusalem from their several country possessions. Set - Restored them to the exercise of their office.
12 Bought - Out of the respect which they had to Nehemiah, and because they saw they would now be applied to their proper uses.
13 Faithful - By the consent of those who knew them. Such he now sought out the more diligently, because he had experience of the perfidiousness of the former trustees.
16 Jerusalem - The holy city, where God's house was; and where the great judicatories of the nation were. So this is added as an aggravation of their sin, that it was done with manifest contempt of God and man.
17 Nobles - Their chief men and rulers; whom he charges with this sin, because though others did it, it was by their countenance or connivance: probably too by their example. If the nobles allowed themselves in recreations, in idle visits and idle talk on the sabbath day, the men of business would profane it by their worldly employments, as the more justifiable of the two.
19 At the gates - Out of a diffidence in those, to whom the keeping of the gates was committed.
22 Cleanse - Because the work they now were set upon, though common in its nature, yet was holy in design of it, and had respect unto the sabbath: and, because the day in which they were to do this was the sabbath - day, for the observation whereof they were obliged to purify themselves. Gates - The gates of the city; not daring to trust the common porters, he commits the charge of them upon the sabbath - days, to the Levites, to whom the care of sanctifying the sabbath did properly belong. Mercy - Whereby he intimates, that though he mentioned his good - works, as things wherewith God was well - pleased, and which he had promised to reward, yet he neither did, nor durst trust to their merit, or his own worthiness, but, when he had done all, he judged himself an unprofitable servant, and one that needed God's infinite mercy to pardon all his sins, and particularly those infirmities and corruptions which adhered to his good deeds.
25 Cursed - Caused them to be excommunicated and cast out of the society of God's people. This and the following punishments were justly inflicted upon them, because this transgression was contrary both to a plain law of God, and to their own late solemn covenants. Smote - I caused to be beaten with stripes, according to the law, Deut 25:2, such whose faults were most aggravated; to whom he added this punishment over and above the former. Plucked off - Or, shaved them. The hair was an ensign of liberty among the eastern nations; and baldness was a disgrace, and token of slavery and sorrow.
28 And one, &c. - Said by Josephus to be that Manasses, who by Sanballat's interest procured liberty to build the Samaritan temple in mount Gerizim; to which those priests who had married strange wives, or been otherwise criminal, betook themselves, and with, or after them, others of the people in the same or like circumstances. Chased - From my presence and court, from the city and temple, and from the congregation and church of Israel.
31 For good - This may well be the summary of our petitions. We need no more to make us happy but this.

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