NEHEMIAH CHAPTER 10.
The Covenant Made by the Jews.
THE SIGNERS OF THE COVENANT. — V. 1. Now, those that sealed were, literally, “those on the sealings,” that is, the names of those appearing on the sealed documents: Nehemiah, the Tirshatha, he being the first signer, not only by virtue of his office as the representative of the Persian monarch, but also on account of his own individual zeal for the cause, the son of Hachaliah, and Zidkijah; v.2. Seraiah, Azariah, Jeremiah, v. 3. Pashur, Amariah, Malchijah, v.4. Hattush, Shebaniah, Malluch, v. 6. Harim, Meremoth, Obadiah, v. 6. Daniel, Ginnethon, Baruch, v. 7. Meshullam, Abijah, Mijamin, v. 8. Maaziah, Bilgai, Shemaiah. These were the priests. Throughout the list there is little value in attempting to identify these men, for most of them are common names and were not confined to any one family. V. 9. And the Levites: both Jeshua, the son of Azaniah, Binnui, of the sons of Henadad, Kadmiel, v. 10. and their brethren: Shebaniah, Hodijah, Kelita, Pelaiah, Hauan, v. 11. Micha, Rehob, Hashabiah, v. 12. Zaccur, Sherebiah, Shebaniah, v. 13. Hodijah, Rant, Beninu. Some of these at least are identical with the Levites named in chap. 9, 4. 5. V. 14. The chief of the people, the elders who represented the entire nation: Parosh, Pahath-moab, Elam, Zatthu, Bani, v. 15. Bunni, Azgad, Rebai, v. 16. Adonijah, Bigvai, Adin, v. 17. Ater, Hizkijah, Azzur, v. 18. Hodijah, Hashum, Bezai, v. 19. Hariph, Anathoth, Nebai, v. 20. Magpiash, Meshullam, Hesir, v. 21. Meshesabeel, Zadok, Jaddua, v. 22. Pelatiah, Hanan, Anaiah, v. 23. Hoshea, Hananiah, Hashub, v. 24. Hallohesh, Pileha, Shobek, v. 25. Rehum, Hashabnah, Maaseiah, v. 26. and Ahijah, Hanan, Anan, v. 27. Malluch, Harim, Baanah, some of whom took a very prominent part in the affairs of the people. As these eighty-three heads of families subscribed the covenant for the congregation, so the voting members of a Christian congregation assume the responsibility for the preaching of the Word and pledge their support by signing the constitution.
THE PROVISIONS OF THE COVENANT. — V. 28. And the rest of the people, those who had not personally subscribed the covenant and yet were in hearty accord with all its provisions, the priests, the Levites, the porters, the singers, the Nethinim, and all they that had separated themselves from the people of the lands unto the Law of God, by repudiating both mixed marriages and all other intercourse which might lead to indifference and carelessness toward the pure religion, their wives, their sons, and their daughters, every one having knowledge and having understanding, those who had the correct idea regarding the will of the Lord and were ready to uphold the right understanding in their entire lives, v. 29. they gave to their brethren, standing upon the side of those who had sealed the covenant, their nobles, and entered into a curse and into an oath to walk in God’s Law which warn 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, calling down the curse of God upon themselves if they would violate their promise; v. 30. and that we would not give our daughters unto the people of the land, nor take their daughters for our sons, thus doing away with the evil of mixed marriages entirely; v. 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, on any festival-day fixed by the ordinance of God; and that we would leave the seventh year, that is, leave the land fallow each seventh year, Ex. 23, 11, and the exaction of every debt, remitting in the seventh year the debt of every person, as the Law required, Deut. 15, 2. V. 32. Also we made ordinances for us to charge ourselves yearly with the third part of a shekel (about 21 cents) for the service of the house of our God, this sum being afterwards raised to a halt-shekel, Matt. 17, 24, v. 33. for the showbread, that for the Holy Place, which was renewed every Sabbath, Lev. 24,5, and for the continual meat-offering, and for the continual burnt offering, Num. 28 and 29, the regular sacrifices, both for week-days and for the holidays, 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, on the annual Day of Atonement, and for all the work of the house of our God. All these expenses were met with the annual tax of the Sanctuary which the people here imposed upon themselves. V. 34. And we cast the lots among the priests, the Levites, and the people for the wood-offering, for large quantities of wood were used for the sacrifices of the Temple, to bring it into the house of our God, after the houses of our fathers, in a certain rotation, at times appointed year by year, to burn upon the altar of the Lord, our God, as it is written in the Law, Lev. 6, 12; the small number of returned Nethinim making this burden too heavy for them, the work was distributed in this manner and the Feast of Wood-offering thus instituted, which was celebrated on the 14th of Ab (August); v. 35. and to bring the first-fruits of our ground and the first-fruits of all fruit of all trees, year by year, unto the house of the Lord, Ex. 23, 19; 34, 26; Lev. 19, 23; Deut. 26, 2; v.36. also the first-born of our sons and of our cattle, as it is written in the Law, Ex. 13, 2. 12. 13, a special offering being brought for the release of the first-born sons, Num. 18, 15. 16, 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; v. 37. and that we should bring the first-fruits of our dough, of groats, or ground barley, and our offerings, the voluntary gifts, 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, where there were cells with special receptacles for storing such offerings, and the tithes of our ground unto the Levites, Lev. 27, 30; Num. 18, 21, that the same Levites might have the tithes in all the cities of our tillage. V. 38. And the priest, the son of Aaron, shall be with the Levites when the Levites take tithes, the dignity of the priest insuring a peaceful and honest delivery of the tithes, both by the people to the Levites and by the Levites to the Temple; and the Levites shall bring up the tithe of the tithes, the tenth part of their income being given to the priests, Num. 18, 26-28, unto the house of our God, to the chambers, into the treasure-house, for in one of the buildings of the Temple area the treasury of the Temple was kept. V. 39. For the children of Israel and the children of Levi shall bring the offering of the corn, of the new wine, as just produced from the grapes of the year, and the oil, the olive-oil, as it came from the presses, unto the chambers where are the vessels of the Sanctuary, the Temple goods, and the priests that minister, and the porters, in charge of the Temple gates, and the singers, in charge of the liturgical part of the Temple worship; and we will not forsake the house of our God. It was a vow inspired by ardent devotion and made in all sincerity. The believers of the New Testament, in exercising their Christian liberty, pledge themselves to support the needs of the Church at home and abroad, to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ in all the world.