Neh 10: After Ezra's prayer on behalf of the nation, in Neh 9,
the people were prepared to seal the covenant with Yahweh, and to dedicate
themselves to His service. Four groups sealed the covenants, presumably as
representatives of the whole of the nation: (1) The governor: v 1; (2) the
priests (the heads of 21 priestly families): vv 2-8; (3) the Levites (17
mentioned): vv 9-13; and (4) and the chief of the people (44 heads of other
leading families): vv 14-27.
The phrases "house of our God" and "house of Yahweh" occur
nine times in this chapter, emphasizing the importance of the work. The
Levitical tithe (v 37) was apparently stored in some neighbouring Levitical city
of Jerusalem. It was important to sustain the work of the restoration and
development of the congregation by the donations from the people. The tithes
that the Levites gave to the priests were of the tithes they received from the
people (v 38). Thus was the work of Yahweh supported, and identified with the
"Neh 10 lists the names of those who, in response to the
realisation of their sinfulness, put their names to the covenant promising to
keep the law. Notice that Nehemiah is the first one who put his name to the
covenant -- even though he had not sinned like the rest of the people... It
would be so easy to stand aside from such a signing on the basis that one had
not done anything wrong; however, Nehemiah signs first to mark his willingness
to be involved with the people and to set an example" (PF).
"The summary of these two chapters goes like this: 'You are a
great God who has done awesome things for us and our ancestors. But we have
sinned against You and You were angry with us, but in Your mercy You have
brought us back. Now we promise to reform our ways and put you first in our
lives again. From now on we will do only the things that please You.' Do we say
prayers like that? When we originally began our new life in Christ we probably
prayed a similar prayer of praise, repentance and reformation. The question we
need to ask ourselves is: how long did it last? Maybe you are one of those
really good people who made the commitment once and have never looked back --
because you have stayed committed all the way through. Or maybe you are more
like me, who find that we gradually get off track and need to have a big reform
sometimes. Or maybe you are the type of person who has consciously reform for
God every week or every day. For those of us in the last two groups, we need to
work on our long-term commitment and keeping the promises we made consistently.
But in all that, remember that God is still willing to forgive when we truly
turn back to him" (RP).
Why is Ezra not mentioned as sealing the covenant? Probably
because he was officiating at the ceremony -- in the place of the High Priest
and as the representative of God Himself.
Why is Eliashib the High Priest not mentioned? Probably
because he had turned away from Nehemiah's party. Were Eliashib and his
followers responsible for the apostasy of Neh 13? See Neh 3:1n.
THOSE WHO SEALED IT: That is, the covenant first
mentioned in Neh 9:38.
TEMPLE SERVANTS: Or "Nethinim" (AV). They are said
specifically to be those "whom David and the princes had appointed for the
service of the Levites" (Ezr 8:20), thus indicating both their realm of activity
and their historical origin. In most of the occurrences they are listed with and
after the Levites (cf 1Ch 9:2; Ezr 7:7; Neh 7:73). Because of this reference to
the activity of David and their being joined with Solomon's servants (Ezr 2:58;
Neh 7:60; cf 1Ki 9:21) and the foreign names that they bear, it has been thought
that they were foreigners, mostly captives of war, put into this service. For
example, Mehunim (Ezr 2:50; Neh 7:52) may refer to those overcome by Uzziah (2Ch
26:7). Nephusim (Ezr 2:50; Neh 7:52) may refer to the Hagarite clan of Naphish
(Gen 25:15; 1Ch 5:19). Because of the similarity of duty, some have sought their
background in the Gibeonites, "hewers of wood and drawers of water for the house
of my God" (Jos 9:23,27) and also in the Midianites (Num 31:30,47). The
correlation is probably no more than that of similarity of service, not direct
relationship. Whatever may be the roots of their origin, they were treated as
part of the people of God, at least as proselytes (Neh 10:28...). They are
mentioned by name in the OT in post-Exilic times. From Babylon 612 returned, 392
with Zerubbabel (Ezr 2:58: Neh 7:60) a count which includes "the children of
Solomon's servants") and 220 with Ezra (Ezr 8:20) as "ministers for the house of
our God" from the place Casiphia (Ezr 8:17) "in the seventh year of Artaxerxes
the king (Ezr 7:7). Like other sacred ministers, they were exempted from
taxation (Ezr 7:24).
AND BIND THEMSELVES WITH A CURSE: Submission to the
curse that God promised would come on those who did not keep His Word (Deu
Marriage with the alien forbidden.
Observance of the Sabbath: cp Exo 20:10; Isa
ANY HOLY DAY: Special feast days: Exo 12:16; Lev
EVERY SEVENTH YEAR WE WILL FORGO WORKING THE LAND AND WILL
CANCEL ALL DEBTS: Exo 23:10,11; Lev 25:2-7.
THE COMMANDMENT TO GIVE A THIRD OF A SHEKEL EACH YEAR FOR
THE SERVICE OF THE HOUSE OF THE LORD: The Law had originally required 1/2
shekel (Exo 30:11-16). Perhaps this is additional, or perhaps the original 1/2
shekel was not necessarily continued for every year. Or perhaps the annual levy
was reduced because the people were poor.
CAST LOTS: See 1Ch 24:5,7; 25:8,9; 26:13; Pro 18:18;
Josh 14:1,2; Luke 1:9.
A CONTRIBUTION OF WOOD: Required for the burning of the
THE LEVITES ARE TO BRING A TENTH OF THE TITHES: The
provision which the Levites gave to the priests: 10% of 10%, or 1% (Num