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Nehemiah 7:73—Nehemiah 8:12.—Ezra instructs the people in the law.
Nehemiah 7:73.—And when the seventh month came.—Here a new subject begins, as in Ezra, whom Nehemiah copies: adopting a sentence, just as Ezra adopted the last words of the Chronicles, and with similar slight changes.
(1) As one man.—The unanimity rather than the number is emphatic here.
And they spake unto Ezra.—Who appears in this book for the first time, having probably been at the court for twelve years.
(2) Both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding.—Men, women, and children who had reached years of discretion.
Upon the first day of the seventh month.—As the seventh was the most important month, in a religious sense, so the first day, the Feast of Trumpets, was the most important new moon (Leviticus 23:24).
(3) From the morning.—From daylight. The Book of the Law must have been a comprehensive one. Out of it Ezra and his companions read hour after hour, selecting appropriate passages.
And the ears of all the people . . . unto the book.—A general statement; the detail now follows.
(4) Pulpit of wood.—Literally, a tower of wood. Fourteen persons, however, were on what is afterwards called a platform, or stair, by his side.
(6) And Ezra blessed the Lord.—The book was formally and solemnly opened in the sight of the people. At this request the multitude arose, and, after a doxology offered by Ezra, they all uttered a double Amen, “with lifting up of their hands,” in token of their most fervent assent; and then “with faces bowed to the ground,” in token of adoration.
The great God is Nehemiah’s expression, not Ezra’s; the sentence used is not reported.
(8) Gave the sense.—They expounded obscurer passages, and in doing so naturally translated into the vernacular Aramaic dialect.
Caused them to understand the reading.—This simply explains the former: they expounded as they read.
(9) Mourn not, nor weep.—The days of high festival were unsuitable for public and, as it were, objective sorrow. The Day of Atonement was coming for that; as also the special day of fasting and covenant, which was already in the plan of Nehemiah and Ezra.
(10) For the joy of the Lord is your strength This beautiful sentence is, literally, delight in Jehovah is a strong refuge. It is capable of unlimited application in preaching and devotion.
(11) So the Levites.—As before, what Ezra said was repeated to the people in various directions by the Levites. But there was evidently an almost irrepressible emotion.
(12) They had understood.—They had caught the meaning of the command to rejoice.
(13) The chief of the fathers.—Not the vast multitude now, as the great feast was not yet.
Even to understand.—To consider, or give attention to: that is, to learn the full meaning of the almost forgotten festival. The dwelling in booths had fallen into disuse.
(13-18) The Feast of Tabernacles.
(15) Saying.—There is no such command in Leviticus; the Septuagint inserts, “And Ezra spake.” But it is better to adopt Houbigant’s slight emendation of the text, which thus runs: “And when they heard it, they proclaimed,” &c. The command, then, is to go out to the Mount of Olives, and gather, not precisely the branches which the ancient law required, but such as circumstances allowed.
(16) And in their courts.—Not only on the roofs, but in the internal courtyards.
Of the house of God.—The ministers of the Temple made these; and strangers to Jerusalem made them in the streets or open spaces near the gates.
(17) The children of the captivity.—The pathos of this designation is evident here.
Done so.—Though the feast had been kept (1 Kings 8:0; Ezra 3:0), it had never thus been kept with universal dwelling in booths.
(18) According unto the manner.—For the Azereth, or supplementary feast day, see Leviticus 23:36.
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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Nehemiah 8". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany