Bible Commentaries

Nehemiah 13

Verses 1-31

In this final section we have the account of Nehemiah's last reformation, After building the wall he had evidently gone back to the court of the king. Twelve years later, seeking permission, he returned, and the last deeds recorded were such as reveal the continued strength and loyalty of the man.

Four abuses confronted him. Without the slightest hesitation, or any sign of weakness in his method, he set himself to correct them. Eliashib, the priest, had given place, within the very Temple of God, to the man Tobiah, who had done so much to hinder the work of building the wall. Nehemiah arrived, flung out the occupant and furniture, and restored the chamber to its proper use. He found, in the second place, that the Levites, instead of being able to devote their whole time to the service of the Temple, had to earn their living, because the people had neglected to bring in the tithe. He contended with the nobles, and corrected this abuse. Moreover, he found that the Sabbath of the Lord was violated, and restored the divine order in this matter. Finally, he found that the people had made mixed marriages again, and with characteristic roughness and force he dealt with the matter. No words can better convey the impression than his own: "I contended with them, and cursed them, and smote certain of them, and plucked off their hair, and made them swear by God." One can understand Nehemiah's anger by comparing these abuses, which he had to stop, with the terms of the covenant made by them on the day of dedication (chapter 10).