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Nehemiah - Chapter 10
"A Sure Covenant," 9:36; Verses 1-27
The last verse of chapter 9 introduces the subject of chapter 10. As the prayer of the Levites concluded it proposed a covenant to be attested by the leading men, Levites, and priests of Judah, by which they would agree to abide by the law of God with reference to His worship. By a "sure covenant" is meant an agreement, or document, sealed by the affixing of the names of these leading persons entering into it
The covenant signers begin .with the name of Nehemiah, the Trshatha, or governor. Then follow in order the priests, the Levites, and the "chief of the people." Of the priests there are named twenty-two; of the Levites, seventeen; of the leaders, forty-four. Most of these are not mentioned elsewhere in the Scriptures, although the Levitical teachers introduced in chapter 9 are among those listed here. Notably absent from those named is Ezra the scribe, for no known reason. Perhaps his piety and dedication to the Lord was so outstanding it seemed superfluous to have his name appended to the covenant.
Promises, Verses 28-39
The covenanters also included all those people, priests, Levites, porters (or gatekeepers), singers Nethinim (temple servants) who separated themselves thereby to the Lord to seek His will. All these separated themselves from the foreigners who lived in Judah, and swore not to give their daughters in marriage to them, nor to take their daughters for their sons. The oath included even the young adolescents old enough to understand what was being done. By their oath they took to themselves a curse should they fail to abide by their agreement to keel. the law of God as it was given to Moses.
A number of other promises were made relative to the law by the covenant. They swore not to buy the goods of the foreigners who brought them to be sold on the sabbath or on a holy day. They agreed to allow the land to lie fallow in the sabbath (or seventh) year and to forgive debtors during that year. They agreed to institute payment of one-third shekel annually for the service of the house of God. This was to be used for the shewbread, grain offering, burnt offering which were offered every day and on special occasions as the sabbath, new moon, etc., when the offerings were increased to make atonement for Israel.
The wood offering to be used with burnt offerings seems to have become a problem for them since their return to the land. A likely reason for this is the denuding of the nearby forests in the siege of Jerusalem. Also the number of temple servants who once had the task of supplying the wood were too few now to furnish it all. Therefore the people, priests, and Levites cast lots for specific assignments to supply the wood at certain times of the year. They also agreed to bring the firstfruits of their farms, including the fruits of the vines and trees. Those who raised cattle agreed to bring the firstborn of their herds and flocks as the law required to supply the need of the priests who ministered in the temple.
Among the things specifically promised by the covenant to the Lord were the first ground meal of the new crop, the first ripe fruit, first new wine and olive oil, along with the tithes of all their increase. In the outlying towns it was the responsibility of the resident Levites to receive this tithe. The high priests were to oversee the Levites’ collection of these things, for the Levites were required to give their own tithe of the things given to them as tithed. These were to be kept in specially prepared chambers at the temple. Verse 39 admonishes them to bring the contributions to the sanctuary as the law required. The agreement closed with the words, "Thus we will not neglect (or forsake) the house of our God." All these things were in keeping with the Lord’s expectations of His people (cf. 1 Corinthians 14:40).
Some practical lessons from Nehemiah, chapter 10: 1) when people get out of God’s service they need to renew their vows to Him; 2) real dedication begins with separation from the world; 3) whatever is necessary for the orderly progress of the Lord’s worship should be gladly furnished by His servants; 4) to the Lord belongs the very first.
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Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Nehemiah 10". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13