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Bible Commentaries
Nehemiah 13

Haydock's Catholic Bible CommentaryHaydock's Catholic Commentary

Verse 1

That day, is often used for an indefinite time. (Haydock) --- It is not probable that all this happened when the walls were dedicated. After that event, Nehemias rather went to court, and remained there about ten years. During his absence, many abuses crept in, which he endeavoured to remedy, (ver. 7.) perhaps on the solemn day of tabernacles, when the law had been read. --- Ever, (Deuteronomy xxiii. 3.) so as to marry. (Calmet)

Verse 3

Stranger. Hebrew hereb, "mixture," (Haydock) infidel women and their offspring.

Verse 4

Over this things, &c. Or, he was faulty in this thing, or in this kind. (Challoner) --- He was the source of all this evil. Hebrew, "and before this Eliasib," &c. It is probable that he was a different person from the high priest, (Usher) who had married his grandson to the daughter of Sanaballat, the intimate friend of Tobias. (Calmet) --- The latter was a persecutor, and prefigured heretics, as Nehemias did our Saviour, who drove traffickers out of the temple. (Ven. Bede in Esdras, L. iii. 19.) (Worthington)

Verse 5

He. Eliasib, or Tobias. The original is also ambiguous. Eliasib probably permitted Tobias to furnish himself apartments in the temple, where, by law, he was not allowed to enter. Hence the priests, being deprived of their support, were forced to retire. (Calmet) --- Tobias rented the apartments, and was steward of the priests’ revenues. (Tirinus)

Verse 6

Days. Prefixed (chap. ii. 6.) I asked. Hebrew, "was required to attend by the king," for about ten years. After which period, I returned and found such disorders. Some believe that Nehemias had been at Babylon, a long while before the 32d year of the king.

Verse 8

And I. Nehemias acted as governor, and performed the duty which the high priest neglected. (Calmet)

Verse 9

Storehouses, which had been profaned by the presence of a pagan. (Menochius) --- Sacrifice. Hebrew mincha, "offerings of flour, fruits, and liquors," which were kept in the storehouses, as well as frankincense. Eliasib had caused these things to be removed, to make place for Tobias. (Calmet)

Verse 10

Country. Hebrew, "field," that he might cultivate it, (Haydock) and get food. (Menochius)

Verse 11

Pleaded. Accusing them of treachery, in not opposing the wicked attempt. --- Have we. He placed himself in the number of the guilty, in order to soften the reproach. (Septuagint, &c.) (Calmet) --- "Why is the house of God forsaken?" (Protestants)

Verse 14

And his. Hebrew, "its offices," and for the good of the sacred ministers. (Haydock)

Verse 15

Treading. Syriac and Arabic, "travelling."

Verse 16

Tyrians. Who had established themselves there, for the sake of commerce, though the chosen people ought to have kept them at a great distance, for fear of seduction. (Calmet)

Verse 18

Fathers. Though warned by Jeremias, xvii. 21. (Menochius)

Verse 19

At rest. People travelling no longer. (Calmet) --- Hebrew, "shaded, or in the dark." Before Friday night on, the sabbath commenced, and then the gates were shut. (Haydock) --- On the. Hebrew, "before the sabbath." (Menochius)

Verse 21

On you. To punish you, (Calmet) for thus endeavouring to tempt the people. (Haydock)

Verse 22

Gates. The Levites would more conscientiously discharge their duty, (Menochius) and restrain the people, so that they might keep the day holy. (Haydock)

Verse 23

Azotus. In the country of the Philistines.

Verse 24

Half. In the same family, some spoke the Philistine (Vatable) or Phenician language: others the Hebrew; which, though it resembled the other very much, was still sufficiently distinct to be noticed. The children might also speak a jargon, composed of both languages. It is probable that, at this time, many of the common people spoke the Chaldean language, so that it was necessary to interpret pure Hebrew to them, chap. viii. 8.

Verse 25

Curse, or excommunicated them, (Calmet) the guilty parents. (Haydock) --- Shaved. Hebrew and Septuagint, "plucked off their hair," by the roots, for greater torment. Sometimes quicklime was then sprinkled on the head, (Calmet) as adulterers were treated at Athens. Schol. Aristoph.[Aristophanes?] --- King Artaxerxes changed this punishment, and ordered that his officers should be forbidden to wear the tiara instead. Domitian caused the hair and beard of Apollonius to be shaven. (Philost. iii. 14.) (Calmet) --- That they. Hebrew, "Ye shall not," &c.

Verse 27

Also be. Hebrew, "hearken unto you;" (Protestants; Haydock) or "Have ye not heard the evils which fell upon our fathers (Calmet) for doing all?" &c. (Haydock)

Verse 28

One. Manasses, brother of Jaddus. (Josephus, [Antiquities?] xi. 8.) --- Sanaballet, noted for his enmity towards the Jews, chap. vi. 1. He obtained leave of Alexander to build the famous temple on Garizim, for this son-in-law. He must have been 150 yeas old when Alexander laid siege to Tyre, the year of the world 3672. Esdras and Nehemias were noted for their great age. Yet some would suppose that there were two of the name of Sanaballet; and Josephus says that the one in question was appointed governor of Samaria by Darius, the last king of the Persians. This opinion is adopted by Usher, the year of the world 3972. (Tirinus, &c.) --- But there is still a difficulty to know whether it be necessary. (Calmet) --- From me. In revenge he set up an opposition altar. (Haydock) --- He had contracted a marriage, which was unlawful for all, and entailed degradation upon priests.

Verse 31

Wood. Conformably to the regulations mentioned, chap. x. 34. (Calmet) --- Good. A just man may confidently beg for a reward. (Worthington) --- Amen, is not found in Hebrew, &c. The Holy Spirit records the praises of Nehemias, Ecclesiasticus xlix. 15. His political and moral virtues must ever assign him an exalted rank among the true Israelites. Like Jesus Christ, he rebuilt Jerusalem, reformed the nation, was the mediator of a new covenant, defended the rights of the priesthood and of all the people. (Calmet)


The third and fourth Books of Esdras, and the prayer of Manasses, (Worthington) are found in many Latin Bibles, (Haydock) and translated in that of Douay, (Worthington) as works of dubious authority. Calmet also inserts the third and fourth books of Machabees. (Haydock) --- Protestants class under the same head the books of Tobias, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, and Machabees, (Worthington) with Baruch, and parts of Esther and Daniel, &c. (Haydock) --- They acknowledge that they are, "holy and worthy to be read in the Church, but not sufficient to prove points of faith." The truth is, they find them too opposite to their creed; as St. Augustine (prædest. SS. C. xiv.) observes was the case with some heretics, who rejected the Book of Wisdom. (Worthington) --- The pretence that these Books were not admitted by many ancient Fathers, would equally strike out of the canon the Epistle to the Hebrews, those of St. James and St. Jude, the second and third of St. Peter, and of St. John, and the Apocalypse, the authority of all which was formerly warmly controverted, (Haydock) and only admitted by degrees: (Worthington) paulatim tempore procedente meruit auctoritatem. (St. Jerome, in Jacobo.) --- This holy doctor doubted (Prideaux) whether the book of Judith was canonical, till he found the decision of the Council of Nice. The declaration of the Church is the only sure rule by which matters of this nature can be decided. (Haydock) --- "I would not believe the gospel, unless I were influenced to do it by the authority of the Catholic Church." (St. Augustine, contra ep. Fund. c. 5.) --- This Church has spoken in favor of the controverted Books of the Old Testament, as much as for those of the New; so that the inconsistency of Protestants cannot pass unnoticed. If they had asserted that they appealed only to the private spirit, they might have been acceptable at least to fanatics; but now they attempt to follow the Catholic rule, and yet reject it the next moment! If we would relinquish all the parts ’of Scripture which have been called in question, what book would be safe? Some have been indeed more universally admitted, and may therefore be styled protocanonical, while the deuterocanonical books were recognized rather later; and after all difficulties had been maturely discussed, as has been the case with other articles of faith. But the declaration being promulgated sooner or later, does not alter the truth. The will of God, notified to us by his Church, is our infallible guide. This is the canon, or "rule," (Haydock) to regulate our imperfect knowledge. (St. Augustine, contra Faust. xi. 5., and contra Crescon. ii. 32.) --- In this sense the Council of Carthage, (A.D. 419) styles these contested books, "canonical and divine:" and the ancient Popes, Innocent I and Gelasius, as well as St. Augustine, (Doct. ii. 8.) St. Isidore, (Etym. vi. 1.) and others, place them on a level with the other parts of Scripture, as has been done by the general Councils of Florence and of Trent. If the Jews did not admit them into their canon, it was because they were not extant in the Hebrew language, (Haydock) or known when the canon was closed by Esdras, (Huet; Du Hamel) or afterwards. (Haydock) --- Besides, who sees not that the canon of the Church is preferable to that of the synagogue? (Worthington) --- Otherwise how shall we receive the New Testament. (Haydock) --- Many of the Fathers referred only to the Jewish canon, when they gave catalogues of the sacred books. (Calmet) --- We shall find that they generally admitted the authority of what the Protestants style Apocrypha, and that they were far from considering them (Haydock) as "romances," (Fagius) or inducements" to vice and superstitious practices, under the semblance of virtue," (Button) as some have now the boldness to assert. They might well shew so much deference to the judgment of the majority of Christians, as to abstain from such censures. (Haydock)

Verse 46


Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Nehemiah 13". "Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hcc/nehemiah-13.html. 1859.
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