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Bible Commentaries

Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Nehemiah 8

Verse 1

Were in, or had been at home, (Haydock) after the dedication of the walls, (Calmet) till they assembled (Haydock) at the beginning of the civil year, on the feast of trumpets, which was a day of rejoicing, (ver. 9., and Numbers xxix. 1.) the festival of the new moon. (Riberia) (Menochius) --- Gate, near the temple, chap. iii. 26. (Calmet) --- Moses; the pentateuch. (Menochius) --- He is not desired to restore what was lost. (Tirinus) --- As many copies had been preserved by the prophets, which Esdras revised. (Worthington)

Verse 2

Women, who were in a separate place. --- Understand, being come to the use of reason. (Calmet)

Verse 3

In plainly. Protestants, "therein, before the street." (Haydock) --- Esdras probably read select pieces from Leviticus, &c., but principally from Deuteronomy. (Menochius)

Verse 4

Step. Hebrew, "wooden tower." (Calmet) --- Protestants, "pulpit," (Haydock) made in the form of a cup," (Calmet) like the cior, or tribune of Solomon, 2 Paralipomenon vi. 13. --- Mosollam. We should imagine that this was not the person who had given his daughter in marriage to the son of Tobias, chap. vi. 18. (Haydock)

Verse 5

Stood, out of respect, as we do while the gospel is read. See Numbers xxiii. 18. (Calmet)

Verse 8

Understood, by those who were near enough, and were skilled in Hebrew, (Haydock) though many began to forget that language; (chap. xiii. 24.) and for their benefit, an explanation was given in Chaldean, (ver. 9.; Calmet) or Syriac, the vulgar tongue after the captivity. Pure Hebrew was still retained in the public liturgy. (Tirinus) --- Thus the Catholic Church retains the use of the language first use in the conversion of the respective people, whether Greek, Latin, &c., while she takes care to explain to the people what is necessary, in their own language. Any change might be attended with more serious inconveniences than benefit. Our Saviour never blamed this practice, which subsisted among the Jews in his time, no more than that which obliged the people to keep without, while the priest offered incense, &c., Luke i. 10, 21. --- And plainly. Protestants, "and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading," as much as they were able, though many would, no doubt, still find difficulties, as we at present. (Haydock)

Verse 9

Interpreted. St. Jerome renders the same term, made silence, (ver. 7.) as it was the office of the Levites to keep the people in awe, ver. 11. (Calmet) --- Protestants, "taught." They had also (Haydock) to instruct, 1 Esdras viii. 16. (Menochius) --- Weep. The Jews had only one feast for mourning, the day of expiation. On all the rest, a holy joy was commended. For the same reason, the Church does not fast on such days. (Calmet) --- Law, reflecting on the threats denounced against transgressors, which they had so lately witnessed. (Tirinus)

Verse 10

Wine. Hebrew and Septuagint, "things." Syriac and Arabic have simply, "drink." --- Portions. The Greeks styled them, Greek: merides; and the Latins, sportul'e6. The custom prevailed not only among the Jews, (Esther ix. 19.) but also among Christians and pagans. Moses frequently exhorts the people to invite the poor; (Deuteronomy xvi. 14.) and St. Paul blames the rich Corinthians, for giving no part of their feast to them, 1 Corinthians xi. 21. --- Strength. By this holy joy, we shall be encouraged to perform all our duties. (Calmet) --- Septuagint, "Be not downcast, because he (the Lord) is our strength." (Haydock)

Verse 13

Law, concerning some difficulties, particularly the manner of keeping the ensuing festival. (Tirinus) --- Thus Christ explained to his disciples what he had spoken to the people. (Haydock)

Verse 15

And that. This is not expressed in the law, though it was probably practised. (Calmet) --- Some translate, "And they proclaimed," &c. (Vatable) --- Beautiful. Literally, "very or most beautiful." (Haydock) --- Hebrew, "of oily wood." Septuagint, "cypress." Syriac, "nut-tree." Others understand the pine, (Pagnin) balm, (Mariana) citron, (Haydock) or any other species of branches, which might then be used. (Calmet) (Tirinus)

Verse 16

House, which was flat. (Haydock) --- The tents might be erected in any place; in the open air. (Tirinus)

Verse 17

Done so, with such alacrity, though they had displayed more magnificence. See the meaning of similar expressions, 4 Kings xxiii. 22. (Calmet)

Verse 18

Assembly. Literally, "the collect." (Haydock) --- Hebrew, "the day of retention;" the people being kept at the temple. (Calmet) --- Septuagint, "the dismission;" as they were afterwards permitted to depart. (Haydock) --- See Leviticus xxiii. 26. --- It was probably on this occasion, that the sacred fire was found again; (2 Machabees i. 18.; Calmet) and also the ark, the tabernacle, and the altar of incense, which had been hidden by Jeremias, 2 Machabees ii. 4. (Torniel, the year of the world 3610.) (Cano, &c.) --- But this is not so certain. (Haydock) (Calmet, Diss.)

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Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Nehemiah 8". "Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". 1859.