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Bible Dictionaries

Holman Bible Dictionary

Nethinim

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(nehth' ih nihm) Name meaning, “those given (to the priests and Levites),” which Ezra and Nehemiah apply to persons of foreign extraction who performed menial tasks in the Temple. Moses assigned Midianite prisoners of war to the priests (32 servants; Numbers 31:28 ,Numbers 31:28,31:40 ) and the Levites (320 servants; Numbers 31:30 ,Numbers 31:30,31:47 ). Joshua forced the Gibeonites to serve as woodcutters and water bearers for the sanctuary (Joshua 9:27 ). The servants which David gave to the Levites were also likely war prisoners (Ezra 8:20 ).

Representatives of the Nethinim returned from Exile with Zerubbabel in 538 B.C. (Ezra 2:43-54; Nehemiah 7:46-56 ). The lists of returnees contain many foreign names suggesting their origin as prisoners of war. Despite their foreign origin, the Nethinim appear to be accepted as part of the people of Israel. They were prohibited from mixed marriages with the people of the land (Nehemiah 10:28-30 ) and shared in the responsibility for repair of the Jerusalem city walls (Nehemiah 3:26; contrast Ezra 4:1-3 ). The Nethinim resided in the Ophel district of Jerusalem, likely near the water gate (Nehemiah 3:26 ), a site conducive with their task as water bearers.

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Nethinim'. Holman Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hbd/n/nethinim.html. 1991.

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