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Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature
Neth´inim. This name, which means 'the given' or 'the devoted,' was applied to the servants of the temple, or temple slaves, who were under the Levites in the ministry of the tabernacle and temple. The first servants whom the Levites obtained were the Gibeonites, on whom devolved the very laborious services of fetching water and collecting wood (). The number of such servants appears to have been increased by David; and it seems to have been then, when these servants ceased to be wholly Gibeonites, that Nethinim came into use as a proper name for the whole class (). From that time forward, they appear to have been no longer regarded or treated as slaves, but as the lowest order of the servants of the sanctuary; who, although in their origin foreigners and heathen, had doubtless embraced the Jewish religion. These did not all forget their relationship to the sanctuary during the Captivity. Some of them returned to their duties under the decree of Cyrus, and were placed in cities with the Levites (;; ). It was not to be expected that many of them would return to this humble station in Palestine, but 220 accompanied Ezra (), and 392 Zerubbabel (). The voluntary devotedness which was thus manifested by these persons considerably raised the station of the Nethinim, which was thenceforth regarded rather as honorable than degrading. Their number was, however, insufficient for the service of the temple; whence, as Josephus tells us, a festival, called Xylophoria, was established, in which the people, to supply the deficiency, were obliged to bring a certain quantity of wood to the temple for the use of the altar of burnt-offering.
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Nethinim'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature". https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​kbe/​n/nethinim.html.