Neh. 11-13 Keeping Commitments

KEEPING COMMITMENTS
Nehemiah 11:1-13:31   January 28 2007

This chapter gives the identity of Jews who
served as priests and Levites. The religious
leaders gathered to help dedicate the wall
around Jerusalem. Nehemiah for me the Leaders
into two processions to collectively thank God
for His help. The Jews committed themselves
to supporting the priests and Levites with their
tithes and other portions.

1. Honor God’s House (Neh. 1,4-5,8-9)

Neh. 13:1   On that day the Book of Moses was read
aloud in the hearing of the people and there it was
found written that no Ammonite or Moabite should
ever be admitted into the assembly of God, 13:4
Before this, Eliashib the priest had been put in
charge of the storerooms of the house of our God.
He was closely associated with Tobiah, 13:5   and
he had provided him with a large room formerly used
to store the grain offerings and incense and temple
articles, and also the tithes of grain, new wine and
oil prescribed for the Levites, singers and
gatekeepers, as well as the contributions for the
priests. 13:8   I was greatly displeased and threw all
Tobiah’s household goods out of the room. 13:9   I
gave orders to purify the rooms, and then I put back
into them the equipment of the house of God, with
the grain offerings and the incense.

An Aramaic inscription of the sixth century B.C.
found at Deir ‘Alla in Transjordan refers to Balaam.
Eliashib. Neh.12:10. Tobiah. Neh. 2:10.
Provided him with a large room. During Nehemiah’s
absence from the city to return to the Persian king’s
court, Tobiah, one of his archenemies, had used his
influence with Eliashib to gain entrance into a chamber
ordinarily set aside for the storage of tithes and other
offerings (Neh.10:37 and  Nu 18:21-32; Dt 14:28-29;
26:12-15). Elsewhere we read of the chamber of
Meshullam (Neh.3:30) and of Jehohanan (Ezr 10:6).
Thirty-second year of artaxerxes. Neh.5:14. KING
OF BABYLON. The title was assumed by Cyrus after his
conquest of Babylon ( Ezr 5:13) and was adopted by
subsequent Achaemenid (Persian) kings. Came back to
Jerusalem. Nehemiah’s second term must have ended
before 407 B.C., when Bagohi (Bigvai) was governor of
Judah according to the Elephantine papyri. Some have
suggested that after Nehemiah’s first term he was
succeeded by his brother Hanani (Neh 1:2). Courts.
Neh. 8:16. Zerubbabel’s temple had two courtyards
(Zec 3:7; Isa 62:9). Displeased. . . Threw. Nehemiah
expressed his indignation by taking action (Neh.13:
24-25). Contrast the reaction of Ezra, who “sat down
appalled” (Ezr 9:3). Nehemiah’s action reminds us of
Christ’s expulsion of the money changers from the
temple area (Mt 21:12-13).  roomsS. Though only a
single chamber was mentioned in Neh. 13:5-8, additional
rooms were involved. A parallel to the occupation and
desecration of the temple by Tobiah comes from a
century earlier in Egypt, where Greek mercenaries had
occupied the temple of Neith at Sais. Upon the appeal
of the Egyptian priest, Udjahorresnet, the Persian king
had the squatters driven out and the temple’s ceremonies,
processions and revenues restored: “And His Majesty
commanded that all the foreigners who had settled in
the temple of Neith should be driven out and that all
their houses and all their superfluities that were in this
temple should be thrown down, and that all their own
baggage should be carried for them outside the wall of
this temple.”

2. Bring God’s Tithes (Neh. 13:10-12)

Neh. 13:10   I also learned that the portions
assigned to the Levites had not been given to them,
and that all the Levites and singers responsible for
the service had gone back to their own fields. 13:11
So I rebuked the officials and asked them, “Why is
the house of God neglected?” Then I called them
together and stationed them at their posts. 13:12
All Judah brought the tithes of grain, new wine and
oil into the storerooms.

Nehemiah was apparently correcting an abuse of
long standing. Strictly speaking, the Levites had no
holdings (Nu 18:20,23-24; Dt 14:29; 18:1), but some
may have had private income (Dt 18:8). Therefore the
Levites were dependent on the faithful support of
the people. This may explain the reluctance of great
numbers of Levites to return from exile (Ezr 8:15-20).
For the complaints of those who found little material
advantage in serving the Lord Mal 2:17; 3:13-15.
Neglected. Neh. 10:39. Tithes. Neh. 12:44. Temples
in Mesopotamia also levied tithes for the support
of their personnel.

3. Keep The Lord’s Day (Neh. 13:15-18)

Neh. 13:15   In those days I saw men in Judah
treading winepresses on the Sabbath and bringing
in grain and loading it on donkeys, together with
wine, grapes, figs and all other kinds of loads. And
they were bringing all this into Jerusalem on the
Sabbath. Therefore I warned them against selling
food on that day. 13:16   Men from Tyre who lived
in Jerusalem were bringing in fish and all kinds of
merchandise and selling them in Jerusalem on the
Sabbath to the people of Judah. 13:17   I rebuked
the nobles of Judah and said to them, “What is this
wicked thing you are doing —desecrating the Sabbath
day? 13:18   Didn’t your forefathers do the same
things, so that our God brought all this calamity
upon us and upon this city? Now you are stirring
up more wrath against Israel by desecrating the
Sabbath.”

Of the four treasurers, one was a priest,
one a Levite, one a scribe and one a layman
of rank. Trustworthy. Nehemiah appointed honest
men to make sure that supplies were distributed
equitably, just as the church appointed deacons
for this purpose (Ac 6:1-5). Treading Winepresses.
Isa 5:2; 16:10. Sabbath. The temptation to violate
the Sabbath rest was especially characteristic of
Non-jewish merchants (Neh.10:31; Isa 56:1-8). On
the other hand, the high regard that many had for
the Sabbath was expressed by parents who called
their children Shabbethai (Neh. 8:7; 11:16; Ezr
10:15). Tyre.  Isa 23:1. Fish. Most of the fish
exported by the Tyrians (Eze 26:4-5,14) was
dried, smoked or salted. Fish, much of it from the
Sea of Galilee, was an important part of the
Israelites’ diet (Lev 11:9; Nu 11:5; Mt 15:34;
Lk 24:42; Jn 21:5-13). It was sold at the market
near the Fish Gate (Neh. 3:3). Rebuked the Nobles.
Because they were the leaders. Desecrating.
Turning what is sacred into common use and so
profaning it ( Mal 2:10-11). When evening shadows
fell on the Gates. Before sunset, when the Sabbath
began. The Israelites, like the Babylonians, counted
their days from sunset to sunset (the Egyptians
reckoned theirs from dawn to dawn). The precise
moment when the Sabbath began was heralded by
the blowing of a trumpet by a priest. According to
the Jewish Mishnah, “On the eve of Sabbath they
used to blow six more blasts, three to cause the
people to cease from work and three to mark the
break between the sacred and the profane.”
Josephus (Jewish War) speaks of the location on
the parapet of the temple where the priests “gave
a signal beforehand, with a trumpet, at the
beginning of every seventh day, in the evening
twilight, and also at the evening when that day
was finished, announcing to the people the
respective hours for ceasing work and for
resuming their labors.” Excavators at the temple
mount recovered a stone from the southwest
corner of the parapet, which had fallen to the
ground in Titus’s siege, with the inscription
“for the place of the blowing (of the trumpet).”

Summary:
A second way to measure your commitment
to a cause, besides money, is to consider how
much time you dedicate to that activity. God
expects us to be good stewards of our time as
well as our money. It is possible for a Christian
to give a tithe to the local church but not
dedicate much time to worship.
Many believers who study this lesson will
need to reevaluate their commitments. They may
have many commitments that need to be reranked
in priority order. Christians need to be sure that
their commitment to God is their highest
commitment. Then they need to follow through
on that spiritual priority through practical
actions, such actions, such as tithing and
worshiping God regularly.