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Cs – End Notes

End Notes

Ezra-Nehemiah from a Jewish Perspective

1.  Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theology Commentary, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 2016, page xiii.

2. The Books of Ezra and Nehemiah, by Charles Fensham, NICOT, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1983, page 1.

3. Ezra-Nehemiah, by H. G. M. Williamson, Word Bible Commentary, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, 1985, page 148.

4. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, by Mervin Breneman, The New American Commentary, B&H Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee , 1993, page 226.

5. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Jacob Meyers, Anchor Bible Commentary, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1988, pages LXVIII-LXX.

6. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, by Mervin Breneman, The New American Commentary, B&H Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee , 1993, page 58.

7. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Jacob Meyers, Anchor Bible Commentary, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, 1988, page lxxiv.

8. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, by Mervin Breneman, The New American Commentary, B&H Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee , 1993, page 35-36 and 59.

The Theology of Ezra-Nehemiah

9. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, by Mervin Breneman, The New American Commentary, B&H Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee , 1993, pages 50-51.

Ezra-Nehemiah Timeline

10. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, by Mervin Breneman, The New American Commentary, B&H Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee , 1993, pages 44-45.

The First Return

11. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek Kinder, Tyndale Old Testament Commentary, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois, 1979, pages 155-156 and 34.

12. First and Second Kings, First and Second Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, by Edwin Yamauchi, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Volume 4), Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1988, page 601.

13. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, by Mervin Breneman, The New American Commentary, B&H Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee , 1993, page 66.

14. Ibid, pages 68-69.

15. First and Second Kings, First and Second Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, by Edwin Yamauchi, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Volume 4), Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1988, page 604.

16. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Mark A. Throntveit, Interpretation, Westminster John Knox, Louisville, KY, 1992, page 14.

17. The New International Commentary on Isaiah 40-66, by John Oswalt, Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1998, page 200.

18. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Jacob Meyers, Anchor Bible Commentary, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1988, page 8.

19. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, by J. G. McConville, Daily Study Bible, Westminster John Knox, 2006, pages 9-10.

20. Ezra and Nehemiah, Isra’el Alive Again, by Fredrick. C. Holmgren, ITC, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1987, page 11.

21. The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the Old Testament, by John Walvoord and Roy Zuck, Victor Books, Wheaton, Illinois, 1985, page 655.

22. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theology Commentary, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 2016, pages 6-8.

23. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek Kinder, Tyndale Old Testament Commentary, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois, 1979, pages 36-37.

24. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Mark A. Throntveit, Interpretation, Westminster John Knox, Louisville, KY, 1992, pages 15-17.

25. History, Archaeology and Christian Humanism, by W. F. Albright, McGraw Hill, New York, NY, 1964, pgs 58-59.

26. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek Kinder, Tyndale Old Testament Commentary, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois, 1979, pages 153-154.

27. First and Second Kings, First and Second Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, by Edwin Yamauchi, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Volume 4), Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1988, page 604.

28. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theology Commentary, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 2016, pages 12-13.

29. Ezra and Nehemiah, Isra’el Alive Again, by Fredrick. C. Holmgren, ITC, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1987, pages 14-19.

30. Ibid, pages 14-19.

31. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theology Commentary, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 2016, pages 17-19.

32. Ibid, pages 20-21.

33. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Mark A. Throntveit, Interpretation, Westminster John Knox, Louisville, KY, 1992, pages 19-20.

34. https://www.gotquestions.org

35. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek Kinder, Tyndale Old Testament Commentary, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois, 1979, page 41.

36. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theology Commentary, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 2016, page 21.

37. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, by Mervin Breneman, The New American Commentary, B&H Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee , 1993, pages 80-81.

38. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theology Commentary, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 2016, page 21.

39. Manners and Customs of the Bible, by James Freeman, Logos International, Plainfield, New Jersey, 1972, pages 192 and 197.

40. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek Kinder, Tyndale Old Testament Commentary, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois, 1979, pages 45-46.

41. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theology Commentary, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 2016, pages 24-25.

42. The Books of Ezra and Nehemiah, by Charles Fensham, NICOT, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI, 1983, pages 55-56.

43. First and Second Kings, First and Second Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, by Edwin Yamauchi, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Volume 4), Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1988, pages 618-619.

44. Manners and Customs of the Bible, by James Freeman, Logos International, Plainfield, NJ, 1972, page 192.

45. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, by J. G. McConville, Daily Study Bible, Westminster John Knox, 2006, page 17.

46. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theology Commentary, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 2016, pages 23.

47. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek Kinder, Tyndale Old Testament Commentary, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois, 1979, page 48.

48. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theology Commentary, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 2016, pages 24.

49. Ibid, pages 18-19.

50. Ezra and Nehemiah, Isra’el Alive Again, by Fredrick. C. Holmgren, ITC, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1987, pages 20-21.

51. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, by J. G. McConville, Daily Study Bible, Westminster John Knox, 2006, page 19.

52. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theology Commentary, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 2016, page 27.

53. Ezra and Nehemiah, Isra’el Alive Again, by Fredrick. C. Holmgren, ITC, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1987, pages 22-23.

54. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theology Commentary, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 2016, page 27.

55. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, by Mervin Breneman, The New American Commentary, B&H Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee , 1993, page 91.

56. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theology Commentary, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 2016, page 30.

57. Ibid, pages 37-38.

58. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, by Mervin Breneman, The New American Commentary, B&H Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee , 1993, page 93.

59. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theology Commentary, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 2016, page 31.

60. Ibid, page 37.

61. Manners and Customs of the Bible, by James Freeman, Logos International, Plainfield, NJ, 1972, page 192-193.

62. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, by Mervin Breneman, The New American Commentary, B&H Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee , 1993, page 94.

63. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theology Commentary, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 2016, page 41.

64. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, by Mervin Breneman, The New American Commentary, B&H Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee , 1993, page 96.

65. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theology Commentary, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 2016, pages 46-48.66.

66. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Mark A. Throntveit, Interpretation, Westminster John Knox, Louisville, KY, 1992, page 25.

67. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, by Mervin Breneman, The New American Commentary, B&H Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee , 1993, page 97.

68. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Mark A. Throntveit, Interpretation, Westminster John Knox, Louisville, KY, 1992, pages 25.

69. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theology Commentary, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 2016, pages 51-52.

70. Ibid, pages 53-55.

71. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Mark A. Throntveit, Interpretation, Westminster John Knox, Louisville, KY, 1992, pages 26-27.

72. The Books of Ezra and Nehemiah, by Charles Fensham, NICOT, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI, 1983, page 70.

73. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theology Commentary, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 2016, pages 59-60.

74. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, by J. G. McConville, Daily Study Bible, Westminster John Knox, 2006, page 27.

75. The Books of Ezra and Nehemiah, by Charles Fensham, NICOT, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI, 1983, pages 72-73.

76. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, by Mervin Breneman, The New American Commentary, B&H Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee , 1993, page 103.

77. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Mark A. Throntveit, Interpretation, Westminster John Knox, Louisville, KY, 1992, page 28.

78. Ezra-Nehemiah, by H. G. M. Williamson, Word Bible Commentary, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, 1985, page 66.

79. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theology Commentary, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 2016, page 60.

80. The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the Old Testament, by John Walvoord and Roy Zuck, Victor Books, Wheaton, Illinois, 1985, page 661.

81. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, by J. G. McConville, Daily Study Bible, Westminster John Knox, 2006, page 30.

82. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek Kinder, Tyndale Old Testament Commentary, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois, 1979, page 59.

83. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theology Commentary, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 2016, pages 61-65.

84. Ibid, pages 67-68.

85. Ezra and Nehemiah: Israel Returns from Exile, by John MacArthur, MacArthur Bible Studies, Thomas Nelson, Tennessee, 2016, page 39.

86. Ibid, page 44.

87. Ibid, pages 40-41.

88. Ibid, page 40.

89. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theology Commentary, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 2016, page 69.

90. Ezra and Nehemiah: Israel Returns from Exile, by John MacArthur, the MacArthur Bible Studies, Thomas Nelson, TN, 2016, pages 41-42.

91. The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the Old Testament, by John Walvoord and Roy Zuck, Victor Books, Wheaton, Illinois, 1985, page 1542.

92. Ezra and Nehemiah: Israel Returns from Exile, by John MacArthur, the MacArthur Bible Studies, Thomas Nelson, TN, 2016, pages 45-46.

93. The Minor Prophets, by Charles Feinberg, Moody Press, Chicago, Illinois, 1951, page 273.

94. Ezra and Nehemiah: Israel Returns from Exile, by John MacArthur, the MacArthur Bible Studies, Thomas Nelson, TN, 2016, pages 49-50.

95. The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the Old Testament, by John Walvoord and Roy Zuck, Victor Books, Wheaton, Illinois, 1985, page 1559.

96. Ezra and Nehemiah: Israel Returns from Exile, by John MacArthur, the MacArthur Bible Studies, Thomas Nelson, TN, 2016, pages 51-52.

97. Ezra and Nehemiah: Israel Returns from Exile, by John MacArthur, pages 53-55.

98. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, by Mervin Breneman, The New American Commentary, B&H Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee, 1993, page 106.

99. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theology Commentary, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 2016, pages 82-83.

100. Ezra and Nehemiah, Isra’el Alive Again, by Fredrick. C. Holmgren, ITC, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1987, page 41.

101. Ezra-Nehemiah, by H. G. M. Williamson, Word Bible Commentary, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, 1985, page 76.

102. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, by Mervin Breneman, The New American Commentary, B&H Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee , 1993, pages 108-109.

103. Ibid, page 110.

104. The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the Old Testament, by John Walvoord and Roy Zuck, Victor Books, Wheaton, Illinois, 1985, page 662.

105. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, by Mervin Breneman, The New American Commentary, B&H Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee , 1993, pages 108-109 and 111.

106. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theology Commentary, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 2016, pages 77-78.

107. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, by J. G. McConville, Daily Study Bible, Westminster John Knox, 2006, page 35.

108. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theology Commentary, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 2016, page 79.

109. The Books of Ezra and Nehemiah, by Charles Fensham, NICOT, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI, 1983, pgs 77-78.

110. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, by Mervin Breneman, The New American Commentary, B&H Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee, 1993, page 114.

111. Ezra-Nehemiah, by H. G. M. Williamson, Word Bible Commentary, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, 1985, page 80.

112. Manners and Customs of the Bible, by James Freeman, Logos International, Plainfield, NJ, 1972, page 193.

113. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, by Mervin Breneman, The New American Commentary, B&H Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee , 1993, page 117.

114. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek Kinder, Tyndale Old Testament Commentary, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois, 1979, page 64.

115. The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the Old Testament, by John Walvoord and Roy Zuck, Victor Books, Wheaton, Illinois, 1985, pages 663-664.

116. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theology Commentary, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 2016, pages 84-85.

117. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek Kinder, Tyndale Old Testament Commentary, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois, 1979, page 66.

118. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, by Mervin Breneman, The New American Commentary, B&H Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee , 1993, page 120.

119. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, by Mervin Breneman, The New American Commentary, B&H Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee , 1993, page 122.

120. The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the Old Testament, by John Walvoord and Roy Zuck, Victor Books, Wheaton, Illinois, 1985, pages 664-665.

121. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theology Commentary, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 2016, pages 86-87.

122. The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the Old Testament, by John Walvoord and Roy Zuck, Victor Books, Wheaton, Illinois, 1985, page 1558.

123. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theology Commentary, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 2016, pages 86-87.

The Second Return

124. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theology Commentary, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 2016, pages 110-111.

125. Ezra and Nehemiah, Isra’el Alive Again, by Fredrick. C. Holmgren, ITC, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1987, pages 122 and 129.

126. Ezra and Nehemiah: Israel Returns from Exile, by John MacArthur, MacArthur Bible Studies, Thomas Nelson, TN, 2016, pages 63-64.

127. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theology Commentary, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 2016, page 118.

128. Ibid, pages 112-113.

129. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, by Mervin Breneman, The New American Commentary, B&H Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee, 1993, page 131.

130. Ezra and Nehemiah: Israel Returns from Exile, by John MacArthur, MacArthur Bible Studies, Thomas Nelson, Tennessee, 2016, pages 65.

131. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, by Mervin Breneman, The New American Commentary, B&H Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee , 1993, page 130.

132. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theology Commentary, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 2016, pages 120-121.

133. Ezra and Nehemiah, Isra’el Alive Again, by Fredrick. C. Holmgren, ITC, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1987, page 60.

134. Ezra and Nehemiah: Israel Returns from Exile, by John MacArthur, MacArthur Bible Studies, Thomas Nelson, TN, 2016, pages 66-67.

135. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, by Mervin Breneman, The New American Commentary, B&H Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee , 1993, pages 135-136.

136. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theology Commentary, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 2016, page 131.

137. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Mark A. Throntveit, Interpretation, Westminster John Knox, Louisville, KY, 1992, page 45.

138. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Jacob Meyers, Anchor Bible Commentary, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, 1988, page 69.

139. Ezra and Nehemiah, Isra’el Alive Again, by Fredrick. C. Holmgren, ITC, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1987, page 65.

140. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theology Commentary, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 2016, page 140.

141. Ibid, page 150.

142. https://www.gotquestions.org

143. Ezra and Nehemiah: Israel Returns from Exile, by John MacArthur, MacArthur Bible Studies, Thomas Nelson, TN, 2016, page 68.

144. Manners and Customs of the Bible, by James Freeman, Logos International, Plainfield, New Jersey, 1972, pages 192 and 197.

145. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theology Commentary, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 2016, page 152-155.

146. Manners and Customs of the Bible, by James Freeman, Logos International, Plainfield, NJ, 1972, page 192.

147. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, by Mervin Breneman, The New American Commentary, B&H Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee , 1993, page 144.

148. Ezra and Nehemiah: Israel Returns from Exile, by John MacArthur, MacArthur Bible Studies, Thomas Nelson, TN, 2016, page 69.

149. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek Kinder, Tyndale Old Testament Commentary, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois, 1979, page 75.

150. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theology Commentary, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 2016, page 164.

151. Life of Christ tape series, by Arnold Fruchtenbaum.

152. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theology Commentary, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 2016, pages 322-323.

153. Ezra and Nehemiah, Isra’el Alive Again, by Fredrick. C. Holmgren, ITC, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1987, page 124.

154. Be Determined: OT Commentary on Nehemiah, by Warren Wiersbe, David Coook Publisher, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 1992, page 109.

155. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theology Commentary, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 2016, page 327.

156. Ibid, page 334.

157. Be Determined: OT Commentary on Nehemiah, by Warren Wiersbe, David Coook Publisher, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 1992, pages 112-113.

158. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theology Commentary, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 2016, pages 336-337.

159. Take Another Brick, Timeless Lessons on Leadership, by Charles Swindoll, W Publishing Group, A Division of Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee, 2006, page 151.

160. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek Kinder, Tyndale Old Testament Commentary, Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois, 1979, page 120.

161. God’s Appointed Times, by Barney Kasdan, Lederer Publications, Baltimore, Maryland, 1993, pages 101-104.

162. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theology Commentary, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 2016, pages 165-166.

163. Ezra and Nehemiah: Israel Returns from Exile, by John MacArthur, MacArthur Bible Studies, Thomas Nelson, Tennessee, 2016, pages 76-77.

164. Ibid, pages 76-78.

165. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek Kinder, Tyndale Old Testament Commentary, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois, 1979, page 78.

166. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theology Commentary, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 2016, pages 168-170.

167. Ibid, page 351.

168. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, by Mervin Breneman, The New American Commentary, B&H Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee, 1993, page 237.

169. Ibid, page 240.

170. Ibid, pages 240-242.

171. Ezra and Nehemiah: Israel Returns from Exile, by John MacArthur, MacArthur Bible Studies, Thomas Nelson, Tennessee, 2016, page 79.

172. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theology Commentary, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 2016, page 356.

173. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, by Mervin Breneman, The New American Commentary, B&H Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee, 1993, page 243.

174. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theology Commentary, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 2016, pages 361-362.

175. Be Determined: Nehemiah, by Warren Wiersbe, David Cooke Publisher, Colorado Springs, C), 2012, pgs 133-134.

176. Take Another Brick, Timeless Lessons on Leadership, by Charles Swindoll, W Publishing Group, A Division of Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee, 2006, page 185.

177. Be Determined: Nehemiah, by Warren Wiersbe, David Cooke Publisher, Colorado Springs, CO, 2012, page 125.

178. Ibid, page 136.

179. Ezra and Nehemiah, Isra’el Alive Again, by Fredrick. C. Holmgren, ITC, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1987, page 139.

180. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek Kinder, Tyndale Old Testament Commentary, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois, 1979, page 126.

181. Be Determined: Nehemiah, by Warren Wiersbe, David Cooke Publisher, Colorado Springs, CO, 2012, page 139.

182. Manners and Customs of the Bible, by James Freeman, Logos International, Plainfield, NJ, 1972, page 197.

183. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, by J. G. McConville, Daily Study Bible, Westminster John Knox, 2006, page 134.

184. First and Second Kings, First and Second Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, by Edwin Yamauchi, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Volume 4), Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1988, page 744.

185. The Wiersbe Bible Study Series: Be Determined: Nehemiah, by Warren Wiersbe, David Cooke Publisher, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 2012, page 139.

186. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theology Commentary, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 2016, pages 361-362.

187. Ibid, page 360.

188. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Jacob Meyers, Anchor Bible Commentary, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, 1988, page 85.

189. Ezra and Nehemiah: Israel Returns from Exile, by John MacArthur, the MacArthur Bible Studies, Thomas Nelson, TN, 2016, page 79.

190. The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the Old Testament, by John Walvoord and Roy Zuck, Victor Books, Wheaton, Illinois, 1985, page 671.

191. Ezra and Nehemiah: Israel Returns from Exile, by John MacArthur, the MacArthur Bible Studies, Thomas Nelson, TN, 2016, pages 82-83.

192. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, by Mervin Breneman, The New American Commentary, B&H Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee , 1993, page 164.

193. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theology Commentary, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 2016, page 194.

194. Ezra and Nehemiah: Israel Returns from Exile, by John MacArthur, MacArthur Bible Studies, Thomas Nelson, TN, 2016, page 80.

195. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Jacob Meyers, Anchor Bible Commentary, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, 1988, page 193.

196. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theology Commentary, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 2016, page 194.

197. Ezra and Nehemiah: Israel Returns from Exile, by John MacArthur, the MacArthur Bible Studies, Thomas Nelson, Tennessee, 2016, pages 83-84.

198. Take Another Brick, Timeless Lessons on Leadership, by Charles Swindoll, W Publishing Group, A Division of Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN, 2006, pages 3-4.

The Third Return

199. The Story of the Old Testament, by Alec Meyer, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI, 2001, page 174.

200. Be Determined, OT Commentary on Nehemiah, by Warren Wiersbe, published by David C Cook, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 1992, page 20.

201. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theology Commentary, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 2016, page 202.

202. Be Determined, OT Commentary on Nehemiah, by Warren Wiersbe, published by David C Cook, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 1992, pages 20-21.

203. Ibid, page 23.

204. Ezra and Nehemiah: Israel Returns from Exile, by John MacArthur, the MacArthur Bible Studies, Thomas Nelson, TN, 2016, page 89.

205. Take Another Brick, Timeless Lessons on Leadership, by Charles Swindoll, W Publishing Group, A Division of Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN, 2006, pages 24-31.

206. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, by Mervin Breneman, The New American Commentary, B&H Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee, 1993, pages 172-173.

207. Manners and Customs of the Bible, by James Freeman, Logos International, Plainfield, NJ, 1972, page 195.

208. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, by Mervin Breneman, The New American Commentary, B&H Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee, 1993, pages 174.

209. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theology Commentary, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 2016, pages 213-214.

210. Ezra and Nehemiah, Isra’el Alive Again, by Fredrick. C. Holmgren, ITC, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1987, pages 95-99.

211. Take Another Brick, Timeless Lessons on Leadership, by Charles Swindoll, W Publishing Group, A Division of Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN, 2006, pages 35-40.

212. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, by Mervin Breneman, The New American Commentary, B&H Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee, 1993, page 175.

213. Ibid, page 177.

214. Ezra and Nehemiah: Israel Returns from Exile, by John MacArthur, the MacArthur Bible Studies, Thomas Nelson, TN, 2016, page 91.

215. Ezra and Nehemiah, Isra’el Alive Again, by Fredrick. C. Holmgren, ITC, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1987, page 98.

216. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, by Mervin Breneman, The New American Commentary, B&H Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee , 1993, pages 178-179.

217. The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the Old Testament, by John Walvoord and Roy Zuck, Victor Books, Wheaton, Illinois, 1985, page 677.

218. Ezra and Nehemiah: Israel Returns from Exile, by John MacArthur, the MacArthur Bible Studies, Thomas Nelson, TN, 2016, pages 95-96.

219. Take Another Brick, Timeless Lessons on Leadership, by Charles Swindoll, W Publishing Group, A Division of Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN, 2006, pages 47-50.

220. Ezra and Nehemiah: Israel Returns from Exile, by John MacArthur, the MacArthur Bible Studies, Thomas Nelson, TN, 2016, pages 92-93.

221. Ibid, page 93.

222. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, by Mervin Breneman, The New American Commentary, B&H Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee , 1993, pages 182-183.

223. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theology Commentary, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 2016, pages 235-236.

224. Take Another Brick, Timeless Lessons on Leadership, by Charles Swindoll, W Publishing Group, A Division of Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN, 2006, pages 47-50.

225. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, by Mervin Breneman, The New American Commentary, B&H Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee , 1993, pages 184 and 192.

226. The Books of Ezra and Nehemiah, by Charles Fensham, NICOT, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI, 1983, page 173.

227. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, by Mervin Breneman, The New American Commentary, B&H Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee , 1993, pages 186-187.

228. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theology Commentary, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 2016, page 241.

229. The Books of Ezra and Nehemiah, by Charles Fensham, NICOT, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI, 1983, page 174.

230. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, by Mervin Breneman, The New American Commentary, B&H Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee , 1993, page 190.

231. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, by Mervin Breneman, The New American Commentary, B&H Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee , 1993, page 192.

232. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theology Commentary, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 2016, pages 248-249.

233. Take Another Brick, Timeless Lessons on Leadership, by Charles Swindoll, W Publishing Group, A Division of Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville TN, 2006, pages 65-67.

234. Ezra and Nehemiah: Israel Returns from Exile, by John MacArthur, MacArthur Bible Studies, Thomas Nelson, TN, 2016, page 101.

235. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, by Mervin Breneman, The New American Commentary, B&H Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee, 1993, page 194.

236. Ibid, pages 194-195.

237. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek Kinder, Tyndale Old Testament Commentary, Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois, 1979, page 99.

238. Ezra and Nehemiah: Israel Returns from Exile, by John MacArthur, MacArthur Bible Studies, Thomas Nelson, TN, 2016, pages 102-103.

239. Ibid, page 104.

240. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek Kinder, Tyndale Old Testament Commentary, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois, 1979, page 100.

241. Ibid, page 101.

242. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theology Commentary, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 2016, page 264.

243. Ezra and Nehemiah: Israel Returns from Exile, by John MacArthur, MacArthur Bible Studies, Thomas Nelson, Tennessee, 2016, pages 105-107.

244. Ibid, pages 107-108.

245. Ibid, pages 111-112.

246. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, by Mervin Breneman, The New American Commentary, B&H Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee , 1993, page 200.

247. Ezra and Nehemiah: Israel Returns from Exile, by John MacArthur, the MacArthur Bible Studies, Thomas Nelson, TN, 2016, pages 112-113.

248. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, by Mervin Breneman, The New American Commentary, B&H Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee, 1993, page 203.

249. Ezra and Nehemiah: Israel Returns from Exile, by John MacArthur, the MacArthur Bible Studies, Thomas Nelson, TN, 2016, pages 113-114.

250. Ibid, page 118.

251. Ibid, pages 114-115.

252. Ibid, pages 114-115.

253. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theology Commentary, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 2016, pages 282-286.

254. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, by Mervin Breneman, The New American Commentary, B&H Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee , 1993, page 209.

255. Ibid, page 83.

256. Take Another Brick, Timeless Lessons on Leadership, by Charles Swindoll, W Publishing Group, A Division of Thomas Nelson Pub, Nashville TN, 2006, pages 124-125.

257. Be Determined: OT Commentary on Nehemiah, by Warren Wiersbe, David Cook Publisher, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 1992, pages 84-85.

258. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theology Commentary, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 2016, page 291.

259. Ezra and Nehemiah: Israel Returns from Exile, by John MacArthur, the MacArthur Bible Studies, Thomas Nelson, TN, 2016, page 115.

260. Ibid, page 116.

261. Be Determined: OT Commentary on Nehemiah, by Warren Wiersbe, David Cook Publisher, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 1992, pages 86-87.

262. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, by Mervin Breneman, The New American Commentary, B&H Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee, 1993, page 211.

263. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Mark A. Throntveit, Interpretation, Westminster John Knox, Louisville, KY, 1992, page 86.

264. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theology Commentary, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 2016, pages 293-295.

265. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Mark A. Throntveit, Interpretation, Westminster John Knox, Louisville, KY, 1992, page 87.

266. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theology Commentary, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 2016, page 296.

267. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Mark A. Throntveit, Interpretation, Westminster John Knox, Louisville, Kentucky, 1992, pages 87-88.

268. The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the Old Testament, by John Walvoord and Roy Zuck, Victor Books, Wheaton, Illinois, 1985, page 684.

269. First and Second Kings, First and Second Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, by Edwin Yamauchi, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Volume 4), Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1988, page 715.

270. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, by Mervin Breneman, The New American Commentary, B&H Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee , 1993, pages 213-214.

271. Ezra and Nehemiah: Israel Returns from Exile, by John MacArthur, the MacArthur Bible Studies, Thomas Nelson, TN, 2016, pages 116-117.

272. Ezra and Nehemiah: Israel Returns from Exile, by John MacArthur, the MacArthur Bible Studies, Thomas Nelson, TN, 2016, page 119.

273. Take Another Brick, Timeless Lessons on Leadership, by Charles Swindoll, W Publishing Group, A Division of Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville TN, 2006, page 209.

274. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, by Mervin Breneman, The New American Commentary, B&H Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee, 1993, page 265.

275. The Wiersbe Bible Study Series: Be Determined: Nehemiah, by Warren Wiersbe, David Cooke Publisher, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 2012, page 149.

276. Take Another Brick, Timeless Lessons on Leadership, by Charles Swindoll, W Publishing Group, A Division of Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN, 2006, pgs 212-213.

277. The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the Old Testament, by John Walvoord and Roy Zuck, Victor Books, Wheaton, Illinois, 1985, page 694.

278. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek Kinder, Tyndale Old Testament Commentary, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois, 1979, page 139.

279. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Mark A. Throntveit, Interpretation, Westminster John Knox, Louisville, Kentucky, 1992, page 114.

280. The Wiersbe Bible Study Series: Be Determined: Nehemiah, by Warren Wiersbe, David Cooke Publisher, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 2012, page 151.

281. Take Another Brick, Timeless Lessons on Leadership, by Charles Swindoll, W Publishing Group, A Division of Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN, 2006, pgs 214-215.

282. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, by Mervin Breneman, The New American Commentary, B&H Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee , 1993, page 266.

283. av1611.com by Will Kinney

284. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, by Mervin Breneman, The New American Commentary, B&H Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee , 1993, pages 215-216.

285. Ibid, page 219.

286. Manners and Customs of the Bible, by James Freeman, Logos International, Plainfield, New Jersey, 1972, page 192.

287. Evangelism: A Biblical Approach, by Michael Cocoris, The Church on the Way, Los Angeles, California, 1992, pages 142-146.

288. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Mark A. Throntveit, Interpretation, Westminster John Knox, Louisville, Kentucky, 1992, page 112.

289. Take Another Brick, Timeless Lessons on Leadership, by Charles Swindoll, W Publishing Group, A Division of Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville TN, 2006, page 200.

290. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek Kinder, Tyndale Old Testament Commentary, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois, 1979, page 131.

291. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, by Mervin Breneman, The New American Commentary, B&H Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee , 1993, page 260.

292. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Mark A. Throntveit, Interpretation, Westminster John Knox, Louisville, Kentucky, 1992, page 113.
293. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek Kinder, Tyndale Old Testament Commentary, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois, 1979, pages 134-135.

294. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, by Mervin Breneman, The New American Commentary, B&H Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee , 1993, page 263.

295. The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the Old Testament, by John Walvoord and Roy Zuck, Victor Books, Wheaton, Illinois, 1985, page 1573.

296. Ibid, pages 1574-1583.

297. The Wiersbe Bible Study Series: Be Determined: Nehemiah, by Warren Wiersbe, David Cooke Publisher, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 2012, page 155.

298. Ibid, pages 156-157.

299. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theology Commentary, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 2016, pages 401-402.

300. Ibid, pages 403-404.

301. Ibid, page 404.

302. The Wiersbe Bible Study Series: Be Determined: Nehemiah, by Warren Wiersbe, David Cooke Publisher, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 2012, pages 163-164.

303. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theology Commentary, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 2016, pages 404-406.

304. Manners and Customs of the Bible, by James Freeman, Logos International, Plainfield, New Jersey, 1972, pages 197-198.

305. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, by Mervin Breneman, The New American Commentary, B&H Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee, 1993, page 44.

306. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theology Commentary, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 2016, pages 410-411.

307. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, by Mervin Breneman, The New American Commentary, B&H Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee, 1993, page 44.

 

2019-11-12T11:00:23+00:00 0 Comments

Cl – The Dedication of the Walls of Jerusalem Nehemiah 12: 27-47

The Dedication of the Walls of Jerusalem
Nehemiah 12: 27-47

DIG: How did the people celebrate the dedication of the wall in Jerusalem? What specific actions did the priests, the Levites and the singers take? What was the purpose of the processions? What groups were included? Who led each group? What direction did they go? If you were there, what would you see? Hear? Feel? If your local media were covering this event for the evening news, what picture stories and interviews would they be sure to get? What was the mood of the dedication ceremony? What steps of appreciation do the people take to ensure that those who served in the Temple – the priests, the Levites, the singers, and the gatekeepers – were cared for?

REFLECT: Review Nehemiah’s lonely walk around Jerusalem (see Bx – Nehemiah Inspects Jerusalem’s Walls). How does that compare with the grand procession here? What “before” and “after” story could you write from Nehemiah’s diary? Have you seen or experienced anything like that in your life? What steps is your place of worship taking to ensure you are taking care of those who are serving the Lord? How do you go about thanking ADONAI for shoring up the spiritual resources of your life? How are you, like Zerubbabel, Ezra and Nehemiah in finding, developing and using your gifts to build up God’s Kingdom?

445 BC During the ministry of Nehemiah (see Br – The Third Return).
Compiled by: The Chronicler from the Ezra and Nehemiah Memoirs
(see Ac – Ezra-Nehemiah from a Jewish Perspective: The Nehemiah Memoirs).

Ezra made it a priority to read the book of the Torah to all the people when he arrived in Jerusalem (see Bm – Ezra Reads the Torah Scroll of Moses), and over a decade later, Nehemiah was glad to dedicate the walls after they were completed and held a joyous dedication (see Ch – The Completion of the Walls Despite Opposition).

The dedication (Hebrew: hanukkah) of the wall culminates the efforts of the people under Nehemiah’s inspired leadership. Great enthusiasm must have characterized their procession to the joyful music. After the recapture of the Temple by Judas Maccabeus from the Seleucids on 25 Kislev 165 BC, the Temple was again rededicated (Second Maccabeus 1:18), an act that was the basis for the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah.

A Preparation for the joyous dedication: Even though the people of Judah had left their comfortable village life for the challenges of living in the big City, they carried with them a positive attitude, an infectious joy. Despite having to scrounge around for building materials and basic resources, they considered the adventure a privilege? Why? How? Because they fixed their eyes on ADONAI.273 At the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem, they sought out Levites from all their places to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with joy and thanksgiving, and songs with cymbals, harps and lyres. The companies of singers were also assembled from the district around Jerusalem and from the Netophathite villages (Ezra 2:22), and from Beth-gilgal, and from the fields of Geba and Azmavet, for the singers had built communities for themselves round about Jerusalem. After the cohanim and the Levites had purified themselves, they purified the people, the gates, and the wall (Nehemiah 12:27-30). We are not sure about the details of exactly what the purification included. It probably included fasting, abstaining form sexual intercourse, making sacrifices, and perhaps bathing and using clean garments (Genesis 35:2-3; Numbers 8:21-22; First Chronicles 29:15 and 35:6; Ezra 6:20; Nehemiah 12:22; Malachi 3:3).274

B1 Two large choirs started at the Valley Gate: Then I led the leaders of Judah up on top of the wall, and I appointed two great choirs to give thanks (Nehemiah 12:31a). Two processions led by priests and Levites, set out from the Valley Gate in opposite directions and made a circuit of the wall, meeting at the East Gate. Their “stepping out by faith” was a symbolic act to claim the blessing of ADONAI. In their day, to walk on a piece of property was to claim it as your own. YHVH said to Abraham, “Get up! Walk about the Land through its length and width – for I will give it to you (Genesis 13:17). He also said to Joshua, “Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I am giving it to you” (Joshua 1:3). So, that joyful march on the walls was their way of saying, “We claim from YHVH all that He has for us, just as our forefathers claimed this Land by faith.”275

B2 The first large thanksgiving choir, moved counterclockwise, walking to the right:

Ba Hoshaiah and the Levitical choir: And going after them, Hoshaiah and half of the leaders of Judah (Nehemiah 12:32).

Bb Seven priests with trumpets: Azariah, Ezra, and Meshullam, Judah, Benjamin, Shemaiah and Jeremiah, some of the cohanim with trumpets (Nehemiah 12:33-35a)

Bc Zechariah and eight Levitical musical instruments: Zechariah son of Jonathan, son of Shemaiah, son of Mattaniah, son of Micaiah, son of Zaccur, son of Asaph, and his brothers, Shemaiah, Azarel, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethanel, Judah and Hanani – all with the musical instruments of David the man of God ( Nehemiah 12:35b-36a)

Bd Ezra the scribe: And Ezra the scribe was ahead of them (Nehemiah 12:36b). Ezra led the first large choir walking to the right and Nehemiah led the other choir walking to the left. Apparently Ezra continued to live in Jerusalem as part of the priestly community, thirteen years after arriving in the Holy City.

C One choir right moving counterclockwise on top of the right side of the wall: One of the processions went to the right on top of the wall toward the Dung Gate. They went over the Fountain Gate (Nehemiah 3:15) and continued up the stairs of the city of David at the ascent to the wall, and passed, above the house of David all the way to the Water Gate (Nehemiah 3:26) toward the east (Nehemiah 12:31b and 37).

There were two great processions, probably starting at the Valley Gate on the western section of the wall, the point at which Nehemiah’s inspection of the walls began (see Bx – Nehemiah Inspects Jerusalem’s Walls). By starting at that strategic location and walking in opposite directions on top of the wall, the two choirs reenacted his earlier midnight investigation, arriving at the Temple for the dedication service. The first procession led by Ezra and Hoshaiah moved in a counterclockwise direction on the wall; the second with Nehemiah moved in a clockwise direction. They met at the East Gate and entered the Temple and entered there with much joy. A joyful heart is good medicine (Proverbs 17:22 NASB), and A joyful heart makes a cheerful face, but when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken (Proverbs 15:13 NASB). Isn’t that the truth! People want to be near the person who smiles and sings their way through life. A joyful heart is contagious. And it fits any situation, no matter how bad the circumstances.276

Their walking on top of the wall visually demonstrated that the walls were strong, a rejoinder to Tobiah’s earlier mocking claim that the wall would be so weak that even a fox on top of it would crumble it (Nehemiah 4:3). Perhaps Nehemiah wanted Tobiah to see that with God’s help the project was completed in spite of his and others opposition. Since the people carried no spears, swords, or bows, because the enemy had no doubt withdrawn. Seeing the two large parallel choirs parading on the walls drawing a sacred circle must have been an impressive sight.277

C One choir went left moving clockwise on top of the left side of the wall: The second thanksgiving choir proceeded to the left. I followed them, along with half of the people on the wall above the Tower of the Furnaces as far as the Broad Wall, over the Ephraim Gate (or the Fish Gate as seen in Nehemiah 3:3 located in the center of the north wall), the gate of the old city, the Fish Gate, the Tower of Hananel and the Tower of the Hundred, to the Sheep Gate. They stopped at the Gate of the Guard (Nehemiah 12:38-39). Nehemiah, behind the singers, led the other half of the procession.

B1 Two large choirs meet and stood in the House of God: So the two thanksgiving choirs stood in the House of God (Nehemiah 12:40). The walls were, appropriately, the circumference, not the focal point of the celebration, and it was the choirs, not the officials, who led the way.278 When the two choirs met in the Temple the three motifs which have dominated Ezra-Nehemiahthe Temple, spiritual revival, and the walls – were brought together.

B2 The second large thanksgiving choir, moved clockwise, walking to the left:

Ba Nehemiah and half of the officials: So did [Nehemiah] along with half the officials with me (Nehemiah 12:41a)

Bb Seven priests with trumpets: And the cohanim – Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Micaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah, and Hananiah with their trumpets (Nehemiah 12:41b)

Bc Jezrahiah and eight Levitical singers: And also Maaseiah, Shemaiah, Eleazar, Uzzi, Jehohanan, Malchijah, Elam and Ezer. To the accompaniment of musical instruments, the singers sang under the direction of Jezrahiah (Nehemiah 12:42).

A Performance of the joyous dedication: Joy is not dependent on outward circumstances but upon an inward choice. When you have chosen to focus on what’s important in any situation, have a positive attitude. It all depends upon what you choose to make your focus. On that day they offered great sacrifices and rejoiced, for God had given them great joy (Psalm 48:12-14). The women and children also rejoiced. The joy in Jerusalem could be heard from far off (Nehemiah 12:43). The emphasis at this concluding celebration is one of unqualified joy; the word itself, as a verb or a noun, comes no less than five times in this verse. One can only imagine the emotional impact of the procession, not only for Nehemiah, who would see it as a triumphant conclusion to his major task, but also for the builders, who had labored so courageously on the wall.279

This was the third time in Isra’el’s history that their shouting was heard from far off. The soldiers shouted so loud that the ground shook when the ark of the Covenant came into their camp (First Samuel 4:5), but that eventually led to shameful defeat. When the Temple foundation was laid nearly a century earlier, the workers shouted for joy, but their joy was mingled with sorrow (Ezra 3:8-13). However, because the shout from Yerushalayim during this dedication service was sheer joy to the glory of ADONAI, and because it is recorded in the Bible, it was a shout heard around the world!280

In the twelfth and last example of leadership in the life of Nehemiah, effective leaders are positive people (see Bt – The Third Return). Do you bring joy to those you lead? Is your leadership marked by a good sense of humor? I know of few things more magnetic than a smile or a cheerful disposition, especially among those in ministry. How easy it is to become intense, severe, grim, and even oppressive! The people under Nehemiah’s leadership felt free to rejoice and laugh. Do the people under your leadership feel that freedom? The Jews on the wall rejoiced over God’s provision. They sang together, and their joy flooded the hillside, so all could hear and be glad. Had their circumstances changed? No, they had changed. Have you?281

Not long after, Nehemiah took advantage of the celebration to provide ongoing worship. On that day Jerusalem men were appointed over the storehouses for the offerings, firstfruits and tithes. They were to gather into them the portions from the fields of the cities required by the Torah for the kohanim and the Levites. Nehemiah had the cohanim and in the Levites who were ministering follow the order of responsibilities outlined more than five-hundred years earlier by David (see the commentary on the Life of David Eq – David Makes Arrangements for Temple Services), and presumably established by Solomon. They kept the ceremonial functions of their God and the ceremony of the purification according to the command of David and of Solomon his son. For of old, in the days of David and Asaph, the chief of the singers (First Chronicles 15:19, 16:4-5 and 37), there were leaders of the singers who sang songs of praise and thanksgiving to God.

Their goal was not to please people but ADONAI; their model for worship was not the current fad but biblical instruction. They were careful to follow what was written in God’s Word. They may have been torn between scriptural authority and the pull of creativity to adapt to a new situation. God is pleased with creativity; but more importantly He demands faithfulness to His revelation. The combination of the two is a constant challenge to those in charge of leading worship.282

The result of a ministry that aimed to please God and to be faithful to His Word was that in the days of Zerubbabel and of Nehemiah, all Isra’el gave daily portions for the singers and the gatekeepers. They also set apart the portion for the Levites, and the Levites set apart the portion for the sons of Aaron (Nehemiah 12:44-47).

 

2019-10-30T19:26:09+00:00 0 Comments

Ct – Bibliography

Bibliography

Albright, W. F. History, Archaeology and Christian Humanism. New York, McGraw Hill, 1964.

Breneman, Mervin. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther. Nashville: Broadman, 1993.

Cocoris, Michael. Evangelism: A Biblical Approach. South Pasadena: The Church on the Way, 1988.

Coleman, Lyle. The Serendipity Bible. Littleton, Serendipity House, 1988.

Gaebelein, Frank E, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Volume 4) First and Second Kings, First and Second Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job

Kasdan, Barney. God’s Appointed Times. Baltimore: Lederer Publications, 1993.

Kraft, Dave. Learning Leadership from Nehemiah, www.davecraft.org

Erickson, Millard. Christian Theology. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1985.

Fee, Gordon and Stuart, Douglas. How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1982.

Feinberg, Charles. The Minor Prophets. Chicago: Moody Press, 1951.

Fensham, Charles. The Books of Ezra and Nehemiah. NICOT, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1983.

Holmgren, Fredrick. C. Ezra and Nehemiah: Isra’el Alive Again. ITC,

Freedman, Rabbi H. Ezra-Nehemiah, London: The Soncino Press, 1949.

Freeman, James. Manners and Customs of the Bible. Plainfield: Logos International, 1972.

Kinder, Derek. Ezra-Nehemiah. Downers Grove: TOTC, 1979.

Laney, J. Carl. Answers to Tough Questions. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1997.

McConville, J. G. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2006.

Morris, Henry. The Bible Has the Answer. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1991.

Myers, Jacob. Ezra-Nehemiah. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1988.

Oswalt, John. The New International Commentary on Isaiah 40-66. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998.

Shapira, Itzhak. Return of the Kosher Pig. Clarksville: Messianic Jewish Pub, 2013.

Stern, David. The Complete Jewish Bible. Clarksville: Jewish New Testament Pub, 1998.

Stone, Nathan. The Names of God. Chicago, Moody Press, 1944.

Swindoll, Charles. Hand Me Another Brick, Thomas Nelson

Thomas, Derek, Ezra-Nehemiah. Reformed Theology Commentary, 2016.

Throntveit, Mark A. Ezra-Nehemiah, Interp. Westminster John Knox, 1992.

Walvoord, John and Zuck, Roy. The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the Old Testament. Wheaton: Victor Books, 1985.

Wiersbe, Warren. The Wiersbe Bible Study Series: Be Determined: Nehemiah. Colorado Springs: David Cook Publisher, 2012.

Williamson, H. G. M. Ezra/Nehemiah, Word Bible Commentary. Wacom 1985

 

2019-10-30T10:58:43+00:00 0 Comments

Cr – Nehemiah’s Final Reforms Nehemiah 13: 1-31

Nehemiah’s Final Reforms
Nehemiah 13: 1-31

DIG: What happened soon after Nehemiah was no longer governor of Jerusalem? What five reforms did Nehemiah make upon his return from Babylon for which he wanted ADONAI to “remember” him? Why did Nehemiah react against Tobiah the way he did? What made it necessary for Nehemiah to rectify the neglect of God’s House? What made Sabbath reform necessary? How does common use of sacred things profane God’s name and thus stir up His wrath? Some twenty-five years earlier, Ezra had dealt with the same problem of intermarriage with foreigners (see), but quite differently than Nehemiah did here. How are they different and why? What made marrying foreign women so evil? What example of this did Nehemiah make of Solomon and Joiada’s son?

REFLECT: Which of the reforms addressed by Nehemiah needs attention in your society? Which has contributed more to your people drifting away from God? What would it mean for you to “clean house” at work? At home? At your place of worship? In your heart? Have you ever acted like Eliashib or Tobiah and taken advantage of your privileged position? If so, what caused you to change? Have you changed? What is the most important thing you learned from this study of the life of Nehemiah? How can you help others by what you have learned? What life-changing application are you making? What life application would you like ADONAI to favorably “remember?”

433-432 BC During the ministry of Nehemiah (see Br – The Third Return).
Compiled by: The Chronicler from the Ezra and Nehemiah Memoirs
(see Ac – Ezra-Nehemiah from a Jewish Perspective: The Nehemiah Memoirs).

General William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, once said to a group of new officers, “I want you young men always to bear in mind that it is the nature of a fire to go out; you must keep it stirred and fed and the ashes removed.” After twelve years of as governor (Nehemiah 5:14), Nehemiah returned to Susa, the capital of Persia for about a year (Nehemiah 13:6), only to return and find the fires of devotion had gone out in Jerusalem (Nehemiah 13:7). When he returned to the City of David, he discovered that the situation had deteriorated dramatically. Nehemiah immediately began to act decisively to change the situation.297

What Nehemiah found out on his return from Susa: In those days, Nehemiah read the scroll of Moses aloud in the hearing of the people. And not coincidentally, the command was found written in it that no Ammonite or Moabite should enter into the Assembly of God forever. And when they heard the Torah, the leaders of the community did what it commanded, and separated from Isra’el all of the mixed multitude (Nehemiah 13:1 and 3). Why did Nehemiah read those specific scriptures about the Ammonites and the Moabites?

Ammon and Mo’ab were born from the incestuous union of Lot and two of his daughters (see the commentary on Genesis Fb – Let’s Get Our Father to Drink Wine and then Lie with Him), and their descendants were the avowed enemies of the Jews. Somehow this mixed multitude had infiltrated the people of Isra’el in spite of previous purgings (Nehemiah 9:2 and 10:28). It was this mixed multitude that gave Moshe so much trouble (Exodus 12:38; Numbers 11:4-6), and it gives the Church trouble today. The mixed multitude is composed of unsaved people who want to belong to the fellowship of God’s people without trusting the LORD or submitting to His will. They want the blessings, but not the obligations, and their appetite is still for the things of this world as seen in the book of Jude.

For they did not meet Bnei-Yisrael with bread and water, but instead, about a thousand years earlier, hired the false prophet Balaam to curse them (Nehemiah 13:2). However, each time Balaam tried to curse Isra’el, our God turned the curse into a blessing (Numbers Chapters 22-24). Finally, Balaam hit upon a scheme to defeat Isra’el. He encouraged the Moabites to be “neighborly” and invite the Jews to share in their religious feasts, which involved immorality and idolatry (Numbers 25). Balaam knew that human nature would respond to the opportunity for sin, and the Jews would fall away from ADONAI. As a result of their sin, Isra’el was disciplined by Ha’Shem and 24,000 people died.298

When Nehemiah returned to Persia to give a report to King Artakh’shasta in 433 BC, things quickly deteriorated. Twenty-five years after Ezra’s reforms (see Bn – Ezra’s Reforms) in 458 BC, Nehemiah launched another series of reforms. But after only a year the Jews fell into the trap of mixed marriages. It should not be a shock to us that this should happen. The same thing happened after a strong leader like Ezra had departed. It happened again after Josiah was killed (see the commentary on Jeremiah Ai – Josiah Ruled for 31 Years from 640 to 609 BC). Neither Nehemiah, nor Ezra, nor Josiah failed. They had each faithfully delivered God’s messages. The people who disobeyed were the ones who had failed.

Not only were some of the Jews married to Ammonites or Moabites, but an Ammonite was actually living in the Temple! Prior to Nehemiah’s return from Susa in 432 BC, Eliashib the high priest had let Tobiah the Ammonite use one of the storerooms for offerings in the House of God. He had appeared as one of a trinity of evil plotters and schemers in Nehemiah Chapters 2 and 4. Together with Sanballat and Geshem, Tobiah had sought to prevent the Israelites from rebuilding the walls of Yerushalayim. Eliashib was said to be related to Tobiah (Nehemiah 13:4), probably by marriage. Nevertheless, it was a classic case of compromise with the enemy of God. Tobiah had managed to acquire a large chamber previously used to store the offerings, frankincense, and the Temple vessels, and also the tithes of grain, wine and oil prescribed for the Levites, singers and gatekeepers, along with the offerings for the cohanim (Nehemiah 13:4-5). He had usurped a room set apart for holy use for his own personal self-aggrandizement. It was, in Nehemiah’s eyes, at best, a flagrant abuse of personal privilege; and at worse, a blasphemous disregard for the holiness of ADONAI Himself.299

When Nehemiah was given permission by the king to return, he discovered the evil that Eliashib had done by preparing a chamber for Tobiah in the courts of the House of God. I was so angry that I threw all of Tobiah’s household goods outside of the storeroom and commanded the storerooms to be cleansed. Certain things cannot be tolerated in the House of God at any time, and Tobiah’s actions (let alone Eliashib’s involvement in them) were a serious case of defilement, one that required the storeroom and its adjoining rooms to be purified. Nehemiah wasted no time in throwing him out and rededicating the storerooms. Then, at my order, they cleansed the rooms; and I restored the utensils of the House of God, the grain offerings and the frankincense (Nehemiah 13:7b-9 CJB). Like our Lord, Nehemiah had to cleanse the Temple, and it appeared that he had to do it alone.

The lesson here is that there is only one way to coast . . . downhill. Decline comes often swiftly. Without a firm moral plumb line and spiritual leadership, we are prone to drift away from our moorings. We must pay the most careful attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away (Hebrews 2:1). We should ask ourselves: how firmly would I hold my convictions if those on whose leadership I depend were suddenly taken away? It is Nehemiah’s response, however, that catches us by surprise – the swiftness of it, the violence of it. And we cannot help but think of the reaction of Yeshua when encountering the worldly sounds of the money-changers in the Temple compound (see the commentary on The Life of Christ Bs – Jesus’ First Cleansing of the Temple at the Passover). Do you ever feel a righteous anger when God’s holiness is abused? What is your response when worldliness rears its ugly head in your place of worship? There are times when anger is not only an understandable response, but the right response (Ephesians 4:26).300

Financial support for the Temple had declined: Nehemiah’s response to Tobiah was only the start of a series of actions performed by an irate governor, angry at the regress of reform that had taken place over the year of his absence. It appears that financial support for the Temple and its administration had declined during Nehemiah’s absence. I also learned that the portions for the Levites had not been provided. Perhaps Nehemiah learned of this neglect as he was restoring the storerooms to their proper function. But he didn’t rebuke the Levites and singers who abandoned their posts and had gone back to their own fields. They were not receiving their tithes, and no one could blame them for going home to take care of their families. Nehemiah laid the blame where it belonged. So I rebuked the leaders and asked: Why has the House of God been forsaken? The Levites and singers were probably discouraged seeing the hypocrisy of Eliashib the cohen gadol allowing their former enemy Tobiah taking up residence in the Temple. I assembled them and stationed them at their posts in the Temple (Nehemiah 13:10-11). Part of Nehemiah’s greatness as a leader was his ability to apportion blame where it belonged and to engage in action to restore order by stationing reliable men in leadership positions.301

Then all the lay members of Judah brought the tithe of grain, new wine and oil to the storehouses. Then Nehemiah appointed four men: Shelemiah the cohen, Zadok the scribe, and Pedaiah from the Levites in charge over the storehouses, and made Hanan son of Zaccur son of Mattaniah their assistant, because these men were considered faithful. They were responsible for distributing the tithe to their brothers. As a man of prayer, Nehemiah committed to ADONAI what he had so faithfully done. Remember me for this, O my God, and do not blot out my loving kindness (Hebrew: chesed, see the commentary on Ruth Af – The Concept of Chesed) that I have done for the House of my God and for overseeing it (Nehemiah 13:12-14). This is the ninth of twelve prayers recorded in Nehemiah (9:5ff, 1:5-11, 2:4, 4:4, 4:9, 5:19, 6:9, 6:14, here, 13:22, 13:29, and 13:31). Nehemiah is a good example of someone who personified faithfulness, kindness, goodness, mercy, love and compassion, but primarily loyalty to a covenant.

The Sabbath had been desecrated: Dislike of the Sabbath was nothing new in the life of Isra’el. Three hundred years earlier, the prophet Amos had accused Isra’el of resisting shutting down of business on Shabbat (Amos 8:5). One hundred fifty years earlier, the prophet Jeremiah had described beasts of burden carrying loads in and out of the City on the Sabbath (see the commentary on Jeremiah Ct – The Sabbath and National Survival). This bustling scene revealed how rapidly the trickle, which must have begun in Nehemiah’s absence of only a year had become a flood.

In those days, I saw in Judah, in the country towns outside of the City, some people treading wine presses on the Shabbat, some bringing and loading heaps of grain on donkeys, as well as wine, grapes, figs and various other burdens, bringing them into Jerusalem on the Shabbat day. So I warned them about selling food on that day. Men from Tyre who lived there were bringing fish and all kinds of merchandise and were selling it on the Yom Shabbat to the children of Judah, even in Jerusalem (Nehemiah 13:15-16). The sin was being aggravated by the Sabbath being desecrated in the Holy City.

So I complained to the nobles of Judah who bore the responsibility, and asked them, “What is this evil thing that you are doing? You are profaning Yom Shabbat! Didn’t your ancestors do exactly the same causing our God to bring all this evil (exile and foreign domination) upon us and upon this city (Isaiah 63:13; Jeremiah 17:21ff; Ezeki’el 20:16)? So now you are bringing even more wrath upon Isra’el by profaning Yom Shabbat” (Nehemiah 13:17-18).

Again, Nehemiah took definite action. When evening darkness began to fall on the gates of Jerusalem on Friday before Yom Shabbat, I commanded the doors to be shut. I further commanded that they should not be opened till after Yom Shabbat. I appointed some of my attendants over the gates so that no burden could enter during Shabbat (Nehemiah 13:19).

Some, seemingly agreed by not selling on Shabbat, worked nonetheless by spending the night outside the wall so they could gain an advantage in the market the following day. But Nehemiah would have none of it. Once or twice the traders and those selling all kinds of merchandise camped outside Jerusalem. But I warned them and said to them, “Why are you camping next to the wall? If you do so again, I will lay hands on you.” Being the governor of the City, Nehemiah had the authority to institute such regulations. From that time they no longer came on the Shabbat (Nehemiah 13:20-21).

Then I commanded the Levites to purify themselves, and to come and guard the gates in order to sanctify Yom Shabbat. Apparently Nehemiah’s attendants (verse 19) who were ordered to keep watch at the gates were replaced or reinforced by Levites, and to impress upon them that their duty was holy, since it was for the purpose of keeping the Sabbath holy, they were ordered to make themselves ritually clean when they came on guard. Nehemiah prayed: Remember this also on my behalf, O my God, and have compassion on me according to the greatness of your lovingkindness (Nehemiah 13:22). This is the tenth of twelve prayers recorded in Nehemiah (9:5ff, 1:5-11, 2:4, 4:4, 4:9, 5:19, 6:9, 6:14, 13:14, here, 13:29, and 13:31).

The Lord’s Day, the first day of the week, is not a “Christian Sabbath,” because Shabbat is the seventh day of the week and belonged specifically to the Jews. Therefore, the commandments governing the Jewish Sabbath do not apply to the Lord’s Day. Sunday commemorates the resurrection of Yeshua Messiah from the dead. Both days glorify YHVH.302

It is interesting to compare and contrast Ezra and Nehemiah here. In some ways, both kinds of temperaments are used by ADONAI, and in the end, a perfect balance is to be found in Yeshua Messiah. In the end, neither Ezra nor Nehemiah was capable of transforming Isra’el; an even greater leader was needed to do that. And as a point of comparison, in a very real sense the book of Ezra-Nehemiah leaves us with a sense of “unfinished business” about what had been accomplished. Before the exile, Isaiah had seen a far more glorious future (see the commentary on Isaiah Jt – Isra’el in the Messianic Kingdom). As the book of Ezra-Nehemiah closes, there is a perceptible ache for ultimate and complete fulfillment – one that was inaugurated in by the birth of Jesus Christ.303

Mixed marriages continued to be a problem: By the time Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem, it had become evident that a serious problem was present in Isra’el’s marriage policy. The separation policy invoked many years earlier (Nehemiah 13:3) had obviously failed. In those days, perhaps on a journey of inspection (verse 15), I also saw some Jews who had married women from Ashdod, Ammon and Moab. Worse yet, half of their children spoke the dialect of Ashdod or the language of other people, but none of them understood Hebrew, the language of Judah (Nehemiah 13:23-24). The sight of the children who were unable to speak or understand Hebrew drove Nehemiah into a rage. So I rebuked them. I cursed them, beat some of their men and pulled their beards. This is equivalent to the term “pulling the hair out by the roots.” It was sometimes self-inflicted suffering as a token or mourning (see Ezra 9:3), sometimes it was an act of cruel persecution (see Isaiah 50:6), and sometimes as a punishment as represented here in the text. It is said that the Athenians punished adulterers by tearing the hair from their scalps and then covering the head with hot ashes.304

In an earlier account, Ezra described in vivid detail how a spiritually broken people gathered on a rainy day in Jerusalem to confess their sin of intermarriage with unbelievers. For three months Ezra examined individual cases, resulting in about a hundred cases – including priests and Levites – of intermarriage with pagan wives. There are those who say that Nehemiah’s attacks on mixed marriages imply that if Ezra’s reforms had been successful, Nehemiah shouldn’t have had to revisit them. However, Nehemiah was dealing with isolated cases. The main problem had been adequately taken care of under Ezra’s reform, but Nehemiah seemed to be responsible for putting a period to the principle of adhering to God’s Word to the problem of mixed marriages.305 I made them swear by God, saying: You shall not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons – or for yourselves. Didn’t Solomon king of Isra’el sin about these things (see the commentary on the Life of Solomon Bj – Solomon’s Wives)? Yet among many nations there was never any king like him. Yes, he was beloved by his God, and God made him king over all Isra’el. Nevertheless, the foreign women caused even him to sin. Must we then hear about you doing all this great evil, thereby being unfaithful with our God by marrying foreign women (Nehemiah 13:25-27)?

The matter was intensified by the fact that certain priests were guilty of the same offense. Now one of the sons of Joiada, son of Eliashib the cohen gadol, was son-in-law of Sanballat the Horonite, the enemy of the Jews (see). So I drove him from me. That the grandson of the High Priest was tainted by the evil justified the drastic action against him. Josephus connects this incident with the final separation of the Samaritans and their erection of a temple on Mount Gerizim (Antiquities XI. viii. I).

Nehemiah lived on the frontier between two worlds: life as ADONAI intended it to be and life as the Righteous of the TaNaKh had chosen to make it. Throughout his life, Nehemiah was forced to choose between self and YHVH, sin and holiness, compromise and resolute determination to do what Ha’Shem asked of him. He has emerged as a hero, a larger-than-life individual with strength of character and an occasional wart. He has proved himself to be a leader of men, gifted with an extraordinary resourcefulness and determination to attempt great things for the LORD. He has also shown himself capable of compassion and indignation. As someone intent on promoting God’s glory in everything, he can appear overbearing and intolerant. We notice his imprecatory prayers, literally throwing his weight about, bullying, persuading, and threatening. But in an age that mistrusts such masculine qualities, Nehemiah is thrown into a bad light. Though the Chronicler views him as an exemplary character, we are not obligated to defend his every action any more than we would the actions of David or Solomon or even Paul. Some wonder whether the latter’s refusal to take John Mark on a Second Missionary Journey (see the commentary on Acts Bv – Disagreement between Paul and Barnabas) after the young disciple had left the apostle on the First Missionary Journey and gone home was too harsh and uncharitable. Nehemiah, like almost all other biblical characters, has feet of clay. Only Yeshua is sinless.306

Nehemiah’s final prayer: Then Nehemiah prayed: O my God, please remember them for the defilement of the priesthood as well as the covenant of the priesthood and the Levites (Nehemiah 13:28-29). This is the eleventh of twelve prayers recorded in Nehemiah (9:5ff, 1:5-11, 2:4, 4:4, 4:9, 5:19, 6:9, 6:14, 13:14, 13:22, here, and 13:31). His actions were godly, done in grateful response to the LORD’s loving kindness (Hebrew: chesed) to him and to the people of Isra’el.

So I purged them from everything foreign, their pagan wives and customs that they had introduced, and I assigned duties for the cohanim and the Levites, each to his own task, and for the wood offering at the appointed times and for the first fruits. Remember me, O my God, for good (Nehemiah 13:30-31). This is the last of twelve prayers recorded in Nehemiah (9:5ff, 1:5-11, 2:4, 4:4, 4:9, 5:19, 6:9, 6:14, 13:14, 13:22, 13:29, and here). Nehemiah started with a prayer (Ezra 1:5-11) and ends with this prayer. These verses serve as a short conclusion to the book. Nehemiah is known for rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. However, he finished his report to the king of Persia with more emphasis on the establishment and purification of a community worshiping ADONAI. Nehemiah was persistent in seeking that goal.307

 

2019-10-30T10:54:17+00:00 0 Comments

Cq – Malachi: The Pollution of the Priesthood Malachi 1:1 to 2:17

Malachi: The Pollution of the Priesthood
Malachi 1:1 to 2:17

DIG: How did ADONAI show His love to Isra’el? What happened to that love? Who is the target of God’s probing questions (Malachi 1:6-8)? What was wrong with their offerings? Why is Ha’Shem so harsh with the priests? What did they do to deserve it? What did the LORD’s covenant with Levi require (Malachi 2:1-7; Numbers 3:12-13, 25:10-13). How had the priests altered God’s ministry position for them? What had been the effect of their actions on others? How had Judah broken faith? With whom? What did that have to do with the creation and covenant? What sin was separating them from God? Why does YHVH hate divorce? What are we urged to do?

REFLECT: When have you asked the LORD to prove His love for you? What was His response? How might your attitude or actions honor or dishonor God? Are His commandments a burden to you or a joy? Has anyone ever stumbled in their faith due to what you did or didn’t do? Explain. How often are your prayers unanswered due to unconfessed sin or a wrong heart attitude toward ADONAI or others? How could you “take heed to your spirit, and not break faith” (Malachi 2:16)? In what situations are you most on guard? Most vulnerable? Who can you help this week?

Malachi ministered during the days of Nehemiah (see Bt – The Third Return), about twenty-five years after Ezra’s reforms in 457 BC (see Bl – Ezra’s Reforms), and about twelve years after the dedication ceremony of the walls in 445 BC (see Cl – The Dedication of the Walls of Jerusalem). It is therefore amazing that the state of the priesthood could have deteriorated in such a short period of time. But deteriorate it did. The moral and spiritual conditions in Malachi were similar to those encountered by Ezra and Nehemiah. These included marriages to unbelievers (Malachi 2:10-11; Ezra 9:1-2; Nehemiah 13:1-2, 23-28), lack of the people’s support for the Levites (Malachi 3:10; Nehemiah 13:10), and oppression of the poor (Malachi 3:5; Nehemiah 5:4-5).295 Nehemiah would have to return from Babylon in 432 BC (Nehemiah 13:6-7) to institute his final reforms (see Cr – Nehemiah’s Final Reforms). As a result, Malachi’s message was, for the most part, rebuke and condemnation. The spirit of the priesthood in his day would later develop into the sects of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

A prophecy, the word of ADONAI to Isra’el through Mal’akhi:

Jacob chosen, Esau not chosen: “I love you,” says ADONAI (Malachi 1:1 CJB). One is reminded of Hosea 11:1, 3-4, 8-9, and God’s tender words in Isaiah 43:4. But His love for Isra’el occurred before her existence; He loved her in that He sovereignly and graciously chose her (elected her) to be His own possession. This was clearly revealed at the time He gave the covenant at Mount Sinai (Deuteronomy 4:37-40, 7:9-15). Acknowledging YHVH’s love for her, Isra’el should have responded by loving and obeying Him (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).

The judgment of Edom: But the Israelites asked: How do you show us Your love? By questioning God’s claim, Isra’el was betraying His faithfulness to His covenant. Her failure to believe His Word caused her to fall into sin. ADONAI answered: “Esav was Ya‘akov’s brother. Yet I loved [chosen] Ya‘akov but hated [not chosen] Esav. I made his mountains desolate and gave his territory to desert jackals.” Edom says: We are beaten down now, but we will come back and rebuild the ruins. ADONAI-Tzva’ot, or the LORD of heaven’s angelic armies, answers: They can build, but I will demolish. They will be called the Land of Wickedness (Obediah 8-14), the people with whom ADONAI is permanently angry. Isra’el’s borders were borders of blessing. On the one side was Isra’el whom God loved and chose to set apart. On the other side was Edom who God had not chosen. Rather, Edom would be destroyed by Him in His wrath (see the commentary on Isaiah Gi – Edom’s Streams Will Be Turned into Pitch). Isra’el, seeing God’s sovereign dealings with Edom, should have had a better understanding not only of God’s love for her, but also of His greatness over all the earth: ADONAI is great, even beyond the borders of Isra’el (Malachi 1:2-5 CJB).

The pollution of the sacrifices: Malachi spoke of proper relationships in society, relationships Isra’el should have insisted on. A son honors his father and a servant his master. The question that follows compares her relationship with the LORD. So God’s question was sharply presented. But if I’m a father, where is the honor (Hebrew: kabod can also mean glory) due me? and if I’m a Master, where is the respect due me? says ADONAI -Tzva’ot to you cohanim who despise my Name. This charge is doubly sad because after the return from the Babylonian captivity, the priests were responsible to teach the people God’s covenant and turn their hearts to Him (Ezra 6:16-22; Nehemiah 9:38 to 10:39). If the priests had failed to honor YHVH, what could be expected of the people? However, the priests were seemingly, and surprisingly, totally unaware that they had despised His Name. You ask: How are we despising your name? By offering polluted food on my altar! Now you ask: How are we polluting you? The priests had specific instructions on what constituted defiled sacrifices (Leviticus 22:17-30). They were warned against offering such sacrifices or they would defile God’s Name (Leviticus 22:2 and 32). Yet, they were guilty of that very sin. By saying that the table of ADONAI doesn’t deserve respect; so that there’s nothing wrong with offering a blind animal as a sacrifice, nothing wrong with offering an animal that’s lame or sick. Try offering such an animal to your governor, and see if he will be pleased with you! Would he even receive you?” asks ADONAI-Tzva’ot. So if you pray now that God will show us favor, what your actions have accomplished is that ADONAI-Tzva’ot asks: Will He receive any of you? “Why doesn’t even one of you shut the doors and thus stop this useless lighting of fires on my altar? I take no pleasure in you,” says ADONAI-Tzva’ot, “and I will not receive an offering from you (Malachi 1:6-10 CJB). To emphasize His point, God said the whole Temple sacrificial service might as well be shut down. It was useless.

For from farthest east to farthest west my Name will be great among the nations. Offerings are presented to my name everywhere, pure gifts; for my Name will be great among the Gentile nations,” says ADONAI-Tzva’ot (Malachi 1:11 CJB). The prophets predicted a time when Gentiles will see the light and become worshipers of ADONAI (Isaiah 45:22-25, 49:5-7, 59:19). The Messiah will become King for a thousand years over the entire earth (see the commentary on Revelation Fh – The Dispensation of the Messianic Kingdom). Believers in all the Gentile nations will worship Him (Isaiah 11:3-4; Daniel 7:13-14, 27-28; Zephaniah 2:11, 3:8-11; Zechariah 14:9 and 16). Malachi also spoke of the day in the far eschatological future when the Lord will return and bring about pure offerings in Isra’el (3:1-4).

After speaking of the pure offerings in the Messianic Kingdom, Malachi referred once again to the immediate condition of the priests of his day. But you profane it by saying that the table of ADONAI is polluted, so that the fruit and food offered deserve contempt. They didn’t care enough to set things right. Being involved in offering the sacrifices on the bronze altar was just a burden. You also say, “It’s all so tiresome!” and sniff scornfully at it, says ADONAI-Tzva’ot. Then you bring animals that were taken by violence, or they are lame or sick. This is the sort of offering you bring. Am I supposed to accept this from you? asks ADONAI.  Moreover, cursed is the deceiver who has a male animal in his flock that is damaged, but vows and sacrifices to ADONAI anyway. For I am a great King, says Adonai-Tzva’ot, and my Name is respected among the nations (Malachi 1:12-14 CJB). Certainly no one would try to cheat a king for fear of being punished. Nor should one try to cheat the Great King, the One whose Name is respected among the nations. Therefore, Malachi ends Chapter One by emphasizing God’s supreme authority.

The pollution of the priesthood: After giving and substantiating the charge against the priests, Malachi gave them a command. Now, cohanim, this command is for you. If you won’t listen, if you won’t pay attention to honoring my name,” says ADONAI-Tzva’ot, “then I will send the curse on you (Deuteronomy 27:15-26 and 28:15-68); I will turn your blessings into curses. Yes, I will curse them, because you pay no attention. I will reject your seed; I will throw dung in your faces making you unclean, the dung from your festival offerings; and much like the waste material of the sacrifices is discarded, you will likewise be carted off with it. Then you will know that I sent you this command to affirm my covenant with Levi,” says ADONAI-Tzva’ot. My covenant with him, and his descendants the priests, was one of life and peace, and I gave him these things. This seems to recall how Phinehas’ zeal for YHVH turned away God’s wrath from the people (Numbers 25:11). It was also one of fear, and he feared me; he was in awe of my name. The true instruction [Torah] was in his mouth, and no dishonesty was found on his lips; he walked with me in peace and uprightness and turned many away from sin. The priests were to teach the Torah (Deuteronomy 33:10). A Cohen’s lips should safeguard knowledge, and people should seek Torah from his mouth, because he is the messenger of ADONAI-Tzva’ot. However, since they were not giving true instruction, they were rebuked by the prophet whose very name, ironically, means My messenger. But you turned away from the path, you caused many to fail in the Torah. Saying that defiled sacrifices were acceptable had corrupted the covenant of Levi, says ADONAI-Tzva’ot. Therefore, I have in turn made you contemptible and vile before all the people, because you did not keep my ways but were partial in applying the Torah (Malachi 2:1-9 CJB).

Judah unfaithful: Don’t we all have the same Father? Didn’t one God create us all?
Isra’el
was like God’s firstborn son (Exodus 4:22; Hosea 11:1). The fact that YHVH had created Isra’el to be a distinct people on the earth (Amos 3:2) formed the background for the problem Malachi would now discuss. Then why do we break faith (Hebrew: bagad, meaning to act unfaithfully with respect to a prior agreement or covenant) with each other, profaning the covenant of our ancestors (Malachi 2:10 CJB)? In addition to corrupting the covenant of Levi by offering defiled sacrifices (Malachi 1:6-10 CJB) and neglecting to provide true instruction from the Torah (Malachi 2:1-9 CJB), they had broken the faith with each other. The consequence, or symptom, of their sin of breaking faith with each other is presented first (Malachi 2:11-13 CJB), then the sin is stated second (Malachi 2:14-16 CJB).

The consequence of their sin was marrying unbelievers (see Cr – Nehemiah’s Final Reforms: Nehemiah’s handling Jews marrying unbelievers). Y’hudah has broken faith; an abomination has been committed in Isra’el and Yerushalayim. For Y’hudah has defiled the holy sanctuary of ADONAI, which he loves, by marrying the daughter of a foreign god. If a man does this and presents an offering to ADONAI-Tzva’ot, may ADONAI cut him off from the tents of Ya‘akov, whether initiator or follower. This meant that the man would die or that his line would cease and he would have no descendants in Isra’el. Here is something else you do: because of your sin of marrying unbelieving wives, you cover ADONAI’s altar with tears, with weeping and sighing, because God no longer looks at the offering or receives your gift with favor (Malachi 2:11-13 CJB).

Then the actual sin is stated. Once again Malachi stressed the Israelites’ spiritual sensitivity. Since they, surprisingly, couldn’t imagine what the problem was, the prophet had to spell it out for them. Nevertheless, you ask, “Why is this?” Because ADONAI is witness between you and the wife of your youth that you have broken faith with her though she is your companion, your wife by covenant. And hasn’t He made [them] one [flesh] in order to have spiritual blood-relatives? For what the one [flesh] seeks is a seed from God. Therefore, take heed to your spirit, and don’t break faith with the wife of your youth. “For I hate divorce,” says ADONAI the God of Isra’el, “and him who covers his clothing (symbolizing marriage as in Ruth 3:9 and Ezeki’el 16:8) with violence,” says ADONAI-Tzva’ot. “Therefore protect to your spirit, and don’t break faith” (Malachi 2:14-16 CJB). The Israelites were not to break faith with one another by divorcing their Jewish wives and marrying unbelievers. That defiled the covenant promise Ha’Shem made with Isra’el. By protecting their spirits they would be acting in agreement with God’s purpose and would help preserve the unity of the nation as well as their individual marriages.

The Day of Judgment: Though the people had changed in their views on God’s justice, YHVH Himself had not changed: For I am ADONAI. I do not change (3:6a). Because He does not change, neither do His covenant promises. Therefore, Isra’el’s faith and hope should have been stabilized. However, she was acting and talking as if she had no God to believe in or hope for. As a result, ironically, even though God does not change or grow weary (Isaiah 40:28), Malachi said: You have wearied ADONAI with your words (Malachi 2:17a CJB).

Once again, the people were portrayed as being oblivious to their sin. Yet you ask, “How have we wearied Him?” YHVH responded: By saying that anyone who does wrong is good from ADONAI’s perspective, and that He is delighted with them (Malachi 2:17b CJB). The prosperity of the wicked is an age-old problem and discussed in at least five biblical writers (Job 21:7-26, 24:1-17; Psalm 73:1-14; Ecclesiastes 8:14; Jeremiah 12:1-4; Habakkuk 1). Though answers to this problem are not given in these passages, in each case questions about God’s justice are removed by a far eschatological assurance: Ha’Shem will come in judgement and punish the wicked (Job 24:22-24, 27:13-23; Psalm 73:16-20; Ecclesiastes 8:12-13; Jeremiah 12:7-17; Habakkuk 2:3 and 3:2-19), and establish the righteous of the TaNaKh in His Messianic Kingdom forever.

Amazingly, the priests in Malachi’s day had failed to learn such hope from the Scriptures. They questioned God’s justice by saying that He delights in evil people and by asking, “Where is the God of justice” (Malachi 2:17c CJB). Yet they were the guilty ones; they were the ones who were unfaithful to Him. Here also, Ha’Shem responded by referring to His future judgment (Malachi 3:1-5). However, unlike the answers by the righteous biblical writers mentioned above, the judgment which Malachi referred to was to be against the hypocritical questionnaires as well.296

 

2019-10-30T10:40:52+00:00 0 Comments

Cp – Identifying the Priests and Levites Nehemiah 12: 1-26

Identifying the Priests and Levites
Nehemiah 12: 1-26

DIG: In verses 1-7, Nehemiah lists the divisions of priests and Levites returning from the Babylonian Captivity in 538 BC (see the commentary on Jeremiah Gu – Seventy Years of Imperial Babylonian Rule). What purpose does this dated list serve? In verses 12-21, Nehemiah updates the list to include those priests who are contemporaries of his, and peers of Joiakim (12:26). What do these two lists have in common? What does that say about God’s faithfulness and human loyalty across two generations? What effect would the reading of this list have on the Jew about to dedicate the walls of Jerusalem?

REFLECT: If you had or have children – how would you like to be remembered by succeeding generations? What one thing are you doing regularly to help assure this happens? Are you a “traditionalist” (loyal to the ways of your parents and their parents)? Or are you a “pioneer” (charting a new course for future generations to follow)? How so? Give examples!

445 BC During the ministry of Nehemiah (see Br – The Third Return).
Compiled by: The Chronicler from the Ezra and Nehemiah Memoirs
(see Ac – Ezra-Nehemiah from a Jewish Perspective: The Nehemiah Memoirs).

This section was probably a later addition by the Chronicler. The purpose was to provide a running commentary on the status of the community. Continuity is the major point. Here, Nehemiah furnishes a summary list of the Priests and Levities who served the community under all three of the main characters of the book: Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah.

Now these are the cohanim and the Levites who returned with Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua almost one-hundred years earlier: Seraiah, Jeremiah, Ezra, Amariah, Malluch, Hattush, Shecaniah, Rehum, Meremot, Iddo, Ginnethoi, Abijah, Mijamin, Maadiah, Bilgah, Shemaiah, Joiarib, Jedaiah, Sallu, Amok, Hilkiah, and Jedaiah. These were the leaders of the kohanim and their brothers in the days of Jeshua (Nehemiah 12:1-7).

The Levites who returned with Zerubbabel were Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Sherebiah, Judah, and also Mattaniah – he and his brothers conducted the songs of praise – and Bakbukiah and Unni, their brothers, were opposite them in ranks (Nehemiah 12:8-9). This fills out the summary given in Ezra 2:40ff, which has only the family names Jeshua, Kadmiel, Hodaviah and (of the singers) Asaph. Other names on the list, like Sherebiah, were treasured enough to still be used as Levitical names in Nehemiah’s day, attached in some cases to the same office as at the first. So Mattaniah and Bakbukiah, leaders of the responsive singing at the time of the return, are the names we see in identical roles in Nehemiah 11:17 where the scene is a century later.

A list of High Priests: This list bridges the gap between the first generation after the exile and the contemporaries of Nehemiah. It carries forward the genealogy of First Chronicles 6:3-15, which ran from Aaron to the Babylonian exile; and like that document, it does not include every generation. Then Jeshua returned from Babylon with Zerubbabel (Ezra 2:1-2; Nehemiah 11:1), fathered Joiakim, Joiakim fathered Eliashib, the high priest during Nehemiah’s day (Nehemiah 3:1, 13:4, 7, 28), and Eliashib fathered Joiada, Joiada fathered Jonathan (verse 22 below), and Jonathan fathered Jaddua (Nehemiah 12:10-11). We know that Jeshua was High Priest at the time of the First Return and during the time of Haggai and Zechariah. Eliashib was High Priest in the time of Nehemiah. So Joiakim must have been High Priest some time before, perhaps, at the time of Ezra’s arrival in Jerusalem.293

The heads of families in the second generation: The priestly families held on to their traditional names, not changing them with successive leaders. In the days of Joiakim, the
son of Jeshua the High Priest above, the family leaders of the cohanim were: Meraiah for Seraiah, Hananiah for Jeremiah, Meshullam for Ezra, Jehohanan for Amariah, Jonathan for Melicu, Joseph for Shebaniah, Adna for Harim, Helkai for Meraiot, Zechariah for Iddo, Meshullam for Ginnethon, Zichri for Abijah, Piltai for Miniamin and Moadiah, Shammua for Bilgah, Jehonathan for Shemaiah, Mattenai for Joiarib, Uzzi for Jedaiah, Kallai for Sallai, Eber for Amok, Hashabiah for Hilkiah, and Nethanel for Jedaiah (Nehemiah 12:12-21).

The heads of Levitical families: Before the monarchy, successive eras were reckoned by the lifetimes of the High Priests (Numbers 35:28), and now again, in the absence of a king, theirs are the names that mark the times. The family heads of the Levites were recorded in the days of Eliashib, Joiada, and Johanan (see below), and Jaddua, as well as for the kohanim, up until the reign of Darius II the Persian. The family leaders among the sons of Levi were recorded in the Book of Chronicles, the official record book of the family heads of the Levites, up to the days of Johanan son of Eliashib (see Af – Ezra-Nehemiah Timeline: The dates of the high priests) (Nehemiah 12:22-23).

David had instituted responsive singing using different choirs. The Chronicler here emphasized that they were following what David had inaugurated. So the leaders of the Levites were: Hashabiah, Sherebiah, and Jeshua son of Kadmiel, with their brothers facing them, to give praise and thanks, according to the commandment of David the man of God, one section responding to the other. Mattaniah, Bakbukiah, Obadiah, Meshullam, Talmon, and Akkub were gatekeepers guarding the storehouses at the gates. These served in the days of Joiakim son of Jeshua, son of Jozadak, in the days of Nehemiah the governor, and of Ezra the cohen-scribe (Nehemiah 12:24-26). This stresses, once more, the continuity of family responsibilities for Temple service, spanning the best part of a century.

The Chronicler was giving details covering a rather long time period of about one-hundred years. In representing the whole process as a unit, he tended to compress history and include later additions to the lists. The same process can be seen in Chronicles. The author did not propose to give us a careful chronology; he was showing the continuity of the community and how ADONAI used these leaders during that process.

Not only were the outstanding leaders necessary for God’s work in the community; the singers, the gatekeepers, and the Levites were all indispensable. In the LORD’s work each believer is important. According to Ephesians 4 the Ruach ha-Kodesh has given gifts to each one, and the Body of Messiah grows together when all these gifts are used and coordinated in YHVH’s work. In a time when self-centeredness seems to dominate, the Word of God calls us to work and live together as a community, to be dependent upon one another, and to help one another in achieving the task that ADONAI has put before us.294

 

2019-10-30T10:07:18+00:00 0 Comments

Co – The New Residents of Jerusalem Nehemiah 11: 1-36

The New Residents of Jerusalem
Nehemiah 11: 1-36

DIG: Why do you think the people were so reluctant to settle in Jerusalem? Why did Nehemiah and the other leaders deem it necessary to re-populate the Holy City? What two recruitment policies did they use? What does the list of residents (verses 3-24) say about the administrative abilities of Nehemiah? Percentage-wise, what relative successes did he have in transferring rural people to the urban center of Jerusalem? Why so few Levites (284) compared with the total number of priests (1192)? Could it be that life in exile was more appealing than the menial tasks of Temple service? What labor divisions and family ties are evident from the descriptive notes with each set of residents? Why was it crucial that most of the people live in villages and settlements outside Jerusalem?

REFLECT: Is the downtown “center” of worship where you live attractive or unattractive? Why is that? Would you be willing to relocate to the inner city, maybe forsaking your chosen field or ancestral home, to be of greater use to God and His Kingdom? Why or why not? What is your place of worship doing to promote ministry to those who live and work in the heart of your urban ghettos? What would the impact be if ten percent of your spiritual community’s families were set aside for that ministry?

445 BC During the ministry of Nehemiah (see Br – The Third Return).
Compiled by: The Chronicler from the Ezra and Nehemiah Memoirs
(see Ac – Ezra-Nehemiah from a Jewish Perspective: The Nehemiah Memoirs).

Chapter 11 begins where the Nehemiah Memoirs left off, with the repopulation of the City (Nehemiah 7:4). So, the leaders of the people dwelt in Jerusalem while the remainder of the people cast lots to bring one out of every ten to live in Jerusalem, the Holy City, while the other nine remained in the other towns. This was vital for the defense of Tziyon. In addition, the people blessed all the men who volunteered to dwell in Jerusalem (Nehemiah 11:1-2). The fact that the people blessed them confirmed this positive attitude and suggests that this decision required some sacrifice. Most people preferred to live in the villages rather than inside Jerusalem. Moving to the big City meant a change of environment, a change of neighbors, a change in friends for the children, and a change in life-style. But their loyalty to the purpose of maintaining the community made them willing to do it.288

Jerusalem, as the capital and the Holy City, was the obvious center for the leaders and for most of the Temple staff. These are the leaders of the province who dwelt in Jerusalem. (Some of Isra’el, the cohanim, the Levites, the Temple servants, and the children of Solomon’s servants dwelt in the towns of Judah, each on his own property (Nehemiah 11:3), and some of the descendants of Judah and Benjamin who were not priests or Levites dwelt in Jerusalem). A fairly complete cross-section of the community.

Those who moved to Jerusalem from the sons of Judah: Athaiah son of Uzziah, son of Zechariah, son of Amariah, son of Shephatiah, son of Mahalalel, from the descendants of Perez; also Maaseiah son of Baruch, son of Col-hozeh, son of Hazaiah, son of Adaiah, son of Joiarib, son of Zechariah, son of the Shilonite. In all, 468 sons of Perez dwelt in Jerusalem – valiant men, who would defend the City (Nehemiah 11:4-6).

Now these are the sons of Benjamin who moved to Jerusalem: Sallu son of Meshullam, son of Joed, son of Pedaiah, son of Kolaiah, son of Maaseiah, son of Ithiel, son of Jeshaiah. Following him were 928 valiant men. Joel son of Zichri was in charge over them; Judah son of Hassenuah was second over the City (Nehemiah 11:7-9). The population was not an unstructured mass, but an ordered society.

Of the cohanim who moved to Jerusalem: Jedaiah son of Joiarib, Jachin, Seraiah son of Hilkiah, son of Meshullam, son of Zadok, son of Meraioth, son of Ahitub, the ruler of the House of God, an official who acted as custodian of the Temple, not the High Priest, their relatives who performed the work of the House of God – 822 (Nehemiah 11:10-12a). That’s quite a staff! These people faithfully supported the work of the Temple with their skills and gifts. We don’t know exactly what they did, but we can be confident that every single one of them had a very important job to do. ADONAI had set aside special cities for them (Joshua 21), so they could have legitimately lived outside Jerusalem; but they chose to be with the people as they served God in the Temple. Like Jeremiah, they chose to remain with God’s people, even though it might have been safer and more comfortable elsewhere (see the commentary on Jeremiah Gf – Jeremiah Freed).

This work of the Temple implied that some less-ceremonial duties fell to other groups. One such task was that of teaching (Malachi 2:7); another, for the time being in the precarious state of Tziyon, may well have been defense. Also Adaiah son of Jeroham, son of Pelaliah, son of Amzi, son of Zechariah, son of Pashhur, son of Malchijah, and his relatives, leaders of ancestral lines – 242. Also Amashsai son of Azarel, son of Ahzai, son of Meshillemoth, son of Immer, and their relatives were 128 valiant warriors. Zabdiel son of Haggedolim was in charge over them (Nehemiah 11:12b-14).

From the Levites who moved to Jerusalem: The glimpses of the people involved in Temple duties are tantalizingly brief, but enough to indicate the hive of activity that was maintained there. The picture comes to life more fully in First Chronicles 9:17-34, where we see the posting of the gatekeepers, the checking in and out of the vessels, and the preparing of offering-cakes, and so on. Shemaiah son of Hasshub, son of Azrikam, son of Hashabiah of Bunni. From the leaders of the Levites, Shabbethai and Jozabad had oversight over the external business: Mattaniah son of Mica, son of Zabdi, son of Asaph, the director of music who led the thanksgiving prayer. Also Bakbukiah, second among his relatives, and then Abda son of Shammua, son of Galal, son of Jeduthun. In all there were 284 Levites, assistants to the priests, in the Holy City (Nehemiah 11:15-18). These men worked outside the House of God. They were judges, they handled civil affairs, counseled and ministered outside the place of worship. You have probably never heard their names before and probably won’t remember their names tomorrow. But they are like those small white markers in the cemetery. We remember them, not as individuals, but a mass of willing workers who made it possible for ministry to continue on without a hitch.289

Also, there were 172 gatekeepers Akkub, Talmon and their brothers – who kept watch at the gates (Nehemiah 11:19). The duties of these gatekeeper families (more of whom are mentioned in 12:25) are explained more fully in First Chronicles 9:17-27, where it appears that the security of the Temple area was their hereditary responsibility, and that their number was supplemented by non-resident kinsmen who came in from their villages for a week’s duty at a time. The Temple needed a strong guard on account of both its treasures and sacredness. The questions and answers in Psalms 15 and 24 about ascending the Hill of ADONAI, and the brief exchange in Psalm 118:19ff, may be examples of the kind of challenge that those guardians of the Sanctuary would put to those who sought entry.290

The singers of Isra’el, the cohanim, and the Levites, were in all the towns of Judah, each in his own inheritance. But the Temple servants dwelt on the Ophel, with Ziha and Gishpa over the Temple servants. The one in charge over the Levites in Jerusalem was Uzzi the son of Bani, son of Hashabiah, son of Mattaniah, son of Mica, from the sons of Asaph who were singers responsible for the choral service in the House of God. The king’s command concerning them was to provide regular daily support for the singers. Worship was too important to be left unplanned. Pethahiah the son of Meshezabel, from the descendants of Zerah the son of Judah, was the king’s adviser at the Persian court for any matter concerning the Jewish people (Nehemiah 11:20-24).

It seems that the extent of the province of Judah at that time, which included the former area of Benjamin, extended beyond what would be expected because some of the villages mentioned appear to be outside of Judah. Ono and cities in the Negev were where Geshem and the Arabs lived. So the list probably includes some villages that had a partially Jewish population beyond the border of Judah. The Jews were free to move around the Persian Empire.291 Now as for the villages with their fields, in the post exile period under Nehemiah, some of the people of Judah dwelt in Kiriat-arba (the former name of Hebron) and its four towns, in Dibon and its towns, in Jekabzeel and its villages, in Jeshua; in Moladah, in Beth-pelet; in Hazar-shual, in Beersheba and its towns, in Ziklag, in Meconah and its towns, in En-rimmon, in Zorah, in Jarmuth, in Zanoah, Adullam, and their villages, in Lachish and its fields, and in Azekah and its towns. So they settled from Beersheba to the Hinnom valley (Nehemiah 11:25-30).

The descendants of Benjamin dwelt in Geba about eleven miles north of Jerusalem, Michmas and Aijah, Bethel and its towns, Anatoth, Nob, Ananiah, Hazor, Ramah, Gittaim, Hadid, Zeboim, Neballat, Lod, Ono and Ge-harashim. Some of the divisions of the Levites formally residing in Judah settled with Benjamin (Nehemiah 11:31-36).

It seems that these lists have been strategically placed to inform the reader that the ministry of the reformers, Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah, had been successful. The Temple had been rebuilt and fully staffed with Levitical personnel. Similarly, the walls had been rebuilt and the City was fully inhabited with people bound together under the proclamation and exhortation of the Torah.292

2019-10-30T09:58:59+00:00 0 Comments

Cn – Hanani, Hananiah and the Returning Exiles Nehemiah 7: 1-73a

Hanani, Hananiah and the Returning Exiles
Nehemiah 7: 1-73a

DIG: How and why does Nehemiah go about re-populating Jerusalem? Why was a genealogical record important for this purpose? What does this tell you about the importance of Jerusalem to God and His people? This genealogical record is basically the same as the one found in Ezra 2. What does this list tell you? What tribes and towns are these people returning from exile? Likewise, what groups or classes of people are returning from exile? What happened to the refugee who could not properly document their family history in verses 61-65?

REFLECT: Do you keep a diary, save old letters or file away memorabilia of your family and relatives? What would an inventory of them reveal about the kind of person you are, or the kind of family you come from? Who are the meaningful people in your spiritual journey? What has been passed on to you, spiritually, from your ancestors? What one quality are you now developing as one of God’s people that you would like to pass on to your children and their children? How do you intend to do this?

445 BC During the ministry of Nehemiah (see Br – The Third Return).
Compiled by: The Chronicler from the Ezra and Nehemiah Memoirs
(see Ac – Ezra-Nehemiah from a Jewish Perspective: The Nehemiah Memoirs).

Now that the wall was completed, Nehemiah gave a brief description of the security measures he provided. Nehemiah continued strong leadership even after the building project was completed. He realized that great success can still be followed by great failure. After the wall had been rebuilt, the doors set up, and the gatekeepers, singers and Levites appointed, I put in charge over Jerusalem, my brother Hanani in the LORD, along with Hananiah the commander of the fortress, for he was a man of integrity and feared God more than many. Hanani was the one who brought the sad news of the deterioration of the walls in Jerusalem that set Nehemiah’s Third Return in motion (Nehemiah 1:2). Because there was still danger from within and without, Nehemiah carefully selected those men. He said to them, “The gates of Jerusalem must not be opened until the sun is hot. While those are still on duty, have them shut and bar the doors. Also appoint residents of Jerusalem as guards, some at their post and some near their homes” (Nehemiah 7:1-3). This was a wise move since it involved the residents themselves rotating guard duty. If their own houses were involved, they would be even more diligent.284

Nehemiah indicates that he found the letter (Hebrew: sepher) of the genealogical record of those who had formally returned with Ezra (see Cn – The Inspired List of Ezra 2 and the Human Register of Nehemiah 7).

Nehemiah was sensitive to the long-term needs of the community. The wall was necessary, but Yerushalayim was not safe if it was underpopulated, and perhaps he had specific prophecies in mind (Ezeki’el 36:36; Zechariah 2:4-5). The population and housing problems referred to here are dealt with in the next file (see Co – The New Residents of Jerusalem). Now the city was spacious and large, but there were few people within it and no houses were being built. So my God put into my heart to assemble the nobles, the officials and the people to be registered by genealogy. I found the registrar (Hebrew: sepher) of the genealogical record of those who formerly returned. The genealogical record here has a different purpose from the one found in Ezra 2; here, it is used to choose those who would live in Yerushalayim. Jewish heritage and holiness still mattered for those who would live in the Holy City, especially the priests (Nehemiah 7:63-65). Nehemiah makes clear that the census was approved by ADONAI and not the Adversary (First Chronicles 21:1). I found the following written there (Nehemiah 7:4-5):285

A city is much more than the walls, gates, and houses, a city is people. In the first half of Nehemiah, the people existed for the walls, but now the walls must exist for the people. These are the people of the province who returned from the captivity of the exile, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had taken away, and who returned to Jerusalem and to Judah, each man to his own town. Those who came with Zerubbabel were Jeshua, Nehemiah, Azariah, Raamiah, Nahamani, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispereth, Bigvai, Nehum, Baanah. The number of the men of Bnei-Yisrael was (Nehemiah 7:6-7):

The sons of Parosh (Nehemiah 7:8) – 2,172

The sons of Shephatiah (Nehemiah 7:9) – 372

The sons of Arah (Nehemiah 7:10) – 652

The sons of Pahat-moab, from the sons of Jeshua and Joab (Nehemiah 7:11) – 2,818

The sons of Elam (Nehemiah 7:12) – 1,254

The sons of Zattu (Nehemiah 7:13) – 845

The sons of Zaccai (Nehemiah 7:14) – 760

The sons of Binnui (Nehemiah 7:15) – 648

The sons of Bebai (Nehemiah 7:16)- 628

The sons of Azgad (Nehemiah 7:17) – 2,328

The sons of Adonikam (Nehemiah 7:18) – 667

The sons of Bigvai (Nehemiah 7:19) – 2,067

The sons of Adin (Nehemiah 7:20) – 655

The sons of Ater of Hezekiah (Nehemiah 7:21) – 98

The sons of Hashum (Nehemiah 7:22) – 328

The sons of Bezai (Nehemiah 7:23)- 324

The sons of Hariph (Nehemiah 7:24)- 112

The sons of Gibeon (Nehemiah 7:25) – 95

The men of Bethlehem and Neto-phah (Nehemiah 7:26) – 188

The men of Anathoth (Nehemiah 7:27) – 128

The men of Beth-azmaveth (Nehemiah 7:28) – 42

The men of Kiriath-jearim, Kephirah, and Beeroth (Nehemiah 7:29) – 743

The men of Ramah and Geba (Nehemiah 7:30) – 621

The men of Michmas (Nehemiah 7:31) – 122

The men of Bethel and Ai (Nehemiah 7:32) – 123

The men of the other Nebo (Nehemiah 7:33) – 52

The sons of the other Elam (Nehemiah 7:34) – 1,254

The sons of Harim (Nehemiah 7:35) – 320

The sons of Jericho (Nehemiah 7:36) – 345

The sons of Lod, Hadid and Ono (Nehemiah 7:37) – 721

The sons of Senaah (Nehemiah 7:38) – 3,930

The kohanim: The sons of Jedaiah, of the house of Jeshua (Nehemiah 7:39) – 973

The sons of Immer (Nehemiah 7:40) – 1,052

The sons of Pashhur (Nehemiah 7:41) – 1,247

The sons of Harim (Nehemiah 7:42) – 1,017

The Levites: the sons of Jeshua of Kadmiel from the sons of Hodeidah (Nehemiah 7:74) – 74

The singers: the sons of Asaph (Nehemiah 7:44) – 148

The gatekeepers: the sons of Shallum, the sons of Ater, the sons of Talmon, the sons of Akkub, the sons of Hatita and the sons of Shobai (Nehemiah 7:45) – 138.

The sanctuary servants: the sons of Ziha, the sons of Hasupha, the sons of Tabbaot, the sons of Keros, the sons of Sia, the sons of Padon, the sons of Lebanah, the sons of Hagaba, the sons of Salmai, the sons of Hanan, the sons of Giddel, the sons of Gahar, the sons of Reaiah, the sons of Rezin, the sons of Nekoda, the sons of Gazzam, the sons of Uzza, the sons of Paseah, the sons of Besai, the sons of Meunim, the sons of Nephishesim, the sons of Bakbuk, the sons of Hakupha, the sons of Harhur, the sons of Bazlith, the sons of Mehida, the sons of Harsha, the sons of Barkos, the sons of Sisera, the sons of Temah, the sons of Neziah and the sons of Hatipha (Nehemiah 7:46-56).

The sons of Solomon’s servants: the sons of Sotai, the sons of Sophereth, the sons of Perida, the sons of Jala, the sons of Darkon, the sons of Giddel, the sons of Shephatiah, the sons of Hattil, the sons of Pochereth-hazzebaim and the sons of Amon (Nehemiah 7:57-59).

All the Temple servants and the sons of Solomon’s servants (Nehemiah 7:60) – 392.

Now the following were the ones who came up from Tel-melah, Tel-harsha, Cherub, Addon and Immer – but they were not able to identify their ancestral houses or whether their descendants were from Isra’el: the sons of Delaiah, the sons of Tobiah and the sons of Nekoda (Nehemiah 7:61-62) – 642.

Also of the cohanim: the sons of Habaiah, the sons of Hakkoz, the sons of Barzillai. (Their ancestors took a wife from the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite and subsequently was called by their name.) These sought their names in the genealogies, but were not found; so they were disqualified from the priesthood. The governor, therefore, said to them that they should not eat any of the most holy things until a kohen arose with Urim and Thummim (see the commentary on Exodus Gb – The Urim and Thummim) (Nehemiah 7:63-65).

The whole congregation together was 42,360, not including their male and female servants – these were 7,337 – as well as 245 male and female singers (Nehemiah 7:66-67). Nehemiah 7:68 is not included in most Hebrew bibles. At some point it must have dropped out of the Hebrew text.

There were 435 camels and 6,720 donkeys (Nehemiah 7:69).

Some from among the family leaders contributed to the work. The governor gave to the treasury: gold drachmas – 1,000; bowls – 50; and priestly tunics – 500. Those from the heads of ancestral lines gave to the treasury for the work: gold drachmas – 20,000; silver minas – 2,000. The rest of the people gave: gold drachmas (a thick piece of gold having on one side the figure of a king with a bow and javelin, and on the side an irregular oblong depression)286 – 20,000; silver minas – 2,000; and priestly tunics – 67 (Nehemiah 7:70-72).

So the cohanim, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, some of the people, and the Temple servants, even all Isra’el, dwelt in their towns (Nehemiah 7:73a). The continuation of Nehemiah’s narrative is taken up in Co – The New Residents of Jerusalem.

Before we leave this section, it might be good for you to ask yourself, “If I had to prove my genealogy in order to get into God’s City, could I do it?” You are headed for one of two destinies – heaven or hell – and only those who belong to the family of ADONAI can enter heaven.

If I asked you if you were a sinner, what would you say? Romans 3:23 says: For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. That includes you and me, doesn’t it? Most people feel that being good gets you into heaven and being bad keeps you out. That simply is not true; we all have sinned. What would you say sin is? I think we can agree that we are both sinners; now let’s define sin. Some have said, “I’m not perfect,” or “I have made some mistakes.” But what do you think the Bible means by sin? Well, the Bible says that everyone practicing sin breaks God’s law – indeed, sin is lawlessness (First John 3:4). Have you ever disobeyed your parents? Have you ever misused the name of God? Have you ever told a lie? This is what sin is. It’s breaking God’s law. And any time you break a law there is a penalty. If you run a stop sign, the penalty is a fine. If you rob a bank, the penalty is jail. What is the penalty for breaking God’s law?

The Bible teaches us that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23a). The wages of work is money, but the wages of sin is death. In other words, what I earn – the penalty, the punishment of sin – is death. Death is separation. The Bible speaks of two kinds of death that is two kinds of separation. The first death is separation of the body and the soul. If I were to die right now my body would fall to the floor, but my soul, the real me, would go somewhere else. But the Bible speaks of another death, one it calls the second death. This is separation of the soul from God. Now, the penalty of sin is death, spiritual death, and separation from the LORD. To put it simply – hell. All this is really bad news. But there is good news.

But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). We were spiritually dead and unable to make the first move toward God because we inherited Adam’s sin nature that rebelled and separated us from Him. So, God made the first move toward us by sending His one and only Son to die in our place for the payment for our sins. We stand before the Son of God, guilty of sin, and facing a death penalty. But Yeshua, as judge (John 5:27), comes down from behind the seat of judgment, takes off His judicial robe and stands beside us. It is there that He says to us, “I will take your place. I will die for you.” And if you were the only person in the world, He still would have died for you. The penalty for sin is death, but Messiah died and paid for sin so we do not have to go to hell.

It is not what you do for God that saves you, it is what God has already done for you.
You don’t get to heaven by what you do; you get to heaven by what you believe.

What is it that I need to believe in, to trust in, to have faith in, to be saved?

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son who died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16 and First Corinthians 15:3b-4). If you believe this, you are saved. Remember, you don’t get to heaven because of what you do; you get to heaven because of what you believe.

Salvation = faith + nothing (see the commentary on Galatians Bh – Abraham’s Gospel). Without
faith it is impossible to please God because anyone who comes to Him must believe that
He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. Now is the day of
salvation (Hebrews 11:6
and Second Corinthians 6:2c).

Would you like to be saved right now?

Pray this simple prayer in faith. But before you do, I want you to remember that saying a prayer does not save you, trusting in Jesus Christ does. God, I admit that I have sinned. I believe Yeshua Messiah died for my sins and I want to trust Him to save me right now. Lord, please come into my heart and make me a new person. I accept your gift of salvation.

If you were to die right now, where would you go?

Why should God let you into His heaven?

That’s right, because Yeshua died to pay for your sins.287

If you prayed that prayer in faith see my commentary on The Life of Christ Bw – What
God Does for Us at the Moment of Faith
.

 

2019-10-29T23:21:58+00:00 0 Comments

Cm – The Inspired List of Ezra 2 and the Human Register of Nehemiah 7

The Inspired List of Ezra 2
and the Human Register of Nehemiah 7

The portions of Scripture that are one of the most often attacked by atheists, Muslims and Bible bashers as “proving” that the Bible is not the inerrant words of God are the two contradictory lists of the numbers of those who returned from Babylon to Jerusalem during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah.

In Ezra Chapter 2 we find one list that is similar in many ways to that found in Nehemiah Chapter 7, but there are also many obvious differences, and it is these different numbers that have given rise to attacks on the Bible itself as being the inerrant word of God, and have caused many, even believers, to doubt the truth of our Holy Bible.

In Ezra Chapter 2 and in Nehemiah Chapter 7 there are about thirty-three family units that appear in both lists of Israelites returning from Babylon to Judea. Of these 33 family units listed in Ezra and Nehemiah, nineteen of the family units are identical, while fourteen show discrepancies in the number of members within the family units. Two of the discrepancies differ by 1, one differs by 4, two by 6, two differ by 9, another differs by 11, another two by 100, another by 201, another differs by 105, a further family differs by 300, and the largest difference is the figure for the sons of Azgad, a difference of 1,100 between the accounts of Ezra 2 and Nehemiah 7.

Not only do many of the numbers not agree in each list, but there is a further problem. Both Ezra and Nehemiah give the same total of the whole congregation as being 42,360. But as one Bible scoffer has said: “We have a listing of the sub-clans that returned from the Captivity and the number of people in each. Out of approximately thirty-five sub-clans listed over half of the numbers are in disagreement. Furthermore, someone doesn’t know how to add very well because the totals are in error. Ezra 2:64 says: The whole congregation together was 42,360, when one can see by easily adding the figures together that the total is 29,818. Nehemiah 7:66 also says: The whole congregation together was 42,360 when one need only add those figures to see that it’s actually 31,089. Ezra erred by 12,542, and Nehemiah erred by 11,271.”

There have been many attempts to reconcile these different numbers, but most of them seem to me to fall short of giving an adequate explanation. Unfortunately, most apologetic sites and books usually end up with the stated position that this is a case of “many scribal errors” in all Hebrew texts, and that “only the originals were inspired”. The end result is that they cave in to the Bible mockers and side with their view that there is no inerrant Bible in any language on the earth today.

Among the suggested ways to reconcile the different numbers, some believers have offered the explanation that the two censuses were taken at two different times, once at the beginning of the journey and the other at the end, or perhaps several years later. However
a close reading of the texts shows that both lists are referring to the same event – the children of the province that went up out of the captivity, whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away into Babylon, and came again unto Jerusalem and Judah.

They also tell us that some people may have enrolled their names on the list, then changed their minds and decided not to go after all, and that others later decided to go. They also suggest that some died on the way, and others were born, but that the total ended up being the same anyway – 42,360.

The problem I have with this view is that none of this is stated in Scripture itself and it stretches the imagination to the breaking point to think that all these differences would end up giving us the same final number of 42,360. None would die in most groups, but 1000 died in another. This is a little hard to believe. Neither does it explain the 12,000 to 13,000 people that are not numbered in either list.

So how do we explain these very real differences without denying the inerrancy of Scripture? First, when we look at the names, we find that certain names are mentioned in alternate forms. The sages teach that the differences, generally speaking, are attributable to the changes over time. After all, it had been over 100 years since the inspired list of Ezra had been complied. Most of the differences can be explained because of a random process of corruption during the process of copying the text. Hebrew numbers are notorious for their difficulty in translation. It is important to understand that every letter of the 22-letter Hebrew alphabet has a numerical equivalent. Through the method called gematria, every letter of a word can be reduced to its numerical value.

Typically, when a Jewish scribe finished copying a line of Scripture, there was a total number for that line from the original document and he would add up all the numerical equivalent of his copy and it needed to be equal to the original or a mistake had been made somewhere. So if a word had the wrong letters (and consequently the wrong number) it could be translated as a different name or a variation of the same name. Errors in spelling names or copying numbers could easily creep in over a century. Furthermore, the scribes who kept the public records certainly updated them after the community was established in Jerusalem. When the list was updated, some of the people had died, and others who were too young when the list was first recorded had grown up and secured a place on the list.

Second, it is the men and not the women who are being counted. That is, unless the women are specifically mentioned as they are in both Ezra 2:65 and Nehemiah 7:67. For ADONAI to give only the number of men in a group is very common both in the TaNaKh and the B’rit Chadashah. In the TaNaKh we read: Then the Bnei-Yisra’el (the children of Isra’el) journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about 600,000 men on foot, as well as children (Exodus 12:37). And in the New Covenant it says: Now those eating were about 5,000 men (Greek: aner), besides the women and children (Matthew 14:21). In addition, when we compare the same event recorded in both Mark and Luke we read: Now there were 5,000 men (Greek: aner) who ate the loaves (Mark 6:44); for there were about 5,000 men (Greek: aner) (Luke 9:14). The Greek word in all three gospel accounts is the word for men (Greek: aner), or males as opposed to general term that may include both male and female. Notice very carefully what it says at the beginning of both lists found in Nehemiah 7:7 and in Ezra 2:2: The number of the men (Hebrew: ish, meaning man and not woman) of the people of Isra’el: The sons of Pharaoh, 2,172, etc.

By comparing one with the other, we see that only the men were counted in these two lists in Ezra and Nehemiah. Here are just a few examples: the sons of Azmaveth in Ezra 2:24 are the men of Beth-Azmaveth in Nehemiah 7:28; the sons of Gibbar in Ezra 2:20 are the sons of Gibeon found in Nehemiah 7:25, and the sons of Beth-Lehem in Ezra 2:21 are the men of Beth-Lehem in Nehemiah 7:26. There are two different Hebrew words used in the two lists. The one is ben, and means sons, and the other is ish which means man. There are distinct words for daughter (Hebrew: beth), and for woman (Hebrew: ishshah), and neither is used in either of the two lists.

The two principal differences to explain between these two lists are: First, the different numbers in several verses, and secondly, the differences between the total number in each list (Ezra differs by 12,542, and Nehemiah differs by 11,271) with the same total of 42,360 given in both.

Here is how we reconcile the differences in the two accounts: In Ezra 2:1 we have a statement that indicates that the numbers found in Ezra’s list is the true number of those who made up the different groups who left Babylon and journeyed to Jerusalem. The names and numbers in Ezra account are accurate. Here we read: Now these are the people of the province of Judah who went up from the captives of the exile, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had taken captive to Babylon. They returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to his town (Ezra 2:1). 

However, what we have recorded in Nehemiah 7:5 is a list that was not the accurate and true number. He didn’t discover the original inspired document because it no longer existed or was lost. Over 100 years had passed between Ezra’s inspired list and the register of the genealogy discovered by Nehemiah. There we read these important words of Nehemiah:

“And I found a register (Hebrew: sepher meaning a large book) of the genealogical record of those who formally returned. I found the following written there. . . “

Nehemiah is merely reporting the numbers in the erroneously written register he found, but the true numbers were given by the inspiration of the Ruach ha-Kodesh in Ezra Chapter Two. There are several things written in Scripture that are not true. For example, when the fool says: There is no God (Psalm 14:1); when the Adversary said to Eve in the Garden of Eden: You shall not surely die (Genesis 3:4); when the Pharisees say Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed (John 8:48)? And when the Great Sanhedrin reached their decision regarding the Messiahship of Christ, and announced to the Jews of Isra’el,He is possessed by Beelzebub! By the prince of demons He is driving out demons” (see the commentary on The Life of Christ Ek – Jesus Heals a Blind Mute). In the book of Nehemiah itself we read: But the fifth time Sanballat sent his young aide to me, he had an open letter in his hand. In it was written, “It has been heard among the nations – and Geshem substantiates it – that you and the Jews are planning to revolt. That is why you are rebuilding the wall. Furthermore, according to these reports, you are to become their king and have even appointed prophets to make this proclamation about you in Jerusalem saying, ‘There is a king in Judah’ (Nehemiah 6:5-7a).” What was written in the letter from Sanballat was not true, and neither was what was written in the register Nehemiah found.

The second point of contention is the differing numbers listed in each account where the total is given as 42,360. Some apologists tell us that the additional 12,542 may refer to the number of women or wives in the group, but this leaves us with only about one out of every three men being married. This is highly improbable. When others tell us it may refer to both the women and the children, their case gets even worse.

Rather than the explanations provided by most apologists, I think the difference in numbers can be accounted for by looking at the context. The difference in Ezra, the true account, is 12,542 persons. In both lists the men who constitute the different groups of singers, sons of gatekeepers, Temple servants, sons of Solomon’s servants, priests and Levites totals about 30,000. The total number of the whole congregation of 42,360 refers to the 29,818 found in Ezra, plus the additional number of 12,542 male children who would eventually grow up to take their part in each of the groups of the adult men already listed.

This explains why the two lists are significantly different from each other over a century later. Ezra 2 contains the true, inspired numbers, while Nehemiah 7 was erroneously recorded by a fallible man. This also explains the difference in the total number, while at the same time upholding the doctrine of the inerrancy of Scripture.283

 

2019-10-29T23:12:39+00:00 0 Comments

Ck – The Completion of the Walls Nehemiah 6: 15-19

The Completion of the Walls
Nehemiah 6: 15-19

DIG: How was it possible that the wall which lay in ruins for over a century be rebuilt in 52 days? What effect did finishing the wall in only 52 days have on the enemies of Isra’el? How did they interpret the completion of the walls? What was so unusual about it? Although most of his enemies had given up, how did Tobiah continue to attack Nehemiah? What was Nehemiah’s overall approach to being manipulated, intimidated, and discredited? What effects did the enemies’ efforts have on the work of rebuilding the wall? How did the completion of the wall affect Nehemiah’s opposition? What situation did Nehemiah have to deal with then?

REFLECT: What importance do you place on setting goals and achieving them? Why? Are you accountable for those goals? To Whom? Do you “fear God more than most?” Explain. In what ways did Nehemiah demonstrate the qualities of a strong, godly leader in this passage? What leaders have you known who were like him? How can you improve the way you handle conflict?

445 BC During the ministry of Nehemiah (see Br – The Third Return). Compiled by: The Chronicler from the Ezra and Nehemiah Memoirs. Later, as Nehemiah wrote his memoirs (see Ac – Ezra-Nehemiah from a Jewish Perspective: The Nehemiah Memoirs) of his years in Jerusalem, he evidently inserted these observations about his perspective during his time as governor of Judah. Apparently, he included these verses here in the narrative because of their relationship to the events described in 6:1-14.268

Finally, the entire task was completed despite two desperate efforts to kill Nehemiah using deception (6:1-9) and to have him sentenced to death using the Torah (6:10-14). So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth day of the month of Elul (corresponding to the months of August-September), in just 52 days (Nehemiah 6:15). Remarkably, the walls of Yerushalayim that had been neglected for nearly a century-and-a-half were rebuilt in less than two months when the people were spurred into action by the catalyst of Nehemiah’s leadership.269

When all our enemies heard, all the surrounding nations were afraid and fell greatly in their own eyes, because they realized that this work had been accomplished by our God (Nehemiah 6:16). Only divine intervention could account for the fulfilment of the task in the face of influential opposition. Judah’s enemies tried to make Nehemiah and the Jews afraid. But in the end, they were the ones who feared (Deuteronomy 2:25; First Chronicles 14:17; Psalm 126:2; Malachi 1:11 and 14) because they realized ADONAI had done something astonishing in the City of David. The phrase fell greatly in their own eyes means lost their self-confidence. Their pride had suddenly vanished (Proverbs 16:18, 29:23). Though the enemies increased because of Sanballat, the result was that more people were impressed with the power of YHVH.270

Also, throughout the period that the wall was being built, the nobles of Judah sent many letters to Tobiah, one of Nehemiah’s enemies, and replies from Tobiah kept coming to them (Nehemiah 6:17). In the days of building the wall, the nobles of Judah who refused to work (Nehemiah 3:5) were actually in alliance and correspondence with Tobiah, because – though his ancestors were Ammonites – he had married into a respectable Jewish family.271

For many in Judah were under oath to him, because he was the son-in-law of Shecaniah son of Arah, and his son Jehohanan had married the daughter of Meshullam son of Berechiah (Nehemiah 6:18). The mention of mixed marriages should not be overlooked. The continuing nature of this threat, which had previously taken up so much of Ezra’s time and energy (see Bs – Those Guilty of Intermarriage), is here presented as a foreshadowing of Nehemiah’s own grappling with that issue in the postexile Jewish community (see Cr – Nehemiah’s Final Reforms: Nehemiah’s handling of mixed marriages).

Local businessmen whispered on the street corners of their distrust in Nehemiah’s leadership. Some questioned his judgment of Tobiah, saying, “I have found Tobiah to be an honest, decent man.” Moreover, they kept telling me about his good deeds and then reporting my words to him. Tobiah must have had many good traits, and some of the people were led astray by him; nevertheless, he was trying to hinder Nehemiah’s leadership. Also Tobiah sent letters to intimidate me (Nehemiah 6:19). According to Nehemiah 13:4, the high priest, Eliashib, was allied with Tobiah. The meddling of those nobles, by trying to play both side through the reports to both Tobiah and Nehemiah, had only widened the breach as Tobiah had escalated his efforts to murder Nehemiah, either outside the City (see Ci – Attempts to Snare Nehemiah), or inside the Temple (see Cj – The Hiring of False Prophets).

Nehemiah never allowed the rumors and political intrigue to deter him from his mission. I don’t see that he even took the time to respond unless forced to do so. He merely shrugged off the accusations, stayed on task, focused on the needs of the people, and allowed the results to speak for him. He organized more than one trip from Persia to Judah (Nehemiah 13:6-7), gathering all the materials and resources needed to undertake the mighty work of rebuilding the city walls. He also governed with wisdom, leading God’s people through some difficult circumstances. But one of the strongest elements of his leadership was his own life, as he demonstrated through his own example of what it means to be a godly man.

When some of the people sinned and took advantage of their brothers and sisters, Nehemiah took a firm stand by confronting the wrongdoers and leading them back to obedience (see Cg – Nehemiah’s Unselfish Example). The key word, however, is leading. Nehemiah did not force them into submission but led them into godliness through his own example. Nehemiah not only told the nobles and officials to stop charging interest but also demonstrated the right way to give generously and lend freely. He set that example before it became a problem with the people.

A good teacher does not simply give lectures on how to master a skill but also demonstrates that mastery by performing the skill in front of the students. In that way, the students can learn by imitation. Yeshua did this to perfection with His apostles, both teaching them and setting an example for them to imitate. This is also the prime quality of a godly teacher. The godly teacher does not say, “Go and do likewise,” but, “Watch me, and do the same.”272

 

2019-10-28T10:45:43+00:00 0 Comments

Cj – The Hiring of False Prophets Nehemiah 6: 10-14

The Hiring of False Prophets
Nehemiah 6: 10-14

DIG: What was the prophecy of Shemaiah intended to do? How do you think Nehemiah discerned he was a false prophet? Did the fact that only the priests could enter within the Temple (Numbers 18:7) influence Nehemiah’s decision?

REFLECT: How do you distinguish between what is God’s will and the words of a misguided person? From Nehemiah’s example, how would you handle slander?

445 BC During the ministry of Nehemiah (see Br – The Third Return).
Compiled by: The Chronicler from the Ezra and Nehemiah Memoirs
(see Ac – Ezra-Nehemiah From a Jewish Perspective: The Nehemiah Memoirs).

Nehemiah’s enemies would not give up, but kept trying different strategies to murder him. Now they hired a false prophet named Shemaiah to tell Nehemiah there was a plot against his life in an effort to lure him into the Court of the Priests. Numbers 18:7 clearly demands death for anyone besides priests who comes near the bronze altar.

 

Nehemiah accepted Shemaiah’s invitation to see him, thinking that he was a true prophet. Then I went to the house of Shemaiah, son of Delaiah, son of Mehetabel. He was confined to his home, supposedly from some incapacity or ritual defilement, and sent word for Nehemiah to visit him. He said: Let us meet in the House of God, within the Temple. Let us shut the doors of the Temple, for they are coming to kill you. Indeed, they will come to kill you at night (Nehemiah 6:10).

Nehemiah, however, was able to discern that Shemaiah was a fraud. Sensitive to God’s will, he said: Should a man like me flee? Who in my position could go into the Court of the Priests and live? I will not go in (Nehemiah 6:11). For Nehemiah to enter the Court of the Priests to save his own life would have struck at the very heart of his loyalty to ADONAI. The success of the scheme depended on Shemaiah’s ability to convince Nehemiah that he spoke for YHVH. That he was, in fact, a true prophet. No stone was left unturned in the lie. Shemaiah’s “prophecy” was couched in poetic style, employs parallelism as well as rhetorical repetition, and displays a standard halting (3+2, 3+2, 3) metrical organization usually found in dirge poetry. Furthermore, despite its deceitful nature, Shemaiah’s proposal of Temple sanctuary from assassins may have sounded as plausible as it was pious to one in Nehemiah’s situation.265

Paul seems to have been anticipating this very scenario when he warned his readers: Loved ones, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see if they are from God. For many false prophets have gone out into the world (First John 4:1). Every believer should make sure that what we hear is in accordance with what Ha’Shem has written in Scripture.

Nehemiah declared: I recognized that God had not really sent him, for he had pronounced the prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. He had been hired so that I might become so frightened that I would do this and thereby sin. Then they would give me a bad name in order to discredit me (Nehemiah 6:12-13).

This suggests that what Shemaiah did was not an isolated incident. There was evidence of a serious breakdown within Jerusalem’s religious community. Some of the prophets could no longer be trusted, and it would be difficult for Nehemiah to know which ones where really from God and which were in the service of his enemy. It would take both courage and discernment for Nehemiah not to respond to castigating them all.266 We have the same issue today.

Remember, my God, Tobiah and Sanballat according to these works of theirs, and also the prophetess Noadiah, not referred to elsewhere in the Bible, and the rest of the prophets who have been trying to intimidate me (Nehemiah 6:14). This is the eighth of twelve prayers recorded in Nehemiah (9:5ff, 1:5-11, 2:4, 4:4, 4:9, 5:19, 6:9, here, 13:14, 13:22, 13:29, and 13:31). The episode concludes with Nehemiah’s short imprecatory prayer that Ha’Shem will remember, that is “punish,” Sanballat and Tobiah for their attacks. Readers might question these harsh words, especially in light of the more positive petition of Nehemiah offered following the successful refutation of his opponents’ first scheme (see Ci – Attempts to Snare Nehemiah). But to emphasize the vindictive aspects of this prayer would be to miss the serious nature of this attack upon his relationship with God, an attack that contained elements of blasphemy. The presence of prophets, male and female, dedicated to the destruction of the community within the nearly completed walls hinted that this continuing threat to the success of the restoration would not finally be removed with the completion of the city’s refortification. Judgment was called for. In voicing his petition Nehemiah testifies to his belief in the appropriateness of justices and the necessity of response in the face of evil. He was not alone in doing so. Jeremiah felt the same way (see Cx – Jeremiah’s Response to a Plot Against His Life). This time, as in his first imprecatory prayer, Nehemiah was content to deal with the present situation, leaving that final response to Ha’Shem.267

 

2019-10-28T10:41:14+00:00 0 Comments

Ci – Attempts to Snare Nehemiah Nehemiah 6: 1-9

Attempts to Snare Nehemiah
Nehemiah 6: 1-9

DIG: As the rebuilding project is almost over, what final threats does Nehemiah face from Sanballat, Tobiah and their cohorts? What does the proposed meeting purport to be? Why does Nehemiah suspect otherwise? Even if it were sincere or well-intentioned, how does Nehemiah not let the “good” get in the way the “better?” What impact does the “unsealed letter” intended to have on the public at large? On the ruling Persian king? Do you think Nehemiah was really scared? Why? Why not? How does he face those who would slander him?

REFLECT: How complete is your defense against those who would sidetrack you? What weak spots in the wall of your heart need shoring up? In going about doing good, when have you been tempted to settle for second best? Why don’t you drop some merely good projects and attempts a truly great project, worthy of your best effort?

445 BC During the ministry of Nehemiah (see Br – The Third Return).
Compiled by: The Chronicler from the Ezra and Nehemiah Memoirs
(see Ac – Ezra-Nehemiah From a Jewish Perspective: The Nehemiah Memoirs).

The average person doesn’t realize the tremendous pressures and testings that people experience day after day in positions in leadership. Leaders are often blamed for things they didn’t do and criticized for things they tried to do. They are misquoted and misunderstood and rarely given the opportunity to set the record straight. If they act quickly, they are reckless; if they bide their time, they are cowardly or unconcerned.255

As a result, if you are a leader, you spend your time either on top or on the bottom. You’re either a hero or a villain; respected or reviled. Rarely anything between those two extremes. People in leadership must live on the yo-yo of public opinion; the target for cheap shots on the bottom, the object of great admiration on the upside. The outhouse is difficult to endure. But it’s when we are under the verbal attack that we show our true colors.

After overcoming internal economic obstacles (5:1-19), the wall was finished except for the gates. Now it was reported to Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem (see Cc – Samaritan Opposition to the Building of the Walls of Jerusalem), and the rest of our enemies that I had rebuilt the wall and no breach remained in it – even though, at that time, I had not positioned the doors in the gates. Sanballat and Geshem attempted to lure him outside the City to kill him. They sent word to Nehemiah, saying: Come, let us meet together in one of the villages in the plain of Ono, south of Joppa on the western coast of Judah (Nehemiah 6:1-2). But they were scheming to do me harm. Even though he had been a faithful, stable, and consistent leader, a plot to defeat him was underway.

The attack on Nehemiah was very significant because it happened at a very crucial time in his life. He was nearly finished with the greatest task that the citizens of Yerushalayim had seen in their generation. Not very long before they were ready to cut the ribbon and have a joyous celebration, Nehemiah was most vulnerable. In the eleventh example of leadership in the life of Nehemiah, wise leaders must watch out that they don’t fall (see Bt – The Third Return). So often the vulnerable person isn’t the one who stumbles, but the one who thinks he or she isn’t capable of falling.

The Scriptures tell us of failures that happened from time to time. When did Bathsheba cross the gaze of David. At a time when he was undefeated in battle. From the time he was crowned king until he fell with Bathsheba, David had not known defeat – politically, militarily, or personally. When did Jonah fall into self-pity? After the greatest revival that Nineveh had ever seen. When was Joseph tempted by Mrs. Potiphar? Soon after he had been promoted by under Mr. Potiphar and given a leadership position.256

Nehemiah was already planning the dedication service for the completed wall when the enemy attacked. They offered to meet him in a village halfway between Jerusalem and Samaria, a quiet place where they could make plans on how to supposedly work together. Of course, the enemy’s strategy was, “If you can’t beat’em, join’em” (and then take over later). Once the Enemy of souls gets a foothold in a ministry, he starts to weaken it from within, and ultimately, the ministry will fail. While cooperation in the Lord’s work is a noble thing, leaders must take care that they cooperate with the right people at the right time for the right reasons, otherwise they may end up cooperating with the Enemy. The Adversary is a master deceiver and has his servants ready to join hands with God’s people so he can weaken their hands in their work (Second Corinthians 11:13-15).

Loving compromise and cooperation can be good and useful if there are no moral or spiritual issues involved. Happy compromise can invigorate a marriage or strengthen a ministry (Philippians 1:1-4), but this is a compromise among people who love each other and have the same purposes in mind. When you invite the devil to join your team; however, expect him to change the rules and the goals, and expect to be defeated.257

Nehemiah’s answer was immediate and unflinching. He knew his enemies were trying to lure him into a trap, so he sent messengers to them saying: I am doing an important work, so I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you (Nehemiah 6:3)? There is no mention of his suspicions as to their real intent. This is Nehemiah the politician – astute and resolute. Naivete here would have proved disastrous. There is a time to keep silent, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace (Ecclesiastes 3:7-8). A politician, no less than a lowly believer, must be able to discern the appropriate occasion for each response.258

On their next attempt, they tried a different approach. By that time, Sanballat and Geshem had dropped their pretense of friendliness and tried to spread rumors that would damage Nehemiah’s reputation. Nehemiah’s enemies were nothing if not persistent. They sent me the same message four times, and each time I returned a similar response to them. But the fifth time Sanballat sent his young aide to me in this way, he had an open letter in his hand (Nehemiah 6:4-5). An open letter to a royal governor would be both intimidating and insulting. Official letters were typically rolled up and sealed with an official signet by the letter’s sender or one of his assisting officials. An open or unsealed letter was not only a sign of disrespect and open criticism but also suggested the information therein was public knowledge, a vicious way to attack a leader. The goal of this document was to intimidate Nehemiah into stopping the work.259

Things were no longer so cordial, and Nehemiah’s suspicions were proved to be well founded. In it was written, “It has been heard among the nations – and Geshem substantiates it – that you and the Jews are planning to revolt. That is why you are rebuilding the wall (Nehemiah 6:6a). The letter suggested that Nehemiah’s intent to revolt was common knowledge that would get back to the king of Persia if he did not come to the requested conference. It would have been considered a serious charge in Nehemiah’s day, because Persian kings tolerated no resistance from their subjects. This information, had it been true, would have brought Persian troops against the Jews. Even though Judah had a reputation for breaking its allegiance with its overlord kings, on this occasion that was not the case.260

Sanballat wanted the public to know the contents of the letter because he hoped to undermine Nehemiah’s reputation and authority. Furthermore, according to these reports, you are to become their king and have even prophets to make this proclamation about you in Jerusalem saying, ‘There is a king [Nehemiah] in Judah.’ Now, the king is going to hear about these reports. So come now! Let us confer together” (Nehemiah 6:6b-7). If some of the Jewish workers believed what was in the letter, Sanballat could organize them and create division within the ranks. It was a splendid opportunity for the enemy to divide and conquer. In addition, if there were such prophets, Sanballat had actually hired them to feed incorrect information, thus generating the false rumor. By allowing the false prophets to make public statements that Nehemiah had made himself king, Sanballat hoped to make it appear that the Jews were supplanting Persian rule.261

Leaders must know how to handle false accusations, vicious letters, unfounded press reports and plain old gossip. Otherwise, these devilish weapons will sidetrack them and they will lose their perspective and spend so much time defending themselves that they will neglect their ministry. How would Nehemiah react? It is legitimate to defend oneself against inaccurate slander, but it is often better to ignore it if possible. Knowing the accusations were lies, Nehemiah was able to simply deny them and go about his work. He knew his character was such that no honest person would believe the false reports. If we take care of our character, we can trust God to take care of our reputation.262

Then Nehemiah sent a message to Sanballat and Geshem, saying: Nothing like what you are saying is happening; you are devising them from your own heart. Basically, Nehemiah effectively called their bluff, confident in his relationship with the king (see Bv – Favor with King Artakh’shasta), and his correct assessment of the situation, namely that the plotters were merely trying to intimidate the Jews in the hope that the resulting discouragement would grind the wall project to a halt. For Sanballat and Geshem the Arabian, and the rest of our enemies were all trying to intimidate us, thinking, “Their hands will become weak from the work and it will not be done” (Nehemiah 6:8-9a).263

The urgency of the situation, as well as Nehemiah’s implicit trust, are both underscored by the concluding prayer. This is the seventh of twelve prayers recorded in Nehemiah (9:5ff, 1:5-11, 2:4, 4:4, 4:9, 5:19, here, 6:14, 13:14, 13:22, 13:29, and 13:31). So now, ADONAI, strengthen my hands (Nehemiah 6:9b)! Nehemiah’s response is an example of how believers should respond to such things: not with retaliation and revenge but with patient and careful denial. And like the Psalmist before him, Nehemiah found strength and refuge by leaning on the LORD in his trouble. If his enemies’ words could not be trusted, the words of God are a source of balm and comfort:

ADONAI, let me not be ashamed, for I have called upon You. Let the wicked be ashamed – let them be silent in Sh’ol. Let the lying lips be mute. For they speak arrogantly against the righteous, with pride and contempt. How great is Your goodness, which You have stored up for those who fear You, which You have given to those who take refuge in You, before the children of men (Psalm 31:18-20).

For the wicked and the deceitful have opened their mouth against me. They spoke to me with a lying tongue, with hateful words surrounded me, and fought against me without cause. In return for my love they are my accusers, but I am in prayer (Psalm 109:2-4).

Nehemiah’s resort to prayer – So now, ADONAI, strengthen my hands – was in itself a confession of his weakness. He keenly felt the biting allegation and the possibility that once made there are always those who are willing to believe it in the spirit the worst in people. No matter what Nehemiah said from that time forward, there would always be the possibility that Artakh’shasta would harbor doubts about Nehemiah’s true intentions. And not just the king, but his own friends! Would they, too, now have doubts concerning what this project had ultimately been about? If Nehemiah could not be certain of what his friends or his king might now be thinking about his true motive in rebuilding the walls of Yerushalayim, he could always be certain that YHVH is without guile and that his cries would ascend to Him and be heard in heaven. God knew Nehemiah’s heart.264

 

2019-10-28T10:37:21+00:00 0 Comments

Ch – The Completion of the Walls Despite Opposition Nehemiah 6: 1-19

The Completion of the Walls Despite Opposition
Nehemiah 6: 1-19

445 BC During the ministry of Nehemiah (see Br – The Third Return).
Compiled by: The Chronicler from the Ezra and Nehemiah Memoirs
(see Ac – Ezra-Nehemiah From a Jewish Perspective: The Nehemiah Memoirs).

After dealing with the internal difficulties arising from economic inequities, Nehemiah returns to the personal problems brought on by the persistent attempts of his enemies to stop the work of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. The work on the wall had reached a crucial stage and was almost complete. Failing in every previous attempt to halt the work, Sanballat and his evil allies determined that the final solution would be to murder Nehemiah, either outside the City (see Ci – Attempts to Snare Nehemiah), or inside the Temple (see Cj – The Hiring of False Prophets). However, despite all their efforts, even with inside help, the wall was completed with the help of ADONAI’s strength and the people’s courage (see Ck – The Completion of the Walls).254

In this study, we have focused on the positive leadership qualities of Nehemiah. But there is also much to be learned from another perspective. Here are ten fatal flaws that derail leaders:

Poor leadership in good times can be hidden, but poor leadership in bad times is a recipe for disaster. To find out why leaders fall a recent study was done scrutinizing results from two studies: In one, 360-degree feedback data was collected on more than 450 Fortune 500 executives and then teased out the common characteristics of the 31 who were fired over the next three years In the second, 360-degree feedback data was analyzed from more than 11,000 leaders and identified the ten-percent who were considered least effective. Comparing the ineffective leaders with the fired leaders, the study came up with the ten most common leadership shortcomings. Every bad leader had at least one, and most had several.

The worst leaders:

Lack energy and enthusiasm. They see new initiatives as a burden, rarely volunteer, and fear being overwhelmed. One such leader was described as having the ability to “suck all the energy out of any room”

Accept their own mediocre performance. They overstate the difficulty of reaching targets so that they look good when they achieve them. They live by the mantra, “Under promise and over deliver.”

Lack clear vision and direction. They believe their only job is to execute. Like a hiker who sticks close to the trail, they’re fine until they come to a fork.

Have poor judgment and put personal rivalries ahead of the organization’s best interests.

Don’t collaborate. They avoid peers, act independently, and view other leaders as competitors. As a result they are set adrift by the very people whose insights and support they need.

Don’t walk the talk they set standards of behavior or expectations of performance and then violate them. They’re perceived as lacking integrity.

Resist new ideas they reject suggestions from subordinates and peers. Good ideas aren’t implemented, and the organization gets stuck.

Don’t learn from mistakes. They may make no more mistakes than their peers, but they fail to use setbacks as opportunities for improvement, hiding their errors and brooding about them instead.

Lack interpersonal skills. They make sins of both commission (they ‘re abrasive and bullying) and omission (they’re aloof. unavailable, and reluctant to praise).

Fail to develop others, they focus on themselves to the exclusion of developing subordinates, causing individuals and teams to disengage.

These sound like obvious flaws that any leader would try to fix. But the ineffective leaders that were studied were often unaware that they exhibited these behaviors. In fact, those who were rated most negatively rated themselves substantially more positively. Leaders should take a very hard look at themselves and ask for candid feedback on performance in these specific areas. Their jobs may depend on it.

 

2019-10-28T10:32:47+00:00 0 Comments

Cg – Nehemiah’s Unselfish Example Nehemiah 5: 14-19

Nehemiah’s Unselfish Example
Nehemiah 5: 14-19

DIG: What changes in the governor’s office does Nehemiah enact for the sake of his people (5:14-19)? How did Nehemiah protect himself so he wouldn’t be accused of being selfish or unfair? What does he hope to gain in return for his personal sacrifice? How do you suppose he made ends meet?

REFLECT: Nehemiah shows us that loving God and others may require personal sacrifice. What privileges and rights are you ready to give up so that God’s work may prosper? When have your spiritual beliefs really cost you something? What are some examples of unselfishness that you have observed this past week?

445 BC During the ministry of Nehemiah (see Br – The Third Return).
Compiled by: The Chronicler from the Ezra and Nehemiah Memoirs
(see Ac – Ezra-Nehemiah From a Jewish Perspective: The Nehemiah Memoirs).

Evidently, when Nehemiah later wrote his memoirs regarding his years in Jerusalem, he reflected on his leadership position and included them here. It appears that he included these verses in the narrative at this point because of their relationship to the events described in the previous file (see Cf – The Complaints of the Poor Israelites).

In the tenth example of leadership in the life of Nehemiah, successful leaders lead by example (see Bt – The Third Return). Nehemiah was entitled to collect taxes from the people in Judah because he had been officially appointed as the king’s representative. Yet he didn’t. He refrained from taxing Jews in order to serve as an example to them of self-sacrificial love. Moreover, from the day when I was appointed to be the governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year to the thirty-second year of King Artakh’shasta – twelve years – neither I, nor my relatives have eaten the bread allocated to the governor. The earlier governors during the days of Zerubbabel, those preceding me, placed heavy burdens on the people, and took bread and wine from them, in addition to forty shekels of silver. Their attendants also lorded over the people. But I did not do so, out of fear of God. Instead, I devoted myself to the work on this wall, without even buying a field. All my attendants were gathered there for the work (Nehemiah 5:14-16). Nehemiah dealt with issues that came up, but his central focus was always on completing the work ADONAI had called him to do. He was not there for personal profit, and he did not waste his time buying land or striving to further his career. He was there to build the wall. . . and build he did.251

Furthermore, 150 Judeans and officials, as well as those that came to us from the nations around us, were at my table. Now, each day one ox and six choice sheep, as well as some fowl, were prepared for me, and every ten days an abundance of every kind of wine was prepared. Despite all this, I did not require the governor’s food allowance, because the work was already heavy on this people. Nehemiah’s role as governor carried certain social obligations, just as any important political official is expected to entertain influential guests today. The costs were quite high for such obligations, and previous governors had not hesitated to make the Jews pay the bill through taxes. But Nehemiah met his obligations out of his own pocket, refusing to add to the financial burden of his fellow Jews (Nehemiah 5:17-18).252

Leading by example, Nehemiah had set an example of generosity. He wanted those who had developed a lifestyle of greed and opportunism to develop a lifestyle of generous giving. But what were the motives that drove Nehemiah to generous giving for the sake of the Kingdom of God? Two specific things are mentioned here: his fear of God (Nehemiah 5:15), and his compassion for the suffering of his people (Nehemiah 5:18).

Nehemiah feared God more than he feared men. He lived for the glory of ADONAI, seeking in everything that he did to bring his life into conformity with the Torah. He loved YHVH because YHVH had shown His love to him. He took the TaNaKh seriously as though Ha’Shem Himself was speaking directly to him.

Following Shavu’ot, the early believers practiced a generous lifestyle (see the commentary on Acts Ao – The New Covenant Community Begins), sharing their possessions with the needy as though they did not own them. It is interesting that the reason for their behavior was that fear came upon every soul (Acts 2:43). The LORD was more than merely a theological proposition to them; the LORD was everything to them. They saw the need to have a light touch on the things of this world. And the absence of fear was the reason the nobles and officials treated the poor and the needy so badly (see Cf – The Complaints of the Poor Israelites).

But there was a second motivation for Nehemiah’s generosity: the people’s poverty brought forth in him a deep sense of compassion. He did not demand of them what they could not pay because the work was already heavy on this people (Nehemiah 5:18). His calling was to minister to an economically depressed community from the lifestyle that he had known as a servant to the most powerful man in the world. As a relatively wealthy man, Nehemiah saw that it was his duty and joy to share his bounty with others. The poverty of the people moved him.

Nehemiah displayed a shepherd’s heart. He was a leader, and he needed to ask the people to engage in the hard work of building the wall of Jerusalem. But he was also a pastor. He loved his people. He had compassion on them. His heart was moved by the sight of their distress and need. In that respect, he exhibited a spirit like that of Yeshua, who, when He viewed the city of Yerushalayim from a distance, saw the people as sheep without a shepherd, and wept (Luke 19:41). Glimpses of Messiah’s heart are seen in Nehemiah. They are only glimpses, of course, but as we keep on turning the pages of the Bible, another Shepherd-Ruler comes whose heart melts at the sight of our desperate need.

This section ends with another one of Nehemiah’s prayers. This is the sixth of twelve prayers recorded in Nehemiah (9:5ff, 1:5-11, 2:4, 4:4, 4:9, here, 6:9, 6:14, 13:14, 13:22, 13:29, 13:31). He prayed: Remember me for good, O my God, for all that I have done for this people (Nehemiah 5:19). Only a man who truly knows ADONAI speaks of Him in this way. Was Nehemiah flaunting about all his good works? Hardly! We are justified by faith apart from works of the Torah (Romans 3:28), for God counts righteousness apart from works (Romans 4:6). But what Nehemiah was talking about was the fruit of his ministry, not the root. We are saved by faith alone, apart from works, but that faith is never alone . . . it is always accompanied by good works (James 2:14-26).

Nehemiah was not bragging about his accomplishments, but professing his sincerity. He was saying, “I have attempted to live in accordance with the way You have desired. I have not done that perfectly. Where I have sinned, I claim the forgiveness that you promise to those who confess and repent of their sins, who trust in the promise of salvation offered in the blood of sacrifice made for sinners like me. But You have also promised never to leave us or forsake us. You have promised to direct our paths. I have acted in good faith.”

It takes courage to pray like that! To be so in touch with one’s heart that we can believe that we can come before our Father in heaven and tell Him, “I have done what you asked! I may not have done it with the absolute purity that You require, and for that I plead the blood of Jesus Christ. But I have done it with sincerity, poor and feeble though it was! Now remember me. I have done this for no other reason than to bring You glory.” That is a bold prayer indeed. And it is the kind of praying that comes from a redeemed heart without reservation for the glory of God.253

 

2019-10-28T10:28:57+00:00 0 Comments

Cf – The Complaints of the Poor Israelites Nehemiah 5: 1-13

The Complaints of the Poor Israelites
Nehemiah 5: 1-13

DIG: What is the “great outcry” all about? What needs are going unmet? What do you suppose brought on the economic crisis? What three groups are most affected? How does this affect their common desire to finish the project? How does Nehemiah respond to his brothers’ cries for economic justice? What does that tell you about him? Why does he get so angry at the nobles and officials (5:7ff; also see Leviticus 25:39-42; Ezeki’el 22:12-13)? How does Nehemiah seek to make sure the nobles and officials make their ways right (5:9-10, 12b)? In what ways does Nehemiah act wisely? Generously?

REFLECT: How do you react when you hear about an injustice done to an innocent person? If you could act, do you respond? Why? Why not? In your place of worship this past year, what financial crisis, party politics, or other morale problems may have hindered your service to God and others? In what ways do you react like, or unlike, Nehemiah? In money matters, do you deal with a believer differently than with a non-believer? If so, why is that?

445 BC During the ministry of Nehemiah (see Br – The Third Return).
Compiled by: The Chronicler from the Ezra and Nehemiah Memoirs
(see Ac – Ezra-Nehemiah From a Jewish Perspective: The Nehemiah Memoirs).

Building the wall and external opposition put economic strain on the whole community. The culmination of these problems may have occurred shortly before the wall was finished in the month of Elul (August-September). This would have been near the end of the harvest, and the creditors would have required payment of capital and interest on loans. According to Nehemiah 4:22, Nehemiah had asked the workers to stay in Yerushalayim and not return to their villages. In short, the economic situation was more critical because the people dedicated so much labor to the wall. And in the midst of the building, the nobles and officials began to oppress the common people in a variety of ways.246

Then there was a great outcry from the poor people (Exodus 3:9) and their wives to their fellow Jews (Nehemiah 5:1). Husbands and wives worked together and both had the right to be heard. The extra manpower needed on the wall may have meant that more women had to help in the harvest.

There were three groups facing financial crisis. The first group had spent all their time and energy rebuilding the wall and had no time left to work for their own food. These people may have been among the poorest – those who owned no property and normally would have earned a living by harvesting the fields of others. No work, no money. There were those who said: We and our sons and our daughters are numerous. We must take grain, so we may eat and live (Nehemiah 5:2). It was as if they were saying, “Since we have not been able to till our fields, we are compelled to buy corn in the market and prices have soared to a high level.”

The second group consisted of property owners who had been forced to take out loans in order to pay their bills. There were others who said: We are mortgaging our fields, our vineyards and our houses in order to obtain grain during the famine (Nehemiah 5:3). To make matters worse, there had been a famine, and these people were having trouble feeding their families. In sheer desperation, people would resort to this method for the purpose of raising money, since their attachment to family property was very strong.

The third group had been hit hard with Persian taxes both on property and produce. This group was the hardest hit, for they had not only mortgaged their lands, but had also sold their children into slavery. Still others were saying: We have borrowed money to pay the king’s tax on our fields and vineyards. And now, though we share the same flesh as our brothers, and our children are just like their children, still we subject our sons and our daughters to slavery (Exodus 21:7ff). Some of our daughters have already been enslaved but our hands are tied since our fields and vineyards belong to creditors on default of payment (Nehemiah 5:4-5).

People who could not pay their debts might sell themselves or their children into slavery. God’s Word contains specific stipulations concerning this practice – stipulations those wealthy Jews were ignoring. First, ADONAI forbid His people to charge interest to one another on loans (Exodus 22:25). Second, the debtor was to be treated with dignity and respect as a fellow member of God’s chosen people (Leviticus 25:39-40). Third, such debts might include indentured service, but it did not include one’s personal property. YHVH had given the Promised Land to all His people, and they were not permitted to buy or sell that land, even to one another (Numbers 36:7-9).247

I was very angry when I heard their outcry and these words (Nehemiah 5:6). Nehemiah demonstrated the difference between sinful anger and righteous indignation. Yeshua was full of righteous indignation when He turned over the tables of the money changers (see the commentary on The Life of Christ Bs – Jesus’ First Cleansing of the Temple at the Passover). And Nehemiah’s zealous anger was ignited by the fact that the Jews were not obeying God’s Word. He didn’t turn over any tables, but he did address the underlying sinful behavior that was causing the problem.

I pondered them in my heart and sought the LORD’s wisdom in how to handle the situation. Then I opposed the nobles and the officials strongly, saying to them, “Usury (lending money at an exceedingly high rate)! Each of you is putting his brother in debt” (Nehemiah 5:7)! Their commitment to building the wall had been virtually nonexistent, and their loyalty to the Jew’s enemies had added to their opportunistic attitudes, which placed them close to the status of Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem (see Cc – Samaritan Opposition to the Building of the Walls of Jerusalem). They had become the enemy within.

Nehemiah solved this conflict between social class on the basis of principles taught in the Torah, especially the sense of community equality and the importance of the Covenant, which envisages a people . . . not an individual. Individuals, while important, were expected to act for the benefit of the group. Deuteronomy refers to all Israelites as brothers, regardless of social status or tribal divisions. This includes kings and priests (Deuteronomy 1:16, 3:12-20, 10:9, 15:3-11, 17:15, 18:2). This, together with the tendency to speak of Isra’el as a single whole, had a leveling effect on the whole community. Therefore, relations between Jews should never be treated purely as business transactions, but rather as spiritual service that is pleasing to God and blessed by Him.248

In the ninth example of leadership in the life of Nehemiah, good leaders do not stop with rebuke, but take steps to correct the problem (see Bt – The Third Return). So, I convened a great assembly to deal with them. I said to them, “As much as possible, we have bought back our fellow Jews who had been sold to the nations. Once again, Nehemiah set an example by his own behavior. He first denounced the evil conduct of selling a brother or sister by means of usury. Nehemiah then contrasted this with his own action of redeeming (with his own money) some of the Jewish exiles who through debt had lost their freedom in Babylon. Now you also are selling your brothers and sisters so that they will be sold back to us?” Then they became silent and could not find anything to say (Nehemiah 5:8). Nehemiah’s rebuke could not be denied because it was based on God’s Word and his own personal example. The fact that he had obeyed ADONAI at cost to himself in a similar matter left no room for his opponents to argue about his accusations.

Nehemiah’s statement: The thing that you are doing is not good! It is an example of how a leader can assume the role of a moral teacher. Shouldn’t you walk in the fear of our God, in order to avoid the reproach of our Gentile enemies (Nehemiah 5:9)? Nehemiah confronted them with the truth, not what they wanted to hear. The problem was that they were damaging their ultimate mission to the Gentiles: And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed (Genesis 12:3b). To walk in the fear of God is a concept taken from the wisdom literature of the TaNaKh and means to live in awe of and devotion to God and with kindness and integrity toward mankind (Deuteronomy 10:12, Second Chronicles 6:31; Leviticus 25:36; Nehemiah 7:2). Such a lifestyle would be a witness to the Gentiles and fulfill the election of Isra’el (Isaiah 42:6-9).

Even I, my brothers, and my servants are lending those in need money and grain without the expectation of making a profit. Let this usury stop, now! If a person was destitute, those who had the means were to give what they had bought as a free gift. If the debtor was able to repay the money, no interest was to be charged. Such generosity was a mark of true godliness (Psalm 15:1-5). Now, return to them this very day, their fields, their vineyards, their olive groves and their houses, as well as the hundredth that you have extracted from them on the money, the grain, the new wine, and the fresh oil (Nehemiah 5:10-11). Once they had restored what they had taken, Nehemiah considered the matter to be closed. He called the people to obey God’s commandments, but he didn’t go beyond that to punish those who had disobeyed.249

The nobles and the officials accepted Nehemiah’s challenge and promised to pay back the interest and deposit they had taken. They said: We will restore these and require nothing from them. We will do just as you say (Nehemiah 5:12a). Here Nehemiah’s humility and sense of social responsibility was crucial in solving long-term social-economic problems that had surfaced under the additional stress of building the wall. They were willing to work together, even at great personal cost.

Nehemiah knew that promises made under emotional pressure were not always kept. He was not prepared to trust the moneylenders further than he could throw them. Nehemiah called the priests and had the nobles and officials take an oath. Then I summoned the cohanim, the administrators of oaths (Numbers 5:19), and I made them swear to do according to this promise (Nehemiah 5:12b). Also I shook out my garment. Observing a practice that would have been well known to the people – hiding valuable objects in the folds of their long, flowing garments kept secure by a belt – Nehemiah shook his garment, but nothing came out, showing that he himself had given away all that he had. This was a symbolic announcement that those who went back on their word would be cursed. That Ha’Shem would take away their houses and possessions. In this way may God shake out from His house and from His property every one that does not keep this promise. In this way may he be shaken out and emptied!

The unselfish leadership and courageous action of Nehemiah bore fruit: And all the assembly replied, Amen! in agreement, and they praised ADONAI. So the people did according to this promise (Nehemiah 5:13). Not only did the offenders do as they had promised, but they also restored unity and praised the LORD. God was in this!

Many people assume that the TaNaKh describes ADONAI as being wrathful and vengeful. However, the most common word used in the TaNaKh to describe YHVH is compassionate. God cares about people, and He especially cares about the poor and the needy who belong to Him. You must open your hand to your poor and needy brother in your land (Deuteronomy 15:11b). That phrase is used twenty-seven times in the TaNaKh. In this case, the poor and the needy who were being exploited were the ones who had wholeheartedly thrown themselves into the work of rebuilding the walls and had stood firm in spite of opposition.

Those people had demonstrated a strong commitment to God’s work, and one would have expected their fellow Jews to be grateful. Unfortunately, they were not rewarded with gratitude but were exploited. The nobles and officials who were taking advantage of the poor and the needy assumed that YHVH would look the other way. They were powerful and influential men with money and property, who had the means to take advantage of the situation and did not hesitate to do so. But they had forgotten that because ADONAI is compassionate, He hears the cry of the oppressed (Exodus 22:24-26).

The LORD calls upon His people to be generous with the poor and the needy and give freely with no expectation of repayment. Solomon wrote: He who is kind to the poor is lending to ADONAI; and he will repay him for his good deed (Proverbs 19:17). Yeshua gave us practical instruction on how to do this: Give to everyone who asks you; and whoever takes something of yours, make no demands upon him. Do to others as you would have them do to you . . . but love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Then your reward will be great and you will be the children of Elyon, for He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked ones (Luke 6:30-31 and 35-36). ADONAI is kind, and His character is revealed by the fact that before salvation, the believer, while ungrateful and wicked, has been the recipient of His mercy.250

 

2019-10-28T10:24:15+00:00 0 Comments

Ce – Nehemiah Helps the Poor Israelites Nehemiah 5: 1-19

Nehemiah Helps the Poor Israelites
Nehemiah 5: 1-19

445 BC During the ministry of Nehemiah (see Br – The Third Return).
Compiled by: The Chronicler from the Ezra and Nehemiah Memoirs
(see Ac – Ezra-Nehemiah From a Jewish Perspective: The Nehemiah Memoirs).

No sooner had the external difficulties been resolved than internal ones reared their ugly heads. Even though Nehemiah’s workforce had essentially been cut in half – with half the men working while the other half stayed on guard-duty – progress on the wall continued. Yet, at the end of a typical day, Nehemiah’s workers had neither the time nor the energy left to attend to many of their personal responsibilities, such as paying their taxes and gathering enough food to feed their families.

This led many of the people into financial difficulties. They had debts that they could not pay right away, or they had to borrow money to pay their taxes. Some of them had to go outside the City to work as hired hands harvesting other people’s crops. In addition, Nehemiah’s order for the workers to remain in Jerusalem (Nehemiah 4:16), evidently had much to do with aggravating the situation. Many people in Yerushalayim and the surrounding areas were going hungry, and they ended up being exploited by those who were more fortunate. These economic pressures created by the rebuilding of the wall brought out problems long simmering under the surface that needed to be addressed before the project could proceed.

ADONAI had given clear instructions to His people to be generous to the poor. However, Nehemiah discovered that despite the work on the wall and the Temple, the people were not obeying the commandments that Ha’Shem had given Isra’el. In spite of the new start in the Land, many Jews were still reluctant to live in the way YHVH had instructed. They were taking unfair advantage of the poor for personal gain.245

 

2019-10-28T10:16:23+00:00 0 Comments

Cd – The Rebuilding of the Walls of Jerusalem Nehemiah 4: 16-23

The Rebuilding of the Walls of Jerusalem
Nehemiah 4: 16-23

DIG: What happened when the Israelites returned to work? How was the plot of the enemy foiled? How does Nehemiah show his level of involvement in this building effort? How does he show his dependence upon God? Upon a strategic use of human resources? Upon his own diligence?

REFLECT: Do you usually do things one at a time (or “one-handed”)? Or do you like to juggle two or more things (“weapon and water in hand”)? Which of the juggling acts Nehemiah’s men were doing would you find the toughest to do (4:17 or 23)? Which do you tend to do “with all your heart” – Work? Play? Plan? Pray? Worry? What is one area of your life where there seems to be “so much rubble?” In what ways are you cooperating with others and trusting God to build something out of that rubble?

445 BC During the ministry of Nehemiah (see Br – The Third Return).
Compiled by: The Chronicler from the Ezra and Nehemiah Memoirs
(see Ac – Ezra-Nehemiah From a Jewish Perspective: The Nehemiah Memoirs).

The Jews who lived in the outlying villages (Nehemiah 3:2-13) kept bringing a report to the City that the enemy was planning a surprise attack. Nehemiah knew he couldn’t interrupt the work on the wall every time he heard a new rumor. Therefore, he set up a defense plan that solved the problem: From that day on, half of my men were doing the work, while half of them took hold of the spears, shields, bows and breastplates, not the normal armor worn by soldiers, but a padded jacket made of tough leather that protected the body as far as the knees, and the leaders were behind the entire house of Judah (Nehemiah 4:16). Notice that half of these weapons were offensive (spears and bows) and half were defensive (shields and breastplates). Paul would later use such military weaponry to describe the life of believers, including the shield of faith, the breastplate of righteousness, and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:14-17).

Those building the wall and those bearing heavy burdens, removing the broken parts of the wall that had fallen to the ground to prepare for the foundations, kept one hand on the work and the other holding a weapon (Nehemiah 4:17). Those who carried materials could carry a weapon in one hand, but those who were building need both hands free, so they carried a sword at their side. So each of the builders had his sword strapped to his side while they were building, and the shofar blower was beside me wherever he went. Besides Nehemiah’s shofar blower, there seems to have been others stationed at different places along the wall. The order to blow the shofar would only be given by Nehemiah if he felt it was essential (Nehemiah 4:18). The workers were scattered all over a wide area, and many couldn’t hear the sound of a human voice.

Then I said to the nobles, the rulers and the rest of the people, “The work is extensive and spread out, and we are widely separated from one another on the wall. Wherever you hear the sound of the shofar, join us there. We may have to contend with a superior force, but do not let your hearts be troubled, our God, will fight for us (Nehemiah 4:19-20)! This did not mean to be taken as a sign that there was nothing for them to do, that they need not worry at all about the threat against them because God would take care of them without their having to lift a finger! Sovereignty doesn’t work like that! The promise of God’s activity is never a signal for inactivity on our part. In the providence of God, He has His part do to do, and we have our part to do. Work out your salvation with fear and trembling. For the One working in you is God – both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:12-13).

So we continued the work with half the men holding spears, from dawn until the stars came out (Nehemiah 4:21). In rabbinic literature, until the stars come out was a phrase used to designate a specific time in the evening. The implication is that the half holding spears would change over at intervals with the half engaged in building. Nehemiah was a great leader. He stayed with his men. He did not remove himself to a safer location, arguing that his expertise was too valuable to be elsewhere.

Also at that time I said to the people, “Let every man capable of bearing arms, and his helper lodge inside Jerusalem, so they can be guards for us by night and workers by day” (Nehemiah 4:22). Each builder needed to have one helper. They were not allowed to leave Jerusalem for their homes at night if these were outside. They would then be available for military service if necessary should a night attack occur. So neither I, nor my brothers, nor my workers, nor the guards who were with me took off our clothes; each man even had his weapon at the water (Nehemiah 4:23). The effect of the threats, however, was to cut the workforce in half, and even those who worked carried weapons in case of attack.

The Jews faced a number of threats and opposition from their enemies as they were rebuilding the wall. They were openly mocked and derided, falsely accused of evil motives and rebellious plans, subtly infiltrated by men who sought to discourage them and hinder their work, and even threatened with murder. However, in every instance under Nehemiah’s leadership, we see God’s people turning to the LORD in prayer and expecting to find their safety and security in Him.

This is an excellent example that believers would do well to follow. Most of us instinctively try to resolve problems on our own, either by trying to devise our own solutions, or by simply running away. However, notice how Nehemiah responded to those who were mocking him and slandering his reputation. He did not defend himself, nor did he retaliate with sarcasm or verbal abuse. When those same enemies planned to attack the Jews violently, Nehemiah didn’t strike out with his sword. In both cases the righteous of the TaNaKh turned to Him in prayer.

Turning to God in prayer is not the same thing as abdicating responsibility. We still need to fulfill our responsibilities, and one of those responsibilities is to use common sense while not giving in to fear and discouragement. But in the big picture, the battle belongs to the Lord, and we are wise to turn the fighting over to Him.244

 

2019-10-28T10:13:08+00:00 0 Comments

Cc – Samaritan Opposition to the Building of the Walls of Jerusalem Nehemiah 4: 1-15

Samaritan Opposition
to the Building of the Walls of Jerusalem
Nehemiah 4: 1-15

DIG: Why do you think Sanballat was so opposed to Nehemiah’s efforts? What weapons does he use against Nehemiah and his team? How effective were their taunts in slowing down the building project? To whom does Nehemiah turn in the face of opposition (4:10)? Does he say anything that surprises you? What effect does his prayer have on his own people? What is the next threat brought against Nehemiah’s team (4:7-8)? How did the Jews meet the threat? The next threat was primarily internal, from within their own ranks – what was it? How does Nehemiah encourage his people to persist? What does he want them to remember (4:14)?

REFLECT: When have you or your place of worship ever attempted something so big it was beyond human control, but within God’s provision? Describe your big dream or vision. Which gives you more difficulty: External criticism or internal fears? Why? What is one area of your life where there seems to be “heaps of rubble?” How are you cooperating with others and trusting God to build something out of that rubble? What does it mean to resist the devil (First Peter 5:9)? How is this done, in practical terms?

445 BC During the ministry of Nehemiah (see Br – The Third Return).
Compiled by the Chronicler from the Ezra and Nehemiah Memoirs
(see Ac – Ezra-Nehemiah from a Jewish Perspective: The Nehemiah Memoirs).

Anyone who steps into the arena of leadership must be prepared to pay the price. That’s part of the leadership package. True leadership exacts a heavy toll on the whole person – and the more effective the leadership, the higher the price. The leader must face the fact that he or she will be the target of critical darts. Unpleasant as it may sound, you haven’t really led until you have become familiar with the stinging barbs of the critic. That implies one thing: good leaders must have thick skin. In the eighth example of leadership in the life of Nehemiah, wise leaders have the ability to handle criticism (see Bt – The Third Return).

Anyone who is serious about serving ADONAI as a leader in the congregations of God should make a serious study of Paul. His life offers a pattern that people in leadership should follow. Second Corinthians is a key book because he talks more about himself there than in any of his others. We should not be surprised, therefore, to read an honest admission about the toll of the ministry in Paul’s life: But we have this treasure [the gospel] in jars of clay [our frail human bodies], so that the surpassing greatness of the power may be from God and not ourselves (Second Corinthians 4:7). There is no power in a clay pot. It is fragile and plain. It often leaks. The passage of time only makes the vessel weaker. Paul was saying that the manifestation of power comes not from the pot, but what the pot contains.

Next, Paul describes the life of frail human vessels. We are hard-pressed in every way, yet not crushed; perplexed, yet not in despair; persecuted, yet not forsaken; struck down, yet not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Yeshua, so that the life of Yeshua may also be revealed in our mortal body (Second Corinthians 4:8-10). Always is the key word here. The marks of death are always evident in the lives of God’s leaders because He wants to display the life of Yeshua in the clay pot. He uses imperfect people, clay pots, to display His glory. It is also emphasized in this passage that opposition is inevitable. A godly leader always carries the telltale marks of death.233

Now when Sanballat heard that we were building the wall, he became very angry and was greatly enraged (Nehemiah 4:1a). He knew that a restored Jerusalem would lessen his influence in Judah. On the surface, he was outraged that the Jews had overridden his authority in the region by gaining the support of the king (see Bw – The Response of King Artakh’shasta). But the deeper truth was that he was an enemy of God – and therefore an enemy of God’s people. He could not stand the thought that the Jews were going to prosper and rebuild their beloved City.234

Thus, He mocked the Jews (Nehemiah 4:1b) in the presence of the Samaritan leaders. For mockery to have any effect, requires a sympathetic audience, so Sanballat attempted to draw others into his hatred of the Jews. He used rhetorical questions designed to drive home the opposition. The first one took advantage of a “truth” about which the Jews were sensitive. He asked: What are these feeble Jews doing? They knew they were not strong or numerous. Humanly speaking, the job was more than they should have undertaken. Sanballat then asked: Will they fortify themselves? He wanted to instill doubts about the wisdom of the project. They were fools, he chided, wasting effort on a hopeless project. The third rhetorical question: Will they offer sacrifices? He ridiculed their “pretend” trust in God. Did they really think that prayer and sacrifice would build that wall? How foolish! His final question: Will they finish in a day? Can they revive the stones from the heaps of rubble that are burnt (Nehemiah 4:2)? He used wrong information to discourage the builders. Most of the stones were still in good condition. They had not all disintegrated from the fire as he suggested. Psychological warfare can use truths to which people are sensitive or half-truths or falsehoods to intimidate the enemy.235

Tobiah echoed Sanballat’s first argument and then became sarcastic. Then Tobiah the Ammonite, who was beside him, said mockingly: Even if a fox climbed on what they are building, it would break down their stone wall (Nehemiah 4:3)! First of all, they weren’t building it, and second of all, it wasn’t their wall. YHVH wanted the wall built, and He happened to use Nehemiah as the construction superintendent. Let’s call it what it is: spiritual warfare.

Nehemiah’s first response to the danger and opposition was to bow down before ADONAI in prayer: Hear, our God, for we are despised. The use of we showed Nehemiah’s identification with the people; he faced the same dangers and sacrifices, and confronted the same tests of faith as everyone else. Turn their insults back on their own head! Give them up as plunder in a land of captivity. Do not cover their guilt or blot out their sin from before You, for they have provoked You to anger before the builders (Nehemiah 4:4-5). This is the fourth of twelve prayers recorded in Nehemiah (9:5ff, 1:5-11, 2:4, here, 4:9, 5:19, 6:9, 6:14, 13:14, 13:22, 13:29, 13:31).

Nehemiah’s prayer has much in common with imprecations (those that invoke judgment, calamity, or curses, upon one’s enemies or those perceived as the enemies of God) in the Psalms and in Jeremiah. He was outraged at the conduct of the critics and he said some very rash things . . . in the privacy and security of his prayer closet. Three points need to be made about this. First, Nehemiah’s request, like imprecations elsewhere, was for divine judgment against sin, a clear teaching of the Bible. This prayer for God not to cover their enemies’ guilt was not a prayer against their salvation but for divine justice. Secondly, it was a prayer for Ha’Shem to act, not for permission to take personal revenge (Romans 12:19-210). And third, it expressed zeal for God’s work and God’s honor. Nehemiah had no doubts that the building of the wall was the work of ADONAI, so opposing it was opposing God.236

So, we rebuilt the wall. The faith, unity, and energy of the small group prevailed. And the entire wall was joined together up to half its height, meaning that at this point their task was half complete, for the people had a heart to work (Nehemiah 4:6). The people had been enthusiastic and eager to participate during the early phases of the building project. All the ridicule and attacks against them had only strengthened their resolve. They had divided the work among themselves and been excited to see the progress as the wall came together. Excavations have revealed that the ancient wall must have had a height of two hundred feet. This showed that the people made remarkable progress. It is during such times in our own lives that determination becomes important in obeying and completing the Lord’s work, for distractions and discouragement will multiply as our enthusiasm dissipates.

That productivity should have discouraged the enemies of God, but that wasn’t the case. In fact, the size of the opposition grew. When Samaritans under Sanballat (in the north), the Arabians, the countrymen of Geshem, (in the south), the Ammonites, whom Tobiah belonged, (to the east), and the people of Ashdod (to the west), heard that restoration of the walls of Jerusalem was proceeding and that the breaches had begun to be closed, they became extremely angry because they realized that their ridicule had not succeeded in stopping the work on the wall (Nehemiah 4:7). Under normal circumstances they would not have cooperated, but what drew them together was a mutual hatred of ADONAI and His people.

They intensified the opposition and all conspired together to come and fight against Jerusalem. How much of this was mere talk is hard to be sure. The failure of this impressive group to strike a single blow suggests the king’s letters (see Bw – The Response of King Artakh’shasta) had them stop and think more carefully about what might happen if they actually attacked the Jews. Did they really want to end up fighting the entire Persian army? But their plotting, however half-hearted, clearly included potential raids had to be taken seriously.237

Initially, they merely pretended to care about the king’s taxes and national security. Then they acted as if the Jews couldn’t build anything that would last, but in the end, just like today, they were only angry that the Jews could defend themselves. The enemies of God didn’t care what the Jews believed. They simply wanted to stop the progress being made on rebuilding the wall. So, they stirred up trouble (Nehemiah 4:8).238

What did Nehemiah do when confronted with continued harassment? But we prayed to our God and stationed guards at the most conspicuous and vulnerable places on the wall day and night (Nehemiah 4:9). This is the fifth of twelve prayers recorded in Nehemiah (9:5ff, 1:5-11, 2:4, 4:4, here, 5:19, 6:9, 6:14, 13:14, 13:22, 13:29, 13:31). Nehemiah’s response was clear: prayer and precaution, trust and good management. He had faith in ADONAI, but he was also aware of the dangers and took the necessary precautions. They needed to defend the City while the men were occupied with the work as well as at night when a surprise attack might be made.

The enemies of YHVH then resorted to threats of murder, and the Israelites began to grow weary and discouraged. Some began to buckle under the strain. Meanwhile the people of Judah, speaking through their representatives, said: The strength of the laborers is failing. There is so much rubble that we are unable to rebuild the wall (Nehemiah 4:10). The Jew’s initial enthusiasm had worn off and fatigue was setting in. This was the critical point in Nehemiah’s administration, for the enemy’s attacks were beginning to have their desired effect of halting the work. Nehemiah needed to take steps to renew the people’s enthusiasm for the building project to be a success.

Our adversaries are also saying: They will not know or perceive anything, until we come among them and kill them, and put an end to the work (Nehemiah 4:11). Part of the strategy of the enemy coalition was to frighten and intimidate the Jews by making them think an army would surprise them with a massive force that would engulf them. God’s enemies will stop at nothing, even mass murder, in hopes of preventing the fulfillment of His plans. This is a futile hope; however, as nothing can prevent God’s plans from coming to pass. The destruction of His enemy’s plan will come on their own heads. Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, whoever rolls a stone – it will come back upon him (Proverbs 26:27).239

So, it happened that the Jews living near them came and told us ten times over, meaning repeatedly (see Genesis 31:41 for the idiom), “Wherever you turn, they will attack us” (Nehemiah 4:12). Apparently Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem were spreading rumors of attack to dishearten the people. Whether the neighboring Jews acted as unwitting carriers of propaganda or as useful informants is difficult to tell.240

Nehemiah, however, took definite action. So, in view of possible danger, I stationed people in the lower places behind the wall in the exposed places. I stationed the people by families with their swords, spears and bows, to be used according to their distance from the enemy (Nehemiah 4:13). Because they were stationed with their families, they would be more motivated to fight. Nehemiah’s leadership had robbed the conspirators of any initiative they might have had. Intimidation had failed, and surprise was now out of the question.241

This project involved a tremendous amount of organizational skill on the part of Nehemiah. Arranging the workers in groups over forty teams at various preassigned location was a task requiring military precision. It is one of the features that we admire about Nehemiah: his ability to delegate and motivate over forty groups, even after they encountered very real threats of harassment and even death. David would say: Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of ADONAI our God (Psalm 20:7). However, that did not lead Nehemiah to conclude that the Israelites could meet the enemy’s threats armed merely with a scroll of the Torah!242

Nehemiah called the people together, which had the effect of showing their strength and giving him an opportunity to encourage them by emphasizing God’s great delivering power. When I looked things over, I rose up and said to the nobles, the rulers and the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the great and awesome God, and fight on behalf of your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes” (Nehemiah 4:14). The words of Nehemiah, “Do not be afraid,” reminds us of the reassurance and victory of other leaders in the Bible (Exodus 14:13; Numbers 14:9; Deuteronomy 20:3 and 31:6; Joshua 10:25).

The temporary lull was merely a chance to continue the rebuilding. Now when our enemies heard that their plan to attack was known to us, and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to his work (Nehemiah 4:15). This showed the results of Nehemiah’s prayer and leadership. Thanks to divine intervention, the enemy abandoned the attempt to stop the work by force. Nehemiah never lost sight of the fact that God was in control of all events. The plot was not foiled because the Jews had learned about it, nor because of their readiness to fight back, but because ADONAI prevented it.

Zerubbabel, Ezra and Nehemiah all faced determined opposition from powerful foes. They understood that life is filled with spiritual battles, for the enemy of our souls continuously strives to hinder the work of God. These men expected opposition to ADONAI’s great project of rebuilding Jerusalem, and they were not caught off guard when it came. We must not assume every hardship, opposition, or obstacle is an indication that we are acting according to YHVH’s will. God does use practical hindrances at times to force us to recognize when we are not going in the right direction.

Consider Balaam, for example, a pagan medium who practiced sorcery and other wicked acts for profit. He had been offered a great sum of money to cast a curse on the LORD’s people after their exodus from Egypt, but Ha’Shem had warned him: Do not go with them! Do not curse them, for they are blessed (Numbers 22:12)! Nevertheless, Balaam saddled his donkey and headed out – ostensibly to bless God’s people, yet in disobedience to His command. As he traveled along, the LORD sent an angel to hinder his donkey’s progress. He even caused the donkey to speak (who showed more wisdom than his foolish master) in order to warn Balaam that he was going the wrong way.

When we do ADONAI’s work, we will face spiritual opposition from the enemies of God’s people, and we must expect it. But when there’s any doubt, we shouldn’t assume that opposition is a “green light” on our actions. Rather, we must turn immediately to Ha’Shem in prayer and meditate on His Word. YHVH never commands His people to do anything contrary to the principles of Scripture, and He might be using obstacles to open our eyes to a wrong decision.243

 

2019-10-28T10:05:31+00:00 0 Comments

Cb – Renewed Opposition to the Rebuilding of the Walls of Jerusalem Nehemiah 4: 1-23

Renewed Opposition
to the Rebuilding of the Walls of Jerusalem
Nehemiah 4: 1-23

445 BC During the ministry of Nehemiah (see Br – The Third Return).
Compiled by: The Chronicler from the Ezra and Nehemiah Memoirs
(see Ac – Ezra-Nehemiah From a Jewish Perspective: The Nehemiah Memoirs).

It is through many persecutions that we must enter the Kingdom of God (Acts 14:22). This was how Paul informed the young believers in Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch after his initial missionary journey (see the commentary on Acts Bm – Paul’s First Missionary Journey). Knowing the reality of spiritual warfare beforehand, as we run the race that is set before us, (Hebrews 2:1) will help us avoid becoming too discouraged or drawing false conclusions – thinking that opposition signals ADONAI’s disapproval of us and that we should change course immediately. But we often, in a less-than-subtle way, draw the conclusion that lack of opposition means YHVH’s favor, when, in fact, the opposite can be true. When the work of rebuilding began, one of Nehemiah’s tasks was to reassure his brothers and sisters that the severe opposition that they immediately faced, was nothing more than what they should expect. In reality, they should take comfort from it, knowing that it was evidence that what they were doing was a good thing – and the Adversary hates a good thing and will always try to destroy it.

Nehemiah, as we shall see, was not timid when it came to responding to the psychological intimidation hurled at him and his wall-builders; he was not going to be frightened into submission by bullies even if they were armed and bent on murder. This was ADONAI’s work, and he urged his brothers and sisters on, even if it cost them their lives. They would not be the first to suffer loss for the sake of the kingdom of God. Some things are worth fighting for; building the Kingdom is surely one of them.232

 

2019-10-28T09:56:53+00:00 0 Comments

Ca – The Construction of the Eastern Wall Nehemiah 3: 15-32

The Construction of the Eastern Wall
Nehemiah 3: 15-32

DIG: Nehemiah’s name is conspicuous by its absence from this chapter. What do you suppose he was doing while all the others were “doing their work?”

REFLECT: How can you tackle some project at your messianic synagogue that is not finished as a result of a lack of volunteers?

445 BC During the ministry of Nehemiah (see Br – The Third Return).
Compiled by: The Chronicler from the Ezra and Nehemiah Memoirs
(see Ac – Ezra-Nehemiah from a Jewish Perspective: The Nehemiah Memoirs).

The style of this section of Nehemiah is somewhat different than the previous file (see Bz – Repairing the Northern, Western and Southern Walls). The most evident difference is that the landmarks are now primarily houses and other buildings instead of gates. The reason for this is probably that the east side of the City did not follow the old wall but was built farther up on the crest of the hill along the eastern side of Jerusalem.230

Construction of the South-East Wall: Shallun son of Col-hozeh, the ruler of the district of Mizpah, repaired the Fountain Gate, which may also be translated the Spring Gate. He built it, covered it, and set up its doors, its bolts, and its bars. He also repaired the wall of the Pool of Shelah by the King’s Garden, as far as the stairs going down a steep ascent south-east from the City of David (Nehemiah 3:15). Probably to be identified with Shiloah (Isaiah 8:6), or Siloam. Water from the Pool of Siloam flowed through the King’s Garden located outside the walls where the Kidron and Hinnom valley converge (Second Kings 25:4).

Beyond him Nehemiah son of Azbuk, the ruler of half the district of Beth-zur, an important town on the southern border (Joshua 15:58), about thirteen miles south of Jerusalem and marked the southern limits of the province of Judah. It was turned into a fortress by Rehoboam (Second Chronicles 11:7). There, Nehemiah son of Azbuk, made repairs as far as the tombs of David (Second Chronicles 32:33) and the artificial pool constructed by Hezekiah, or the Kings Pool (2:14),

and the House of the Warriors (Nehemiah 3:16). This was the site of the royal barracks that David erected for his body-guard described (see the commentary on the Life of David Ej – David’s Mighty Warriors).

After him, the Levites made repairs under Rehum son of Bani, and beside him, Hashabiah, the ruler of half the district of Keilah (Joshua 15:44; First Samuel 23:1), about fifteen miles south-east of Jerusalem, made repairs for his district (Nehemiah 3:17). After him repairs were made on the high priest’s house by their brothers in the other half of the district under Binnui son of Henadad, the ruler of half the district of Keilah. On one side of the house the Levites built a wall. Adjacent to him Ezer son of Jeshua, the ruler of the city of Mizpah, repaired another section in addition to the section repaired by the men of Mizpah (Nehemiah 3:7), opposite the ascent to the armory at the corner buttress where part of the wall turns inward (Second Chronicles 26:9). Strategically it was one of the most important points in the fortifications (Nehemiah 3:17-19).

The residences of the high priest and his colleagues were located along the eastern wall of the City, corresponding with the retaining wall of the Temple area above the Kidron Valley. After him Baruch son of Zaccai zealously repaired another section from the corner buttress up to the door of the house of Eliashib, the cohen gadol. After him Meremoth son of Uriah, son of Hakkoz, repaired another section (he had already repaired a section in Nehemiah 3:4) from the door of the house of Eliashib to the end of the house of Eliashib. And after him the cohanim worked, men from the area surrounding Jerusalem (Nehemiah 3:20-22).

After them Benjamin and Hasshub made repairs in front of their house. After them Azariah son of Maaseiah, son of Ananiah, worked beside his house. Beyond him Binnui son of Henadad repaired another section from the house of Azariah up to the inner buttress and the corner where part of the wall turns inward. Palal son of Uzai made repairs opposite the inner buttress and the tower coming out from the upper palace of the king, which is by the court of the guard. Like Solomon’s palace, it would have had a guardhouse (Jeremiah 32:2). After him Pedaiah son of Parosh and the Temple servants living on the Ophel made repairs up to the area opposite the Water Gate toward the east of Jerusalem and the projecting tower, where the people assembled. After him the men of Tekoa also repaired another section from opposite the great projecting tower, one of the defenses on the eastern side of the Temple, to the wall of the Ophel (Nehemiah 3:23-27). The section described is from the Tower to the point where the west wall on the Temple mount had been repaired by Shallun in Nehemiah 3:15.

Construction of the North-East Wall: The residences of the priests were on higher ground above the Horse Gate where the cohanim worked, each in front of his own house (Jeremiah 31:39; Second Chronicles 23:15). The reference in Jeremiah has the information that it was in the east section of Jerusalem overlooking the Kidron Valley. It opened into the south-east of the Temple courts. After them Zadok son of Immer made repairs opposite his house and after him Shemaiah son of Shecaniah, the guard of the East Gate (the entrance to the Temple area on the eastern side), made repairs. As a keeper of the East Gate he must have been a Levite. After him Hananiah, son of Shelemiah, and Hanun, the sixth son of Zalaph, repaired another portion (Nehemiah 3:28-29).

There were chambers or rooms in the Temple construction as indicated by Ezra 10:6 and Nehemiah 12:44. Tobiah’s family was related by marriage to Meshullam (Nehemiah 6:18), who even gave Tobiah the Ammonite (Nehemiah 2:10) the use of one of those rooms (Nehemiah 13:4-9). After him Meshullam son of Berechiah made repairs in front of his living quarters. After him Malchijah, one of the goldsmiths, made repairs up to the house of the Temple servants (see An – Priests, Levites and Temple Servants Who Returned with Zerubbabel: Temple servants returning), and the merchants opposite the Inspection Gate and as far as the room above the corner. Between the room above the corner and the Sheep Gate, the goldsmiths and the merchants worked (Nehemiah 3:30-32). Having traveled around Jerusalem in a counter-clockwise direction, the narrative ends where it began.

This chapter also contains important teaching for believers today. One reason the work progressed was that everyone took part, from rulers to Temple personnel to merchants and citizens with their families (First Corinthians 12:4-13, 27-30). Even the people from the villages who lived a distance from Yerushalayim also helped. They felt part of the community, even though they personally received fewer direct benefits. Their cooperation on the walls is one of the finest pictures of Israelite brotherhood in the TaNaKh (John 17:21-23; First Thessalonians 1:7-8; Second Corinthians 8:3-5 and 9:1-2). Even their families were amazed at the results (notice the same in Acts 2:43-47 and 4:32). In order not only to survive but also to be effective in the midst of opposition from a hostile secular culture, the Church must exhibit a cooperative spirit. Another reason for the Jews’ success was Nehemiah’s wise delegation of labor. He knew how to choose leaders and to delegate authority (Second Timothy 2:2). Also, many built the part nearest their own house. A leader must take into account family and incentive factors in planning and delegating responsibilities (Ephesians 4:11-13).231

2019-10-28T09:48:03+00:00 0 Comments
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