Nehemiah 13:18
Did not your fathers thus, and did not our God bring all this evil on us, and on this city? yet you bring more wrath on Israel by profaning the sabbath.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Nehemiah 13:18-19. Did not your fathers thus? — He bids them reflect, and consider that this was one of the crimes of which their fathers were guilty; and for which God had suffered them to be carried captive out of their land, and their city to be destroyed. Did not God bring all this evil upon us? — Which you so well and sadly remember, that I need not tell you the particulars. When the gates began to be dark — Which was about sun- setting, by reason of the mountains which were round about and near Jerusalem: at which time they who sat at the gates could no longer see to do any thing. I commanded that the gates should be shut — In order that none who came to sell goods might enter in, and that no burden might be brought in on the sabbath day, or late in the evening before it, or early in the morning after. And some of my servants set I at the gates — Out of a diffidence in those to whom the keeping of the gates had been committed.13:15-22 The keeping holy the Lord's day forms an important object for their attention who would promote true godliness. Religion never prospers while sabbaths are trodden under foot. No wonder there was a general decay of religion, and corruption of manners among the Jews, when they forsook the sanctuary and profaned the sabbath. Those little consider what an evil they do, who profane the sabbath. We must answer for the sins others are led to commit by our example. Nehemiah charges it on them as an evil thing, for so it is, proceeding from contempt of God and our own souls. He shows that sabbath-breaking was one of the sins for which God had brought judgments upon them; and if they did not take warning, but returned to the same sins again, they had to expect further judgments. The courage, zeal, and prudence of Nehemiah in this matter, are recorded for us to do likewise; and we have reason to think, that the cure he wrought was lasting. He felt and confessed himself a sinner, who could demand nothing from God as justice, when he thus cried unto him for mercy.Friendly relations subsisted between the Phoenicians and the Jews, after the captivity Ezra 3:7. It was, however, a new fact, and one pregnant with evil consequences, that the Tyrians should have established a permanent colony at Jerusalem. Its influence on the other inhabitants weakened the hold of the Law upon men's consciences, and caused it to be transgressed continually more and more openly. Ne 13:15-31. The Violation of the Sabbath.

15-22. In those days saw I in Judah some treading wine-presses on the sabbath—The cessation of the temple services had been necessarily followed by a public profanation of the Sabbath, and this had gone so far that labor was carried on in the fields, and fish brought to the markets on the sacred day. Nehemiah took the decisive step of ordering the city gates to be shut, and not to be opened, till the Sabbath was past; and in order to ensure the faithful execution of this order, he stationed some of his own servants as guards, to prevent the introduction of any commodities on that day. On the merchants and various dealers finding admission denied them, they set up booths outside the walls, in hopes of still driving a traffic with the peasantry; but the governor threatened, if they continued, to adopt violent measures for their removal. For this purpose a body of Levites was stationed as sentinels at the gate, with discretionary powers to protect the sanctification of the Sabbath.

All this evil upon us; which you so well and sadly remember, that I need not tell you the particulars. Did not your fathers thus,.... Profane the sabbath in like manner:

and did not our God bring all this evil upon us, and upon our city? suffered them to be carried captive into a strange land, and their city destroyed for their sins, and for this of sabbath breaking among the rest, see Jeremiah 17:21,

yet ye bring more wrath upon Israel by profaning the sabbath; additional judgments to those that had been already upon them for the same evil with others.

Did not your fathers {h} thus, and did not our God bring all this evil upon us, and upon this city? yet ye bring more wrath upon Israel by profaning the sabbath.

(h) Was this not the reason God plagued us in times past: meaning, that if they transgressed now in the same way, their plague would be greater.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
18. did not your fathers thus] Cf. Jeremiah 17:22-23; Jeremiah 17:27, ‘but hallow ye the sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers; but they hearkened not, neither inclined their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear, and might not receive instruction.… But if ye will not hearken unto me to hallow the sabbath day, and not to bear a burden and enter in at the gates of Jerusalem on the sabbath day; then will I kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched.’

our God] Note the change from ‘your fathers’ to ‘our God’ and ‘upon us.’

all this evil] i.e. subjection to a foreign power.

ye bring more wrath upon Israel] Cf. Ezra 10:10, ‘have married strange women, to increase the guilt of Israel.’Verse 18. - Did not your fathers thus? The desecration of the sabbath is among the sins most strongly denounced by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 17:21-27)and Ezekiel"Then I contended with the rulers, and said, Why is the house of God forsaken?" It was the duty of the סגנים, the heads of the community (comp. Nehemiah 2:16), to see that the tithes, etc., were regularly brought to the house of God. Hence Nehemiah rebukes them by asking: Why is the house of God forsaken? i.e., through the non-delivery of the dues. On נעזב, comp. Nehemiah 10:39. This rebuke made the impression desired. Nehemiah assembled the Levites and set them in their place (comp. Nehemiah 9:3; 2 Chronicles 30:16; 2 Chronicles 35:10), i.e., he brought them back to the performance of their official duties, and (Nehemiah 13:12) all Judah (the whole community) brought the tithe of the corn, etc., into the store-chambers of the temple; comp. Nehemiah 10:38. 2 Chronicles 11:11.
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