|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
12:27-43 All our cities, all our houses, must have holiness to the Lord written upon them. The believer should undertake nothing which he does not dedicate to the Lord. We are concerned to cleanse our hands, and purify our hearts, when any work for God is to pass through them. Those that would be employed to sanctify others, must sanctify themselves, and set themselves apart for God. To those who are sanctified, all their creature-comforts and enjoyments are made holy. The people greatly rejoiced. All that share in public mercies, ought to join in public thanksgivings.
Verse 31. - I brought up the princes of Judah upon the wall, and appointed two great companies. Nehemiah caused all the chiefs of the nation, both lay and clerical, to mount upon the wall, and there marshalled them into two companies, composed of clergy and laity intermixed, one of which he placed under the direction of Ezra (ver. 36), while of the other he took the command himself (ver. 38). The place of assemblage must have been some portion of the western wall, probably the central portion, near the modern Jaffa gate. From this Ezra's company proceeded southward, and then eastward, along the southern wall, while Nehemiah's marched northward, and then eastward, along the northern wall, both processions meeting midway in the eastern wall, between the "water" and the "prison" gates. Toward the dung gate. On the position of this gate, see the comment on Nehemiah 2:13.
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Then I brought up the princes of Judah upon the wall,.... Which was so broad as to walk upon it, and there was a procession of the princes on it at its dedication, and here is described the manner of it; the princes of Benjamin must be included here:
and appointed two great companies of them that gave thanks; he divided the people who were met together to praise God on this occasion into two companies: whereof
one went on the right hand upon the wall; that is, on the southern part of it:
towards the dung gate; of which see Nehemiah 2:13 some Jewish writers, as Jarchi and Ben Melech, give a different sense of , which we render "two companies", and take them to be two eucharistical loaves of leavened bread, with which a rite or ceremony was performed at the enlargement of a court or city; at the utmost boundary of which those were carried, and one was eaten and the other burnt (r); which rite is thus described by Maimonides (s),"how do they add to a city? the sanhedrim make two eucharistical sacrifices, and they take the leavened bread in them, and the sanhedrim go after the two eucharistical sacrifices, which follow one another, and they stand with harps, and psalteries, and cymbals, at every corner and at every stone in Jerusalem, and say, I will extol thee, for thou hast lifted up, &c. (#Ps 30:1) until they come to the end of the place they consecrate, there they stand and eat the thanksgiving loaf, one of the two, and the other is burnt.''
(r) Miss. Shebuot, c. 2. sect. 2. & Maimon, & Bartenora in ib. (s) Hilchot, Beth-habechirah, c. 6. sect. 12. Vid. Selden. de Synedr. l. 3. c. 13. sect. 6.
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