Ezra 2:43
The Nethinims: the children of Ziha, the children of Hasupha, the children of Tabbaoth,
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(43-58) The Nethinims.—By the etymology those given: known by this name only in the later books. (See 1Chronicles 9:2.) They were hieroduli, or temple-bondsmen: the lowest order of the ministry, performing the more laborious duties of the sanctuary. Their history runs through a long period. Moses apportioned them first, from the Midianite captives (Numbers 31:47); they were reinforced from the Gibeonites (Joshua 9:23), and probably later by David (Ezra 8:20). Three names—Akkub, Hagab, and Asnah—have dropped from Neheniiah’s list, which gives also some unimportant changes in the spelling of the names.

Ezra 2:43. Nethinims — Persons devoted to the inferior services of the priests and Levites. Commonly supposed to be the Gibeonites, given (so their name signifies) by Joshua first, and again by David, when Saul had expelled them, to the priests and Levites, for those services.

2:36-63 Those who undervalue their relation to the Lord in times of reproach, persecution, or distress, will have no benefit from it when it becomes honourable or profitable. Those who have no evidence that they are, by the new birth, spiritual priests unto God, through Jesus Christ, have no right to the comforts and privileges of Christians.The Nethinims - The hieroduli or sacred slaves, "given" to the Levites to assist them in their work (see 1 Chronicles 9:2 note). 36-39. The priests—Each of their families was ranged under its prince or head, like those of the other tribes. It will be remembered that the whole body was divided into twenty-four courses, one of which, in rotation, discharged the sacerdotal duties every week, and each division was called after the name of its first prince or chief. It appears from this passage that only four of the courses of the priests returned from the Babylonish captivity; but these four courses were afterwards, as the families increased, divided into twenty-four, which were distinguished by the names of the original courses appointed by David [1Ch 23:6-13]. Hence we find the course of Abijah or Abia (1Ch 24:10) subsisting at the commencement of the Christian era (Lu 1:5). The Nethinims; the persons devoted to the inferior services of the priests and Levites; of whom see 1 Chronicles 9:2.

The Nethinims,.... Supposed by Aben Ezra and Jarchi to be the Gibeonites, who were "given" by Joshua, as the word Nethinims signifies, to the congregation, to be hewers of wood and drawers of water; but rather were those that were given by David to assist the Levites; of these is an account from hence to the end of Ezra 2:58, together with those who descended from Solomon's servants, who seem to be the remains of the Canaanites in the land, whom Solomon made bondservants of, 1 Kings 9:20, who, and their posterity, became proselytes; or those sprung from men that were domestic servants of Solomon's, and valued themselves on that account; the number of the Nethinims and these together were three hundred ninety and two. The {h} Nethinims: the children of Ziha, the children of Hasupha, the children of Tabbaoth,

(h) So called because they were given to the temple, to cut wood and bear water for the use of the sacrifices and came of the Gibeonites who were appointed to this use by Joshua, Jos 9:23.

43. Nethinims] R.V. Nethinim. The termination ‘-im’ is the sign of the plural. In the same way the R.V. corrects the inaccurate form ‘Cherubims’ to ‘Cherubim’ (Genesis 3:24), ‘Anakims’ to ‘Anakim’, ‘Horims’ to ‘Horites’, ‘Emims’ to ‘Emim’, ‘Zanzummims’ to ‘Zanzummim’, ‘Avims’ and ‘Caphtorims’ to ‘Avvim’ and ‘Caphtorim’ (Deuteronomy 2:10-12; Deuteronomy 2:20-23).

43–54. Nethinim. This class is mentioned in the books Ezra and Nehemiah (Ezra 2:43; Ezra 2:58; Ezra 2:70; Ezra 7:7; Ezra 7:24; Ezra 8:17; Ezra 8:20; Nehemiah 3:26; Nehemiah 3:31; Nehemiah 7:46; Nehemiah 7:60; Nehemiah 7:73; Nehemiah 10:28; Nehemiah 11:3; Nehemiah 11:21) and only once elsewhere (1 Chronicles 9:2). From these passages it is evident that the Nethinim were a class subordinate to the Levites but ranking before ‘the servants of Solomon’ (Ezra 2:55) in the services of the Temple. Their origin is hid in great obscurity. The name denotes ‘given’. Jewish tradition identified them mainly with the Gibeonites, who had been assigned by Joshua to the Levites to assist them in the discharge of the more menial tasks (Joshua 9:3-27). Their numbers were also, according to this supposition, increased by the captives taken in war, of whom a certain proportion were given over to the priests and Levites as their share in the booty of a campaign (Numbers 31:28 &c.). Thus in Ezra 8:20 we find a mention of certain of this class ‘whom David and the princes had appointed (lit. ‘given’) for the service of the Levites’.

The later Jewish tradition of the Talmud spoke of the Nethinim with great contempt and forbade intermarriage between them and the Jews. It is not improbable that these expressions were employed long after this distinctive class had been lost to view, and merely reflected the tradition which ascribed their origin to the Gibeonites and the Canaanites who fell under the special ban of the Law (Exodus 34:12-16; Deuteronomy 7:1 &c.).

A recent theory, coupling the strong terms of Jewish hatred with the numerous feminine terminations in -a and -ah to be found in the genealogy of the Nethinim, supposes them to be the descendants of those who during the monarchy had led infamous lives in the precincts and vicinity of the Temple as devotees of Astarte and of Ashera (see Babyl. and Orient. Record, Feb., March 1888). But even if it were granted that the very odium of their origin would thus account for the mystery in which it is veiled, it does not seem probable that the strict notions which prevailed at the time of the Return would have admitted such a class to participate in the ministrations, however lowly, of the Temple.

The peculiar termination of the names derives a natural explanation from their foreign extraction.

Verse 43. - The Nethiaims. See note on 1 Chronicles 9:2. Ezra 2:43The Nethinim, i.e., temple-bondsmen, and the servants of Solomon, are reckoned together, thirty-five families of Nethinim and ten of the servants of Solomon being specified. The sum-total of these amounting only to 392, each family could only have averaged from eight to nine individuals. The sons of Akkub, Hagab and Asnah (Ezra 2:45, Ezra 2:46, and Ezra 2:50), are omitted in Nehemiah; the name Shalmai (Ezra 2:46) is in Nehemiah 7:48 written Salmai; and for נפיסים, Ezra 2:50, Nehemiah 7:52 has נפושׁסים, a form combined from נפוּסים and נפישׁים. All other variations relate only to differences of form. Because Ziha (ציהא, Ezra 2:43) again occurs in Nehemiah 11:21 as one of the chiefs of the Nethinim, and the names following seem to stand in the same series with it, Bertheau insists on regarding these names as those of divisions. This cannot, however, be correct; for Ziha is in Nehemiah 11:21 the name of an individual, and in the present list also the proper names are those of individuals, and only the sons of Ziha, Hasupha, etc., can be called families or divisions. Plural words alone, Mehunim and Nephisim, are names of races or nations; hence the sons of the Mehunim signify individuals belonging to the Mehunim, who, perhaps, after the victory of King Uzziah over that people, were as prisoners of war made vassals for the service of the sanctuary. So likewise may the sons of the Nephisim have been prisoners of war of the Ishmaelite race נפישׁ. Most of the families here named may, however, have been descendants of the Gibeonites (Joshua 9:21, Joshua 9:27). The servants of Solomon must not be identified with the Canaanite bond-servants mentioned 1 Kings 9:20., 2 Chronicles 8:7., but were probably prisoners of war of some other nation, whom Solomon sentenced to perform, as bondsmen, similar services to those imposed upon the Gibeonites. The sons of these servants are again mentioned in Nehemiah 11:3. In other passages they are comprised under the general term Nethinim, with whom they are here computed. Among the names, that of הצּבים פּכרת (Ezra 2:57), i.e., catcher of gazelles, is a singular one; the last name, אמי, is in Nehemiah 7:59 אמון.
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