Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
Now those that sealed were, Nehemiah, the Tirshatha, the son of Hachaliah, and Zidkijah,CHAPTER 10
1. Those who sealed the covenant (Nehemiah 10:1-27)
2. The obligations of the covenant (Nehemiah 10:28-39)
Nehemiah 10:1-27. The last verse of the preceding chapter mentions a covenant. “And yet for all this we make a sure covenant, and write it; and our princes, our Levites, and our priests, seal unto it.” In this chapter we find the names of the heads of the different houses who sealed the covenant, which means they put their signature to it. According to talmudical tradition these signers constituted “the Great Synagogue.” Originally it consisted of 120 members, but later only 70 belonged to it. Its covenants were as follows:
(1) Not to marry heathen women;
(2) to keep Sabbath;
(3) to keep the Sabbatical year;
(4) to pay every year a certain sum to the Temple;
(5) to supply wood for the altar;
(6) to pay the priestly dues;
(7) to collect and to preserve the Holy Scriptures.
The list is headed by Nehemiah with his official title as Governor (Tirshatha). In Nehemiah 10:2-8 the priestly houses are given. The Levitical houses are recorded in Nehemiah 10:9-13. From the book of Ezra we learn that only four priestly houses and only two Levites had returned under Zerubbabel. Here we have twenty-one priestly and seventeen Levitical houses. This shows a marked increase. The chiefs of the people were forty-one houses; their names are given in Nehemiah 10:14-27.
Nehemiah 10:28-39. Besides the heads of the houses recorded in this chapter there were the rest of the people, priests, Levites (the individuals), porters, singers and the Nethinim (Ezra 2:43); they all had separated themselves and entered into a curse, and into an oath. The word “curse” has the meaning of an imprecatory expression in the form of an oath. There must have been some formula in connection with signing the covenant, in which the signers declared that if they broke the covenant God would do something to them (the curse) and then by a direct oath swore to keep the covenant. The obligationsof the covenant are given in the rest of this chapter. These obligations may be summed up in one word, “obedience.” They covenanted to obey the law of the Lord and to do all the commandments.