Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
On that day they read in the book of Moses in the audience of the people; and therein was found written, that the Ammonite and the Moabite should not come into the congregation of God for ever;CHAPTER 13
1. The separation of the mixed multitude (Nehemiah 13:1-3)
2. The unholy alliance repudiated (Nehemiah 13:4-9)
3. Nehemiah’s action in behalf of the Levites and singers (Nehemiah 13:10-14)
4. Provision for Sabbath observance (Nehemiah 13:15-22)
5. Nehemiah’s protest (Nehemiah 13:23-29)
6. His own testimony as to his work (Nehemiah 13:30-31)
Nehemiah 13:1-3. “On that day” does not mean the same day when the wall had been dedicated. It was a considerable time later, for we read in verse 10 that the Levites had not received their portion. It was different when the wall was dedicated. On a certain day when the law was read again, they came to the passage in Deuteronomy 23:3-5, where it is written that an Ammonite and a Moabite should not enter into the assembly of God forever. Obedience followed at once, “they separated from Israel all the mixed multitude.”
Nehemiah 13:4-9. Here we have the first indication of declension, which in Malachi’s days reached a climax. Tobiah was an Ammonite, and with Sanballat and Geshem had strenuously opposed the building of the wall (chapter 6). Eliashib, the priest, who had the oversight of the chambers of the house of the Lord, had allied himself with the enemy of Jerusalem and prepared for this man a great chamber in the temple. There he had stored his household goods (verse 8). Nehemiah had been absent from the city, paying a visit to the Persian court, and during his absence all this happened. It was probably right after his return from King Artaxerxes in Babylon that the law was read that led to the separation from the mixed multitude, and this in time led to the discovery of the priest’s alliance with Tobiah. Nehemiah acted quickly, being deeply grieved. He could not tolerate such an alliance and profanation of the house of the Lord. How much greater and more obnoxious are the unholy alliances in Christendom, and the profanation of God’s best.
Nehemiah 13:10-14. During Nehemiah’s absence the tithes had not been given, and the Levites and singers had received nothing. In consequence they left the city and the house of God was forsaken. It is possible that the people had been outraged by Eliashib’s alliance with Tobiah, and had refused the tithes. Nehemiah set all things in order, and he appointed also treasurers. On his prayer in verse 14 see chapter 5:19.
Nehemiah 13:15-22. Another evidence of the declension which had set in after the spiritual revival was the laxity in observing the Sabbath. Nehemiah saw some on the Sabbath day treading winepresses; others brought all kinds of burdens on the Sabbath to Jerusalem; while still others sold victuals. And men of Tyre sold fish and other wares to the people on the Sabbath. We are sure that during Nehemiah’s absence the law of God was no longer read, or they could not have fallen into this evil. All declension begins with the neglect of the Word of God. Then Nehemiah contended with the nobles. “What evil thing is this that ye do, and profane the Sabbath day? Did not your fathers 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.”
Again, he not only rebuked the evil, but acted energetically, and the Sabbath day was sanctified.
Nehemiah 13:23-29. Alas! the flesh is flesh, and will ever be the same. Some Jews turned back and deliberately married again women of Ashdod, Ammon and Moab. Their offspring talked a mongrel language. Nehemiah acted in holy zeal. He cursed them, smote them and plucked off their hair. And Joiada, the son of Eliashib the high priest, who had made an alliance with Tobiah, had married a daughter of Sanballat, the Horonite. Nehemiah refused to have anything to do with him--”I chased him from me.”
Nehemiah 13:30-31. The final thing we hear of Nehemiah is his testimony concerning himself and his prayer, “Remember me.” In the day of Christ in glory, this great man of God will surely be rewarded for his earnest and faithful service.