Nehemiah 10:28
And the rest of the people, the priests, the Levites, the porters, the singers, the Nethinims, and all they that had separated themselves from the people of the lands to the law of God, their wives, their sons, and their daughters, every one having knowledge, and having understanding;
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(28-39) The points of the covenant.

(28) All they that had separated themselves.—If these meant proselytes from heathenism, this verse would be a perfect description of the constituents of the people. But we have no record as yet of a recognised body of such proselytes; and the word “separated” is the same as we find, with another meaning, in Nehemiah 9:2. Moreover, the following verses show that the covenant bears specially in mind the danger to God’s law arising out of commerce with the heathen.

Having understanding.—Children who could intelligently take the oath were included.

Nehemiah 10:28. And the rest of the people, &c. — Those that did not subscribe and seal, because there were too many, yet gave their consent to what the fore-named persons did. And not only the men, but their wives and their children, who were arrived at years of discretion, engaged themselves to abide by what their brethren the nobles had done. And all that had separated themselves — All those of the heathen who had abjured idolatry and joined themselves to the worship of the Jews.10:1-31 Conversion is separating from the course and custom of this world, devoting ourselves to the conduct directed by the word of God. When we bind ourselves to do the commandments of God, it is to do all his commandments, and to look to him as the Lord, and our Lord.The names are not personal, but designate families. The seal of the high-priestly house of Seraiah was probably appended either by Ezra or Eliashib, both of whom belonged to it. Ne 10:28. The Rest of the People Bound Themselves to Observe It.

Those who were not present at the sealing ratified the covenant by giving their assent, either in words or by lifting up their hands, and bound themselves, by a solemn oath, to walk in God's law, imprecating a curse upon themselves in the event of their violating it.

The rest of the people; those who did not write and seal with their own hands, but only by their deputies above-mentioned. And the rest of the people,.... That did not sign and seal:

the priests, the Levites, the porters, the singers, the Nethinims; the porters and singers were Levites; but those so called were such as waited upon the priests, as the Nethinims were persons that waited on them:

and all they that had separated themselves from the people of the lands unto the law of God; proselytes, who had renounced Heathenism, and embraced the true religion, had received the law of God, and professed to walk according to it:

their wives, their sons, and their daughters, everyone having knowledge, and having understanding; of the nature of the covenant, and the things contained in it, of what was required of them, and of what they promised, of the nature of an oath they entered into, and of the sin of perjury.

And the rest of the people, the priests, the Levites, the porters, the singers, the {b} Nethinims, and all they that had {c} separated themselves from the people of the lands unto the law of God, their wives, their sons, and their daughters, every one having knowledge, and having understanding;

(b) Read Ezr 2:43.

(c) Who being idolaters forsook their wickedness and gave themselves to serve God.

28. And the rest of the people] This may be understood in two different ways: (a) according to some it denotes the mass of the laity, as distinguished from their princes and elders, like ‘the people’ (Nehemiah 10:35), ‘the residue of Israel’ (Nehemiah 11:20), and ‘Israel’ (1 Chronicles 9:2); (b) according to others under this head are included the various classes of the community mentioned in the present verse, but distinct from the representative names which have occupied the previous lists. It is not another group, but stands at the head of the verse in apposition to the groups to be mentioned. ‘The priests’ are the individual members of the great houses whose representatives had taken part ‘in the sealing.’ So also the subordinate religious orders, who are here divided into their classes of (a) Levites proper, (b) porters, (c) singers, (d) Nethinim. With the last name we should also probably associate ‘the servants of Solomon,’ Nehemiah 7:57; Ezra 2:43-54.

Nethinims] R.V. Nethinim.

all they that had separated themselves] See note on Ezra 6:21. By this class are probably intended Jews who had not gone into exile, but, having either in foreign lands or in Palestine been faithless to their religion, had since separated themselves from idolatry. Another explanation, which has some support from the words ‘from the peoples of the lands,’ understands by this expression ‘proselytes who had attached themselves to the Jewish faith.’

from the people (R.V. peoples) of the lands unto the law of God] The antithesis is striking. Not ‘from the peoples of the lands to the people of Israel,’ but ‘from the peoples of the land,’ who were identified with abomination and filthiness (Ezra 6:21), to ‘the law of God,’ which was the one standard of the claim to be a true Israelite.

having knowledge, and having understanding] R.V. that had knowledge and understanding. See note on Nehemiah 8:2-3; i.e. all of age and intelligence to know and understand the law. Vulg. ‘omnes qui poterant sapere.’

their brethren, their nobles] i.e. the representatives of the great families who subscribed to the sealing of the Covenant. The people warmly supported them.

a curse … an oath] The ‘curse’ is the penalty which they invoked if they were faithless to the Covenant; the ‘oath’ is the solemn obligation of a duty which they vowed to perform.

For the phrase ‘enter into an oath,’ cf. Deuteronomy 29:12 ‘that thou shouldest enter into the Covenant of the Lord thy God and into his oath.’

to walk in God’s law, &c.] Compare the similar terms of the Covenant in Josiah’s reign, 2 Kings 23:3.

the Lord our Lord] i.e. Jahveh (= Jehovah) our Lord.Verse 28. - The rest of the people. i.e. those who had not appended their seals, whether others had sealed for them or no. The writer makes no exception, and thereby indicates a very general, if not a universal, concurrence on the part of the nation. His enumeration of classes is the same as Ezra's (Ezra 2:70). All they that had separated themselves from the people of the lands unto the law of God. Such proselytes from the heathen as had joined themselves to the Jewish people since their return from the captivity (comp. Ezra 6:21). Every one having knowledge, and having understanding. All who were of age to understand the nature of the covenant and what was meant by sealing to it - not a specially "intelligent" or "learned" class, as Ewald supposes ('Hist. of Israel,' vol. 5. p. 144, note 4). (Nehemiah 10:16-29)

The heads of the people. Forty-four names, thirteen of which are found in the list (Ezra 2) of the kindreds who returned with Zerubbabel; see Ezra 2. The rest are names either of the heads of the different houses into which these kindreds were divided, or of the elders of the smaller towns of Benjamin and Judah. The fact that, while only thirty-three kindreds and placed are enumerated in Ezra 2, forty-four occur here, - although names of kindreds mentioned in Ezra 2, e.g., Shephatiah, Arah, Zaccai, etc., are wanting here, - is to be explained partly by the circumstance that these kindreds included several houses whose different heads all subscribed, and partly by fresh accessions during the course of years to the number of houses.

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