And to bring the first fruits of our ground, and the first fruits of all fruit of all trees, year by year, to the house of the LORD:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)And to bring.—Following “we made ordinances” (Nehemiah 10:32). The various firstfruits are specified according to the Mosaic law, which made this expression of natural piety an obligation; and the minuteness of the specification implies that neglect had crept in.Nehemiah 10:35. And to bring in the first-fruits — That is, they took an oath to do it; for this is to be understood, and not that they cast lots about it, as they did about the wood-offering mentioned in the foregoing verse. All the particulars of the first-fruits are exactly and distinctly mentioned, that none might pretend ignorance when they withheld any part of the priests’ dues, which, at that time especially, the people were very prone to do, through poverty, or covetousness, or profaneness, and that the priests’ rights might be firmly assured to them. Thus encouragement was given to the priests to mind their duty, and care was taken that they should be under no temptation to neglect it, in order to make the necessary provision for their families. Then the work of the house of God is likely to go on, when those who serve at the altar live comfortably upon the altar.The first-fruits of our ground, i.e. of the fruits of our ground. All the particulars of the first-fruits are exactly and distinctly mentioned, that none might pretend ignorance when they withheld any part of the priests’ dues; which at that time especially the people were very prone to do, through poverty, or covetousness, or profaneness; and that the priests’ rights might be firmly assured to them. Exodus 23:19, though Aben Ezra restrains it to the sheaf of the firstfruits, and to the two wave loaves, Leviticus 23:10,
and the firstfruits of all fruit of all trees; which, as Aben Ezra observes, their wise men restrain to the seven kinds only mentioned in Deuteronomy 8:8.And to bring the firstfruits of our ground, and the firstfruits of all fruit of all trees, year by year, unto the house of the LORD:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)35–39. First-fruits and tithe
35. the firstfruits of our ground] Cf. Exodus 23:19; Exodus 34:26. ‘The first of the firstfruits of the ground thou shalt bring into the house of the Lord thy God;’ so also in greater detail Deuteronomy 26:2-10. Cf. Proverbs 3:9; Ezekiel 44:30.
of all trees] R.V. of all manner of trees. See Numbers 18:12-13, ‘all the best of the oil and all the best of the vintage, and of the corn, the firstfruits of them which they give unto the Lord, to thee have I given them. The first ripe fruits of all that is in their land, which they bring unto the Lord shall be thine,’ cf. 2 Chronicles 31:5, Leviticus 19:23.Verse 35. And to bring the first-fruits ... unto the house of the Lord. The idea of offering "first-fruits" may be ascribed to natural piety. They were well known to the Greeks and Romans (ἀπαρχαί, primi-tiae). But in the Mosaic law they were commanded (Exodus 22:29; Exodus 23:19; Leviticus 23:10, 17, etc.), and thenceforth became a matter of religious obligation. The present passage furnishes, however, distinct evidence that the obligation had now for some time been disregarded. The first-fruits of all fruit. First-fruits were required not merely of wheat and other grain, but also expressly of wine and oil, the produce of the vine and olive, and by implication of all other fruit trees (see Numbers 18:12; Deuteronomy 18:4, etc.). Nehemiah 10:30-33)
All the members of the community acceded to the agreement thus signed by the princes of the people, and the heads of the priests and Levites, and bound themselves by an oath to walk in the law of the Lord, and to separate themselves from the heathen.
And the rest of the people, the priests, the Levites, the door-keepers, the singers, the Nethinim, and all that had separated themselves from the people of the lands unto the law of God, their wives, their sons, and their daughters, all who had knowledge and understanding, held with their brethren, their nobles, and entered into an oath and curse, etc. מצזיקים is the predicate of the subjects in Nehemiah 10:29 : they were holding with their brethren, i.e., uniting with them in this matter. "The rest of the people, the priests," etc., are the members of the community, exclusive of the princes and heads of the priestly and Levitical orders. The Nethinim, to whom belonged the servants of Solomon (see rem. on Ezra 2:43.), were probably also represented in the assembly by the heads of the Levites. To these are added all who had separated themselves, etc., i.e., the descendants of those Israelites who had been left in the land, and who now joined the new community; see rem. on Ezra 6:21. The connection of נבדּל with אל־תּורת is significant: separated from the heathen to the law of God, i.e., to live according thereto; comp. Ezra 6:21. Not, however, the men only, but also women and children of riper years, acceded to the covenant. כּל־יודע מבין, every one knowing, understanding (מבין and יודע being connected as an asyndeton, to strengthen the meaning), refers to sons and daughters of an age sufficient to enable them to understand the matter. אדּרריהם, their nobles, is connected in the form of an apposition with אחיהם, instead of the adjective האדּירים. The princes and the heads of the community and priesthood are intended. באלה בּוא, to enter into an oath, comp. Ezekiel 17:13. אלה is an oath of self-imprecation, grievous punishments being imprecated in case of transgression; שׁבוּעה, a promissory oath to live conformably with the law. We hence perceive the tenor of the agreement entered into and sealed by the princes. Non subscripsit quidem populus, remarks Clericus, sed ratum habuit, quid-quid nomine totius populi a proceribus factum erat, juravitque id a se observatum iri. Besides the general obligation to observe all the commandments, judgments, and statutes of God, two points, then frequently transgressed, are specially mentioned in Nehemiah 10:31 and Nehemiah 10:23. In Nehemiah 10:31 : that we would not give our daughters to the people of the lands, etc.; see rem. on Ezra 9:2. In Nehemiah 10:32 : that if the people of the land brought wares or any victuals on the Sabbath-day to sell, we would not buy if of them on the Sabbath, or on a holy day; and would let the seventh year lie, and the loan of every hand. The words וגו הארץ עמּי are prefixed absolutely, and are afterwards subordinated to the predicate of the sentence by מהם. מקּחות, wares for sale, from לקח, to take, in the sense of to buy, occurs only here. מהם נקּח, to take from them, i.e., to buy. קדשׁ יום beside שׁבּת means the other holy days, the annual festivals, on which, according to the law, Numbers 28 and 29, no work was to be done. To the sanctification of the Sabbath pertained the celebration of the sabbatical year, which is therefore named immediately afterwards. The words השׁ את־השּׁנה נטשׁ, to let the seventh year lie, i.e., in the seventh year to let the land lie untilled and unsown, is an abbreviation taken from the language of the law, Exodus 28:10. כל־יד משּׁא also depends upon נטּשׁ. This expression (משּׁא, not משּׂא, being the reading of the best editions) is to be explained from Deuteronomy 15:2, and means the loan, that which the hand has lent to another; see rem. on Deuteronomy 15:2.
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