Nehemiah 10:39
For the children of Israel and the children of Levi shall bring the offering of the corn, of the new wine, and the oil, unto the chambers, where are the vessels of the sanctuary, and the priests that minister, and the porters, and the singers: and we will not forsake the house of our God.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(39) Shall bring.—The priests themselves were exempted from the care of gathering the tithes.

We will not forsake the house of our God.—Both the pledge and the violation of it in the sequel are explained by Nehemiah 13:11-14.

Nehemiah 10:39. The offering of the corn, of the new wine, and the oil — See the margin. Unto the chambers where are the vessels, &c. — Where holy things were kept, and where God’s ministers attended, for whose use they were designed, and they were brought thither at the charge of those who offered them. And we will not forsake the house of our God — We do here solemnly declare and engage ourselves, that we will take care, from time to time, that the house and service of God be not neglected or forsaken, for want of necessary provisions to support it. Though they paid great taxes to the kings of Persia, and had much hardship put upon them, they would not make that an excuse for not paying their tithes; but would render to God the things that were his, as well as to Cesar the things that were his. We must do what we can in works of piety and charity, notwithstanding the taxes we pay to the government; and cheerfully perform our duty to God amidst our burdens, which will be the surest way to ease and liberty in God’s due time.

10:32-39 Having covenanted against the sins of which they had been guilty, they obliged themselves to observe the duties they had neglected. We must not only cease to do evil, but learn to do well. Let not any people expect the blessing of God, unless they keep up public worship. It is likely to go well with our houses, when care is taken that the work of God's house goes on well. When every one helps, and every one gives, though but little, toward a good work, the whole will come to be a large sum. We must do what we can in works of piety and charity; and whatever state we are placed in, cheerfully perform our duty to God, which will be the surest way to ease and liberty. As the ordinances of God are the appointed means of support to our souls, the believer will not grudge the expense; yet most people leave their souls to starve.No special provision was made by the Law, by David, or by Solomon, for the supply of wood necessary to keep fire ever burning upon the altar. Nehemiah established a system by which the duty of supplying the wood was laid as a burden in turn on the various clans or families, which were regarded as constituting the nation. The lot was used to determine the order in which the several families should perform the duty. A special day (the 14th of the fifth month, according to Josephus) was appointed for the bringing in of the supply; and this day was after a time regarded as a high festival, and called "the feast of the wood-offering." 39. and we will not forsake the house of our God—This solemn pledge was repeated at the close of the covenant as an expression of the intense zeal by which the people at this time were animated for the glory and the worship of God. Under the pungent feelings of sorrow and repentance for their national sins, of which apostasy from the service of the true God was the chief, and under the yet fresh and painful remembrance of their protracted captivity, they vowed, and (feeling the impulse of ardent devotion as well as of gratitude for their restoration) flattered themselves they would never forget their vow, to be the Lord's. Unto the chambers, where are the vessels of the sanctuary; where other things belonging to the temple are laid up, and therefore these things also shall be put there.

And the priests that minister, and the porters, and the singers, i.e. where also are the priests and others that minister in their courses, for whose use these provisions are made.

We will not forsake the house of our God, i.e. we do here solemnly declare and engage ourselves that we will take care, from time to time, that the house and service of God be not neglected or forsaken for want of necessary provisions to support it.

For the children of Israel, and the children of Levi, shall bring the offering of the corn, of the new wine, and the oil, unto the chambers,.... In the temple:

where are the vessels of the sanctuary; to put the said things into, that they might be ready at hand when wanted, as they often were for the meat and drink offerings:

and the priests that minister, and the porters, and the singers; who dwelt there when in their ministrations, and were supported by the above tithes and gifts:

and we will not forsake the house of our God; neither forsake the assembling themselves there for worship, nor neglect to make the necessary provisions for the service of it, as they had too much done, but now resolve for the future to behave better.

For the children of Israel and the children of Levi shall bring the offering of the corn, of the new wine, and the oil, unto the chambers, where are the vessels of the sanctuary, and the priests that minister, and the porters, and the singers: and {k} we will not forsake the house of our God.

(k) We will not leave it destitute of that which is needed for it.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
39. For] Explaining the mention of ‘the chambers’ as the receptacles of all these offerings.

the children of Israel] i.e. the laity as distinguished from the priests and the Levites.

the offering] R.V. heave offering. This ‘heave offering’ includes both ‘the firstfruits’ of the children of Israel (Nehemiah 10:36-37) and ‘the tithe of the tithe’ paid by the Levite to the priests (37). It is the special designation of the tithe paid both by Israel and by the house of Levi in Numbers 18:24-28.

the new wine] R.V. the wine. Marg. ‘Or, the vintage.’ the word in the Hebrew is the same as that used in Nehemiah 10:37.

and the oil] R.V. and of the oil.

On ‘the chambers’ see especially Nehemiah 13:4-12.

the vessels of the sanctuary] In Nehemiah 13:9 it is again mentioned that ‘the vessels of the sanctuary’ were stored in these chambers. What they were, we are not told; but that they comprised instruments for sacrifice, vessels for libations and lustrations, and plate for sacred feasts, would appear from the short inventory in Ezra 1:9-10.

priests … porters … singers] i.e. the Aaronic house and those of the Levites whose work was especially connected with the maintenance of the Temple and the Temple worship. From this combination we might conclude (1) that the Levitical community, with the exception of the ‘porters’ and ‘singers,’ were for the most part in Nehemiah’s time not resident at Jerusalem, but quartered in the country districts, cf. Nehemiah 11:20, Nehemiah 12:27; (2) that the porters and singers participated with the priests in the offerings of the people.

we will not forsake] The object of the new regulations is to maintain the efficiency of the Temple worship and to provide for the welfare of those that ministered in it; ‘we will not forsake’ is equivalent to ‘we will not neglect or diminish the contributions to the Temple, which we have publicly undertaken.’

Note on ‘the Tithe.’ It must be noticed that ‘the tithe’ spoken of in this context is described as ‘tithes of our ground,’ ‘tithes in all the cities of our tillage,’ and is probably here (Nehemiah 10:39) represented along with ‘the heave offering,’ as consisting of corn, wine and oil, as indeed it is spoken of in Nehemiah 13:5; Nehemiah 13:12. In other words ‘the tithe’ is a vegetable one; and this is also the impression which we gather from the description of ‘tithe’ in Numbers 18 and Malachi 3:8-11.

Now in Leviticus 27:32-33 ‘a tithe of the herd or the flock’ is called ‘holy to the Lord,’ and with this agrees the mention of ‘the tithe of oxen and sheep’ in 2 Chronicles 31:6. It is needless to point out what an enormous addition this ‘tithe of the herd or the flock’ would make to the wealth of the Priesthood and the treasury of the Temple. How then does it come to pass that neither in the regulations contained in Numbers 18 and Deuteronomy 14, nor in Nehemiah 10, 12, 13 is any allusion made to the tithe of herd and flock? Two explanations are forthcoming:

(1) It is possible that Leviticus 27:32 embodies a primitive pastoral law of tithing, which having fallen into desuetude was omitted at the time of the codification of the laws in Numbers 18 and Deuteronomy 14. In support of this view it should be remembered that Jacob’s vow to dedicate a tenth (Genesis 28:22) certainly referred to the tithe of property in herds and flocks, while the possibility of exacting a ‘tenth’ of the flocks even for civil purposes is contemplated in 1 Samuel 8:17. According to this view, Hezekiah would have revived a religious custom, which was inherited from the time when the nation was more pastoral than agricultural. It is natural to suppose that the Jewish community at Jerusalem in Nehemiah’s days was too poor to maintain this additional burden. The objection to this explanation is that the appearance of Leviticus 27:32 in relation to its immediate context is not that of a survival from an earlier legislation; while the children of Israel could never have so far abandoned the pastoral in favour of agricultural life as to make it worth while to surrender the claim to so important a source of revenue for the service of the Temple.

(2) It is possible, as is maintained in some quarters, that ‘the animal tithe-law’ of Leviticus 27:32 may be an interpolation later than Nehemiah’s time, made in the interest of the Priesthood. There is more to be said for this startling supposition than might perhaps be expected. A close inspection of Leviticus 27:30-33 shows that Nehemiah 10:32 is strangely and abruptly introduced between Nehemiah 10:31 and Nehemiah 10:33, which deal with the subject of the redemption of the vegetable-tithe mentioned in Nehemiah 10:30. Again, in 2 Chronicles 31 we find that, after the mention in Nehemiah 10:5 of ‘tithe of all things’ being given by ‘the children of Israel’, another sentence (Nehemiah 10:6) tells us that ‘the children of Israel and Judah that dwelt in the cities of Judah, they also brought in the tithe of oxen and sheep and the tithe of consecrated things, &c.’ which is not improbably a later expansion of the previous words. It is obviously an objection to this view that the insertion of a clause making so large a claim upon the property of the Jews could rarely at any time have been secretly foisted into the text of the Pentateuch; and that, supposing it to have been possible, such an interpolation made in the interest of the Priestly families would have had the smallest chance of success at a time when the Scribes controlled the transcription of the text.

The solution of the problem has not yet been reached. The difficulty illustrates the variations in Israelite law, in which are reflected the altered circumstances of different centuries. It must be admitted that Leviticus 27:32 wears an appearance not altogether free from suspicion; and an interpolation in an age, when, as we know from the LXX. version, the text of the Pentateuch was not yet fully settled, is not outside the range of probability.

Verse 39. - The children of Israel and the children of Levi shall bring the offering. The priests were not to be troubled with the conveyance of any of the offerings. The first-fruits and other oblations of the people were to be brought to the temple by the people themselves; and the "tithe of the tithe,' which was the priests' due, by the Levites. Thus the priests would not be drawn away from their duty of ministering in the temple by secular employments and matters of mere worldly business. We will not forsake, or neglect, the house of our God. We will not suffer, that is, any interruption of the continual service of the temple, we will not be parties to any neglect or slovenliness in the conduct of it. So far as we are concerned, everything shall be done to enable the priests and Levites to remain constantly at Jerusalem in full numbers, and to devote themselves wholly to their sacred duties in God's house. With this emphatic declaration of their intentions the people concluded the engagements by which they voluntarily bound themselves.



Nehemiah 10:39Nehemiah 10:39 is confirmatory of the preceding clause: the Levites were to bring the tithe of the tithes for the priests into the chambers of the temple; for thither are both the children of Israel and the Levites, to bring all heave-offerings of corn, new wine, and oil: for there are the holy vessels for the service of the altar (comp. Numbers 4:15), and the priests that minister, and the doorkeepers and the singers, for whose maintenance these gifts provide. "And we will not forsake the house of our God," i.e., we will take care that the service of God's house shall be provided for; comp. Nehemiah 13:11-14.
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