Nehemiah 12:43
Also that day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced: for God had made them rejoice with great joy: the wives also and the children rejoiced: so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(43) Rejoiced.—This verse is full of joy; but before the rejoicing comes the abundant offering of sacrifices.

Nehemiah 12:43. For God had made them rejoice with great joy — By restoring the holy city to such a secure condition, that they could praise the Lord there without disturbance or fear. And the children rejoiced — And their hosannas were not despised, but are recorded to their praise. All that share in public mercies ought to join in public thanksgivings. So that the joy of Jerusalem was heard even far off — Either their loud voices and instruments were heard at a great distance, or the fame of it was spread far and near.12:27-43 All our cities, all our houses, must have holiness to the Lord written upon them. The believer should undertake nothing which he does not dedicate to the Lord. We are concerned to cleanse our hands, and purify our hearts, when any work for God is to pass through them. Those that would be employed to sanctify others, must sanctify themselves, and set themselves apart for God. To those who are sanctified, all their creature-comforts and enjoyments are made holy. The people greatly rejoiced. All that share in public mercies, ought to join in public thanksgivings.Above the house of David - This choir or procession went above (or beyond) the old palace of David, following the line described in Nehemiah 3:16-26, on their way to the eastern wall. 43. the joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off—The events of the day, viewed in connection with the now repaired and beautified state of the city, raised the popular feeling to the highest pitch of enthusiasm, and the fame of their rejoicings was spread far and near. Either their loud voices and instruments were heard to a great distance, or the fame of it was spread far and near. Also that day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced,.... Or many sacrifices, as Ben Melech interprets it; and these perhaps of the larger sort of cattle, oxen; and which, at least many of them, being peace offerings, the people feasted on them, so that it was a festival day:

for God had made them rejoice with great joy; on account of the wall being set up all around, and so were in greater safety from their enemies:

the wives also and the children rejoiced; while the priests blew the trumpets, and the singers sung and played on their instruments, the women and children gave loud shouts for joy:

so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off; as at the laying of the foundation of the temple, Ezra 3:13.

Also that day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced: for God had made them rejoice with great joy: the wives also and the children rejoiced: so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
43. Also that day] R.V. And … that day.

great sacrifices] Cf. Ezra 6:17.

God had made them rejoice, &c.] 2 Chronicles 20:27, ‘for the Lord had made them to rejoice over their enemies.’

the wives also] R.V. and the women also. The women and children who were present on the occasion of national gatherings (e.g. Nehemiah 8:2) would participate in the festivities.

was heard even afar off] Cf. the very similar statement in Ezra 3:13, ‘for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off.’

44–13:4. This section, in which the Memoirs of Nehemiah probably only form the outline of the Compiler’s work, falls into two groups, (a) 44–47, dealing with Levitical organization, and (b) Nehemiah 8:1-4, relations with foreign peoples. The 1st person sing. is dropped.Verse 43. - Also that day they offered great sacrifices. David had inaugurated the "tabernacle" which he made for the ark of the covenant at Jerusalem with sacrifice (2 Samuel 6:17), and had consecrated the threshing-floor of Araunah the Jebusite in the same way (2 Samuel 24:25). Solomon, at his dedication of the temple, had sacrificed sheep and oxen "that could not be numbered for multitude" (1 Kings 8:5). Zerubbabel had followed this example at the dedication of the second temple (Ezra 6:17); and we may presume that it was with victims that Eliashib and his brethren the priests had "sanctified" their portion of the wall soon after they completed it (Nehemiah 3:1). Nehemiah now completed the dedication of the entire circuit of the walls by sacrifices on a large scale. God had made them rejoice with great joy. It is characteristic of Nehemiah to ascribe the universal joy, which another might well have claimed as his own work, to the Divine mercy and forethought, which had brought the matter of the wall to a prosperous and happy issue. The wives also and the children rejoiced. It is seldom that the Jewish women are mentioned as taking that prominent position in joy, which naturally belonged to them in sorrow (Judges 11:40; Jeremiah 31:15; Jeremiah 49:3; Joel 1:8, etc.). There is, however, one remarkable example of the kind, besides the present one - the rejoicing of the women after the passage through the Red Sea, under the leadership of Miriam (Exodus 15:20). The joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off. See Ezra 3:13, and comp. 1 Kings 1:40; 2 Kings 11:13. NEHEMIAH'S ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE TEMPLE SERVICE, AND APPOINTMENT OF OFFICERS (Nehemiah 12:44-47). The good resolutions of the people at the time of the renewal of the covenant (Nehemiah 10:28-39) would have borne comparatively little fruit had they not been seconded and rendered effective by formal action on the part of the civil authority. The people, in the first flush of their zeal, had bound themselves to undertake the conveyance of the tithes, firstfruits, and free-will offerings from the country districts to Jerusalem, and the deposition of them in the temple treasuries (Nehemiah 10:37-39). But in practice this was found too great a burthen (Nehemiah 13:10). Nehemiah therefore appointed special officers to collect the tithes and other dues throughout the entire territory, and to bring them to Jerusalem, and lay them up in the proper chambers (Nehemiah 12:44). Over the chambers he appointed treasurers, whose duty it was, not only to collect the ecclesiastical dues, but also to distribute the proceeds among the individuals entitled to share in them (Nehemiah 13:13). Having in this way provided for the sustenance of the clerical body, he was able to insist on their regular performance of all their duties; and the success of his arrangements was such, that under him the temple service was restored, not merely to the condition established by Zerubbabel (Nehemiah 12:47), but to one not markedly different from that which had been attained in the time of David and Asaph (ibid. ver. 46). The priests, Levites, singers, and porters respectively performed their duties to his satisfaction, purifying themselves, and taking the service in their turns, "according to the commandment of David and Solomon" (ibid. ver. 45). After this insertion of the names of the persons who composed the procession, the description of the route it took is continued. From "upon the wall, towards the dung-gate (Nehemiah 12:31), it passed on" to the fountain-gate; and נגדּם, before them (i.e., going straight forwards; comp. Joshua 6:5, Joshua 6:20; Amos 4:3), they went up by the stairs of the city of David, the ascent of the wall, up over the house of David, even unto the water-gate eastward. These statements are not quite intelligible to us. The stairs of the city of David are undoubtedly "the stairs that lead down from the city of David" (Nehemiah 3:15). These lay on the eastern slope of Zion, above the fountain-gate and the Pool of Siloam. לחומה המּעלה might be literally translated "the ascent to the wall," as by Bertheau, who takes the sense as follows: (The procession) went up upon the wall by the ascent formed by these steps at the northern part of the eastern side of Zion. According to this, the procession would have left the wall by the stairs at the eastern declivity of Zion, to go up upon the wall again by this ascent. There is, however, no reason for this leaving of the wall, and that which Bertheau adduces is connected with his erroneous transposition of the fountain-gate to the place of the present dung-gate. לחומה המּעלה seems to be the part of the wall which, according to Nehemiah 3:19, lay opposite the המּקצוע הנּשׁק עלת, a place on the eastern edge of Zion, where the wall was carried over an elevation of the ground, and where consequently was an ascent in the wall. Certainly this cannot be insisted upon, because the further statement דויד לבית מעל is obscure, the preposition ל מעל admitting of various interpretations, and the situation of the house of David being uncertain. Bertheau, indeed, says: "ועד in the following words corresponds with מעל before דויד לבית: a wall over the house of David is not intended; and the meaning is rather, that after they were come as far as the wall, they then passed over the house of David, i.e., the place called the house of David, even to the water-gate." But the separation of מעל from דויד לבית is decidedly incorrect, ל מעל being in the preceding and following passages always used in combination, and forming one idea: comp. Nehemiah 12:31 (twice) and Nehemiah 12:38 and Nehemiah 12:39. Hence it could scarcely be taken here in Nehemiah 12:37 in a different sense from that which it has in Nehemiah 12:31 and Nehemiah 12:38. Not less objectionable is the notion that the house of David is here put for a place called the house of David, on which a palace of David formerly stood, and where perhaps the remains of an ancient royal building might still have been in existence. By the house of David is meant, either the royal palace built (according to Thenius) by Solomon at the north-eastern corner of Zion, opposite the temple, or some other building of David, situate south of this palace, on the east side of Zion. The former view is more probable than the latter. We translate לבית ד מעל, past the house of David. For, though לחומה מעל must undoubtedly be so understood as to express that the procession went upon the wall (which must be conceived of as tolerably broad), yet למגדּל מעל, Nehemiah 12:38, can scarcely mean that the procession also went up over the tower which stood near the wall. In the case of the gates, too, ל מעל cannot mean over upon; for it is inconceivable that this solemn procession should have gone over the roof of the gates; and we conclude, on the contrary, that it passed beside the gates and towers. Whether the route taken by the procession from the house of David to the water-gate in the east were straight over the ridge of Ophel, which ran from about the horse-gate to the water-gate, or upon the wall round Ophel, cannot be determined, the description being incomplete. After the house of David, no further information as to its course is given; its halting-place, the water-gate, being alone mentioned.

The route taken by the second company is more particularly described. - Nehemiah 12:38 and Nehemiah 12:39. "And the second company of them that gave thanks, which went over against, and which I and the (other) half of the people followed, (went) upon the wall past the tower of the furnaces, as far as the broad wall; and past the gate of Ephraim, and past the gate of the old (wall), and past the fish-gate, and past the tower Hananeel and the tower Hammeah, even to the sheep-gate: and then took up its station at the prison-gate." למואל (in the form with א only here; elsewhere מול, Deuteronomy 1:1, or מוּל), over against, opposite, sc. the first procession, therefore towards the opposite side, i.e., to the left; the first having gone to the right, viz., from the valley-gate northwards upon the northern wall. וגו אחריה ואני (and I behind them) is a circumstantial clause, which we may take relatively. The order of the towers, the lengths of wall, and the gates, exactly answer to the description in Nehemiah 3:1-12, with these differences: - a. The description proceeds from the sheep-gate in the east to the valley-gate in the west; while the procession moved in the opposite direction, viz., from the valley-gate to the sheep-gate. b. In the description of the building of the wall, Nehemiah 3, the gate of Ephraim is omitted (see rem. on Nehemiah 3:8). c. In the description, the prison-gate at which the procession halted is also unmentioned, undoubtedly for the same reason as that the gate of Ephraim is omitted, viz., that not having been destroyed, there was no need to rebuild it. המּטּרה שׁער is translated, gate of the prison or watch: its position is disputed; but it can scarcely be doubted that המּטּרה is the court of the prison mentioned Nehemiah 3:25 (המּטּרה חצר), by or near the king's house. Starting from the assumption that the two companies halted or took up positions opposite each other, Hupfeld (in his before-cited work, p. 321) transposes both the court of the prison and the king's house to the north of the temple area, where the citadel. בּירה, βᾶρις, was subsequently situated. But "this being forbidden," as Arnold objects (in his before-cited work, p. 628), "by the order in the description of the building of the wall, Nehemiah 3:25, which brings us absolutely to the southern side," Bertheau supposes that the two processions which would arrive at the same moment at the temple, - the one from the north-east, the other from the south-east, - here passed each other, and afterwards halted opposite each other in such wise, that the procession advancing from the south-west stood on the northern side, and that from the north-west at the southern side of the temple area. This notion, however, having not the slightest support from the text, nor any reason appearing why the one procession should pass the other, it must be regarded as a mere expedient. In Nehemiah 12:40 it is merely said, the two companies stood in the house of God; and not even that they stood opposite each other, the one on the north, the other on the south side of the temple. Thus they may have stood side by side, and together have praised the Lord. Hence we place the prison-gate also on the south-eastern corner of the temple area, and explain the name from the circumstance that a street ran from this gate over Ophel to the court of the prison near the king's house upon Zion, which, together with the gate to which it led, received its name from the court of the prison. Not far from the prison-gate lay the water-gate in the east, near which was an open space in the direction of the temple area (Nehemiah 8:1). On this open space the two companies met, and took the direction towards the temple, entering the temple area from this open space, that they might offer their thank-offerings before the altar of burnt-offering (Nehemiah 12:43). Besides, the remark upon the position of the two companies (Nehemiah 12:40) anticipates the course of events, the procession following the second company being first described in Nehemiah 12:40-42. At the end of Nehemiah 12:40 the statement of Nehemiah 12:38 - I and the half of the people behind - is again taken up in the words: I and the half of the rulers with me. The סגנים are, as in Nehemiah 12:32, the princes of the congregation, who, with Nehemiah, headed the procession that followed the company of those who gave thanks. Then followed (Nehemiah 12:41) seven priests with trumpets, whose names are given, answering to the sons of the priests with trumpets (Nehemiah 12:36) in the first procession. These names are all met with elsewhere of other persons. These were succeeded, as in Nehemiah 12:36, by eight Levites - eight individuals, and not eight divisions (Bertheau). And the singers gave forth sound, i.e., of voices and instruments, - whether during the circuit or after the two companies had take their places at the temple, is doubtful. The president of the Levitical singers was Jezrahiah.

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