Nehemiah 12:44
And at that time were some appointed over the chambers for the treasures, for the offerings, for the first fruits, and for the tithes, to gather into them out of the fields of the cities the portions of the law for the priests and Levites: for Judah rejoiced for the priests and for the Levites that waited.
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(44-47) Economical arrangements.

(44) For Judah rejoiced.—Not only was the Temple service restored to something like the completeness of the Davidical period, the people also everywhere took pleasure in the ministrations of the Temple, and provided amply for them. Hence the need of men to take charge of the treasuries of the firstfruits and tithes.

Nehemiah 12:44. For the offerings — Such as they had lately engaged themselves to give, or other voluntary or prescribed offerings. To gather out of the fields the portions of the law — That is, the aforesaid first-fruits and tithes, and other things, which God, by his law, appointed for them. For Judah rejoiced for the priests, &c. — For the eminent gifts and graces which they observed in many of them; for the great benefit which they had now received by their ministry; and for the competent provision which hereby was made for them, that so they might wholly wait upon their office. The sure way for ministers to gain an interest in the affections of their people is, to wait on their ministry, to spend their whole time, and thought, and strength therein.12:44-47 When the solemnities of a thanksgiving day leave such impressions on ministers and people, that both are more careful and cheerful in doing their duty, they are indeed acceptable to the Lord, and turn to good account. And whatever we do, must be purified by the blood of sprinkling, and by the grace of the Holy Spirit, or it cannot be acceptable to God.Judah rejoiced - Judah's satisfaction with the priests and Levites took the shape of increased offerings, more ample tithes, and the like, from where the appointment of treasuries and treasurers became necessary. 44. portions of the law—that is, "prescribed by the law."

for Judah rejoiced for the priests and … Levites that waited—The cause of this general satisfaction was either the full restoration of the temple service and the reorganized provision for the permanent support of the ministry, or it was the pious character and eminent gifts of the guardians of religion.

For the offerings; such as they had lately engaged themselves to give, or other voluntary or prescribed offerings.

The portions of the law, i.e. the foresaid first-fruits, and tithes, and other things which God by his law appointed for them.

Judah rejoiced for the priests and for the Levites that waited; partly for the eminent gifts and graces which they observed in many of them; and partly for the great benefit which they had now received by their ministry; and therefore for the competent provision which hereby was made for them, that so they might wholly wait upon their office to the people’s edification and comfort. And at that time were some appointed over the chamber for the treasuries,.... On the selfsame day the dedication was; while the people were in a good disposition, and a suitable frame for such service, certain persons from among the priests were appointed to be overseers of the chambers fixed upon for treasuries, to lay up safe in them the following things, and take care of them, that they were put to the use for which they were designed:

for the offerings, for the first fruits, and for the tithes, to gather into them out of the fields of the cities the portions of the law for the priests and Levites; what by the law of God were assigned them for their maintenance, and which the people had lately bound themselves to bring in, Nehemiah 10:35,

for Judah rejoiced for the priests, and for the Levites that waited; at the temple, and performed their services there; they were so pleased with their ministrations that day, that they were determined to take care of them, and provide well for them, and that nothing should be wanting to them, enjoined by the law of God, and that they might not be obliged to dwell in fields and villages for the sake of their living, Nehemiah 12:28.

And at that time were some appointed {m} over the chambers for the treasures, for the offerings, for the firstfruits, and for the tithes, to gather into them out of the fields of the cities the portions of the law for the priests and Levites: for Judah rejoiced for the priests and for the Levites that waited.

(m) Which were chambers appointed by Hezekiah to put in the tither, and such things, 2Ch 31:11 and now were repaired again for the same use.

44. at that time] R.V. on that day. This is not an allusion to the day of rejoicing in the previous verse (‘that day’ Nehemiah 12:43), but a general definition of time which the Compiler uses again in Nehemiah 8:1. It is only a little less indefinite than ‘in those days,’ Nehemiah 13:15; Nehemiah 13:23.

some] R.V. men.

the chambers] The Hebrew word here used occurs elsewhere only in Nehemiah 3:30, and Nehemiah 13:7.

for the treasures] As in Nehemiah 13:13, Nehemiah records his special appointment of ‘treasurers over the treasuries’ whose business it was ‘to distribute unto their brethren.’ The appointments mentioned in this verse are probably of a somewhat different nature. The men ‘appointed over the chambers’ were the regular receivers and custodians of the treasure, i.e. the firstfruits and tithes, &c.; the four appointed by Nehemiah were commissioners for the purpose of securing an honest distribution.

for the treasures] Either a general term denoting ‘stores’ and ‘provisions,’ of which ‘the heave-offerings’ are items, or a specific term, standing at the head of the list, and denoting special dedications and wealthy gifts. The former is the more probable alternative.

the offerings] R.V. the heave offerings.

the firstfruits] The use of this word seems here to include ‘the firstfruits’ and ‘firstlings’ mentioned in Nehemiah 10:35-37.

the tithes] See on Nehemiah 10:37-38.

It will be observed that there is no reference here to any tithe of cattle. The chambers are only intended for receiving the produce of the field (Nehemiah 13:12). As this passage is clearly based upon Nehemiah’s own Memoirs, it has afforded support to the theory that the cattle tithe was introduced into the text of Leviticus 27:30; Leviticus 27:32, after the time of Nehemiah. See note at the end of chap. 10.

out of the fields of the cities] R.V. according to the fields of the cities.

The point of this clause is rather obscure. It probably refers to the method of storing, rather than to the size of the fields or to the succession in which the offerings were received and the tithe exacted.

An account was taken of the contributions from the fields of each city.

the portions of the law] R.V. the portions appointed toy the law. Marg. ‘Heb. of the law’. A unique phrase in the O.T. denoting the special requirements of the Levitical law.

Judah rejoiced &c.] The readiness of the people generally (‘Judah’) to support the priests and Levites according to ‘the law’ was due to their appreciation of their religious services. In proportion to their zeal for the priests and Levites it was necessary to provide officers to receive and regulate the contribution.

that wailed] R.V. Marg. ‘Heb. stood’.

In Deuteronomy the phrase ‘to stand before the Lord’ is the technical term for the ministrations of the priests. Here we find it used of the offices of ‘priests and Levites.’ In 1 Chronicles 6:32-33 ‘And they waited on their office according to their order. And these are they that waited,’ it is applied to the Levites.Verse 44. - At that time. Literally, "On that day;" but a certain latitude must be allowed to the expression. The chambers for the treasures. On these adjuncts of the temple, see the comment on Nehemiah 10:37. The "treasures" themselves consisted chiefly of tithes (including corn, wine, and oil), firstfruits, and free-will offerings. They also included frankincense (Nehemiah 13:5), and probably other spices. The portions of the law. i.e. the proportion of the produce required by the law to be set apart for sacred uses. These were to be gathered by the officers out of the fields of the cities, that is, out of the portions of cultivable soil attached to each provincial town (Nehemiah 11:25). For Judah rejoiced. The general satisfaction of the people with their spiritual guides led them to increase their contributions beyond the requirements of the law; whence there was at this time special need of treasurers and treasuries - abundant occupation for the one, and abundant material requiring to be stored in the other. 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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