Nehemiah 12:45
And both the singers and the porters kept the ward of their God, and the ward of the purification, according to the commandment of David, and of Solomon his son.
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(45) Kept the ward.—This should be read differently. The priests and Levites kept the ward of their God, and the ward of purification, and the singers and porters, &c. To “keep the ward” is to observe the regular times and seasons of sacrifice and thanksgiving.

Nehemiah 12:45. Both the singers and the porters kept the ward of their God — That ward or charge which God had prescribed them. And, in particular, the charge of purification, of taking care that no unclean person or thing should enter into the house or courts of the Lord. Or, the meaning may be, the singers sung orderly in their courses, as they were appointed, and thereby kept the ward of their God; and the porters kept the ward of the purification, that is, duly observed the orders about it, in preventing the temple from being defiled by any unclean person or thing. According to the commandment of David and of Solomon his son — Who had regulated all things belonging to the duty of these persons.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.The ward of the purification - The observances with respect to purification. Compare 1 Chronicles 23:28. 45. the singers and the porters kept … the ward of the purification—that is, took care that no unclean person was allowed to enter within the precincts of the sacred building. This was the official duty of the porters (2Ch 23:19), with whom, owing to the pressure of circumstances, it was deemed expedient that the singers should be associated as assistants. The ward of their God, i.e. that ward, or charge, or business which God had prescribed to them.

And the ward of the purification; and in particular

the charge of purification, i.e. of taking care that no unclean person or thing might enter into the house or courts of the Lord; which care did certainly belong to the porters, as is expressed, 2 Chronicles 23:19, and at this time, and in some sort, as it seems to the singers, who, besides their proper employment,

were also over the business of the house of God, as is affirmed, Nehemiah 11:22; which being a general expression, may well comprehend, if it doth not principally design this, that they should take care to keep the house of God free from all pollution. And possibly as the porters were to take care that no unclean thing might enter there, so if it should through their inadvertency enter in, the singers were to remove it. And both the singers and the porters kept the ward of their God, and the ward of their purification,.... The singers kept their turns in course in the temple, and were not wanting to officiate on all occasions, besides morning and evening services; and the porters they diligently kept the gates of the temple, that no impure person or thing in a ceremonial sense entered:

according to the commandment of David, and Solomon his son; who made very good rules and orders relative to the better and more regular performance of service by them; see 1 Chronicles 25:1.

And both the singers and the porters kept the ward of their God, and the ward of the purification, according to the commandment of David, and of Solomon his son.
45. And both the singers and the porters kept] R.V. And they kept … and so did the singers and the porters. The verse, according to the rendering of the R.V. states first that the priests and Levites performed the due ceremonial obligations, and then that the same strict conformity to rule was practised by the singers and porters. The verb ‘kept’ has to be supplied in the second clause.

This is preferable to the suggestion that the second clause is one of a different character, = ‘and the singers and the porters were at their post according to the commandment of David’ &c. The ground for this alternative rendering is the supposition that the singers and porters would not be subject to the same laws of purification.

kept the ward of their God, and the ward of the purification] The word rendered ‘ward’ means here ‘that which has to be observed,’ ‘a charge,’ in the same sense in which it occurs in Numbers 9:23 ‘they kept the charge of the Lord;’ 2 Chronicles 13:11 ‘For we keep the charge of the Lord our God.’ Cf. Genesis 26:5.

It is therefore to be distinguished from its more concrete use in Nehemiah 12:9; Nehemiah 12:24; Nehemiah 13:30, where it refers to the ‘posts’ of the Levites.

according to the commandment … and of Solomon his son] The reference is one of a general character to the regulations of the Temple services ascribed by the Chronicler to David (1 Chronicles 23-26) and Solomon (2 Chronicles 8:14).

‘And of Solomon.’ The word ‘and’ must have accidentally dropped out of the Hebrew text, and must be restored.Verse 45. - This verse is wrongly translated in the A. V. It should be rendered, as in the Vulgate and the Septuagint - "And they (i.e. the priests and Levites) maintained the ward of their God, and the ward of the purification, and the singers, and the porters (i.e. the institutions of singers and porters), according to the ordinance of David and of Solomon his son." Maintaining the ward of their God is serving regularly in the temple at the times appointed; maintaining the ward of the purification is observing the rules for the purifying of the holy things which had been laid down by David (1 Chronicles 23:28). 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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