And I perceived that the portions of the Levites had not been given them: for the Levites and the singers, that did the work, were fled every one to his field.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(10) Fled every one to his field.—They who performed the work of the Temple were obliged to seek their sustenance by cultivating the fields apportioned to them in the Levitical cities (Numbers 35:2).Nehemiah 13:10. The portion of the Levites had not been given them — Which might be, either, 1st, Through this corrupt high-priest, Eliashib, who took their portions, as he did the sacred chambers, to his own use, or employed them for the entertainment of Tobiah, and his other great allies: or, 2d, Through the people, who either out of covetousness reserved them to themselves, contrary to their own solemn agreement, or were so offended at Eliashib’s horrid abuse of sacred things, that they abhorred the offering and service of God, and therefore neglected to bring in their tithes, which they knew would be perverted to bad uses. For the Levites, &c., were fled — To their possessions in the country, being forced to do so for a livelihood.
10-13. And I perceived that the portions of the Levites had not been given them—The people, disgusted with the malversations of Eliashib, or the lax and irregular performance of the sacred rites, withheld the tithes, so that the ministers of religion were compelled for their livelihood to withdraw to their patrimonial possessions in the country. The temple services had ceased; all religious duties had fallen into neglect. The money put into the sacred treasury had been squandered in the entertainment of an Ammonite heathen, an open and contemptuous enemy of God and His people. The return of the governor put an end to these disgraceful and profane proceedings. He administered a sharp rebuke to those priests to whom the management of the temple and its services was committed, for the total neglect of their duties, and the violation of the solemn promises which they had made to him at his departure. He upbraided them with the serious charge of having not only withheld from men their dues, but of having robbed God, by neglecting the care of His house and service. And thus having roused them to a sense of duty and incited them to testify their godly sorrow for their criminal negligence by renewed devotedness to their sacred work, Nehemiah restored the temple services. He recalled the dispersed Levites to the regular discharge of their duties; while the people at large, perceiving that their contributions would be no longer perverted to improper uses, willingly brought in their tithes as formerly. Men of integrity and good report were appointed to act as trustees of the sacred treasures, and thus order, regularity, and active service were re-established in the temple.The portions of the Levites had not been given them; which might be either,
1. From this corrupt high priest Eliashib, who took their portions, as he did the sacred chambers, to his own use, or employed them for the entertainment of Tobiah, and his other great allies. Or.
2. From the people, who either out of covetousness reserved them to themselves, contrary to their own solemn agreement and covenant, Nehemiah 10:37; or were so offended at Eliashib’s horrid and manifest abuse of sacred things, that they abhorred the offering and service of God, as others did upon a like occasion, 1 Samuel 2:17, and therefore neglected to bring in their tithes, &c., which they knew would be perverted to bad uses.
Were fled every one to his field; to his possession in the country, being forced to do so for a livelihood.
for the Levites and the singers that did the work were fled everyone to his field; to look after their country farms, or to get their living by agriculture, since there was no care taken of them at Jerusalem; see Nehemiah 12:28.And I perceived that the portions of the Levites had not been given them: for the Levites and the singers, that did the work, were fled every one to his field.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)10–14. The failure of the people to furnish the due supplies to the Levites; and Nehemiah’s reform
10. the portions of the Levites] The portion which the people had covenanted to contribute to the Levites (cf. Nehemiah 10:37 ff.) had not been paid. The Levites to escape starvation had dispersed into the country. The Temple services were therefore crippled. Compare the similar rebuke in Malachi 3:7-12. ‘The Levites’ here used for the whole class.
for] R.V. so that. Their dispersion was the result, not the occasion of non-payment.
the singers] Under this head, the porters (Nehemiah 13:5) would be included.
every one to his field] For mention of the country villages ‘round about Jerusalem,’ to which ‘the Levites and the singers’ resorted, cf. Nehemiah 12:27-29.Verse 10. - I perceived that the portions of the Levites had not been given them: for the Levites ... were fled. What Nehemiah saw was that the Levites were absent, and "the house of God forsaken" (ver. 11). On inquiry, he found that the reason of their absence was the non-payment of the tithes. That did the work. i.e. whose business it was to do the work of the house, or, in other words, conduct Divine service. Every one to his field. Every Levite had a plot of ground, which he cultivated when not engaged in the work of the temple (see Numbers 35:2; Joshua 21:3). Nehemiah 13:4-9. While Nehemiah was at Babylon with King Artaxerxes, Eliashib the high priest had given up to his relative, Tobiah the Ammonite (Nehemiah 2:10; Nehemiah 4:3, and elsewhere), a large chamber in the temple, i.e., in the fore-court of the temple (v. 7), probably for his use as a dwelling when he visited Jerusalem (see rem. on v. 8). On his return, Nehemiah immediately cast all the furniture of Tobiah out of this chamber, purified the chambers, and restored them to their proper use as a magazine for the temple stores. מזּה לפני, before this (comp. Ewald, 315, c), refers to the beforementioned separation of the ערב from Israel (Nehemiah 13:3). Eliashib the priest is probably the high priest of that name (Nehemiah 3:1; Nehemiah 12:10, Nehemiah 12:22). This may be inferred from the particular: set over (he being set over) the chambers of the house of our God; for such oversight of the chambers of the temple would certainly be entrusted to no simple priest, though this addition shows that this oversight did not absolutely form part of the high priest's office. For נתן, in the sense of to set, to place over, comp. 1 Kings 2:35; the construction with בּ instead of על is, however, unusual, but may be derived from the local signification of בּ, upon, over. Ewald and Bertheau are for reading לשׁכת instead of the sing. לשׁכּת, because in Nehemiah 13:5 it is not הלּשׁכּה that is spoken of, but a large chamber. לשׁכּת may, however, be also understood collectively. Eliashib, being a relation of Tobiah (קרוב like Ruth 2:20), prepared him a chamber. The predicate of the sentence, Nehemiah 13:4, follows in Nehemiah 13:5 with ויּעשׂ, in the form of a conclusion following the accessory sentence of the subject. How Tobiah was related to Eliashib is nowhere stated. Bertheau conjectures that it was perhaps only through the circumstance that Johanan, the son of Tobiah, had married a daughter of Meshullam ben Berechiah (Nehemiah 6:18), who, according to Nehemiah 3:30, was a priest or Levite, and might have been nearly related to the high priest. "A great chamber," perhaps made so by throwing several chambers into one, as older expositors have inferred from Nehemiah 13:9, according to which Nehemiah, after casting out the goods of Tobiah, had the chambers (plural) cleansed. The statement also in Nehemiah 13:5, that there (in this great chamber) were aforetime laid up not only the meat-offerings (i.e., oil and flour, the materials for them), the incense, and the sacred vessels, but also the tithe of the corn, the new wine, and the oil, and the heave-offerings of the priests, seems to confirm this view. This tenth is designated as הלויּם מצות, the command of the Levites, i.e., what was apportioned to the Levites according to the law, the legal dues for which משׁפּט is elsewhere usual; comp. Deuteronomy 18:3; 1 Samuel 2:13. The heave-offering of the priest is the tenth of their tenth which the Levites had to contribute, Nehemiah 10:39.
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