There dwelled men of Tyre also therein, which brought fish, and all manner of ware, and sold on the sabbath to the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Men of Tyre.—They brought timber for the building of the Temple, and received food in payment Ezra 3:7). Now they seem to have established themselves as a colony, and supplied fish, especially to the inhabitants. But their offence was the doing this “on the sabbath unto the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem.” The verse closes emphatically.Ezra 3:7. It was, however, a new fact, and one pregnant with evil consequences, that the Tyrians should have established a permanent colony at Jerusalem. Its influence on the other inhabitants weakened the hold of the Law upon men's consciences, and caused it to be transgressed continually more and more openly.
15-22. In those days saw I in Judah some treading wine-presses on the sabbath—The cessation of the temple services had been necessarily followed by a public profanation of the Sabbath, and this had gone so far that labor was carried on in the fields, and fish brought to the markets on the sacred day. Nehemiah took the decisive step of ordering the city gates to be shut, and not to be opened, till the Sabbath was past; and in order to ensure the faithful execution of this order, he stationed some of his own servants as guards, to prevent the introduction of any commodities on that day. On the merchants and various dealers finding admission denied them, they set up booths outside the walls, in hopes of still driving a traffic with the peasantry; but the governor threatened, if they continued, to adopt violent measures for their removal. For this purpose a body of Levites was stationed as sentinels at the gate, with discretionary powers to protect the sanctification of the Sabbath.Which brought fish, which they might take in the sea near Joppa, or bring from Tyre to Joppa by sea, and thence to Jerusalem, which was but a small journey.
In Jerusalem, the holy city, where God’s house and presence was, and where the great judicatories of the nation were. So this is added as an aggravation of their sin, that this was done with manifest contempt both to God and men.
and all manner of ware; or merchandise, which, being a trading city, they had from all nations:
and sold on the sabbath day unto the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem; or even in Jerusalem, the holy city, where stood the temple, and where the worship of God was kept, and where the magistrates lived, who should have been terrors to evildoers: indeed, the law of the sabbath was not binding on these Tyrians, but then they tempted the Jews to break it, by bringing their ware to sell.There dwelt men of Tyre also therein, which brought fish, and all manner of ware, and sold on the sabbath unto the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)16. Traffic on the Sabbath.
therein] i.e. in the city.
which brought fish] R.V. which brought in fish. These would be the salted and dried fish from the Mediterranean, cf. Nehemiah 3:3.
ware] i.e. anything offered for sale.
sold on the sabbath unto the children of Judah] The fault lay with the buyers, as is shown in the next verse.
and in Jerusalem] The words are added emphatically, as if Nehemiah had said ‘to think of such a thing being possible in the holy city.’Verse 16. - There dwelt men of Tyre also therein. It was not against the law that foreigners should dwell in Jerusalem. Araunah the Jebusite lived there in the time of David, and Ebed-melech the Ethiopian in the time of Zedekiah (Jeremiah 38:7). Nehemiah does not object to the Tyrians for being dwellers in Jerusalem, but for offering their wares for sale there on the sabbath, and inducing the Jews to buy of them. Which brought fish. Fish was always a favourite article of food with the Israelites (Leviticus 11:9; Numbers 11:5; Deuteronomy 14:9; Isaiah 19:10; Matthew 14:7; Matthew 15:34; Luke 24:42, etc.). They derived it chiefly from the Sea of Galilee and the Mediterranean. Nehemiah 13:10. "And I perceived that the portions of the Levites had not been given; and the Levites and singers who had to do the work, were fled every one to his field." The Levites, i.e., the assistants of the priests, the singers, and also the porters, who are not expressly mentioned in this passage, were accustomed to receive during the time of their ministry their daily portions of the tenths and first-fruits (Nehemiah 12:47). When then these offerings were discontinued, they were obliged to seek their maintenance from the fields of the towns and villages in which they dwelt (Nehemiah 12:28.), and to forsake the service of the house of God. This is the meaning of the בּרח, to flee to the fields.
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