Nehemiah 13:19
And it came to pass, that when the gates of Jerusalem began to be dark before the sabbath, I commanded that the gates should be shut, and charged that they should not be opened till after the sabbath: and some of my servants set I at the gates, that there should no burden be brought in on the sabbath day.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(19) Some of my servants.—These are several times mentioned as employed in public duty. Here they are used provisionally, to keep out traffickers until the formal appointment of the Levitical guard (Nehemiah 13:22), after which they would be relieved.

13:15-22 The keeping holy the Lord's day forms an important object for their attention who would promote true godliness. Religion never prospers while sabbaths are trodden under foot. No wonder there was a general decay of religion, and corruption of manners among the Jews, when they forsook the sanctuary and profaned the sabbath. Those little consider what an evil they do, who profane the sabbath. We must answer for the sins others are led to commit by our example. Nehemiah charges it on them as an evil thing, for so it is, proceeding from contempt of God and our own souls. He shows that sabbath-breaking was one of the sins for which God had brought judgments upon them; and if they did not take warning, but returned to the same sins again, they had to expect further judgments. The courage, zeal, and prudence of Nehemiah in this matter, are recorded for us to do likewise; and we have reason to think, that the cure he wrought was lasting. He felt and confessed himself a sinner, who could demand nothing from God as justice, when he thus cried unto him for mercy.The gates were closed at the sunset of the day before the Sabbath; since the Sabbath was regarded as commencing on the previous evening. Ne 13:15-31. The Violation of the Sabbath.

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.

When the gates of Jerusalem began to be dark; which was about sun-setting, by reason of the mountains which were round about and near Jerusalem, Psalm 125:2.

Some of my servants set I at the gates, out of a diffidence in those to whom the keeping of the gates was committed. And it came to pass, that when the gates of Jerusalem began to be dark before the sabbath,.... Or "were shaded" (g); that is, as Jarchi interprets it, when the shadows of the eve of the sabbath were stretched out upon the gates; the sabbath did not begin till sun setting, and the stars appeared; but before that, as the sun was declining, the shadows through the houses in Jerusalem, and mountains about it, spread themselves over the gates: and when it was near dusk, and as soon as it was so,

I commanded that the gates should be shut, and charged that they should not be opened till after the sabbath; until sun setting the next day:

and some of my servants set I at the gates, that there should be burden brought in on the sabbath day; the porters being not to be trusted, being liable to be bribed and corrupted, which he knew his servants were not; and therefore, since it might be necessary on a few occasions to open the gates to let some persons in and out, and especially such who dwelt near, and came to worship, he placed his servants there, to take care that none were admitted that had any burdens upon them.

(g) "obumbratae", Pagninus, Montanus; "obumbrarentur", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Rambachius; "incidentibus umbris", Tigurine version.

And it came to pass, that when the gates of Jerusalem began to be {i} dark before the sabbath, I commanded that the gates should be shut, and charged that they should not be opened till after the sabbath: and some of my servants set I at the gates, that there should no burden be brought in on the sabbath day.

(i) About the time that the sun went down, for the sabbath lasted from the sun setting one day, to the sun setting the next day.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
19. the gates of Jerusalem began to be dark] The rare word for ‘began to be dark’ gives rise to the renderings LXX. ἡνίκα κατέστησαν πύλαι, Vulg. ‘cum quievissent portæ.’ Another suggested rendering is ‘had their bells rung,’ is very ludicrous, deriving the word from the same root as the word for ‘cymbals.’

before the sabbath] From this we should gather that the Sabbath began as soon as it was dark; not absolutely at sunset, but at the termination of the brief twilight.

gates] R.V. doors.

charged] R.V. commanded. Same word as in the previous clause.

servants] Literally ‘youths,’ παῖδες, i.e. personal attendants, cf. Nehemiah 4:10.

at the gates] R.V. over the gates, i.e. to superintend the watch.

that there should no burden, &c.] The object of the watch was not to bar the free passage in and out, but only to prevent the introduction of merchandise on that day.Verse 19. - When the gates of Jerusalem began to be dark before the sabbath. The Jews have always reckoned their days from sunset to sunset, grounding their practice on the account of the Creation given in the first chapter of Genesis, where "the evening and the morning" arc said to constitute each of the six days. There was also a special command that the "sabbath" of the great day of atonement should be kept "from even to even" (Leviticus 23:32). I commanded that the gates should be shut. The gates would as a matter of course have been shut at sunset. Nehemiah required that the closing should take place some half-hour earlier, when the shadows were lengthening, and the day was drawing towards a close. He regarded it as a sort of desecration of the sabbath to carry on secular work to the last allowable moment. Some of my servants. Compare Nehemiah 4:16; Nehemiah 5:16. That there should be no burthen brought in. Foot passengers were no doubt allowed to enter and leave the city on the sabbath, Nehemiah's servants being set to see that under no pretence should merchandise be allowed to enter. "And I appointed as managers of the stores (or storehouses, i.e., magazines) Shemaiah the priest," etc. ואוצרה, Hiphil, for אוצירה, is a denominative from אוצר, to set some one over the treasures. Whether Shemaiah and Zadok are the individuals of these names mentioned in Nehemiah 3:30, Nehemiah 3:29, cannot be determined. Zadok is called a סופר, a writer or secretary, not a scribe in the Jewish sense of that word. A Pedaiah occurs Nehemiah 8:4. ידם ועל, and at their hand Hanan, probably as an under-steward. These four were placed in this position because they were esteemed faithful. ועליהם, and it was (incumbent) on them (comp. 1 Chronicles 9:27; Ezra 10:12) to distribute to their brethren, i.e., to the priests and Levites, the portions due to them (Nehemiah 13:10). Nehemiah concludes his account of this matter with the wish, that God may remember him concerning it (comp. Nehemiah 5:19), and not wipe out the kindnesses which he has shown to the house of God and its watches. תּמה, abbreviated from the Hiphil תּמחה, to cause to wipe out. חסדים .tuo like 2 Chronicles 35:26. משׁמרים (the form occurring only here), properly watches, watch-posts, here the office of attending on the service of the temple.
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