Nehemiah 13:24
And their children spoke half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak in the Jews' language, but according to the language of each people.
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(24) Half in the speech of Ashdod.—A mixture of Philistine and Aramaic.

Nehemiah 13:24. And their children spake half in the speech of Ashdod, &c. — What the natural language of the Jews at this time was, whether Hebrew or Chaldee, is matter of some inquiry among the learned. Those who suppose it was Hebrew, produce the books of Nehemiah, Ezra, and Esther, besides the prophecies of Daniel, which, for the most part, were written in Hebrew, and which they suppose the authors of them would not have composed in that language, if at that time it had not been the vulgar language. But to this it is replied, that the Jewish authors might make use of the Hebrew language in what they wrote, not only because the things which they recorded concerned the Jewish nation only, among whom there were learned men enough to explain them; but, chiefly, because they were inclined to conceal what they wrote from the Chaldeans, who at that time were their lords and masters, and, considering all circumstances, might not, perhaps, have been so well pleased with them, had they understood the contents of their writings. Since it appears then, say they, by several words recurring in the book of Maccabees, the New Testament, and Josephus, that the language which the Jews then spoke was Chaldee, that this language they learned in their captivity, and after their return never assumed their ancient Hebrew tongue so as to speak it vulgarly; it must hence follow, that what is here termed the language of the Jews, was at that time no other than the Chaldee, for the ancient Hebrew was only preserved among the learned. See Le Clerc and Dodd.13:23-31 If either parent be ungodly, corrupt nature will incline the children to take after that one; which is a strong reason why Christians should not be unequally yoked. In the education of children, great care should be taken about the government of their tongues; that they learn not the language of Ashdod, no impious or impure talk, no corrupt communication. Nehemiah showed the evil of these marriages. Some, more obstinate than the rest, he smote, that is, ordered them to be beaten by the officers according to the law, De 25:2,3. Here are Nehemiah's prayers on this occasion He prays, Remember them, O my God. Lord, convince and convert them; put them in mind of what they should be and do. The best services to the public have been forgotten by those for whom they were done, therefore Nehemiah refers himself to God, to recompense him. This may well be the summary of our petitions; we need no more to make us happy than this; Remember me, O my God, for good. We may humbly hope that the Lord will remember us and our services, although, after lives of unwearied activity and usefulness, we shall still see cause to abhor ourselves and repent in dust and ashes, and to cry out with Nehemiah, Spare me, O my God, according to the greatness of they mercy.The speech of Ashdod - The Philistine language, which was akin to that of Egypt.

According to the language of each people - The children spoke a mixed dialect - half-Philistine, half-Hebrew.

24. could not speak in the Jews' language, but according to the language of each people—a mongrel dialect imbibed from their mothers, together with foreign principles and habits. Which their mothers instilled into them, together with their principles and manners. And their children spoke half in the speech of Ashdod,.... Which they learned of their mothers, so that it was a mixed language they spoke, partly Jewish and partly Philistine; but some refer this not to their speech, but to the number of their children; that half of them, which Jarchi interprets many of them, spoke in the language of Ashdod, even as many as were most with their mothers, and chiefly brought up by them:

and could not speak in the Jews' language; not at all, or so much as to be understood well, which inclines to the last sense:

but according to the language of each people; their mothers were of, whether of Ashdod, or of Ammon, or of Moab.

And their children spake half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak in the Jews' language, but according to the language of each people.
24. spake half in the speech of Ashdod] LXX. οἱ υἱοὶ αὐτῶν ἥμισυ λαλοῦσιν Ἀζωτιστί. Vulg. ‘filii eorum ex media parte loquebantur Azotice,’ half their words were framed in the dialect of Philistia. This dialect would be very similar to Hebrew, but from accent and the use of peculiar words almost unintelligible to the Jews.

On the relations of the Jews with Ashdod, see on Nehemiah 4:7, and compare Zechariah 9:6.

in the Jews’ language] i.e. Hebrew (‘Yehudîth’) LXX. Ἰουδαϊστί. Vulg. ‘Judaice’ as in 2 Kings 18:26; 2 Kings 18:28; Isaiah 36:11; Isaiah 36:13; 2 Chronicles 32:18. The language of Hezekiah’s reign was still spoken by the Jews after the Return, as indeed would be abundantly shown by these memorials of Ezra and Nehemiah and by the writings of Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi.

On the mistaken idea that during the Captivity the Jews had exchanged Hebrew for Chaldee, i.e. Aramaic, see Introd. § 8.

but according to the language of each people] Referring to the Ammonites and Moabites, who represented dialectical varieties.Verse 24. - Their children spake half in the speech of Ashdod. Some understand the writer to mean that half of the children in a family spoke the tongue of the father, and half that of the mother. But many of the best Hebraists prefer the sense expressed by our translators, viz., that all the children spoke a jargon half Ashdodite and half Aramaic. The Philistine language is said to have resembled the Egyptian (Hieronym., 'Comment. in Esaiam,' 19:18). Nehemiah reproved the nobles of Judah for this profanation of the Sabbath, reminding them how their fathers (forefathers) by such acts (as rebuked e.g., by Jeremiah, Jeremiah 17:21.) had brought upon the people and the city great evil, i.e., the misery of their former exile and present oppression; remarking in addition, "and ye are bringing more wrath upon Israel, profaning the Sabbath," i.e., you are only increasing the wrath of God already lying upon Israel, by your desecration of the Sabbath. Comp. on the last thought, Ezra 10:10, Ezra 10:14. He also instituted measures for the abolition of this trespass.
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