Nehemiah 13:25
And I contended with them, and cursed them, and smote certain of them, and plucked off their hair, and made them swear by God, saying, Ye shall not give your daughters unto their sons, nor take their daughters unto your sons, or for yourselves.
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(25) Cursed them.—Nehemiah simply echoed the covenant sanction on this very point (Nehemiah 10:29-30).

Certain of them.—Some were selected for special punishment and humiliation. Ezra, on a like occasion, humbled himself by plucking off the hair of his own head (Ezra 9:3). Then they were obliged to repeat the oath of the covenant.

Nehemiah 13:25. And I contended with them, &c. — These words, it must be acknowledged as proceeding from Nehemiah’s own mouth, sound somewhat harshly in our translation; but the meaning of them seems to be only as follows: I contended with them — That is, I expostulated the matter with them; I cursed them — That is, excommunicated them, and cast them out of the society of God’s people; in the doing of which, I denounced God’s judgments against them; I smote certain of them — That is, I ordered the officers to beat some of the most notorious offenders with rods or scourges, according to the law, Deuteronomy 25:2; and I plucked off their hair — That is, I commanded them to be shaved, thereby to put them to shame, and to make them look like vile slaves; for as the hair was esteemed a great ornament among the eastern nations, so baldness was accounted a great disgrace. And Nehemiah had a sufficient provocation to inflict these several punishments upon them, because, in their marrying with heathen nations, they had acted contrary, not only to the express law of God, but to their own late solemn covenant and promise. See Poole 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.

25. cursed them—that is, pronounced on them an anathema which entailed excommunication.

smote … and plucked off their hair—To cut off the hair of offenders seems to be a punishment rather disgraceful than severe; yet it is supposed that pain was added to disgrace, and that they tore off the hair with violence as if they were plucking a bird alive.

Cursed them, i.e. caused them to be excommunicated and cast out of the society and privileges of God’s people. This and the following punishments were justly inflicted upon them, because this transgression was contrary both to a very plain and express law of God, and also to their own late solemn covenants and promises, of which see Ezra 10 Ne 10:30.

Smote certain of them, i.e. I caused to be beaten with stripes, according to the law, Deu 25:2, those whose faults were most aggravated by their quality or other circumstances; to whom he added this punishment over and besides the former.

Plucked off their hair, or, shaved them. The hair was an ornament and ensign of liberty among the eastern nations; and baldness was a disgrace and token of slavery and sorrow. See Isaiah 3:24 Isaiah 15:2 Jeremiah 48:37 Ezekiel 29:18.

And I contended with them,.... Argued with them, faithfully admonished them, and sharply reproved them:

and cursed them; assuring them that the curse of God would come upon them, unless they repented. Aben Ezra interprets it of excommunicating them, either with "Cherem" or "Niddui", which were two sorts of excommunication among the Jews; but it is a question whether as yet those were used by them:

and smote certain of them; ordered them to be beaten with rods or scourges, as transgressors of the law:

and plucked off their hair; or ordered it to be plucked off by the executioner that smote them; which sort of punishment, as it was painful, it was disgraceful and ignominious, see Isaiah 1:6,

and made them swear by God, saying, ye shall not give your daughters unto their sons, nor take their daughters unto your sons, or for yourselves; not intermarry with them; this they had sworn to before, Nehemiah 10:29.

And I contended with them, and {m} cursed them, and smote certain of them, and plucked off their hair, and made them swear by God, saying, Ye shall not give your daughters unto their sons, nor take their daughters unto your sons, or for yourselves.

(m) That is, I excommunicated them and drove them out of the congregation.

25. I contended] Cf. Nehemiah 13:11; Nehemiah 13:17.

cursed] R.V. marg. ‘Or, reviled’. For the word ‘to curse’ (qalal) cf. Nehemiah 13:2; Malachi 3:9; Malachi 4:6.

smote … pluckt off their hair] Nehemiah’s frantic excitement against these countrymen was accompanied with gestures and blows such as may be witnessed in Syria but are almost incredible to our western ideas.

pluckt off their hair] LXX. ἐμαδάρωσα αὐτούς. Vulg. ‘decalvavi eos.’ Commentators suggest that this was done at Nehemiah’s command, and not by his own hand; further that it was a judicial sentence of ‘depilatio.’ But the context quite supports the idea that he personally ill-treated them; so frantic was his indignation. He did not intend, as some suggest, by pulling out their hair to compel them to assume the appearance of penitents. For the action of pulling out the hair cf. Ezra 9:3.

made them swear by God, saying] i.e. he made them swear an oath in God’s name, the words of the oath being given in the clause following.

This is better than the alternative rendering, ‘I adjured them by God’ (cf. 1 Kings 18:10; Song of Solomon 2:7).

Ye shall not] The oath which Nehemiah administered in the 2nd plur. was repeated by the Jews in the first pers.

unto your sons] R.V. for your sons.

Verse 25. - I contended with them, and cursed them. Or, "reviled them," as Gesenius and Professor Lee explain. And smote certain of them. i.e. "had some of them beaten." Some understand by this that the offenders underwent the bastinado by sentence of a court (Deuteronomy 25:2); others think Nehemiah had them struck informally by his attendants. This latter explanation 'is supported by the following clause, since "plucking out the hair" was never a legal punishment. Made them swear by God. Literally, "swore them by God," i.e. dictated the words, and made them repeat the formula and accept the oath. Saying, Ye shall not give. Literally, "If ye shall give,' etc. Nehemiah made them swear that they should intermarry with the heathen the curse of God should fall upon them. Nehemiah 13:25With these people also Nehemiah contended (אריב like Nehemiah 13:11 and Nehemiah 13:17), cursed them, smote certain of their men, and plucked off their hair (מרט, see rem. on Ezra 9:3), and made them swear by God: Ye shall not give your daughters, etc.; comp. Nehemiah 10:31. On the recurrence of such marriages after the separations effected by Ezra of those existing at his arrival at Jerusalem. Nehemiah did not insist on the immediate dissolution of these marriages, but caused the men to swear that they would desist from such connections, setting before them, in Nehemiah 13:26, how grievous a sin they were committing. "Did not Solomon, king of Israel, sin on account of these?" (אלּה על, on account of strange wives). And among many nations there was no king like him (comp. 1 Kings 3:12., 2 Chronicles 1:12); and he was beloved of his God (alluding to 2 Samuel 12:24), and God made him king over all Israel (1 Kings 4:1); and even him did foreign women cause to sin (comp. 1 Kings 11:1-3). "And of you is it heard to do (that ye do) all this great evil, to transgress against our God, and to marry strange wives?" Bertheau thus rightly understands the sentence: "If the powerful King Solomon was powerless to resist the influence of foreign wives, and if he, the beloved God, found in his relation to God no defence against the sin to which they seduced him, is it not unheard of for you to commit so great an evil?" He also rightly explains הנשׁמע according to Deuteronomy 9:23; while Gesenius in his Thes. still takes it, like Rambach, as the first person imperf.: nobisne morem geramus faciendo; or: Should we obey you to do so great an evil? (de Wette); which meaning - apart from the consideration that no obedience, but only toleration of the illegal act, is here in question - greatly weakens, if it does not quite destroy, the contrast between Solomon and לכם.
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