Thus cleansed I them from all strangers, and appointed the wards of the priests and the Levites, every one in his business;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(30) This is a brief recapitulation of the special Work of Nehemiah after his return.
Thus cleansed I them.—After the acts of discipline described above, there was doubtless some formal service of expiation.Nehemiah 13:30. Thus cleansed I them from all strangers — That is, both priests and Levites were separated from their strange wives: and appointed the wards of the priests, &c. — To observe their courses of attendance at the house of God, and every one to perform there that business which was proper to him.Nehemiah 11:10-22.
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.Thus cleansed I them from all strangers, and appointed the wards of the priests and the Levites, every one in his business;
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)30. Nehemiah Summarizes his Work under the heads of purification and organization
cleansed I them] i.e. the people of Israel.
all strangers] R.V. marg. ‘Or, every strange thing’. LXX. ἀπὸ πάσης ἀλλοτριώσεως; the foreign element, which threatened to encroach upon the separateness of Israel and become the renewed source of idolatry. Vulg. ‘ab omnibus alienigenis.’
the wards of] R.V. wards for. Nehemiah did not originate the duties of the priests and Levites; he only set on foot a more systematic distribution of their work. The word ‘wards’ may here indicate the successive relays or ‘watches’ of priests and Levites (LXX. ἐφημερίας. Vulg. ‘ordines’); or, in a more general sense, their ‘duties’ and ‘observances,’ as in Nehemiah 13:13, which seems to agree best with the following clause: ‘each one in his work.’
in his business] R.V. in his work, Nehemiah 13:10, Nehemiah 10:33, Nehemiah 11:12. As generally in these books, except Nehemiah 11:16; Nehemiah 11:22, where ‘business’ is retained. Cf. Proverbs 22:29, ‘Seest thou a man diligent in his business?’Verse 30. - Thus cleansed I them. Rather, "And I cleansed them." The process of cleansing touched on in this verse, and also in ver. 3, is not described. It probably resembled the process adopted by Ezra (Ezra 10:5-17). And appointed the wards. i.e. "assigned their offices to the various priests and Levites" (see Nehemiah 11:11-24; Nehemiah 12:44; Nehemiah 13:13). Nehemiah 13:23 and Nehemiah 13:24. "In those days I also saw, i.e., visited, the Jews who had brought home Ashdodite, Ammonite, and Moabite wives; and half of their children spoke the speech of Ashdod, because they understood not how to speak the Jews' language, and according to the speech of one and of another people." It is not said, I saw Jews; but, the Jews who ... Hence Bertheau rightly infers, that Nehemiah at this time found an opportunity of seeing them, perhaps upon a journey through the province. From the circumstance, too, that a portion of the children of these marriages were not able to speak the language of the Jews, but spoke the language of Ashdod, or of this or that nation from which their mothers were descended, we may conclude with tolerable certainty, that these people dwelt neither in Jerusalem nor in the midst of the Jewish community, but on the borders of the nations to which their wives belonged. הושׁיב like Ezra 10:2. וּבניהם precedes in an absolute sense: and as for their children, one half (of them) spake. יהוּדית (comp. 2 Kings 18:26; Isaiah 36:11; 2 Chronicles 32:18) is the language of the Jewish community, the vernacular Hebrew. The sentence וגו ואינם is an explanatory parenthesis, ועם עם וכלשׁן still depending upon מדבר: spake according to the language, i.e., spake the language, of this and that people (of their mothers). The speech of Ashdod is that of the Philistines, which, according to Hitzig (Urgeschichte u. Mythol. der Philister), belonged to the Indo-Germanic group. The languages, however, of the Moabites and Ammonites were undoubtedly Shemitic, but so dialectically different from the Hebrew, that they might be regarded as foreign tongues.
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