Nehemiah 8:14
And they found written in the law which the LORD had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths in the feast of the seventh month:
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Nehemiah 8:14-15. And they found written in the law — Upon Ezra’s information, and through their discourse with him; that the children of Israel should dwell in booths — As a memorial of their dwelling in tents in the wilderness, a representation of the tabernacle state of God’s people in this world, and a type of the holy joy of the gospel church. They that diligently search the Scriptures, will find those things written there which they had forgotten, or not duly considered before. And that they should publish — That is, they also found that written; Saying, Go forth unto the mount, and fetch olive-branches — Namely, the mount of Olives, which was next Jerusalem, and stored with olive-trees, and probably with the other trees here mentioned: for these trees seem to have been planted there, and in the neighbouring parts, principally for the use of the city in this very feast, which, though long neglected, ought to have been celebrated every year. And this place seems here to be referred to as being the most eminent, but to be put for any place near to the cities of Judah where these branches could be procured.8:13-18 They found written in the law about the feast of tabernacles. Those who diligently search the Scriptures, find things written there which they have forgotten. This feast of tabernacles was a representation of the believer's tabernacle state in this world, and a type of the holy joy of the gospel church. The conversion of the nations to the faith of Christ, is foretold under the figure of this feast, Zec 14:16. True religion will render us strangers and pilgrims upon earth. We read and hear the word acceptably and profitably, when we do according to what is written therein; when what appears to be our duty is revived, after it has been neglected. They minded the substance; else the ceremony had been of no use. They did it, rejoicing in God and his goodness. These are the means which the Spirit of God crowns with success, in bringing the hearts of sinners to tremble and to become humbled before God. But those are enemies to their own growth in holiness, who always indulge sorrow, even for sin, and put away from them the consolations tendered by the word and Spirit of God.The Feast of tabernacles had fallen into abeyance either entirely, or as regarded the dwelling in booths Nehemiah 8:17, since the time when it was kept by Zerubbabel Ezra 3:4. It is evident that the observance of the Law, impossible during the captivity, was restored slowly and with difficulty after the return. Ne 8:9-15. The People Comforted.

9, 10. This day is holy unto the Lord … mourn not, nor weep—A deep sense of their national sins, impressively brought to their remembrance by the reading of the law and its denunciations, affected the hearts of the people with penitential sorrow. But notwithstanding the painful remembrances of their national sins which the reading of the law awakened, the people were exhorted to cherish the feelings of joy and thankfulness associated with a sacred festival (see on [489]Le 23:24). By sending portions of it to their poorer brethren (De 16:11, 14; Es 9:19), they would also enable them to participate in the public rejoicings.

They found, upon Ezra’s information, and their discourse with him. And they found written in the law which the Lord had commanded by Moses,.... The children of Israel, to be observed by them; either by hearing it read the day before, or by conversation with Ezra, they perceived it was enjoined in the law, particularly in Leviticus 23:39

that the children of Israel should dwell in booths, in the feast of the seventh month: which was the same month, and this the second day of it, and therefore the time drew near for keeping it; for it was to begin the fifteenth.

And they found written in the law which the LORD had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths in the feast of the seventh month:
14. And they found written] The passages in the Pentateuch relating to the Feast of Tabernacles are Exodus 23:16; Leviticus 23:39-43; Numbers 29:12-38; Deuteronomy 16:13; Deuteronomy 16:15. The reference here is to Leviticus 23 : and Deuteronomy 16. For ‘found,’ cf. Nehemiah 13:1; Luke 4:17.

which the Lord had commanded] R.V. how that the LORD had commanded. The A.V. along with the LXX. (ᾧ ἐνετείλατο) understood this first relative clause to be descriptive of ‘the law,’ as in Nehemiah 9:14, Nehemiah 10:30; and to this there would be no objection, if it were not followed by a second relative clause. The R.V. is probably right in making the second of the two relative clauses dependent upon the first, and the first dependent upon the main verb ‘they found’ (so also the Hebrew accents and the Vulgate).

that the children of Israel should dwell in booths in the feast of the seventh month] Of the four passages in the Pentateuch quoted above, which refer to the Feast of Tabernacles, Exodus 23:16 calls it ‘the feast of ingathering’ and speaks indefinitely of its occurring ‘at the end of the year when thou gatherest in thy labours out of the field;’ Deuteronomy 16:13 calls it ‘the feast of tabernacles’ (Heb. booths) and enjoins its being kept ‘after that thou hast gathered in from thy threshing-floor and from thy winepress,’ but makes no mention of ‘dwelling in booths;’ Leviticus 23. speaks of ‘the feast of tabernacles’ (Heb. booths) being on the 15th day of the 7th month (Leviticus 23:34), ‘when ye have gathered in the fruits of the land’ (Leviticus 23:39), calls it ‘the feast of the Lord’ (Leviticus 23:39) and gives the command ‘ye shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are homeborn in Israel shall dwell in booths’ (Leviticus 23:42); Numbers 29:12 enjoins the keeping of ‘a feast unto the Lord’ on the 15th day of the 7th month, but does not refer to the dwelling in booths.

The reference therefore here is to Leviticus 23. The ‘feast of tabernacles’ was emphatically the feast of the 7th month: cf. Jdg 21:19; Jdg 21:21; (? 1 Samuel 1:7; 1 Samuel 1:21); 1 Kings 8:2; 1 Kings 8:65, (Nehemiah 12:32-33); Isaiah 30:29; Hosea 12:9; Zechariah 14:16; Ezra 3:4. In the present passage the literal rendering would be ‘on the feast in the seventh month.’Verse 14. - And they found written. The practice of "dwelling in booths," commanded in Leviticus 23:42, had fallen into disuse, probably during the captivity, and though the feast itself had been revived by Zerubbabel (Ezra 3:4), yet this feature of it, from which it derived its name, had remained in abeyance. In the feast of the seventh month. Though the "feast of trumpets" was also a feast of the seventh month, that of tabernacles was "the feast," being one of those which all Israelites not reasonably hindered were bound to attend (Exodus 23:14-17; Deuteronomy 16:16), and which was placed on a par with the Passover and Pentecost. "And they (the Levites) read in (out of) the book of the law of God, explained and gave the sense; and they (the assembled auditors) were attentive to the reading." The Rabbis understand מפרשׁ equals the Chaldee מפרשׁ, of a rendering of the law into the vulgar tongue, i.e., a paraphrase in the Chaldee language for those who were not acquainted with the ancient Hebrew. But this cannot be shown to be the meaning of פרשׁ, this word being used in the Targums for the Hebrew נקב (קבב), e.g., Leviticus 24:16, and for בּאר, Deuteronomy 1:5. It is more correct to suppose a paraphrastic exposition and application of the law (Pfeiffer, dubia vex. p. 480), but not "a distinct recitation according to appointed rules" (Gusset. and Bertheau). שׂום is infin. abs. instead of the temp. finit.: and gave the sense, made the law comprehensible to the hearers. במּקרא ויּבינוּ, not with older interpreters, Luther ("so that what was read was understood"), and de Wette, "and they (the Levites) made what was read comprehensible," which would be a mere tautology, but with the lxx, Vulgate, and others, "and they (the hearers) attended to the reading," or, "obtained an understanding of what was read" (בּ הבין, like Nehemiah 8:12, Daniel 9:23; Daniel 10:11). Vitringa (de syn. vet. p. 420) already gives the correct meaning: de doctoribus narratur, quod legerint et dederint intellectum, de autitoribus, quod lectum intellexerint. The manner of proceeding with this reading is not quite clear. According to Nehemiah 8:5-8, the Levites alone seem to have read to the people out of the book of the law, and to have explained what they read to their auditors; while according to Nehemiah 8:3, Ezra read to the assembled people, and the ears of all were attentive to the book of the law, while we are told in Nehemiah 8:5 that Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people. If, however, we regard Nehemiah 8:4-8 as only a more detailed description of what is related Nehemiah 8:2, Nehemiah 8:3, it is obvious that both Ezra and the thirteen Levites mentioned in Nehemiah 8:7 read out of the law. Hence the occurrence may well have taken place as follows: Ezra first read a section of the law, and the Levites then expounded to the people the portion just read; the only point still doubtful being whether the thirteen (fourteen) Levites expounded in succession, or whether they all did this at the same time to different groups of people.
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