Nehemiah 8:16
So the people went forth, and brought them, and made themselves booths, every one on the roof of his house, and in their courts, and in the courts of the house of God, and in the street of the water gate, and in the street of the gate of Ephraim.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(16) And in their courts.—Not only on the roofs, but in the internal courtyards.

Of the house of God.—The ministers of the Temple made these; and strangers to Jerusalem made them in the streets or open spaces near the gates.

Nehemiah 8:16. Every one upon the roof of his house — Which, according to the law, was made flat, Deuteronomy 22:8. And in their courts — Those belonging to their houses: for the booths might be made anywhere in the open air. And in the street of the gate of Ephraim — The gate of the city which led to the tribe of Ephraim.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 mount - The "mount of Olives" is probably intended.

Pine branches - Rather, "branches of the wild olive." The actual trees named by the Law may have become scarce. It was probably considered that the spirit of the command was kept if branches of trees similar in general character to those named in Leviticus were employed.

Ne 8:16-18. They Keep the Feast of Tabernacles.

16. the people went forth, and brought … and made themselves booths, &c.—(See on [490]Le 23:34; [491]De 16:13).

Booths upon the roof of his house; for the houses there were made flat; of which See Poole "Deu 22:8".

In their courts, belonging to their own houses; for these might be any where in the open air.

In the street of the gate of Ephraim; that gate of the city which led to the tribe of Ephraim. So the people went forth, and brought them,.... Went out of Jerusalem to the mountains adjacent, and fetched in branches of the said trees, one or another:

and made themselves booths, everyone upon the roof of his house; which were flat, Deuteronomy 22:8, and they might be made anywhere, so be it they were open to the air:

and in their courts, and in the courts of the house of God; the common people in the courtyards belonging to their houses, and the priests and Levites in the courts of the temple, the yards or open places adjoining to them:

and in the street of the watergate; which led to that, and seems to have been a very large street, in which many booths might be built, Nehemiah 3:26

and in the street of the gate of Ephraim; which led to the gate through which the road lay to the tribe of Ephraim, see 2 Kings 14:13, none were erected without the walls of the city, for fear of the enemy.

So the people went forth, and brought them, and made themselves booths, every one upon the {h} roof of his house, and in their courts, and in the courts of the house of God, and in the street of the water gate, and in the street of the gate of Ephraim.

(h) For their houses were made with flat roofs, read De 22:8.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
16. So the people went forth] There were 13 days before the feast, in which to make preparations.

upon the roof of his house] For the use put to the flat roofs of houses in the East cf. Joshua 2:6; 1 Samuel 9:25 (Deuteronomy 22:8).

in their courts] Eastern houses were generally built in the form of a quadrangle.

in the courts of the house of God] This does not refer only to booths erected by priests and Levites; cf. 2 Chronicles 23:5. See Psalm 92:13; Psalm 106:19; Psalm 135:2. A possible allusion to the celebration of this feast ‘in the courts of the house of God’ is to be found in Isaiah 62:9.

the street] R.V. the broad place. In the ‘broad places’ Jews from the country could erect their booths.

the water gate] See note on Nehemiah 8:3.

the gate of Ephraim] Cf. Nehemiah 12:39; 2 Kings 14:13; 2 Chronicles 25:23. The gateway probably took its name from the road passing through it which led to Ephraimite territory. It is not mentioned in ch. 3., but see notes on Nehemiah 3:6-8.Verse 16. - The flat roofs of Oriental houses, and the court round which they were commonly built, furnished convenient sites for the booths, and would be preferred by the inhabitants of Jerusalem. The incomers from the country districts (ver. 15) would have to occupy the open places or "squares" of the city, and the temple courts, which would accommodate large numbers. On the street of the water gate see the comment on ver. 1. The street of the gate of Ephraim was probably a similar square, inside the great northern gateway. And he said to them (viz., Nehemiah as governor and head of the community, though the fact that his address is mentioned does not exclude the participation of Ezra and the Levites): "Go, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send gifts to them for whom nothing is prepared, for this day is holy to our Lord; neither be ye sorry, for joy in Jahve is your refuge." משׁמנּים, fatnesses (λιπάσματα, lxx), fat pieces of meat, not "rich cakes" (Bertheau); comp. שׁמנים משׁתּה, Isaiah 25:6. ממתּקּים, sweetened drinks. The sense is: Make glad repasts on good feast-day food and drink; and send portions to the poor who have prepared nothing, that they too may rejoice on this festival. מנות, gifts, are portions of food; Esther 9:19, Esther 9:22; 1 Samuel 1:4. Hence we see that it was customary with the Israelites to send portions of food and drink, on festivals, to the houses of the poor, that they too might share in the joy of the day. נכון לאן for נכון אין לאשׁר (see rem. on 1 Chronicles 15:12), to them for whom nothing is prepared, who have not the means to prepare a feast-day meal. Because the day is holy to the Lord, they are to desire it with holy joy. יהוה חדות is a joy founded on the feeling of communion with the Lord, on the consciousness that we have in the Lord a God long-suffering and abundant in goodness and truth (Exodus 34:6). This joy is to be to them מעוז, a strong citadel or refuge, because the Almighty is their God; comp. Jeremiah 16:19.
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