Nehemiah 8:3
And he read therein before the street that was before the water gate from the morning until midday, before the men and the women, and those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the book of the law.
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(3) From the morning.From daylight. The Book of the Law must have been a comprehensive one. Out of it Ezra and his companions read hour after hour, selecting appropriate passages.

And the ears of all the people . . . unto the book.—A general statement; the detail now follows.

Nehemiah 8:3. He read therein, from the morning until mid-day — In the Hebrew, the words are, from the light, that is, from the break of day, or the sun-rising, until noon: Then, it is likely, they went to take some refreshment, it being a festival, and a day of great rejoicing.8:1-8 Sacrifices were to be offered only at the door of the temple; but praying and preaching were, and are, services of religion, as acceptably performed in one place as in another. Masters of families should bring their families with them to the public worship of God. Women and children have souls to save, and are therefore to acquaint themselves with the word of God, and to attend on the means of grace. Little ones, as they come to reason, must be trained up in religion. Ministers when they go to the pulpit, should take their Bibles with them; Ezra did so. Thence they must fetch their knowledge; according to that rule they must speak, and must show that they do so. Reading the Scriptures in religious assemblies is an ordinance of God, whereby he is honoured, and his church edified. Those who hear the word, should understand it, else it is to them but an empty sound of words. It is therefore required of teachers that they explain the word, and give the sense of it. Reading is good, and preaching is good, but expounding makes reading the better understood, and preaching the more convincing. It has pleased God in almost every age of the church to raise up, not only those who have preached the gospel, but also those who have given their views of Divine truth in writing; and though many who have attempted to explain Scripture, have darkened counsel by words without knowledge, yet the labours of others are of excellent use. All that we hear must, however, be brought to the test of Scripture. They heard readily, and minded every word. The word of God demands attention. If through carelessness we let much slip in hearing, there is danger that through forgetfulness we shall let all slip after hearing.Upon the first day of the seventh month - The day of the "Feast of Trumpets" (see the margin reference note). The gathering together of the people, spoken of in Nehemiah 8:1, was probably to observe this feast. CHAPTER 8

Ne 8:1-8. Religious Manner of Reading and Hearing the Law.

1. all the people gathered themselves together as one man—The occasion was the celebration of the feast of the seventh month (Ne 7:73). The beginning of every month was ushered in as a sacred festival; but this, the commencement of the seventh month, was kept with distinguished honor as "the feast of trumpets," which extended over two days. It was the first day of the seventh ecclesiastical year, and the new year's day of the Jewish civil year, on which account it was held as "a great day." The place where the general concourse of people was held was "at the water gate," on the south rampart. Through that gate the Nethinims or Gibeonites brought water into the temple, and there was a spacious area in front of it.

they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses—He had come to Jerusalem twelve or thirteen years previous to Nehemiah. He either remained there or had returned to Babylon in obedience to the royal order, and for the discharge of important duties. He had returned along with Nehemiah, but in a subordinate capacity. From the time of Nehemiah's appointment to the dignity of tirshatha, Ezra had retired into private life. Although cordially and zealously co-operating with the former patriot in his important measures of reform, the pious priest had devoted his time and attention principally toward producing a complete edition of the canonical Scriptures. The public reading of the Scriptures was required by the law to be made every seventh year; but during the long period of the captivity this excellent practice, with many others, had fallen into neglect, till revived, on this occasion. That there was a strong and general desire among the returned exiles in Jerusalem to hear the word of God read to them indicates a greatly improved tone of religious feeling.

No text from Poole on this verse. And he read therein,.... Some passages in it, here and there, which it was necessary the people should have knowledge of; for it can hardly be thought be began and read on just in the order in which it was: this he did

before the street; at the top of it, at one end of it:

that was before the water gate; which looked directly to that:

from the morning until midday; from the rising of the sun to noon, so that he must read six hours; but very probably was relieved at times by the men with him, after mentioned:

before the men and the women, and those that could understand; see Nehemiah 8:2,

and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law; to the hearing of it read, and to the things contained in it; hence Maimonides (h) gathers, that as soon as the reader begins the reading of the law, it is not lawful to speak about anything, not even the constitutions of the law, but silently to attend to what is read.

(h) Hilchot Tephillah, c. 12. sect. 9.

And he read therein before the street that was before the water gate from the morning until {c} midday, before the men and the women, and those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law.

(c) This declares the great zeal that the people had to hear the word of God.

3. before the street] R.V. before the broad place. The ‘broad place’ was before the water-gate; Ezra read before the broad place. In each case the preposition seems to mean on the W. side, i.e. in front of looking eastward. The Vulgate ‘in plateâ.’ The LXX. omits the reference to the locality in this verse.

from the morning] R.V. from early morning. Marg. Heb. from the light. The process of reading ‘from morn till midday’ is explained in the following verses (4–8). It was not consecutive reading for seven hours. Ezra had others standing by to relieve him: the reading was also interrupted by exposition.

before] R.V. in the presence of. A different preposition from that used earlier in the verse.

attentive unto the book of the law] Vulgate ‘erectæ ad librum.’Verse 3. - From the morning until midday. Or, "from daylight." He began as soon as it was light enough, and read on (he and his assistants - ver. 7) till noon, that is, for six hours or more. The reading appears to have been varied by occasional exposition (vers. 7, 8). The ears of all the people were attentive. Though there is no word in the Hebrew for "attentive," yet the meaning is quite correctly given: "the ears of all the people were to the book" Ñ fixed on that, and on nothing else. And God put into my heart, i.e., God inspired me with the resolution; comp. Nehemiah 2:12. What resolution, is declared by the sentences following, which detail its execution. The resolution to gather together the nobles and rulers of the people for the purpose of making a list of their kinsmen, and thus to obtain a basis for the operations contemplated for increasing the inhabitants of Jerusalem. והסּגנים החרים are combined, as in Nehemiah 2:16. On התיחשׂ, comp. 1 Chronicles 5:17.

While this resolve was under consideration, Nehemiah found the register, i.e., the genealogical registry, of those who came up at first (from Babylon). בּראשׁונה, at the beginning, i.e., with Zerubbabel and Joshua under Cyrus (Ezra 2), and not subsequently with Ezra (Ezra 7). "And I found written therein." These words introduce the list now given. This list, vv. 6-73a, is identical with that in Ezra 2, and has been already discussed in our remarks on that chapter.

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