And Ezra the scribe stood on a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose; and beside him stood Mattithiah, and Shema, and Anaiah, and Urijah, and Hilkiah, and Maaseiah, on his right hand; and on his left hand, Pedaiah, and Mishael, and Malchiah, and Hashum, and Hashbadana, Zechariah, and Meshullam.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Pulpit of wood.—Literally, a tower of wood. Fourteen persons, however, were on what is afterwards called a platform, or stair, by his side.Nehemiah 8:4. Ezra stood upon a pulpit of wood — To raise him higher than the people; that he might be better seen and heard by them all; whence, in the Hebrew, it is called a tower of wood: but it was not like our pulpits, made to contain only one or two persons, but large and long, that many might stand in it at once, as appears from so many as fourteen, here mentioned, standing in it. And beside him stood Mattithiah, &c. — These stood with him, partly to declare their consent and concurrence with what he said and did; and partly that they, or some of them, might bear a part in the work.2 Kings 11:14, the pulpits, in the Jewish synagogues, made after the same manner, as Aben Ezra observes, are called by the same (l) name:
and beside him stood Mattithiah, and Shema, and Anaiah; and Urijah, and Hilkiah, and Maaseiah, on his right hand; and on his left hand, Pedaiah, and Mishael, and Malchiah, and Hashum, and Hashbadana, Zechariah, and Meshullam; in all thirteen; there were six on his right, and seven on his left, who stood here, not merely in honour to him, and as approvers and supporters of the truth of what he read, but to relieve him when weary.And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose; and beside him stood Mattithiah, and Shema, and Anaiah, and Urijah, and Hilkiah, and Maaseiah, on his right hand; and on his left hand, Pedaiah, and Mishael, and Malchiah, and Hashum, and Hashbadana, Zechariah, and Meshullam.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)4. a pulpit of wood] R.V. marg. Heb. tower. Literally ‘upon a tower of wood.’ LXX. ἐπὶ βήματος ξυλίνου, 1 Esdr. ἐπὶ τοῦ ξυλίνου βήματος. Vulg. ‘super gradum ligneum:’ cf. ‘the stairs’ on which the Levites stood in Nehemiah 9:4. The mention of the erection of a platform or tribune which the Jews had erected ‘for the purpose’ shows that the incident was one of exceptional character. This is the first mention of a pulpit or lectern.
for the purpose] Literally ‘for the word,’ which not being understood was omitted by the LXX. The Vulg. ‘quem fecerat ad loquen-dum’ follows a different vocalization, l’dhabbêr for laddâbhâr.
Urijah] R.V. Uriah: possibly the same as is mentioned in Nehemiah 3:4. ‘Hilkiah,’ possibly mentioned also Nehemiah 12:7. ‘Pedaiah’ possibly mentioned Nehemiah 3:25. ‘Meshullam’ possibly mentioned Nehemiah 10:7.
Malchiah … Hashbadana] R.V. Malchijah … Hashbaddanah.
There is a discrepancy respecting the numbers and position of the individuals here mentioned. The Hebrew text and the LXX. mention six names on the right hand, seven on the left: the parallel passage in 1 Esdras gives seven on the right hand, inserting an Azariah between Anaiah and Uriah, but six only on the left, omitting the last name Meshullam. If we retain both Azariah and Meshullam we should have seven on either side; if we reject them both, we should have six on either side. It seems probable that the names are those of Levites. There would be especial appropriateness in the number twelve, symbolizing the union of Israel in obedience to the Law. The conjecture of Rawlinson that they ‘were probably the chief priests of the course which was at the time performing the Temple service’ is improbable. (1) They were clearly men who could leave the Temple precincts for six or seven hours consecutively. (2) On such an impressive occasion Ezra, if he were attended by priests, would probably have selected either those who represented the principal houses or those who especially supported his religious attitude. (3) Ezra’s supporters in this great religious movement seem to have been Laymen and Levites, not Priests. The popularizing of the knowledge of ‘the Law’ struck a blow at a priestly monopoly. The thirteen names are in one respect of especial interest. They seem to be the names of individuals and not as in Nehemiah 8:7 and ch. Nehemiah 9:4, Nehemiah 10:9 the names of houses or clans, which happened to be represented. The reader should take notice that the high-priest’s name is not mentioned on this occasion. If as some critics have supposed, Ezra himself had composed the Priestly Laws, and was now promulgating them for the first time, the high-priest, whose position owed so much of its dignity in later days to those laws, would surely have been mentioned as countenancing Ezra’s action. If however, as seems more probable, Ezra was for the first time publishing to the people laws which had hitherto been kept in the priests’ hands, we have a possible explanation for the absence of the high-priest and his party, who would regard his action as subversive of their authority.Verse 4. - Ezra... stood upon a pulpit of wood. Compare 2 Kings 11:14; 2 Kings 23:3, where, however, the term used is עמוד, "stand," and not מגדל, "tower." In either case an elevated platform seems to be meant. Mattithiah, and Shema. These persons are commonly supposed to have been priests, but there is nothing to prove it. They need not even have been Levites, since they were there not to teach, but only to do honour to Ezra. 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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