Nehemiah 8:9
And Nehemiah, which is the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said to all the people, This day is holy to the LORD your God; mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(9) Mourn not, nor weep.—The days of high festival were unsuitable for public and, as it were, objective sorrow. The Day of Atonement was coming for that; as also the special day of fasting and covenant, which was already in the plan of Nehemiah and Ezra.

Nehemiah 8:9. This day is holy unto the Lord your God — Namely, as a day of feasting and thanksgiving to God, and rejoicing in his mercies; for otherwise even days of fasting were holy to God in general, though not in the sense here meant. Mourn not, nor weep — Be not sorry, Nehemiah 8:10. Hold your peace: neither be ye grieved, Nehemiah 8:11. Every thing is beautiful in its season. As we must not be merry, when God calls to mourning; so we must not afflict ourselves, and be swallowed up in sorrow, when God gives us occasion to rejoice. Even sorrow for sin must not grow so excessive as to hinder our joy in God, and cheerfulness in his service. For all the people wept when they heard the words of the law — Out of a deep sense of their great guilt, and extreme danger by reason of it.8:9-12 It was a good sign that their hearts were tender, when they heard the words of the law. The people were to send portions to those for whom nothing was prepared. It is the duty of a religious feast, as well as of a religious fast, to draw out the soul to the hungry; God's bounty should make us bountiful. We must not only give to those that offer themselves, but send to those out of sight. Their strength consisted in joy in the Lord. The better we understand God's word, the more comfort we find in it; the darkness of trouble arises from the darkness of ignorance.Nehemiah, which is the Tirshatha - Hereto, Nehemiah has called himself פחה pechâh Nehemiah 5:14-15, Nehemiah 5:18, which is the ordinary word for "governor." Now for the first time he is called 'the Tirshatha'" (see Ezra 2:63 note.)

The people wept ... - Because the Law brought vividly before them their sins of omission and commission. In Nehemiah 8:10 the Jews were not forbidden to be sorry for their sins, but they were only prohibited from marring a festive occasion with the expression of their sorrow.

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.

This day is holy unto the Lord your God, to wit, as a day of feasting and thanksgiving to God, and rejoicing in his mercies; for otherwise even fasting days were holy to God in the general, though not in the sense here meant.

All the people wept, out of a deep sense of their great guilt, and of their extreme danger by reason of it. And Nehemiah which is the Tirshatha,.... Or governor, as Zerubbabel had been, and now Nehemiah, see Ezra 2:63

and Ezra the priest and scribe; see Nehemiah 8:1,

and the Levites that taught the people; see Nehemiah 8:7

said unto all the people, this day is holy unto the Lord your God; being both the new moon and the feast of blowing of trumpets:

mourn not, nor weep; which was unsuitable to a festival, and especially such an one as this, in which trumpets were to be blown, and gladness to be shown, Numbers 10:10

for all the people wept when they heard the words of the law; perceiving they had not kept it, but had broke it in many instances, and so liable to the wrath and judgment of God in case of disobedience.

And Nehemiah, which is the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people, This day is holy unto the LORD your God; mourn not, nor weep. For all the people {e} wept, when they heard the words of the law.

(e) In considering their offences against the Law, therefore the Levites do not reprove them for mourning, but assure them of God's mercies if they are repentant.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
9. Nehemiah, which is the Tirshatha] R.V. N. which was &c. On the title here used see note on Ezra 2:63. Nehemiah in his own ‘Memoirs’ speaks of himself as ‘Pekhah’ (cf. Nehemiah 5:14-15; Nehemiah 5:18); and in consequence some (e.g. Smend) suggest that the title applied here and in Nehemiah 10:2 to Nehemiah, is a gloss. Others also (see note on Nehemiah 8:1) who refer the events described in this chapter to the year 457, consider Nehemiah’s name to be an interpolation. But the occurrence of the title is only evidence that we are no longer dealing with the writings of Nehemiah, who would have styled himself ‘Pekhah.’ The LXX. omits the title: the Vulg. gives Athersatha. The supposition that Nehemiah purposely eschews the honorific title ‘Tirshatha,’ and prefers a more lowly term ‘pekhah’ is based on an imaginary distinction between the words.

This day is holy] Both as a new-moon day and as the day on which the Law was read. See note on Nehemiah 8:2. It may be doubted whether Ezra could here be referring to ‘the Holy Convocation’ prescribed for the 1st of Tisri in Leviticus 23:24. There is no mention in this context either of the Feast of Trumpets on the 1st, or of the Day of Atonement on the 9th of Tisri.

mourn not, nor weep] The people had broken out into demonstrations of grief. As they listened to the words of the Law, they perceived in how many ways they had violated it. Compare the effect of hearing ‘the words of the book of the law’ upon Josiah, 2 Kings 22:11. It is clear the people generally were ignorant of the requirements of the Law. May we not infer that the priests had kept to themselves the contents of the collections of laws?Verse 9. - Nehemiah, which is the Tirshatha. The term "Tirshatha" had previously been applied only to Zerubbabel (Ezra 2:63; Nehemiah 7:65), but it was applicable to any governor. The writer of the section, introducing Nehemiah here for the first time, naturally gives him a title of reverence. Nehemiah's modesty had made him content to describe himself by the general and comparatively weak term pechah. Said unto the people... Mourn not. A combined remonstrance is made against the open grief of the people by the civil and ecclesiastical rulers, and by the order of Levites. Mourning was unsuitable for a day of high festivity, the opening day of the civil year and of the sabbatical month, itself a sabbath or day of rest, and one to be kept by blowing of trumpets (Leviticus 23:24, 25; Numbers 29:1-6). Ezra read out of the law "from the light (i.e., from early morning) till mid-day;" therefore for about six hours. Not, however, as is obvious from the more particular description Nehemiah 8:4-8, without cessation, but in such wise that the reading went on alternately with instructive lectures on the law from the Levites. "And the ears of all the people were directed to the law," i.e., the people listened attentively. המּבינים must be understood according to לשׁמע מבין כּל of Nehemiah 8:2. In Nehemiah 8:4-8 the proceedings at this reading are more nearly described.
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