Nehemiah 8:15
So they proclaimed this message and spread it throughout their towns and in Jerusalem, saying, "Go out to the hill country and bring back branches of olive, wild olive, myrtle, palm, and other leafy trees, to make booths, as it is written."
The Word of God in a Threefold RelationshipJ.S. Exell Nehemiah 8:1-18
Keeping the FeastW. Clarkson Nehemiah 8:13-18
Restoration of the Feast of Tabernacles in its PlenitudeR.A. Redford Nehemiah 8:13-18
Daily Bible-ReadingS. Thodey.Nehemiah 8:15-18
Religion in BoothsT. De Witt Talmage.Nehemiah 8:15-18
The Celebration of the Feast of TabernaclesW. P. Lockhart.Nehemiah 8:15-18

I. A NOTABLE INSTANCE OF NEGLECT. The commandment was plainly written, but "since the days of Jeshua the son of Nun the children of Israel had not done so. How much they lost? - gladness, fellowship, help to their remembrance of Divine mercy, food of faith. We should follow the directions of God's book without question. Much yet to break forth from the written pages.

II. An illustration of the DEPENDENCE OF GOD'S PEOPLE ON ONE ANOTHER. The council of fathers, priests, Levites, and Ezra the scribe gathered together to understand the words of the law." All cannot pursue the same inquiries. The progress of the Church is greatly advanced by the consecration of some to the study of the Scriptures. All councils and conferences should be held with a practical end in view, to understand in order to reformation of life and manners. Much of the deliberation of learned men has failed of God's blessing because it has been merely speculative or controversial. We can scarcely doubt that Ezra was the leading spirit. One eminent man of God can wonderfully animate and direct his Church in great crises. The true leader will never despise counsel, but be only primus inter pares.

III. A TYPICAL REPRESENTATION OF THE BELIEVING LIFE OF GOD'S PEOPLE. The festival in the green booths fetched from the mount.

1. Grateful memory and pilgrim expectation.

2. Free fellowship and happy intercourse, with Jerusalem as the centre. Church life ought to be real root of all other life. We go from our own cities to Jerusalem, and return with the sanctity of the feast, to be distributed over all the common ways and facts of an every-day existence.

3. Consecrated seasons, festival times, needed in all service of God. For the heart must be lifted up that the hands may be kept busy. Function of praise in the life. They of the captivity do well to recognise one another in their freedom. God invites us to turn nature into joy. Consecrate the very trees to him. Rejoice under the open heaven in his loving-kindness. Connect his holy mount with the simple tent that covers our head. He waits not for splendid ritual or temple, but delights in the homely praise of those who spread the beauty of his name over all the earth. - R.

So the people went forth, and brought them, and made themselves booths
I. WE ARE REMINDED HERE THAT THERE IS SUCH A THING AS BURIED TRUTH. True reformations and revivals of religion have always consisted in people's minds being directed to some portion of truth which, though contained in the Word of God, has for a time been lost sight of.

II. WE OBSERVE THAT IN THIS INSTANCE THE JEWS DARED TO FOLLOW GOD, APART PROM AND IN SPITE OF THE TRADITIONS OF A THOUSAND YEARS. It is not a valid argument against a view of truth that it has found no acceptance for long, or even that the testimony of successive generations is against it.

III. WEAK AND DESPISED INSTRUMENTALITY IS OFTEN USED OF GOD TO RECOVER LOST TRUTH. "It was reserved for the feeble remnant that returned from the Babylonish captivity to do what had not been done even in the bright days of Solomon." The Waldenses bearing dogged testimony against Rome for centuries. The Gospellers of Wycliffe's and other days in our own land. George Fox and his noble band of "Friends."


(W. P. Lockhart.)

It is a grand festival. It is the Feast of Tabernacles. The people celebrate the deliverance of their fathers from desert travel, where they lived in tents. And it is also typical of our march to heaven — pilgrims in a temporary booth on the way to Canaan. So that I say to you in a figurative sense what was said to the Jews in a literal sense, "Go forth into the mount, and fetch olive branches, and pine branches, and myrtle branches, and palm branches, and branches of thick trees, to make booths."

I. THE "OLIVE" BRANCH IS ALWAYS USED AS A SIGN OF PEACE. The olive-tree grows in warm climates to the height of about twenty-five feet, has an upright stem, and many out-shooting branches which can easily be stripped off. If a twig of this tree, in time of war, is handed from one general to another, it means the unsaddling of cavalry horses and the hanging up of the war knapsacks. After hostilities have ceased, these branches are placed over doorways, and they are built into triumphal arches, and they are waved in processions. They spell out in verdurous letters that heaven-born word of "Peace!" Now in this gospel arbour which God sends us to build we must have two of these olive branches.

1. Peace with God.

2. Peace with each other.

II. My text, in the next place, suggests that in this arbour for our soul, on the way toward glory, WE OUGHT TO HAVE A GOOD MANY "PINE BRANCHES." Now, pine is healthful, aromatic, and an evergreen. It has often been the case that invalids have been sent into the regions where the pine grows, and they have come back thoroughly well. It is a frequent prescription, on the part of physicians, to say, "Go for a few weeks amid the pines, and you will be better." Now we want in this gospel arbour pine branches. We want something that means health, aroma, and evergreen. This is a very healthy religion. I have known an old Christian, with no capital of physical health, and carrying about him all the respectable diseases that one can carry, and yet kept alive by nothing at all but his religion. But this gospel is evergreen. What does the pine forest care for the snow on its brow? It merely considers it a crown of glory. You cannot freeze out the pine forest, and this grace of God is just as good in the winter of trouble as it is in the summer of prosperity. It is the religion you want — not dependent upon weather or upon change.

III. My text suggests still further that this arbour of Christian grace ought to have in it A GOOD MANY "PALM BRANCHES." You know that it is a favourite tree at the East. The ancients used to make it into three hundred and sixty uses. The fruit is conserved. The sap becomes a beverage. The stones are ground up as food for camels. The base of the leaves is twisted into rope. Baskets and mats are made out of it, and from the root to the tip-top of the palm it is all usefulness. It grows eighty-five feet in height, is columnar, its fringed leaves sometimes four or five yards long, and the ancients used to carry it in processions as a symbol of victory. Oh, for more palm branches in our gospel arbour! Usefulness and victory! Head, heart, tongue, pen, money, social position — all employed for God. Counsel is often given on worldly matters — about investments — that you must not put all the eggs in one basket; but in this matter of religion I wish that we might give all to God, and get in ourselves. "Oh," says some man, "my business is to sell silks and calicoes." Then sell silks and calicoes for the glory of God. Says another man, "My business is to edit a newspaper." Then edit a newspaper for the glory of God. Anything that a man cannot do for the glory of God he has no right to do. The vast majority of professed Christians in this day do not amount to anything. You have to shovel them off the track before the chariot of God's grace can advance. What we want in the Church now is not weeping willows, sighing and weeping by the Water-courses, admiring their long fringes in the glass of the stream; not hickories full of knots; not wild cherry, dropping bitter fruits; but palm-trees, adapted to three hundred and sixty purposes — root, trunk, branch, leaf, producing something for God and man and angels.

IV. My text demands that in the making of this gospel arbour we shall get "BRANCHES OF THICK TREES." You know that a booth or arbour is of little worth unless there be stout poles at the corners, or the wind will upset the booth; and you will be worse off than without shelter unless you have strong branches of thick trees. A gospel that is all mellowness and sweetness will have no strength to withstand the blast of temptation and trial and trouble. We want a brawny Christianity. We want a gospel with warnings as well as with invitations. While olive branches are good in their places, and the palm branches, and the myrtle branches, we want the stout branches of thick trees. The tempest of temptation will come down after a while; the hurricane of death will blow; and alas! for that man who has not his soul sheltered under the stout branches of the thick trees.

(T. De Witt Talmage.)

Also day by day... he read in the book of the law of God.

1. Because of its infinite preciousness and value.

2. Because of its tendency to build up the inner and spiritual life.

3. Because all great revivals of the power of religion have been associated with high reverence for the written Word.

4. Because by this Word you must be judged.


1. With reverence.

2. With special affection and prayerfulness.

3. Take time.

4. Keep the end in view.

(S. Thodey.).

Akkub, Anaiah, Azariah, Bani, Ezra, Hanan, Hashbadana, Hashum, Hilkiah, Hodiah, Hodijah, Israelites, Jamin, Jeshua, Joshua, Jozabad, Kelita, Levites, Maaseiah, Malchiah, Malchijah, Mattithiah, Meshullam, Mishael, Nehemiah, Nun, Pedaiah, Pelaiah, Shabbethai, Shema, Sherebiah, Uriah, Urijah
Gate of Ephraim, Jerusalem, Water Gate
Book, Booths, Branches, Bring, Cause, Circulated, Cities, Fetch, Field, Forth, Hill, Hills, Jerusalem, Leafy, Leaves, Mount, Mountain, Myrtle, Myrtle-branches, Myrtles, Oil, Olive, Olive-branches, Olives, Order, Palm, Palm-branches, Palms, Pass, Pine, Proclaim, Proclaimed, Proclamation, Public, Publish, Saying, Says, Shade, Spread, Tents, Thick, Throughout, Towns, Tree, Trees, Wild, Written
1. The reverent manner of reading and hearing the law
9. They comfort the people
13. The eagerness of the people to hear and be instructed
16. They keep the feast of tabernacles

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Nehemiah 8:15

     4492   olive

Nehemiah 8:1-18

     1640   Book of the Law
     7464   teachers of the law

Nehemiah 8:14-15

     5463   proclamations

Nehemiah 8:14-16

     4416   branch

January 29. "Send Portions unto them for whom Nothing is Prepared" (Neh. viii. 10).
"Send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared" (Neh. viii. 10). That was a fine picture in the days of Nehemiah, when they were celebrating their glorious Feast of Tabernacles. "Neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength. Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions to them for whom nothing is prepared." How many there are on every side for whom nothing is prepared! Let us find out some sad and needy heart for whom there is no one else to think or care.
Rev. A. B. Simpson—Days of Heaven Upon Earth

The Joy of the Lord
'The joy of the Lord is your strength.'--Neh. viii. 10. Judaism, in its formal and ceremonial aspect, was a religion of gladness. The feast was the great act of worship. It is not to be wondered at, that Christianity, the perfecting of that ancient system, has been less markedly felt to be a religion of joy; for it brings with it far deeper and more solemn views about man in his nature, condition, responsibilities, destinies, than ever prevailed before, under any system of worship. And yet all deep
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Reading the Law with Tears and Joy
'And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded to Israel. 2. And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month. 3. And he read therein before the street that was before the water gate, from the morning until midday, before
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Joy of the Lord, the Strength of his People
LAST Sabbath day in the morning I spoke of the birth of our Saviour as being full of joy to the people of God, and, indeed, to all nations. We then looked at the joy from a distance; we will now in contemplation draw nearer to it, and perhaps as we consider it, and remark the multiplied reasons for its existence, some of those reasons may operate upon our own hearts, and we may go out of this house of prayer ourselves partakers of the exceeding great joy. We shall count it to have been a successful
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 17: 1871

The Original Text and Its History.
1. The original language of the Old Testament is Hebrew, with the exception of certain portions of Ezra and Daniel and a single verse of Jeremiah, (Ezra 4:8-6:18; 7:12-26; Dan. 2:4, from the middle of the verse to end of chap. 7; Jer. 10:11,) which are written in the cognate Chaldee language. The Hebrew belongs to a stock of related languages commonly called Shemitic, because spoken mainly by the descendants of Shem. Its main divisions are: (1,) the Arabic, having its original seat in the
E. P. Barrows—Companion to the Bible

Twenty-First Day. Holiness and Happiness.
The kingdom of God is joy in the Holy Ghost.'--Rom. xiv. 17. 'The disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Ghost.'--Acts xiii. 52. 'Then Nehemiah said, This day is holy unto the Lord: neither be ye sorry, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. So the Levites stilled the people, saying, Hold your peace; for the day is holy; neither be ye grieved. And all the people went their way to make great mirth, because they had understood the words.'--Neh. viii. 10-12. The deep significance of
Andrew Murray—Holy in Christ

John's First Testimony to Jesus.
(Bethany Beyond Jordan, February, a.d. 27.) ^D John I. 19-34. ^d 19 And this is the witness of John [John had been sent to testify, "and" this is the matter of his testimony], when the Jews [The term "Jews" is used seventy times by John to describe the ruling classes of Judæa] sent unto him [In thus sending an embassy they honored John more than they ever honored Christ. They looked upon John as a priest and Judæan, but upon Jesus as a carpenter and Galilæan. It is probable that
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Healing a Demoniac in a Synagogue.
(at Capernaum.) ^B Mark I. 21-28; ^C Luke . IV. 31-37. ^b 21 And they [Jesus and the four fishermen whom he called] go into { ^c he came down to} Capernaum, a city of Galilee. [Luke has just spoken of Nazareth, and he uses the expression "down to Capernaum" because the latter was on the lake shore while Nazareth was up in the mountains.] And ^b straightway on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue and taught. { ^c was teaching them} ^b 22 And they were astonished at his teaching: for he taught
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

The Scattering of the People
[Illustration: (drop cap A) The Fish-god of Assyria and Babylonia] At last the full punishment for their many sins fell upon God's chosen people. The words of warning written in the fifth book of Moses had told them plainly that if they turned aside and worshipped the wicked idol-gods of Canaan, the Lord would take their country from them and drive them out into strange lands. Yet again and again they had yielded to temptation. And now the day of reckoning had come. Nebuchadnezzar, the great king
Mildred Duff—The Bible in its Making

The Last Days of the Old Eastern World
The Median wars--The last native dynasties of Egypt--The Eastern world on the eve of the Macedonian conquest. [Drawn by Boudier, from one of the sarcophagi of Sidon, now in the Museum of St. Irene. The vignette, which is by Faucher-Gudin, represents the sitting cyno-cephalus of Nectanebo I., now in the Egyptian Museum at the Vatican.] Darius appears to have formed this project of conquest immediately after his first victories, when his initial attempts to institute satrapies had taught him not
G. Maspero—History Of Egypt, Chaldaea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, V 9

Its Effects.
Among the effects and benefits which in this life accompany and flow from being filled with the Holy Ghost, may be mentioned the following:-- 1. Courage. "Oh, I could not do so and so--I have not the courage," is a reply frequently made by Christian people when asked to undertake some piece of service or other for the Master. The first point to be settled is, "Is that the Master's will for me?" If so, lack of courage is a confession to the lack of the "Fullness of the Holy Ghost." The Spirit-filled
John MacNeil—The Spirit-Filled Life

The Old Testament Canon from Its Beginning to Its Close.
The first important part of the Old Testament put together as a whole was the Pentateuch, or rather, the five books of Moses and Joshua. This was preceded by smaller documents, which one or more redactors embodied in it. The earliest things committed to writing were probably the ten words proceeding from Moses himself, afterwards enlarged into the ten commandments which exist at present in two recensions (Exod. xx., Deut. v.) It is true that we have the oldest form of the decalogue from the Jehovist
Samuel Davidson—The Canon of the Bible

Of the Public Fast.
A public fast is when, by the authority of the magistrate (Jonah iii. 7; 2 Chron. xx. 3; Ezra viii. 21), either the whole church within his dominion, or some special congregation, whom it concerneth, assemble themselves together, to perform the fore-mentioned duties of humiliation; either for the removing of some public calamity threatened or already inflicted upon them, as the sword, invasion, famine, pestilence, or other fearful sickness (1 Sam. vii. 5, 6; Joel ii. 15; 2 Chron. xx.; Jonah iii.
Lewis Bayly—The Practice of Piety

'The fruit of the Spirit is joy.' Gal 5:52. The third fruit of justification, adoption, and sanctification, is joy in the Holy Ghost. Joy is setting the soul upon the top of a pinnacle - it is the cream of the sincere milk of the word. Spiritual joy is a sweet and delightful passion, arising from the apprehension and feeling of some good, whereby the soul is supported under present troubles, and fenced against future fear. I. It is a delightful passion. It is contrary to sorrow, which is a perturbation
Thomas Watson—A Body of Divinity

Q-xxxvi: WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS WHICH FLOW FROM SANCTIFICATION? A: Assurance of God's love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Ghost, increase of grace, and perseverance therein to the end. The first benefit flowing from sanctification is assurance of God's love. 'Give diligence to make your calling and election sure.' 2 Pet 1:10. Sanctification is the seed, assurance is the flower which grows out of it: assurance is a consequent of sanctification. The saints of old had it. We know that we know
Thomas Watson—A Body of Divinity

Man's Chief End
Q-I: WHAT IS THE CHIEF END OF MAN? A: Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever. Here are two ends of life specified. 1: The glorifying of God. 2: The enjoying of God. I. The glorifying of God, I Pet 4:4: That God in all things may be glorified.' The glory of God is a silver thread which must run through all our actions. I Cor 10:01. Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.' Everything works to some end in things natural and artificial;
Thomas Watson—A Body of Divinity

Some of the most complicated problems in Hebrew history as well as in the literary criticism of the Old Testament gather about the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. Apart from these books, all that we know of the origin and early history of Judaism is inferential. They are our only historical sources for that period; and if in them we have, as we seem to have, authentic memoirs, fragmentary though they be, written by the two men who, more than any other, gave permanent shape and direction to Judaism, then
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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