1 On that day they read in the book of Moses in the audience of the people; and therein was found written, that the Ammonite and the Moabite should not come into the congregation of Elohim for ever;
2 Because they met not the children of Israel with bread and with water, but hired Balaam against them, that he should curse them: howbeit our Elohim turned the curse into a blessing.
3 Now it came to pass, when they had heard the law, that they separated from Israel all the mixed multitude.
4 And before this, Eliashib the priest, having the oversight of the chamber of the house of our Elohim, was allied unto Tobiah:
5 And he had prepared for him a great chamber, where aforetime they laid the meat offerings, the frankincense, and the vessels, and the tithes of the corn, the new wine, and the oil, which was commanded to be given to the Levites, and the singers, and the porters; and the offerings of the priests.
The Levites portion was instead given to Tobiah
6 But in all this time was not I at Jerusalem: for in the 32nd year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon came I unto the king, and after certain days obtained I leave of the king:
I was not at Jerusalem
We remember at the beginning the King set him a time. How long he stayed at Jerusalem the first time we do not know, nor how long this chapter is after he left the city.
We discern another type, which will be more striking and impressive as we consider the events of this chapter-
"The Son of Man is as a man taking afar journey, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch" (Mk. 13:34).
What did Nehemiah find when he returned after a long absence spent in the presence of the king?
The scene is a sad one-
"When the Son of Man cometh, shall he find the faith on the earth?" (Lk. 18:8).
7 And I came to Jerusalem, and understood of the evil that Eliashib did for Tobiah, in preparing him a chamber in the courts of the house of Elohim. [v5]
Here was one of the major causes of the evil condition Nehemiah found on his return-the High Priest, the spiritual leader-was unfaithful, and allied to the enemy. He had brought in the enemy and established him right in the Temple of God.*
8 And it grieved me sore: therefore I cast forth all the household stuff of Tobiah out of the chamber.
The Temple is cleansed. Judgment begins at the House of God. Malachi, who prophecied sometime during this period, declared-
"The Lord shall suddenly come to His Temple. Who may abide the day of His coming? Who shall stand when He appeareth? ...He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver" (3:1-3).*
9 Then I commanded, and they cleansed the chambers: and thither brought I again the vessels of the house of Elohim, with the meat offering and the frankincense.
10 And I perceived that the portions of the Levites had not been given them: for the Levites and the singers, that did the work, were fled every one to his field.
"The singers were fled." The rejoicing had fallen silent. The praise and worship and thanksgiving had stopped.
11 Then contended I with the rulers, and said, Why is the house of Elohim forsaken? And I gathered them together, and set them in their place.
We remember the solemn covenant they had made before he left them.*
12 Then brought all Judah the tithe of the corn and the new wine and the oil unto the treasuries.
13 And I made treasurers over the treasuries, Shelemiah the priest, and Zadok the scribe, and of the Levites, Pedaiah: and next to them was Hanan the son of Zaccur, the son of Mattaniah: for they were counted faithful, and their office was to distribute unto their brethren.
Shelemiah (Recompensed of God), Zadok (Righteous), Pedaiah (God has ransomed), Hanon (Merciful).
A complete change of administration. Faithful stewards are given charge over the treasuries
"Thou hast been faithful over a few things. I will make thee ruler over many things"
14 Remember me, O my Elohim, concerning this, and wipe not out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my Elohim, and for the offices thereof.
15 In those days saw I in Judah some treading wine presses on the sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and lading asses; as also wine, grapes, and figs, and all manner of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the sabbath day: and I testified against them in the day wherein they sold victuals.
He found them profaning the Sabbath, working for their own advantage, following their fleshly interests.*
16 There dwelt men of Tyre also therein, which brought fish, and all manner of ware, and sold on the sabbath unto the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem.
And aliens were coining in, and trading on the Sabbath. God had said-
"My House shall be a House of Prayer for all nations " (Isa. 56:7).
Israel was chosen to teach the whole world the blessings of righteousness. But what kind of teachers were these? How could the alien learn the ways of God when these appointed teachers encouraged them to come and help them break God's laws?
So Nehemiah set his servants as guards at the gates, to allow no merchandise to be brought in on the Sabbath. Then the merchants set up their stands just outside the walls to entice the people to come out and shop.
They sought to circumvent the law by a technicality-to come as close as they could to getting in. But Nehemiah "chased them FAR AWAY." The principle is clear. Temptation and evil must not be put just outside the wall, where it can continue to tempt. It must be chased far away and out of sight.*
*Bro Growcott - Let us rise up and build
24 And their children spake half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak in the Jews' language, but according to the language of each people.
What a sorry state of affairs they had gotten themselves into in Nehemiah's absence! How can children learn the language of the Truth when we deliberately choose an instructor for them in the language of the world?
Surely this is the saddest and most evil aspect of alien marriage-the children grow up misguided and confused-speaking half the Jew's language and half the confused,
heathen, worldly tongue of Ashdod-a pitiful mixture so often manifested in families born of alien marriage-far sadder even than no knowledge of the Truth at all.*
27 Shall we then hearken unto you to do all this great evil, to transgress against our Elohim in marrying strange wives?
-the age-old evil that had corrupted all the earth, and brought the flood on the world of the ungodly.*
*Bro Growcott - Let us rise up and build