DURING Nehemiah's absence deterioration had set in. Ezra was absent, or had died, as Josephus records, "an old man." He represented the "law of the ready scribe," but now his voice was forgotten as the people in Jerusalem settled down to their normal way of life without the personal presence of the two great leaders of the past.

Most likely the warning voice of Malachi had been raised during this period - but where was the high priest Eliashib?

The circumstances of Nehemiah's journey almost suggest those of the Parable of the Nobleman (Lk. 19:12-28) described by the Lord Jesus Christ.Nehemiah had been recalled to the Persian Court and had to seek authority from the king to return to Jerusalem (Neh. 13:6).

On his second coming to the city, he found his work undermined. Vigorously he set about punishing those responsible for this condition, and promoting those who proved faithful (v. 8). This seems to be the period of Malachi who, prior to Nehemiah's return, denounced with vigor the very sins mentioned in the record of Nehemiah: intermarriage with foreign wives, the repudiation of loving Jewish wives who bathed the altar with tears (Mai. 2:13); robbery against the temple services by withholding tithes and offerings (3:8-9); demoralizing of the priesthood (1:6; 2:1-10); the general state of irreligion and laxity (1:13-14; 2:17; 3:2,5).

Malachi's words echo Nehemiah's condemnation in even stronger terms. He told the priests that they "despise and profane" God's Name (1:6, 12); that they had "departed out of the way" (2:8); had corrupted the covenant of Levi and been partial in their exposition of the Law (v. 9). He called the people

"thieves and robbers" (3:8-9); "adulterers, sorcerers, false swearers" (v. 5); "treacherous dealers" (2:14); "committers of abominations" (2:11).

He told them that they were "cursed with a curse" (3:9). But Malachi did not only upbraid and denounce. He had a lofty vision of glory to reveal. He represented the Messenger, to prepare the way before the Lord (3 :1) who would turn the hearts of the people (4: 6) - and of the Greater than him the Lord Jesus Christ who "would suddenly come to his temple" in order to purify the sons of Levi, and to offer a sacrifice in righteousness.

The prophet saw in vision the wicked consumed by the Sun of Righteousness, and the faithful delivered from oppression This was all revealed typically in the actions of Nehemiah on his second advent to Jerusalem.

The vigorous judgments that Nehemiah brought upon his enemies in Jerusalem demonstrated that sin must be cured, not condoned. It was not possible that those who had apostasized in his absence could remain in control, and therefore he immediately disciplined the nation and removed the leprous elements .

Malachi's words would have sounded forth to the people of Jerusalem in preparation for Nehemiah's return. His labour was a preparation for the coming of Nehemiah, so that the Prophet and Governor co-operated together to perform the work of restoration that typically represented what the Messiah will yet accomplish Thus Malachi foreshadowed the forerunner of the first advent of the Lord Jesus Christ (John the Baptist Mat 3), and of his second coming (Elijah Mai 4: 5)

Bro Graeham Mansfield

The Christadelphian Expositor

1 On that day they read in the book of Moses [Sefer Moshe] in the audience of the people [ears of HaAm]; and therein was found written, that the Ammonite and the Moabite [Ammoni and the Moavi ] should not come into the congregation of [Kehal HaElohim] forever;

Nehemiah... saw the spiritual decline evident in the nation, and called the people together for a public reading of the Law, to reinforce the principles of the divine covenant into which they had previously entered (Neh 10).

This was the best way to move the people, seeing that the High Priest himself was compromised by his association with error and could not be depended upon to give

proper leadership.

that the Ammonite and the Moabite should not come into the congregation of Elohim

— The Law required this to the "tenth generation for ever" (Deu 23 3-5, see The Expositor Deuteronomy for further details). Some of Moab were accepted into the nation (e g , Ruth, who was the eleventh generation from Abraham), but this was to be only after the most careful consideration of attitude and beliefs, and by a wholehearted acceptance of the Mosaic Covenant and a rejection of Gentile association (see Ruth

1: 16).

However, Tobiah was an unconverted Ammonite (Neh 4: 3), and his evil influence was still felt (see ch 13 4)

"for ever"

— The Law concerning the exclusion of enemies of God from the company of the faith was to be an eternal principle, always to be maintained. Such enemies represent a reproach upon all Israel (1 Sam 11: 2).

The Hebrew olahm means the hidden or concealed period, and relates "to the age" (the millennium). This implies a continual prohibition until such a class of people have been removed from the earth (see Exo 17: 14 in regard to the Amalekites).

Significantly, there are no further references to Ammonites or Moabites in Scriptures after the time of Nehemiah.

The Christadelphian Expositor

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"

(Matt. 25:21).*

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