Nehemiah 12:47
And all Israel in the days of Zerubbabel, and in the days of Nehemiah, gave the portions of the singers and the porters, every day his portion: and they sanctified holy things to the Levites; and the Levites sanctified them to the children of Aaron.
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(47) The Levites.—Between the people and the priests came the Levites, who received the tithe and gave the priests their “tithe of the tithe” (Numbers 18:26).

Nehemiah 12:47. They sanctified holy things unto the Levites — They set apart the first-fruits and tithes from their own share, and devoted them to the use of the Levites. And so did the Levites by the tithe of tithes. Thus they all conscientiously paid their dues, and did not profane those things which God had sanctified, nor take them unto their own common use. When what is contributed for the support of religion is given with an eye to God, it is sanctified, and will cause the blessing to rest upon the house, and all that is therein. 12:44-47 When the solemnities of a thanksgiving day leave such impressions on ministers and people, that both are more careful and cheerful in doing their duty, they are indeed acceptable to the Lord, and turn to good account. And whatever we do, must be purified by the blood of sprinkling, and by the grace of the Holy Spirit, or it cannot be acceptable to God.The intention is to compare the religious activity and strictness of Nehemiah's time with that which had prevailed under Zerubbabel, as described by Ezra Ezr 6:16, Ezra 6:22. It is implied that the intermediate period had been a time of laxity.

They sanctified holy things ... - i. e, "the people paid their tithes regularly to the Levites, and the Levites paid the tithe of the tithes to the priests."

47. all Israel … sanctified holy things unto the Levites,—&c. The people, selecting the tithes and first-fruits, devoted them to the use of the Levites, to whom they belonged by appointment of the law. The Levites acted in the same way with the tithes due from them to the priests. Thus all classes of the people displayed a conscientious fidelity in paying the dues to the temple and the servants of God who were appointed to minister in it. They sanctified holy things, i.e. they sequestered or set apart the first-fruits and tithes from their own share, and devoted them to the use of the Levites, to whom they belonged. And so did the Levites by the tithe of the tithes. Thus they all conscientiously paid their dues to God, or his assigns, and did not profane, those things which God had sanctified, nor take them to their own common use, as divers ungodly or covetous persons had formerly used to do when they had opportunity. And all Israel in the days of Zerubbabel, and in the days of Nehemiah, gave the portions of the singers and the porters every day his portion,.... While these two men governed they did their duty, and punctually paid the Levites their dues at the proper season:

and they sanctified holy things unto the Levites; set them apart for their use, and brought them to them, their offerings, firstfruits, and tithes: and the Levites sanctified them unto the children of Aaron; the Levites set apart the tenth part of the tithes, and delivered them to the priests, and so each had what belonged to them.

And all Israel in the days of Zerubbabel, and in the days of Nehemiah, gave the portions of the singers and the porters, every day his portion: and they sanctified holy things unto the Levites; and the Levites {n} sanctified them unto the children of Aaron.

(n) That is, the tenth part of the tithes.

47. in the days of Zerubbabel, and in the days of Nehemiah] The mention of Nehemiah in the 3rd person along with Zerubbabel is an almost convincing proof that the sentence was not from the hand of Nehemiah; but that it was written (probably by the Chronicler) at a considerable interval of time since Nehemiah’s death. The two men are here mentioned as the two heroes of their generation, under whom Israel was loyal to their Temple.

gave … sanctified] The participles in the Heb. show the continuous habit.

every day his portion] R.V. as every day required. In Nehemiah 11:23, we are told a daily provision for the singers was one of the commands of the Persian king: but there was also doubtless a regular daily payment on their behalf made by the people.

sanctified holy things unto the Levites] R.V. sanctified for the Levites. ‘They sanctified,’ i.e. all Israel (not ‘the singers and the porters’) set apart for the use of those who served God. The word ‘sanctify’ is therefore equivalent to ‘devote’ or dedicate in this connexion: cf. Leviticus 27:14; Leviticus 27:16 sqq. ‘sanctify a house … a field;’ 1 Chronicles 26:27 ‘Out of the spoil won in battles did they dedicate to repair the house of the Lord.’ There is no idea of a succession of ritual acts of consecration.

the children of Aaron] This expression only occurs in our books here and Nehemiah 10:38. In neither passage have we the words of Nehemiah himself but of the Compiler, who was probably also the Chronicler, with whom the term is a favourite one for ‘the priesthood,’ e.g. 2 Chronicles 13:9-10; 2 Chronicles 31:19; 2 Chronicles 35:14.

The sanctifying of Israel for the Levites consisted in the payment of the tithes to the house of Levi; the sanctifying on the part of the Levites for the priests, in the payment of ‘the tithe of the tithes’ (see Nehemiah 10:38) in accordance with Numbers 18:26.Verse 47. - In the days of Zerubbabel, and in the days of Nehemiah. i.e. "In the days of Nehemiah, no less than in those of Zerubbabel." Gave the portions. Paid their tithes, and other dues, regularly, so that the portions were forthcoming. Every day his portion. Compare Nehemiah 11:23. They sanctified holy things unto the Levites. They, i.e. the people, "set apart" for the Levites all that the law required; and the Levites set apart for the priests their due share - "the tithe of the tithe" (Numbers 18:26).

After this insertion of the names of the persons who composed the procession, the description of the route it took is continued. From "upon the wall, towards the dung-gate (Nehemiah 12:31), it passed on" to the fountain-gate; and נגדּם, before them (i.e., going straight forwards; comp. Joshua 6:5, Joshua 6:20; Amos 4:3), they went up by the stairs of the city of David, the ascent of the wall, up over the house of David, even unto the water-gate eastward. These statements are not quite intelligible to us. The stairs of the city of David are undoubtedly "the stairs that lead down from the city of David" (Nehemiah 3:15). These lay on the eastern slope of Zion, above the fountain-gate and the Pool of Siloam. לחומה המּעלה might be literally translated "the ascent to the wall," as by Bertheau, who takes the sense as follows: (The procession) went up upon the wall by the ascent formed by these steps at the northern part of the eastern side of Zion. According to this, the procession would have left the wall by the stairs at the eastern declivity of Zion, to go up upon the wall again by this ascent. There is, however, no reason for this leaving of the wall, and that which Bertheau adduces is connected with his erroneous transposition of the fountain-gate to the place of the present dung-gate. לחומה המּעלה seems to be the part of the wall which, according to Nehemiah 3:19, lay opposite the המּקצוע הנּשׁק עלת, a place on the eastern edge of Zion, where the wall was carried over an elevation of the ground, and where consequently was an ascent in the wall. Certainly this cannot be insisted upon, because the further statement דויד לבית מעל is obscure, the preposition ל מעל admitting of various interpretations, and the situation of the house of David being uncertain. Bertheau, indeed, says: "ועד in the following words corresponds with מעל before דויד לבית: a wall over the house of David is not intended; and the meaning is rather, that after they were come as far as the wall, they then passed over the house of David, i.e., the place called the house of David, even to the water-gate." But the separation of מעל from דויד לבית is decidedly incorrect, ל מעל being in the preceding and following passages always used in combination, and forming one idea: comp. Nehemiah 12:31 (twice) and Nehemiah 12:38 and Nehemiah 12:39. Hence it could scarcely be taken here in Nehemiah 12:37 in a different sense from that which it has in Nehemiah 12:31 and Nehemiah 12:38. Not less objectionable is the notion that the house of David is here put for a place called the house of David, on which a palace of David formerly stood, and where perhaps the remains of an ancient royal building might still have been in existence. By the house of David is meant, either the royal palace built (according to Thenius) by Solomon at the north-eastern corner of Zion, opposite the temple, or some other building of David, situate south of this palace, on the east side of Zion. The former view is more probable than the latter. We translate לבית ד מעל, past the house of David. For, though לחומה מעל must undoubtedly be so understood as to express that the procession went upon the wall (which must be conceived of as tolerably broad), yet למגדּל מעל, Nehemiah 12:38, can scarcely mean that the procession also went up over the tower which stood near the wall. In the case of the gates, too, ל מעל cannot mean over upon; for it is inconceivable that this solemn procession should have gone over the roof of the gates; and we conclude, on the contrary, that it passed beside the gates and towers. Whether the route taken by the procession from the house of David to the water-gate in the east were straight over the ridge of Ophel, which ran from about the horse-gate to the water-gate, or upon the wall round Ophel, cannot be determined, the description being incomplete. After the house of David, no further information as to its course is given; its halting-place, the water-gate, being alone mentioned.

The route taken by the second company is more particularly described. - Nehemiah 12:38 and Nehemiah 12:39. "And the second company of them that gave thanks, which went over against, and which I and the (other) half of the people followed, (went) upon the wall past the tower of the furnaces, as far as the broad wall; and past the gate of Ephraim, and past the gate of the old (wall), and past the fish-gate, and past the tower Hananeel and the tower Hammeah, even to the sheep-gate: and then took up its station at the prison-gate." למואל (in the form with א only here; elsewhere מול, Deuteronomy 1:1, or מוּל), over against, opposite, sc. the first procession, therefore towards the opposite side, i.e., to the left; the first having gone to the right, viz., from the valley-gate northwards upon the northern wall. וגו אחריה ואני (and I behind them) is a circumstantial clause, which we may take relatively. The order of the towers, the lengths of wall, and the gates, exactly answer to the description in Nehemiah 3:1-12, with these differences: - a. The description proceeds from the sheep-gate in the east to the valley-gate in the west; while the procession moved in the opposite direction, viz., from the valley-gate to the sheep-gate. b. In the description of the building of the wall, Nehemiah 3, the gate of Ephraim is omitted (see rem. on Nehemiah 3:8). c. In the description, the prison-gate at which the procession halted is also unmentioned, undoubtedly for the same reason as that the gate of Ephraim is omitted, viz., that not having been destroyed, there was no need to rebuild it. המּטּרה שׁער is translated, gate of the prison or watch: its position is disputed; but it can scarcely be doubted that המּטּרה is the court of the prison mentioned Nehemiah 3:25 (המּטּרה חצר), by or near the king's house. Starting from the assumption that the two companies halted or took up positions opposite each other, Hupfeld (in his before-cited work, p. 321) transposes both the court of the prison and the king's house to the north of the temple area, where the citadel. בּירה, βᾶρις, was subsequently situated. But "this being forbidden," as Arnold objects (in his before-cited work, p. 628), "by the order in the description of the building of the wall, Nehemiah 3:25, which brings us absolutely to the southern side," Bertheau supposes that the two processions which would arrive at the same moment at the temple, - the one from the north-east, the other from the south-east, - here passed each other, and afterwards halted opposite each other in such wise, that the procession advancing from the south-west stood on the northern side, and that from the north-west at the southern side of the temple area. This notion, however, having not the slightest support from the text, nor any reason appearing why the one procession should pass the other, it must be regarded as a mere expedient. In Nehemiah 12:40 it is merely said, the two companies stood in the house of God; and not even that they stood opposite each other, the one on the north, the other on the south side of the temple. Thus they may have stood side by side, and together have praised the Lord. Hence we place the prison-gate also on the south-eastern corner of the temple area, and explain the name from the circumstance that a street ran from this gate over Ophel to the court of the prison near the king's house upon Zion, which, together with the gate to which it led, received its name from the court of the prison. Not far from the prison-gate lay the water-gate in the east, near which was an open space in the direction of the temple area (Nehemiah 8:1). On this open space the two companies met, and took the direction towards the temple, entering the temple area from this open space, that they might offer their thank-offerings before the altar of burnt-offering (Nehemiah 12:43). Besides, the remark upon the position of the two companies (Nehemiah 12:40) anticipates the course of events, the procession following the second company being first described in Nehemiah 12:40-42. At the end of Nehemiah 12:40 the statement of Nehemiah 12:38 - I and the half of the people behind - is again taken up in the words: I and the half of the rulers with me. The סגנים are, as in Nehemiah 12:32, the princes of the congregation, who, with Nehemiah, headed the procession that followed the company of those who gave thanks. Then followed (Nehemiah 12:41) seven priests with trumpets, whose names are given, answering to the sons of the priests with trumpets (Nehemiah 12:36) in the first procession. These names are all met with elsewhere of other persons. These were succeeded, as in Nehemiah 12:36, by eight Levites - eight individuals, and not eight divisions (Bertheau). And the singers gave forth sound, i.e., of voices and instruments, - whether during the circuit or after the two companies had take their places at the temple, is doubtful. The president of the Levitical singers was Jezrahiah.

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