2 Esdras xiii.
Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. That day, is often used for an indefinite time. (Haydock) — It is not probable that all this happened when the walls were dedicated. After that event, Nehemias rather went to court, and remained there about ten years. During his absence, many abuses crept in, which he endeavoured to remedy, (ver. 7.) perhaps on the solemn day of tabernacles, when the law had been read. — Ever, (Deuteronomy xxiii. 3.) so as to marry. (Calmet)
Ver. 3. Stranger. Hebrew hereb, “mixture,” (Haydock) infidel women and their offspring.
Ver. 4. Over this thing, &c. Or, he was faulty in this thing, or in this kind. (Challoner) — He was the source of all this evil. Hebrew, “and before this Eliasib,” &c. It is probable that he was a different person from the high priest, (Usher) who had married his grandson to the daughter of Sanaballat, the intimate friend of Tobias. (Calmet) — The latter was a persecutor, and prefigured heretics, as Nehemias did our Saviour, who drove traffickers out of the temple. (Ven. Bede in Esdras, L. iii. 19.) (Worthington)
Ver. 5. He. Eliasib, or Tobias. The original is also ambiguous. Eliasib probably permitted Tobias to furnish himself apartments in the temple, where, by law, he was not allowed to enter. Hence the priests, being deprived of their support, were forced to retire. (Calmet) — Tobias rented the apartments, and was steward of the priests’ revenues. (Tirinus)
Ver. 6. Days. Prefixed (chap. ii. 6.) I asked. Hebrew, “was required to attend by the king,” for about ten years. After which period, I returned and found such disorders. Some believe that Nehemias had been at Babylon, a long while before the 32d year of the king.
Ver. 8. And I. Nehemias acted as governor, and performed the duty which the high priest neglected. (Calmet)
Ver. 9. Storehouses, which had been profaned by the presence of a pagan. (Menochius) — Sacrifice. Hebrew mincha, “offerings of flour, fruits, and liquors,” which were kept in the storehouses, as well as frankincense. Eliasib had caused these things to be removed, to make place for Tobias. (Calmet)
Ver. 10. Country. Hebrew, “field,” that he might cultivate it, (Haydock) and get food. (Menochius)
Ver. 11. Pleaded. Accusing them of treachery, in not opposing the wicked attempt. — Have we. He placed himself in the number of the guilty, in order to soften the reproach. (Septuagint, &c.) (Calmet) — “Why is the house of God forsaken?” (Protestants)
Ver. 14. And his. Hebrew, “its offices,” and for the good of the sacred ministers. (Haydock)
Ver. 15. Treading. Syriac and Arabic, “travelling.”
Ver. 16. Tyrians. Who had established themselves there, for the sake of commerce, though the chosen people ought to have kept them at a great distance, for fear of seduction. (Calmet)
Ver. 18. Fathers. Though warned by Jeremias, xvii. 21. (Menochius)
Ver. 19. At rest. People travelling no longer. (Calmet) — Hebrew, “shaded, or in the dark.” Before Friday night on, the sabbath commenced, and then the gates were shut. (Haydock) — On the. Hebrew, “before the sabbath.” (Menochius)
Ver. 21. On you. To punish you, (Calmet) for thus endeavouring to tempt the people. (Haydock)
Ver. 22. Gates. The Levites would more conscientiously discharge their duty, (Menochius) and restrain the people, so that they might keep the day holy. (Haydock)
Ver. 23. Azotus. In the country of the Philistines.
Ver. 24. Half. In the same family, some spoke the Philistine (Vatable) or Phenician language: others the Hebrew; which, though it resembled the other very much, was still sufficiently distinct to be noticed. The children might also speak a jargon, composed of both languages. It is probable that, at this time, many of the common people spoke the Chaldean language, so that it was necessary to interpret pure Hebrew to them, chap. viii. 8.
Ver. 25. Curse, or excommunicated them, (Calmet) the guilty parents. (Haydock) — Shaved. Hebrew and Septuagint, “plucked off their hair,” by the roots, for greater torment. Sometimes quicklime was then sprinkled on the head, (Calmet) as adulterers were treated at Athens. Schol. Aristoph.[Aristophanes?] — King Artaxerxes changed this punishment, and ordered that his officers should be forbidden to wear the tiara instead. Domitian caused the hair and beard of Apollonius to be shaven. (Philost. iii. 14.) (Calmet) — That they. Hebrew, “Ye shall not,” &c.
Ver. 27. Also be. Hebrew, “hearken unto you;” (Protestants; Haydock) or “Have ye not heard the evils which fell upon our fathers (Calmet) for doing all?” &c. (Haydock)
Ver. 28. One. Manasses, brother of Jaddus. (Josephus, [Antiquities?] xi. 8.) — Sanaballet, noted for his enmity towards the Jews, chap. vi. 1. He obtained leave of Alexander to build the famous temple on Garizim, for his son-in-law. He must have been 150 yeas old when Alexander laid siege to Tyre, the year of the world 3672. Esdras and Nehemias were noted for their great age. Yet some would suppose that there were two of the name of Sanaballet; and Josephus says that the one in question was appointed governor of Samaria by Darius, the last king of the Persians. This opinion is adopted by Usher, the year of the world 3972. (Tirinus, &c.) — But there is still a difficulty to know whether it be necessary. (Calmet) — From me. In revenge he set up an opposition altar. (Haydock) — He had contracted a marriage, which was unlawful for all, and entailed degradation upon priests.
Ver. 31. Wood. Conformably to the regulations mentioned, chap. x. 34. (Calmet) — Good. A just man may confidently beg for a reward. (Worthington) — Amen, is not found in Hebrew, &c. The Holy Spirit records the praises of Nehemias, Ecclesiasticus xlix. 15. His political and moral virtues must ever assign him an exalted rank among the true Israelites. Like Jesus Christ, he rebuilt Jerusalem, reformed the nation, was the mediator of a new covenant, defended the rights of the priesthood and of all the people. (Calmet)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Divers abuses are reformed.
1 And* on that day they read in the book of Moses, in the hearing of the people: and therein was found written, that the Ammonites and the Moabites should not come into the church of God for ever:
2 Because they met not the children of Israel with bread and water: and they hired against them Balaam, to curse them: and our God turned the curse into blessing.
3 And it came to pass, when they had heard the law, that they separated every stranger from Israel.
4 And over this thing was Eliasib, the priest, who was set over the treasury of the house of our God, and was near akin to Tobias.
5 And he made him a great store-room, where before him they laid up gifts, and frankincense, and vessels, and the tithes of the corn, of the wine, and of the oil, the portions of the Levites, and of the singing men, and of the porters, and the first-fruits of the priests.
6 But in all this time I was not in Jerusalem, because in the two and thirtieth year* of Artaxerxes, king of Babylon, I went to the king, and after certain days I asked the king:
7 And I came to Jerusalem, and I understood the evil that Eliasib had done for Tobias, to make him a storehouse in the courts of the house of God.
8 And it seemed to me exceedingly evil. And I cast forth the vessels of the house of Tobias out of the storehouse.
9 And I commanded, and they cleansed the storehouses: and I brought thither again the vessels of the house of God, the sacrifice, and the frankincense.
10 And I perceived that the portions of the Levites had not been given them: and that the Levites, and the singing men, and they that ministered, were fled away, every man to his own country.
11 And I pleaded the matter against the magistrates, and said: Why have we forsaken the house of God? And I gathered them together, and I made them to stand in their places.
12 And all Juda brought the tithe of the corn, and the wine, and the oil, into the storehouses.
13 And we set over the storehouses Selemias, the priest, and Sadoc, the scribe, and of the Levites, Phadaia, and next to them Hanan, the son of Zachur, the son of Mathania: for they were approved as faithful, and to them were committed the portions of their brethren.
14 Remember me, O my God, for this thing, and wipe not out my kindnesses, which I have done relating to the house of my God, and his ceremonies.
15 In those days I saw in Juda some treading the presses on the sabbath, and carrying sheaves, and lading asses with wine, and grapes, and figs, and all manner of burthens, and bringing them into Jerusalem on the sabbath-day. And I charged them that they should sell on a day on which it was lawful to sell.
16 Some Tyrians also dwelt there, who brought fish, and all manner of wares: and they sold them on the sabbaths to the children of Juda in Jerusalem.
17 And I rebuked the chief men of Juda, and said to them: What is this evil thing that you are doing, profaning the sabbath-day?
18 Did not our fathers do these things, and our God brought all this evil upon us, and upon this city? And you bring more wrath upon Israel by violating the sabbath.
19 And it came to pass, that when the gates of Jerusalem were at rest on the sabbath-day, I spoke: and they shut the gates, and I commanded that they should not open them till after the sabbath: and I set some of my servants at the gates, that none should bring in burthens on the sabbath-day.
20 So the merchants, and they that sold all kind of wares, stayed without Jerusalem once or twice.
21 And I charged them, and I said to them: Why stay you before the wall? if you do so another time, I will lay hands on you. And from that time they came no more on the sabbath.
22 I spoke also to the Levites, that they should be purified, and should come to keep the gates, and to sanctify the sabbath-day: for this, also, remember me, O my God, and spare me according to the multitude of thy tender mercies.
23 In those days, also, I saw Jews that married wives, women of Azotus, and of Ammon, and of Moab.
24 And their children spoke half in the speech of Azotus, and could not speak the Jews’ language, but they spoke according to the language of this and that people.
25 And I chid them, and laid my curse upon them. And I beat some of them, and shaved off their hair, and made them swear by God that they would not give their daughters to their sons, nor take their daughters for their sons, nor for themselves, saying:
26 *Did not Solomon, king of Israel, sin in this kind of thing? and surely among many nations, there was not a king like him, and he was beloved of his God, and God made him king over all Israel:** and yet women of other countries brought even him to sin.
27 And shall we also be disobedient, and do all this great evil, to transgress against our God, and marry strange women?
28 And one of the sons of Joiada, the son of Eliasib, the high priest, was son-in-law to Sanaballet, the Horonite, and I drove him from me.
29 Remember them, O Lord my God, that defile the priesthood, and the law of priests and Levites.
30 So I separated from them all strangers, and I appointed the courses of the priests and the Levites, every man in his ministry:
31 And for the offering of wood at times appointed, and for the first-fruits: remember me, O my God, unto good. Amen.
1: Deuteronomy xxiii. 3.
6: Year of the World 3562, Year before Christ 442.
26: 3 Kings iii. 1. — ** 3 Kings xi. 4.