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The Weakness Of Judah Under Nehemiah

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CHAPTER 10 Nov.22 
The People Make a Covenant
Now those who sealed were: Nehemiah the governor, the son of Hacaliah, and Zedekiah, 2Seraiah, Azariah, Jeremiah, 3Pashhur, Amariah, Malchijah, 4Hattush, Shebaniah, Malluch, 5Harim, Meremoth, Obadiah, 6Daniel, Ginnethon, Baruch, 7Meshullam, Abijah, Mijamin, 8Maaziah, Bilgai, Shemaiah; these were the priests. 9The Levites: namely, Jeshua the son of Azaniah, Binnui of the sons of Henadad, Kadmiel; 10and their brothers, Shebaniah, Hodiah, Kelita, Pelaiah, Hanan, 11Mica, Rehob, Hashabiah, 12Zaccur, Sherebiah, Shebaniah, 13Hodiah, Bani, Beninu. 14The chiefs of the people: Parosh, Pahathmoab, Elam, Zattu, Bani, 15Bunni, Azgad, Bebai, 16Adonijah, Bigvai, Adin, 17Ater, Hezekiah, Azzur, 18Hodiah, Hashum, Bezai, 19Hariph, Anathoth, Nobai, 20Magpiash, Meshullam, Hezir, 21Meshezabel, Zadok, Jaddua, 22Pelatiah, Hanan, Anaiah, 23Hoshea, Hananiah, Hasshub, 24Hallohesh, Pilha, Shobek, 25Rehum, Hashabnah, Maaseiah, 26Ahiah, Hanan, Anan, 27Malluch, Harim and Baanah. 28The rest of the people, the priests, the Levites, the porters, the singers, the Nethinim, and all those who had separated themselves from the peoples of the lands unto the law of God, their wives, their sons, and their daughters, each one who had knowledge, and understanding— 29they joined with their brothers, their nobles, and entered into a curse, and into an oath, to walk in God’s law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of Yahweh our Lord, and His ordinances and His statutes; 30and that we would not give our daughters to the peoples of the land, nor take their daughters for our sons; 31and if the peoples of the land bring wares or any grain on the Sabbath day to sell, that we would not buy of them on the Sabbath, or on a holy day; and that we would forego the seventh year, and the exaction of every debt. 
Various Offerings for the House of God
32Also we made ordinances for ourselves, to charge ourselves yearly with the third part of a shekel for the service of the house of our God; 33for the show bread, and for the continual meal offering, and for the continual burnt offering, for the Sabbaths, for the new moons, for the set feasts, and for the holy things, and for the sin offerings to make atonement for Israel, and for all the work of the house of our God.  34We cast lots, the priests, the Levites, and the people, for the wood offering, to bring it into the house of our God, according to our fathers’ houses, at times appointed, year by year, to burn on the altar of Yahweh our God, as it is written in the law; 35and to bring the first fruits of our ground, and the first fruits of all fruit of all kinds of trees, year by year, to the house of Yahweh; 36also the first born of our sons, and of our livestock, as it is written in the law, and the first born of our herds and of our flocks, to bring to the house of our God, to the priests who minister in the house of our God; 37and that we should bring the first fruits of our dough, and our wave offerings, and the fruit of all kinds of trees, the new wine and the oil, to the priests, to the rooms of the house of our God; and the tithes of our ground to the Levites; for they, the Levites, take the tithes in all the cities of our tillage. 38The priest the son of Aaron shall be with the Levites, when the Levites take tithes; and the Levites shall bring up the tithe of the tithes to the house of our God, to the rooms, into the treasure house. 39For the children of Israel and the children of Levi shall bring the wave offering of the grain, of the new wine, and of the oil, to the rooms, where are the vessels of the sanctuary, and the priests who minister, and the porters, and the singers. We will not forsake the house of our God.


10:28,29 The people “separated themselves from the peoples of the lands unto the law of God, their wives, their sons, and their daughters… they joined with their brothers”. Close fellowship with our brethren arises from having gone out from the surrounding world and being separated unto the things of God’s word. The Hebrew idea of “holiness” carries the idea of being separated from the things of this world unto the things of God. We see that happening here; separation isn’t a merely negative idea. The separation is positively untoother things.
Each one who had knowledge, and understanding- See on  8:12.
10:32,33 The Mosaic Law had required a half shekel temple tax, but this was reduced here, apparently with God’s blessing- such was His desire to work with them and have them as His people (Ex. 30:11-16). 
10:39 They divorced their Gentile wives, and then took more (in the times of Ezra, Nehemiah and Malachi). They vowed not to forsake the house of their God, and yet Nehemiah concludes with the record that this is exactly what they did (13:11). They were slack paying the tithes, then they paid them, they slacked again, then they paid them, then Malachi records how they again didn’t- several times this cycle is recorded. Likewise the withholding of agricultural blessing occurred several times- in 5:2,3 (as prophesied in Is. 51:19), in Haggai’s time, and later in Malachi 3:10,12; when the restored Zion could have been as the garden of Eden, i.e. paradise restored on earth (Is. 51:3). Here we see frightening similarities with ourselves. We know, but often don’t do. We sense this cycle of failure, crying out for mercy, receiving it, failing again, crying for mercy, receiving it, failing again...we see it in Israel, in our brethren and those around us, and in ourselves. We can expound it, lament it, feel the shame and tragedy of it all...and yet continue to have a part in it. Eventually, the people stayed in this groove so long that they degenerated into how they were at the time of Malachi- self-righteous, with no sense of failure any more, living self-centred lives of petty materialism, earning wages as they did in Haggai’s time, to put into pockets with holes in, life without satisfaction, achieving nothing, passively angry. This is what Malachi clearly portrays. It’s a terrible picture, and one which we at times can sail dangerously close to identifying with.