About Jesus Steve Sweetman
This Chapter - Chapter 13
Final Reforms (ch. 13:1 - 30)
Verse 1 opens this chapter with the words "on
that day". In light of
verse 6, most scholars believe that an interval of time has passed since
the last chapter. How
much time, we don't know. Verse
6 tells us that Nehemiah returned to Babylon. You will remember in
chapter 1 that Nehemiah had a leave of absence from his job as cup
bearer to the king. He did
not permanently move to Jerusalem.
"On that day" the Law of Moses
was read, as it had been before.
We note that in verses 2 and 3 that one law that was read was the
law that stated that a Moabite or a Ammonite could not be a part of the
people of God because they hired Balaam to curse Israel. Once the people heard
this, they expelled such people from their midst.
Now this is not the first time they had done such a thing.
This always seems to be a problem with Israel.
The above is pointed out probably because of what
comes next. We see in verses
4 and 5 that Eliashib the priest was a relative of Tobiah.
You will note from earlier chapters that Tobiah was an enemy of Israel, and especially of Nehemiah. He
tried to stop the building of the wall.
Because of this relationship, Eliashib provided space in the
storehouse for Tobiah. This
space was normally used to store the tithes of grain, wince and oils for
the priests, along with other things associated with the temple.
You'll see another reference to such a thing in chapter 6:17 and
18. These mixed marriages
were a constant source of problems to the work of God in
In verse 6 we see that all this took place when
Nehemiah was in
Nehemiah was quite upset with this evil deed so he
asked permission from the king to return to Jerusalem
to fix this problem.
In verse 7 we learn that the storehouse was in the
courts of the temple. It was
on temple grounds. This
would be blasphemous to the Law of Moses.
Verse 8 says that Nehemiah was "greatly
displeased" is probably putting it mildly.
It appears that he was down right angry because he threw Tobiah's
things out of the storeroom. This
was an act of "righteous anger."
In verse 9 Nehemiah gave orders to purify the room
and put back in place the things that should be there.
We note that the presence of a Gentile, and especially an enemy
The presence of Tobiah in the temple wasn't the only
thing Nehemiah was upset about. He
also learned that the Levites and the singers were not being provided
for so they went back to their fields to make a living.
This is in direct contradiction to what
In verse 11 Nehemiah rebuked the leaders of Israel
for neglecting God's house. He
advised those with responsibilities to return to their post.
Returning to their posts suggests a return to the ways of God, a
repentance of sorts.
In verses 12 and 13 we see that Nehemiah put others
in charge of the storeroom. Instead
of one man looking after the storeroom a number of men took over the
job. There is safety in
numbers. This was most
likely a way to bring accountability into the situation.
also began to
tithe and as they were suppose to tithe to refill the storeroom so those
who ministered at the temple could do their jobs.
Verse 14 is a prayer by Nehemiah.
He is asking God to remember him, and not to blot out all that he
has done for the house of God. It
appears that Nehemiah was afraid that God would be so upset with Israel
that what Nehemiah tried to do would no longer count in the sight of
God. But that wasn't the
case. I believe that this
prayer has great historical and prophetic significance.
God will honour Nehemiah's prayer when He pours out a spirit of
repentance on Israel
and they will finally become what they were meant to be.
Another specific thing we saw
In verse 18 Nehemiah reminded the people that the
reason why Israel
was taken captive by Babylon
in the first place was because they failed to keep the Sabbath laws.
Now since they were doing the same as their forefathers, Nehemiah
said that they were "storing up more wrath against Israel" from God.
just never got it together with their God.
In verse 19 we see that Nehemiah ordered the gates of
the city to be shut tight over the next Sabbath day so that no one could
come in and do business. He
went as far to put his own men, those he trusted, at the gates to make
sure they'd stay closed during the Sabbath.
In verses 21 and 22 we see those from outside
The last part of verse 22 is another prayer.
Nehemiah asked God again to remember Him as he did these things.
Nehemiah was very upset. He
was probably more than consume with this anger.
He probably did not feel the love of God within him although he
was acting from the love of God, and he might well have been hoping that
his anger would not get in the way of God's love towards him.
In verses 23 and 24 we see the third of the three
specific things that Israel
agreed to before their God in chapter 10, and that was concerning
intermarriage. They specifically covenanted with God not to wed
themselves to Gentiles, but they did.
It was so bad that the children of these marriages did not even
know how to speak the language of Judah. They spoke the language of
Gentiles. It is very similar
to parts of the church today. Since
church people forsake and neglect Biblical
truth, the children of these people know very little about the
Bible and the ways of God.
We see how angry Nehemiah was, and thus the reason
for his prayer in verse 24. He
was so consumed with anger that he rebuked the people .
He went as far to beat some of the men who had married Gentile
women and pulled their hair out. Nehemiah
was very angry.
Also in verse 25 he made these men take another oath
before God that such practices would end.
Yet as is the case, when people are forced to do something, that
which they are forced to do, won't get done because they aren't willing
in their hearts.
In verse 26 Nehemiah speaks of King Solomon who was
loved by God, but even him, a man so loved by God was overtaken with
Gentile women. This is one
of the major downfalls with men, that is, sexual relations outside of
their marriage with unbelieving women.
The lure of sex is very strong in the heart of men and women. And
now in verse 27 Nehemiah tells the Israeli men that they are doing the
same as Solomon. The
wickedness never ends. They
never learn from the past, and such is the history of mankind.
We never learn from history.
We are too consumed with the present.
We see another example of a mix marriage in verse 28.
Remember Sanballat from earlier chapters?
He was one of the enemies of
God and the building of the wall.
Nehemiah threw a son of a priest out of his presence for marrying
one of Sanballat's daughters. How
be effective over their enemies, when they are married to them.
The church in many respects is married to the world.
could not function as God's people, nor can the church when we are
married to the world.
Verse 29 is yet another prayer from the lips of
Nehemiah, but this time it wasn't for him.
It was for Israel. He asked God to remember
Verses 30 closes the book of Nehemiah.
Nehemiah purified the priesthood from all things foreign, just as
we and the church today needs such purification.
The fourth and last prayer of Nehemiah in this
chapter closes the book. The
first two prayers were for him. The
third was for
This is how Nehemiah closes.
Does the story have a happy ending?
Not right away. A few
years later Malachi the prophet had to rebuke