Nehemiah Chapter 13
"Internal Disorders Overcome"
Bible Study is written by Roger Christopherson, and it's
Nehemiah had to return to Babylon, and it cannot be determined just how long that he was gone, but it is important to note that when a leader, a man of God, is gone from his people then strange things happen. The true man of God will spot the trouble when it starts to rise. So this chapter gives a view of what happened while Nehemiah was away. It is important that we apply this lesson to ourselves today, and note the things that we should be careful of.
Nehemiah 13:1 "On that day they read in the book of Moses in the audience of the People; and therein was found written, that the Ammonite and the Moabite should not come into the congregation of God for ever;"
This is written in Deuteronomy 23:3-6, it is not a discovery of something new, but it came forth in the course of the public reading. This applied only to the men of these nations, to protect the women of Israel.
Nehemiah 13:2 "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 God turned the curse into a blessing."
God can always turn a curse into a blessing. Balaam was a priest for hire, his messages were designed by who ever paid his hire. His words were twisted with half truths to make the listener believe the false message. The reason for his preaching was to make money.
Nehemiah 13:3 "Now it came to pass, when they had heard the law, that they separated from Israel all the mixed multitude."
The "mixed multitude" is always a snare to God's people, as Moses called attention to in Numbers 11:4. Remember that the people that intermingled with the people of the House of Judah, were these Kenite Nethinims, they were the offspring of Satan through Cain that God warned against and forbid the mixing with. These Nethinims were now holding key positions in the Temple, and the number of them was just over forty percent.
Nehemiah 13:4 "And before this, Eliashib the priest, having the oversight of the chamber of the house of our God, was allied unto Tobiah:"
Remember that decree, or covenant that all the princes, Levites, and priests signed back in Nehemiah 9:38? Well there was one priest that did not sign that covenant, and he was Eliashib the priest. In chapter three, he was one of the ones that worked on the sheep gate, the place where the sheep were brought into the city for sacrifice.
Now another thing to keep in mind; this Tobiah was the very one who was making the plans to kill Nehemiah, and stop the building of the walls and Temple, and now we see the connection that he had within the city of Jerusalem. Tobiah was the liar that wrote the letters to the king of Babylon that caused so many problems to the Israelites while they were building the wall. Tobiah was an enemy of God, and His people.
Here the priest that was in charge of the chamber of the house of our God, was allied with him. What is the chamber that is spoken of here?
The chamber is the area where all the things that are given in the sacrifice to God are kept. And now we see that the enemy [Tobiah] has a special friend in the control of what is precious to God. We see in the New Testament that Judas, the traitor to Christ was in charge of the money bag; and here Eliashib who was in charge of the things offered to God [the sacrificial money bag], where all the money and wealth is kept.
This could be applied to all generations, especially in these final days. We must be careful as to who is in charge. When the words come forth out of their mouths, does it conform to what the Bible says.
Remember that these times of Nehemiah and Ezra were at the close of times of the Old Testament, and it would be in about four hundred years that Jesus would be born.
Nehemiah 13:5 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."
What is important to note here is the statement, "which was commanded to be given to the Levites". The Levites are the ones that God told Moses, would be the tribe that would be in charge of the house of God. This was their livelihood. This tithe, which was the goods and money in the storehouse, was basically, the government. The government that had full control over the people, from the religious and sacrificial duties, to the health and well being of the people, including the protection of the area.
It was used to feed the widows and orphans, as well as the priests, the singers, or those doing the work within the Temple, and the porters, or the ones with duties outside the Temple. The porters kept watch at the gate, as well as the logistical duties of the city. So we see that Eliashib had virtually turned over to the enemy, what was given to him for the well being of the Temple workers and the people of need.
Nehemiah 13:6 "But in all this time was not I at Jerusalem: for in the two and thirtieth year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon came I unto the king, and after certain days obtained I leave of the king:"
Nehemiah is telling us that we should not put the blame for this on him because, "as this was happening, I was in Babylon." The prior king of Babylon had cared a great deal for Nehemiah, his cupbearer, and the present king wanted to see his friend. This is pointed out in chapter two. Nehemiah was trusted by the king, even to the point of giving Nehemiah a letter for unlimited supplies in the building of the wall.
This record recorded here must have been written after both the dedication of the Temple [405 B.C.] and the Wall [403 B.C.]. The thirty second year is that of the king's age, and not of his age, for he only succeeded Cambyses in 411 B.C. It was in the twentieth year (5:14) which was 419 B.C., upon the death of king Cyrus, that Nehemiah was "appointed" to be the governor of the land of Judah.
It was while Nehemiah was in Babylon, before the king that he received a report form his deputy, (probably Hanani still) as to the Temple progress, and doubtless of the Eliashib-Tobiah scandal. Nehemiah then determined to go to Jerusalem himself, and straighten out the matter, and he obtained his leave of absence from the king with some apparent difficulty (13:6).
This probably was not a very long period of time, but the one priest that he left in charge of the tithe (Eliashib) turned against God.
Nehemiah 13:7 "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 God."
While Nehemiah was away Eliashib took the very chamber that stored the items given to God, and turned them over to Tobiah. Eliashib appointed and committed the entire chamber and all the things within it to the very enemy of God, Tobiah. How in the world could a thing like this happen.
Have you seen good old gospel preaching churches turn into "houses of nothingness" [Beth-avem] overnight. This is what happened here. With Nehemiah gone, this priest, in charge of this chamber of the tithe, turns the things of God over to the enemy. You may say, How could this happen? Eliashib's family had married into the family of Tobiah, and anytime a family of God marries into a family of a strange god, you have trouble.
So we see that the very enemy of God, is now not only in the very chamber, but in the control of the tithe of God. The Israelites pleaded with God to be released from the bondage of Babylon, and now they have sat back, and allowed the enemy to come in and take control again. The enemy is taking the tithe. The tithe that the people give to God, is diverted to the service of the enemy of God. Friend, apply this to us today. Just what is being done with God's tithe today, or don't you care.
When we come out of the bondage of the devil, and into the freedom of Christ, when we become Christians, we must watch out that we do not enter right back into another form of bondage. There are many churches that would like to put you right back in into their bondage, if you will allow them to.
Nehemiah 13:8 "And it grieved me sore: therefore I cast forth all the household stuff of Tobiah out of the chamber."
Nehemiah saw that what was given to God, was now being diverted to the enemy, Tobiah, and this grieved him, and made him angry. Tobiah at first did not want the city to be built, and now that it has, he has taken control of the the very heart of the city, and it's people.
The things of God were given to the very enemy of God, and right within the house of God, this is what upset Nehemiah, and he did something about it, he cleaned house and threw the rascals out of the chamber.
Nehemiah 13:9 "Then I commanded and they cleansed the chambers: and thither brought I again the vessels of the house of God, with the meat offering and the frankinsense."
When you throw out the trash, you clean the house before you bring the good things back in. Today in most churches, they would have appointed a committee and researched the matter first. Friend, that is not God's way. Jesus did just as Nehemiah had done here, and that is to throw out the wicked, and all the sinful things with them, then set the house in order.
Christians seem to forget the operations of our Fathers house, when it comes to this point, and in the spiritual sense, when you see something taught that you know is not of God, such as promoting Sodomy, or abortion, or any such activity that God speaks against in His word, it is time to take an action. If you do not, then you are turning yourself over to the enemy. Do you ask Satan kindly to leave your life? Definitely not, you order him out of your life by the authority that Christ has given you, through the power of His name, and the backing of the Holy Spirit.
To become pious with Satan and ask him kindly to leave, he would laugh in you face; but in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, you order Satan and his evil spirits out of you life and home, with the power of the Father through the Son. Never argue with Satan, never plead with him and never beg, for in doing so you will lose. Jesus has told us to "love our enemies", and part of that love is stern correction.
Though Eliashib presented himself to the people, as the spiritual leader, he became the enemy when he started dealing with Tobiah, and at that moment he should be dealt with in the same manner as they dealt with Tobiah. True children of God have a backbone to make a stand when the times call for it.
Nehemiah 13:10 "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."
Now after Nehemiah and priests that supported him, had cleaned out the Temple chambers of all the filth that Tobia and Eliashib had in store, Nehemiah took account of the people that were to receive their income from the tithe. They had done the work of the Temple, and the matters and duties within the city, and they were entitled to their keep. That is the purpose of the tithe. However, these Levites, singers, porters and so on have left their duties to go earn a living elsewhere, because the tithe intended for them have been diverted to Tobiah's needs.
The corn, meal, oil, meats, and so on, was withheld from the ones that earned it, and now they had to go and farm their own portions of land to be able to eat. The things that were given to God in the tithe, were now given out as a business.
Nehemiah 13:11 "Then contended I with the rulers, and said, "Why is the house of God forsaken?" And I gathered them together, and set them in their place."
After Nehemiah had cleaned house and thrown the bums out, he called a meeting of those elders that were suppose to be the watch dogs of the Temple. I have a feeling that this was a time that those present would never forget. Nehemiah "set them in their place".
The word of God is reality, it is not a religious form to play around with. God has His set ways and times that will be followed, or what ever you, or they do is in vain. It will become unacceptable in the eyes of God. If you want God's blessings you do things God's way. Nehemiah let them know what they had allowed to happen in the Temple, and what had to be done with the tithe that had turned to filth. Nehemiah set the course for what now had to be done.
Nehemiah called them down face to face for their sitting back and allowing this strange alliance to come up and grow in their congregation. They saw what was going on, and they did nothing about it. This allowed the (right reverend, in modern terms) Eliashib to take their tithe, and cast it before their enemies, and allow those that God had appointed to receive their portions, to starve. If God's word and truth is injured in some way, then a true man or woman of God will not tolerate it, and will speak out. They will do as Nemehiah did, and set the people in their place.
"Setting people in their place" when they are men of God, and acting in a manner against God's word, is righteous indignation. The world simply does not understand it. Most Christians and Jews today think you should not speak loud and harshly to the people of the world, however, we are to speak in whatever manner it takes to communicate, and make them understand. These dear brothers of Nehemiah were put in their place.
Nehemiah 13:12 "Then brought all Judah the tithe of the corn and the new wine and the oil unto the treasuries."
This was the time to restock the corn, new wine, oil and so on, for the old tithe was not given to God, but to the enemy, and by the people allowing such a thing to happen as they saw it, it was not God's, but the enemy's [Satan's].
Nehemiah 13:13 "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."
Nehemiah saw that giving the tithe over to one man could corrupt him, in his authority. Nehemiah now has set up an auditing committee within the Temple, that this would not happen again. Notice the three levels or areas that were present on this auditing committee. The priest was there to make sure it was handled in the manner that was in accordance with God's Word. The scribe was on the oversight committee to make sure that the figures tallied as they were suppose to; and the Levite was placed there to make sure that those who received from the tithe were entitled to receive their just portion.
These were all men that were trusted men and women of the community, with good report in all areas of their life, and could be trusted to make the payments, and supply the needs where it was intended to go. This is to make sure that there would be no hoarding and storing to accumulate a great wealth, to tempt those in charge with worldly powers, but that the tithe would be used in accordance to God's Word.
Nehemiah 13:14 "Remember me, O my God, concerning this, and wipe not out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God, and for the offices thereof."
Nehemiah was a good and honest man. He had prayed for, and was granted by God for the right to rebuild the city walls and streets of God's holy city Jerusalem. God had answered his prayers and set the king's mind in support of Nehemiah construction project, and the king even paid the bills for this project.
Any time you are in a position of leadership, the method of operation, and the manner that you set out to perform it, falls upon your shoulders. Even the security of the house of God, or Temple is yours, however when you deal with people that live in this world, temptations become great. Notice in this prayer that Nehemiah didn't say it wasn't his fault, or dodge his responsibility for what had happened. But Nehemiah asked God that in His forgiving mercies, he hoped that God would remember the good deeds that he had done for the house of God.
This is a prayer, and Nehemiah is honest before God. God knows our every thought even before we think it, and this is why we are to be truthful in all of our prayers. God created our bodies, and He knows us well.
Nehemiah 13:15 "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 testifies against them in the day wherein they sold victuals."
Nehemiah 13:16 "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."
These "men of Tyre" are Kenite traders. Do you see the state of mind that the men of Judah had fallen to. They had departed from respecting the sabbath, and the sabbath had become just another day of business. All lines of production was going strong, the millers, the wineries, the transportation and the merchants and traders were all doing their business on the Sabbath. The children of Judah, and the city of Jerusalem had become just another worldly city.
Nehemiah 13:17 "Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said unto them, What evil thing is this that ye do, and profane the sabbath day?"
Nehemiah didn't go to the common man to place the blame, but Nehemiah went to the men and women at the top.
Nehemiah 13:18 "Did not your fathers thus, and did not our God bring all this evil upon us, and upon this city? yet ye bring more wrath upon Israel by profaning the sabbath."
Nehemiah found the entire community in a sad state of affairs, on his return from Babylon. Nehemiah was a man of God, that was serving God in all that he did; and keep in mind that his duty to God remained even while he was serving the king of Babylon. While in Babylon. Nehemiah never lost his respectability regardless where he was, or what he was doing.
Nehemiah 13:19 "And it came to pass, that when the gates of Jerusalem began to be dark before the Sabbath, I commanded that the gates should be shut, and charged that they should not be opened till after the Sabbath: and some of my servants set I at the gates, that there should no burden be brought in on the Sabbath day."
Nehemiah was a true man of God; he armed his trusted men, and shut the gates and gave his men strict orders that the gates would not be opened on the Sabbath.
Nehemiah 13:20 "So the merchants and sellers of all kind of ware lodged without Jerusalem once or twice."
These Kenite merchants and sellers hung around out side the gate, and tempted the people of Jerusalem to come out and deal with them. They probably even had their special sales on the Sabbath.
Nehemiah 13:21 "Then I testified against them, and said unto them, "Why lodge ye about the wall? if ye do so again, I will lay hands on you." From that time forth came they no more on the Sabbath."
Friend, if you think that Nehemiah was going to lay hands on them and pray that they would go away, your wrong. Nehemiah let it be known in his righteous indignation that he was coming out of the gate to physically do great bodily harm to them, if they didn't scram. I'm sure with the armed guards by his side they more then got the message. Nehemiah was not like the pack of jelly-fish we call preachers today.
How about us today, and the Sabbath? In Hebrews 4 that Christ became our Sabbath, our rest. We had better be in him every day, not just one day of the week.
Nehemiah 13:22 "And I commanded the Levites that they should cleanse themselves, and that they should come and keep the gates, to sanctify the Sabbath day. Remember me, O my God, concerning this also, and spare me according to the greatness of Thy mercy."
Nehemiah didn't stop with the purifying of the Temple, and setting up a form of safe keeping tof the tithe, but he established the Levites in control of the gates of the city, and set the methods in action that the Sabbath would not be broken again, even in his absence.
We are living in the time of the final generation. The Jews have returned to Jerusalem, and the the one world system spoken of in Revelation 12 [the political beast] has the entire world paying respects to it. It's "Mother of Harlots, the World Council of Churches" is in place, and the Babylon, or confusion of the end times ensnares the entire earth. Friend we are in Babylon today, just as Nehemiah was in Babylon when the Temple and city of Jerusalem fell apart. Nehemiah was even Governor under the King of Babylon, yet he was true to God.
Friend, you cannot escape being in the Babylon of the end times, but God has given us the guide for our times, just as Nehemiah and Ezra's guide was the book of the Law of Moses, and that guide is our Bible. There will be nothing happen in our generation that He has not warned us about first, and just because the Kenite [serpents] are in charge, we are to be wiser then the serpent.
Though we are in the Babylon of the end times, we are not to be in bondage to that Babylon. The only way we can be free is by reading and studying God's word, and through the help of gifted teachers, know the signs of the times that you are in.
Nehemiah 13:23 "In those days also saw I Jews that had married wives of Ashdod, of Ammon, and of Moab:"
Nehemiah 13:24 "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."
Nehemiah 13:25 "And I contended with them, and cursed them, and smote certain of them, and plucked off their hair, and made them swear by God, saying, "Ye shall not give your daughters unto their sons, nor take their daughters unto your sons, or for yourselves."
Nehemiah 13:26 "Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? yet among many nations was there no king like him, who was beloved of his God, and God made him king over all Israel: nevertheless even him did outlandish women cause to sin."
Sharpen up now, this is where the Nethinim [Kenites] first mixed into the Israelites.
Nehemiah 13:27 "Shall we then hearken unto you to do all this great evil, to transgress against our God in marrying strange wives?"
Nehemiah 13:28 "And one of the sons of Joiada, the son of Eliashib the high priest, was son in law to Sanballat the Horonite: therefore I chased him form me."
Nehemiah 13:29 "Remember them, O my God, because they have defiled the priesthood, and the covenant of the priesthood, and of the Levites."
Nehemiah 13:30 "Thus cleansed I them from all strangers, and appointed the wards of the priests and Levites, every one in his business;"
Nehemiah 13:31 "And for the wood offering, at times appointed, and for the firstfruits. Remember me, O my God, for good."
Any sin committed in ignorance is no sin, however once brought to understanding, we are to repent for all sin and turn from that sin. Many times the word offends you, but it is you that must change, not the word of God.
Religions of the world, such as Mars hill where they worship every god in the world, are dangerous, for they are giving its followers a false sense of hope. For their is only one God, and He has his ways. It is only in God's way that anyone can find true hope, and that way is through true repentance, and the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Friend, it makes no difference today were you come from, or what you have done, for at the foot of the cross of Christ there is repentance by you, and forgiveness for each and every sin you have committed. Then through God's forgiveness, and His mercy there is victory in all that you do, both in this life and the next.
"Remember me, O God, for good", ends the latest sacred history of the Old Testament by chronological [not canonical]. In II Maccabees 2:13, of the Apocrypha, which was recorded in the King James 1611 addition, it is recorded; "the same thing was related also in the records and memoirs about Nehemiah, and that he founded a library and collected the books about the kings and prophets, and the works of David, and royal letters about sacred gifts."
It is from both prophets, Ezra and Nehemiah that we have the Massorah, the oldest and best manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible, where beside the Text on every page is writing that makes it impossible to lose even one letter of the original text, or the meaning be altered. A page of this Massoretic text is at the end. This page is kept in the British Museum Library.
It is from this Massoretic Text that the Companion Bible, King James version comes, and with its foot notes and appendixes, and it is also from this Companion Bible that we used to write this study guide book of Ezra, Haggai, and Nehemiah.
These studies may
be stored on your private computer as a library, printed out in single
copy (or you may print enough for
a study group) for private study
purposes provided the Author and Source are included with each and
every excerpt or copy.