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Highlights From the Book of: Nehemiah | Bible Reading: Nehemiah

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Highlights From Bible Reading: Nehemiah | texts explained and practical lessons

HIGHLIGHTS OF NEHEMIAH

Events surrounding the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem and the subsequent clearing out of wrong practices from among the Jews
Covers a period that begins more than 80 years after the Jews returned from exile in Babylon
Jerusalem’s walls are rebuilt in the face of opposition
In Shushan, Nehemiah learns about the ruined state of Jerusalem’s wall; he prays for Jehovah’s support, then asks the Persian monarch Artaxerxes for permission to go and rebuild the city and its wall; Artaxerxes consents (1:1–2:9)
Arriving in Jerusalem, Nehemiah inspects the ruined walls by night; afterward he reveals to the Jews his purpose to rebuild (2:11-18)
Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem—foreigners all—oppose the rebuilding; first they try ridicule, then they conspire to fight against Jerusalem; Nehemiah arms the workers, and they continue building (2:19–4:23)
Plots against Nehemiah himself fail, and the wall is completed in 52 days (6:1-19)
The wall is inaugurated; at the ceremony two thanksgiving choirs and processions march in opposite directions on top of the wall and meet at the temple; there is great rejoicing (12:27-43)
The affairs of Jerusalem are put in order
After the wall is completed, Nehemiah secures Jerusalem with gates and assigns duties to gatekeepers, singers, and Levites; he appoints Hanani and Hananiah to be in charge of the city (7:1-3)
Nehemiah sets out to make a genealogical record of the people; he finds the book of genealogical enrollment of those returning from Babylon with Zerubbabel; priests that cannot establish their genealogy are barred ‘until the priest with Urim and Thummim stands up’ (7:5-73)
Jerusalem is underpopulated, so one out of every ten of the people is designated by lot to reside in the city (7:4; 11:1, 2)
Efforts are made to improve the spiritual condition of the Jews
Wealthy Jews agree to make restoration to their poor brothers, whom they have wrongly charged interest on loans (5:1-13)
At a public assembly, Ezra reads the Law and certain Levites share in explaining it; the people weep but are encouraged to rejoice because the day is holy; they rejoice, too, because they understand what has been read to them (8:1-12)
The next day, from their reading of the Law, the people learn about celebrating the Festival of Booths; they follow through by observing the feast with great rejoicing (8:13-18)
Next, there is a gathering during which the people confess their national sins and review Jehovah’s dealings with Israel; they also make an oath to keep the Law, to refrain from intermarriage with foreigners, and to accept obligations for maintaining the temple and its services (9:1–10:39)
Following the inauguration of the wall, there is another public reading from the Law; when they discern that Ammonites and Moabites should not be allowed into the congregation, they begin to separate “all the mixed company” from Israel (13:1-3)
After a prolonged absence, Nehemiah returns to Jerusalem and finds that things have deteriorated; he cleanses the dining halls, directs that tithes be contributed for the support of the Levites and singers, enforces Sabbath keeping, and reproves those who have married foreign women (13:4-30)

February 1-7, 2016
Nehemiah 1-4

(NEHEMIAH 1:1)

“The words of Ne•he•miʹah the son of Hac•a•liʹah: Now in the month of Chisʹlev, in the 20th year, I was in Shuʹshan the citadel.”

*** nwt p. 1695 Glossary ***
Chislev. After the Jews’ return from Babylon, the name of the ninth month of the Jewish sacred calendar and the third month of the secular calendar. It ran from mid-November to mid-December. (Ne 1:1; Zec 7:1)—See App. B15.

*** nwt p. 1796 B15 Hebrew Calendar ***
CHISLEV November—December
25 Festival of Dedication
Rain increases, frost, mountain snows
Flocks wintered

*** w06 2/1 p. 8 par. 5 Highlights From the Book of Nehemiah ***
1:1; 2:1—Is “the twentieth year” mentioned in these two verses counted from the same reference point? Yes, the 20th year is that of the reign of Artaxerxes the king. However, the method of counting used in these verses is different. Historical evidence points to 475 B.C.E. as the year of Artaxerxes’ ascension to the throne. Since the Babylonian scribes customarily counted the years of the Persian kings’ reign from Nisan (March/April) to Nisan, Artaxerxes’ first regnal year began in Nisan of 474 B.C.E. Hence, the 20th year of rulership mentioned at Nehemiah 2:1 began in Nisan of 455 B.C.E. The month of Chislev (November/December) mentioned at Nehemiah 1:1 logically was the Chislev of the preceding year—456 B.C.E. Nehemiah refers to that month as also falling in the 20th year of Artaxerxes’ reign. Perhaps in this case, he was counting the years from the accession date of the monarch. It could also be that Nehemiah was counting time by what the Jews today call a civil year, which begins in the month of Tishri, corresponding to September/October. In any case, the year in which the word went out to restore Jerusalem was 455 B.C.E.

*** it-1 p. 422 Castle ***
“Shushan the castle,” some 360 km (225 mi) E of Babylon, was a part-time residence of the Persian king. Here Nehemiah worked as a royal cupbearer before leaving for Jerusalem. (Ne 1:1)

*** it-2 pp. 487-488 Nehemiah, Book of ***
Time Covered and Time of Writing. The month of Chislev (November-December) of a certain 20th year is the reference point with which the historical narrative begins. (Ne 1:1) As is evident from Nehemiah 2:1, this 20th year must be that of Artaxerxes’ reign. Obviously, the 20th year in this case is not reckoned as starting in Nisan (March-April), for Chislev of the 20th year could not then precede Nisan (mentioned at Ne 2:1) of the same 20th year. So it may be that Nehemiah used his own count of time, reckoning the lunar year as beginning with Tishri (September-October), which month Jews today recognize as the beginning of their civil year. Another possibility is that the reign of the king was reckoned from the actual date that the monarch ascended the throne. This could be so even though the Babylonian scribes continued to reckon the years of the Persian king’s reign on their customary basis of a Nisan-to-Nisan count, as their cuneiform tablets show they did.
Reliable historical evidence and the fulfillment of Bible prophecy point to 455 B.C.E. as the year in which Nisan of the 20th year of Artaxerxes’ reign fell. (See PERSIA, PERSIANS [The Reigns of Xerxes and of Artaxerxes].) Accordingly, the Chislev preceding Nisan of that 20th year would fall in 456 B.C.E., and the 32nd year of Artaxerxes’ reign (the last date mentioned in Nehemiah [13:6]) would include part of 443 B.C.E. Therefore, the book of Nehemiah covers a period from Chislev of 456 B.C.E. until sometime after 443 B.C.E.

*** it-2 p. 900 Seventy Weeks ***
However, as evidence indicating that Nehemiah may have used a fall-to-fall year in referring to certain events, we can compare Nehemiah 1:1-3 with 2:1-8. In the first passage he tells of receiving the bad news about Jerusalem’s condition, in Chislev (third month in the civil calendar and ninth in the sacred calendar) in Artaxerxes’ 20th year. In the second, he presents his request to the king that he be permitted to go and rebuild Jerusalem, and he is granted permission in the month Nisan (seventh in the civil calendar and first in the sacred), but still in the 20th year of Artaxerxes. So Nehemiah was obviously not counting the years of Artaxerxes’ reign on a Nisan-to-Nisan basis.

*** w86 2/15 p. 25 True Worship Triumphs ***
♦ 1:1—What year was this?
This was the 20th year of King Artaxerxes (Longimanus). (2:1) Since Chislev (November-December) is placed before Nisan (March-April) in this narrative, apparently Persian kings counted each year of their reign from fall to fall, or from the time they actually ascended the throne. Reliable historical evidence and fulfilled Bible prophecies point to 455 B.C.E. as the year in which Nisan of the 20th year of Artaxerxes falls. Thus, Nehemiah’s account begins in the fall of 456 B.C.E., and the decree to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem was issued in the spring of 455 B.C.E.

(NEHEMIAH 1:3)

“They replied: “Those remaining there in the province who have survived the captivity are in a terrible situation and in disgrace. The walls of Jerusalem are broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.””

*** it-1 p. 636 District ***
They were evidently subdivisions of the Persian “jurisdictional district,” or “province,” of Judah. (Ne 1:3; KJ, RS)

*** it-2 pp. 139-140 Jurisdictional District ***
Possibly because of having lived in the jurisdictional district of Babylon, the repatriated Jewish exiles are called “sons of the jurisdictional district.” (Ezr 2:1; Ne 7:6) Or, this designation may allude to their being inhabitants of the Medo-Persian jurisdictional district of Judah.—Ne 1:3.

(NEHEMIAH 1:11)

“O Jehovah, please, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant and to the prayer of your servants who take delight in fearing your name, and please, grant success to your servant today, and may this man show me compassion.” Now I was cupbearer to the king.”

*** w10 7/1 p. 9 Did You Know? ***
What was involved in being cupbearer to the king?
▪ Nehemiah was cupbearer to Persian King Artaxerxes. (Nehemiah 1:11) In the royal courts of the ancient Middle East, the king’s cupbearer was no menial servant. On the contrary, he was a high-ranking official. Classical literature and a wealth of ancient pictorial representations of cupbearers allow us to draw a number of conclusions regarding Nehemiah’s role at the Persian court.
The cupbearer would taste the king’s wine to protect him from poisoning. The cupbearer thus had the king’s unreserved confidence. “The great need for trustworthy court attendants is underscored by the intrigues which were endemic to the Achaemenid [Persian] court,” says scholar Edwin M. Yamauchi. The cupbearer was likely also a favorite official who had considerable influence with the king. His close proximity to the monarch on a daily basis may have enabled him to decide who had access to the king.
Such a position may have had a bearing on the success of Nehemiah’s request to be allowed to return to Jerusalem to rebuild its walls. Nehemiah must have been highly valued by the king. The Anchor Bible Dictionary observes: “The king’s only reply was ‘How soon will you come back?’”—Nehemiah 2:1-6.
[Diagram/Picture on page 9]
Relief from the Persian palace of Persepolis
[Diagram]
(For fully formatted text, see publication)
Cupbearer
Crown Prince Xerxes
Darius the Great
[Credit Line]
© The Bridgeman Art Library International

*** it-1 p. 557 Cupbearer ***
CUPBEARER
An official of the royal court who served wine or other drinks to the king. (Ge 40:1, 2, 11; Ne 1:11; 2:1) The duties of the chief cupbearer sometimes included testing wine by tasting it before giving it to the king. This was because the possibility always existed that an attempt might be made on the king’s life by poisoning his wine.
Thorough trustworthiness was a chief qualification for the office, since the life of the king was at stake. The position was one of the most honorable in the court. The chief cupbearer was often present at royal conferences and discussions. Being in a close and usually confidential relationship with the king, he often had considerable influence with the monarch. It was Pharaoh’s cupbearer who recommended Joseph. (Ge 41:9-13) King Artaxerxes of Persia had a high regard for his cupbearer, Nehemiah. (Ne 2:6-8) When Nehemiah traveled to Jerusalem, Artaxerxes provided him with a military escort.—Ne 2:9.

(NEHEMIAH 2:1)

“In the month of Niʹsan, in the 20th year of King Ar•ta•xerxʹes, wine was set before him, and as usual I took up the wine and gave it to the king. But I had never been gloomy in his presence.”

*** w06 2/1 p. 8 par. 5 Highlights From the Book of Nehemiah ***
1:1; 2:1—Is “the twentieth year” mentioned in these two verses counted from the same reference point? Yes, the 20th year is that of the reign of Artaxerxes the king. However, the method of counting used in these verses is different. Historical evidence points to 475 B.C.E. as the year of Artaxerxes’ ascension to the throne. Since the Babylonian scribes customarily counted the years of the Persian kings’ reign from Nisan (March/April) to Nisan, Artaxerxes’ first regnal year began in Nisan of 474 B.C.E. Hence, the 20th year of rulership mentioned at Nehemiah 2:1 began in Nisan of 455 B.C.E. The month of Chislev (November/December) mentioned at Nehemiah 1:1 logically was the Chislev of the preceding year—456 B.C.E. Nehemiah refers to that month as also falling in the 20th year of Artaxerxes’ reign. Perhaps in this case, he was counting the years from the accession date of the monarch. It could also be that Nehemiah was counting time by what the Jews today call a civil year, which begins in the month of Tishri, corresponding to September/October. In any case, the year in which the word went out to restore Jerusalem was 455 B.C.E.

*** dp chap. 11 p. 197 The Time of Messiah’s Coming Revealed ***
[Box/Picture on page 197]
When Did Artaxerxes’ Reign Begin?
HISTORIANS disagree regarding the year in which the reign of Persian King Artaxerxes began. Some have placed his accession year in 465 B.C.E. because his father, Xerxes, started to rule in 486 B.C.E. and died in the 21st year of his reign. But there is evidence that Artaxerxes ascended to the throne in 475 B.C.E. and began his first regnal year in 474 B.C.E.
Inscriptions and sculptures unearthed at the ancient Persian capital Persepolis indicate a coregency between Xerxes and his father, Darius I. If this covered 10 years and Xerxes ruled alone for 11 years after Darius died in 486 B.C.E., the first year of Artaxerxes’ reign would have been 474 B.C.E.
A second line of evidence involves Athenian General Themistocles, who defeated Xerxes’ forces in 480 B.C.E. He later fell out of favor with the Greek people and was accused of treason. Themistocles fled and sought protection at the Persian court, where he was well received. According to the Greek historian Thucydides, this happened when Artaxerxes had but “lately come to the throne.” The Greek historian Diodorus Siculus puts the death of Themistocles at 471 B.C.E. Since Themistocles requested a year to learn Persian before having an audience with King Artaxerxes, he must have arrived in Asia Minor no later than 473 B.C.E. That date is supported by Jerome’s Chronicle of Eusebius. As Artaxerxes had “lately come to the throne” when Themistocles arrived in Asia in 473 B.C.E., German scholar Ernst Hengstenberg stated in his Christology of the Old Testament that Artaxerxes’ reign commenced in 474 B.C.E., as do other sources. He added: “The twentieth year of Artaxerxes is the year 455 before Christ.”
[Picture]
Bust of Themistocles

*** w90 10/15 p. 10 par. 2 Appreciating Why the Messiah Was to Come ***
Exactly 483 years had passed since the command was given by Persian king Artaxerxes to rebuild Jerusalem, that being in the 20th year of his reign, 455 B.C.E. (Nehemiah 2:1-8)

*** it-1 p. 182 Artaxerxes ***
During the 20th year of his reign (455 B.C.E.), Artaxerxes Longimanus granted permission to Nehemiah to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls and gates of the city. (Ne 2:1-8) Because this is referred to at Daniel 9:25 as relating to the time of the promised coming of the Messiah, the date of Artaxerxes’ 20th year is very important.

*** it-1 p. 463 Chronology ***
The next date of major importance is the 20th year of Artaxerxes (Longimanus), the year Nehemiah received permission to go and rebuild Jerusalem. (Ne 2:1, 5-8) The reasons for favoring the date of 455 B.C.E. for this year as against the popular date of 445 B.C.E. are considered in the article PERSIA, PERSIANS. The events of this year that involve the rebuilding of Jerusalem and its walls mark the starting point of the prophecy concerning the “seventy weeks” at Daniel 9:24-27.

*** it-2 pp. 487-488 Nehemiah, Book of ***
Time Covered and Time of Writing. The month of Chislev (November-December) of a certain 20th year is the reference point with which the historical narrative begins. (Ne 1:1) As is evident from Nehemiah 2:1, this 20th year must be that of Artaxerxes’ reign. Obviously, the 20th year in this case is not reckoned as starting in Nisan (March-April), for Chislev of the 20th year could not then precede Nisan (mentioned at Ne 2:1) of the same 20th year. So it may be that Nehemiah used his own count of time, reckoning the lunar year as beginning with Tishri (September-October), which month Jews today recognize as the beginning of their civil year. Another possibility is that the reign of the king was reckoned from the actual date that the monarch ascended the throne. This could be so even though the Babylonian scribes continued to reckon the years of the Persian king’s reign on their customary basis of a Nisan-to-Nisan count, as their cuneiform tablets show they did.
Reliable historical evidence and the fulfillment of Bible prophecy point to 455 B.C.E. as the year in which Nisan of the 20th year of Artaxerxes’ reign fell. (See PERSIA, PERSIANS [The Reigns of Xerxes and of Artaxerxes].) Accordingly, the Chislev preceding Nisan of that 20th year would fall in 456 B.C.E., and the 32nd year of Artaxerxes’ reign (the last date mentioned in Nehemiah [13:6]) would include part of 443 B.C.E. Therefore, the book of Nehemiah covers a period from Chislev of 456 B.C.E. until sometime after 443 B.C.E.

*** it-2 pp. 899-900 Seventy Weeks ***
When did the prophetic “seventy weeks” actually begin?
As to the beginning of the 70 weeks, Nehemiah was granted permission by King Artaxerxes of Persia, in the 20th year of his rule, in the month of Nisan, to rebuild the wall and the city of Jerusalem. (Ne 2:1, 5, 7, 8) In his calculations as to the reign of Artaxerxes, Nehemiah apparently used a calendar year that began with the month Tishri (September-October), as does the Jews’ present civil calendar, and ended with the month Elul (August-September) as the 12th month. Whether this was his own reckoning or the manner of reckoning employed for certain purposes in Persia is not known.
Some may object to the above statement and may point to Nehemiah 7:73, where Nehemiah speaks of Israel as being gathered in their cities in the seventh month—the monthly order here being based on a Nisan-to-Nisan year. But Nehemiah was here copying from “the book of genealogical enrollment of those who came up at the first” with Zerubbabel, in 537 B.C.E. (Ne 7:5) Again, Nehemiah describes the celebration of the Festival of Booths in his time as taking place in the seventh month. (Ne 8:9, 13-18) This was only fitting because the account says that they found what Jehovah commanded “written in the law,” and in that law, at Leviticus 23:39-43, it says that the Festival of Booths was to be in “the seventh month” (that is, of the sacred calendar, running from Nisan to Nisan).
However, as evidence indicating that Nehemiah may have used a fall-to-fall year in referring to certain events, we can compare Nehemiah 1:1-3 with 2:1-8. In the first passage he tells of receiving the bad news about Jerusalem’s condition, in Chislev (third month in the civil calendar and ninth in the sacred calendar) in Artaxerxes’ 20th year. In the second, he presents his request to the king that he be permitted to go and rebuild Jerusalem, and he is granted permission in the month Nisan (seventh in the civil calendar and first in the sacred), but still in the 20th year of Artaxerxes. So Nehemiah was obviously not counting the years of Artaxerxes’ reign on a Nisan-to-Nisan basis.
To establish the time for the 20th year of Artaxerxes, we go back to the end of the reign of his father and predecessor Xerxes, who died in the latter part of 475 B.C.E. Artaxerxes’ accession year thus began in 475 B.C.E., and his first regnal year would be counted from 474 B.C.E., as other historical evidence indicates. The 20th year of Artaxerxes’ rule would accordingly be 455 B.C.E.—See PERSIA, PERSIANS (The Reigns of Xerxes and of Artaxerxes).

*** w86 1/15 p. 7 “Bible Highlights” to Provide Greater Insight ***
474-423 Artaxerxes I Artaxerxes Ezra 6:14;
(Longimanus) 7:1-26;
Nehemiah 2:1-18

(NEHEMIAH 2:4)

“The king then said to me: “What is it that you are seeking?” At once I prayed to the God of the heavens.”

*** w87 7/15 p. 12 par. 10 How Meaningful Are Your Prayers? ***
True, there may be occasions when time is limited. For example, when King Artaxerxes asked his cupbearer Nehemiah, “What is this that you are seeking to secure?” Nehemiah ‘at once prayed to the God of the heavens.’ (Nehemiah 2:4) Since the king was expecting an immediate reply, Nehemiah could not linger long in that prayer. But we may be sure that it was meaningful and came from his heart because Jehovah immediately answered it. (Nehemiah 2:5, 6)

*** w86 2/15 p. 25 True Worship Triumphs ***
♦ 2:4—Was this a last-minute prayer of desperation?
No, for Jerusalem’s devastated condition had been the subject of Nehemiah’s prayers “day and night” for quite some time. (1:4, 6) When afforded the opportunity to tell King Artaxerxes about his desire to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls, Nehemiah again prayed, thus doing what he already had done repeatedly. Jehovah’s favorable answer resulted in a commission to rebuild the city’s walls.

(NEHEMIAH 2:5)

“I then said to the king: “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor with you, send me to Judah, to the city where my forefathers are buried, so that I may rebuild it.””

*** it-1 p. 463 Chronology ***
The next date of major importance is the 20th year of Artaxerxes (Longimanus), the year Nehemiah received permission to go and rebuild Jerusalem. (Ne 2:1, 5-8) The reasons for favoring the date of 455 B.C.E. for this year as against the popular date of 445 B.C.E. are considered in the article PERSIA, PERSIANS. The events of this year that involve the rebuilding of Jerusalem and its walls mark the starting point of the prophecy concerning the “seventy weeks” at Daniel 9:24-27.

*** it-2 p. 900 Seventy Weeks ***
In Nisan (March-April) of the 20th year of Artaxerxes’ rule (455 B.C.E.), Nehemiah petitioned the king: “If your servant seems good before you, . . . send me to Judah, to the city of the burial places of my forefathers, that I may rebuild it.” (Ne 2:1, 5)

(NEHEMIAH 2:7)

“Then I said to the king: “If it pleases the king, let letters be given me for the governors of the region Beyond the River, granting me safe passage until I reach Judah,”

*** it-1 p. 673 Eber ***
In Hebrew the expression for “beyond the River” (Heb., ʽeʹver han•na•harʹ) is used at times to refer to the region W of the Euphrates. (Ne 2:7, 9; 3:7)

(NEHEMIAH 2:8)

“as well as a letter to Aʹsaph the keeper of the Royal Park, so that he may give me timber for beams for the gates of the Fortress of the House and for the walls of the city and for the house where I will go.” So the king gave them to me, for the good hand of my God was upon me.”

*** it-1 p. 118 Antonia, Tower of ***
The Tower of Antonia was situated at the NW corner of the temple court and evidently occupied the site where Nehemiah earlier had constructed the Castle (or fortress) mentioned at Nehemiah 2:8.

*** it-1 p. 182 Artaxerxes ***
During the 20th year of his reign (455 B.C.E.), Artaxerxes Longimanus granted permission to Nehemiah to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls and gates of the city. (Ne 2:1-8) Because this is referred to at Daniel 9:25 as relating to the time of the promised coming of the Messiah, the date of Artaxerxes’ 20th year is very important.

*** it-1 p. 186 Asaph ***
4. “The keeper of the park” for King Artaxerxes at the time of Nehemiah’s return to Jerusalem (455 B.C.E.). (Ne 2:8) The park was a wooded area, perhaps in Lebanon, which was also under Persian control. The park keeper’s Hebrew name may indicate that he was a Jew occupying this official position, even as Nehemiah had served in the relatively important position of the king’s cupbearer.—Ne 1:11.

*** it-1 p. 422 Castle ***
Nehemiah built a castle or fortress just to the NW of the rebuilt temple, the direction from which the grounds were most vulnerable. (Ne 2:8; 7:2) Evidently this castle was replaced by the Maccabees and rebuilt by Herod the Great, who named it the Tower (Fortress) of Antonia. It was here that Paul was interrogated by the Roman military commander.—Ac 21:31, 32, 37; 22:24; see ANTONIA, TOWER OF.

(NEHEMIAH 2:13)

“And I went out at night through the Valley Gate, passing in front of the Fountain of the Big Snake to the Gate of the Ash Heaps, and I inspected the walls of Jerusalem that were broken down and its gates that had been consumed by fire.”

*** it-1 p. 658 Dung ***
One of Jerusalem’s gates was the “Gate of the Ash-heaps,” usually called “the Dung Gate.” (Ne 2:13; 3:13, 14; 12:31) It was situated a thousand cubits (445 m; 1,458 ft) to the E of the Valley Gate and hence to the S of Mount Zion. This gate was probably so named because of the refuse heaped up in the Valley of Hinnom located below it and to which it led; the city’s garbage was possibly taken out through this gate.

*** it-1 p. 868 Fountain of the Big Snake ***
FOUNTAIN OF THE BIG SNAKE
The Hebrew expression carries the thought of a fountain, spring, or well of a land or sea monster, and it is variously translated as: “dragon well” (KJ, Le); “Serpent’s Well” (AT); “snake-fountain” (Ro); “Fountain of the Big Snake” (NW). The Greek Septuagint, however, reads “Fountain of the Fig Trees.”
This water source was located along the route Nehemiah took on his first inspection of Jerusalem’s broken-down walls. (Ne 2:12, 13) Since this name is not found again in the Scriptures, the fountain or well, if elsewhere referred to, must be under a different designation. En-rogel is commonly suggested as its alternate name. This could well be, for though En-rogel is a considerable distance down the Kidron Valley, the account simply says that Nehemiah passed “in front of the Fountain,” and this could mean by the corner of the wall facing En-rogel and within sight of, but still some distance from, the fountain.—See EN-ROGEL.

*** it-1 p. 894 Gate, Gateway ***
Valley Gate. In the SW part of the city wall, the Valley Gate led to the Valley of Hinnom. The “gate of the Essenes” mentioned by Josephus may have been located here or nearby. (The Jewish War, V, 145 [iv, 2]) Uzziah, in his city-fortification program, built a tower by this gate. (2Ch 26:9) It was from the Valley Gate that Nehemiah went out for his inspection of the damaged wall, riding eastward through the Valley of Hinnom and then up the Kidron Valley, finally reentering the city by the same gate. (Ne 2:13-15)

*** it-1 p. 894 Gate, Gateway ***
Gate of the Ash-heaps. This gate is also known as the Gate of the Potsherds and is usually called the Dung Gate. (Ne 2:13; 12:31) Nehemiah’s description seems to place it 1,000 cubits (445 m; 1,458 ft) E of the Valley Gate. (Ne 3:13, 14)

(NEHEMIAH 2:14)

“And I passed along to the Fountain Gate and to the King’s Pool, and there was not enough space for the animal I was riding to pass.”

*** it-1 p. 896 Gate, Gateway ***
Fountain Gate. This gate was so called because of its giving access to a spring or fountain nearby, perhaps En-rogel, which was below the junction of the Kidron Valley and the Valley of Hinnom. Probably the gate was at the S tip of the E hill of the city (that is, at the southern end of “the City of David”). (Ne 2:14; 3:15; 12:37) The Fountain Gate would afford convenient exit and access to En-rogel for those living in the City of David, while the Gate of the Ash-heaps, not far to the SW, would also lead out toward En-rogel and would likely be a better exit for the residents of the Tyropoeon Valley and the SW hill of the city.

*** it-2 p. 651 Pool ***
“The King’s Pool” was evidently located between the Gate of the Ash-heaps and the Fountain Gate. (Ne 2:13-15) It may be the same pool that is mentioned at Nehemiah 3:16.

(NEHEMIAH 2:16)

“The deputy rulers did not know where I had gone and what I was doing, for I had not yet said anything to the Jews, the priests, the nobles, the deputy rulers, and the rest of the workers.”

*** it-1 p. 615 Deputy ***
“Deputy rulers” (Heb., segha•nimʹ, always used in the plural) occurs 17 times in the Bible, as, for example, at Ezra 9:2; Nehemiah 2:16; Isaiah 41:25; Jeremiah 51:23; and Ezekiel 23:6. It meant subordinate rulers or petty officials, as distinguished from nobles, princes, and governors. Some translators render it “deputies.”—Mo, Ro.

(NEHEMIAH 2:17)

“Finally I said to them: “You can see what a terrible situation we are in, how Jerusalem lies in ruins and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, so that this disgrace will not continue.””

*** it-2 p. 900 Seventy Weeks ***
The king granted permission, and Nehemiah made the long journey from Shushan to Jerusalem. On about the fourth of Ab (July-August), after making a night inspection of the walls, Nehemiah gave the command to the Jews: “Come and let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer continue to be a reproach.” (Ne 2:11-18) Thus, “the going forth of the word” to rebuild Jerusalem, as authorized by Artaxerxes, was put into effect by Nehemiah in Jerusalem that same year. This clearly establishes 455 B.C.E. as the year from which the 70 weeks would begin to count.

(NEHEMIAH 2:19)

“Now when San•balʹlat the Horʹo•nite, To•biʹah the Amʹmon•ite official, and Geʹshem the Arabian heard of it, they began to mock us and show us their contempt and say: “What are you doing? Are you rebelling against the king?””

*** it-1 p. 141 Arabia ***
During the fifth century B.C.E., Palestine was subject to considerable influence from Arabia, as is seen by the references to “Geshem the Arabian” at Nehemiah 2:19 and 6:1-7.

*** it-2 p. 144 Kedar ***
A silver bowl (considered to be of the fifth century B.C.E.) found at Tell el-Maskhutah in Egypt bears the Aramaic inscription: “Qainu bar [son of] Gesem [Geshem], king of Qedar [Kedar].” The Geshem meant in this case may possibly be “Geshem the Arabian” who opposed the work of rebuilding Jerusalem’s wall in Nehemiah’s day.—Ne 2:19; 6:1, 2, 6.

*** it-2 p. 1112 Tobiah ***
2. An opponent of Nehemiah. Tobiah was “the servant,” likely some official under the Persian king. (Ne 2:19)

(NEHEMIAH 3:1)

“E•liʹa•shib the high priest and his brothers the priests got up to build the Sheep Gate. They sanctified it and set up its doors; they sanctified it as far as the Tower of Meʹah, as far as the Tower of Ha•nanʹel.”

*** it-1 p. 306 Bethzatha ***
The location of the pool is indicated by the evident reference to the “sheepgate” (although in the original Greek the word “gate” must be supplied), which gate is generally held to have been in the north part of Jerusalem. Nehemiah 3:1 shows that this gate was built by the priests, and hence it is assumed to have been an entrance near the temple area.

*** it-1 p. 894 Gate, Gateway ***
Sheep Gate. The Sheep Gate was rebuilt by Eliashib the high priest and associate priests. (Ne 3:1, 32; 12:39) This fact would indicate that it was near the temple area. Its location was probably in the wall of the second quarter, the part built by Manasseh (see “Fish Gate” below), at or near the NE corner of the city. This gate may have been so named because through it were brought sheep and goats for sacrifice or perhaps for a market that was located nearby. “The sheepgate” mentioned at John 5:2 is likely this Sheep Gate or a later gate corresponding to it, for it was located in the same vicinity, near the pool of Bethzatha.

*** it-2 p. 1118 Tower ***
Close by it and to the E near the Sheep Gate was the Tower of Meah. Why it was called Meah, meaning “Hundred,” is not known.—Ne 3:1; 12:39.

(NEHEMIAH 3:3)

“The sons of Has•se•naʹah built the Fish Gate; they timbered it and then set up its doors, its bolts, and its bars.”

*** it-1 p. 893 Gate, Gateway ***
The markets were located there, some of the gates of Jerusalem being named evidently for the commodities sold there (for example, the Fish Gate).—Ne 3:3.

*** it-1 p. 894 Gate, Gateway ***
In Nehemiah’s reconstruction and procession accounts, the Fish Gate is placed W of the Sheep Gate, perhaps near the N end of the Tyropoeon Valley. (Ne 3:3; 12:39)

(NEHEMIAH 3:5)

“And next to them the Te•koʹites did repair work, but their prominent men would not lower themselves to share in the service of their masters.”

*** w06 2/1 p. 10 par. 1 Highlights From the Book of Nehemiah ***
3:5, 27. We should not consider manual work done in the interests of true worship beneath our dignity, as did the “majestic ones” of the Tekoites. Rather, we can imitate the common Tekoites who willingly expended themselves.

*** w86 2/15 p. 25 True Worship Triumphs ***
♦ 3:5—Who were these “majestic ones”?
They were prominent Jews among the inhabitants or former residents of Tekoa, a town some ten miles (16 km) south of Jerusalem. These “majestic ones” apparently were too proud to humble themselves and work under the yoke of overseers appointed by Nehemiah.—Compare Jeremiah 27:11.

(NEHEMIAH 3:6)

“Joiʹa•da the son of Pa•seʹah and Me•shulʹlam the son of Bes•o•deiʹah repaired the Gate of the Old City; they timbered it and then set up its doors, its bolts, and its bars.”

*** it-1 p. 894 Gate, Gateway ***
Gate of the Old City. The Gate of the Old City was located on the NW side of the city between the Fish Gate and the Gate of Ephraim. (Ne 3:6; 12:39) In Hebrew, the gate is called simply “Gate of the Old,” the word “city” being supplied by some translators. It is suggested that the name was derived from its having been the main N entrance to the old city. It may have been at the junction of the Broad Wall (that formed a N boundary of the old city) and the S end of the W wall of the second quarter. Some think that this gate is identical with “the First Gate” mentioned by Zechariah. He seemingly refers to the E-W limits of the city in saying “from [1] the Gate of Benjamin all the way to the place of [2] the First Gate, all the way to [3] the Corner Gate,” and to the N-S limits in saying “from the Tower of Hananel all the way to the press vats of the king.” (Zec 14:10) Others would connect the Gate of the Old City with “the Middle Gate” mentioned at Jeremiah 39:3. Some term this Gate of the Old City the “Mishneh Gate” and locate it in the W wall of the second quarter.

(NEHEMIAH 3:9)

“And next to them Re•phaʹiah the son of Hur, a prince of half the district of Jerusalem, did repair work.”

*** it-1 p. 636 District ***
DISTRICT
The word “district” denotes an administrative unit, a region around a city, or a region within certain boundaries.
When Nehemiah organized the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem, he assigned portions to the leaders, or ‘princes,’ and inhabitants of certain ‘districts.’ These districts were named after their principal city, and some (Jerusalem, Beth-zur, Keilah) were double. (Ne 3:9, 12, 14-18) They were evidently subdivisions of the Persian “jurisdictional district,” or “province,” of Judah. (Ne 1:3; KJ, RS) The Hebrew word to designate these districts (peʹlekh) is said to be derived from the Akkadian word pilku, perhaps indicating that they were instituted by the Babylonians after the fall of Jerusalem.—See JURISDICTIONAL DISTRICT.

(NEHEMIAH 3:11)

“Mal•chiʹjah the son of Haʹrim and Hasʹshub the son of Paʹhath-moʹab repaired another section, as well as the Tower of the Ovens.”

*** it-1 p. 243 Bake, Baker ***
Years later, when Jerusalem’s walls were restored under Nehemiah’s supervision, “the Tower of the Bake Ovens” was also repaired. (Ne 3:11; 12:38) Just how the tower came to be named is uncertain, but it is possible that it was given its unusual name because the ovens of commercial bakers were located there.

*** it-1 p. 894 Gate, Gateway ***
Uzziah built a tower by this gate; whether or not it was the Tower of the Bake Ovens is not stated. (2Ch 26:9) Both Jeremiah and Zechariah appear to refer to the Corner Gate as being on the western edge of the city.—Jer 31:38; Zec 14:10.
There is no other gate described as existing in the W wall from the Corner Gate to the Valley Gate in the SW wall, this no doubt being because of the steep slope of the Valley of Hinnom, making any other gate impractical. The Corner Gate does not appear in Nehemiah’s accounts; again the reason may be that it did not need extensive repairs. The account does speak of repairing the Tower of the Bake Ovens, which seems to have been a part of, or near, the Corner Gate.—Ne 3:11.

*** it-2 p. 564 Oven ***
“The Tower of the Bake Ovens” in Jerusalem was repaired under Nehemiah’s direction during the restoration of the city’s walls. (Ne 3:11; 12:38) This name’s origin is uncertain, but it has been suggested that the tower was so named because commercial bakers had their ovens situated in that vicinity.

*** it-2 p. 1118 Tower ***
Jerusalem’s Towers. The Tower of the Bake Ovens was located on the NW side of the city near or at the Corner Gate. (Ne 3:11; 12:38) Why it was so named is not certain, but quite possibly commercial bakers were present in that vicinity. It may have been one of the towers built by Uzziah, who reigned in Jerusalem from 829 to 778 B.C.E. (2Ch 26:9)

(NEHEMIAH 3:13)

“Haʹnun and the inhabitants of Za•noʹah repaired the Valley Gate; they built it and then set up its doors, its bolts, and its bars, and they repaired 1,000 cubits of the wall as far as the Gate of the Ash Heaps.”

*** it-1 p. 658 Dung ***
One of Jerusalem’s gates was the “Gate of the Ash-heaps,” usually called “the Dung Gate.” (Ne 2:13; 3:13, 14; 12:31) It was situated a thousand cubits (445 m; 1,458 ft) to the E of the Valley Gate and hence to the S of Mount Zion. This gate was probably so named because of the refuse heaped up in the Valley of Hinnom located below it and to which it led; the city’s garbage was possibly taken out through this gate.

*** it-1 p. 894 Gate, Gateway ***
Gate of the Ash-heaps. This gate is also known as the Gate of the Potsherds and is usually called the Dung Gate. (Ne 2:13; 12:31) Nehemiah’s description seems to place it 1,000 cubits (445 m; 1,458 ft) E of the Valley Gate. (Ne 3:13, 14)

(NEHEMIAH 3:14)

“Mal•chiʹjah the son of Reʹchab, a prince of the district of Beth-hac•cheʹrem, repaired the Gate of the Ash Heaps; he built it and set up its doors, its bolts, and its bars.”

*** jr chap. 13 p. 160 par. 13 “Jehovah Has Done What He Had in Mind” ***
Because of the Rechabites’ faithfulness to Jehovah and to the commands of their forefather, God said that they would survive Jerusalem’s fall. They did. The later mention of “Malchijah the son of Rechab,” who helped repair Jerusalem during Nehemiah’s governorship, may give evidence of that. (Neh. 3:14; Jer. 35:18, 19)

*** it-1 p. 636 District ***
DISTRICT
The word “district” denotes an administrative unit, a region around a city, or a region within certain boundaries.
When Nehemiah organized the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem, he assigned portions to the leaders, or ‘princes,’ and inhabitants of certain ‘districts.’ These districts were named after their principal city, and some (Jerusalem, Beth-zur, Keilah) were double. (Ne 3:9, 12, 14-18) They were evidently subdivisions of the Persian “jurisdictional district,” or “province,” of Judah. (Ne 1:3; KJ, RS) The Hebrew word to designate these districts (peʹlekh) is said to be derived from the Akkadian word pilku, perhaps indicating that they were instituted by the Babylonians after the fall of Jerusalem.—See JURISDICTIONAL DISTRICT.

*** it-1 p. 658 Dung ***
One of Jerusalem’s gates was the “Gate of the Ash-heaps,” usually called “the Dung Gate.” (Ne 2:13; 3:13, 14; 12:31) It was situated a thousand cubits (445 m; 1,458 ft) to the E of the Valley Gate and hence to the S of Mount Zion. This gate was probably so named because of the refuse heaped up in the Valley of Hinnom located below it and to which it led; the city’s garbage was possibly taken out through this gate.

*** it-1 p. 894 Gate, Gateway ***
Gate of the Ash-heaps. This gate is also known as the Gate of the Potsherds and is usually called the Dung Gate. (Ne 2:13; 12:31) Nehemiah’s description seems to place it 1,000 cubits (445 m; 1,458 ft) E of the Valley Gate. (Ne 3:13, 14)

*** it-2 p. 759 Rechab ***
3. Father or ancestor of the Malchijah who helped Nehemiah repair a gate of Jerusalem’s wall. (Ne 3:14) If he is the same Rechab as No. 2, Malchijah’s presence confirms the fulfillment of Jehovah’s promise to the Rechabites as found at Jeremiah 35:19.

*** it-2 p. 759 Rechabites ***
Jehovah was pleased with the respectful obedience they showed. Their unswerving obedience to an earthly father stood in contrast to the disobedience of the Judeans to their Creator. (Jer 35:12-16) God gave the Rechabites the rewarding promise: “There will not be cut off from Jonadab the son of Rechab a man to stand before me always.”—Jer 35:19.
During Nehemiah’s governorship after the exile, “Malchijah the son of Rechab” repaired the Gate of the Ash-heaps. If this Rechab is the same one who was the father or ancestor of Jehonadab, it shows that Rechabites survived the exile and returned to the land. (Ne 3:14)

(NEHEMIAH 3:15)

“Shalʹlun the son of Col•hoʹzeh, a prince of the district of Mizʹpah, repaired the Fountain Gate; he built it and its roof, set up its doors, its bolts, and its bars, and also repaired the wall of the Pool of the Canal to the King’s Garden and as far as the Stairway that goes down from the City of David.”

*** it-1 p. 890 Garden ***
The King’s Garden, near the place where Zedekiah and his men tried to escape from Jerusalem during the Chaldean siege, was probably situated just outside the SE wall of that city. (2Ki 25:4; Ne 3:15)

*** it-1 p. 896 Gate, Gateway ***
Fountain Gate. This gate was so called because of its giving access to a spring or fountain nearby, perhaps En-rogel, which was below the junction of the Kidron Valley and the Valley of Hinnom. Probably the gate was at the S tip of the E hill of the city (that is, at the southern end of “the City of David”). (Ne 2:14; 3:15; 12:37) The Fountain Gate would afford convenient exit and access to En-rogel for those living in the City of David, while the Gate of the Ash-heaps, not far to the SW, would also lead out toward En-rogel and would likely be a better exit for the residents of the Tyropoeon Valley and the SW hill of the city.

*** it-2 p. 651 Pool ***
The Biblical references to the “old pool” (Isa 22:11), “upper pool” (2Ki 18:17; Isa 7:3; 36:2), and “lower pool” (Isa 22:9) give no indication about their exact position in relation to the city of Jerusalem. Scholars generally believe that the “lower pool” (perhaps the same as “the Pool of the Canal” mentioned at Ne 3:15) may be identified with Birket el-Hamra at the southern end of the Tyropoeon Valley. But opinions vary considerably regarding the placement of the “upper pool.”—See POOL OF THE CANAL.

*** it-2 pp. 651-652 Pool of the Canal ***
POOL OF THE CANAL
A pool or reservoir of water, apparently S of the City of David where the Valley of Hinnom and the Central (Tyropoeon) Valley meet. (Ne 3:15) It seems that this pool was also termed “the lower pool.”—Isa 22:9.
The Masoretic text at Nehemiah 3:15 designates this “the Pool of Shelah.” Some scholars believe that “Shelah” should be emended to “Shiloah,” meaning “Sender” and applying to a canal, or channel, that delivers water to a pool. (Isa 8:6) Thus, while some Bible versions leave “Shelah” untranslated, The Jerusalem Bible renders the expression “the conduit cistern,” and the New World Translation reads “the Pool of the Canal.”
Remains have been found of a channel, or canal, that ran S from the Gihon spring, following the contour of the Kidron’s bank and terminating in an ancient reservoir now called Birket el-Hamra. Sections of the canal were covered with stone slabs, but it appears that there were openings so that water could be drawn off to irrigate parts of the valley. The gradual slope of this canal may be referred to in the words “the waters of the Shiloah that are going gently.” (Isa 8:6) The location of Birket el-Hamra fits Nehemiah’s placement of the Pool of the Canal, near the King’s Garden and the Stairway going down from the S end of the City of David.

(NEHEMIAH 3:16)

“After him Ne•he•miʹah the son of Azʹbuk, a prince of half the district of Beth-zur, did repair work from in front of the Burial Places of David as far as the pool that had been built and as far as the House of the Mighty Ones.”

*** it-1 p. 379 Burial, Burial Places ***
The location of these royal burial places has not been determined. On the basis of the reference to “the Burial Places of David” at Nehemiah 3:16 and the mention of “the ascent to the burial places of the sons of David” at 2 Chronicles 32:33, some believe the likely location to have been on the SE hill of the city near the Kidron Valley. A number of what appear to be ancient rock-cut tombs have been found in this area, their entrances being in the form of sunken rectangular shafts. However, no positive identification can be made; any effort at identification was complicated not only by the destruction of the city in the year 70 C.E. and again in 135 C.E. but also by the use of the southern part of the city by the Romans as a stone quarry. Hence, the above-mentioned tombs are in a greatly deteriorated state.

*** it-2 p. 651 Pool ***
“The King’s Pool” was evidently located between the Gate of the Ash-heaps and the Fountain Gate. (Ne 2:13-15) It may be the same pool that is mentioned at Nehemiah 3:16.

(NEHEMIAH 3:26)

“And the temple servants who lived in Oʹphel did repair work as far as in front of the Water Gate on the east and the protruding tower.”

*** it-1 p. 896 Gate, Gateway ***
Water Gate. The name of this gate may have been derived from its proximity or at least its access to the spring of Gihon about midway up the E side of the city. This gate was near Ophel, not far from the temple area. (Ne 3:26)

(NEHEMIAH 3:28)

“The priests did repair work above the Horse Gate, each in front of his own house.”

*** it-1 p. 896 Gate, Gateway ***
Horse Gate. Repair work above the Horse Gate was done by the priests, which implies that its location was near the temple. (Ne 3:28)

(NEHEMIAH 3:29)

“After them Zaʹdok the son of Imʹmer did repair work in front of his own house. And after him She•maiʹah the son of Shec•a•niʹah, the keeper of the East Gate, did repair work.”

*** it-1 p. 897 Gate, Gateway ***
Temple Gates. East Gate. Nehemiah’s reconstruction account tells us that the keeper of the East Gate shared in the repair work. (Ne 3:29) Thus the East Gate is not designated as a gate in Jerusalem’s wall, as some have thought. The East Gate may have been approximately in line with the Inspection Gate in the city wall. This gate is evidently the one mentioned in 1 Chronicles 9:18 as “the king’s gate to the east,” being the gate where the king went into or came out from the temple.

(NEHEMIAH 3:31)

“After him Mal•chiʹjah, a member of the goldsmith guild, did repair work as far as the house of the temple servants and the traders, in front of the Inspection Gate and as far as the roof chamber of the corner.”

*** it-1 p. 896 Gate, Gateway ***
Inspection Gate. Some call the Inspection (Heb., ham•miph•qadhʹ) Gate the Muster Gate. (Ne 3:31, RS; Ro) At Ezekiel 43:21 miph•qadhʹ (the same Hebrew word without the article ha) is translated “appointed place.” Some have thought it was the same as the Gate of the Guard. Its mention by Nehemiah in his reconstruction account would seem to support the idea that it was a gate in the E wall of the city in front of the temple area and N of the Horse Gate. (Ne 3:27-31) Nehemiah’s statement that there was a corner in the wall beyond the Inspection Gate would place this gate in the E wall, S of where the wall turned (likely in a northwestward direction).
The account tells us that the repair work was done “in front of the Inspection Gate.” Some have understood this to refer to a repair work on the city wall in front of a temple gate by this name. This does not seem to be the correct view, for the same expression is used respecting the Water Gate, which is acknowledged to have been a gate in the city wall. (Ne 3:26, 31) The Inspection Gate is not named in the procession account evidently because the marchers did not traverse the wall E of the temple.

(NEHEMIAH 3:32)

“And between the roof chamber of the corner and the Sheep Gate, the goldsmiths and the traders did repair work.”

*** it-1 p. 894 Gate, Gateway ***
Sheep Gate. The Sheep Gate was rebuilt by Eliashib the high priest and associate priests. (Ne 3:1, 32; 12:39) This fact would indicate that it was near the temple area. Its location was probably in the wall of the second quarter, the part built by Manasseh (see “Fish Gate” below), at or near the NE corner of the city. This gate may have been so named because through it were brought sheep and goats for sacrifice or perhaps for a market that was located nearby. “The sheepgate” mentioned at John 5:2 is likely this Sheep Gate or a later gate corresponding to it, for it was located in the same vicinity, near the pool of Bethzatha.

(NEHEMIAH 4:1)

“Now as soon as San•balʹlat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and very upset, and he kept mocking the Jews.”

*** it-1 p. 699 Egypt, Egyptian ***
Thus, there was a Jewish colony in Elephantine (Egyptian, Yeb), an island in the Nile near Aswan, some 690 km (430 mi) S of Cairo. A valuable find of papyri reveals conditions prevailing there during the fifth century B.C.E., about the time when Ezra and Nehemiah were active in Jerusalem. These documents, in Aramaic, contain the name of Sanballat of Samaria (Ne 4:1, 2)

(NEHEMIAH 4:17)

“who were building the wall. Those who were carrying the loads did the work with one hand while holding a weapon in the other hand.”

*** w06 2/1 p. 9 par. 1 Highlights From the Book of Nehemiah ***
4:17, 18—How could a man do the work of rebuilding with just one hand? For burden bearers this would not be a problem. Once the load was placed on their head or shoulders, they could easily balance it with one hand “while the other hand was holding the missile.” The builders who needed both hands to do their work “were girded, each one with his sword upon his hip, while building.” They were ready to go into action in case of an enemy attack.

*** w86 2/15 p. 25 True Worship Triumphs ***
♦ 4:17—How did they work with one hand?
The masons would have to use both hands for their work. These had their weapons at their hip. (4:18) The burden-bearers could easily hold a weapon in one hand and balance loads of dirt or rubble on their shoulders or heads.—Genesis 24:15, 45.

(NEHEMIAH 4:18)

“And each of the builders had a sword strapped to his hip while building, and the one to blow the horn stood beside me.”

*** w06 2/1 p. 9 par. 1 Highlights From the Book of Nehemiah ***
4:17, 18—How could a man do the work of rebuilding with just one hand? For burden bearers this would not be a problem. Once the load was placed on their head or shoulders, they could easily balance it with one hand “while the other hand was holding the missile.” The builders who needed both hands to do their work “were girded, each one with his sword upon his hip, while building.” They were ready to go into action in case of an enemy attack.

February 8-14, 2016
Nehemiah 5-8

(NEHEMIAH 5:7)

“So I considered these things in my heart, and I took issue with the nobles and the deputy rulers and said to them: “Each one of you is demanding interest from your own brother.” Further, I arranged for a great assembly because of them.”

*** w06 2/1 p. 9 par. 2 Highlights From the Book of Nehemiah ***
5:7—In what sense did Nehemiah begin “finding fault with the nobles and the deputy rulers”? These men were exacting usury from their fellow Jews in violation of the Mosaic Law. (Leviticus 25:36; Deuteronomy 23:19) Moreover, the interest the lenders were demanding was high. If demanded monthly, “the hundredth” would be equivalent to 12 percent a year. (Nehemiah 5:11) It was cruel to impose this on people already heavily burdened with taxes and a food shortage. Nehemiah found fault with the rich in that, using God’s Law, he reproved and rebuked them and thus exposed their wrongdoing.

*** w86 2/15 p. 25 True Worship Triumphs ***
♦ 5:7—Why was usury wrong?
This was in direct violation of Jehovah’s law. (Leviticus 25:36; Deuteronomy 23:19) “The hundredth,” if exacted monthly, would amount to 12 percent per year. (5:11) The people already were in dire straits due to famine and heavy Persian taxation. (5:3, 4) Yet the rich heartlessly imposed high interest upon their poor brothers.

(NEHEMIAH 5:11)

“Please, restore to them on this very day their fields, their vineyards, their olive groves, and their houses, as well as the hundredth of the money, the grain, the new wine, and the oil that you are demanding as interest from them.””

*** it-1 p. 248 Bank, Banker ***
Certain ones of the Israelites who returned from Babylon to the land of Judah were condemned for applying harsh banking practices toward their needy brothers, exacting security in the form of their homes, lands, vineyards, and even their children, and charging an interest rate of 12 percent annually (one hundredth part per month). Those debtors who defaulted because of insolvency thus suffered the loss of their properties. (Ne 5:1-11)

(NEHEMIAH 5:13)

“Also, I shook out the folds of my garment and said: “In this manner may the true God shake out from his house and from his possessions every man who does not carry out this promise, and in this manner may he be shaken out and emptied.” To this all the congregation said: “Amen!” And they praised Jehovah, and the people did as they promised.”

*** it-1 p. 219 Attitudes and Gestures ***
When Nehemiah shook out his “bosom,” that is, the bosom of his garment, he was signifying utter casting out by God.—Ne 5:13.

(NEHEMIAH 6:1)

“Now as soon as San•balʹlat, To•biʹah, Geʹshem the Arabian, and the rest of our enemies were told that I had rebuilt the wall and that there were no gaps left in it (although up to that time I had not set up the doors in the gates),”

*** it-2 p. 144 Kedar ***
A silver bowl (considered to be of the fifth century B.C.E.) found at Tell el-Maskhutah in Egypt bears the Aramaic inscription: “Qainu bar [son of] Gesem [Geshem], king of Qedar [Kedar].” The Geshem meant in this case may possibly be “Geshem the Arabian” who opposed the work of rebuilding Jerusalem’s wall in Nehemiah’s day.—Ne 2:19; 6:1, 2, 6.

(NEHEMIAH 6:2)

“San•balʹlat and Geʹshem immediately sent this message to me: “Come, and let us set a time to meet together in the villages of the Valley Plain of Oʹno.” But they were scheming to harm me.”

*** w07 7/1 p. 30 par. 13 “Keep Conquering the Evil With the Good” ***
13 First, Nehemiah’s enemies tried to deceive him. They told him: “Come, and let us meet together by appointment in the villages of the valley plain of Ono.” Ono lay between Jerusalem and Samaria. So the enemies proposed that Nehemiah meet them halfway to resolve the differences. Nehemiah could have thought: ‘That sounds reasonable. It is better to talk than to fight.’ But Nehemiah refused. He explained why: “They were scheming to do me harm.” He saw through their scheme and was not deceived. Four times he told his opposers: “I am not able to go down. Why should the work cease while I take off from it and have to go down to you?” The enemies’ attempts to get Nehemiah to compromise failed. He kept his eye focused on the building work.—Nehemiah 6:1-4.

*** it-2 p. 557 Ono ***
“The valley plain of Ono” (Ne 6:2) possibly denotes the wide valley in which Kafr ʽAna lies. This “valley plain” has also been associated with “the valley of the craftsmen [geh ha•chara•shimʹ].” (Ne 11:35) But some scholars understand the Hebrew geh ha•chara•shimʹ to designate another location and transliterate it as a proper name, “Ge-harashim.”—JP; compare 1Ch 4:14.

(NEHEMIAH 6:5)

“Then San•balʹlat sent his attendant to me with the same message a fifth time, with an open letter in his hand.”

*** w07 7/1 p. 30 par. 14 “Keep Conquering the Evil With the Good” ***
14 Second, Nehemiah’s enemies resorted to spreading false rumors, accusing Nehemiah of “scheming to rebel” against King Artaxerxes. Once more, Nehemiah was told: “Let us consult together.” Again Nehemiah refused, for he discerned the enemies’ intention. Nehemiah explained: “All of them were trying to make us afraid, saying: ‘Their hands will drop down from the work so that it will not be done.’” This time, however, Nehemiah did rebut his enemies’ accusation, stating: “Things such as you are saying have not been brought about, but it is out of your own heart that you are inventing them.” Moreover, Nehemiah turned to Jehovah for support, praying: “Strengthen my hands.” He trusted that with Jehovah’s help, he would be able to foil this evil plot and push forward with the building project.—Nehemiah 6:5-9.

*** w06 2/1 p. 9 par. 3 Highlights From the Book of Nehemiah ***
6:5—Since confidential letters were usually placed in a sealed bag, why did Sanballat send “an open letter” to Nehemiah? Sanballat may have intended to make public the false charges brought forth by sending them in an open letter. Perhaps he hoped that this would anger Nehemiah so much that he would leave the building work and come to defend himself. Or Sanballat may have thought that the contents of the letter would cause such alarm among the Jews that they would stop their work altogether. Nehemiah refused to be intimidated and calmly continued in his God-assigned work.

*** it-2 p. 239 Letters ***
Confidential letters were usually sealed. (1Ki 21:8) Sanballat’s disrespectful action in sending an open letter to Nehemiah may have been intended to cause the false charges set forth therein to become public knowledge.—Ne 6:5.

*** w86 2/15 p. 25 True Worship Triumphs ***
♦ 6:5—Why an “open letter”?
Confidential letters were often placed in carefully sealed bags. Thus Sanballat’s sending an “open letter” may have been intended as an insult. Or, since the accusation in an “open letter” could be read by others, he may have hoped that Nehemiah would become so upset that he would leave Jerusalem to come and clear himself of the charges. Sanballat may also have hoped that the letter would create such alarm that the Jews would stop their work.

(NEHEMIAH 6:6)

“There it was written: “Among the nations it has been heard, and Geʹshem is also saying it, that you and the Jews are scheming to rebel. That is why you are building the wall; and according to these reports you are to become their king.”

*** w07 7/1 p. 30 par. 14 “Keep Conquering the Evil With the Good” ***
14 Second, Nehemiah’s enemies resorted to spreading false rumors, accusing Nehemiah of “scheming to rebel” against King Artaxerxes. Once more, Nehemiah was told: “Let us consult together.” Again Nehemiah refused, for he discerned the enemies’ intention. Nehemiah explained: “All of them were trying to make us afraid, saying: ‘Their hands will drop down from the work so that it will not be done.’” This time, however, Nehemiah did rebut his enemies’ accusation, stating: “Things such as you are saying have not been brought about, but it is out of your own heart that you are inventing them.” Moreover, Nehemiah turned to Jehovah for support, praying: “Strengthen my hands.” He trusted that with Jehovah’s help, he would be able to foil this evil plot and push forward with the building project.—Nehemiah 6:5-9.

*** it-1 p. 927 Geshem ***
GESHEM
(Geʹshem) [possibly, Downpour; Pouring Rain].
An Arabian, who, along with Sanballat and Tobiah, opposed Nehemiah in the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s wall. These enemies first derided Nehemiah and his coworkers. (Ne 2:19) Then they conspired and plotted against Nehemiah, to no avail. (Ne 6:1-4) Finally, Sanballat sent a letter to Nehemiah, quoting Geshem’s accusation that Nehemiah and the Jews were scheming to rebel and that Nehemiah was becoming a king to them. In this, too, these enemies failed. (Ne 6:5-7) Sanballat’s quoting of Geshem in the letter seems to indicate that he was a man of influence. It may be noted that relations between the Persian court and the Arab tribes were reportedly good following Persia’s invasion of Egypt.

(NEHEMIAH 6:10)

“Then I went to the house of She•maiʹah the son of De•laʹiah the son of Me•hetʹa•bel while he was confined there. He said: “Let us set a time to meet at the house of the true God, within the temple, and let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you. They are coming to kill you by night.””

*** w07 7/1 pp. 30-31 par. 15 “Keep Conquering the Evil With the Good” ***
15 Third, Nehemiah’s enemies used a traitor, the Israelite Shemaiah, to try to make Nehemiah break God’s Law. Shemaiah said to Nehemiah: “Let us meet by appointment at the house of the true God, within the temple, and let us close the doors of the temple; for they are coming in to kill you.” Shemaiah said that Nehemiah was about to be assassinated but that he could save his life by hiding in the temple. However, Nehemiah was not a priest. He would commit a sin by hiding in the house of God. Would he break God’s Law in an attempt to save his life? Nehemiah responded: “Who is there like me that could enter into the temple and live? I shall not enter!” Why did Nehemiah not fall into the trap that had been set for him? Because he knew that although Shemaiah was a fellow Israelite, “it was not God that had sent him.” After all, a true prophet would never advise him to break God’s Law. Again, Nehemiah did not let himself be conquered by evil opposers. Shortly thereafter he could report: “At length the wall came to completion on the twenty-fifth day of Elul, in fifty-two days.”—Nehemiah 6:10-15; Numbers 1:51; 18:7.

(NEHEMIAH 6:14)

“Do remember, O my God, To•biʹah and San•balʹlat and these deeds, and also No•a•diʹah the prophetess and the rest of the prophets who were constantly trying to frighten me.”

*** it-2 p. 698 Prophetess ***
Nehemiah speaks unfavorably of the prophetess Noadiah, who, along with “the rest of the prophets,” tried to instill fear in Nehemiah and so obstruct the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls. (Ne 6:14) Though she acted in opposition to God’s will, this does not necessarily mean that she had not held a valid standing as a prophetess prior thereto.

(NEHEMIAH 6:15)

“So the wall was completed on the 25th day of Eʹlul, in 52 days.”

*** nwt p. 1697 Glossary ***
Elul. After the Babylonian exile, the name of the 6th month of the Jewish sacred calendar and the 12th month of the secular calendar. It ran from mid-August to mid-September. (Ne 6:15)—See App. B15.

*** nwt p. 1796 B15 Hebrew Calendar ***
ELUL August—September

Heat continues
Dates, grapes, and figs

(NEHEMIAH 7:1)

“As soon as the wall had been rebuilt I set up the doors; then the gatekeepers, the singers, and the Levites were appointed.”

*** it-2 p. 453 Music ***
Thus, it is understandable that, although the singers were all Levites, the Bible makes reference to them as a special body, speaking of “the singers and the Levites.”—Ne 7:1; 13:10.

(NEHEMIAH 7:2)

“I then put my brother Ha•naʹni in charge of Jerusalem, along with Han•a•niʹah the chief of the Fortress, for he was a most trustworthy man and feared the true God more than many others.”

*** it-1 p. 422 Castle ***
Nehemiah built a castle or fortress just to the NW of the rebuilt temple, the direction from which the grounds were most vulnerable. (Ne 2:8; 7:2) Evidently this castle was replaced by the Maccabees and rebuilt by Herod the Great, who named it the Tower (Fortress) of Antonia. It was here that Paul was interrogated by the Roman military commander.—Ac 21:31, 32, 37; 22:24; see ANTONIA, TOWER OF.

(NEHEMIAH 7:6)

“And these were the people of the province who came up out of the captivity of the exiles, those whom King Neb•u•chad•nezʹzar of Babylon had exiled and who later returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to his own city,”

*** it-2 pp. 139-140 Jurisdictional District ***
Possibly because of having lived in the jurisdictional district of Babylon, the repatriated Jewish exiles are called “sons of the jurisdictional district.” (Ezr 2:1; Ne 7:6) Or, this designation may allude to their being inhabitants of the Medo-Persian jurisdictional district of Judah.—Ne 1:3.

*** w86 2/15 p. 26 True Worship Triumphs ***
♦ 7:6—Why does this list differ from Ezra’s?
Both accounts agree that, apart from slaves and singers, a total of 42,360 returned. (Ezra 2:64, 65; Nehemiah 7:66, 67) But there are differences in the number of returnees in particular households. Most likely, Ezra and Nehemiah used different methods of compiling their lists. For example, one may have listed those who registered to return, while the other named those who actually returned. Some priests, and possibly others, were unable to establish their ancestry. (7:64) This may explain why the sum of the individual listings does not add up to the stated total of 42,360.

(NEHEMIAH 7:7)

“those who came with Ze•rubʹba•bel, Jeshʹu•a, Ne•he•miʹah, Az•a•riʹah, Ra•a•miʹah, Na•hamʹa•ni, Morʹde•cai, Bilʹshan, Misʹpe•reth, Bigʹvai, Neʹhum, and Baʹa•nah. The number of the Israelite men included:”

*** it-1 p. 225 Azariah ***
22. One who returned to Jerusalem with Zerubbabel in 537 B.C.E. following exile in Babylon. (Ne 7:6, 7) Called Seraiah at Ezra 2:2.

(NEHEMIAH 7:15)

“the sons of Binʹnu•i, 648;”

*** it-1 p. 247 Bani ***
4. A family head whose descendants, over 600 in number, returned to Jerusalem with Zerubbabel. (Ezr 2:1, 10) He is called Binnui at Nehemiah 7:15.—See No. 3 above.

(NEHEMIAH 7:21)

“the sons of Aʹter, of Hez•e•kiʹah, 98;”

*** it-1 p. 208 Ater ***
ATER
(Aʹter) [Closed; Impeded].
1. A man of Israel, 98 of whose sons or descendants returned from Babylonian exile with Zerubbabel in 537 B.C.E. (Ezr 2:1, 2, 16; Ne 7:21) They are listed thus: “The sons of Ater, of Hezekiah, ninety-eight,” perhaps indicating that they were offspring of Ater, the descendant of a certain Hezekiah (but probably not the Judean king of that name), or that they were Ater’s descendants through one Hezekiah. It may be a descendant of this Ater who was one of the headmen of the people attesting by seal the “trustworthy arrangement” of Nehemiah’s day.—Ne 9:38; 10:1, 17.

(NEHEMIAH 7:33)

“the men of the other Neʹbo, 52;”

*** it-2 p. 479 Nebo ***
2. A city, representatives of which returned from Babylonian exile. (Ezr 2:1, 29) In the time of Ezra some of “the sons [probably, inhabitants] of Nebo” dismissed their foreign wives. (Ezr 10:43, 44) Apparently to distinguish this Nebo from No. 1, it is designated as “the other Nebo.” (Ne 7:33) Modern Nuba, located about 11 km (7 mi) NW of Hebron, has been presented as a possible identification.

(NEHEMIAH 7:46)

“The temple servants: the sons of Ziʹha, the sons of Ha•suʹpha, the sons of Tab•baʹoth,”

*** w92 4/15 pp. 13-17 Jehovah’s Provision, the “Given Ones” ***
Non-Israelites Also Return
8 When the call went out for lovers of Jehovah in Babylon to return to the Promised Land, thousands of non-Israelites responded. In the lists provided by Ezra and Nehemiah, we read of the “Nethinim” (meaning, “Given Ones”) and “the sons of the servants of Solomon,” whose combined number was 392. The accounts mention also more than 7,500 others: ‘men slaves and slave girls,’ as well as non-Levite “male singers and female singers.” (Ezra 2:43-58, 65; Nehemiah 7:46-60, 67) What moved so many non-Israelites to return?
9 Ezra 1:5 speaks of “everyone whose spirit the true God had roused, to go up and rebuild the house of Jehovah.” Yes, Jehovah moved all those who returned. He stimulated their spirit, that is, their impelling mental inclination. Even from the heavens, God could do this by using his holy spirit, his active force. Thus, all who rose “to go up and rebuild the house of Jehovah” were helped “by [God’s] spirit.”—Zechariah 4:1, 6; Haggai 1:14.
A Modern-Day Parallel
10 Who are foreshadowed by such non-Israelite returnees? Many Christians might reply: ‘The Nethinim correspond to the “other sheep” today.’ True, but not just the Nethinim; for all the non-Israelites who returned represent Christians today who are not of spiritual Israel.
11 The book You May Survive Armageddon Into God’s New World observed: “The remnant of 42,360 Israelites were not the only ones that left Babylon with governor Zerubbabel . . . There were thousands of non-Israelites . . . Besides the Nethinim there were other non-Israelites, the slaves, the professional male and female singers and the descendants of the servants of King Solomon.” The book explained: “The Nethinim, the slaves, the singers and the sons of the servants of Solomon, all non-Israelites, left the land of captivity and returned with the Israelite remnant . . . So is it right to think that today people of different nationalities who are not spiritual Israelites would associate themselves with the remnant of spiritual Israel and promote the worship of Jehovah God with them? Yes.” Such ones ‘have become modern-day, antitypical Nethinim, singers, and sons of the servants of Solomon.’
12 As in the ancient pattern, God provides his spirit also for these hoping to live forever on earth. True, they are not born again. Each of the 144,000 has the singular experience of being born again as a spiritual son of God and anointed with holy spirit. (John 3:3, 5; Romans 8:16; Ephesians 1:13, 14) Of course, that anointing is a unique manifestation of God’s spirit in behalf of the little flock. But God’s spirit is also needed to carry out his will. Hence, Jesus said: ‘The Father in heaven gives holy spirit to those asking him.’ (Luke 11:13) Whether the one asking has the heavenly hope or is of the other sheep, Jehovah’s spirit is abundantly available to carry out His will.
13 God’s spirit moved both Israelites and non-Israelites to return to Jerusalem, and it strengthens and helps all of his loyal people today. Whether a Christian’s God-provided hope is life in heaven or life on earth, he must preach the good news, and holy spirit enables him to be faithful in that. Every one of us—whichever our hope—ought to cultivate the fruits of the spirit, which all of us need in full measure.—Galatians 5:22-26.
Given for Special Service
14 Among the thousands of non-Israelites that the spirit moved to return were two small groups that God’s Word singled out—the Nethinim and the sons of the servants of Solomon. Who were they? What did they do? And what might this mean today?
15 The Nethinim were a group who had non-Israelite origins and who were privileged to minister with the Levites. Recall the Canaanites from Gibeon who became “gatherers of wood and drawers of water for the assembly and for Jehovah’s altar.” (Joshua 9:27) Probably some of their descendants were among the Nethinim returning from Babylon, as well as others who had been added as Nethinim during David’s reign and at other times. (Ezra 8:20) What did the Nethinim do? The Levites were given to help the priests, and thereafter the Nethinim were given to help the Levites. Even for circumcised foreigners, this was a privilege.
16 When the group returned from Babylon, it contained few Levites, compared to the priests or Nethinim and “sons of the servants of Solomon.” (Ezra 8:15-20) The Dictionary of the Bible, by Dr. James Hastings, observes: “After a time we find [the Nethinim] so completely established as a sacred official class, that privileges are accorded to them.” The scholarly journal Vetus Testamentum notes: “A change occurred. After the Return from Exile, these [foreigners] were no longer regarded as slaves of the Temple, but as ministrants in it, enjoying a status similar to that of those other bodies, which officiated in the Temple.”—See the box “A Changed Status.”
17 Of course, the Nethinim did not become the equals of the priests and the Levites. The latter groups were Israelites, who were chosen by Jehovah himself and not to be supplanted by non-Israelites. Yet, the Biblical indications are that in the face of a reduced number of Levites, the Nethinim were given more to do in God’s service. They were assigned living quarters close to the temple. In Nehemiah’s day they worked with priests in repairing walls near the temple. (Nehemiah 3:22-26) And the king of Persia decreed that the Nethinim be exempt from taxes, just as the Levites were exempt because of their temple service. (Ezra 7:24) This indicates how closely these “given ones” (Levites and Nethinim) were then linked in spiritual matters and how the Nethinim’s assignments increased in accord with the need, though they never were counted as being Levites. When Ezra later collected exiles to return, no Levites were initially among them. So he intensified efforts to collect some. That resulted in 38 Levites and 220 Nethinim returning to serve as “ministers for the house of our God.”—Ezra 8:15-20.
18 A second group of non-Israelites singled out were the sons of the servants of Solomon. The Bible gives few details about them. Some were “the sons of Sophereth.” Ezra adds a definite article to that name, making it Has•so•pheʹreth, possibly meaning “the scribe.” (Ezra 2:55; Nehemiah 7:57) They thus may have been a staff of scribes or copyists, possibly temple/administrative scribes. Though of foreign extraction, the sons of the servants of Solomon proved their devotion to Jehovah by leaving Babylon and returning to share in restoring His worship.
Giving of Ourselves Today
19 In our time, God has used the anointed remnant mightily in spearheading pure worship and declaring the good news. (Mark 13:10) How these have rejoiced to see tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, and then millions of other sheep join them in worship! And what delightful cooperation there has been between the remnant and the other sheep!—John 10:16.
20 All the non-Israelites who returned from exile in ancient Babylon parallel the other sheep who now serve with the remnant of spiritual Israel. What, though, of the fact that the Bible singles out the Nethinim and the sons of the servants of Solomon? In the pattern the Nethinim and the sons of the servants of Solomon were given privileges beyond those of other non-Israelite returnees. This could well foreshadow that God today has extended privileges and added duties to some mature and willing other sheep.
21 The Nethinim’s added privileges were linked directly to spiritual activities. The sons of the servants of Solomon evidently received administrative responsibilities. Similarly today, Jehovah has blessed his people with “gifts in men” to care for their needs. (Ephesians 4:8, 11, 12) Included in this provision are many hundreds of mature, experienced brothers who share in ‘shepherding the flocks,’ serving as circuit and district overseers and on Branch Committees at the Watch Tower Society’s 98 branches. (Isaiah 61:5) At the world headquarters of the Society, under the direction of “the faithful steward” and its Governing Body, capable men receive training to help in preparing spiritual food supplies. (Luke 12:42) Other longtime dedicated volunteers have been trained to operate Bethel homes and factories and to oversee programs worldwide in constructing new branch facilities and halls for Christian worship. They have excelled in serving as close helpers of the anointed remnant, who constitute part of the royal priesthood.—Compare 1 Corinthians 4:17; 14:40; 1 Peter 2:9.
22 In ancient times, priests and Levites continued to serve among the Jews. (John 1:19) Today, however, the remnant of spiritual Israel on earth must go on decreasing. (Contrast John 3:30.) Finally, after the demise of Babylon the Great, all 144,000 ‘sealed ones’ will be in heaven for the marriage of the Lamb. (Revelation 7:1-3; 19:1-8) But now the other sheep must go on increasing. The fact that some of them, comparable to the Nethinim and the sons of the servants of Solomon, are now being assigned weighty responsibilities under the oversight of the anointed remnant does not cause them to be presumptuous or feel self-important. (Romans 12:3) This gives us confidence that as God’s people “come out of the great tribulation,” there will be experienced men—“princes”—prepared to take the lead among the other sheep.—Revelation 7:14; Isaiah 32:1; compare Acts 6:2-7.
23 All who returned from Babylon were willing to work hard and prove that they had Jehovah’s worship uppermost in mind and heart. It is the same today. Along with the anointed remnant, “strangers . . . actually stand and shepherd the flocks.” (Isaiah 61:5) So no matter what God-provided hope we have, and no matter what privileges may be extended spirit-appointed elders before the day of Jehovah’s vindication at Armageddon, let all of us cultivate a selfless, wholesome, giving spirit. While we can never repay Jehovah for all of his grand benefits, may we be whole-souled in whatever we are doing within his organization. (Psalm 116:12-14; Colossians 3:23) Thus all of us can give of ourselves for true worship, as other sheep serve closely with anointed ones, who are destined to “rule as kings over the earth.”—Revelation 5:9, 10.

(NEHEMIAH 7:57)

“The sons of the servants of Solʹo•mon: the sons of Soʹtai, the sons of So•pheʹreth, the sons of Pe•riʹda,”

*** w92 4/15 pp. 13-17 Jehovah’s Provision, the “Given Ones” ***
Non-Israelites Also Return
8 When the call went out for lovers of Jehovah in Babylon to return to the Promised Land, thousands of non-Israelites responded. In the lists provided by Ezra and Nehemiah, we read of the “Nethinim” (meaning, “Given Ones”) and “the sons of the servants of Solomon,” whose combined number was 392. The accounts mention also more than 7,500 others: ‘men slaves and slave girls,’ as well as non-Levite “male singers and female singers.” (Ezra 2:43-58, 65; Nehemiah 7:46-60, 67) What moved so many non-Israelites to return?
9 Ezra 1:5 speaks of “everyone whose spirit the true God had roused, to go up and rebuild the house of Jehovah.” Yes, Jehovah moved all those who returned. He stimulated their spirit, that is, their impelling mental inclination. Even from the heavens, God could do this by using his holy spirit, his active force. Thus, all who rose “to go up and rebuild the house of Jehovah” were helped “by [God’s] spirit.”—Zechariah 4:1, 6; Haggai 1:14.
A Modern-Day Parallel
10 Who are foreshadowed by such non-Israelite returnees? Many Christians might reply: ‘The Nethinim correspond to the “other sheep” today.’ True, but not just the Nethinim; for all the non-Israelites who returned represent Christians today who are not of spiritual Israel.
11 The book You May Survive Armageddon Into God’s New World observed: “The remnant of 42,360 Israelites were not the only ones that left Babylon with governor Zerubbabel . . . There were thousands of non-Israelites . . . Besides the Nethinim there were other non-Israelites, the slaves, the professional male and female singers and the descendants of the servants of King Solomon.” The book explained: “The Nethinim, the slaves, the singers and the sons of the servants of Solomon, all non-Israelites, left the land of captivity and returned with the Israelite remnant . . . So is it right to think that today people of different nationalities who are not spiritual Israelites would associate themselves with the remnant of spiritual Israel and promote the worship of Jehovah God with them? Yes.” Such ones ‘have become modern-day, antitypical Nethinim, singers, and sons of the servants of Solomon.’
12 As in the ancient pattern, God provides his spirit also for these hoping to live forever on earth. True, they are not born again. Each of the 144,000 has the singular experience of being born again as a spiritual son of God and anointed with holy spirit. (John 3:3, 5; Romans 8:16; Ephesians 1:13, 14) Of course, that anointing is a unique manifestation of God’s spirit in behalf of the little flock. But God’s spirit is also needed to carry out his will. Hence, Jesus said: ‘The Father in heaven gives holy spirit to those asking him.’ (Luke 11:13) Whether the one asking has the heavenly hope or is of the other sheep, Jehovah’s spirit is abundantly available to carry out His will.
13 God’s spirit moved both Israelites and non-Israelites to return to Jerusalem, and it strengthens and helps all of his loyal people today. Whether a Christian’s God-provided hope is life in heaven or life on earth, he must preach the good news, and holy spirit enables him to be faithful in that. Every one of us—whichever our hope—ought to cultivate the fruits of the spirit, which all of us need in full measure.—Galatians 5:22-26.
Given for Special Service
14 Among the thousands of non-Israelites that the spirit moved to return were two small groups that God’s Word singled out—the Nethinim and the sons of the servants of Solomon. Who were they? What did they do? And what might this mean today?
15 The Nethinim were a group who had non-Israelite origins and who were privileged to minister with the Levites. Recall the Canaanites from Gibeon who became “gatherers of wood and drawers of water for the assembly and for Jehovah’s altar.” (Joshua 9:27) Probably some of their descendants were among the Nethinim returning from Babylon, as well as others who had been added as Nethinim during David’s reign and at other times. (Ezra 8:20) What did the Nethinim do? The Levites were given to help the priests, and thereafter the Nethinim were given to help the Levites. Even for circumcised foreigners, this was a privilege.
16 When the group returned from Babylon, it contained few Levites, compared to the priests or Nethinim and “sons of the servants of Solomon.” (Ezra 8:15-20) The Dictionary of the Bible, by Dr. James Hastings, observes: “After a time we find [the Nethinim] so completely established as a sacred official class, that privileges are accorded to them.” The scholarly journal Vetus Testamentum notes: “A change occurred. After the Return from Exile, these [foreigners] were no longer regarded as slaves of the Temple, but as ministrants in it, enjoying a status similar to that of those other bodies, which officiated in the Temple.”—See the box “A Changed Status.”
17 Of course, the Nethinim did not become the equals of the priests and the Levites. The latter groups were Israelites, who were chosen by Jehovah himself and not to be supplanted by non-Israelites. Yet, the Biblical indications are that in the face of a reduced number of Levites, the Nethinim were given more to do in God’s service. They were assigned living quarters close to the temple. In Nehemiah’s day they worked with priests in repairing walls near the temple. (Nehemiah 3:22-26) And the king of Persia decreed that the Nethinim be exempt from taxes, just as the Levites were exempt because of their temple service. (Ezra 7:24) This indicates how closely these “given ones” (Levites and Nethinim) were then linked in spiritual matters and how the Nethinim’s assignments increased in accord with the need, though they never were counted as being Levites. When Ezra later collected exiles to return, no Levites were initially among them. So he intensified efforts to collect some. That resulted in 38 Levites and 220 Nethinim returning to serve as “ministers for the house of our God.”—Ezra 8:15-20.
18 A second group of non-Israelites singled out were the sons of the servants of Solomon. The Bible gives few details about them. Some were “the sons of Sophereth.” Ezra adds a definite article to that name, making it Has•so•pheʹreth, possibly meaning “the scribe.” (Ezra 2:55; Nehemiah 7:57) They thus may have been a staff of scribes or copyists, possibly temple/administrative scribes. Though of foreign extraction, the sons of the servants of Solomon proved their devotion to Jehovah by leaving Babylon and returning to share in restoring His worship.
Giving of Ourselves Today
19 In our time, God has used the anointed remnant mightily in spearheading pure worship and declaring the good news. (Mark 13:10) How these have rejoiced to see tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, and then millions of other sheep join them in worship! And what delightful cooperation there has been between the remnant and the other sheep!—John 10:16.
20 All the non-Israelites who returned from exile in ancient Babylon parallel the other sheep who now serve with the remnant of spiritual Israel. What, though, of the fact that the Bible singles out the Nethinim and the sons of the servants of Solomon? In the pattern the Nethinim and the sons of the servants of Solomon were given privileges beyond those of other non-Israelite returnees. This could well foreshadow that God today has extended privileges and added duties to some mature and willing other sheep.
21 The Nethinim’s added privileges were linked directly to spiritual activities. The sons of the servants of Solomon evidently received administrative responsibilities. Similarly today, Jehovah has blessed his people with “gifts in men” to care for their needs. (Ephesians 4:8, 11, 12) Included in this provision are many hundreds of mature, experienced brothers who share in ‘shepherding the flocks,’ serving as circuit and district overseers and on Branch Committees at the Watch Tower Society’s 98 branches. (Isaiah 61:5) At the world headquarters of the Society, under the direction of “the faithful steward” and its Governing Body, capable men receive training to help in preparing spiritual food supplies. (Luke 12:42) Other longtime dedicated volunteers have been trained to operate Bethel homes and factories and to oversee programs worldwide in constructing new branch facilities and halls for Christian worship. They have excelled in serving as close helpers of the anointed remnant, who constitute part of the royal priesthood.—Compare 1 Corinthians 4:17; 14:40; 1 Peter 2:9.
22 In ancient times, priests and Levites continued to serve among the Jews. (John 1:19) Today, however, the remnant of spiritual Israel on earth must go on decreasing. (Contrast John 3:30.) Finally, after the demise of Babylon the Great, all 144,000 ‘sealed ones’ will be in heaven for the marriage of the Lamb. (Revelation 7:1-3; 19:1-8) But now the other sheep must go on increasing. The fact that some of them, comparable to the Nethinim and the sons of the servants of Solomon, are now being assigned weighty responsibilities under the oversight of the anointed remnant does not cause them to be presumptuous or feel self-important. (Romans 12:3) This gives us confidence that as God’s people “come out of the great tribulation,” there will be experienced men—“princes”—prepared to take the lead among the other sheep.—Revelation 7:14; Isaiah 32:1; compare Acts 6:2-7.
23 All who returned from Babylon were willing to work hard and prove that they had Jehovah’s worship uppermost in mind and heart. It is the same today. Along with the anointed remnant, “strangers . . . actually stand and shepherd the flocks.” (Isaiah 61:5) So no matter what God-provided hope we have, and no matter what privileges may be extended spirit-appointed elders before the day of Jehovah’s vindication at Armageddon, let all of us cultivate a selfless, wholesome, giving spirit. While we can never repay Jehovah for all of his grand benefits, may we be whole-souled in whatever we are doing within his organization. (Psalm 116:12-14; Colossians 3:23) Thus all of us can give of ourselves for true worship, as other sheep serve closely with anointed ones, who are destined to “rule as kings over the earth.”—Revelation 5:9, 10.

(NEHEMIAH 7:60)

“All the temple servants and the sons of the servants of Solʹo•mon were 392.”

*** w92 4/15 pp. 13-17 Jehovah’s Provision, the “Given Ones” ***
Non-Israelites Also Return
8 When the call went out for lovers of Jehovah in Babylon to return to the Promised Land, thousands of non-Israelites responded. In the lists provided by Ezra and Nehemiah, we read of the “Nethinim” (meaning, “Given Ones”) and “the sons of the servants of Solomon,” whose combined number was 392. The accounts mention also more than 7,500 others: ‘men slaves and slave girls,’ as well as non-Levite “male singers and female singers.” (Ezra 2:43-58, 65; Nehemiah 7:46-60, 67) What moved so many non-Israelites to return?
9 Ezra 1:5 speaks of “everyone whose spirit the true God had roused, to go up and rebuild the house of Jehovah.” Yes, Jehovah moved all those who returned. He stimulated their spirit, that is, their impelling mental inclination. Even from the heavens, God could do this by using his holy spirit, his active force. Thus, all who rose “to go up and rebuild the house of Jehovah” were helped “by [God’s] spirit.”—Zechariah 4:1, 6; Haggai 1:14.
A Modern-Day Parallel
10 Who are foreshadowed by such non-Israelite returnees? Many Christians might reply: ‘The Nethinim correspond to the “other sheep” today.’ True, but not just the Nethinim; for all the non-Israelites who returned represent Christians today who are not of spiritual Israel.
11 The book You May Survive Armageddon Into God’s New World observed: “The remnant of 42,360 Israelites were not the only ones that left Babylon with governor Zerubbabel . . . There were thousands of non-Israelites . . . Besides the Nethinim there were other non-Israelites, the slaves, the professional male and female singers and the descendants of the servants of King Solomon.” The book explained: “The Nethinim, the slaves, the singers and the sons of the servants of Solomon, all non-Israelites, left the land of captivity and returned with the Israelite remnant . . . So is it right to think that today people of different nationalities who are not spiritual Israelites would associate themselves with the remnant of spiritual Israel and promote the worship of Jehovah God with them? Yes.” Such ones ‘have become modern-day, antitypical Nethinim, singers, and sons of the servants of Solomon.’
12 As in the ancient pattern, God provides his spirit also for these hoping to live forever on earth. True, they are not born again. Each of the 144,000 has the singular experience of being born again as a spiritual son of God and anointed with holy spirit. (John 3:3, 5; Romans 8:16; Ephesians 1:13, 14) Of course, that anointing is a unique manifestation of God’s spirit in behalf of the little flock. But God’s spirit is also needed to carry out his will. Hence, Jesus said: ‘The Father in heaven gives holy spirit to those asking him.’ (Luke 11:13) Whether the one asking has the heavenly hope or is of the other sheep, Jehovah’s spirit is abundantly available to carry out His will.
13 God’s spirit moved both Israelites and non-Israelites to return to Jerusalem, and it strengthens and helps all of his loyal people today. Whether a Christian’s God-provided hope is life in heaven or life on earth, he must preach the good news, and holy spirit enables him to be faithful in that. Every one of us—whichever our hope—ought to cultivate the fruits of the spirit, which all of us need in full measure.—Galatians 5:22-26.
Given for Special Service
14 Among the thousands of non-Israelites that the spirit moved to return were two small groups that God’s Word singled out—the Nethinim and the sons of the servants of Solomon. Who were they? What did they do? And what might this mean today?
15 The Nethinim were a group who had non-Israelite origins and who were privileged to minister with the Levites. Recall the Canaanites from Gibeon who became “gatherers of wood and drawers of water for the assembly and for Jehovah’s altar.” (Joshua 9:27) Probably some of their descendants were among the Nethinim returning from Babylon, as well as others who had been added as Nethinim during David’s reign and at other times. (Ezra 8:20) What did the Nethinim do? The Levites were given to help the priests, and thereafter the Nethinim were given to help the Levites. Even for circumcised foreigners, this was a privilege.
16 When the group returned from Babylon, it contained few Levites, compared to the priests or Nethinim and “sons of the servants of Solomon.” (Ezra 8:15-20) The Dictionary of the Bible, by Dr. James Hastings, observes: “After a time we find [the Nethinim] so completely established as a sacred official class, that privileges are accorded to them.” The scholarly journal Vetus Testamentum notes: “A change occurred. After the Return from Exile, these [foreigners] were no longer regarded as slaves of the Temple, but as ministrants in it, enjoying a status similar to that of those other bodies, which officiated in the Temple.”—See the box “A Changed Status.”
17 Of course, the Nethinim did not become the equals of the priests and the Levites. The latter groups were Israelites, who were chosen by Jehovah himself and not to be supplanted by non-Israelites. Yet, the Biblical indications are that in the face of a reduced number of Levites, the Nethinim were given more to do in God’s service. They were assigned living quarters close to the temple. In Nehemiah’s day they worked with priests in repairing walls near the temple. (Nehemiah 3:22-26) And the king of Persia decreed that the Nethinim be exempt from taxes, just as the Levites were exempt because of their temple service. (Ezra 7:24) This indicates how closely these “given ones” (Levites and Nethinim) were then linked in spiritual matters and how the Nethinim’s assignments increased in accord with the need, though they never were counted as being Levites. When Ezra later collected exiles to return, no Levites were initially among them. So he intensified efforts to collect some. That resulted in 38 Levites and 220 Nethinim returning to serve as “ministers for the house of our God.”—Ezra 8:15-20.
18 A second group of non-Israelites singled out were the sons of the servants of Solomon. The Bible gives few details about them. Some were “the sons of Sophereth.” Ezra adds a definite article to that name, making it Has•so•pheʹreth, possibly meaning “the scribe.” (Ezra 2:55; Nehemiah 7:57) They thus may have been a staff of scribes or copyists, possibly temple/administrative scribes. Though of foreign extraction, the sons of the servants of Solomon proved their devotion to Jehovah by leaving Babylon and returning to share in restoring His worship.
Giving of Ourselves Today
19 In our time, God has used the anointed remnant mightily in spearheading pure worship and declaring the good news. (Mark 13:10) How these have rejoiced to see tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, and then millions of other sheep join them in worship! And what delightful cooperation there has been between the remnant and the other sheep!—John 10:16.
20 All the non-Israelites who returned from exile in ancient Babylon parallel the other sheep who now serve with the remnant of spiritual Israel. What, though, of the fact that the Bible singles out the Nethinim and the sons of the servants of Solomon? In the pattern the Nethinim and the sons of the servants of Solomon were given privileges beyond those of other non-Israelite returnees. This could well foreshadow that God today has extended privileges and added duties to some mature and willing other sheep.
21 The Nethinim’s added privileges were linked directly to spiritual activities. The sons of the servants of Solomon evidently received administrative responsibilities. Similarly today, Jehovah has blessed his people with “gifts in men” to care for their needs. (Ephesians 4:8, 11, 12) Included in this provision are many hundreds of mature, experienced brothers who share in ‘shepherding the flocks,’ serving as circuit and district overseers and on Branch Committees at the Watch Tower Society’s 98 branches. (Isaiah 61:5) At the world headquarters of the Society, under the direction of “the faithful steward” and its Governing Body, capable men receive training to help in preparing spiritual food supplies. (Luke 12:42) Other longtime dedicated volunteers have been trained to operate Bethel homes and factories and to oversee programs worldwide in constructing new branch facilities and halls for Christian worship. They have excelled in serving as close helpers of the anointed remnant, who constitute part of the royal priesthood.—Compare 1 Corinthians 4:17; 14:40; 1 Peter 2:9.
22 In ancient times, priests and Levites continued to serve among the Jews. (John 1:19) Today, however, the remnant of spiritual Israel on earth must go on decreasing. (Contrast John 3:30.) Finally, after the demise of Babylon the Great, all 144,000 ‘sealed ones’ will be in heaven for the marriage of the Lamb. (Revelation 7:1-3; 19:1-8) But now the other sheep must go on increasing. The fact that some of them, comparable to the Nethinim and the sons of the servants of Solomon, are now being assigned weighty responsibilities under the oversight of the anointed remnant does not cause them to be presumptuous or feel self-important. (Romans 12:3) This gives us confidence that as God’s people “come out of the great tribulation,” there will be experienced men—“princes”—prepared to take the lead among the other sheep.—Revelation 7:14; Isaiah 32:1; compare Acts 6:2-7.
23 All who returned from Babylon were willing to work hard and prove that they had Jehovah’s worship uppermost in mind and heart. It is the same today. Along with the anointed remnant, “strangers . . . actually stand and shepherd the flocks.” (Isaiah 61:5) So no matter what God-provided hope we have, and no matter what privileges may be extended spirit-appointed elders before the day of Jehovah’s vindication at Armageddon, let all of us cultivate a selfless, wholesome, giving spirit. While we can never repay Jehovah for all of his grand benefits, may we be whole-souled in whatever we are doing within his organization. (Psalm 116:12-14; Colossians 3:23) Thus all of us can give of ourselves for true worship, as other sheep serve closely with anointed ones, who are destined to “rule as kings over the earth.”—Revelation 5:9, 10.

(NEHEMIAH 7:65)

“The governor told them that they should not eat from the most holy things until there was a priest who could consult the Uʹrim and Thumʹmim.”

*** it-2 p. 1144 Urim and Thummim ***
Use Ceased in 607 B.C.E. According to Jewish tradition, use of the Urim and the Thummim ceased when Jerusalem was desolated and her temple destroyed in 607 B.C.E. by the Babylonian armies under King Nebuchadnezzar. (Babylonian Talmud, Sotah 48b) This view is supported by what we read regarding these objects in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. There, certain men who were claimants to priestly descent, but who could not find their names in the public register, were told that they could not eat from the most holy things provided for the priesthood until a priest stood up with Urim and Thummim. But there is no record of their use at that time, and thereafter the Bible makes no further reference to these sacred objects.—Ezr 2:61-63; Ne 7:63-65.

(NEHEMIAH 7:66)

“The total number of the entire congregation was 42,360,”

*** it-2 p. 489 Nehemiah, Book of ***
Both the book of Ezra (2:1-67) and the book of Nehemiah (7:6-69) list the number of men from various families or houses who returned from Babylonian exile with Zerubbabel. The accounts harmonize in giving 42,360 as the total number of males among the returned exiles, apart from slaves and singers. (Ezr 2:64; Ne 7:66) However, there are differences in the numbers given for each family or house, and the individual figures in both listings yield a total of far less than 42,360. Many scholars would attribute these variations to scribal errors. While this aspect cannot be completely ignored, there are other possible explanations for the differences.
It may be that Ezra and Nehemiah based their listings on different sources. For example, Ezra could have used a document listing those who enrolled to return to their homeland, whereas Nehemiah might have copied from a record listing those who actually did return. Since there were priests who were unable to establish their genealogy (Ezr 2:61-63; Ne 7:63-65), it is not unreasonable to conclude that many of the other Israelites faced the same problem. Consequently, the 42,360 men could be the combined total of the number from each family plus many others who were unable to establish their ancestry. Later, however, some may have been able to establish their correct genealogy. This could explain how a fluctuation in numbers might still give the same total.

(NEHEMIAH 7:68)

“Their horses were 736, their mules 245,”

*** it-1 p. 1145 Horse ***
Horses are mentioned among the beasts of burden that would be used to transport God’s scattered people to Jerusalem. (Isa 66:20) It is therefore notable that in the first fulfillment of the restoration prophecies, the returning Jews brought back 736 horses.—Ezr 2:1, 66; Ne 7:68.

(NEHEMIAH 7:69)

“their camels 435, their donkeys 6,720.”

*** it-1 p. 396 Camel ***
Camels are also mentioned among the beasts of burden bringing the brothers of God’s servants to Jerusalem out of all the nations “as a gift to Jehovah.” (Isa 60:6; 66:20) It is of interest that, in the first fulfillment of Isaiah’s restoration prophecy, there were 435 camels among the livestock of the Jews returning from Babylon in 537 B.C.E.—Ezr 2:67; Ne 7:69.

(NEHEMIAH 7:70)

“Some of the heads of the paternal houses contributed to the work. The governor gave to the treasury 1,000 gold drachmas, 50 bowls, and 530 priests’ robes.”

*** nwt p. 1697 Glossary ***
In the Hebrew Scriptures, there is reference to a gold drachma from the Persian period that is equated with the daric. (Ne 7:70;

*** it-1 p. 648 Drachma ***
The Greek silver drachma is not to be confused with the gold “drachma” (dar•kemohnʹ) of the Hebrew Scriptures, a coin generally equated with the Persian daric (8.4 g; 0.27 oz t; $94.50 according to modern values).—Ezr 2:69; Ne 7:70-72.

(NEHEMIAH 8:2)

“So Ezʹra the priest brought the Law before the congregation of men, women, and all who could listen with understanding, on the first day of the seventh month.”

*** w98 10/15 p. 20 A Jerusalem True to Its Name ***
A Wonderful Assembly Day
4 The wall of Jerusalem was finished just in time for the important festival month of Tishri, the seventh month on Israel’s religious calendar. The first day of Tishri was a special new moon feast called Festival of Trumpet Blast. On that day, priests blew on trumpets while sacrifices were offered to Jehovah. (Numbers 10:10; 29:1) This day prepared the Israelites for the annual Day of Atonement on the 10th of Tishri and the joyful Festival of Ingathering from the 15th to the 21st of the same month.
5 On “the first day of the seventh month,” “all the people” gathered, likely being encouraged to do so by Nehemiah and Ezra. Men, women, and “all intelligent enough to listen” were included. Thus, young children were present and were attentive while Ezra stood on a podium and read the Law “from daybreak till midday.” (Nehemiah 8:1-4)

(NEHEMIAH 8:3)

“And he read aloud from it before the public square in front of the Water Gate, from daybreak until midday, to the men, the women, and all who could understand; and the people listened attentively to the book of the Law.”

*** w13 10/15 pp. 21-22 par. 2 Lessons From a Well-Prepared Prayer ***
So on the first day of the new month, Tishri, they gathered together at the public square to hear Ezra, along with other Levites, read aloud and explain God’s Law. (Illustration 1) Whole families, including “all intelligent enough to listen,” stood and listened “from daybreak till midday.” What a fine example for those of us who today attend meetings in comfortable Kingdom Halls! Yet, on such occasions do you sometimes find that your mind wanders and you start thinking about less important matters? If so, consider again the example of those ancient Israelites who not only listened but took to heart what they heard to the extent that they began weeping over their failure as a nation to obey God’s Law.—Neh. 8:1-9.

(NEHEMIAH 8:6)

“Then Ezʹra praised Jehovah the true God, the great One, at which all the people answered, “Amen! Amen!” and lifted up their hands. They then bowed low and prostrated themselves to Jehovah with their faces to the ground.”

*** it-1 p. 216 Attitudes and Gestures ***
‘Falling down’ or ‘falling on one’s face’ is often the way the Scriptures express a person’s prostrating himself. This was usually done by falling on the knees and bowing forward, resting on the hands or, more often, the elbows, with the head touching the ground. (Ge 24:26, 48; Ne 8:6; Nu 16:22, 45; Mt 26:39) In great sorrow or very fervent prayer the petitioner might actually lie on his face with his body outstretched.

(NEHEMIAH 8:7)

“And Jeshʹu•a, Baʹni, She•re•biʹah, Jaʹmin, Akʹkub, Shabʹbe•thai, Ho•diʹah, Ma•a•seiʹah, Ke•liʹta, Az•a•riʹah, Joʹza•bad, Haʹnan, and Pe•laʹiah, who were Levites, were explaining the Law to the people, while the people remained standing.”

*** it-2 p. 1138 Understanding ***
However, even though a person may basically comprehend what is said to him, understanding can also go beyond such simple comprehension; it means that he gets the real significance and sense of the message, then is able to evaluate it, benefit by it, and know what action it calls for. When Ezra the priest read the Law before the people in Jerusalem, “all intelligent [from Heb., bin] enough to listen” were gathered. Even though these had mature minds able to understand all the words, the Levites “were explaining the law to the people [instructing the people in the law, or giving understanding (form of bin)], . . . reading aloud from the book, from the law of the true God, it being expounded, and there being a putting of meaning into it; and they continued giving understanding in the reading.”—Ne 8:2, 3, 7, 8.

(NEHEMIAH 8:8)

“And they continued reading aloud from the book, from the Law of the true God, clearly explaining it and putting meaning into it; so they helped the people to understand what was being read.”

*** w06 2/1 p. 11 par. 4 Highlights From the Book of Nehemiah ***
8:8. As teachers of God’s Word, we ‘put meaning into it’ by using good enunciation and oral emphasis and by expounding on the Scriptures correctly, making clear their application.

*** w96 5/15 p. 16 par. 2 Read God’s Word and Serve Him in Truth ***
We read: “They continued reading aloud from the book, from the law of the true God, it being expounded, and there being a putting of meaning into it; and they continued giving understanding in the reading.” (Nehemiah 8:8) Some suggest that the Jews did not understand Hebrew well and that Aramaic paraphrasing was done. But the text does not indicate mere clarification of linguistic terms. Ezra and the others expounded the Law so that the people could grasp its principles and apply them. Christian publications and meetings also serve to ‘put meaning into’ God’s Word. So do appointed elders, who are “qualified to teach.”—1 Timothy 3:1, 2; 2 Timothy 2:24.

*** si p. 89 par. 10 Bible Book Number 16—Nehemiah ***
An eight-day assembly is next called at the public square by the Water Gate. Ezra opens the program from a wooden podium. He blesses Jehovah and then reads from the book of the Law of Moses from daybreak until midday. He is ably assisted by other Levites, who explain the Law to the people and continue ‘reading aloud from the book, from the Law of the true God, it being expounded, and there being a putting of meaning into it; and they continue giving understanding in the reading.’ (8:8)

*** it-1 p. 145 Aramaic ***
A number of years after the Jews returned from Babylonian exile Ezra the priest read the book of the Law to Jews assembled in Jerusalem, and various Levites explained it to the people, Nehemiah 8:8 stating: “They continued reading aloud from the book, from the law of the true God, it being expounded, and there being a putting of meaning into it; and they continued giving understanding in the reading.” This expounding or interpreting may have involved paraphrasing the Hebrew text into Aramaic, Aramaic possibly having been adopted by the Hebrews when in Babylon. The expounding also, no doubt, involved exposition so that the Jews, even if understanding the Hebrew, would comprehend the deep significance of what was being read.

*** it-1 p. 1070 Hebrew, II ***
Nehemiah 8:8 describes the “putting of meaning” into and “giving understanding” in the reading of the Law. It has been suggested that Hebrew was not then perfectly understood by the returned exiles and that some Aramaic paraphrasing was done. However that may be, the text places particular emphasis on exposition of the sense and application of what was being taught in the Law.—Compare Mt 13:14, 51, 52; Lu 24:27; Ac 8:30, 31.

*** w86 2/15 p. 26 True Worship Triumphs ***
♦ 8:8—How was ‘meaning put into’ the Law?
Apparently, aside from using good enunciation and oral emphasis, Ezra and his assistants expounded the Law and applied the principles of the Law so that the people could better grasp it. Bible-based publications and meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses also serve to ‘put meaning into’ God’s Word.

(NEHEMIAH 8:10)

“He said to them: “Go, eat the choice things and drink what is sweet, and send portions of food to those who have nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord, and do not feel sad, for the joy of Jehovah is your stronghold.””

*** w13 10/15 p. 22 par. 3 Lessons From a Well-Prepared Prayer ***
3 However, this was not the time for public confession of sins. Being a festival day, it was meant to be a joyous time in the worship of Jehovah. (Illustration 2) (Num. 29:1) So Nehemiah told the people: “Go, eat the fatty things and drink the sweet things, and send portions to the one for whom nothing has been prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord, and do not feel hurt, for the joy of Jehovah is your stronghold.” Commendably, the people obeyed, and the day turned into one of “great rejoicing.”—Neh. 8:10-12.

*** w08 12/15 p. 32 Questions From Readers ***
Questions From Readers
At Nehemiah 8:10, the Jews were told to “eat the fatty things,” even though the Law at Leviticus 3:17 said: “You must not eat any fat.” How can these statements be harmonized?
In the original language, the words translated “the fatty things” at Nehemiah 8:10 and “fat” at Leviticus 3:17 are different. The Hebrew word cheʹlev, translated “fat” at Leviticus 3:17, refers to the fat either of animals or of men. (Lev. 3:3; Judg. 3:22) The context of verse 17 shows that the Israelites were not to eat the layers of fat found around the intestines and the kidneys of sacrificial animals nor the fat upon the loins because “all the fat belongs to Jehovah.” (Lev. 3:14-16) So the fat in the body of animals to be offered to Jehovah was not to be consumed.
On the other hand, the word translated “the fatty things” at Nehemiah 8:10 is mash•man•nimʹ, and this is the only occurrence of this word in the Hebrew Scriptures. It is derived from the verb sha•menʹ, which means “be fat, grow fat.” The basic concept of the group of words related to this verb seems to be prosperity and well-being. (Compare Isaiah 25:6.) One of the words most commonly derived from this verb is the noun sheʹmen, which is often translated “oil,” including in the expression “olive oil.” (Deut. 8:8; Lev. 24:2) As used at Nehemiah 8:10, mash•man•nimʹ seems to refer to food prepared with a large quantity of oil and may even have included meat with some traces of fat but not layers of pure animal fat.
Although the Israelites were forbidden to consume the layers of animal fat, they could eat rich, tasty food. Some things, such as cakes made from grain, were cooked, not in animal fat, but in vegetable oil, often olive oil. (Lev. 2:7) Thus, Insight on the Scriptures explains that “the fatty things” here “refers to rich portions, things not skinny or dry, but luscious, including tasty items prepared with vegetable oils.”
Christians, of course, bear in mind that the prohibition against eating fat was part of the Law. They are not under the Law, including its requirements related to animal sacrifices.—Rom. 3:20; 7:4, 6; 10:4; Col. 2:16, 17.

*** w98 10/15 p. 20 par. 6 A Jerusalem True to Its Name ***
6 But this was not the time for mournful weeping. It was a festival, and the people had just completed the work of rebuilding Jerusalem’s wall. Nehemiah therefore helped them to get into the right frame of mind by saying: “Go, eat the fatty things and drink the sweet things, and send portions to the one for whom nothing has been prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord, and do not feel hurt, for the joy of Jehovah is your stronghold.” Obediently, “all the people went away to eat and drink and to send out portions and to carry on a great rejoicing, for they had understood the words that had been made known to them.”—Nehemiah 8:10-12.

*** w95 1/15 p. 11 par. 3 The Joy of Jehovah Is Our Stronghold ***
3 The joy that Jehovah gives is an unfailing stronghold for those walking in his way as integrity keepers. (Proverbs 2:6-8; 10:29) To have God-given joy, of course, people must do the divine will. In this regard, consider what happened in Jerusalem in Ezra’s day. The copyist Ezra and others imparted understanding through a meaningful reading of the Law. Then the people were urged: “Go, eat the fatty things and drink the sweet things, and send portions to the one for whom nothing has been prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord, and do not feel hurt, for the joy of Jehovah is your stronghold.” “Great rejoicing” resulted as the Jews applied the knowledge they had gained and held a joyous Festival of Booths. (Nehemiah 8:1-12) Those who had ‘the joy of Jehovah as their stronghold’ gathered strength for his worship and service.

*** w94 9/1 p. 14 par. 2 Rejoice in Jehovah! ***
“The joy of Jehovah is your stronghold,” or according to the Moffatt translation: “To rejoice in the Eternal is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10) Joy provides strength and is like a stronghold into which one can withdraw for comfort and protection. Joy was instrumental in helping even the perfect man Jesus to endure. “For the joy that was set before him he endured a torture stake, despising shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2) Clearly, being able to rejoice in the face of difficulties is vital for salvation.

*** w92 3/15 p. 19 God-Given Freedom Brings Joy ***
The Joy of Jehovah Is Our Stronghold
3 During that festival, the Jews realized the truthfulness of the words: “The joy of Jehovah is your stronghold.” (Nehemiah 8:10) This joy is our stronghold too if we are standing fast for God-given freedom as dedicated, baptized Witnesses of Jehovah. A few of us have experienced an anointing by holy spirit and adoption into God’s family as heavenly joint heirs with Christ. (Romans 8:15-23) The vast majority of us today have the prospect of life in an earthly paradise. (Luke 23:43) How joyful we should be!

*** it-1 p. 814 Fat ***
The view that the prohibition applied to all fat is not controverted by the text at Deuteronomy 32:14, which speaks of Jehovah as giving Israel “fat of rams” to eat. This is a figurative expression referring to the best of the flock, or as The Jerusalem Bible renders the phrase, “rich food of the pastures.” (See also Da ftn and Kx.) This poetic sense is indicated by later portions of the same verse referring to “the kidney fat of wheat” and “the blood of the grape.” So, too, with Nehemiah 8:10, where the people are commanded, “Go, eat the fatty things,” we are not to conclude that they literally consumed whole fat. “Fatty things” refers to rich portions, things not skinny or dry, but luscious, including tasty items prepared with vegetable oils. Thus, Knox’ translation here reads “regale yourselves with rich meat,” while Moffatt’s translation says “eat the dainty pieces.”

(NEHEMIAH 8:13)

“And on the second day, the heads of the paternal houses of all the people, the priests, and the Levites gathered around Ezʹra the copyist to gain further insight into the words of the Law.”

*** w98 10/15 pp. 20-21 A Jerusalem True to Its Name ***
Another Joyful Gathering
8 On the second day of that special month, “the heads of the fathers of all the people, the priests and the Levites, gathered themselves together to Ezra the copyist, even to gain insight into the words of the law.” (Nehemiah 8:13) Ezra was well qualified to conduct this meeting, since he “had prepared his heart to consult the law of Jehovah and to do it and to teach in Israel regulation and justice.” (Ezra 7:10) No doubt, this meeting highlighted areas where God’s people needed to conform more closely to the Law covenant. Of immediate concern was the need to make proper preparations to celebrate the upcoming Festival of Booths.

(NEHEMIAH 8:14)

“Then they found written in the Law that Jehovah had commanded through Moses that the Israelites should dwell in booths during the festival in the seventh month,”

*** it-1 p. 822 Festival of Booths ***
They were required to dwell in booths (Heb., suk•kohthʹ) for the seven days of the festival. Usually each family occupied one booth. (Ex 34:23; Le 23:42) These were erected in the courts of the houses, on the roofs of the dwellings, in the courts of the temple, in the public squares, and on roads within a Sabbath-day’s journey of the city. The Israelites were to use “the fruit of splendid trees,” palm fronds, boughs of branchy trees and of poplars. (Le 23:40) In the days of Ezra, olive and oil-tree leaves, myrtle (very fragrant), and palm leaves, as well as the branches of other trees, were used to build these temporary structures. The fact that all, rich and poor alike, would dwell in booths, even eating their meals in them during the seven days, and that the booths were all made of the same materials, which had been taken from the hills and valleys of the country, would emphasize the equality of all in relation to the festival.—Ne 8:14-16.

(NEHEMIAH 8:15)

“and that they should make proclamation and announce throughout all their cities and throughout Jerusalem, saying: “Go out to the mountainous region and bring in leafy branches from olive trees, oil trees, myrtle and palm trees, and the leafy branches of other trees to make booths, according to what is written.””

*** it-1 p. 822 Festival of Booths ***
They were required to dwell in booths (Heb., suk•kohthʹ) for the seven days of the festival. Usually each family occupied one booth. (Ex 34:23; Le 23:42) These were erected in the courts of the houses, on the roofs of the dwellings, in the courts of the temple, in the public squares, and on roads within a Sabbath-day’s journey of the city. The Israelites were to use “the fruit of splendid trees,” palm fronds, boughs of branchy trees and of poplars. (Le 23:40) In the days of Ezra, olive and oil-tree leaves, myrtle (very fragrant), and palm leaves, as well as the branches of other trees, were used to build these temporary structures. The fact that all, rich and poor alike, would dwell in booths, even eating their meals in them during the seven days, and that the booths were all made of the same materials, which had been taken from the hills and valleys of the country, would emphasize the equality of all in relation to the festival.—Ne 8:14-16.

(NEHEMIAH 8:16)

“So the people went out and brought them in to make booths for themselves, each one on his roof, as well as in their courtyards, in the courtyards of the house of the true God, in the public square of the Water Gate, and in the public square of the Gate of Eʹphra•im.”

*** it-1 p. 822 Festival of Booths ***
They were required to dwell in booths (Heb., suk•kohthʹ) for the seven days of the festival. Usually each family occupied one booth. (Ex 34:23; Le 23:42) These were erected in the courts of the houses, on the roofs of the dwellings, in the courts of the temple, in the public squares, and on roads within a Sabbath-day’s journey of the city. The Israelites were to use “the fruit of splendid trees,” palm fronds, boughs of branchy trees and of poplars. (Le 23:40) In the days of Ezra, olive and oil-tree leaves, myrtle (very fragrant), and palm leaves, as well as the branches of other trees, were used to build these temporary structures. The fact that all, rich and poor alike, would dwell in booths, even eating their meals in them during the seven days, and that the booths were all made of the same materials, which had been taken from the hills and valleys of the country, would emphasize the equality of all in relation to the festival.—Ne 8:14-16.

February 15-21, 2016
Nehemiah 9-11

(NEHEMIAH 9:1)

“On the 24th day of this month the Israelites assembled; they were fasting with sackcloth and dust on themselves.”

*** w86 2/15 p. 26 True Worship Triumphs ***
♦ 9:1—Why did the Israelites put on sackcloth and dirt?
Putting on sackcloth—a dark-colored garment woven from goat’s hair—was a sign of sorrow. Similarly, putting earth or ashes on the head or body signified deep mourning or humiliation. (1 Samuel 4:12; 2 Samuel 13:19) The Jews did it to express their sad and humble realization of their sins. This was followed by the making of a confession ‘contract,’ “a trustworthy arrangement.” (9:38) Likewise, we must humbly recognize and confess our sins if we are to safeguard our relationship with God.—1 John 1:6-9.

(NEHEMIAH 9:3)

“Then they stood up at their place and read aloud from the book of the Law of Jehovah their God for a fourth of the day; and for another fourth of it they were confessing and bowing down to Jehovah their God.”

*** w13 10/15 p. 22 Lessons From a Well-Prepared Prayer ***
A DAY OF CONFESSION
5 Two days later, the time was right for a public confession on the part of Israel for their failure to keep God’s Law. This was not a festival day of feasting. Instead, God’s people fasted and were dressed in sackcloth as a sign of mourning. Again, God’s Law was read to the people for about three hours in the morning. In the afternoon, “they were making confession and bowing down to Jehovah their God.” (Illustration 5) Then the Levites represented the people with their well-prepared prayer. (Illustration 6)—Neh. 9:1-4.

(NEHEMIAH 9:5)

“And the Levites Jeshʹu•a, Kadʹmi•el, Baʹni, Hash•ab•neiʹah, She•re•biʹah, Ho•diʹah, Sheb•a•niʹah, and Peth•a•hiʹah said: “Stand up and praise Jehovah your God throughout all eternity. And let them praise your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise.”

*** w13 10/15 p. 21 par. 1 Lessons From a Well-Prepared Prayer ***
“RISE, bless Jehovah your God from time indefinite to time indefinite.” With these stirring words, God’s ancient people were assembled to unite in a prayer that is one of the longest in the Bible record. (Neh. 9:4, 5) The gathering took place in Jerusalem on the 24th day of the seventh Jewish month, Tishri, 455 B.C.E.

*** w13 10/15 p. 23 Lessons From a Well-Prepared Prayer ***
PRAISING GOD’S GLORIOUS NAME
8 Even though their prayer was well-prepared, those Levites were humble and felt that the quality of their words could not fully express the praise Jehovah really deserves. Thus, the prayer starts with this modest appeal respecting God’s people: “Let them bless your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise.”—Neh. 9:5.

(NEHEMIAH 9:6)

““You alone are Jehovah; you made the heavens, yes, the heaven of the heavens and all their army, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. And you preserve all of them alive, and the army of the heavens are bowing down to you.”

*** w13 10/15 p. 23 par. 9 Lessons From a Well-Prepared Prayer ***
9 “You are Jehovah alone,” the prayer continues, “you yourself have made the heavens, even the heaven of the heavens, and all their army, the earth and all that is upon it, the seas and all that is in them; and you are preserving all of them alive; and the army of the heavens are bowing down to you.” (Neh. 9:6) Yes, Jehovah God created the entire universe, made up of countless galaxies of stars. Equally marvelous, he created everything on our beautiful planet with its amazing ability to sustain an astonishing variety of life—life that keeps reproducing according to its kind. Witnessing all of this were the holy angels of God, who can also be described as “the army of the heavens.” (1 Ki. 22:19; Job 38:4, 7) Moreover, the angels humbly do God’s will by ministering to sinful humans “who are going to inherit salvation.” (Heb. 1:14) What a splendid example the angels set for us as we serve Jehovah unitedly like a well-trained army!—1 Cor. 14:33, 40.

*** it-1 p. 1060 Heaven ***
“Heavens of the heavens.” The expression “heavens of the heavens” is considered to refer to the highest heavens and would embrace the complete extent of the physical heavens, however vast, since the heavens extend out from the earth in all directions.—De 10:14; Ne 9:6.

(NEHEMIAH 9:7)

“You are Jehovah the true God, who chose Aʹbram and brought him out of Ur of the Chal•deʹans and gave him the name Abraham.”

*** w13 10/15 pp. 23-24 par. 10 Lessons From a Well-Prepared Prayer ***
10 Next, the Levites focused on God’s dealings with Abram, who by his 99th year had not fathered a single child from his barren wife, Sarai. It was then that Jehovah changed his name to Abraham, meaning “father of a crowd.” (Gen. 17:1-6, 15, 16)

*** w13 10/15 p. 24 par. 10 Lessons From a Well-Prepared Prayer ***
“You are Jehovah the true God, who chose Abram and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans and constituted his name Abraham.

(NEHEMIAH 9:13)

“And you came down on Mount Siʹnai and spoke with them from heaven and gave them righteous judgments, laws of truth, good regulations and commandments.”

*** w13 10/15 p. 24 par. 13 Lessons From a Well-Prepared Prayer ***
For example, soon after Israel left Egypt, Jehovah provided for their spiritual needs. “Upon Mount Sinai,” recall the Levites in their prayer to God, he “came down and spoke with them out of heaven and went on to give them upright judicial decisions and laws of truth, good regulations and commandments.” (Neh. 9:13) Jehovah tried to teach his people so that they could be fit bearers of his holy name as the inheritors of the Promised Land, but they forsook the good things they learned.

(NEHEMIAH 9:27)

“For this you gave them into the hand of their adversaries, who kept causing them distress. But they would cry out to you in the time of their distress, and you would hear from the heavens; and because of your great mercy, you would give them saviors to rescue them out of the hand of their adversaries.”

*** w86 6/1 p. 31 Questions From Readers ***
After Joshua’s death, Israel fell away from true worship and came to be afflicted by other peoples. Judges 2:16 says: “So Jehovah would raise up judges, and they would save them out of the hand of their pillagers.” Jehovah first raised up as a judge, or ‘savior,’ the man named Othniel. (Judges 3:9) After that came Ehud, Shamgar, Barak, Gideon, Tola, Jair, Jephthah, Ibzan, Elon, Abdon, and Samson.
Aside from these 12, the Bible mentions Deborah, Eli, and Samuel in connection with judging. (Judges 4:4; 1 Samuel 4:16-18; 7:15, 16) However, Deborah is called first a prophetess, and she is linked with Judge Barak, who particularly took the lead in delivering the people from oppression. Similarly, Eli was principally a high priest, not a ‘savior’ who led Israel to freedom through battle. (Nehemiah 9:27)

(NEHEMIAH 9:32)

““And now, O our God, the God great, mighty, and awe-inspiring, who has kept his covenant and shown loyal love, do not treat lightly all the hardship that has found us, our kings, our princes, our priests, our prophets, our forefathers, and all your people from the days of the kings of As•syrʹi•a down to this day.”

*** w13 10/15 p. 23 par. 7 Lessons From a Well-Prepared Prayer ***
7 The prayer contains only one modest request. It is found in the latter part of verse 32, which reads: “Now, O our God, the God great, mighty and fear-inspiring, keeping the covenant and loving-kindness, do not let all the hardship that has found us, our kings, our princes and our priests and our prophets and our forefathers and all your people from the days of the kings of Assyria down to this day, seem little before you.” Thus, the Levites set a good example for us to praise and thank Jehovah first before making personal requests in our prayers.

(NEHEMIAH 9:38)

““So in view of all this, we are making a binding agreement in writing, and it is attested by the seal of our princes, our Levites, and our priests.””

*** w98 10/15 p. 21 pars. 10-11 A Jerusalem True to Its Name ***
Then the Levites reviewed God’s merciful dealings with his wayward people, made beautiful expressions of praise to Jehovah, and contracted “a trustworthy arrangement” attested by the seal of their princes, Levites, and priests.—Nehemiah 9:1-38.
11 The people in general took an oath to carry out the written “trustworthy arrangement.” They would “walk in the law of the true God.” And they agreed not to enter into marriage alliances with “the peoples of the land.” (Nehemiah 10:28-30) Moreover, the Jews bound themselves to observe the Sabbath, to make an annual financial contribution in support of true worship, to supply wood for the altar of sacrifice, to give the firstborn of their flocks and herds for sacrifices, and to bring the firstfruits of their land to the dining halls of the temple. Clearly, they were determined ‘not to neglect the house of their God.’—Nehemiah 10:32-39.

*** it-1 p. 50 Adonijah ***
3. One of “the heads of the people” whose descendant, if not he himself, joined certain princes and Levites in attesting by seal the confession contract made by the returned Israelites in the days of Nehemiah and Ezra. (Ne 9:38; 10:1, 14, 16) He is suggested by some to be the same as Adonikam at Ezra 2:13, whose descendants, numbering 666, returned from Babylon under Zerubbabel in 537 B.C.E. A comparison of the names of those who as representatives of the people sealed the resolution at Nehemiah 10 and of those listed as heads of the returning exiles at Ezra 2 seems to bear this out.

*** it-1 p. 910 Genealogy ***
Nehemiah, chapter 10, presents a number of names attesting by seal “a trustworthy arrangement” to perform God’s commandments. (Ne 9:38) In these lists, the names given are not necessarily those of the individuals entering into the agreements, but they may refer to the houses involved, the ancestral head being named. (Compare Ezr 10:16.) This may be indicated by the fact that many of the names listed are the same as those listed as returning with Zerubbabel from Babylon some 80 years earlier. So, while those present may in some cases have had the same name as the ancestral head, they may have been merely representatives of the ancestral houses listed by those names.

*** it-2 p. 487 Nehemiah ***
Thereafter a written confession contract was drawn up. This confession contract or “trustworthy arrangement” was attested by the princes, Levites, and priests. Nehemiah, “the Tirshatha [governor],” was the first to attest it by seal. (Ne 8:13–10:1) All the people agreed to refrain from intermarriage with foreigners, to observe the Sabbaths, and to support the temple service. Next, one person out of every ten was selected by lot to dwell permanently in Jerusalem.—Ne 10:28–11:1.

*** it-2 p. 883 Seal ***
Affixing one’s seal to a document could signify an acceptance of the terms contained therein. (Ne 9:38; 10:1)

(NEHEMIAH 10:1)

“Those who attested it by putting their seal to it were: Ne•he•miʹah the governor, the son of Hac•a•liʹah, And Zed•e•kiʹah,”

*** it-1 p. 50 Adonijah ***
3. One of “the heads of the people” whose descendant, if not he himself, joined certain princes and Levites in attesting by seal the confession contract made by the returned Israelites in the days of Nehemiah and Ezra. (Ne 9:38; 10:1, 14, 16) He is suggested by some to be the same as Adonikam at Ezra 2:13, whose descendants, numbering 666, returned from Babylon under Zerubbabel in 537 B.C.E. A comparison of the names of those who as representatives of the people sealed the resolution at Nehemiah 10 and of those listed as heads of the returning exiles at Ezra 2 seems to bear this out.

*** it-1 p. 910 Genealogy ***
Nehemiah, chapter 10, presents a number of names attesting by seal “a trustworthy arrangement” to perform God’s commandments. (Ne 9:38) In these lists, the names given are not necessarily those of the individuals entering into the agreements, but they may refer to the houses involved, the ancestral head being named. (Compare Ezr 10:16.) This may be indicated by the fact that many of the names listed are the same as those listed as returning with Zerubbabel from Babylon some 80 years earlier. So, while those present may in some cases have had the same name as the ancestral head, they may have been merely representatives of the ancestral houses listed by those names.

*** it-2 p. 883 Seal ***
Affixing one’s seal to a document could signify an acceptance of the terms contained therein. (Ne 9:38; 10:1)

(NEHEMIAH 10:14)

“The heads of the people: Paʹrosh, Paʹhath-moʹab, Eʹlam, Zatʹtu, Baʹni,”

*** it-1 p. 50 Adonijah ***
3. One of “the heads of the people” whose descendant, if not he himself, joined certain princes and Levites in attesting by seal the confession contract made by the returned Israelites in the days of Nehemiah and Ezra. (Ne 9:38; 10:1, 14, 16) He is suggested by some to be the same as Adonikam at Ezra 2:13, whose descendants, numbering 666, returned from Babylon under Zerubbabel in 537 B.C.E. A comparison of the names of those who as representatives of the people sealed the resolution at Nehemiah 10 and of those listed as heads of the returning exiles at Ezra 2 seems to bear this out.

(NEHEMIAH 10:16)

“Ad•o•niʹjah, Bigʹvai, Aʹdin,”

*** it-1 p. 50 Adonijah ***
3. One of “the heads of the people” whose descendant, if not he himself, joined certain princes and Levites in attesting by seal the confession contract made by the returned Israelites in the days of Nehemiah and Ezra. (Ne 9:38; 10:1, 14, 16) He is suggested by some to be the same as Adonikam at Ezra 2:13, whose descendants, numbering 666, returned from Babylon under Zerubbabel in 537 B.C.E. A comparison of the names of those who as representatives of the people sealed the resolution at Nehemiah 10 and of those listed as heads of the returning exiles at Ezra 2 seems to bear this out.

(NEHEMIAH 10:32)

“Also, we imposed the obligation on ourselves for each of us to give a third of a shekel yearly for the service of the house of our God,”

*** it-2 p. 1069 Taxation ***
The Jews of Nehemiah’s time obligated themselves to pay a third of a shekel (c. 75 cents) yearly for the service of the temple.—Ne 10:32.

(NEHEMIAH 10:34)

“Also, we cast lots concerning the supply of the wood that the priests, the Levites, and the people should bring to the house of our God by our paternal houses, at the appointed times, year by year, to burn on the altar of Jehovah our God, according to what is written in the Law.”

*** w06 2/1 p. 11 par. 1 Highlights From the Book of Nehemiah ***
10:34—Why were the people required to supply wood? The wood offering was not commanded in the Mosaic Law. This requirement stemmed strictly from the need. Large quantities of wood were needed in order to burn the sacrifices on the altar. Apparently, there were not enough Nethinim, who served as non-Israelite temple slaves. Hence, lots were cast to ensure a continuous supply of wood.

*** w86 2/15 p. 26 True Worship Triumphs ***
♦ 10:34—Were offerings of wood commanded in the Law?
No, but much wood was needed for the fire on the altar. Apparently, not enough Nethinim—non-Israelite temple slaves who were “gatherers of wood”—were among the returnees. (Joshua 9:23, 27) So to ensure a constant wood supply, lots were cast to determine which tribal division should provide it at a particular time.

(NEHEMIAH 10:39)

“For it is to the storerooms that the Israelites and the sons of the Levites should bring the contribution of the grain, the new wine, and the oil, and that is where the utensils of the sanctuary are, as well as the priests who minister, the gatekeepers, and the singers. We will not neglect the house of our God.”

*** w98 10/15 pp. 21-22 A Jerusalem True to Its Name ***
We Should Not Neglect God’s House
10 There is a proper time and place to correct serious deficiencies among God’s people. Apparently realizing that this was such a time, Ezra and Nehemiah arranged for a day of fasting on the 24th of the month of Tishri. Again God’s Law was read, and the people made confession of their sins. Then the Levites reviewed God’s merciful dealings with his wayward people, made beautiful expressions of praise to Jehovah, and contracted “a trustworthy arrangement” attested by the seal of their princes, Levites, and priests.—Nehemiah 9:1-38.
11 The people in general took an oath to carry out the written “trustworthy arrangement.” They would “walk in the law of the true God.” And they agreed not to enter into marriage alliances with “the peoples of the land.” (Nehemiah 10:28-30) Moreover, the Jews bound themselves to observe the Sabbath, to make an annual financial contribution in support of true worship, to supply wood for the altar of sacrifice, to give the firstborn of their flocks and herds for sacrifices, and to bring the firstfruits of their land to the dining halls of the temple. Clearly, they were determined ‘not to neglect the house of their God.’—Nehemiah 10:32-39.
12 Today, Jehovah’s people must be careful not to neglect their privilege of ‘rendering sacred service’ in the courtyards of Jehovah’s great spiritual temple. (Revelation 7:15) This involves regular heartfelt prayers for the advancement of Jehovah’s worship. Living in harmony with such prayers requires preparation for Christian meetings and participation in them, sharing in arrangements to preach the good news, and helping interested ones by returning and, if possible, conducting Bible studies with them. Many who do not want to neglect God’s house make financial contributions toward the preaching work and the maintenance of places of true worship. We may also be able to give our support to the building of urgently needed meeting places as well as to keep them clean and tidy. An important way to show love for God’s spiritual house is to work for the peace of fellow believers and to assist any who are in need of material or spiritual help.—Matthew 24:14; 28:19, 20; Hebrews 13:15, 16.

*** it-2 p. 485 Neglect ***
One of several Hebrew terms having the meaning “neglect” is the verb pa•raʽʹ, which literally means “loosen.” (Nu 5:18) It has the sense “go ungroomed” with regard to physical appearance (Le 10:6), “go unrestrained” with regard to conduct (Ex 32:25), and “neglect” or “shun” discipline. (Pr 13:18; 15:32; compare Ex 5:4, where it is rendered “leave off.”) Another is the word ʽa•zavʹ, which literally means “abandon; leave.” (De 29:25; 1Ki 12:8) Thus, Nehemiah encouraged true worshipers not to “neglect” the house of the true God. (Ne 10:39; compare 13:11.)

(NEHEMIAH 11:1)

“Now the princes of the people were living in Jerusalem; but the rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of every ten to live in Jerusalem, the holy city, while the other nine stayed in the other cities.”

*** it-2 p. 44 Jerusalem ***
Jerusalem was now “wide and great, [but] there were few people inside it.” (Ne 7:4) Following the public reading of Scriptures and celebrations in “the public square that was before the Water Gate” on the E side of the city (Ne 3:26; 8:1-18), arrangements were made to build up the city’s population by bringing in one Israelite out of every ten to dwell there. This was done by casting lots, but additionally there were evidently volunteers. (Ne 11:1, 2)

(NEHEMIAH 11:2)

“Moreover, the people blessed all the men who volunteered to live in Jerusalem.”

*** w06 2/1 p. 11 par. 6 Highlights From the Book of Nehemiah ***
11:2. Leaving one’s hereditary possession and moving into Jerusalem involved personal expense and some disadvantages. Those who volunteered to do this showed a self-sacrificing spirit. We too can show such a spirit when opportunities arise to volunteer our services in behalf of others at conventions and on other occasions.

*** it-2 p. 44 Jerusalem ***
Jerusalem was now “wide and great, [but] there were few people inside it.” (Ne 7:4) Following the public reading of Scriptures and celebrations in “the public square that was before the Water Gate” on the E side of the city (Ne 3:26; 8:1-18), arrangements were made to build up the city’s population by bringing in one Israelite out of every ten to dwell there. This was done by casting lots, but additionally there were evidently volunteers. (Ne 11:1, 2)

*** w86 2/15 p. 26 True Worship Triumphs ***
♦ 11:2—Why were volunteers “blessed”?
Leaving hereditary possessions and moving to Jerusalem would have resulted in some expense and certain disadvantages. Those living in that city may also have been exposed to various dangers. Under such circumstances, others viewed the volunteers as praiseworthy and doubtless prayed that Jehovah would bless them.

(NEHEMIAH 11:5)

“and Ma•a•seiʹah son of Barʹuch son of Col•hoʹzeh son of Ha•zaiʹah son of A•daiʹah son of Joiʹa•rib son of Zech•a•riʹah son of the She•laʹnite.”

*** it-1 p. 185 Asaiah ***
4. The firstborn of the Shilonites (1Ch 9:1-3, 5), listed among those returning from Babylon after the exile. At Nehemiah 11:5 mention is made of Maaseiah as a “Shelanite” descendant of Judah, and because of the similar meaning of the names (Maaseiah meaning “Work of Jehovah”) some consider them to be the same and descended from Shelah, the youngest son of Judah by the daughter of Shua the Canaanite.—Ge 38:2, 5; see MAASEIAH No. 17.

(NEHEMIAH 11:10)

“Of the priests: Je•daʹiah son of Joiʹa•rib, Jaʹchin,”

*** it-1 pp. 1262-1263 Jedaiah ***
4. A priest, or possibly members of the above-mentioned paternal house, who resided in Jerusalem after the return from Babylon. Jedaiah’s being called “the son of” Joiarib at Nehemiah 11:10 may be a copyist’s addition, as is indicated by comparison with 1 Chronicles 9:10.

(NEHEMIAH 11:11)

“Se•raiʹah son of Hil•kiʹah son of Me•shulʹlam son of Zaʹdok son of Me•raʹioth son of A•hiʹtub, a leader of the house of the true God,”

*** it-1 p. 225 Azariah ***
23. One of the priests who lived in Jerusalem following the exile. (1Ch 9:11) In a parallel list (Ne 11:11) the name is Seraiah. Possibly the same as No. 22 above.

(NEHEMIAH 11:23)

“For there was a royal order in their behalf, and there was a fixed provision for the singers as each day required.”

*** it-2 p. 453 Music ***
Later, the king commanded that there was to be “a fixed provision for the singers as each day required.” Although Artaxerxes is credited with this order, most likely it was issued by Ezra on the basis of the power granted to him by Artaxerxes. (Ne 11:23; Ezr 7:18-26)

(NEHEMIAH 11:29)

“in En-rimʹmon, in Zoʹrah, and in Jarʹmuth,”

*** it-1 p. 68 Ain ***
Ain was near the city of Rimmon, and it appears that when it was resettled following the exile in Babylon, the names of the two places were combined as one: En-rimmon. (Ne 11:29) As such, it is usually identified with Khirbet Umm er-Ramamin (Horvat Remalya), lying about 15 km (9 mi) N of Beer-sheba.—See RIMMON No. 2.

(NEHEMIAH 11:30)

“in Za•noʹah, in A•dulʹlam and their settlements, in Laʹchish and its fields, and in A•zeʹkah and its dependent towns. They settled from Beʹer-sheʹba clear to the Valley of Hinʹnom.”

*** it-1 p. 277 Beer-sheba ***
Beer-sheba came to stand for the southernmost point in describing the length of the Promised Land, as expressed in the proverbial phrase “from Dan down to Beer-sheba” (Jg 20:1), or, in a converse direction, “from Beer-sheba to Dan.” (1Ch 21:2; 2Ch 30:5) After the division of the nation into two kingdoms, Beer-sheba continued to be used to indicate the southern extremity of the kingdom of Judah in the expressions “from Geba as far as Beer-sheba” (2Ki 23:8) and “from Beer-sheba to the mountainous region of Ephraim” (where the northern kingdom of Israel began). (2Ch 19:4) In postexilic times the expression was used in a yet more limited form to refer to the area occupied by the repatriated men of Judah, extending from Beer-sheba “clear to the valley of Hinnom.”—Ne 11:27, 30.
In reality, there were other towns of the Promised Land that lay to the S of Beer-sheba, even as there were Israelite towns N of Dan. However, both Dan and Beer-sheba were situated at natural frontiers of the land. In the case of Beer-sheba, its position was below the mountains of Judah on the edge of the desert. Additionally, it was one of the principal cities of Judah (along with Jerusalem and Hebron), and this was not only because it had an excellent supply of water as compared with the surrounding region, thus allowing for both farming and grazing of herds and flocks, but also because important roads converged on it from several directions. From Egypt an ancient route led up by the “Way of the Wells” through Kadesh-barnea to Beer-sheba, being joined by another road over which traveled the camel caravans from the “Spice Kingdoms” of the Arabian Peninsula, heading for Philistia or Judah. From Ezion-geber, at the head of the Gulf of ʽAqaba, another route led up through the Arabah and then turned W, climbing the Ascent of Akrabbim to Beer-sheba. At Gaza, in the Philistine Plain, a road branching from the highway led SE to Beer-sheba. And, connecting it with the rest of Judah, a road ran from Beer-sheba to the NE, climbing the plateau up into the mountains of Judah to Jerusalem and points farther N.—Ge 22:19.

(NEHEMIAH 11:35)

“Lod, and Oʹno, the valley of the craftsmen.”

*** it-2 p. 557 Ono ***
“The valley plain of Ono” (Ne 6:2) possibly denotes the wide valley in which Kafr ʽAna lies. This “valley plain” has also been associated with “the valley of the craftsmen [geh ha•chara•shimʹ].” (Ne 11:35) But some scholars understand the Hebrew geh ha•chara•shimʹ to designate another location and transliterate it as a proper name, “Ge-harashim.”—JP; compare 1Ch 4:14.

February 22-28, 2016
Nehemiah 12-13

(NEHEMIAH 12:11)

“And Joiʹa•da became father to Jonʹa•than, and Jonʹa•than became father to Jadʹdu•a.”

*** it-2 p. 87 Johanan ***
7. Grandson of Eliashib, the high priest contemporary with Nehemiah. His being called Jonathan in Nehemiah 12:11 is probably due to a scribal error, as the names “Johanan” and “Jonathan” are very similar in Hebrew. Johanan is mentioned in Nehemiah 12:22, 23 and in a letter found among the Elephantine Papyri, where he is addressed as high priest.—Jewish Antiquities, by F. Josephus, XI, 297 (vii, 1).

*** it-2 p. 103 Jonathan ***
12. Son of Joiada and grandson of High Priest Eliashib. (Ne 12:10, 11) It is thought that actually verse 11 should read “Johanan” instead of “Jonathan” since Nehemiah 12:22, 23 refers to Johanan as “son of Eliashib” and “son” can signify “grandson.”—See JOHANAN No. 7.

(NEHEMIAH 12:22)

“The heads of the paternal houses of the Levites in the days of E•liʹa•shib, Joiʹa•da, Jo•haʹnan, and Jadʹdu•a were recorded, as were the priests, down to the kingship of Da•riʹus the Persian.”

*** it-1 p. 584 Darius ***
3. Nehemiah 12:22 mentions the recording of Levitical heads of paternal houses “in the days of Eliashib, Joiada and Johanan and Jaddua . . . down till the kingship of Darius the Persian.” Since Eliashib was high priest at the time of Nehemiah’s return to Jerusalem (Ne 3:1) and since by the time of Nehemiah’s second visit to that city (following the 32nd year of Artaxerxes [443 B.C.E.]) Joiada had a married son (Ne 13:28), it is likely that the “Darius” mentioned was Darius Ochus (also called Nothus), who ruled from 423 to 405 B.C.E.
A letter found among the Elephantine Papyri, reckoned as dating from the last years of the fifth century B.C.E., makes reference to “Johanan” as high priest at Jerusalem at that time.

*** it-1 p. 699 Egypt, Egyptian ***
Thus, there was a Jewish colony in Elephantine (Egyptian, Yeb), an island in the Nile near Aswan, some 690 km (430 mi) S of Cairo. A valuable find of papyri reveals conditions prevailing there during the fifth century B.C.E., about the time when Ezra and Nehemiah were active in Jerusalem. These documents, in Aramaic, contain the name of Sanballat of Samaria (Ne 4:1, 2) and of Johanan the high priest. (Ne 12:22)

*** it-2 p. 616 Persia, Persians ***
Down to the Fall and Division of the Empire. Regarding the successors of Artaxerxes Longimanus on the throne of Persia, Diodorus Siculus gives the following information: “In Asia King Xerxes died after a reign of one year, or, as some record, two months; and his brother Sogdianus succeeded to the throne and ruled for seven months. He was slain by Darius, who reigned nineteen years.” (Diodorus of Sicily, XII, 71, 1) The original name of this Darius (known as Darius II) was Ochus, but he adopted the name Darius upon becoming king. He appears to be the “Darius” referred to at Nehemiah 12:22.

(NEHEMIAH 12:27)

“At the inauguration of the walls of Jerusalem, they sought the Levites and brought them to Jerusalem from all the places they lived to celebrate the inauguration with rejoicing, with songs of thanksgiving, and with cymbals, stringed instruments, and harps.”

*** w86 2/15 p. 26 True Worship Triumphs ***
♦ 12:27—When was the wall inaugurated?
The wall was finished on the 25th day of the sixth month, Elul, in 455 B.C.E., and notable gatherings took place in the next month. (6:15; 8:2; 9:1) The inauguration probably followed immediately as the climax of the joyous occasion.

(NEHEMIAH 12:31)

“Then I brought the princes of Judah up on top of the wall. Further, I appointed two large thanksgiving choirs and processions, and the one walked to the right on the wall toward the Gate of the Ash Heaps.”

*** it-1 p. 658 Dung ***
One of Jerusalem’s gates was the “Gate of the Ash-heaps,” usually called “the Dung Gate.” (Ne 2:13; 3:13, 14; 12:31) It was situated a thousand cubits (445 m; 1,458 ft) to the E of the Valley Gate and hence to the S of Mount Zion. This gate was probably so named because of the refuse heaped up in the Valley of Hinnom located below it and to which it led; the city’s garbage was possibly taken out through this gate.

*** it-1 p. 894 Gate, Gateway ***
Although not named as such, the Valley Gate appears to be the point at which the inauguration procession started, one group marching counterclockwise around the walls past the Gate of the Ash-heaps and the other clockwise past the Corner Gate and the Tower of the Bake Ovens.—Ne 12:31-40.

*** it-1 p. 894 Gate, Gateway ***
Gate of the Ash-heaps. This gate is also known as the Gate of the Potsherds and is usually called the Dung Gate. (Ne 2:13; 12:31) Nehemiah’s description seems to place it 1,000 cubits (445 m; 1,458 ft) E of the Valley Gate. (Ne 3:13, 14)

*** it-2 p. 454 Music ***
Much of the group singing in Israel appears to have been antiphonal, either two half choruses alternating in singing parallel lines, or a soloist and an answering chorus alternating. In the Scriptures this apparently is referred to as “responding.” (Ex 15:21; 1Sa 18:6, 7) This type of singing is indicated by the very way some of the psalms are written, such as Psalm 136. The description of the two large thanksgiving choirs in Nehemiah’s time and of their part in the inauguration of the wall of Jerusalem implies that they sang in this style.—Ne 12:31, 38, 40-42; see SONG.

(NEHEMIAH 12:37)

“At the Fountain Gate they went straight ahead up the Stairway of the City of David by the ascent of the wall above the House of David and on to the Water Gate to the east.”

*** it-1 p. 592 David, City of ***
From the above texts it is evident that, although Jerusalem’s area expanded in course of time, the City of David remained a distinct sector. This held true even after the return from Babylonian exile, certain features of the city being mentioned in connection with the work crews repairing the city walls. (Ne 3:15, 16) “The Stairway of the City of David” apparently led down from the southern extremity of the city. (Ne 12:37) Excavations here have revealed portions of such a stairway, and a flight of steps roughly cut in the rock still leads down from the hill at this point.

*** it-1 p. 896 Gate, Gateway ***
Fountain Gate. This gate was so called because of its giving access to a spring or fountain nearby, perhaps En-rogel, which was below the junction of the Kidron Valley and the Valley of Hinnom. Probably the gate was at the S tip of the E hill of the city (that is, at the southern end of “the City of David”). (Ne 2:14; 3:15; 12:37) The Fountain Gate would afford convenient exit and access to En-rogel for those living in the City of David, while the Gate of the Ash-heaps, not far to the SW, would also lead out toward En-rogel and would likely be a better exit for the residents of the Tyropoeon Valley and the SW hill of the city.

(NEHEMIAH 12:38)

“The other thanksgiving choir walked in the opposite direction, and I followed it with half of the people, on the wall up over the Tower of the Ovens and on to the Broad Wall”

*** it-1 p. 243 Bake, Baker ***
Years later, when Jerusalem’s walls were restored under Nehemiah’s supervision, “the Tower of the Bake Ovens” was also repaired. (Ne 3:11; 12:38) Just how the tower came to be named is uncertain, but it is possible that it was given its unusual name because the ovens of commercial bakers were located there.

*** it-2 p. 564 Oven ***
“The Tower of the Bake Ovens” in Jerusalem was repaired under Nehemiah’s direction during the restoration of the city’s walls. (Ne 3:11; 12:38) This name’s origin is uncertain, but it has been suggested that the tower was so named because commercial bakers had their ovens situated in that vicinity.

*** it-2 p. 1118 Tower ***
Jerusalem’s Towers. The Tower of the Bake Ovens was located on the NW side of the city near or at the Corner Gate. (Ne 3:11; 12:38) Why it was so named is not certain, but quite possibly commercial bakers were present in that vicinity. It may have been one of the towers built by Uzziah, who reigned in Jerusalem from 829 to 778 B.C.E. (2Ch 26:9)

(NEHEMIAH 12:39)

“and up over the Gate of Eʹphra•im and on to the Gate of the Old City and on to the Fish Gate, the Tower of Ha•nanʹel, the Tower of Meʹah, and on to the Sheep Gate; and they came to a halt at the Gate of the Guard.”

*** it-1 p. 894 Gate, Gateway ***
Gate of the Old City. The Gate of the Old City was located on the NW side of the city between the Fish Gate and the Gate of Ephraim. (Ne 3:6; 12:39) In Hebrew, the gate is called simply “Gate of the Old,” the word “city” being supplied by some translators. It is suggested that the name was derived from its having been the main N entrance to the old city. It may have been at the junction of the Broad Wall (that formed a N boundary of the old city) and the S end of the W wall of the second quarter. Some think that this gate is identical with “the First Gate” mentioned by Zechariah. He seemingly refers to the E-W limits of the city in saying “from [1] the Gate of Benjamin all the way to the place of [2] the First Gate, all the way to [3] the Corner Gate,” and to the N-S limits in saying “from the Tower of Hananel all the way to the press vats of the king.” (Zec 14:10) Others would connect the Gate of the Old City with “the Middle Gate” mentioned at Jeremiah 39:3. Some term this Gate of the Old City the “Mishneh Gate” and locate it in the W wall of the second quarter.

*** it-1 p. 894 Gate, Gateway ***
Sheep Gate. The Sheep Gate was rebuilt by Eliashib the high priest and associate priests. (Ne 3:1, 32; 12:39) This fact would indicate that it was near the temple area. Its location was probably in the wall of the second quarter, the part built by Manasseh (see “Fish Gate” below), at or near the NE corner of the city. This gate may have been so named because through it were brought sheep and goats for sacrifice or perhaps for a market that was located nearby. “The sheepgate” mentioned at John 5:2 is likely this Sheep Gate or a later gate corresponding to it, for it was located in the same vicinity, near the pool of Bethzatha.

*** it-1 p. 894 Gate, Gateway ***
In Nehemiah’s reconstruction and procession accounts, the Fish Gate is placed W of the Sheep Gate, perhaps near the N end of the Tyropoeon Valley. (Ne 3:3; 12:39)

*** it-1 p. 896 Gate, Gateway ***
The Horse Gate is omitted in the inauguration procession account, evidently because the two parts of the procession left off at the Water Gate and the Gate of the Guard, respectively, and did not walk over the section of the wall E of the temple, where the Horse Gate and the Inspection Gate were located.—Ne 12:37-40.

*** it-2 p. 1118 Tower ***
Close by it and to the E near the Sheep Gate was the Tower of Meah. Why it was called Meah, meaning “Hundred,” is not known.—Ne 3:1; 12:39.

(NEHEMIAH 13:1)

“On that day the book of Moses was read in the hearing of the people, and it was found written that no Amʹmon•ite or Moʹab•ite should ever enter the congregation of the true God,”

*** it-1 p. 95 Ammonites ***
Intermarriage With Israelites. Following the return of the Jews from exile (537 B.C.E.), an Ammonite named Tobiah took a leading part in endeavoring to obstruct the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls. (Ne 4:3, 7, 8) Yet later he had the audacity to make use of a dining hall within the temple precincts, until Nehemiah indignantly threw his furniture out. (Ne 13:4-8; see TOBIAH No. 2.) Many of the returned Jewish exiles also had taken wives of Ammonite and other foreign extraction and were severely rebuked for this, resulting in a general dismissal of such wives.—Ezr 9:1, 2; 10:10-19, 44; Ne 13:23-27.
After Tobiah’s ejection from the temple grounds, God’s law at Deuteronomy 23:3-6 prohibiting the entry of Ammonites and Moabites into the congregation of Israel was read and applied. (Ne 13:1-3) This restriction, imposed some 1,000 years earlier because of the Ammonite and Moabite refusal to succor the Israelites when they were approaching the Promised Land, is generally understood to mean that these people could not enter into full legal membership in the nation of Israel with all the concomitant rights and privileges that such membership would signify. It does not mean, of necessity, that Ammonite and Moabite individuals could not associate themselves with or reside among the Israelites and thereby benefit from the divine blessings upon God’s people, and this is evident from the inclusion of Zelek, mentioned earlier, among David’s chief warriors, as well as from the record concerning Ruth the Moabitess.—Ru 1:4, 16-18.
As to this latter case, Ruth’s marriage to Boaz shows that females of these nations, upon turning to the worship of the true God, could be acceptable for marriage by Jewish males. Because the terms “Ammonite” and “Moabite” in the Hebrew text of Deuteronomy 23:3-6 are in the masculine gender, the Jewish Mishnah (Yevamot 8:3) argues that only male Ammonites and Moabites were excluded from Israel. Nevertheless, Ezra’s insistence that the Jewish men send away their foreign wives and Nehemiah’s similar attitude, previously mentioned, indicate that the admission of Ammonite and Moabite females into association with Israel was dependent upon their acceptance of true worship.

(NEHEMIAH 13:3)

“As soon as they heard the Law, they began to separate from Israel all those of foreign descent.”

*** it-2 p. 417 Mixed Company ***
At Nehemiah 13:3 and Jeremiah 25:20 the expression “mixed company” denotes non-Israelites. The Nehemiah reference pertains to such foreigners as Moabites and Ammonites. (Ne 13:1) That the sons of these foreigners (half-Israelite) may also have been included is suggested by the fact that earlier the Israelites dismissed both their foreign wives and sons.—Ezr 10:44.

*** w86 2/15 p. 26 True Worship Triumphs ***
♦ 13:3—Who made up this “mixed company”?
The “mixed company” apparently included such foreigners as Moabites, Ammonites, and the half-Israelite sons of foreigners. (13:1, 2) This is suggested by the fact that earlier the Jews dismissed both their foreign wives and their sons. (Ezra 10:44) Again the Jews had taken foreign wives, and this necessitated exclusion of these women and their offspring from the community, the land itself, and thus from privileges of worship with Jehovah’s people.—Nehemiah 13:23-31.

(NEHEMIAH 13:4)

“Now before this, the priest in charge of the storerooms of the house of our God was E•liʹa•shib, a relative of To•biʹah.”

*** w13 8/15 p. 4 par. 8 You Have Been Sanctified ***
8 We do well to remember that “bad associations spoil useful habits.” (1 Cor. 15:33) Some of our relatives might not be a positive influence in our lives. Eliashib had set a good example for the people by fully supporting Nehemiah in the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls. (Neh. 3:1) In time, however, the unwholesome influence of Tobiah and others apparently led Eliashib to do things that left him defiled before Jehovah.

*** w13 8/15 p. 4 pars. 5-6 You Have Been Sanctified ***
5 Read Nehemiah 13:4-9. We are surrounded by unclean influences, so it is not easy for us to remain holy. Consider Eliashib and Tobiah. Eliashib was the high priest, and Tobiah was an Ammonite and likely a petty official in the Persian administration of Judea. Tobiah and his associates had opposed Nehemiah’s efforts to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls. (Neh. 2:10) Ammonites were forbidden to come onto the temple grounds. (Deut. 23:3) So why would the high priest provide space in a temple dining hall for such a man as Tobiah?
6 Tobiah had become a close associate of Eliashib. Tobiah and his son Jehohanan had married Jewish women, and many Jews spoke highly of Tobiah. (Neh. 6:17-19) One of Eliashib’s grandsons was married to the daughter of Sanballat, governor of Samaria, who was one of Tobiah’s closest associates. (Neh. 13:28) These ties may explain why High Priest Eliashib allowed an unbeliever and opposer to influence him.

(NEHEMIAH 13:5)

“He had made available for him a large storeroom, where previously they used to put the grain offering, the frankincense, and the utensils and the tenth of the grain, the new wine, and the oil, to which the Levites, the singers, and the gatekeepers are entitled, along with the contribution for the priests.”

*** w13 8/15 p. 4 pars. 5-6 You Have Been Sanctified ***
5 Read Nehemiah 13:4-9. We are surrounded by unclean influences, so it is not easy for us to remain holy. Consider Eliashib and Tobiah. Eliashib was the high priest, and Tobiah was an Ammonite and likely a petty official in the Persian administration of Judea. Tobiah and his associates had opposed Nehemiah’s efforts to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls. (Neh. 2:10) Ammonites were forbidden to come onto the temple grounds. (Deut. 23:3) So why would the high priest provide space in a temple dining hall for such a man as Tobiah?
6 Tobiah had become a close associate of Eliashib. Tobiah and his son Jehohanan had married Jewish women, and many Jews spoke highly of Tobiah. (Neh. 6:17-19) One of Eliashib’s grandsons was married to the daughter of Sanballat, governor of Samaria, who was one of Tobiah’s closest associates. (Neh. 13:28) These ties may explain why High Priest Eliashib allowed an unbeliever and opposer to influence him.

*** w13 8/15 p. 4 par. 8 You Have Been Sanctified ***
8 We do well to remember that “bad associations spoil useful habits.” (1 Cor. 15:33) Some of our relatives might not be a positive influence in our lives. Eliashib had set a good example for the people by fully supporting Nehemiah in the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls. (Neh. 3:1) In time, however, the unwholesome influence of Tobiah and others apparently led Eliashib to do things that left him defiled before Jehovah.

(NEHEMIAH 13:6)

“And during all this time I was not in Jerusalem, for I went to the king in the 32nd year of King Ar•ta•xerxʹes of Babylon; and sometime later I asked the king for a leave of absence.”

*** w06 2/1 p. 11 par. 2 Highlights From the Book of Nehemiah ***
13:6, footnote—How long was Nehemiah absent from Jerusalem? The Bible says only that “sometime later,” or “at the end of days,” Nehemiah asked for a leave of absence from the king to return to Jerusalem. Therefore, it is impossible to determine the length of his absence. Upon his return to Jerusalem, though, Nehemiah found that the priesthood was not being supported, nor was the Sabbath law being observed. Many had taken foreign wives, and their offspring did not even speak the language of the Jews. For conditions to deteriorate so much, Nehemiah must have been gone for a long time.

*** si p. 173 par. 3 Bible Book Number 39—Malachi ***
However, much is said concerning the abuses by the priesthood, tying Malachi in with the situation that existed when Nehemiah came a second time to Jerusalem, following his recall to Babylon by Artaxerxes in 443 B.C.E., the 32nd year of the king’s reign. (Mal. 2:1; Neh. 13:6)

*** it-1 p. 182 Artaxerxes ***
Nehemiah 13:6 refers to “the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes,” that is, 443 B.C.E., when Nehemiah returned for a time to the court of this king.

*** it-2 pp. 488-489 Nehemiah, Book of ***
Accordingly, the Chislev preceding Nisan of that 20th year would fall in 456 B.C.E., and the 32nd year of Artaxerxes’ reign (the last date mentioned in Nehemiah [13:6]) would include part of 443 B.C.E. Therefore, the book of Nehemiah covers a period from Chislev of 456 B.C.E. until sometime after 443 B.C.E.
It was in the 32nd year of Artaxerxes’ reign that Nehemiah left Jerusalem. Upon his return, he found that the Jews were not supporting the priests and Levites, the Sabbath law was being violated, many had married foreign women, and the offspring of the mixed marriages did not even know how to speak the language of the Jews. (Ne 13:10-27) For conditions to have deteriorated to this point indicates that Nehemiah’s absence entailed a considerable period. But there is no way to determine just how long after 443 B.C.E. Nehemiah completed the book bearing his name.

(NEHEMIAH 13:10)

“I also found out that the portions of the Levites had not been given them, so that the Levites and the singers who did the work had gone off, each to his own field.”

*** it-2 p. 453 Music ***
Thus, it is understandable that, although the singers were all Levites, the Bible makes reference to them as a special body, speaking of “the singers and the Levites.”—Ne 7:1; 13:10.

*** it-2 pp. 488-489 Nehemiah, Book of ***
It was in the 32nd year of Artaxerxes’ reign that Nehemiah left Jerusalem. Upon his return, he found that the Jews were not supporting the priests and Levites, the Sabbath law was being violated, many had married foreign women, and the offspring of the mixed marriages did not even know how to speak the language of the Jews. (Ne 13:10-27) For conditions to have deteriorated to this point indicates that Nehemiah’s absence entailed a considerable period. But there is no way to determine just how long after 443 B.C.E. Nehemiah completed the book bearing his name.

(NEHEMIAH 13:11)

“So I reprimanded the deputy rulers and said: “Why has the house of the true God been neglected?” Then I gathered them together and assigned them back to their posts.”

*** w13 8/15 pp. 4-5 par. 9 You Have Been Sanctified ***
9 Read Nehemiah 13:10-13. It appears that contributions to the temple had all but stopped by the time Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem. Not having this support, the Levites were abandoning their assignments and going off to work in their fields. Nehemiah blamed the deputy rulers for the situation. Apparently, they were not caring for their duties. Either they were not collecting the people’s tithes or they were not forwarding them to the temple, as they had been assigned to do. (Neh. 12:44)

*** it-2 pp. 488-489 Nehemiah, Book of ***
It was in the 32nd year of Artaxerxes’ reign that Nehemiah left Jerusalem. Upon his return, he found that the Jews were not supporting the priests and Levites, the Sabbath law was being violated, many had married foreign women, and the offspring of the mixed marriages did not even know how to speak the language of the Jews. (Ne 13:10-27) For conditions to have deteriorated to this point indicates that Nehemiah’s absence entailed a considerable period. But there is no way to determine just how long after 443 B.C.E. Nehemiah completed the book bearing his name.

(NEHEMIAH 13:16)

“And the Tyrʹi•ans who lived in the city were bringing in fish and all kinds of merchandise, selling them to the people of Judah and in Jerusalem on the Sabbath.”

*** it-1 p. 894 Gate, Gateway ***
Fish Gate. Hezekiah apparently built a part of the wall around the second quarter as far as the Fish Gate. (2Ch 32:5; 33:14) In Nehemiah’s reconstruction and procession accounts, the Fish Gate is placed W of the Sheep Gate, perhaps near the N end of the Tyropoeon Valley. (Ne 3:3; 12:39) It is mentioned in conjunction with the second quarter at Zephaniah 1:10. The name may be due to the gate’s nearness to the fish market where the Tyrians sold fish.—Ne 13:16.

(NEHEMIAH 13:22)

“And I told the Levites that they should regularly purify themselves and come and guard the gates to keep the Sabbath day holy. This, also, do remember to my credit, O my God, and show me pity according to your abundant loyal love.”

*** w96 9/15 pp. 16-17 par. 2 May Jehovah Credit Good to Your Account ***
2 One man who gave a good account of himself to God was Nehemiah, cupbearer to Persian King Artaxerxes (Longimanus). (Nehemiah 2:1) Nehemiah became governor of the Jews and rebuilt Jerusalem’s wall in the face of foes and dangers. With zeal for true worship, he enforced God’s Law and showed concern for the oppressed. (Nehemiah 5:14-19) Nehemiah urged the Levites to purify themselves regularly, guard the gates, and sanctify the Sabbath day. He could therefore pray: “This, also, do remember to my account, O my God, and do feel sorry for me according to the abundance of your loving-kindness.” Appropriately, too, Nehemiah concluded his divinely inspired book with the plea: “Do remember me, O my God, for good.”—Nehemiah 13:22, 31.

*** w96 9/15 p. 16 May Jehovah Credit Good to Your Account ***
“This . . . do remember to my account, O my God . . . Do remember me, O my God, for good.”—NEHEMIAH 13:22, 31.

(NEHEMIAH 13:23)

“In those days I also saw Jews who had married Ashʹdod•ite, Amʹmon•ite, and Moʹab•ite women.”

*** it-1 p. 95 Ammonites ***
Intermarriage With Israelites. Following the return of the Jews from exile (537 B.C.E.), an Ammonite named Tobiah took a leading part in endeavoring to obstruct the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls. (Ne 4:3, 7, 8) Yet later he had the audacity to make use of a dining hall within the temple precincts, until Nehemiah indignantly threw his furniture out. (Ne 13:4-8; see TOBIAH No. 2.) Many of the returned Jewish exiles also had taken wives of Ammonite and other foreign extraction and were severely rebuked for this, resulting in a general dismissal of such wives.—Ezr 9:1, 2; 10:10-19, 44; Ne 13:23-27.
After Tobiah’s ejection from the temple grounds, God’s law at Deuteronomy 23:3-6 prohibiting the entry of Ammonites and Moabites into the congregation of Israel was read and applied. (Ne 13:1-3) This restriction, imposed some 1,000 years earlier because of the Ammonite and Moabite refusal to succor the Israelites when they were approaching the Promised Land, is generally understood to mean that these people could not enter into full legal membership in the nation of Israel with all the concomitant rights and privileges that such membership would signify. It does not mean, of necessity, that Ammonite and Moabite individuals could not associate themselves with or reside among the Israelites and thereby benefit from the divine blessings upon God’s people, and this is evident from the inclusion of Zelek, mentioned earlier, among David’s chief warriors, as well as from the record concerning Ruth the Moabitess.—Ru 1:4, 16-18.
As to this latter case, Ruth’s marriage to Boaz shows that females of these nations, upon turning to the worship of the true God, could be acceptable for marriage by Jewish males. Because the terms “Ammonite” and “Moabite” in the Hebrew text of Deuteronomy 23:3-6 are in the masculine gender, the Jewish Mishnah (Yevamot 8:3) argues that only male Ammonites and Moabites were excluded from Israel. Nevertheless, Ezra’s insistence that the Jewish men send away their foreign wives and Nehemiah’s similar attitude, previously mentioned, indicate that the admission of Ammonite and Moabite females into association with Israel was dependent upon their acceptance of true worship.

(NEHEMIAH 13:24)

“Half of their sons were speaking Ashʹdod•ite and the language of the different peoples, but none of them knew how to speak the language of the Jews.”

*** w13 8/15 pp. 6-7 You Have Been Sanctified ***
PRESERVE YOUR CHRISTIAN IDENTITY
16 Read Nehemiah 13:23-27. In Nehemiah’s day, Israelite men were marrying foreign women. During his first visit to Jerusalem, Nehemiah had all the older men sign a written agreement pledging that they would not marry pagans. (Neh. 9:38; 10:30) A few years later, however, he found that not only had Jewish men taken foreign wives but they were about to lose their very identity as God’s sanctified people! The children of these foreign women could not read or speak Hebrew. When they got older, would they identify themselves as Israelites? Or would they rather think of themselves as Ashdodites, Ammonites, or Moabites? Without knowing the Hebrew language, was it likely that they would be able to understand God’s Law? How could they get to know Jehovah and choose to serve him instead of the false gods their mothers worshipped? Swift and decisive action was needed, and Nehemiah took such action.—Neh. 13:28.
17 Today, we need to take positive action in order to help our children acquire a Christian identity. Parents, ask yourselves, ‘How well do my children speak the “pure language” of Scriptural truth? (Zeph. 3:9) Does my children’s conversation reflect the influence of God’s spirit or that of the world?’ Do not quickly become discouraged if you see room for improvement. It takes time to learn a language, especially when we are surrounded by distractions. Your children are facing tremendous pressures to compromise. Therefore, patiently use your Family Worship sessions and other opportunities to help your children to develop a close relationship with Jehovah. (Deut. 6:6-9) Highlight the benefits of being different from Satan’s world. (John 17:15-17) And work to reach the heart.
18 Ultimately, each child will make his or her own decision about serving God. Yet, there is much that parents can do. This includes setting a proper example, specifying clear boundaries, and discussing with your children the consequences of decisions. Parents, no one is in a better position than you are to prepare your children for making a dedication to Jehovah. They need your help to acquire and preserve their Christian identity.

*** it-1 p. 190 Ashdodite ***
At Nehemiah 13:24 the term “Ashdodite” is also applied to their language. In view of the absence of any record of their speech, it cannot be determined whether they were still speaking the ancient Philistine language or a dialect resulting from centuries of foreign domination.

*** it-2 pp. 203-204 Language ***
Nehemiah showed great concern upon learning that the sons of mixed marriages among the returned Jews did not know “Jewish” (Hebrew). (Ne 13:23-25) His concern was for pure worship, as he recognized the importance of understanding the Sacred Scriptures (till then available only in Hebrew) when these were read and discussed. (Compare Ne 13:26, 27; 8:1-3, 8, 9.) Oneness of language in itself would also be a unifying force among the people. The Hebrew Scriptures doubtless were a major factor in the stability of the Hebrew language. During the thousand-year period of their being written, virtually no change in language is noted.

(NEHEMIAH 13:25)

“So I reprimanded them and called down a curse on them and struck some of the men and pulled out their hair and made them swear by God: “You should not give your daughters to their sons, and you should not accept any of their daughters for your sons or yourselves.”

*** it-1 p. 1021 Hair ***
Dishonor, contempt, or reproach could be expressed by pulling out the hair of another’s head or face.—Ne 13:25; Isa 50:6.

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Additionally, Nehemiah took measures to ensure the contributions for the Levites and enforced strict Sabbath observance. He also administered discipline against those who had taken foreign wives, whose sons by these women were not even able to speak the Jewish tongue: “And I began to find fault with them and call down evil upon them and strike some men of them and pull out their hair and make them swear by God: ‘You should not give your daughters to their sons, and you should not accept any of their daughters for your sons or yourselves.’”
Nehemiah’s ‘finding fault’ with these men doubtless was his reproving and rebuking them by means of God’s law, exposing their wrong action. These men were bringing the restored nation into disfavor with God, after God had kindly repatriated them from Babylon to restore true worship at Jerusalem. Nehemiah ‘called down evil upon them,’ meaning that he recited the judgments of God’s law against such violators. He ‘struck’ them, probably not personally, but ordered them flogged as an official judicial action. He ‘pulled out (a portion of) their hair.’ This was a symbol of moral indignation and ignominy before the people. (Compare Ezr 9:3.) Nehemiah then chased away the grandson of High Priest Eliashib, who had become a son-in-law of Sanballat the Horonite.—Ne 13:1-28.

(NEHEMIAH 13:31)

“and arranged for the supply of the wood at appointed times and for the first ripe fruits. Do remember me favorably, O my God.”

*** w13 8/15 p. 7 You Have Been Sanctified ***
REMEMBERED “FOR GOOD”
19 One of Nehemiah’s contemporaries was the prophet Malachi, who revealed that “a book of remembrance began to be written up . . . for those in fear of Jehovah and for those thinking upon his name.” (Mal. 3:16, 17) God will never forget those who have reverential fear of him and love for his name.—Heb. 6:10.
20 Nehemiah prayed: “Do remember me, O my God, for good.” (Neh. 13:31) Like Nehemiah, our names will be in God’s book of remembrance if we continue to avoid bad associations, support theocratic arrangements, give spiritual matters priority, and safeguard our Christian identity. Let us ‘keep testing whether we are in the faith.’ (2 Cor. 13:5) If we maintain our sanctified relationship with Jehovah, he will remember us “for good.”

*** w11 2/1 p. 14 “Remember Me, O My God, for Good” ***
Draw Close to God
“Remember Me, O My God, for Good”
“I THOUGHT that Jehovah, who knows me so well, could never love me or approve of me.” So wrote a faithful Christian woman who has struggled with a lack of self-worth. Have you ever been plagued with similar feelings, thinking that you do not merit God’s attention, let alone have his approval? If so, the words recorded at Nehemiah 13:31 may be of encouragement to you.
Nehemiah, governor of the Jews in the fifth century B.C.E., did his best to please God. He spearheaded the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls despite enemy opposition. He enforced God’s Law, cared for the oppressed, and sought to build up the faith of his fellow Israelites. Did God notice the good that this faithful man had done? Did Nehemiah have Jehovah’s approval? We can discern the answers in the closing words of the book that bears his name.
Nehemiah prays: “Do remember me, O my God, for good.” Is Nehemiah afraid that his good deeds have gone unnoticed by God or that God will forget about him? No. Nehemiah is no doubt aware of what earlier Bible writers have said about Jehovah’s keen interest in his faithful worshippers and their good deeds. (Exodus 32:32, 33; Psalm 56:8) What, then, is he asking God to do? One reference work notes that the Hebrew term translated “remember” implies “the affection of the mind and the action which accompanies recollection.” With full faith in the power of prayer, Nehemiah is asking God to remember him with affection and to bless him.—Nehemiah 2:4.
Will Jehovah answer Nehemiah’s prayer for remembrance? In one respect, he already has. The very fact that Jehovah saw fit to have a permanent record made of Nehemiah’s prayer, making it part of the inspired Scriptures, assures us that he remembers Nehemiah with affection. But the “Hearer of prayer” will do more to answer Nehemiah’s heartfelt request.—Psalm 65:2.
God will yet reward Nehemiah for all the good that he did for pure worship. (Hebrews 11:6) In the coming righteous new world that Jehovah has promised, he will bless Nehemiah by resurrecting him from the dead. (2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:3, 4) There, with the prospect of everlasting life on a paradise earth, Nehemiah will see that Jehovah has, indeed, remembered him for good.
Nehemiah’s prayer attests to the truthfulness of King David’s words: “You yourself will bless anyone righteous, O Jehovah; as with a large shield, with approval you will surround them.” (Psalm 5:12) Yes, God notices and values our sincere efforts to please him. As long as you do your best to serve him, you can be confident that he will remember you with affection and will richly bless you.

*** w96 9/15 pp. 16-17 par. 2 May Jehovah Credit Good to Your Account ***
2 One man who gave a good account of himself to God was Nehemiah, cupbearer to Persian King Artaxerxes (Longimanus). (Nehemiah 2:1) Nehemiah became governor of the Jews and rebuilt Jerusalem’s wall in the face of foes and dangers. With zeal for true worship, he enforced God’s Law and showed concern for the oppressed. (Nehemiah 5:14-19) Nehemiah urged the Levites to purify themselves regularly, guard the gates, and sanctify the Sabbath day. He could therefore pray: “This, also, do remember to my account, O my God, and do feel sorry for me according to the abundance of your loving-kindness.” Appropriately, too, Nehemiah concluded his divinely inspired book with the plea: “Do remember me, O my God, for good.”—Nehemiah 13:22, 31.

*** w96 9/15 p. 16 May Jehovah Credit Good to Your Account ***
“This . . . do remember to my account, O my God . . . Do remember me, O my God, for good.”—NEHEMIAH 13:22, 31.

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Nehemiah, an Outstanding Example. Nehemiah stands out as a sterling example of faithfulness and devotion. He was unselfish, leaving behind a prominent position as cupbearer in the courtyard of Artaxerxes to undertake the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls. As there were many enemies, Nehemiah willingly exposed himself to danger in behalf of his people and true worship. Not only did he direct the work of repairing the wall of Jerusalem but he also had an active, personal share in the task. He wasted no time, was courageous and fearless, relied fully on Jehovah, and was discreet in what he did. Zealous for true worship, Nehemiah knew God’s law and applied it. He was concerned about building up the faith of his fellow Israelites. He showed himself to be a man who manifested a proper fear of Jehovah God. Though enforcing God’s law zealously, he did not domineer over others for selfish benefit but showed concern for the oppressed. Never did he demand the bread due the governor. Instead, he provided food for a considerable number of persons at his own expense. (Ne 5:14-19) Appropriately Nehemiah could pray: “Do remember me, O my God, for good.”—Ne 13:31.

Highlights From the Book: Nehemiah

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