Nehemiah 10:34 MEANING

Nehemiah 10:34
(34) As it is written in the law.--Leviticus 6:12 prescribes that the fire on the altar should be kept burning by wood. But here we have the origin of the "feast of the wood-offering"--a special day, subsequently substituted for the "times appointed year by year." The lot determined the order in which the various classes should supply the wood.

Verse 34. - We cast the lots for the wood offering. The "wood offering" is now first heard cf. Fuel had probably been more plentiful in the times of the monarchy than it had now become, and the temple treasury had been rich enough to provide what was needed in order to keep the altar fire perpetually burning (Leviticus 6:13). But times had changed. The hill-country of Judaea had gradually been stripped of its forests. The temple was, comparatively speaking, poor, and some permanent arrangement for the supply of the required fuel had become necessary. It would seem, from the present passage, that the arrangement actually made was one by which different families or districts undertook the duty of furnishing the wood in turn, and lots were cast to determine the order in which they should discharge the office. According to Josephus ('Bell. Jud.,' it. 17, § 6), the wood needed for a year was brought in on a particular day - the fourteenth day of the fifth month - which was kept as a festival, and known as the "Xylophoria." At times appointed year by year. It may be gathered from this that, originally, no single day was selected for bringing in all the wood; much less one and the same day appointed for every year. The original system was variable and elastic; but in course of time a rigid uniformity was introduced and established. As it is written in the law. See Leviticus 6:12.

10:32-39 Having covenanted against the sins of which they had been guilty, they obliged themselves to observe the duties they had neglected. We must not only cease to do evil, but learn to do well. Let not any people expect the blessing of God, unless they keep up public worship. It is likely to go well with our houses, when care is taken that the work of God's house goes on well. When every one helps, and every one gives, though but little, toward a good work, the whole will come to be a large sum. We must do what we can in works of piety and charity; and whatever state we are placed in, cheerfully perform our duty to God, which will be the surest way to ease and liberty. As the ordinances of God are the appointed means of support to our souls, the believer will not grudge the expense; yet most people leave their souls to starve.And we cast the lots among the priests, the Levites, and the people,.... The priests and Levites were in one lot, and the people in another, as Aben Ezra:

for the wood offering; for providing wood to burn upon the altar continually, concerning which Maimonides (c) thus writes:"what is the wood offering? there was a time fixed for families to go out unto the forests, and bring in wood of disposition (to be laid in order on the altar); and the day when it came to the turn of a family to bring the wood, they offered up freewill burnt offerings, which were called a wood offering; and it was to them as a good day (or festival), and they were forbid to mourn, fast, or do any work on it;''and he observes, that if a single person brought wood of his own free will, he was obliged to the same; and Josephus (d) speaks of a feast called when it was customary for all to bring wood to the altar, to keep alive the sacred fire, that it might not go out, which, according to him, was on the fourteenth of the month Lois, or August; but this was not the business of all the people, lots were cast, as here said, who should do it, and when:

to bring it into the house of our God; the temple, where there was a place called the "wood room", into which the wood was brought after it had been wormed by the priests (e).

after the houses of our fathers; or families on whom the lot fell to do it: some render it:

into the house of our fathers, meaning the same as before; the temple so called, because they built it, and worshipped God in it; so Jarchi and Aben Ezra:

at times appointed, year by year; as the lot directed; these, according to the Jewish doctors (f), were nine times in the year; on the first of Nisan (or March), the sons of Arach, of the tribe of Judah, brought the wood; on the twentieth of Tammuz (or June), the posterity of David, of the tribe of Judah; on the fifth of Ab (or July), the children of Parosh, of the tribe of Judah; on the seventh of the same month, the sons of Jonadab the son of Rechab; on the tenth of the same month, the posterity of Senaah, of the tribe of Benjamin; on the fifteenth of the same month, the children of Zattu, and with them the priests and Levites, and all who were of an uncertain tribe, &c. on the twentieth of the same month, the posterity of Pahathmoab, of the tribe of Judah; on the twentieth of Elul (or August), the children of Adin, of the tribe of Judah; on the first of Tebeth (or December), the posterity of Parosh again brought the wood:

to burn upon the altar of the Lord our God, as it is written in the law; the wood should be burnt upon it, and fire kept on it continually, Leviticus 6:12, for this refers only to that, the wood offering is nowhere spoken of in the law.

(c) Hilchot Cele Hamikdash, c. 6. sect. 9, 10. Vid. Maimon. & Bartenora in Misn. Taanith, c. 4. sect. 5. (d) De Bello Jud. l. 2. c. 17. sect. 6. (e) See Lightfoot's Prospect of the Temple, ch. 25. (f) Misn. Taanith, c. 4. sect. 5.

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