(1-28) The sealers of the covenant.
(28) All they that had separated themselves.—If these meant proselytes from heathenism, this verse would be a perfect description of the constituents of the people. But we have no record as yet of a recognised body of such proselytes; and the word “separated” is the same as we find, with another meaning, in Nehemiah 9:2. Moreover, the following verses show that the covenant bears specially in mind the danger to God’s law arising out of commerce with the heathen.
Having understanding.—Children who could intelligently take the oath were included.
Entered into a curse, and into an oath.—The oath assumed the obligation; the curse imprecated the penalty of violation. (Comp. Deuteronomy 29:12.)
Leave the seventh year.—The Sabbatical year naturally follows; in it the ground should be left untilled.
The exaction of every debt.—The “Lord’s release” of the seventh year (Deuteronomy 15:2).
To charge ourselves.—Origin of that annual rate for the general service of the Temple which afterwards was raised to a half shekel (Matthew 17:24). The more ancient half shekel of the law was only an occasional tax (Exodus 30:13).
In all the cities of our tillage.—Agricultural towns, so called here with reference to the fruits of the earth, which were deposited first in certain selected places.
We will not forsake the house of our God.—Both the pledge and the violation of it in the sequel are explained by Nehemiah 13:11-14.