Nehemiah 13:15 MEANING

Nehemiah 13:15
(15-22) Vindication of the Sabbath.

(15) Saw I in Judah.--In the country Nehemiah marked the most determined profanation of the Sabbath; and this extended to Jerusalem, into which all kinds of burdens were on that day, as on others, carried.

Verse 15. - In those days. A note of time even vaguer than that of Nehemiah 12:44 and Nehemiah 13:1, but pointing certainly to a date later than Nehemiah's return from the Persian court. Saw I some treading wine-presses on the sabbath. On the treading of grapes in the wine-press, as the first step towards the production of wine, see Job 24:11; Isaiah 63:2, 3, etc. The performance of this work on the sabbath was a flagrant breach of the fourth commandment. Bringing in sheaves and lading asses. Scarcely "sheaves in our sense of the word, since corn was not stored in sheaves. Rather, "bringing grain and loading it upon asses." As also. Rather, "and even." It might be pleaded that the transport of grain was a necessity; but there could be no absolute need of a supply of wine, grapes, or figs. I testified against them in the day in which they sold victuals. Rather, "I testified against them in respect of the day on which they sold provisions."

13:15-22 The keeping holy the Lord's day forms an important object for their attention who would promote true godliness. Religion never prospers while sabbaths are trodden under foot. No wonder there was a general decay of religion, and corruption of manners among the Jews, when they forsook the sanctuary and profaned the sabbath. Those little consider what an evil they do, who profane the sabbath. We must answer for the sins others are led to commit by our example. Nehemiah charges it on them as an evil thing, for so it is, proceeding from contempt of God and our own souls. He shows that sabbath-breaking was one of the sins for which God had brought judgments upon them; and if they did not take warning, but returned to the same sins again, they had to expect further judgments. The courage, zeal, and prudence of Nehemiah in this matter, are recorded for us to do likewise; and we have reason to think, that the cure he wrought was lasting. He felt and confessed himself a sinner, who could demand nothing from God as justice, when he thus cried unto him for mercy.In those days saw I in Judah some treading winepresses on the sabbath,.... Which was not a work of necessity, and so did not drive away the sabbath, as the Jews express themselves, but might have been deferred to another day:

and bringing in sheaves; of wheat, it being the time of wheat harvest:

and lading asses; with goods to be carried from place to place, and sold on that day; this was contrary to the express law, for the ass was to rest, Deuteronomy 5:14,

as also wine, grapes, and figs: it being the time of ingathering the fruits of the earth:

and all manner of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the sabbath day; besides those borne on asses, others were carried on men's shoulders; this was contrary to the law of the sabbath, which required that both men and beasts should have rest:

and I testified against them in the day wherein they sold victuals; that is, the sabbath day; and if it was not lawful to sell food, then not anything else; so far from it, that according to the Jewish canons (f), such that were in partnership might not discourse together of what they should sell or buy on the morrow, the day after the sabbath; and so far from gathering and carrying grapes and figs, that a man might not go into his gardens and fields to see what were wanting, or how the fruits were: now Nehemiah admonished the Jews of these evils they committed, and testified against them as breakers of the law, and called heaven and earth to testify against them, should they go on to violate it.

(f) Maimon. Hilchot Sabbat, c. 24. sect. 1, 2.

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