The Words of Nehemiah

Chapter 8

The religious manner of reading and hearing the law, 1-8. They comfort the people, 9-12. The forwardness of them to hear and be instructed, 13-15. They keep the feast of tabernacles, 16-18.

1 And all the people assembled as one man in the street that was before the water-gate. And they spoke to Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded to Israel. 2 And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men and women, and all who could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month. 3 And he read therein before the street that was before the water-gate from the morning until mid-day, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand. And the ears of all the people were attentive to the book of the law. 4 And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for this purpose. And beside him stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Urijah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah on his right hand, and on his left hand, Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchiah, Hashum, Hashbadana, Zechariah, and Meshullam. 5 And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people (for he was above all the people). And when he opened it, all the people stood up. 6 And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. And all the people answered, "Amen, Amen," with lifting their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground. 7 Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites caused the people to understand the law. And the people stood in their place. 8 So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, giving the sense so that they understood the reading.

9 And Nehemiah, who is the Tirshatha, Ezra the priest and the scribe, and the Levites who taught the people, said to all the people, "This day is holy to the LORD your God. Do not mourn, nor weep." For all the people wept when they heard the words of the law. 10 Then he said to them, "Go your way, eat the fat and drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared. For this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be sad, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." 11 So the Levites stilled all the people, saying, "Hold your peace, for the day is holy. Do not be grieved." 12 And all the people went their way to eat, to drink, to send portions, and to make great mirth, because they had understood the words that were declared to them.

13 And on the second day the chief of the fathers of all the people, the priests, and the Levites were assembled to Ezra the scribe, even to understand the words of the law. 14 And they found written in the law which the LORD had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths in the feast of the seventh month, 15 And that they should publish and proclaim in all their cities and in Jerusalem, saying, "Go forth to the mountain and fetch olive branches, pine branches, myrtle branches, palm branches, and branches of thick trees to make booths, as it is written." 16 So the people went forth, brought them, and made themselves booths, each upon the roof of his house, in their courts, in the courts of the house of God, in the street of the water-gate, and in the street of the gate of Ephraim. 17 And all the congregation of those who had returned from the captivity made booths and sat under the booths, for since the days of Joshua the son of Nun to that day, the children of Israel had not done so. And there was very great gladness. 18 Also day by day, from the first day to the last day, he read in the book of the law of God. And they kept the feast seven days, and on the eighth day was a solemn assembly, according to the manner.


Matthew Henry Commentary - Nehemiah, Chapter 8[➚]


[v.10] - "eat the fat and drink the sweet" - From the Pulpit Commentary: "'Go and enjoy yourselves, eat and drink of the best—let there be no fasting, nor even abstinence, on such a day as this.' But at the same time send portions 'to those for whom nothing is prepared.' Make the poor partakers of your joy. 'The stranger, the fatherless, and the widow' should have their part in the feast (Deuteronomy 16:14)."

[v.16] - "brought them" - That is, they brought the branches they were to collect (verse 15).

[v.17] - "Joshua" - This was originally spelled as Jeshua. This was the only verse in the Old Testament where his name was spelled in this manner. From the Pulpit Commentary: "'Jeshua' and 'Joshua' are two modes of contracting the full name of Jehoshua, the latter prevalent in early, the former in later times."