Nehemiah 8

Ezra reads the book of the law
.1 ¶ And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto 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 that 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 midday, before the men and the women, and those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law.
 4  And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose; and beside him stood Mattithiah, and Shema, and Anaiah, and Urijah, and Hilkiah, and Maaseiah, on his right hand; and on his left hand, Pedaiah, and Mishael, and Malchiah, and Hashum, and 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 up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground.
  1 - All the people gathered The statement introduces the chapter and is the same as in Ezra 3. Then they were called to restore the sacrifical service and the altar of burnt offering. Here they will celebrate the feasts of the seventh month ne0773 and following. Compare ez0301. It seems that the assembly was an annual affair.
  1 - Water gate See ne0326.
  1 - Ezra the scribe See ezr0706.
  1 - Book of the law The people were familiar with the Pentetuch (the five books of Moses.)
  2 - First day The beginning of the civil calendar year.
  5 - Stood up It was common to sit while listening. According to rabinical tradition, people stood for the reading of the law, perhaps influenced from this verse.
  6 - Ezra blessed the Lord The blessing may have been a simple praise such as in 1ch2910.

Ezra reads the law
.7  Also Jeshua, and Bani, and 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, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.
.9 ¶ And Nehemiah, which is the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people, This day is holy unto the LORD your God; mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law.
.10  Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.
  9 - Neh.. is Tirshatha or governor. See on ezr0263.
  9 - Mourn not "A deep sense of their national sins, impressively brought to their remembrance by the reading of the law and its denunciations, affected the hearts of the people with penitential sorrow. But notwithstanding the painful remembrances of their national sins which the reading of the law awakened, the people were exhorted to cherish the feelings of joy and thankfulness associated with a sacred festival (see ... Le 23:24). By sending portions of it to their poorer brethren (De 16:11,14; Es 9:19), they would also enable them to participate in the public rejoicings." (JFB)
  10 - Send portions The joy of sharing es0919, de1614.
  10 - Joy There was beauty and pleasure in the cermonies.
 11  So the Levites stilled all the people, saying, Hold your peace, for the day is holy; neither be ye grieved.
 12  And all the people went their way to eat, and to drink, and to send portions, and to make great mirth, because they had understood the words that were declared unto them.
 13 ¶ And on the second day were gathered together the chief of the fathers of all the people, the priests, and the Levites, unto 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:
  14 - Dwell in booths This was the Feast of Tabernacles le2339-43 where the Israelites would celebrate by dwelling in temporary structures of tree branches to remember their journey in the wilderness.
15  And that they should publish and proclaim in all their cities, and in Jerusalem, saying, Go forth unto the mount, and fetch olive branches, and pine branches, and myrtle branches, and palm branches, and branches of thick trees, to make booths, as it is written.
.16  So the people went forth, and brought them, and made themselves booths, every one upon the roof of his house, and in their courts, and in the courts of the house of God, and in the street of the water gate, and in the street of the gate of Ephraim.
 17  And all the congregation of them that were come again out of the captivity made booths, and sat under the booths: for since the days of Jeshua the son of Nun unto that day had not the children of Israel done so. And there was very great gladness.
 18  Also day by day, from the first day unto 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 unto the manner.

   I imagine that their houses weren't such large buildings but the picture from a 1906 book is interesting.
Nehemiah home
Commentary home