Dave Burnette's Commentary

Nehemiah Chapter 8

Written By: God through Inspiration
Penned By: Nehemiah
Date Penned: (445-432 BC)
Overview:  The Return of the 3rd Group of Jewish Exiles (c 1-13)
Theme: Reforming the People (c 8-13)
Message: Ezra Renews the Covenant  (1-18)

Nehemiah 8 Commentary 

(8:1-5) Applying the Bible - The book of the law of Moses was probably the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible. The people rose to their feet in respect and anticipation. They listened attentively to Ezra as he read God's Word, and their lives were changed. Because we hear the Bible so often, we can become dulled to its words and immune to its teachings. Instead, we should listen closely to every verse and ask the Holy Spirit to help us answer the question, "How does this apply to my life?"

(8:1) Ezra is Mentioned - This is the first mention of Ezra in this book. He had arrived in Jerusalem from Babylon 13 years before Nehemiah (458 BC; see Ezra 7:6-9). Given the fact that the first seven chapters are filled with the account of Nehemiah's trip to Jerusalem and the three-month monumental construction task, Ezra's appearance at this point in the book emphasizes that the special role he had all along now came to the forefront. Nehemiah led the rebuilding of the wall; Ezra led the spiritual revival of the nation.

(8:5) Ezra and Nehemiah - Ezra and Nehemiah were contemporaries (8:9), although Ezra was probably much older. Nehemiah, as governor, was the political leader; and Ezra, as priest and scribe, was the religious leader. A scribe in these days was a combination of a lawyer, notary public, scholar, and secretary. Scribes were among the most educated of the people, so they were teachers. No doubt the Jews would have liked to have set up the kingdom again as in the days of David, but this would have signaled rebellion against the king of Persia, to whom they were subject. The best alternative was to divide the leadership between Nehemiah and Ezra.

(8:9-10) Conviction from God's Word - The people wept openly when they heard God's laws and realized how far they were from obeying them. But Ezra told them they should be filled with joy because the day was holy. It was time to celebrate and to give gifts to those in need. Celebration is not to be self-centered. Ezra connected celebration with giving. This gave those in need an opportunity to celebrate as well. Often when we celebrate and give to others (even when we don't feel like it), we are strengthened spiritually and filled with joy. Enter into celebrations that honor God, and allow him to fill you with his joy. Out of joy for what he has done, you will want to give freely.

(8:9) Ezra Leads the People - Ezra, not Nehemiah, was the official religious leader. It is significant that Nehemiah was a layman, not a member of the religious establishment or a prophet. He was motivated by his relationship with God, and he devoted his life to doing God's will in the world. Such people are crucial to God's work in all aspects of life. No matter what your work or role in life, view it as God's special calling to serve him. God can accomplish his purposes through you, beginning right where you are.

(8:3-18) Applying God's Word - After Ezra read God's laws to the people, they studied them further and then acted upon them. A careful reading of Scripture always calls for a response to these questions: (1) What should I do with this knowledge? (2) How should my life change? We must do something about what we have learned if it is to have real significance for our lives. 

(8:14-17) Feast of Tabernacles - During the seven-day Feast of Tabernacles (Booths), the people lived in temporary shelters made of branches. This practice was instituted as a reminder of their rescue from Egypt and the time spent living in shelters and tents in the wilderness (Leviticus 23:43). They were to think about God's protection and guidance during their years of wandering and the fact that God would still protect and guide them if they obeyed him. This was a time to remember their origins-where they came from. It is helpful to remember our beginnings in order to appreciate where we are today. Think back on your life to see where God has led you. Then thank God for his continuing work to protect you and provide for your needs.


Dave Burnette's Life Application

Church Attendance

 Each day we walk through the Bible chapter by chapter making an application of our text to help us grow in the Lord. Many applications can be made from each day's text. Today we continue in the book of Nehemiah with Chapter 8 and we see the beginning of the reforming of the people as Ezra renews the covenant as he reads the law from a pulpit made of wood and the people made application of the Scriptures and worshiped the Lord. In this text we see the structure for our current worship services as we preach the Word of God from the pulpit and the Holy Spirit uses the Word to Convict the Hearts of men. This is the importance of assembling ourselves at God's House so we can receive the things we need for a successful Christian life. How about you? Do you attend Church? Let us learn from our text today and the example of Ezra and the Worship service to remember to attend Church for the instruction of the Word in our lives.


Nehemiah 8

Nehemiah 8

 1And 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.

 2And 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.

 3And 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.

 4And 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.

 5And 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:

 6And 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.

 7Also 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.

 8So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.

 9And 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.

 10Then 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.

 11So the Levites stilled all the people, saying, Hold your peace, for the day is holy; neither be ye grieved.

 12And 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.

 13And 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.

 14And 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:

 15And 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.

 16So 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.

 17And 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.

 18Also 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.