The people had listened to the law of God (Nehemiah chapter 8) and they had remembered their history (Nehemiah chapter 9). Then they made an agreement with God.
v1 This is a list of the people who signed this agreement:
Nehemiah the chief officer, who was the son of Hachaliah,
v2 Seraiah, Azariah, Jeremiah,
v3 Pashur, Amariah, Malkijah,
v4 Hattush, Shebaniah, Malluch,
v5 Harim, Meremoth, Obadiah,
v6 Daniel, Ginnethon, Baruch,
v7 Meshullam, Abijah, Mijamin,
v8 Maaziah, Bilgai and Shemaiah.
Those were the priests.
v9 These were the *Levites:
Jeshua, who was the son of Azaniah,
Binnui, who was one of the sons of Henadad,
v10 The other *Levites, who were their companions were:
Shebaniah, Hodijah, Kelita, Pelaiah, Hanan,
v11 Mica, Rehob, Hashabiah,
v12 Zaccur, Sherebiah, Shebaniah,
v13 Hodiah, Bani and Beninu.
Nehemiah recorded this list of the men who signed the agreement with God. Nehemiah was the ruler of *Judah, so he signed the agreement. Zedekiah probably helped Nehemiah to rule, so he signed the agreement also. Some of the priests also signed the agreement. These priests were probably the heads of the families. Some of the *Levites also signed the agreement. The *Levites and the priests led the people when they *worshipped God.
v14 The leaders of the people were:
Parosh, Pahath-Moab, Elam, Zattu, Bani,
v15 Bunni, Azgad, Bebai,
v16 Adonijah, Bigvai, Adin,
v17 Ater, Hizkijah, Azzur,
v18 Hodijah, Hashum, Bezai,
v19 Hariph, Anathoth, Nebai,
v20 Magpiash, Meshullam, Hezir,
v21 Meshezabel, Zadok, Jaddua,
v22 Pelatiah, Hanan, Anaiah,
v23 Hoshea, Hananiah, Hashub,
v24 Hallohesh, Pilha, Shobek,
v25 Rehum, Hashabnah, Maaseiah,
v26 Ahijah, Hanan, Anan,
v27 Malluch, Harim and Baanah.
The leaders of the people also signed the agreement.
v28-29 The rest of the people, together with the chief men, agreed to make a serious promise to obey God’s law. And they agreed that they would be responsible for their future behaviour. These people were:
· the priests
· the *Levites
· the people who guarded the gates
· the singers
· the servants of the *temple
· all the people who separated themselves from the people who lived in the nations near them. They did this because they wanted to obey God’s law.
· their wives
· all their sons and daughters who were old enough to understand.
God had given his law by his servant Moses. These people promised to obey all the commands, judgements and rules of the *LORD our *Lord.
After all the leaders of the people had signed the agreement, all the rest of the people agreed. They also made a serious promise to God. Even the children who were old enough to understand made promises to God. They all promised to obey all the laws of God.
The people in the nations near Jerusalem served other gods, which were not real gods. So the *Jews separated themselves from these other nations because they wanted to be loyal to the real God.
v30-31 ‘This is what we promise.
· We will not allow our daughters to marry the people who belong to the nations near us.
· We will not allow their daughters to marry our sons.
· The 7th day of the week will be a special holy day for us. The people who live near us will bring goods or grain to sell to us. But we will not buy anything on that day, or on any other holy day.
· Every 7th year we will not farm the land and we will cancel all debts.’
The people promised God that *Jews would not marry people from other nations. Most foreigners served other gods, which were not real gods. God knew that the *Jews would follow the ways of the foreigners. They would serve other gods and they would not serve him. So he warned them not to marry these foreigners (Nehemiah 13:1-3; 13:24-27). God had sent their *ancestors into *exile because they had served other gods.
The people also promised to keep the 7th day of the week special and holy for God. God had told them to rest on the 7th day. He told them to allow their animals and their foreign servants to rest also (Exodus 23:12). God himself had rested on the 7th day after he had made the world. So he made it a special day (Genesis 2:1-3).
It was a special day when the people *worshipped God. He told them not to work on that day. He also told them not to farm their land each 7th year. Then they would not be able to grow crops, because God wanted them to depend on him.
If the people rested on the 7th day, then the nations near them would notice. Then the other nations would know that the *Jews loved the real God.
Just before the people went into *exile, God warned them by his *prophet Jeremiah. God made a promise if the people obeyed his command about the 7th day. He promised that the people would be a great nation (Jeremiah 17:24-25). But they did not obey his command. So God sent them into *exile and he allowed enemies to destroy Jerusalem.
v32 ‘We will make a law for ourselves. That law will oblige us to pay the *temple tax each year. That money will pay for the work of God’s house, called the *temple.
v33 This money will pay for the special bread and for the grain and meat for the regular *sacrifices. It will also pay for the *sacrifices on holy days. These *sacrifices happen every 7th day of the week and at the start of every month. The money will also pay for the special meetings and the holy *sacrifices. The money will also pay for the *sacrifices when the *Israelite people ask God to forgive their *sins. And it will pay for all the work of God’s house, that is, the *temple.
v34 We all threw *lots. This included the priests, the *Levites and the rest of the people. By this method, we have decided which families will bring the gift of wood. They will bring the wood at certain times in the year. The priests will use this wood to burn the *sacrifices to the *Lord our God. This is what God’s law orders.
v35 We also promise that we will bring the first of our crops and the first of our fruit. We will bring these every year to the house of the *Lord.
v36 We will also bring the first of our sons to be born and the first of our cows and sheep. God’s law says that we should do this. We will bring them to the house of our God. We will bring them to the priests who serve there. v37 And we will bring the first of our grain and our gifts. We will bring the fruit of all our trees and wine and oil to the priests. We will bring these to the special rooms in the house of our God. We will bring one tenth (1/10th) of our crops to the *Levites. The *Levites will receive the *tithes in all the towns where we work.
v38 And a priest, who is a *descendant of Aaron will be with the *Levites. He will be with the *Levites when they receive the *tithes. Then the *Levites will bring a 10th part of the *tithes to the house of our God. They will bring it to the special rooms at the *temple.
v39 So the people of *Israel and the *Levites will bring the gifts of grain, wine and oil to the rooms. These special rooms contain the equipment for the *temple. The priests stay in these rooms when they are serving in the *temple. The singers and the people who guard the gates also stay there.
We promise that we will not neglect the house of our God.’
The people also promised to pay money each year. Each person would pay the same amount, as tax. They paid 4 grams (1/8 ounce) of silver. This money was to pay for all the work of the *temple. Then the people also promised to provide wood for the fire for the *sacrifices.
They also promised to bring the best of their crops, their fruit and their animals to God. They even promised to bring the first of their sons. But God’s law allowed them to pay a price instead (Exodus 13:11-16).
Also, the people promised to give one tenth (1/10th) of their crops. They gave all these things to the *Levites. Then the *Levites could serve God and take care of the *temple all the time. So they did not have to work in the fields. The *Levites also gave one 10th to the priests. Then the priests could serve God and they could lead the people to *worship God. So the priests also did not have to work in the fields.
The people promised that they would not neglect the house of God, in other words, the *temple.