Nehemiah – Chapter 10

Let's Make a Deal

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

This chapter continues where the previous one left off:

But despite our troubles and oppression, we commit to a covenant, signed by our leaders, the Levites and the priests. Verses 2-28 list all those who signed; verse 29 says that the rest of the people, including more kohanim and Leviim, the Gibeonites, converts, and the women and children, all who understood agreed to its terms.

And what was this commitment? They made an oath to follow G-d’s Torah and to fulfill His will. They agreed to refrain from intermarriage and to observe the Sabbath, as well as the rules of the Sabbatical year. They agreed to donate one-third of a shekel each every year for the running of the Temple, such as purchasing the animals needed for communal sacrifices. They cast lots when it came to donating firewood for the altar. They also agreed to bring their annual first fruits, as well as firstborn animals and redeeming firstborn sons, all in accordance with the requirements as detailed in the Torah. They similarly committed to be careful with their dough, their tithes, and other portions that would be given to priests or Levites. (Since kohanim and Leviim did not own land, they received these portions to survive. It was kind of their pay for running the Temple.)

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