The Sabbath (Neh 10:31-10:31)

“If the peoples of the land bring in merchandise or any grain on the Sabbath day to sell, we will not buy from them on the Sabbath or on a holy day. We will forego the crops of the seventh year and the exaction of every debt.”

They would do no business on the Sabbath. They would keep holy the Sabbath, which was Saturday. They would not buy from the peoples of the land any grain or merchandise on the Sabbath or holy days. They would forgo crops on the 7th year, the Sabbath year. Finally, they would forgive debts. This was based on Leviticus, chapter 25. This was the beginning of the new Sabbath day regulations.


A holy day (Neh 8:9-8:12)

“Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people.

‘This day is holy to Yahweh your God.

Do not mourn or weep!’

All the people wept when they heard the words of the law. Then he said to them.

‘Go your way!

Eat the fat!

Drink sweet wine!

Send portions of them to those for whom nothing is prepared.

This day is holy to Yahweh.

Do not be grieved!

The joy of Yahweh is your strength.’

So the Levites stilled all the people, saying.

‘Be quiet!

This day is holy!

Do not be grieved!’

All the people went their way to eat and drink. They sent portions to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them.”

The roles of Nehemiah and Ezra are very clear here. Nehemiah is the governor and Ezra is the priest scribe. Ezra is the scholar while Nehemiah is the administrator. They wanted to make this reading of the Law of Moses a holy day. They wanted a celebration rather than weeping and a day of mourning, which it had become. The Levites joined in remind people that they should not be upset. Thus they understood the Law of Moses and began to eat and drink.