“You shall love
καὶ τὸν πλησίον σου ὡς σεαυτόν.
Luke indicated that the lawyer said that they should love their neighbor (καὶ τὸν πλησίον σου) as themselves (ὡς σεαυτόν), using the second person plural. There is something similar in Mark, chapter 12:3, where Mark indicated that Jesus, not the lawyer, replied that the 2nd commandment was like the 1st one. since it was about love. Not only were they to love God, but they were to love their neighbors as themselves. There were no other commandments greater than these 2 commandments of love. Everything was based on the love of God and neighbor. Matthew, chapter 22: 38-39 had Jesus reply also, not the lawyer, that they were to love their neighbors as themselves, since all the commandments of the law and the prophets hung on these two commandments. This second commandment was based on Leviticus, chapter 19:11-18, that has become the basic fundamental cornerstone of Judaism and Christianity. Leviticus further explained the Ten Commandments and your neighbor. They were not to steal or deal falsely with their neighbor. They should not lie, swear, or defraud their neighbor. They were not to keep the wages of a laborer, or revile the deaf or the blind. They should not render an unjust judgment, since they should treat the poor and the great with equal justice. They should not slanderer or profit from the blood of their neighbors. They were not to hate in their heart any of their relatives. They should not take vengeance or bear a grudge, because they should love their relatives and neighbors as themselves. All the commandments of the law and the prophets depended on these two commandments of loving God and your neighbor. Do you love your neighbor?
“Thus says Yahweh.
‘For the sake of your lives,
That you do not bear a burden
On the Sabbath day!
Do not bring it in
By the gates of Jerusalem!
Do not carry a burden
Out of your houses
On the Sabbath!
Do not do any work!
But keep the Sabbath day holy!
As I commanded your ancestors,
Yet they did not listen.
They did not incline their ear.
They stiffened their necks.
They would not hear.
They would not receive instruction.”
Here Jeremiah has Yahweh insist on the observance of the Sabbath that had not been followed by their ancestors. This insistence on the Sabbath observance was a strong post-exilic theme, not a pre-exilic emphasis. They were not to bear any burden on the Sabbath. Certainly, they should not bring anything in through the gates of Jerusalem. They should not even carry a heavy burden from their homes. In fact, they should not do any work on the Sabbath at all, but rather keep it holy. Yahweh had given this same commandment to their ancestors, but they never listened since they did not like instructions.
“Now before this, the priest Eliashib, who was appointed over the chambers of the house of our God, was related to Tobiah. He prepared for Tobiah a large room, where they had previously put the grain offering, the frankincense, the vessels, and the tithes of grain, wine, and oil. This was given by commandment to the Levites, the singers, and the gatekeepers, and the contributions for the priests.”
There was a strange relationship between the high priest Eliashib and Tobiah the Ammonite leader in Samaria. One of the grandsons of Eliashib, a son of the priest Joiada, married a daughter of Sanballat the Moabite, who was a fellow leader with Tobiah at Samaria. Tobiah had married the daughter of the Jewish priest Shecaniah. His son Johanan had married the daughter of Meshullam who was one of the main builders of the wall. This information was in chapter 6 of this book. Thus he had a strong relationship with the Jews at Jerusalem since they were part of his family. Both the Moabites and Ammonites were not allowed in the Assembly of God as in the preceding paragraph. Thus, the fact that Tobiah had a special room in the Temple court would seem outrageous, especially since this was supposed to be a storage place for frankincense, grain, wine, and oil for the Levites, singers, gatekeepers, and priests.
“While Ezra prayed and made confession, weeping and throwing himself down before the house of God, a very great assembly of men, women, and children, gathered to him out of Israel. The people wept bitterly. Shecaniah son of Jehiel, of the descendents of Elam, addressed Ezra. ‘We have broken faith with our God. We have married foreign women from the peoples of the land, but even now there is hope for Israel in spite of this. Therefore now let us make a covenant with our God to send away all these wives and their children, according to the counsel of my lord and of those who tremble at the commandment of our God. Let it be done according to the law. Take action, for it is your duty! We are with you! Be strong and do it!’”
Ezra continued his praying, but a group of people gathered around him. This writing is back at the third person rather than a first person account as earlier. Here it says they were from Israel, but he was in Jerusalem and the Israelites had not returned with him, just the men of Judah. Everyone seemed to be crying. Shecaniah was one of the people who had returned with Ezra as in chapter 8 of this book. He convinced Ezra that he had to do something about this situation. It seemed simple enough. He had a plan. They would send away all their foreign wives and their children. It might be a difficult practical matter, but they wanted to do it according to the Mosaic Law as in Deuteronomy. This was a kind of wake up call to Ezra to get up, stop crying, and do something.