Nehemiah leaves and returns (Neh 13:6-13:9)

“While this was taking place, I was not in Jerusalem. In the thirty-second year of King Artaxerxes of Babylon I went to the king. After some time I asked leave of the king. I returned to Jerusalem. I then discovered the wrong that Eliashib had done on behalf of Tobiah, preparing a room for him in the courts of the house of God. I was very angry. I threw all the household furniture of Tobiah out of the room. Then I gave orders to cleanse the chambers. I brought back the vessels of the house of God, with the grain offering and the frankincense.”

Nehemiah had left Jerusalem because he had agreed to stay there only 12 years. He then returned to serve the Persian King Artaxerxes. Once again, he asked the king to return to Jerusalem around the year 433 BCE. The text says Babylon but it was Persia as in the beginning of this book. When he got back, he was shocked and angry at what he saw. He was so angry that he threw out all the furniture of Tobiah in the Temple storehouse. He had it cleansed and restored it with grain offerings and frankincense.

The high priest Eliashib and Tobiah (Neh 13:4-13:5)

“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.