Nehemiah 10 Covenant Renewal – No More Compromise

Now those that sealed were… Nehemiah 10:1

The people now enter into a solemn covenant, swearing to be God’s people and to serve him. The principle of covenant renewal, by which a generation makes a personal commitment to God and acknowledges the authority of his law, is a repeated and important OT tradition (see Deut. 29 and Josh. 24).

This particular occasion is unique, however, in that special oaths are taken, which reveal the areas in which this generation has strayed from the law. No longer will God’s people intermarry with pagans, or buy and sell on the Sabbath. And they promise to support the priests and Levites who should minister at the temple with their tithes and offerings. This is a bold commitment in view of the general poverty and heavy Persian taxation.

28  Now the rest of the people–the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, the Nethinim, and all those who had separated themselves from the peoples of the lands to the Law of God, their wives, their sons, and their daughters, everyone who had knowledge and understanding– 29  these joined with their brethren, their nobles, and entered into a curse and an oath to walk in God’s Law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the Lord our Lord, and His ordinances and His statutes: 30  We would not give our daughters as wives to the peoples of the land, nor take their daughters for our sons; 31  if the peoples of the land brought wares or any grain to sell on the Sabbath day, we would not buy it from them on the Sabbath, or on a holy day; and we would forego the seventh year’s produce and the exacting of every debt.

10:28 Not only leaders, but lay people signed the covenant. The Nethinim were temple servants who did menial work in the sanctuary (see Ezra 2:43). Those who had separated themselves from the peoples of the lands were the descendants of those Israelites who had been left in the land and who joined the returning remnant. Men, women, and children of sufficient age signed the covenant.