Tuesday, February 19, 2019
“Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? yet among many nations was there no king like him, who was beloved of his God, and God made him king over all Israel: nevertheless even him did outlandish women cause to sin” (Nehemiah 13:26 KJV).
Just who are these “outlandish women?”
Today’s Scripture transpires 150 years after the Jews were exiled from Canaan. Moving westward, leaving Babylonian captivity, tens of thousands return under Zerubbabel and then Ezra (Ezra chapters 2 and 7). Nehemiah follows with another Jewish company some years later. These re-gatherings of Israel; and the re-buildings of Jerusalem, its walls, and its Temple; is the general context of today’s Scripture. Ezra, a priest-scribe, leads Israel’s religious improvements in Canaan. A decade later is Nehemiah’s ministry—the reconstruction of Jerusalem’s city walls (which Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar had leveled and burned a century earlier).
In the last chapter of Nehemiah, the Prophet corrects various abuses of the resettled Jews. For example, they have permitted a Gentile to live in the Temple Complex (verses 7-9)! Moreover, they are not supporting the Levites (priestly tribe) as the LORD commanded through Moses (verses 10-14). Also, they are violating the Sabbath (verse 15-22).
Finally, today’s Scripture in context: “ In those days also saw I Jews that had married wives of Ashdod, of Ammon, and of Moab:  And their children spake half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak in the Jews’ language, but according to the language of each people.  And I contended with them, and cursed them, and smote certain of them, and plucked off their hair, and made them swear by God, saying, Ye shall not give your daughters unto their sons, nor take their daughters unto your sons, or for yourselves.  Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? yet among many nations was there no king like him, who was beloved of his God, and God made him king over all Israel: nevertheless even him did outlandish women cause to sin.  Shall we then hearken unto you to do all this great evil, to transgress against our God in marrying strange wives?”
Intermarriage with idolaters—remember Solomon?—was the very reason God removed the Jews from Canaan. Unfortunately, returned Israel is repeating those sins. Nehemiah is rightly troubled….