The Abuse of God’s House & Its Laborers
Eliashib the priest had allowed an Ammonite, Tobiah, to live in the house of the Lord. Tobiah, you will recall, was an enemy of God’s people, Nehemiah especially (Neh. 2:19; 6:10-19). This shows the depth of influence Tobiah had among the Jews, that he was at the very heart of Judaism.
Eliashib’s actions are described as “evil” (Neh. 13:7). This shows that corrupting the house of the Lord by abusing its use, is not a light matter. Thus, Nehemiah took radical action by throwing out Tobiah’s household goods – he threw the man’s furniture, kitchen ware, clothes, and more out of the room (Neh. 13:8).
Evidently in the course of correcting Eliashib’s error, Nehemiah discovered that the Levites were being neglected. They were not being supported as was right and required. The abuse of the house of God necessarily led a lack of proper use.
To fix this, Nehemiah had to confront the rulers and also establish faithful men to see things were done properly (Neh. 13:11-13).
Abuse of the Holy Day
The Sabbath Day was to be kept holy by the Jews (Ex. 20:8). Yet, in chapter 13 the people were engaged in common activities; they were focused on everyday life instead of reverence and worship of God. Again, this is called “evil” (Neh. 13:17). Nehemiah’s solution was to have the gates shut on the Sabbath, but people still pushed the limits (Neh. 13:19, 20). So, he threatened them with physical force if they did not stop.
Neh. 13:1-3, 23-31
Some of the people again became entangled in mixed marriages, “evil” (Neh. 13:27). It was affecting the next generation as seen in “half their children spoke the language of Ashdod” (Neh. 13:24). If left unchecked, it would lead to the destruction of the people of God. Nehemiah confronted this problem with ferocity (Neh. 13:25). He stated Solomon did not survive his mixed marriages without being influenced toward paganism, so how did they think they could do any better.