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 --
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:
[Nehemiah 10:28-29 NKJV]
The Nethinim sound like a people from the imagination of J R R Tolkien, but they were temple workers (some sources say slaves) assigned to the Levites and priests for service in the sanctuary. They seem to have been a low caste of person, but here in Nehemiah they are included with “the rest of the people”.
To understand this better, we need to see the context. The previous 27 verses give a list of over 80 names of priests, Levites and leaders (including Nehemiah), who sealed the covenant. This group of “high heid yins” were known as “The Great Synagogue”, which in time became the Sanhedrin.
The others “took a curse and an oath to walk in God’s Law”. In this number were the Nethinim, who were the lowest level of ministry in the temple, despite — if the story is accurate — being descended from “the Kedeshot”, or sacred prostitutes.
They were given the honour of service in the temple as told in Joshua, at which time The Nethinim were known as Gibeonites, although this may be inaccurate. Nonetheless their role in the temple fits that of the duties given to the Gibeonites ...
This we will do to them: We will let them live, lest wrath be upon us because of the oath which we swore to them.” And the rulers said to them, “Let them live, but let them be woodcutters and water carriers for all the congregation, as the rulers had promised them.”
[Joshua 9:20-21 NKJV]
All very interesting, but what, you might ask, can this show us? Simply this; that as a result of a promise, these people were saved and taken into the House of God to be servants with essential duties there. No matter what your background or sinful nature might be, The Lord always has a place for you in His house. That is His promise.
Incidentally, a meaning of “Nethinim” is “one given to God”.
“The Promise” — The Martins
OSWALD CHAMBERS — RUN TODAYS RACE
Wednesday 22nd July 2020
Be simply and directly and unmistakably His today.