Nehemiah Chapter 10, Records The Covenant of Faith and Those Who Committed to Follow The Torah

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In this Chapter of Nehemiah we will read about all of those who by Faith chose to follow all of what The Torah Teaches. The Laws, that were neglected and they gave their pledge to walk in them and uphold all of them. The Spirit of Repentance(Teshuvah) follows with the resolve of Nehemiah The Governor, Zedekiah and The People, to Change their old ways of neglect, and Renew their Spiritual Connection to The Holy Land.

First there is a list of 83 signatories of The Covenant of Faith(The Bris Amanah) with a seal. The Temple tax is established as one-third shekel because of the economy, down from Exodus 20:13-14 of one-half shekel, which was the same later is in New Testament Times.

It brings up The Oath, Intermarriage and The Sabbath. The Mitzvos, The Wood Offerings, The Firstborn, The First of Your Dough(Challah) and The First Fruits(Terumah) and Tithing.

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Nehemiah 10:37, The First Of Our Dough, Challah And Terumah

In our reading of verse 37, we will discover what is being said about The First-fruits(Bikkurim), and the meaning behind The Semitic usage of the words; Challah and Terumah, from a Hebrew understanding of The Torah.

Every Hebrew man that possessed the means of agricultural productivity with an Orchard, Vineyard or Farm Land, was under this obligation of First Fruits. From Exodus 23:19; 34:26, Numbers 15:17–21; 18:12–13; and Deuteronomy 26:1–11. This Hebrew word, Bikkurim, along with other related terms for the The First Fruits, is derive from the same Hebrew root as Bekhor, or The Firstborn.

The Hebrew word, Challah, refers to The Mitzvah(The Commandment) of separating a portion of the dough. This portion of dough is set aside as a tithe for The Kohen.

Let us read our text of Nehemiah 10:37, from The King James Bible,

V37 And [that] we should bring the firstfruits of our dough, and our offerings, and the fruit of all manner of trees, of wine and of oil, unto the priests, to the chambers of the house of our God; and the tithes of our ground unto the Levites, that the same Levites might have the tithes in all the cities of our tillage.

And again from, The ArtScroll Tanach Series, Nechemiah, Mesorah Publications, Ltd. The Book of Nehemiah 10:38,

V38 The first of our dough, our separated portions, and the fruits of all the trees of grapes and olives we shall bring to the Kohanim, to the chambers of Our G-d's Temple; and the tithe of our land to the Levites.

The first of our dough, is referring to The Mitzvah of Challah. Challah, is the taking of a piece of the bread dough with the hand and separating that piece from the larger loaves of bread before you have baked the loafs. Those first portions or pieces are then giving to The Kohen(Priest). That is now the portion which is called The First Fruits of our dough. This Mitzvah is found referenced to in The Book of Numbers 15:20, from The King James Bible,

V20 Ye shall offer up a cake of the first of your dough [for] an heave offering: as [ye do] the heave offering of the threshing floor, so shall ye heave it.

The term Challah refers to The Mitzvah(The Commandment) of separating a portion of the dough before braiding the loaf of wheat bread. This portion of dough is set aside as a tithe for the Kohen. In Hebrew, this Mitzvah is called: Hafrashat Challah.

Now the next portion I want to discuss is about The Mitzvah of Terumah: The English term heave offering is really incorrect in The King James Bible. There really is no exact word that is Transliterated into English for Bikkurim that conveys the meaning of the Hebrew word Terumah. This word is used in various contexts throughout the Bible, including one usage in Proverbs denoting haughtiness or graft. (Prov. 29:4). In most contexts it refers to designating something for a higher purpose, or lifting apart of a quantity from a larger quantity), as in the gifts offered by the Children of Israel for the inauguration of the Mishkan(The Tabernacle as described in The Book of Exodus 25:8-10).

In the Bible, there are numerous different varieties of gifts for which The Hebrew word; Terumah was applied. In Jewish Law, the word terumah by itself is associated with terumah gedolah, the first portion of produce that was required to be separated and kept pure for consumption by a Kohen. There was no direct connection with The Temple or The Temple Service. This is the first of two groups of Terumot.

The other group of Terumah is referred to as The Redemption of The Firstborn male, which we talked about earlier in this Chapter 10 of Nehemiah and was paid with a monitory price with The Temple Currency. This same word is used many different time in The Scripture and point to a set price that is required, such as our Salvation is a set price that G-d paid for our Redemption from sin and death as well.

According to Jewish Scholar, Malbin, The People now were volinteering themselves to take Terumah from The First Fruits(Bikkurim) of all the trees, in addition to taking Terumah from grains, wines, and olive oil, as Biblically required by The Torah and The Law s of Moses.

In The Hebrew Text; ...we shall bring to The Kohanim, to the chambers of our G-d's Temple... This part of the text is referring to The Terumah is point out that the first fruit could be given directly to The Kohanim at any place in Isrel, However, it was customary at that time to bring The Terumah directly to The Temple Chambers wher The Kohanim could generally be found. From Jewish Scholar Rashi's Commentary on Nehemiah 10:38.

Now lets look at the last portion of our verse 37, ...and the tithe of our land to the Levites... What is now being spoken about, is The Tithe(Maaser Rishon), meaning The First Tithe in Hebrew which is derived from the word eser(meaning tenth), from The Produce of The Land. This was given to The Levites as it is written in The Book of Numbers 18:21, ..and to The Sons of Levi I have given all The Tithes in Israel as an inheritance... from Jewish Scholar, Malbim.