Who Are the Nethinims in the Bible?
In the Bible, the Nethinim were Temple assistants. They were also called Nathinites or Nathineans. While their name was originally applied to Gibeonites in the Book of Joshua, they are later counted alongside the Avdei Shlomo. This suggests that the Nethinim were likely descendants of non-Israelites.
Nethinims are the people who worked at the Temple in ancient Jerusalem. They were also known as Nathinites and Nathineans. In the Book of Joshua, Nethinims were Gibeonites, but by the Book of Ezra, they were counted with the Avdei Shlomo, the Jewish priests. These people were most likely non-Israelites who had migrated to Israel and joined the Temple.
There are also several names for these people in the Bible. Some refer to them as “kedeshot,” meaning “sacred prostitutes”. Others refer to them as “soba’im,” a term that has many variations in the Bible. In other passages, such as the Book of Esdras, references to Nethinim are a frequent part of the Bible.
Although the Nethinims were not recognized as a separate group in the Bible, they were an important part of the Jewish people. They helped the Levites with many tasks. In 1 Chronicles 9:2, David formally gave the Nethinim to the Levites. The nethinims were under the control of a chief chosen among themselves. Although they were not mentioned in the New Testament, their presence is often mentioned in other passages, including the book of Nehemiah.
The most specific clue to the origin of Nethinim can be found in Ezra 8:20, where they are described as “Levites.” Interestingly, the word “Nethinim” is a passive participle, meaning “ones given.” It is interesting to note that Nethinims were a part of the Levites’ service and were a source of the men who worked there.
There are two possible explanations for the origin of the term Nethinim. One possibility is that the Nethinim were a group of cultic arts experts from around the world who attached themselves to the Israelites at an early stage. The other possibility is that the Nethinim were organized into family groups.
The term Nethinim comes from the Hebrew word natan, which means ‘given.’ Joshua gave them servitude and a priesthood. In the Book of Ezra, David also committed captives to slavery. In ancient Near Eastern societies, the practice of enslaving captives for religious worship was the norm. The Bible reveals that this practice was prevalent in ancient Israel.