Nethinim, and Benzinger, Ency.
NETHINIM, the name given to the Temple assistants in ancient Jerusalem.
In all, 612 Nethinim came back from the Exile and were lodged near the "House of the Nethinim" at Ophel, towards the east wall of Jerusalem so as to be near the Temple, where they served under the Levites and were free of all tolls, from which they must have been supported.
Notwithstanding their sacred service, the Nethinim were regarded by later Jewish tradition as especially degraded, being placed in tables of precedence below bastards (Talm.
3) it is stated that the prohibition against intermarriage with the Moabites, Ammonites, Egyptians and Edomites, though given in the Bible, only applied for a certain number of generations and did not apply at all to their daughters, but, it is added, "Bastards and Nethinim are prohibited (to marry Israelites), and this prohibition is perpetual and applies both to males and females."
29-35), shows that the Nethinim were in charge of the rings and hooks connected with the temple service; they sheared the sheep offered for sacrifice in the temple and poured the libations.
42, and if so would directly connect the list of the Nethinim with the degraded worship of Astarte in the Temple.
A large majority of the names of the parents mentioned seem to be feminine in form or meaning, and suggest that the Nethinim could not trace back to any definite paternity; and this is confirmed by the fact that the lists are followed by the enumeration of those who could not "show their father's house" (Ezra ii.
The above explanation of the special degradation of the Nethinim, though they were connected with the Temple service, seems to be the only way of explaining the Talmudic reference to their tabooed position, and is an interesting example of the light that can be reflected on Biblical research by the Talmud.