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BibliaTodo Commentaries

Benson Joseph
Nehemiah 1

1. The words of Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah.\par\par\tab Now it came to pass in the month Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace,

2. that Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men out of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, that were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem.

3. And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire.\par

4. And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days; and I fasted and prayed before the God of heaven,

5. and said, I beseech thee, O Jehovah, the God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and lovingkindness with them that love him and keep his commandments:

6. let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hearken unto the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee at this time, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants while I confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee. Yea, I and my father's house have sinned:

7. we have dealt very corruptly against thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the ordinances, which thou commandedst thy servant Moses.

8. Remember, I beseech thee, the word that thou commandedst thy servant Moses, saying, If ye trespass, I will scatter you abroad among the peoples:

9. but if ye return unto me, and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts were in the uttermost part of the heavens, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen, to cause my name to dwell there.

10. Now these are thy servants and thy people, whom thou hast redeemed by thy great power, and by thy strong hand.

11. O Lord, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who delight to fear thy name; and prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.\par\par\tab Now I was cupbearer to the king.

Nehemiah 1

Neh 1:1. The words of Nehemiah — Or, the acts, as the Hebrew word here used often signifies; that is, the things which Nehemiah did. In the month Chisleu — Which answers to part of our November and December. In the twentieth year — Namely, of the reign of Artaxerxes. As I was in Shushan the palace — In the region of Elimais, where the Persian kings kept their court in the winter, and which, from its pleasant and beautiful situation, was called by heathen writers Susa, which signifies a lily, or, as Athenaeus says, a rose.

Neh 1:2. I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped — Either concerning those who were not carried captives when others were, but remained in the land; or rather, those that had escaped out of the slavery which they had endured in Assyria, Babylon, and other strange lands. Which were left of the captivity — The remnant of those numerous captives, now returned and settled in Jerusalem, and other parts of Judea. Though Nehemiah lived in ease, honour, and affluence himself, he could not forget that he was an Israelite, nor shake off the thoughts of his brethren, or his concern for their welfare. He therefore inquires in what condition they were, and whether Jerusalem was again become a flourishing city.

Neh 1:3. They said, The remnant that are left in the province — In Judea, which was now made a province under the Persian kings; are in great affliction and reproach — Despised and distressed by the neighbouring nations. The wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, &c. — The walls and gates continue as the Chaldeans left them after their conquest of the city, the Jews not being in a condition to rebuild them, nor having commission from the kings of Persia to do so, but only to build the temple, and their own private houses. This made their condition both very despicable, under the abiding marks of poverty and slavery, and very dangerous, for their enemies might, when they pleased, make an easy prey of them.

Neh 1:4. When I heard these words I sat down — Probably upon the ground, as the manner was, in great sorrow, and perhaps in ashes; and wept and mourned certain days — Thus the desolations and distresses of the church of Christ ought to be the matter of our grief, how much soever we live at ease. And fasted and prayed — Not in public, which he had no opportunity of doing, but before the God of heaven — Who sees in secret, and will reward openly.

Neh 1:6. Which I pray before thee night and day — He refers to all the prayers which he had for some time been addressing to God, during his sorrow for the desolations of Jerusalem.

Neh 1:9. But if ye turn unto me, I will gather them from thence, &c. — This promise made by Moses he trusted God would fulfil, as he had the threatening. It is to be observed, that Nehemiah was directed in this prayer to God, and in his efforts for the restoration of Jerusalem, by the predictions of Moses, Deu 30:1-4. And he plainly found the truth of that prophecy in the readiness of the king of Persia to grant his petition, which, no doubt, confirmed his faith in what Moses there declares.

Neh 1:10. Whom thou hast redeemed by thy great power, &c. — In days of old, and thy power is still the same; wilt thou not therefore still redeem them, and perfect their redemption? Let not them be overpowered by the enemy that have a God of infinite power on their side.

Neh 1:11. Who desire to fear thy name — Who are not only called by thy name, but really have a reverence for it: who now worship thee, and thee only, according to thy will, and have an awful sense of all the discoveries which thou art pleased to make of thyself. Those who truly desire to fear his name shall be graciously accepted of God. Grant him mercy in the sight of this man — The king, upon whom he was going to attend: who, though a god by office, was but a man by nature, and therefore his heart was wholly at God’s disposal. Favour with men is then comfortable, when we see it springing from the mercy of God. For I was the king’s cup-bearer — Whereby I had opportunity to speak to him, and some favour with him, which encouraged me to make this prayer, and to hope for some success. Many of the Jews, by the singular favour of God, obtained considerable dignities in their captivity, as Daniel and his companions, Zerubbabel and others; among whom was this pious man, who was advanced to this office of cup-bearer when he was but a youth; which, it must be observed, was a place of great honour and advantage in the Persian court, because of the privilege which it gave him who bore it, of being daily in the king’s presence, and the opportunity which he had thereby of gaining his favour for the procuring of any petition he should make to him. That it was a place of great temporal advantage, seems evident by Nehemiah’s gaining those immense riches which enabled him, for so many years, (Neh 5:14; Neh 5:19,) out of his own privy purse only, to live in his government with great splendour and expense, without burdening the people at all. See Prideaux, Anno 445.

American Standard Version-2015

Edited by Jeff D. Huddleston. Based on the 1901 American Standard Version (ASV-1901).