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Nehemiah One

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

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Nehemiah 1:1 The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. And it came to pass in the month Chisleu, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace,

twentieth year. That is, the twentieth year of Artaxerxes' reign (Nehemiah 2:1). This would be thirteen years after this same king sent Ezra to Jerusalem (Ezra 7:7).

Shushan. Shushan is the same as Susa, the winter capital of the great Persian empire, about 250 miles east of Babylon, well identified and confirmed archaeologically.

Nehemiah 1:2 That Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem.

Hanani. Hanani was evidently Nehemiah's brother (Nehemiah 7:2) and so would naturally report back to Nehemiah after making the thousand-mile, four-month (Ezra 7:9) journey from Jerusalem to Shushan. He arrived in the month Chisleu (Nehemiah 1:1), corresponding to our November-December.

Nehemiah 1:3 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.

broken down. The wall of Jerusalem had apparently been at least partially built by Zerubbabel (Ezra 4:12; 5:3, 8). Many years had passed, however, and the returning exiles had encountered continuing serious opposition from the people of the land, so their wall had fallen into decay by Nehemiah's time. Therefore, Nehemiah sought and obtained approval to rebuild and finish the wall (Nehemiah 2:8).

Nehemiah 1:4 And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven,

Nehemiah 1:5 And said, I beseech thee, O LORD God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments:

Nehemiah 1:6 Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father's house have sinned.

we have sinned. As had Ezra (Ezra 9:5-15), so Nehemiah assumes that he personally is associated with the sins of Israel as a nation.

Nehemiah 1:7 We have dealt very corruptly against thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments, which thou commandedst thy servant Moses.

Nehemiah 1:8 Remember, I beseech thee, the word that thou commandedst thy servant Moses, saying, If ye transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations:

scatter you abroad. God's ancient prophetic warnings through Moses (Leviticus 26:33, etc.), as well as His more recent warnings through His prophets (e.g., Jeremiah 25:11), had been fulfilled. Nevertheless, as Nehemiah “reminded” God, He had also promised to restore them to their land if they would return to the Lord (e.g., Deuteronomy 30:1-5).

Nehemiah 1:9 But if ye turn unto me, and keep my commandments, and do them; though there were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set my name there.

Nehemiah 1:10 Now these are thy servants and thy people, whom thou hast redeemed by thy great power, and by thy strong hand.

Nehemiah 1:11 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 desire to fear thy name: and prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. For I was the king's cupbearer.

the king's cup bearer. This position was one of high trust and responsibility, as well as close fellowship with the king. The cupbearer risked his life daily for the king, tasting all his beverages first to thwart any attempted assassination of the king by poison.