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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

Nehemiah 1

 

 

Verses 1-11

Nehemiah 1:1-11 — Nehemiah's Divine Commission - Nehemiah 1:1-11 records the divine commission of Nehemiah. We often find a divine commission at the beginning of the story of God' servants in the Scriptures. We see in the book of Genesis that Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob each received their commissions at the beginning of their genealogies which divide the book of Genesis into major divisions. We also see how Moses received his divine commission near the beginning of his story found within Exodus to Deuteronomy. Joshua received his commission in the first few verses of the book of Joshua. Also, we see that Isaiah ,, Jeremiah , and Ezekiel each received a divine commission at the beginning of their ministries. The book of Ezra opens with a divine call to rebuild the Temple and the book of Nehemiah begins with a call to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, which callings Ezra and Nehemiah answered. In the New Testament, we find Paul the apostle receiving his divine commission in Acts 9:1-22 at the beginning of the lengthy section on Paul's life and ministry.

Each of these divine callings can be found within God's original commission to Adam in the story of Creation to be fruitful and multiply. For these men were called to bring the about the multiplication of godly seeds. The patriarchs were called to multiply and produce a nation of righteousness. Moses was called to bring Israel out of bondage, but missed his calling to bring them into the Promised Land. Joshua was called to bring them in to the land. Esther was called to preserve the seed of Israel as was Noah, while Ezra and Nehemiah were called to bring them back into the Promised Land. All of the Judges , the kings and the prophets were called to call the children of Israel out of sin and bondage and into obedience and prosperity. They were all called to bring God's children out of bondage and destruction and into God's blessings and multiplication. The stories in the Old Testament show us that some of these men fulfilled their divine commission while others either fell short through disobedience or were too wicked to hear their calling from God.

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,

Nehemiah 1:1 — "The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah" - Word Study on "Nehemiah" - Strong says the Hebrew name נְחֶמְיָה (H 5166) means, "consolation of Jah," being derived from two Hebrew words: נָחַם (H 5162), which means, "to sigh, to breathe strongly," and by implication, to be sorry, to pity, to console," and יָהּ (H 3050), which is an abbreviated form of YHWH. Gesenius says this name means, "whom Jehovah comforts, i.e. whom He aids."

Word Study on "Hachaliah" - Strong says the Hebrew name חֲכַלְיָה (H 2446) means, "darkness of Jah," being derived from two Hebrew words: חַכְלִיל (H 2447), which means, "to be dark," and יָהּ (H 3050), which is an abbreviated form of YHWH. Gesenius says it means, "whom Jehovah disturbs, dark."

Comments - There are three individuals mentioned in the Scriptures with the name Nehemiah , the prominent one being the son of Hachaliah and governor of Judah [ Nehemiah 1:1; Nehemiah 8:9; Nehemiah 10:2]. The Scriptures also mention an individual named Nehemiah the son of Azbuk [ Nehemiah 3:16], and Nehemiah , a member of the group who first returned to Jerusalem from Babylonian Captivity [ Ezra 2:2, Nehemiah 7:7]. Neither Nehemiah the governor of Judah nor his father Hachaliah are mentioned outside the book of Nehemiah.

Nehemiah 1:1 — "And it came to pass in the month Chisleu, in the twentieth year" - Comments- The Hebrew civil year began in September, coinciding with a "West-Semitic" tradition, while the Hebrew sacred year began with the month of Nisan (March/April), coinciding with the Babylonian calendar. 32] The month of Chislev (Nov-Dec) would be the ninth month of the Jewish sacred. Nehemiah heard the news of his fellow Jews from Jerusalem in November ( Nehemiah 1:1) and spoke to the king four months later in April. These two events apparently fell within the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king.

32] I. Abrahams, "Time," in A Dictionary of the Bible Dealing with its Literature, Language and Contents Including the Biblical Theology, ed. James Hastings, vol 4 (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1911), 764-765; H. Porter, "Kislev," and "Calendar," in International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. James Orr (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, c 1915, 1939), in The Sword Project, v 1511 [CD-ROM] (Temple, AZ: CrossWire Bible Society, 1990-2008).

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,"

Nehemiah 2:1, "And it came to pass in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that wine was before him: and I took up the wine, and gave it unto the king. Now I had not been beforetime sad in his presence."

We find a clear reference to the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes at the end of this book ( Nehemiah 13:6), so we must assume Nehemiah 1:1 refers to the twentieth year of Artaxerxes, which would have been 445 B.C. 33]

33] R. F. Youngblood, F. F. Bruce, R. K. Harrison, and Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nelson"s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, rev. ed. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), "Artaxerxes."

Nehemiah 13:6, "But in all this time was not I at Jerusalem: for in the two and thirtieth year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon came I unto the king, and after certain days obtained I leave of the king:"

Nehemiah 1:1 — "as I was in Shushan the palace" - Comments- Shushan was the ancient capital of Persia and royal residence of its kings. It was located in the southwestern area of modern Iran. 34] It is the same palace where Esther and Daniel ministered earlier ( Esther 1:2, Daniel 8:2).

34] R. F. Youngblood, F. F. Bruce, R. K. Harrison, and Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nelson"s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, rev. ed. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), "Shushan."

Esther 1:2, "That in those days, when the king Ahasuerus sat on the throne of his kingdom, which was in Shushan the palace,"

Daniel 8:2, "And I saw in a vision; and it came to pass, when I saw, that I was at Shushan in the palace, which is in the province of Elam; and I saw in a vision, and I was by the river of Ulai."

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.

Nehemiah 1:2 — "That Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men of Judah" - Comments- While some commentators suggest Hanani was the brother of Nehemiah ( Nehemiah 1:2; Nehemiah 7:2), 35] Rashi (Jarchi) explains that he was rather a Jewish "companion," 36] of like nationality only.

35] George Rawlinson, Nehemiah , in The Holy Bible According to the Authorized Version (A.D 1611), with an Explanation and Critical Commentary and a Revision of the Translation, by Bishops and Clergy of the Anglican Church, vol 3, ed. F. C. Cook (London: John Murray, 1873), 429.

36] Rashi, Commentary on the Tanakh, in The Judaica Press Complete Tanach (Judaica Press, 1998) [on-line]; accessed 25 November 2010; available from http://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/16508/showrashi/true; Internet, comments on Nehemiah 1:2.

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.

Nehemiah 1:3 — "the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down" - Comments- David spoke of the event of the building of the walls of Jerusalem five hundred years earlier ( Psalm 51:18).

Psalm 51:18, "Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem."

Nehemiah 1:3Comments - Nehemiah must have known of the first group of Jews returning to Jerusalem from Babylonian captivity in 536 B.C. under Zerubbabel ( Ezra 2:1-2), and of Ezra's return to Jerusalem in 445 B.C. ( Ezra 7:6-7) and the rebuilding of the Temple. Yet the Jewish people sat in despair in the midst of the ruins of Jerusalem, oppressed and reproached by the pagan leaders of the region.

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 1:3-4Comments - The Walls of Salvation- Nehemiah began to feel a burden to see the walls of Jerusalem rebuilt. Rick Joyner"s book, The Call, refers to these walls as the walls of Salvation, so that God"s people will no longer be distressed. 37]

37] Rick Joyner, The Call (Charlotte, North Carolina: Morning Star Publications, 1999), 174.

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 1:5Comments - God's covenant and His mercy are conditional, fulfilled in our lives as we walk in love and obedience to His Word. In other words, God keeps His covenant as we keep His Word; He extends mercy upon us as we extend our love towards Him and mankind. This is the principle of sowing and reaping. Nehemiah's prayer that follows ( Nehemiah 1:6-11) reflects this principle of sowing and reaping in that He acknowledges Israel's sins and God judgment that follows, then he tells the Lord that His people have turned back to Him and requests that He hear the prayers of those who now fear Him. We see a parallel passage reflecting our love to Him and observance to His commandments in Isaiah 1:19, when it says, "If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land." Perhaps willingness reflects our love and obedience reflects the observance of His commandments.

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.

Nehemiah 1:11 — "For I was the king's cupbearer" - Comments- The Greek historian Xenophon (430 to 354 B.C.) describes the duties of a cupbearer and his special standing with the king during this period of ancient history, how he pours wine gracefully into the king's cup, tips a portion into his own hand to taste for poison, and delicately hands the cup of wine to the king (Cryopaedia 138). 38]

38] J. S. Watson and Henry Dale, Cryopaedia, or Institutes of Cyrus, and the Hellenics, or Grecian History (New York: George Bell and Sons, 1880), 11-12.

Nehemiah 1:11Comments- Nehemiah prays a prayer for favour with man. This is similar to Proverbs 16:7.

Proverbs 16:7, "When a man"s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him."

 


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These files are copyrighted by the author, Gary Everett. Used by Permission.
No distribution beyond personal use without permission.

Bibliography Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Nehemiah 1:4". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ghe/nehemiah-1.html. 2013.

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