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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Nehemiah 1

 

 

Verse 1

Nehemiah 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.


Verse 2

Nehemiah 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.


Verse 3

Nehemiah 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.


Verse 4

Nehemiah 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.


Verse 6

Nehemiah 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.


Verse 9

Nehemiah 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, Deuteronomy 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.


Verse 10

Nehemiah 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.


Verse 11

Nehemiah 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, (Nehemiah 5:14; Nehemiah 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.

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Nehemiah 1:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/nehemiah-1.html. 1857.

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