And the king said unto me, the queen also sitting by him
Which it seems was not very common for the queens of Persia to dine with the kings their husbands; though this may be observed, not so much for the singularity of it, as for the providence of God in it, that so it should be, she having a good respect for Nehemiah, and the Jewish nation, and forwarded the king in his grant to him: if this king was Darius Hystaspis, this his queen was Atossa, daughter of Cyrus F17, who might be the more friendly to the Jews, on account of her father's great regard unto them:
for how long shall thy journey be? and when wilt thou return?
what time would he ask to do this business in? this shows the king had a great respect for him, and was loath to part with him, at least for any great length of time:
so it pleased the king to send me,
when he promised to return unto him, not in twelve years, which was the time of his government in Judea, but in a lesser space, perhaps a year at most, since in less than two months the wall of Jerusalem was finished; and it may be that he then returned to the king of Persia, who sent him again under the character of a governor, finding it was for his interest to have such a man in those parts.
F17 Herodot. Polymnia, sive l. 7. c. 1.