Nehemiah 2

1 In the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, the king was about to be served wine. I took the wine and gave it to the king. Since I had never seemed sad in his presence,
2 the king asked me, "Why do you seem sad? Since you aren't sick, you must have a broken heart!" I was very afraid
3 and replied, "May the king live forever! Why shouldn't I seem sad when the city, the place of my family's graves, is in ruins and its gates destroyed by fire?"
4 The king asked, "What is it that you need?" I prayed to the God of heaven
5 and replied, "If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor with you, please send me to Judah, to the city of my family's graves so that I may rebuild it."
6 With the queen sitting beside him, the king asked me, "How long will you be away and when will you return?" So it pleased the king to send me, and I told him how long I would be gone.
7 I also said to him, "If it pleases the king, may letters be given me addressed to the governors of the province Beyond the River to allow me to travel to Judah.
8 May the king also issue a letter to Asaph the keeper of the king's forest, directing him to supply me with timber for the beams of the temple fortress gates, for the city wall, and for the house in which I will live." The king gave me what I asked, for the gracious power of my God was with me.

Inspecting Jerusalem

9 So I went to the governors of the province Beyond the River and gave them the king's letters. The king had sent officers of the army and cavalry with me.
10 When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard this, they were very angry that someone had come to seek the welfare of the people of Israel.
11 When I reached Jerusalem and had been there for three days,
12 I set out at night, taking only a few people with me. I didn't tell anyone what my God was prompting me to do for Jerusalem, and the only animal I took was the one I rode.
13 I went out by night through the Valley Gate past the Dragon's Spring to the Dung Gate so that I could inspect the walls of Jerusalem that had been broken down, as well as its gates, which had been destroyed by fire.
14 Then I went on to the Spring Gate and to the King's Pool. Since there was no room for the animal on which I was riding to pass,
15 I went up by way of the valley by night and inspected the wall. Then I turned back and returned by entering through the Valley Gate.

Let’s rebuild

16 The officials didn't know where I had gone or what I was doing. I hadn't yet told the Jews, the priests, the officials, the officers, or the rest who were to do the work.
17 So I said to them, "You see the trouble that we're in: Jerusalem is in ruins, and its gates are destroyed by fire! Come, let's rebuild the wall of Jerusalem so that we won't continue to be in disgrace."
18 I told them that my God had taken care of me, and also told them what the king had said to me. "Let's start rebuilding!" they said, and they eagerly began the work.
19 But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official, and Geshem the Arab heard about it, they mocked and made fun of us. "What are you doing?" they asked. "Are you rebelling against the king?"
20 "The God of heaven will give us success!" I replied. "As God's servants, we will start building. But you will have no share, right, or claim in Jerusalem."

Nehemiah 2 Commentary

Chapter 2

Nehemiah's request to the king. (1-8) Nehemiah comes to Jerusalem. (9-18) The opposition of the adversaries. (19,20)

Verses 1-8 Our prayers must be seconded with serious endeavours, else we mock God. We are not limited to certain moments in our addresses to the King of kings, but have liberty to go to him at all times; approaches to the throne of grace are never out of season. But the sense of God's displeasure and the afflictions of his people, are causes of sorrow to the children of God, under which no earthly delights can comfort. The king encouraged Nehemiah to tell his mind. This gave him boldness to speak; much more may the invitation Christ has given us to pray, and the promise that we shall speed, encourage us to come boldly to the throne of grace. Nehemiah prayed to the God of heaven, as infinitely above even this mighty monarch. He lifted up his heart to that God who understands the language of the heart. Nor should we ever engage in any pursuit in which it would be wrong for us thus to seek and expect the Divine direction, assistance, and blessing. There was an immediate answer to his prayer; for the seed of Jacob never sought the God of Jacob in vain.

Verses 9-18 When Nehemiah had considered the matter, he told the Jews that God had put it into his heart to build the wall of Jerusalem. He does not undertake to do it without them. By stirring up ourselves and one another to that which is good, we strengthen ourselves and one another for it. We are weak in our duty, when we are cold and careless.

Verses 19-20 The enmity of the serpent's seed against the cause of Christ is confined to no age or nation. The application to ourselves is plain. The church of God asks for our help. Is it not desolate, and exposed to assaults? Does the consideration of its low estate cause you any grief? Let not business, pleasure, or the support of a party so engage attention, as that Zion and her welfare shall be nothing to you.

Footnotes 3

  • [a]. March–April
  • [b]. Heb lacks of the province.
  • [c]. Or they strengthened their hands for the good.

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO NEHEMIAH 2

Nehemiah being sorrowful in the king's presence, the reason of it was asked by the king, which he declared, and then took the opportunity to request of the king that he might be sent to Jerusalem to rebuild it, which was granted him, Ne 2:1-8, upon which he set out, and came to Jerusalem, to the great grief of the enemies of Israel, Ne 2:9-11 and after he had been three days in Jerusalem, he privately took a survey of it, to see what condition it was in, unknown to the rulers there, Ne 2:12-16, whom he afterwards exhorted to rise up and build the wall of the city, which they immediately set about, Ne 2:17,18 not regarding the scoffs and taunts of their enemies, Ne 2:19,20.

Nehemiah 2 Commentaries