Nehemiah 2

Listen to Nehemiah 2

Nehemiah Sent to Judah

1 In the month of Nisan, 1in the twentieth year of King 2Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, 3I took up the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had not been sad in his presence.
2 And the king said to me, "Why is your face sad, seeing you are not sick? This is nothing but 4sadness of the heart." Then I was very much afraid.
3 I said to the king, 5"Let the king live forever! Why should not my face be sad, 6when the city, the place of my fathers' graves, lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?"
4 Then the king said to me, "What are you requesting?" So I prayed 7to the God of heaven.
5 And I said to the king, "If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers' graves, that I may rebuild it."
6 And the king said to me (8the queen sitting beside him), "How long will you be gone, and when will you return?" So it pleased the king to send me 9when I had given him a time.
7 And I said to the king, "If it pleases the king, let letters be given me 10to the governors of the province Beyond the River, that they may let me pass through until I come to Judah,
8 and a letter to Asaph, the keeper of the king's forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of 11the fortress of the temple, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall occupy." And the king granted me what I asked, 12for the good hand of my God was upon me.

Nehemiah Inspects Jerusalem's Walls

9 Then I came to 13the governors of the province Beyond the River and gave them the king's letters. Now the king had sent with me officers of the army and horsemen.
10 But when 14Sanballat the Horonite and 15Tobiah the Ammonite servant heard this, it displeased them greatly that someone had come to seek the welfare of the people of Israel.
11 16So I went to Jerusalem and was there three days.
12 Then I arose in the night, I and a few men with me. And I told no one what my God had put into my heart to do for Jerusalem. There was no animal with me but the one on which I rode.
13 I went out by night by 17the Valley Gate to the Dragon Spring and to 18the Dung Gate, and I inspected the walls of Jerusalem 19that were broken down 20and its gates that had been destroyed by fire.
14 Then I went on to 21the Fountain Gate and to 22the King's Pool, but there was no room for the animal that was under me to pass.
15 Then I went up in the night 23by the valley and inspected the wall, and I turned back and entered by the Valley Gate, and so returned.
16 And the officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, and I had not yet told the Jews, the priests, the nobles, the officials, and the rest who were to do the work.
17 Then I said to them, "You see the trouble we are in, 24how Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned. Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer 25suffer derision."
18 And I told them 26of the hand of my God that had been upon me for good, and also of the words that the king had spoken to me. And they said, "Let us rise up and build."27So they strengthened their hands for the good work.
19 But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite servant and 28Geshem the Arab heard of it, 29they jeered at us and despised us and said, "What is this thing that you are doing? 30Are you rebelling against the king?"
20 Then I replied to them, 31"The God of heaven will make us prosper, and we his servants will arise and build, but you have no portion or right or claim[a] 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.

Cross References 31

  • 1. Nehemiah 1:1; Nehemiah 5:14
  • 2. Ezra 7:1
  • 3. [Nehemiah 1:11]
  • 4. Proverbs 15:13
  • 5. 1 Kings 1:31; Daniel 2:4; Daniel 5:10; Daniel 6:21
  • 6. ver. 13, 17; Nehemiah 1:3
  • 7. ver. 20; Nehemiah 1:4, 5; Ezra 5:12; Daniel 2:18
  • 8. [Psalms 45:9]
  • 9. [Nehemiah 5:14; Nehemiah 13:6]
  • 10. Ezra 8:36
  • 11. Nehemiah 7:2
  • 12. ver. 18; See Ezra 7:6
  • 13. Ezra 8:36
  • 14. ver. 19; Nehemiah 4:1, 7; Nehemiah 6:1, 2, 5, 12, 14; Nehemiah 13:28
  • 15. Nehemiah 13:4
  • 16. Ezra 8:32
  • 17. Nehemiah 3:13; 2 Chronicles 26:9
  • 18. Nehemiah 3:13, 14; Nehemiah 12:31
  • 19. Nehemiah 1:3
  • 20. ver. 3, 17
  • 21. Nehemiah 3:15; Nehemiah 12:37
  • 22. 2 Kings 20:20; [Nehemiah 3:16; 2 Chronicles 32:3, 30]
  • 23. 2 Samuel 15:23
  • 24. ver. 3, 13; Nehemiah 1:3
  • 25. Nehemiah 1:3; Psalms 44:13; Psalms 79:4; Jeremiah 24:9; Ezekiel 5:14, 15; Ezekiel 22:4
  • 26. ver. 8
  • 27. [2 Samuel 2:7]
  • 28. [Nehemiah 6:6]
  • 29. Nehemiah 4:1; Psalms 44:13
  • 30. Nehemiah 6:6
  • 31. ver. 4

Footnotes 1

Chapter Summary


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

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.