Nehemiah 9

Listen to Nehemiah 9

The People of Israel Confess Their Sin

1 Now on the twenty-fourth day of 1this month the people of Israel were assembled 2with fasting 3and in sackcloth, 4and with earth on their heads.
2 5And the Israelites separated themselves from all foreigners and stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers.
3 6And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the LORD their God for a quarter of the day; for another quarter of it they made confession and worshiped the LORD their God.
4 On the stairs of the Levites stood 7Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Chenani; and they cried with a loud voice to the LORD their God.
5 Then the Levites, Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah, said, "Stand up and bless the LORD your God from everlasting to everlasting. 8Blessed be your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise.
6 [a]9"You are the LORD, you alone. 10You have made heaven, 11the heaven of heavens, 12with all their host, 13the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; 14and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you.
7 You are the LORD, the God 15who chose Abram and brought him out of 16Ur of the Chaldeans 17and gave him the name Abraham.
8 18You found his heart faithful before you, 19and made with him the covenant to give to his offspring 20the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Perizzite, the Jebusite, and the Girgashite. 21And you have kept your promise, for you are righteous.
9 22"And you saw the affliction of our fathers in Egypt and heard 23their cry at the Red Sea,
10 24and performed signs and wonders against Pharaoh and all his servants and all the people of his land, for you knew that 25they acted arrogantly against our fathers. And 26you made a name for yourself, as it is to this day.
11 27And you divided the sea before them, so that they went through the midst of the sea on dry land, and you cast their pursuers into the depths, 28as a stone into mighty waters.
12 By 29a pillar of cloud you led them in the day, and by a pillar of fire in the night to light for them the way in which they should go.
13 30You came down on Mount Sinai 31and spoke with them from heaven and gave them 32right rules and true laws, good statutes and commandments,
14 33and you made known to them your holy Sabbath and commanded them commandments and statutes and a law by Moses your servant.
15 34You gave them bread from heaven for their hunger and 35brought water for them out of the rock for their thirst, and you 36told them to go in to possess the land that you had sworn to give them.
16 "But they and our fathers 37acted presumptuously and stiffened their neck and did not obey your commandments.
17 They refused to obey 38and were not mindful of the wonders that you performed among them, but they stiffened their neck and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But you are a God ready to forgive, 39gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them.
18 Even 40when they had made for themselves a golden[b] calf and said, 'This is your God who brought you up out of Egypt,'41and had committed great blasphemies,
19 you 42in your great mercies did not forsake them in the wilderness. 43The pillar of cloud to lead them in the way did not depart from them by day, 44nor the pillar of fire by night to light for them the way by which they should go.
20 45You gave your good Spirit to instruct them 46and did not withhold your manna from their mouth and gave them water for their thirst.
21 47Forty years you sustained them in the wilderness, and they lacked nothing. Their clothes did not wear out and their feet did not swell.
22 "And you gave them kingdoms and peoples and allotted to them every corner. 48So they took possession of the land of Sihon king of Heshbon 49and the land of Og king of Bashan.
23 You multiplied their children 50as the stars of heaven, and you brought them into the land that you had told their fathers to enter and possess.
24 51So the descendants went in and possessed the land, 52and you subdued before them the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, and gave them into their hand, with their kings and the peoples of the land, that they might do with them as they would.
25 And they captured 53fortified cities and 54a rich land, and took possession of 55houses full of all good things, cisterns already hewn, vineyards, olive orchards and fruit trees in abundance. So they ate and were filled 56and became fat and delighted themselves in 57your great goodness.
26 58"Nevertheless, they were disobedient and rebelled against you 59and cast your law behind their back 60and killed your prophets, who 61had warned them in order to turn them back to you, 62and they committed great blasphemies.
27 63Therefore you gave them into the hand of their enemies, who made them suffer. 64And in the time of their suffering they cried out to you and you heard them from heaven, and according to your great mercies you gave them 65saviors who saved them from the hand of their enemies.
28 66But after they had rest they did evil again before you, and you abandoned them to the hand of their enemies, so that they had dominion over them. Yet when they turned and cried to you, you heard from heaven, 67and many times you delivered them according to your mercies.
29 68And you warned them in order to turn them back to your law. Yet 69they acted presumptuously and did not obey your commandments, but sinned against your rules, 70which if a person does them, he shall live by them, 71and they turned a stubborn shoulder 72and stiffened their neck and would not obey.
30 Many years 73you bore with them 74and warned them 75by your Spirit through your prophets. 76Yet they would not give ear. 77Therefore you gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands.
31 Nevertheless, 78in your great mercies 79you did not make an end of them or forsake them, 80for you are a gracious and merciful God.
32 "Now, therefore, our God, 81the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love, let not all the hardship seem little to you that has come upon us, upon our kings, our princes, our priests, our prophets, our fathers, and all your people, 82since the time of the kings of Assyria until this day.
33 83Yet you have been righteous in all that has come upon us, for you have dealt faithfully 84and we have acted wickedly.
34 Our kings, our princes, our priests, and our fathers have not kept your law or paid attention to your commandments and your warnings that you gave them.
35 Even in their own kingdom, 85and amid your great goodness that you gave them, and in the large and 86rich land that you set before them, 87they did not serve you or turn from their wicked works.
36 Behold, 88we are slaves this day; in the land that you gave to our fathers to enjoy its fruit and its good gifts, behold, we are slaves.
37 89And its rich yield goes to the kings whom you have set over us because of our sins. They rule over our bodies and over our livestock as they please, and we are in great distress.
38 [c]"Because of all this 90we make a firm covenant in writing; on 91the sealed document are the names of[d] our princes, our Levites, and our priests.

Nehemiah 9 Commentary

Chapter 9

A solemn fast. (1-3) Prayer and confession of sin. (4-38)

Verses 1-3 The word will direct and quicken prayer, for by it the Spirit helps our infirmities in prayer. The careful study of God's word will more and more discover to us our own sinfulness, and the plenteousness of his salvation; thus it calls us to mourn for sin, and to rejoice in him. Every discovery of the truth of God, should render us more unwearied in attendance on his sacred word, and on his worship.

Verses 4-38 The summary of their prayers we have here upon record. Much more, no doubt, was said. Whatever ability we have to do any thing in the way of duty, we are to serve and glorify God according to the utmost of it. When confessing our sins, it is good to notice the mercies of God, that we may be the more humbled and ashamed. The dealings of the Lord showed his goodness and long-suffering, and the hardness of their hearts. The testimony of the prophets was the testimony of the Spirit in the prophets, and it was the Spirit of Christ in them. They spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, and what they said is to be received accordingly. The result was, wonder at the Lord's mercies, and the feeling that sin had brought them to their present state, from which nothing but unmerited love could rescue them. And is not their conduct a specimen of human nature? Let us study the history of our land, and our own history. Let us recollect our advantages from childhood, and ask what were our first returns? Let us frequently do so, that we may be kept humble, thankful, and watchful. Let all remember that pride and obstinacy are sins which ruin the soul. But it is often as hard to persuade the broken-hearted to hope, as formerly it was to bring them to fear. Is this thy case? Behold this sweet promise, A God ready to pardon! Instead of keeping away from God under a sense of unworthiness, let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. He is a God ready to pardon.

Cross References 91

  • 1. [Nehemiah 8:2]
  • 2. [1 Samuel 7:6]
  • 3. See 2 Samuel 3:31
  • 4. See Joshua 7:6
  • 5. Nehemiah 10:28; Nehemiah 13:3, 30; [Ezra 6:21; Ezra 10:11]
  • 6. Nehemiah 8:7, 8
  • 7. [Nehemiah 8:7]
  • 8. [1 Chronicles 29:13]
  • 9. See 2 Kings 19:15
  • 10. See Genesis 1:1
  • 11. See Deuteronomy 10:14
  • 12. See Genesis 2:1
  • 13. See Genesis 1:1
  • 14. [Psalms 36:6]
  • 15. See Genesis 11:31
  • 16. Genesis 11:31
  • 17. Genesis 17:5
  • 18. Genesis 15:6
  • 19. Genesis 12:7; Genesis 15:18; Genesis 17:7-9
  • 20. See Exodus 13:5
  • 21. [Joshua 23:14]
  • 22. Exodus 3:7
  • 23. Exodus 14:10
  • 24. See Ex. 7 - 14
  • 25. Exodus 18:11
  • 26. Isaiah 63:12, 14; Jeremiah 32:20; Daniel 9:15; [Exodus 9:16]
  • 27. Ex. 14:21, 22, 27, 28; Psalms 78:13
  • 28. Exodus 15:5, 10
  • 29. ver. 19; Exodus 13:21, 22; Numbers 14:14; 1 Corinthians 10:1
  • 30. Exodus 19:20
  • 31. See Exodus 20:1-17
  • 32. Psalms 19:8, 9; [Romans 7:12]; See Psalms 119
  • 33. Exodus 16:23; Exodus 20:8-11; [Genesis 2:2, 3; Ezekiel 20:12, 20]
  • 34. [Exodus 16:14, 15; Psalms 78:25; Psalms 105:40; 1 Corinthians 10:3]; Cited John 6:31
  • 35. Exodus 17:6; Numbers 20:10; Psalms 78:15-17; Psalms 105:41; 1 Corinthians 10:4
  • 36. Deuteronomy 1:8
  • 37. Exodus 18:11
  • 38. Ps. 78:11, 42, 43
  • 39. ver. 31; Exodus 34:6; Numbers 14:18; Psalms 86:5, 15; Joel 2:13
  • 40. Exodus 32:4; Psalms 106:19, 20; Acts 7:41
  • 41. ver. 26; Psalms 78:41, 58; [Hebrews 3:15]
  • 42. ver. 27, 31; Psalms 106:45
  • 43. See ver. 12
  • 44. See ver. 12
  • 45. Isaiah 63:11; [Numbers 11:17]
  • 46. [Exodus 16:35]; See ver. 15
  • 47. Deuteronomy 2:7
  • 48. See Numbers 21:21-31
  • 49. See Numbers 21:33-35
  • 50. Genesis 15:5; Genesis 22:17
  • 51. See Josh. 1 - 12
  • 52. Psalms 44:2, 3
  • 53. Deuteronomy 3:5; Deuteronomy 9:1; Joshua 10:20; Joshua 14:12
  • 54. ver. 35; [Numbers 13:20, 27; Deuteronomy 8:7, 8; Ezekiel 20:6]
  • 55. Deuteronomy 6:11
  • 56. Deuteronomy 32:15
  • 57. ver. 35; Hosea 3:5
  • 58. Judges 2:11, 12; Ezekiel 20:21
  • 59. Psalms 50:17; [1 Kings 14:9]
  • 60. 1 Kings 18:4; 1 Kings 19:10; 2 Chronicles 24:20, 21; Matthew 23:37; Acts 7:52
  • 61. See ver. 30
  • 62. See ver. 18
  • 63. Judges 2:14; Psalms 106:41, 42
  • 64. Psalms 106:44, 45
  • 65. Judges 2:16; Judges 3:9
  • 66. Judg. 3:11, 12, 30; Judges 4:1; Judges 5:31; Judges 6:1
  • 67. Psalms 106:43
  • 68. [See ver. 26 above]
  • 69. ver. 10, 16
  • 70. See Leviticus 18:5
  • 71. Zechariah 7:11
  • 72. See ver. 16
  • 73. [Acts 13:18]
  • 74. ver. 26, 29, 34; 2 Kings 17:13
  • 75. 1 Peter 1:10, 11; 2 Peter 1:21
  • 76. Acts 7:51
  • 77. Ezra 9:7; [Isaiah 42:24]
  • 78. ver. 19, 27
  • 79. Jeremiah 4:27; Jeremiah 5:10, 18
  • 80. ver. 17
  • 81. Nehemiah 1:5; Deuteronomy 7:21
  • 82. 2 Kings 17:3
  • 83. See Ezra 9:15
  • 84. Psalms 106:6; Daniel 9:5
  • 85. ver. 25
  • 86. ver. 25
  • 87. Deuteronomy 28:47
  • 88. Ezra 9:9
  • 89. Deuteronomy 28:33, 51
  • 90. 2 Kings 23:3; 2 Chronicles 29:10; 2 Chronicles 34:31; Ezra 10:3; [Nehemiah 10:29]; Nehemiah 10:1
  • 91. [Nehemiah 10:1]

Footnotes 4

Chapter Summary


In this chapter we have an account of a fast kept by the Jews, which was observed, as by outward acts of humiliation, so by confession of sin, reading the law, and worshipping the Lord, Ne 9:1-3 and of a long prayer that the Levites made, in which they celebrate the divine perfections, take notice of various instances of the goodness of God to the people of Israel, acknowledge their manifold transgressions, observe the Lord's correction of them for them, in which they own he was righteous, Ne 9:4-38.

Nehemiah 9 Commentaries

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