Nehemiah 1

Nehemiah’s Prayer for the People

1 The words of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah. It happened in the month of Kislev, in the twentieth year, that I myself was in the citadel in Susa,
2 and one of my brothers, Hanani, came with some men from Judah. I asked them about the Jews who had escaped the captivity and about Jerusalem.
3 They replied to me, "The survivors in the province who have survived the captivity are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned in the fire."
4 When I heard these words, I sat and wept and mourned for days, and I was fasting and praying before the God of the heavens.
5 I said, "O Yahweh God of the heavens, the great and awesome one who keeps the covenant and loyal love for the ones who love him and for those who keep his commands.
6 Please, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer of your servant that I am praying before you by day and by night for your servants, the {Israelites},[a] and confessing the sins of the {Israelites}[b] that we have sinned against you. I and my father's house have sinned.
7 We have certainly offended you and have not kept the commands, regulations, and judgments that you have commanded your servant Moses.
8 Please, remember the word that you have commanded to your servant Moses, saying, 'If you act unfaithfully I will scatter you all among the nations.
9 But if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, even though all of your outcasts are at the furthest parts of heaven, I will gather them and bring them to the place which I have chosen to make my name dwell.'
10 They are your servants and your people whom you have redeemed by your great power and by your strong hand.
11 O Lord, please let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight to revere in your name. Please, let your servant be successful this day and give him compassion before this man." I was cupbearer for the king.

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Nehemiah 1 Commentary

Chapter 1

The Old Testament history closes with the book of Nehemiah, wherein is recorded the workings of his heart, in the management of public affairs; with many devout reflections.

Nehemiah's distress for the misery of Jerusalem, His prayer.

- Nehemiah was the Persian king's cup-bearer. When God has work to do, he will never want instruments to do it with. Nehemiah lived at ease, and in honour, but does not forget that he is an Israelite, and that his brethren are in distress. He was ready to do them all the good offices he could; and that he might know how best to do them a kindness, he makes inquiries about them. We should inquire especially concerning the state of the church and religion. Every Jerusalem on this side the heavenly one will have some defect, which will require the help and services of its friends. Nehemiah's first application was to God, that he might have the fuller confidence in his application to the king. Our best pleas in prayer are taken from the promise of God, the word on which he has caused us to hope. Other means must be used, but the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails most. Communion with God will best prepare us for our dealings with men. When we have intrusted our concerns to God, the mind is set at liberty; it feels satisfaction and composure, and difficulties vanish. We know that if the affair be hurtful, he can easily hinder it; and if it be good for us, he can as easily forward it.

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. Literally "sons/children of Israel"
  • [b]. Literally "sons/children of Israel"

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK OF NEHEMIAH

This book is, by the authors of the Vulgate Latin and Arabic versions, called the "Second" Book of Ezra, it being a continuation of the same history, and was by the Jews reckoned as one book with Ezra; Kimchi on Isa 9:7, calls it Ezra, so the Talmud {a}; and it has been quoted by Christian writers under his name; see the argument of the book of Ezra; but not as if it was written by him; for it is a clear case it was written by Nehemiah, whose name it bears, as appears from Ne 1:1 and throughout Nehemiah speaks of himself under the first person; and the style also is very different from that of Ezra, being plainer and easier than his. It has always had a place in the canon of Scriptures, both with Jews and Christians; and is of use to show the fulfilment of the prophecy of Zechariah, and especially of Daniel concerning the building of the wall of Jerusalem in troublesome times; to carry on the history of the Jews, and describe the state of the church in those times, what opposition was made to it, and what enemies it had, and what must be expected when any work of God is set about; it is the last of the historical books that was written, as is thought, and contains an history of the space of about twelve years, from the twentieth of Artaxerxes to the thirty second of his reign, see \Ne 1:1 2:1 13:6\.

{a} T. Bab. Succah, fol. 37. 1. & Gloss. in ib. fol. 12. 1.

\\INTRODUCTION NEHEMIAH 1\\

This chapter relates how that Nehemiah, being at Shushan in Persia, and meeting with some Jews, inquired of the state of Jerusalem, of which having a melancholy account, he betook to mourning, fasting, and prayer, Ne 1:1-4, and his prayer is recorded, Ne 1:5-11.

Nehemiah 1 Commentaries