Nehemiah 9

The People Confess Their Sin

1 Now on the twenty-fourth * day of 1this month the sons of Israel assembled 2with fasting, in sackcloth and with 3dirt upon them.
2 The 4descendants of Israel separated themselves from all foreigners *, and stood and 5confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers.
3 While 6they stood in their place, they read from the book of the law of the LORD their God for a fourth of the day; and for another fourth they confessed and worshiped the LORD their God.
4 7Now on the Levites' platform stood Jeshua, 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, "Arise, bless the LORD your God forever * and ever! O may Your glorious name be blessed And exalted above all blessing and praise!
6 "8You alone are the LORD. 9You have made the heavens, The heaven of heavens with all their host, The earth and all that is on it, The seas and all that is in them. 10You give life to all of them And the heavenly host bows down before You.
7 "You are the LORD God, 11Who chose Abram And brought him out from 12Ur of the Chaldees, And 13gave him the name Abraham.
8 "You found 14his heart faithful before You, And made a covenant with him To give him the land of the Canaanite, Of the Hittite and the Amorite, Of the Perizzite, the Jebusite and the Girgashite - To give it to his descendants. And You 15have fulfilled Your promise, For You are righteous.
9 "16You saw the affliction of our fathers in Egypt, And 17heard their cry by the Red * Sea.
10 "Then You performed 18signs and wonders against Pharaoh, Against all his servants and all the people of his land; For You knew that 19they acted arrogantly toward them, And 20made a name for Yourself as it is this day.
11 "21You divided the sea before them, So they passed through the midst of the sea on dry ground; And 22their pursuers You hurled into the depths, Like a stone into raging waters.
12 "And with a pillar of cloud 23You led them by day, And with a pillar of fire by night To light for them the way In which they were to go.
13 "Then 24You came down on Mount Sinai, And 25spoke with them from heaven; You gave them 26just ordinances and true laws, Good statutes and commandments.
14 "So You made known to them 27Your holy sabbath, And laid down for them commandments, statutes and law, Through Your servant Moses.
15 "You 28provided bread from heaven for them for their hunger, You 29brought forth water from a rock for them for their thirst, And You 30told them to enter in order to possess The land which You swore * to give them.
16 "But they, our fathers, 31acted arrogantly; They 32became * stubborn * and would not listen to Your commandments.
17 "They refused to listen, And 33did not remember Your wondrous deeds which You had performed among them; So they became * stubborn * and 34appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But You are a God 35of forgiveness, Gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness; And You did not forsake them.
18 "Even when they 36made for themselves A calf of molten metal And said, 'This is your God Who brought you up from Egypt,' And committed great blasphemies,
19 37You, in Your great compassion, Did not forsake them in the wilderness; 38The pillar of cloud did not leave * * them by day, To guide them on their way, Nor the pillar of fire by night, to light for them the way in which they were to go.
20 "39You gave Your good Spirit to instruct them, Your manna You did not withhold from their mouth, And You gave them water for their thirst.
21 "Indeed, 40forty years You provided for them in the wilderness and they were not in want; Their clothes did not wear out, nor did their feet swell.
22 "You also gave them kingdoms and peoples, And allotted them to them as a boundary. 41They took possession of the land of Sihon the king of Heshbon And the land of Og the king of Bashan.
23 "You made their sons numerous as 42the stars of heaven, And You brought them into the land Which You had told their fathers to enter and possess.
24 "43So their sons entered and possessed the land. And 44You subdued before them the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, And You gave them into their hand, with their kings and the peoples of the land, To do with them as they desired.
25 "45They captured fortified cities and a 46fertile land. They took possession of 47houses full of every good thing, Hewn cisterns, vineyards, olive groves, Fruit trees in abundance. So they ate, were filled and 48grew fat, And 49reveled in Your great goodness.
26 "50But they became disobedient and rebelled against You, And 51cast Your law behind their backs And 52killed Your prophets who had 53admonished them So that they might return to You, And 54they committed great blasphemies.
27 "Therefore You 55delivered them into the hand of their oppressors who oppressed them, But when they cried to You 56in the time of their distress, You heard from heaven, and according to Your great compassion You 57gave them deliverers who delivered them from the hand of their oppressors.
28 "But 58as soon as they had rest, they did evil again before You; Therefore You abandoned them to the hand of their enemies, so that they ruled over them. When they cried again to You, You heard from heaven, And 59many times You rescued them according to Your compassion,
29 And 60admonished them in order to turn them back to Your law. Yet 61they acted arrogantly and did not listen to Your commandments but sinned against Your ordinances, By 62which if a man observes them he shall live. And they 63turned a stubborn shoulder and stiffened their neck, and would not listen.
30 "64However, You bore with them for many years, And 65admonished them by 66Your Spirit through Your prophets, Yet they would not give ear. Therefore You gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands.
31 "Nevertheless, in Your great compassion You 67did not make an end of them or forsake them, For You are 68a gracious and compassionate God.
32 "Now therefore, our God, 69the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who keeps covenant and lovingkindness, Do not let all the hardship seem insignificant before You, Which has come upon us, our kings, our princes, our priests, our prophets, our fathers and on all Your people, 70From the days of the kings of Assyria to this day.
33 "However, 71You are just in all that has come upon us; For You have dealt faithfully, but we have acted wickedly.
34 "For our kings, our leaders, our priests and our fathers have not kept Your law Or paid attention to Your commandments and Your admonitions with which You have admonished them.
35 "But 72they, in their own kingdom, 73With Your great goodness which You gave them, With the broad and rich land which You set before them, Did not serve You or turn from their evil deeds.
36 "Behold, 74we are slaves today, And as to the land which You gave to our fathers to eat of its fruit and its bounty, Behold, we are slaves in it.
37 "75Its abundant produce is for the kings Whom You have set over us because of our sins; They also rule over our bodies And over our cattle as they please, So we are in great distress.

A Covenant Results

38 "Now because of all this 76We are making an agreement in writing; And on the 77sealed document are the names of our leaders, 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 77

Footnotes 17

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

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