Nehemiah 1

Nehemiah’s Prayer

1 The words of Nehemiah son of Hakaliah: In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa,
2 Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that had survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem.
3 They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.”
4 When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.
5 Then I said: “LORD, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments,
6 let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you.
7 We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.
8 “Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations,
9 but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’
10 “They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand.
11 Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.” I was cupbearer to 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.

Cross References 21

  • 1. Nehemiah 10:1; Zechariah 7:1
  • 2. S Ezra 4:9; S Esther 2:8
  • 3. Nehemiah 7:2
  • 4. S 2 Kings 21:14; Nehemiah 7:6; Jeremiah 52:28
  • 5. S Leviticus 26:31; 2 Kings 25:10; Ne 2:3,13,17; Isaiah 22:9; Jeremiah 39:8; Jeremiah 52:14; Lamentations 2:9
  • 6. Psalms 137:1
  • 7. S 2 Chronicles 20:3; S Ezra 9:4; Daniel 9:3
  • 8. S Deuteronomy 7:21; Nehemiah 4:14
  • 9. Exodus 20:6; S Deuteronomy 7:9; S 1 Kings 8:23; Daniel 9:4
  • 10. S 1 Kings 8:29; S 2 Chronicles 7:15
  • 11. S 1 Kings 8:30; Daniel 9:17
  • 12. S 1 Kings 8:47
  • 13. Deuteronomy 28:14-15; Psalms 106:6
  • 14. S Genesis 8:1; S 2 Kings 20:3; Nehemiah 4:14; Nehemiah 5:19; Nehemiah 6:14; Nehemiah 13:22,29,31
  • 15. S Leviticus 26:33
  • 16. S Deuteronomy 30:4; Psalms 106:47; Psalms 107:3; Isaiah 11:12; Isaiah 56:8; Jeremiah 42:12; Ezekiel 11:17
  • 17. S 1 Kings 8:48; Jeremiah 29:14; Ezekiel 11:17; Ezekiel 20:34-38; Ezekiel 36:24-38; Micah 2:12
  • 18. S Exodus 32:11; Deuteronomy 9:29; Isaiah 51:9-11
  • 19. ver 6; S 2 Chronicles 6:40
  • 20. S Exodus 3:21
  • 21. S Genesis 40:1

Chapter Summary


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.


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

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