Nehemiah 9

The Israelites Confess Their Sins

1 On the twenty-fourth day of the same month, the Israelites gathered together, fasting and wearing sackcloth and putting dust on their heads.
2 Those of Israelite descent had separated themselves from all foreigners. They stood in their places and confessed their sins and the sins of their ancestors.
3 They stood where they were and read from the Book of the Law of the LORD their God for a quarter of the day, and spent another quarter in confession and in worshiping the LORD their God.
4 Standing on the stairs of the Levites were Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani and Kenani. They cried out with loud voices to the LORD their God.
5 And the Levites—Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah and Pethahiah—said: “Stand up and praise the LORD your God, who is from everlasting to everlasting.[a] ” “Blessed be your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise.
6 You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.
7 “You are the LORD God, who chose Abram and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans and named him Abraham.
8 You found his heart faithful to you, and you made a covenant with him to give to his descendants the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Jebusites and Girgashites. You have kept your promise because you are righteous.
9 “You saw the suffering of our ancestors in Egypt; you heard their cry at the Red Sea.[b]
10 You sent signs and wonders against Pharaoh, against all his officials and all the people of his land, for you knew how arrogantly the Egyptians treated them. You made a name for yourself, which remains to this day.
11 You divided the sea before them, so that they passed through it on dry ground, but you hurled their pursuers into the depths, like a stone into mighty waters.
12 By day you led them with a pillar of cloud, and by night with a pillar of fire to give them light on the way they were to take.
13 “You came down on Mount Sinai; you spoke to them from heaven. You gave them regulations and laws that are just and right, and decrees and commands that are good.
14 You made known to them your holy Sabbath and gave them commands, decrees and laws through your servant Moses.
15 In their hunger you gave them bread from heaven and in their thirst you brought them water from the rock; you told them to go in and take possession of the land you had sworn with uplifted hand to give them.
16 “But they, our ancestors, became arrogant and stiff-necked, and they did not obey your commands.
17 They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them. They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery. But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them,
18 even when they cast for themselves an image of a calf and said, ‘This is your god, who brought you up out of Egypt,’ or when they committed awful blasphemies.
19 “Because of your great compassion you did not abandon them in the wilderness. By day the pillar of cloud did not fail to guide them on their path, nor the pillar of fire by night to shine on the way they were to take.
20 You gave your good Spirit to instruct them. You did not withhold your manna from their mouths, and you gave them water for their thirst.
21 For forty years you sustained them in the wilderness; they lacked nothing, their clothes did not wear out nor did their feet become swollen.
22 “You gave them kingdoms and nations, allotting to them even the remotest frontiers. They took over the country of Sihon[c] king of Heshbon and the country of Og king of Bashan.
23 You made their children as numerous as the stars in the sky, and you brought them into the land that you told their parents to enter and possess.
24 Their children went in and took possession of the land. You subdued before them the Canaanites, who lived in the land; you gave the Canaanites into their hands, along with their kings and the peoples of the land, to deal with them as they pleased.
25 They captured fortified cities and fertile land; they took possession of houses filled with all kinds of good things, wells already dug, vineyards, olive groves and fruit trees in abundance. They ate to the full and were well-nourished; they reveled in your great goodness.
26 “But they were disobedient and rebelled against you; they turned their backs on your law. They killed your prophets, who had warned them in order to turn them back to you; they committed awful blasphemies.
27 So you delivered them into the hands of their enemies, who oppressed them. But when they were oppressed they cried out to you. From heaven you heard them, and in your great compassion you gave them deliverers, who rescued them from the hand of their enemies.
28 “But as soon as they were at rest, they again did what was evil in your sight. Then you abandoned them to the hand of their enemies so that they ruled over them. And when they cried out to you again, you heard from heaven, and in your compassion you delivered them time after time.
29 “You warned them in order to turn them back to your law, but they became arrogant and disobeyed your commands. They sinned against your ordinances, of which you said, ‘The person who obeys them will live by them.’ Stubbornly they turned their backs on you, became stiff-necked and refused to listen.
30 For many years you were patient with them. By your Spirit you warned them through your prophets. Yet they paid no attention, so you gave them into the hands of the neighboring peoples.
31 But in your great mercy you did not put an end to them or abandon them, for you are a gracious and merciful God.
32 “Now therefore, our God, the great God, mighty and awesome, who keeps his covenant of love, do not let all this hardship seem trifling in your eyes—the hardship that has come on us, on our kings and leaders, on our priests and prophets, on our ancestors and all your people, from the days of the kings of Assyria until today.
33 In all that has happened to us, you have remained righteous; you have acted faithfully, while we acted wickedly.
34 Our kings, our leaders, our priests and our ancestors did not follow your law; they did not pay attention to your commands or the statutes you warned them to keep.
35 Even while they were in their kingdom, enjoying your great goodness to them in the spacious and fertile land you gave them, they did not serve you or turn from their evil ways.
36 “But see, we are slaves today, slaves in the land you gave our ancestors so they could eat its fruit and the other good things it produces.
37 Because of our sins, its abundant harvest goes to the kings you have placed over us. They rule over our bodies and our cattle as they please. We are in great distress.
38 “In view of all this, we are making a binding agreement, putting it in writing, and our leaders, our Levites and our priests are affixing their seals to it.”[d]

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 106

  • 1. Leviticus 26:40-45; S Joshua 7:6; 1 Samuel 4:12; 2 Chronicles 7:14-16
  • 2. S Ezra 6:21; Nehemiah 10:28; Nehemiah 13:3,30
  • 3. S Leviticus 26:40; S Ezra 10:11; Psalms 106:6
  • 4. S Ezra 10:23
  • 5. Psalms 78:4
  • 6. S 2 Samuel 7:26
  • 7. S Deuteronomy 6:4
  • 8. S Exodus 8:19; 2 Kings 19:15
  • 9. Isaiah 40:26; Isaiah 45:12
  • 10. S Genesis 1:1; Isaiah 37:16
  • 11. Psalms 95:5; Psalms 146:6; John 1:9
  • 12. Deuteronomy 10:14; Acts 4:24; Revelation 10:6
  • 13. Psalms 103:20; Psalms 148:2
  • 14. S Genesis 16:11
  • 15. S Genesis 11:28; Genesis 11:31
  • 16. S Genesis 17:5
  • 17. S Genesis 15:18-21; S Ezra 9:1
  • 18. S Joshua 21:45
  • 19. Genesis 15:6; S Ezra 9:15
  • 20. Exodus 2:23-25; Exodus 3:7
  • 21. Exodus 14:10-30
  • 22. S Exodus 10:1; Psalms 74:9
  • 23. S Exodus 3:20; S Exodus 6:6
  • 24. Jeremiah 32:20; Daniel 9:15
  • 25. S Numbers 6:27
  • 26. Exodus 14:21; Psalms 78:13
  • 27. S Exodus 14:28
  • 28. Ex 15:4-5,10; Hebrews 11:29
  • 29. S Deuteronomy 1:33
  • 30. S Exodus 15:13
  • 31. S Exodus 13:21
  • 32. S Exodus 19:11
  • 33. S Exodus 19:19
  • 34. S Exodus 20:22
  • 35. Psalms 119:137
  • 36. S Exodus 20:1; Deuteronomy 4:7-8
  • 37. S Genesis 2:3; Exodus 20:8-11
  • 38. S Exodus 16:4; Psalms 78:24-25; John 6:31
  • 39. Exodus 17:6; Numbers 20:7-13
  • 40. S Genesis 14:22
  • 41. Deuteronomy 1:8,21
  • 42. S Exodus 32:9; Jeremiah 7:26; Jeremiah 17:23; Jeremiah 19:15
  • 43. Deuteronomy 1:26-33; Deuteronomy 31:29
  • 44. Judges 8:34; Psalms 78:42
  • 45. Psalms 77:11; Psalms 78:12; Psalms 105:5; Psalms 106:7
  • 46. Jeremiah 7:26; Jeremiah 19:15
  • 47. Numbers 14:1-4
  • 48. Psalms 130:4; Daniel 9:9
  • 49. S Deuteronomy 4:31
  • 50. S Exodus 34:6; Psalms 103:8; Nahum 1:3
  • 51. S Exodus 22:27; Numbers 14:17-19; Psalms 86:15
  • 52. Psalms 78:11; Ezekiel 5:6
  • 53. S Exodus 32:4
  • 54. S Exodus 20:23
  • 55. Exodus 13:22
  • 56. S Exodus 13:21
  • 57. Numbers 9:17; Numbers 11:17; Isaiah 63:11,14; Haggai 2:5; Zechariah 4:6
  • 58. Psalms 23:3; Psalms 143:10
  • 59. S Exodus 16:15
  • 60. Exodus 17:6
  • 61. S Exodus 16:35
  • 62. S Deuteronomy 2:7
  • 63. S Deuteronomy 8:4
  • 64. S Numbers 21:21
  • 65. S Numbers 21:33; Dt 2:26-3:11
  • 66. S Genesis 12:2; S Leviticus 26:9; S Numbers 10:36
  • 67. S Joshua 11:23
  • 68. S Judges 4:23; S 2 Chronicles 14:13
  • 69. S Deuteronomy 11:11
  • 70. S Exodus 18:9
  • 71. Deuteronomy 6:10-12
  • 72. Numbers 13:27; Deuteronomy 8:8-11; Deuteronomy 32:12-15; Psalms 23:6; Psalms 25:7; Psalms 69:16
  • 73. S 1 Kings 14:9; Jeremiah 44:10
  • 74. S Joshua 7:25
  • 75. Jeremiah 2:30; Jeremiah 26:8; Matthew 21:35-36; Matthew 23:29-36; Acts 7:52
  • 76. S Judges 2:12-13
  • 77. S Numbers 25:17; S Judges 2:14
  • 78. Psalms 51:1; Psalms 103:8; Psalms 106:45; Psalms 119:156
  • 79. S Judges 3:9
  • 80. S Exodus 32:22; S Judges 2:17
  • 81. S 2 Samuel 24:14
  • 82. Psalms 22:4; Psalms 106:43; Psalms 136:24
  • 83. S Judges 6:8
  • 84. ver 16-17; Psalms 5:5; Isaiah 2:11; Jeremiah 43:2
  • 85. S Deuteronomy 30:16
  • 86. S 1 Samuel 8:3
  • 87. Jeremiah 19:15
  • 88. Zechariah 7:11-12
  • 89. 2 Kings 17:13-18; S 2 Chronicles 36:16
  • 90. Jeremiah 16:11; Zechariah 7:12
  • 91. Isaiah 48:9; Isaiah 65:9; Jeremiah 4:27
  • 92. S Deuteronomy 4:31
  • 93. Job 9:19; Psalms 24:8; Psalms 89:8; Psalms 93:4
  • 94. S Deuteronomy 7:21
  • 95. S Deuteronomy 7:9; S 1 Kings 8:23; Daniel 9:4
  • 96. S Exodus 18:8
  • 97. S Genesis 18:25
  • 98. Jeremiah 44:3; Da 9:7-8,14
  • 99. S 2 Kings 23:11
  • 100. Jeremiah 44:17
  • 101. Isaiah 63:7
  • 102. Deuteronomy 28:45-48
  • 103. Deuteronomy 28:48; S Ezra 9:9
  • 104. Deuteronomy 28:33; Lamentations 5:5
  • 105. S 2 Chronicles 23:16
  • 106. Isaiah 44:5

Footnotes 4

  • [a]. Or "God for ever and ever"
  • [b]. Or "the Sea of Reeds"
  • [c]. One Hebrew manuscript and Septuagint; most Hebrew manuscripts "Sihon, that is, the country of the"
  • [d]. In Hebrew texts this verse (9:38) is numbered 10:1.

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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