Nehemiah 1:1

1 These are the memoirs of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah. Nehemiah’s Concern for Jerusalem In late autumn, in the month of Kislev, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes’ reign, I was at the fortress of Susa.

Nehemiah 1:1 Meaning and Commentary

Nehemiah 1:1

The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah
Or his transactions and deeds; for (yrbd) "dibre" signifies things done, as well as words spoken; who Hachaliah his father was is not known; the Arabic version adds, the high priest, without any foundation; though some have thought that Nehemiah was a priest, from a passage in

``Therefore whereas we are now purposed to keep the purification of the temple upon the five and twentieth day of the month Chisleu, we thought it necessary to certify you thereof, that ye also might keep it, as the feast of the tabernacles, and of the fire, which was given us when Neemias offered sacrifice, after that he had builded the temple and the altar.'' (2 Maccabees 1:18)

and from signing and sealing the covenant at the head of priests, ( Nehemiah 10:1 ) , but he rather seems to be of the tribe of Judah, see ( Nehemiah 2:3 Nehemiah 2:5 ) , and Nehemiah may be the same that went up with Zerubbabel, and returned again, and then became the king's cupbearer; though some are of another opinion, (See Gill on Ezra 2:2),

and it came to pass in the month Chisleu;
the ninth month, as the Arabic version; of which see ( Ezra 10:9 ) ,

in the twentieth year;
not of Nehemiah's age, for, if he went up with Zerubbabel, he must be many years older; but in the twentieth year of the reign of Artaxerxes, ( Nehemiah 1:1 ) ,

as I was in Shushan the palace;
a city in Persia, the royal seat of the kings of it; as Ecbatana was in the summer time, this in the spring, as Cyrus made it, according to Xenophon F2; but others say F3 it was their seat in winter, and this was the season now when Nehemiah was with the king there; for Chisleu was a winter month, answering to part of November and of December; of Shushan, (See Gill on Daniel 8:2), to which may be added what a traveller of the last century says F4 of it,

``we rested at Valdac, once the great city Susa, but now very ruinous; it was first built by Tythonus, and his son Memnon, but enlarged by Darius the son of Hystaspes; in the building whereof Memnon was so exceeding prodigal, that, as Cassiodorus writeth, he joined the stones together with gold--such was the beauty and delectableness of it for situation, that they called it "Susa", which in the Persian tongue signified a "lily", but now it is called Valdac, because of the poverty of the place;''

and it is generally supposed to have its name from the abundance of lilies about it; but Dr. Hyde F5 gives another signification of its name, he says the Persians called it <arabic>, "Sus", which signifies "liquorice", but for what reasons he says not. There is a city now called Shustera, and is thought by some travellers to be built at least very near where Shushan formerly stood F6.


F2 Cyropaedia, l. 8. c. 44.
F3 Athenaeus, l. 12. c. 1.
F4 Cartwright's Preacher's Travels, p. 87, 88.
F5 Hist. Relig. Vet. Pers. c. 35. p. 414.
F6 Tavernier, tom. 1. l. 4. c. 1.

Nehemiah 1:1 In-Context

1 These are the memoirs of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah. Nehemiah’s Concern for Jerusalem In late autumn, in the month of Kislev, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes’ reign, I was at the fortress of Susa.
2 Hanani, one of my brothers, came to visit me with some other men who had just arrived from Judah. I asked them about the Jews who had returned there from captivity and about how things were going in Jerusalem.
3 They said to me, “Things are not going well for those who returned to the province of Judah. They are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem has been torn down, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.”
4 When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven.
5 Then I said, “O LORD, God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant of unfailing love with those who love him and obey his commands,

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Hebrew In the month of Kislev of the twentieth year. A number of dates in the book of Nehemiah can be cross-checked with dates in surviving Persian records and related accurately to our modern calendar. This month of the ancient Hebrew lunar calendar occurred within the months of November and December 446 The twentieth year probably refers to the reign of King Artaxerxes I; compare 2:1 ; 5:14 .
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