Nehemiah 13 – Nehemiah’s Final Reforms

When Nehemiah had asked the king for leave to go to Jerusalem, Artaxerxes had made him give a time when he would return to him.  In verse 6, we find that he had done so in the thirty-second year of the king’s reign – a journey that would take far more than a month to make, in each direction.  And he well may have been gone for several years.  When he came back to Jerusalem, he found that Tobiah the Ammonite had been given a chamber in the house of God (verse 4 and 7)!  Nehemiah angrily threw all of his possessions out, and had the chambers cleansed and restored (verses 8-9).

English: Building the Wall of Jerusalem; as in...

English: Building the Wall of Jerusalem; as in Nehemiah; illustration from Sunrays quarterly (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He also found that the people had not been giving the Levites their portion as commanded (verses 10-13), and that the Sabbath was being profaned (verses 15-22).  Nehemiah promptly sets those things right, appointed treasurers over the storehouses, set guards at the city gates before the Sabbath to keep people from bringing loads of wares in, and warned those lodging outside the city in wait they he would “lay hands on them” if they continued to do so.  Nehemiah was fed up.  The Lord had restored their Temple and the Wall and they were out of captivity – now they were sinking deeply into sin again!  Then, in verses 23-28, we find that the people were again marrying the foreigners and idol-worshipers that had been forbidden in the Law.  In Ezra 9 and 10, we find Ezra confronting this problem (see Ezra 9:1-2).  Apparently, his measures had not been effective.  Notice that in Ezra 9:3, Ezra tore his garments and pulled out his hair when he found out about it.  In verse 25 of this chapter, Nehemiah, upon learning of it, confronted the guilty and beat them and pulled their hair out!

In verse 30-31, Nehemiah ends the book on a positive note, listing the reforms he had made when he returned.  He was merely reporting a better condition of the state of affairs, and asking God to remember him for the good he had done.  Nehemiah always gave the glory to the Lord  – especially for the rebuilding of the wall.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
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some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Nehemiah 8 – Ezra Reads the Law

In Nehemiah chapter 8, Ezra the priest is summoned to read the Book of the Law of God at the Water Gate (possibly an entry into the Gihon Spring – the main water source outside the city wall), for which this passage has become known as the Watergate Revival.  It was read from early morning to mid-day, with the people gathered around in reverence; and the Levites went around explaining as needed (as was their job – see Deuteronomy 33:8-10), so that it was “clearly” understood (verses 7-8).   It was a very special and emotional occasion, and likely the first time it had been read – particularly in its entirety – to most of them.  In hearing the Law, the people would hear an account of the sins that had led to captivity.  And the completion of the wall, while striking fear in the hearts of others (Nehemiah 6:16), was an awesome event for them.  Ezra and Nehemiah, therefore,  tell the people not to weep, but to rejoice – as this day was holy to the Lord (verses 9-10).

As this was the seventh month, it was the perfect time to re-institute the Feast of Tabernacles – or “Feast of Booths” (Leviticus 23:34 and Leviticus 23:39-43), and so they gathered the commanded material and built themselves the booths (or temporary shelters) that they lived in for the entire time of the feast observance – and heard from the Law of God daily.

How blessed we are to have God’s word available to us so readily, and in so many forms!

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Nehemiah 6 – Conspiracy Against Nehemiah

Having had their plans to derail the rebuilding of the wall thwarted, Sanballat, Tobiah, and their allies conspire to ambush and kill Nehemiah.  Several attempts are made to lure him into their trap, but he would not fall for it.  In desperation Sanballat sends a messenger with a letter (and pretending to speak for the king), speaking of rumors of Nehemiah trying to usurp the king’s authority and claim kingship for himself.  The ruse is intended to lure him to speak to Sanballat personally – at the king’s insistence (verses 5-7).  Nehemiah knows that Sanballat is lying and says so in so many words – then just prays for more strength (verses 8-9).

Jerusalem old city walls

We do not know much about Shemaiah, first mentioned in verse 10, or what the meaning is exactly of him being confined to his house – or what exactly had led  Nehemiah there.  It seems likely that he had been a priest.  But Nehemiah realized that he was not speaking from God, but rather was working for the enemy when he tried to get Nehemiah to go into the Temple (verses 10-13).  Nehemiah was not a priest, and so he knew that he was forbidden to go in (for just one example of scripture, refer to Numbers 16:39-40).  Nehemiah responds once again with prayer to God, asking for His justice in the matter (verse 14).

Only 52 days after it was started, the wall was finished (verse 15); and this amazing feat being accomplished in so short a time brought fear to the nations surrounding them, because they perceived that it only could have been accomplished with the help of God.  If God had helped them to do that, how else might He help them in gaining more power that could threaten them?  Verses 17-19 make clear that many of the nobles in Judah were guilty in this matter; and many sent letters to Tobiah and reported on Nehemiah to him.  So Tobiah now was sending letters to Nehemiah to intimidate him.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Nehemiah 4 – Opposition to the Work

Sanballat and Tobiah were jeering and trying to make mockery of the rebuilding efforts (verses 1-3).  But Nehemiah just prayed, and left it to God to deal with them.  Verse 6 shows that great progress was being made on the wall, and verses 7-8 allow that the opposition was growing because of the progress.  Nehemiah led them in prayer, and they set a guard by night and day.  Verse 10 shows that the overwhelming size of the effort to rebuild the wall among this danger was discouraging some of the people, and their lives were being threatened (verse 11).  This prompted the people who lived nearby to try to get them to abandon the work and come home (verse 12).

Nehemiah rebuilding Jerusalem

Nehemiah rebuilding Jerusalem (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But Nehemiah showed great leadership, standing firm and telling them not to be afraid, setting people by their own clans armed with swords and spears (verses 13-14).  The work continued with some men building with one hand while having the other on their weapons.  Then Nehemiah had half of the people working, and half of them standing guard over them (verses 21-23).  In verse 20, Nehemiah (aware of their vulnerability being stretched out along the wall) has them ready to sound a trumpet if attacks comes at some point, so everyone could rally to their defense at that location.  This was God’s work, and it would get done!

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Nehemiah 2 – Nehemiah Sent to Judah

There is some confusion and speculation about the time factor in chapter two because of verse one’s mention of the month of Nisan, which corresponds to March/April, the first month, whereas Nehemiah 1:1 relates to the month of Chislev, the ninth month (November/December).  The best explanation seems to be that in those times in the near east, one of the most common ways of reckoning time was in regnal years.  But there is much argument about when those counted times began – whether at the start of a calendar year, the exact time of a king’s ascension, or other criteria.  Only two things are important for the reader to know –  1) that it was some time after Nehemiah’s prayer that his conversation with the king in verses 2-8 took place, and he was permitted to go to Judah to rebuild the wall, and 2) that it was the work of the Lord in answer to his prayer (verse 8).

Armed with letters to show the governors – who probably were instrumental in persuading Artaxerxes to halt building on the wall previously (Ezra 4:7-12), and permission to obtain timber and supplies (verse 8), he arrives some time later.  When he did, his possession of the authority of the king could not be in question, as he was escorted by officers of the king and horsemen (verse 9).  He inspected the wall, telling no one of his intentions while doing so, as verse 10 already hints at opposition.   When Nehemiah did make the work known to the priests, nobles, and officials, he made it clear not only that he had the king’s blessing, but also spoke “of the hand of my God that had been upon me for good.”  In verse 20, addressing the opposition (as for Tobiah, the Ammonites were Israel’s very long-term enemies), he distinguished between God’s people and those in opposition.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Nehemiah 1 – Nehemiah’s Prayer

Jerusalem Golden Gate

Nehemiah opens 13 years after Ezra arrived in Jerusalem (compare verse 1 to Ezra 7:7).  Ezra came about 57 years after the Temple was built, which was about 515 BC.  The twentieth year in this verse refers to that of the reign of Artaxerxes, which is about 445 BC.  At least one attempt at rebuilding the wall had been started  (note Ezra 4:12), but it had never been finished.  Some have surmised that the distress of Nehemiah at the news about the condition of the wall could be because he thought that because so many captives had already returned to Jerusalem so long ago, it should have already been rebuilt.  Whatever the case, he is living hundreds of miles away in another land in the Persian citadel, or fortress, Susa.

Nehemiah was cupbearer to the Persian king – a position of some prominence, and would afford great access to the king – as well as scrutiny.  His prayer to God in verses 5-11 is one of the great ones of the Old Testament.  It includes praise to God, heartfelt and genuine confession and remorse without excuses, and a plea of petition to the Lord.  In his plea, Nehemiah humbly asks the Lord to forgive them and restore them after having been scattered for their sins, as the Lord had promised in scriptures that include Deuteronomy 4:25-30 and Deuteronomy 30:1-6.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.